In my recent blog post, I had mentioned that I was sort of back, writing again. So I took a quick review of what have been posted so far in this blog . Riding on the the decluttering and organising that swept the Netflix world, I decided to create a post that identifies each article written by category. I am still assessing and weighing things regarding “revamping” this blog and make it more user friendly. Since that will take a lot of time and yes, funding, for now, this will have to do.
I am personally, mind, body, spirit, with family, and yes technologically, trying to declutter, simplify and live with less and more (there will be so many ways to view that last phrase, and I leave you my dear reader to put the many meanings to that!)
It may have began with my reading of the many Proverbs 31 Woman of God (wife and mother) type of books my Emily Barnes and Emily George early on in my life. Remember, “A place for everything, and everything in its place? ” phrase? Then there was this regular decluttering series by our pastor’s wife, Ms. Cindy Soriano in our church. (And yes, CCF Alabang is presenting the workshop again. Head to Facebook CCF Alabang to know more about this event). Then the books of Marie Kondo arrived and became easy best sellers. Then the Minimalism documentary with their cool musical soundtrack! And let us not forget, of course, the whole Save the Planet movement with the 3Rs,.. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, and now the “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” series on Netflix. The message is clear I guess.
So here. I pretended to be a first homeschooler checking out this blog and with that in mind, I created a simple summarised list of topics that can be of help to every homeschooler out there:) Hope this list helps. Don’t get overwhelmed. Read one or two per session and see what applies in your homeschool set up. Have fun!
Preparations for Homeschooling/ Setting Up Your Foundation
I took a long break from writing. I guess there was this pressure to write a “perfect” post with the perfect photo and all, to officially end our 17 year homeschool journey. So just like every daunting task, you somehow find ways to put it aside. I never found the chance to come up with a grand ending of sorts, I guess.
The first day of regular school of my youngest son last July 2018 was really uneventful. He had a lot of fun, I remember. Did I cry? No. Did I have mixed emotions? Not really. How was it? I don’t even remember much. I just knew all kids were in school for the very first time! Our eldest began to live away on weekdays for college and the younger three in high school were out from 7am to 4 PM from Monday to Friday, and I was left with our pet pug called, Boo. So what’s next?
I had told myself that I was going to give myself a chance to rest and yes, discover thyself. The non stop life of a homeschooling mother of 4 kids for the past 17 years is a huge part of who I have become. So I do have to pause and re-think and weigh a whole lot as I close this season and begin a new one.
And so I decided to put myself on a GAP YEAR mode. We’ve heard about “gap years” from foreign students who take a break to travel, to join an advocacy or simply rest shortly after their high school graduation. I met a few of my son’s friends who have done it… and so I told myself, why can’t a mom like me, set a gap year too. A year or so of rest, rediscovery, and reconnection.
And so that is where I am. I have begun to attend a few medical seminars or conferences to somehow figure out if going back to some health practice in the future is an option. I recently went away for bucket list experience. I am picking up my pens, my pots and plants, and knitting needles again for some craft and gardening work and… here, I am writing again. And hey, finally cooking new dishes again! Also, I have begun to read my own fiction (not the children’s reading requirements in homeschool). Though some homeschool events and seminars are lined up, I am taking them slowly as I take this all in and give myself: mind, body, spirit and heart to rest and heal (remember I said a whole lot of life, (yes!!! the ugly, the painful things and yes the beautiful and life stopping things too) happen as you homeschool) and listen to my Creator as to to know Him more and know where He wants me to go.
The mad rush of homeschool mornings, the endless guilt of not being able to accomplish enough, the unticked homeschool to do list, the 1,000,000 ideas of how to teach a concept in multi subjects to multi level children, the loads of bonding time through lessons and discussion have all gone.
Truly thankful for the new rhythm, new set up (and yes my new office too as seen above) and new opportunities out there. Life never stops when one homeschools so through it all, we manage our other areas of our lives……and so without homeschooling, my relationship with God, my spouse, my other family members, even my own relationship with myself and my passions have begun to exist and bloom in a different light and yes, it is a refreshing time. And hey, there is a whole new world of connecting to our once homeschooled children/ students and I have a new role and I am trying to learn this new role and enjoy it too.
I recently completed the Truth Matters conference of my home church Christ’s Commission Fellowship last January 2019. In relation to home education and the season I am in, I can truly testify to the beauty and amazing potential of relationship building through homeschooling.
By faith, I believe that we can pass on the truth to our children and help them build their own faith in a context of a strong, open, loving and affirming relationship with our children, made possible by the quality and quantity of bonding time that homeschooling provides. But then, I am careful to say that homeschooling is no way a guarantee in securing your child’s future or his/her own journey as an adult . Life is a mystery, isn’t it. Parents can only do what they deem is best as they receive guidance and instruction in parenting in this very dark world. The children we will eventually release will make their own choices and carve our their own path as they move on. And by faith and through prayer, we release them in peace.
And that is one thing I wish to write more about in probably my next post on “More Random Thoughts on Life After Homeschooling.” Hehe… to be continued…..
“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”
A line from my Dad’s favorite song …… “and now the end is near”….. is playing on my head. As my eldest son and only daughter graduate from high school and middle school respectively this month, Teacher Mommy Donna and youngest son also graduate from homeschool, Wait, Teacher Mommy Donna graduates too?
