10 Simple Things That Can Make A Difference in Your Homeschooling Day

For this post, let me share a few simple habits or practices that can actually help bring some freshness or jazz up your homeschooling day.

  1. Look Good.

A common saying among the Filipino  children  born in the 1970s and 80s goes, ” If you can’t perform, Japorms. ”  “Porma ” seems to come from the Spanish term, “forma” which means “shape”.  Porma is locally known as  to dress,move or accessorize  in such a way to impress!  So, dress as if you are going to a meeting or to the office, why not?   While you’re at it, do the usual moisturize, sunblock your face and do the “no make up, make up” look. At least, groom your eyebrows, curl your eyelashes, put some concealer for those with dark under eyes and put light foundation and blush , and yes, top it with a nice nude lipstick or gloss!

I think for one “season” or another, many women have stacked up on too much make up products, more than they can ever use. So, this make up must be used! And use it for homeschooling!

“Bad hair days” are really bad hair days.  So give your hair maybe 5 mins of care so it looks good.  I usually dry my hair in front of a fan and only use the hair iron for 1-2 mins to help with the fly aways.

2.  Remove the “Eye Sores” that Bog You Down

Be it a pile of receipts, or a crazy drawer with disorganized stuff, deal with it.  “Eye Sores” are images in your home that bring in negativity. Hopefully these are not people you live it!  Generally, these are physical organization or for repair “issues” that we have not dealt with.  Work at those you have control over. If you can’t just yet, try to hide them first.

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3.  “A place for everything, and everything in its place”

Take 5-10 minutes with you children before and after homeschool, or at the beginning or end of the day to return stuff in their proper place.   If longer periods of time is needed, then carve out that time. Unattended mess and disorganization for most (though some thrive and are inspired by some form of these) are sure “dampeners”. To me, its like heavy boulders in a shoulder and I can’t seem to function unless I sort of deal with it or take away from my site.

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We fixed our homeschool room before we "officially" closed for summer.
We fixed our homeschool room before we “officially” closed for summer 2017 and when it was over, there was Cold Beer to celebrate!

4. Keep Moving.

I LOVE TENNIS!
I LOVE TENNIS!

Bring some movement in. It could be as simple as taking the stairs instead of elevator or parking far, to benefit from a long walk. It could be incorporating a short yet regular routine of exercise into your day. My sister recently applied this principle which I shared in a homeschool workshop we both conducted and she has been at it for  a month!  She just began to carve out 15-30 minutes per day using a simple low impact youtube exercise tutorial which she followed.  You can even mute the accompanying music and play your own favorite dance music!  Come on!

If you have outsourced your children’s PE class, don’t just sit down as you wait for them, find something  physical ( run, do stretching, walk) to do as well.

5. Prioritize. 

Start a day with a day plan that categorizes. “Must Do”, “Nice to To Do”, ” Something I Like To Do” or make your own “terms” for these items. Basically, you know what is your priority of the day and what you have set out to do.  Try to ward off those that seem to eat up your time that isn’t in your priority list .  And work towards getting that MUST Do list ticked.  Of course, we have to be open to adjustments or tweaking but as in the much read article, “The Tyranny of the Urgent” by Charles Hummel, we have to know and focus on the important lest the urgent things crowd them out.  And yes, reward yourself with “Something” you like to do. It could  be one chapter of a fiction book, or do some exercises on a new hobby like calligraphy or go out and water the plants.

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So easy to make yet so yummy, “Pako” or Fern Salad with Salted Egg!
Two products of the goal to "Do One Thing You Like"
Two products of the goal to “Do One Thing You Like”

And I began reading fiction again!

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6. Teach the little ones and yes, the teen ones too to be responsible members of the household.

Here I asked the help of the kids who are on summer! Organize and backing up photos, taking photos of art works, etc.
Here I asked the help of the kids who are on summer! Organize and backing up photos, taking photos of art works, etc.

I am still working  at this. I guess, it begins with me,. I have to practice what I preach. So I try to clean my own mess, keep my stuff in order and basically, do my part in trying to maintain orderliness at home.  We have a lot to work on in this area and hopefully, we will succeed!

7.  Watch the special on “Minimalism” available on Netflix and see how it can apply to your family and household! See the trailer here.

8. Regularly declutter.

On your decluttering day, create boxes labelled “for donation, “garage sale”, “for repair’ and “for returning”.   And work towards emptying these boxes as you make sure they “achieve” the purpose of each item.  Have a small area in a closet where you can put such stuff that need to be addressed for your next decluttering day. If an item comes up that fits any of these categories,  put them in this area.

For book or toy donations, please check Visionsofhopefoundation.org. I work with this group that services the marginalized children/families of our country.

9. Play more music. 

Subscribe to Spofity.  Make your own favorite playlists of various genres. Discover new songs 🙂    Can you imagine me cleaning my room with Motown Music?? So apart from cleaning, i get to move and exercise too:)

10.  Start your day with prayer and meditation.

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“But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, For You have been my stronghold And a refuge in the day of my distress. ” Psalm 59:16

“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”  Psalm 5:3

This is my favorite one.  Never fails to make a difference indeed.

They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. I hope this list helps add to the good habits for more success and fun in your homeschooling days.

 

 

Multilevel Homeschooling: You Can Do It!

My husband Gilbert and I are in awe of how close our four children have become.  They can talk all night, share music, watch videos, do crazy stuff (that only they could understand) together,  have inside jokes from shared experiences. The  3 boys play basketball with their Papa, and Raya plays tennis with me.

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From eldest to youngest, here are their current ages: 18 y.o , 16 y,o, 14 y.o  and 11 y.o (turning 12 soon).  Yes, I finally had an “adult” this year, the kind of year they all turn “even” !  Yes, they once were like steps in stairs, marching according to height. Now, the 2nd has overtaken the first and the last is almost as tall as the 3rd. Haha, sounds like a mathematical equation ?

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Truly, truly, one of the best benefits of Multilevel homeschooling is the solid foundation it sets for sibling closeness.  I am actually smiling now as I write this.   It is our prayer that this bond will be rock solid and will be an awesome ally for all their  lives indeed.

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As more children have been released to regular school, I find myself having more time available for a few other passions:  running seminars for homeschooling/part time working, participating more actively in a non-government organization for the poor, and being active in HAPI (Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands).

Recently, I began a Homeschooling Mentoring  Seminar Series as a trial run for a smaller group of parents.   Homeschool conferences are quite helpful in the bigger picture encouragement and pumping up but I do find the workshops with small number of participants with a lot of interaction and experiential activities, a bit more personal and heartwarming.  I love connecting with others and hearing their homeschooling experiences. And yes, finally, I get to personally meet  many of my online friends from the Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB page.

This was our first run in Commerce Center, Alabang. This was really a fun, intimate and cozy group!
This was our first run in Commerce Center, Alabang. This was really a fun, intimate and cozy group!

One of the topics,  I love to share is How to Run a Multilevel Homeschooling Set up.  Multilevel Homeschooling is basically having