Yes, there are no more children to home educate. I get joked nowadays that I may take it on and homeschool our adorable pug, Boo. Yes, the end is near, in a couple of weeks, I will be laying down my homeschool hat, apron and Teacher ID.
16 years. That’s as old as my 2nd son. ( Haha, I didn’t want to use my age as basis obviously!)
I still remember clearly, my wise sister’s words when she encouraged me to try homeschooling for our then 3 year old son Vince. I still recall receiving our first homeschool preschool kit from Sing Spell Read and Write, and all the balikbayan boxes, year in and year out as more and more children came and more and more students joined our homeschool lessons.
Oh, there are so many days to share, so many experiences to ponder on but for now, I will just summarize this journey with my take home lessons which I will forever take with me wherever I go.
It is okay to have fun.
Learning can be fun. Fun will spell the big difference in the longevity of your homeschool:) Find the “fun” in your everyday and pursue that. And get rid of the guilt of having fun while learning, or having fun for the sake of fun itself. Chill!
2. Delegate what can be delegated.
Stop thinking of being a one woman show, or trying to be a martyr. Do what you do best. Focus on what you’re good at. Delegate what can be delegated so you can save your time, effort and energy on what you do best. I clearly remember an advise of parenting expert, James Dobson on what to do with extra funds, he said,” Get hired help. ” Provide ways to support the main teacher of your children so she can focus on teaching and bonding with the children.
3. Find a system to deal with stress.
Stress is inevitable. It is part and parcel of every hour of our lives. It comes in all kinds of shapes and forms. We have to have a way to deal with them: prayer/ meditation, movement (sport/dance/exercise/hobby) pockets of ways to express your creativity, balanced nutrition/ supplements if necessary, regular BFF time, reflection/journalling, aromatherapy! Figure it out. Determine your stress release regimen and do it regularly. Find a way to set up a “stress meter” in your life and adjust accordingly.
4. It all boils down to preserving and nurturing relationships.
My favorite take home from our 16 year homeschooling — a good and steady relationship (and I’d like to believe a growing one with open communication ) with each child. Connect with others. You cannot homeschool alone. I asked a dear psychiatrist friend one main advice for good mental health after almost 15 years of practice, her simple answer was, “Connect.” Outside the home, I made the most amazing friendships and bonds with fellow homeschoolers!! Online, I have 11,400 plus homeschooling friends on FB!
5. Empathy goes a long, long way.
Empathy goes beyond sympathy (feeling for others). Empathy compels you to act after you “feel for others”; to do something to lessen someone’s pain or discomfort. Empathy is one important value I am hoping and praying was passed on to the our children.
6. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth.
That is a verse from Joshua 1:8. I will be forever grateful for the Bible, God’s Word. It is my manual for life, my marriage, for homeschooling, my work…. I have read many books during my 16 year homeschool journey, I can give away all those books on marriage, parenting, on child education , on homeschooling and just keep one book with me forever, God’s Word, the Bible. And it is my prayer that my children will also seriously take this Book as their manual for life too:)
Forgive oneself for not meeting the steep expectations you set , forgive others for not measuring up, forgive your children and ask for forgiveness when you have wronged others .. yes including your little children when mommy loses her temper or says hurtful words. We will all have our share of bad homeschool days, of pain from trials, of “get me out here” moments that seem to last forever. Forgive. Learn. Re-set. Repeat. Ask for forgiveness. Learn. Re-Set. Repeat. There is no other way.
Prayer I have come to learn is simply dependence on God. The more you pray, the more you declare your inability, your finiteness, and your need of God. The more you pray, the more you give back to God. The more you pray, the less you want to control how life comes your way. The more you pray, the more you let go. St. Paul saw the importance of prayer, prompting him to say in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” That is key to living any kind of life, really.
9. Prepare & Plan
They say that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. In the homeschooling world, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of maximal learning. Whether it be doing your own research regarding homeschooling or what makes a teacher effective, or giving 15 minutes to prepare your homeschool schedule or activities, it truly pays to prioritize “preparation and planning”.
10. Love. Love. Love.
Jesus put it simply. The greatest commandment revolves around Love. Love for God and love for thy neighbors. Love is central in the lessons 1-9. To review:
Have fun in love.
Love yourself and take care of yourself and manage your stress
Reach out and love others to nurture relationships
Love in action is empathy
Love God’s Word
When you pray, it is showing our love for God, His presence!
Love is more than a feeling, more than emotion. It is an act of will so you prepare and plan. Work is involved.
Love is the ingredient in all that you do that will spell the biggest difference. St. Paul says it again, and as let me paraphrase his words in 1 Corthinthians 13: 1, “Without love, you are nothing but noise.”
Let me quote what was shared by my friend’s grandmother who dedicated her life to teaching and nurturing others, ” The best educator is the one who loves the learner.”
So there. I can think of 10 more lessons as I give this topic much more thought. But hey ,they say, top of mind answers sometimes are the best. And this restaurant I am in as I type away is about to close. So I will leave it here for now.
As I close, I have 19 homeschool days left with our youngest.
My heart is full as we close this chapter. I will be forever grateful for this awesome life changing experience. And wow, I have these life lessons, sealed in my heart, as I move on to the next chapter of my life. Hallelujah indeed. Sail away with me, Lord. Thank you indeed.
Psalm 37:4-5…Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way unto the Lord and He will give you your hearts desire.
It was a typical homeschool Friday with youngest Gino. I was leaving him some homework since I was set to join my daughter in her school’s field day. She was the captain of her house and of course, everyone wants to win in a day of games and relays!
Then I received a call from one of my co-parents, “Raya fell.”
And she fell hard.
She sustained a fracture on the upper portion of her left tibia and would be needing immobilization/ wheelchair and crutches for 6-8 weeks.
It’s quite confounding how one single event, one wrong twist, one wrong turn, or one wrong split of the moment decision results in a myriad of consequences. As we heard “6-8 weeks”, (and possibly the no running or heavy sports for 6 months), I saw some things crumble down…… an upcoming school trip to Singapore for a Youth Environmental Summit, the daily commute to 2nd floor classroom without elevator access, a school play, her tennis training, and her plans for summer to take football.
A mother is described as having one heart, her own heart, plus the number of hearts of her children. Without any lessons, or any reminders, we just automatically feel what our children feel. So I was beginning to see the repercussions of that fall, I had to mentally and emotionally rush, rush, run to the finish line so I could feel, and feel it all, and find my own strength to carry her through ( literally too!) And then, without looking back, take on the “Mama is here” role and show strength for my daughter.
We have heard it again and again that setbacks are good, failures are part and parcel of life. We are encouraged to embrace them and to allow such unfortunate circumstances to build and mold our children. We are asked to back off and not to solve our children’s predicaments all the time. Sometimes the best thing we can do is, come alongside and just let it unfold. We patiently wait in prayer and in anticipation.
A few days post-inury and few days before a much awaited and anticipated field trip abroad, reality set in and the whole experience and the future that was awaiting her overwhelmed my daughter.
After 19 years of being a parent, I have learned that we need to strike some form of balance when we try to uplift our discouraged children. There are dangers of belittling their situation, negating their emotions and feelings as being valid and in over doing the “Life is okay. It could have been worst. Cheer up. Shake that off .” Sometimes, the best we can do is to listen, to hug and maybe weep with our children as well. No words (not yet!). Presence and availability may suffice.
As we began to paint the reality, my daughter then sighed, “It won’t be as fun.” I am so thankful at that very moment an answer or more like a prophecy came to mind, and I just said, “Yes, it will be different. But this (pointing to her immobilized leg) will usher in a whole lot of other opportunities and scenarios which may turn out to be fun and interesting too.” I don’t know why I said that but it was like I had the coolest and most serene peace that all will be well and yes, she will be able to board a bus, navigate through the airport, do the toilet breaks, feed herself and yes board and move around a plane and yes, attend a youth summit in a foreign country without Mama or a relative around. I just knew I had to let her go (Pun so intended!)!
Then one morning, 3 days before their departure, “ I will go, Mom! I can do this.” From then on, I knew it, this is going to be great.
It was more than great indeed. My daughter came home as the “most cared for student in the entire summit.” She goes, “Everybody knew who that girl in the wheelchair was!” She came home with so many positive experiences of concern, care and going the extra mile from her classmates and teachers, and even from strangers who empathized with her and did what they could to assist her given her limitation. Classmates and teachers just rallied to lessen her fears, her limitations and her difficulties. Parents came to support as well with offers for prayers, wheel chairs, for extra help, and for reminding their own children to look after Raya. What a blessing, right?
And my best pasalubong (Tagalog term for treats brought by someone who goes for a trip) was her teachers’ words of affirmation and encouragement as they witnessed what a trouper this girl was: patient, flexible, content and cheerful, every step or should we say, turn of the wheel, of the way!!!!!
Of course, half the time, Raya was with family and I was on Cloud 9 seeing her brothers (Thank the Lord for strong brothers, all taller than her (ok, she may argue if Gino is taller already) who also took on the role of helping her. When we didn’t know yet how to use the stairs, Marco for a good number of days, carried her up the stairs like a backpack!
And the school play went really well! Now, Raya can say she performed, sang, and danced on a wheel chair !
Last week, Raya bid farewell to her crutches and her wheelchair. She still walks with some limp as the the leg muscles become looser, as they need to strengthen and re-learn how to walk efficiently but deep within, I know there is stronger faith in God, a warmed heart from all the love she had experienced and a deeper gratitude for her healing and the blessings throughout her journey through it all.
I declare the faithfulness of our Good Lord in all this. From setting our hearts and minds at peace to providing the most cool and easy to use travel wheel chair for free, from MRI results that show no ligament tears to an increased faith in God, and a deeper appreciation of thy “neighbors” (schoolmates, teachers, guards, helpers, driver, siblings, strangers, other PWDS).
Indeed, this is so true for we have truly witnessed it, “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 1 Corinthians 12:9.
Thankful, as I close this piece.
James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
We are also thankful to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rolando Angelo “Jello” Ochoa of Asian Hospital and PT, Karen Basco. And many more thanks to the Lorenzo, Morris and Fabros families who really made Raya feel so loved and cared for during this time!
In a few months, I would be going into my 2nd year of using essential oils. Back in our medical training, we really did not have adequate lessons on Natural Health. We may have had a few units on Preventive Medicine but that’s it. And truly during those years in mid 90s, there was a resistance to non Western approaches to health and wellness. Life, however, evolves and we all have begun seeing various approaches that are able to complement traditional, mainstream, allopathic Medicine: diet and supplementation, nutritional healing, herbal, spinal manipulation, yoga and relaxation strategies, traditional Chinese medicine to name a few. I consider Aromatherapy as one possible complementary approach ( complement- to be used side by side with traditional approaches) to dealing with health issues.
Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit (www.naha.org)
You may read about essential oils here . You may add more information and read them about here too. Online information is overwhelming and daunting, proceed with caution!
So here are my top reasons why I am into them:
I just love how some of my favorite oils smell. I am so relieved that I could easily extinguish any or anyone’s (hehe) smell that I am exposed to. Take that! Fried fish smell, gym bag and used sneakers of 3 boys!!!! Help, where are my oils ? And they come to the rescue in an instant. Your car smells like smoke, or someones shirt was dried in damp way, shoo those foul odors away!!!
2. Scents affect mood and mental states!
Research ( I am putting together what I believe are credible and valid studies out there) is showing the powerful effect of aroma on mood and feelings. Certain oils are now being used to address pain, anxiety and insomnia!
3. Natural complementary support for common health issues/conditions
Certain essential oils have been assessed and seen to have anti-inflammatory, anti-infective ( bacterial, fungal and viral), relaxing, restorative, immune boosting effects. I have seen them at work in our recurrent conditions at home such as breathing and allergy concern, infections, and stress and anxiety.
4. Touch therapy is more exciting with these pure and powerful oils.
Again, we have heard the power of touch ( haplos, reach out and touch somebody’s hand, hold me)! Remember the study of neonates in the ICU and the difference of recovery for those who were held more? So when, my daughter who is now on an immobilizer due to a tibial fracture from a fall, comes home and says, her back/arms are tired from using crutches, Mama comes to the rescue with a blend of wintergreen, peppermint, lavender to sooth sore muscles and tired joints. As we do this, we end up talking and bonding even more. For immune support during periods of illness, this gives me a chance to also bond with our teen boys! All our children are into sports , and thus, instead of going for over the counter medicines to relieve sprains and strains, we have an armamentarium of oil blends for sports issues! My husband’s headaches and back pains are also helped with some blend of anti-pain oils. I may not have my own study to back this up, but I am 100 percent sure, the oils with TOUCH therapy have a synergistic effect.
4. The limitless DIY options they provide.
Currently, I make our own light to heavy all purpose cleaner, make up remover, body and feet scrub, throat soapy, cough and cold rubs, dry skin concoctions, puppy dog wipes, glass cleaner, hand wash soap, facial soap!
For oils that are considered and approved as safe for ingestion, you can add a drop of lemon oil to your water, or peppermint to your hot chocolate. Rosemary for your chicken? Basil for your pasta? Cinnamon for your tea? Jade Lemon to your G &T? The options are endless. (Note: Make sure oils added to food and drink must always be safe for ingestion.)
I no longer purchase many beauty and skincare products, tons of its ingredients, I cannot even pronounce, much less decipher! I have lessened the toxic cleaners in our household and medications for symptom relief in general.
6. Essential oils are multitaskers
I haven’t even really scratched the surface in unearthing the gazillion ways oils can be used. Indeed we have such an awesome GOD in creating plants and trees with these miracle workers.
7. I have issues with my body’s immunity system.
Diagnosed a decade ago, I have low Complement 3, proteins that are important for immune function. Thus prevention and immune boosting are essential to maintain good health. Friends from way back know how terrible my respiratory infections were ( and how they sounded!), and how I get stress blisters on my lips and under the eye. Proper diet, mindful supplementation, sleep protection, regular exercise and relaxation have helped a great deal and I have found essential oils truly helpful in my preventive regimen! With diffusing here, inhaling there, rubbing this and spraying that my anti respiratory infection oily habits), I have seen how I am able to nip impending infections at the onset, thus reducing the length and severity of an illness. Runny nose, congestion and itchy throat abated and that means a whole lot for someone who used to struggle with nasty and progressive cough that can linger to 3-4 weeks!
8. It is fun!
I was exposed to essential oils through a friend, BFF Cielo Vilchez and a cousin, Angelica Cayzer, owner of Lemongrass House Philippines. I have gained more friends through the sharing and evolving of its use and place in our lives and our homes. Along with aromatherapy, I am a beginning to learn more about supplementation, herbal therapies and basic nutrition! I have been able to travel with friends to learn more about these powerful oils! Singapore, Malaysia,…. am excited to know where these oils will take me, maybe a course in Medical Aromatherapy abroad!
9. I am able to help others too!
Just ask my own family, our helpers, my siblings and nephews and nieces… Tita Oilbularyo is Tita Donna! (Thank you to @gerigil for that “oilbularyo” term)
My prescriptions and free samples now are quite different. See! Samples from Mother Earth and not Pharmaceutical Companies!
10. And I think one of deeper reasons why is this:
Oils have been utilized again and again from Ancient Times. Doesn’t it make you wonder why two of the most well sought, powerful and expensive oils , frankincense and myrrh were the ones given by the wise men to Jesus ? Jesus and Christian heroes of the faith have used them for healing and blessing, and I’d like to experience and see more of this awesome blessing of God through nature!
Happy Oiling !
Email me firstname.lastname@example.org for oily concerns:)
11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
*** Featured photo is an Essential Oil/Aromatics Workstation from Sifr Cosmetics in Singapore. Photo was taken during my visit to the store.
As I begin to write this post, the biggest mass shooting in the history of the United States (Las Vegas Strip) has begun to unfold. I’ve been glued to CNN since last night. Oh wow, there are no words to sufficiently describe this tragedy. CNN has just began identifying some of the victims and I just close my eyes as I listen to back stories and pray.
It was a Music Festival much like the many outdoor concerts we have in the Mall of Arena or BGC grounds. I remember watching Cold Play last April and yes, there were buildings beside us with people catching the concert from their top floor offices. Security was tight on the ground, but who would have thought that the risks would come from above?
I recently shared a robbery incident to my son as we talked about the different forms of theft (online, armed robbery, break-in and all) . An incident involving a supermarket here in Alabang had armed robbers digging a tunnel to the office from where the cash was stored. Who would think that evil can come from below?
I face this day with these thoughts early this morning. I have to continue to believe that there is still so much love and goodness around, above and below , around, within, that can conquer such unthinkable acts of hate, terror and evil. I am now thinking of the family of the 60 of those who died and the 400 injured, many of whom may be in critical condition, fighting for their lives, and I can only pray.
I cannot help but think of “what future” really lies ahead and what future do we prepare ourselves and our children for. It makes no sense to me to I dig into using and maximizing educational technology as we parent and homeschool our children and see this tragic event unfold, a massacre using other forms of technology.
Oh, Technology! Technology?? There are so many sides to you. Why can’t we all just use you to make this world a better place indeed? Why can you amazingly aid my children in their education (mine too!) and experience of this world but at the same time, also have the potential to create the avenue to bully them and corrupt their minds and souls?
For now, my answer is because Technology is just a TOOL. For now (my kids and i just had a quite interesting discussion if technology/artificial intelligence will eventually have a “mind” of its own, separate from the control of human brains/ boundaries), it is just a tool. And I can only hope and pray and do what is within my control, to make it a positive, edifying and enriching tool.
I have to rest on that so I can move on and yes, prepare for his weekend’s homeschool conference. Join us, and yes, if you’re interested to know how it can enrich your homeschool experience, drop by in our session about Homeschooling and Technology.
This is what we seek to tackle: “Technology is the bane and boon of this generation of students. What exactly are the pros and cons of using technology in the homeschool? How can you utilize the online resources available to you while maintaining a balance with offline learning? How can teacher parents make use of technology to make homeschooling easier? Homeschooling mom Donna Pangilinan-Simpao talks about this as she shares her favorite tech resources, which she used in more than 10 years of homeschooling.”
Come, and listen to my favorite Senator! Kuya Kiko Pangilinan!
Efren Penaflorida and Marissa Leinart will join Kuya Kiko as Keynote Speakers!
3:00-5:10 for these sessions!
Please make sure to stay till the end for exciting raffle prizes.
New Living Translation
1 Corinthians 10:23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.
I remember a blog post where I shared about God’s answer to my prayer many years back about expanding the four walls of our classroom. Indeed God truly continues to expand as He has brought me to various heights in merely passing what I have learned in our 16 years of non-stop homeschooling journey. From mentoring mini classes of homeschooling parents, to workshops for larger parent groups; from moderating a dynamic homeschool community of almost 9000 members to speaking in homeschooling conferences, it has been a truly an unforgettable journey of learning and passing on. It could be as simple as a FB message, a comment on a post or a call, or an email, God has been allowing His grace and encouragement to overflow from one home to another. I am truly blessed to part of this cycle of blessing.
Never did I think that God would enlarge the borders even further and really allow me to even cross continents to learn about best practices in working with poor children/ families in Guatemala in an exposure trip last year. And God opened the doors to eventually help oversee the educating of 160 children from the indigenous groups of B’laan and Tagakaolo in the Visions of Hope Christian School in a province of Sarangani, the southernmost tip of Mindanao Island.
Only God could have orchestrated it all. With the help of good friend Steph De Los Santos who invited me to be part of the Visions of Hope Foundation and my now BFF in ministry, Arlene Sy, the homeschooling experience would prove to be a gold mine in “helping” home educate the many children who need to live in boarding facilities in the school since their homes were just too far (2-3 hour walk, one way!) Aligned with our mission/vision, we are now test running a curriculum that seeks to be a Christ centered, holistic, practical, relevant and indigenous culture sensitive. One that will celebrate the beautiful community of the B’laans and Tagakaolos and help them as well end the cycle of poverty by helping raise productive citizens that will one day give back to their municipality, their province. And by careful crafting, we hope and pray that our graduates will be able to meet th needs of this community in the future. We truly seek to promote culture identity and preservation through lessons and activities. Indeed a daunting task but one the Lord never designed to be addressed by one group or individual. God indeed uses a multitude to lovingly raise His little ones.
Sarangani is one of the poorest provinces in our country. According to the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 2015, Sarangani is the 3rd poorest province with a poverty incidence of 61.7% meaning 6 out of 10 families do not earn enough to provide for basic food and non food needs. With poverty, education becomes a non-priority as the children are expected to help add to the family income . Some opt to let their children marry early (early teens) so as to pass the burden of care for others. Armed with our mother organization, Center for Community Transformation‘s call to work in the poorest of the poor, we knew Visions of Hope Foundation needed to provide better access to quality and relevant education for our indigenous children.
So after many meetings and several visits to Mindanao, it is with the deepest gratitude for Our Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord , our Provider) and greatest joy that I would like to share the photos of our recent Thanksgiving and Inauguration Ceremony last September 13, 2017 as our new school building was turned over to us by our generous donor, the Security Bank Foundation as they continue to roll out their commitment in their “Build a School. Build a Nation: Classrooms Project!”
Let me share our journey as we saw this day unfold and as we marvel in witnessing God’s faithfulness to His children through these photos:
During my initial visit, I met the students and teachers of Visions of Hope Christian School in both Malungon, Sarangani and General Santos.
Set in a hilly and sloping property in Malungon, the training center has mini buildings with a meeting hall and several rooms for lodging. A highlight of this center is the Bamboo Worship/School Structure !
Look at this beautiful “bamboo palace” at night.
I toured the grounds to see the current classrooms being used for preschool up to level 7 . They all were in bad shape, needing major repairs. But really, I loved the native feel of the materials in these rooms/cottages. Hopefully, we can add a bit of natural feel into the new school building that had to meet design requirements of our donor, Security Bank Foundation.
I also had a chance to witness the B’laan way of weaving as I visited the Lamiflew Living Museum and School of Living Traditions.
I met the wonderful teachers of our school. I spent time with them sharing what it means to be a creative teacher and how to inspire creativity.
At the core of making this all happen are two of the most dedicated workers I have ever met and worked with. Meet Ms. Arlene Sy, the Visions of Hope Foundation Executive Director and our every so young, multitalented and gracious program developer and researcher, Ms. Abi Limpin.
We are also to privileged to have Professor Romeo Dela Cruz to be on board in curriculum development. Prof Romeo or Kuya Toto to others is a former assistant professor of CAS-DH (College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Humanities) University of the Philippines, Los Banos and former commissioner at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
On my next visit, our building was taking shape.
I had more time with the teachers as we discussed how to use Unit Studies in their lessons.
Last Wednesday, was a big day for all of us. It was a perfect day. Not hot, not rainy, cloudy with just enough cool wind and see how the day went:
A simple program featured short messages from Malungon Mayor Tessa Constantino, Security Bank Foundation Chairperson, Mr Rafael Simpao, Jr (yes that’s Papa!), and Visions of Hope Foundation Chairperson Ms. Stephanie De Los Santos. It was a delight to see the gathering of other committed partners from CCT, Security Bank, and local government. I even had a nice chat with a friend, quite close to my father in law, Ms. Anastasia Dy, executive director of Security Bank Corporation and President of Security Bank Foundation (Papa’s Boss!) .
A favorite part of the event was being to share this entire experience with my last homeschooled son, Gino, who had an out of this world “school” exposure trip.
Here is Gino with “Papa” Babes whom my children call as “Daddy” because 1) Gilbert is Papa and 2) there was resistance to be called Lolo many years back 🙂 It was priceless to have Gino see Lolo “Daddy Babes” and “Mama Donna” in action. Truly an unforgettable experience for us all!
The kids presented an indigenous dance number.
We then proceeded to our new school building for ribbon cutting and turning over ceremony.
I shall end and take a pause here. I was able to take a school tour and observe a typical school day and will create a part 2 post for that. Part 3 will be about how to help if you’d like to join us in becoming a champion for the kids. I will cite different options where your talents and resources may be of use in blessing our school .
As I close, let me share a photo of our teachers having a light moment here. Photo was posted by Teacher Jen Bag-o Pido on her FB page. The challenge is truly enormous but these teachers are simply empowered and encouraged by God to press on. Their faith and commitment blesses me tremendously.
Like the weaving masterpieces of cloth seen in the skirts of our teachers, I can’t help but feel the warmth of God’s “woven” work among His people. Different threads, different colors coming together to create a beautiful work of art that will be showcased again and again. We all need partners as we fight for children at risk indeed, and I thank you all, all the threads coming together for this worthy, God given endeavor.
Indeed, God loves His children. (We are all His children, remember??!!) The experiences shared here show just that. We are all part of His labor of Love. We are doers and at the same time recipients of that love. That thought just blows me away.
1 Corinthians 12; 12, 20
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 20 As it is, there are many parts,[b] yet one body.
Psalm 127: 3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.
4Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.
5Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
It has been a long while since my last post. And I think, it is mainly because I had to learn to slow down, to say, “No” and breathe. Some others think it is because of the many homeschool seminars we’ve been running, not really. Or, that I have become too busy. I have maybe an average of 2 half day runs per month and that’s really not so bad. We actually have one this afternoon but instead of fussing about, I am now listening to the birds outside my window and blogging away.
Yes, everyone needs to slow down and find that pace in life that isn’t too slow, lethargic and unproductive, yet is not too hectic, unhealthy and stressful (full!) . The online world and social media aren’t really helping in this quest for the right pace. At one end, it can push you to sluggishness, consuming every content out there, but it can also lead to feeling the “super invincible woman” who can multitask and attend to so many demands with your smartphone and all the apps that make life simpler. Does it really?
Well, all I know is that I have slowed down. For one, I have, without guilt, caught up with a TV mini series my husband was into and it has opened a world of conversation and connection for us. Guess which series???
I have found time to reconnect with grade school, high school and college and even Medicine batch mates in the last several months. Trips to Quezon City no longer daunt and haunt me. Remember the Danish proverb??? “The road to a friend’s house is never long.”
And yes finally, finally, I had time to bond with sisters on a joint or one on one dates, short ones or even overnight in the beach or in a farm.
I was reminded of this need to slow down just a few days ago… I put this on a desk at home and one family member said, “It’s nice. What photo will you put into it? ”
Maybe, the image wasn’t worthy to display. But then how about the message? It was sure worth it for me. When I saw this card from Floral Atelier in Tiong Bahru area in Singapore, I just knew I had to get it… and thought of a nice silver frame for it, but I ended up with this acrylic frame, on sale, from Crate and Barrel in Makati. But some can miss it really.
One weekend ago, I just decided to say “Yes” without much ado and be the “malaking hadlang” (MH, one who blocks or one makes two, a crowd, by joining!) to my sister and her hubby. It has been tough gathering and uniting schedules of Gilbert and 4 kids for a beach trip so when there was a chance, I grabbed it. For myself. I said I can go. I figured my family can do without me for a one night and two full days.
We then decided to visit brother Kiko’s Sweet Spring Farm in Alfonso after a day in the beach in Nasugbu and I learned a whole lot from brother in law, Boogi.
And finally, my BFFS bond with my sister Felichi! That’s not very often, and it was really heartwarming to see such bonding.
Indeed, we all need to slow down. Slow down doesn’t always mean doing less but I guess, slowing down to know what really matters and focusing on those. And yes, we all need that. In this world of non stop calls for our attention, and distraction, we need to slow down.
What will this mean for you? Think it through and make the adjustments. It could be as simple as turning off the phone, limiting social media or simplifying some things like meals (my sister would have sandwich nights when dinner preparations were tough to handle). For me, one of the best ways to slow down is to start your day early and slowly, when many concerns and people are still asleep (hehe) and listen to music, meditate, read God’s word and pray!
I need to sign off for now. Off to Quezon City for a seminar. It’s August 26 and let me take this chance to greet my ate (mommy) Angeli, Happy Birthday dearest sister! I’ll see you later!
Jeremiah 2:25 “Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? (The Message)
Games are necessary if you have multilevel children! You definitely need something to spice up your days. But here is the challenge…. you have to think of games that are not skill or age based since the eldest child will always end up being the winner. These games may also be applied in your co-op or support groups if you lack participants. So here are some of the games and activities.
Obstacle Course –
You may set up in your street (if it is safe) , your garden, a clubhouse in your village, in the park or even in your home (room or hallway) . What can you use? A wooden plank for balancing, wheels for that jump in and out kind of run, a “tunnel” or barrel where they can crawl through, a stool to go around, a jump rope to maybe do 3-4 jumps and a flag to pick up. You may even put a basin of water to jump over. Be creative.
Sack race or pillow case race
Going to the market
Spoon with a pingpong ball relay
Putting straws on several soft drink bottles or juice pitchers
Two legged where you tie two pairs of legs (or calves) on the ankle part with a long scarf
Wheel barrow game
Google for more ideas!
3. Treasure Hunt
This may need some preparation! But it will be worth it indeed. You may use the plots of the books of your read-alouds, your children’s readers in describing clues and all! Use adjectives, riddles, or figurative language in giving clues. You may provide word games like WORD FIND, unscramble, word play or even search for letters and make them into a word as your provide clues for the treasure hunt.
4. Brown Bag of Things that Begin with _____ .
This is usually for the toddler-preschooler kids where you let them trace a letter (upper and lowercase) on a big brown bag and you let them find items around the house that begin with the sound that letter makes. For instance, for letter Aa, they can find apple, arrow, airplane, avocado, airplane, ant, apron. You can also reverse this by putting things ahead in the bag and letting the kids guess what are inside the bag.
5. Let’s Pretend
I wanted to teach the kids empathy and sensitivity. I think we were reading “Helen Keller” and so I was trying to help them realize what it means to be blind. You can for 10 minutes, blindfold all the children and try to go about your plans for the day for 10-15 minutes without the sense of sight. We took this activity further and wrote down a few of the senses and abilities in pieces of paper: ability to talk, to walk, to use hands and to see. We then drew lots and pretended what we drew (disability) for half an hour. We tried to communicate by writing, move by inching with our bottoms, etc etc. We did this before bedtime. Though there were times we laughed as we struggled with our “assigned” abilities, it allowed us to think through the activity and imagine what it would be like if we had this concern, not for half an hour in a simulated and timed game, but really for life! We then talked about the topic of “persons with disability” and what we can do to help or assist them.
Or you can just do dramatization! If you read a lot of stories, why not assign roles and just let the script flow and evolve?
Or be surgeons for the day!
One of my most favorite times was acting like wandering nomads with the children. We all pretended to live like our “hunting and gathering” ancestors and just played out various scenarios and acted them all out. ” Ok, it’s your turn to keep watch for wild animals and to make sure the fire is burning while we get some sleep, okay? ” packed with our tents and all our belongings tied in a blanket with a stick!
If you have helpers, you can decide for one meal or even half a day to reverse roles too! Let the children serve their helpers, let the children do some of the chores usually done by your helpers.
With 4 kids, we were able to play a whole lot of badminton, volleyball, swimming relays too. We even did a mini “Olympics” in line with out History lesson on the first Olympics, our Math lesson on measurement and Science lesson on speed and distance.
There are so many possibilities in terms of activities and games with multilevel kids! So instead of saying, ” Oh my, there are so many children to look after and teach!”, just embrace this season and say, “Oh how exciting, we can do so many games and activities together, I don’t even know where to start!”,,,,,,,, let me make one suggestion, which all our children learned and mastered two weeks ago, teach them mahjong! hahahha… and yes, with all the culture and tradition that come with playing this game. Our kids loved it and couldn’t stop playing !
And if you need help with teaching and bonding and yes, homeschooling multilevel children, we are having our 4th run! First was Alabang, then Makati and Quezon City and finally in Ortigas Center!
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
And yes, I had a chance to create a favorite list when I visited a big Japan City Store ( related to the Daiso/ Japan Home chain of Php 66-88 stores) in The Festival Mall in Alabang. Well, let me clarify this list further, it is my homeschooler’s favorite list.
Check it out!
Two Side Dry Erase Board
One side is for free drawing, writing, doodling and even computing Math problems.
While the other side is for practice penmanship. I appreciate it that the font side if about more than one inch and so perfect fro preschool to maybe level 3.
My middle schooler still likes his Dry Erase Board. For practice lettering when he was younger, to computing math problems: This has become a staple in our last 15 years of homeschooling. Now, it has become a reminder board when I have leave stuff for my homeschoolers to do. For smaller illustrations when I teach, this comes in handy. For 4 children, I used to have a giant white board !
2. Pack of Balloons
Whether for a Science experiment or DIY balloons for a birthday party, this pack will always come in handy. You may even use it for Art!
3. Orange Cones
You can use this in setting up an obstacle course, or a target for ball play like tennis or soccer. It may be guides for a winding path for running or biking. These will come in handy for mini relays at home!
4. Lots of Magnets
For Science, of course! But you may also use this for Art in making DIY refrigerator magnets.
5. Colorful Clipboards
Outdoor activities may require recording or drawing observations. You may decide to do Art in the park, and sketch a tree in the garden, or have some worksheets for field trips. A clipboard will always be useful.
6. A Roll of Drawing Paper!
Paper offers limitless possibilities. A roll of paper literally expands what can be done ! You could even make a DIY easel and use it. You may use it to cover a young child’s table so he can draw away anytime! Using stamp art, or doodling, your child can turn this paper into a his own signature gift wrapper!
7. Stickers, Reward Stickers
Every teacher loves her stickers. Enough is said. No, I have to say something! Haha. I am now using my planner – ala scrapbook and so I need stickers, more stickers ( said to the tune of the Count in Sesame Street).
8. Color Coded Pencil and Supplies Box for Multilevel Homeschoolers
These boxes can hold a good number of supplies of various shapes: pencils,rulers, markers, scissors, glue stick, eraser.
9. Garden Tools/Accessories
Kids would be so thrilled to have their own, Yes, no need to share since it is so cheap if he has other siblings. Each one could have all the shoveling fun in sand or soil.
10. A Box for Everything and Everything in its Box.
Organization is key in every classroom ! It is more doable to use reasonably priced bins to keep all you supplies in your classroom. Label if necessary!
I hope you find these available in the branches near you! You can always take a trip to Alabang, and let’s meet for coffee???
P. S It would have been ideal to have 10 Favorite Things so I am adding my 11th as a P.S. Hehe…. Did you know that P.S comes from the Latin word post scriptum which means “written after”?
Loose Practice Sheets
Long written texts may be easier for those with developing writing skills when they use a wider piece of paper vs a very narrow notebook. Again, the font size here is bigger than standard level 3 writing notebooks from local books store. What I used to do with these loose sheets is put them under our students’ drawings so they can also write about them, I then paste their written work in a “landscape” format under copy paper or even use A3 size paper. These sheets are also perfect for portfolio material because you can punch holes in them or slip them in clear files or page projectors if using a 3 hole binder ( Japan Home also has those binders and 3 holed page protectors, they got it all, like SM!)
So there. I close with the 1st stanza of the song ” My Favorite Things”, as I wrap this up on a rainy evening.
“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things”
Genesis 9: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.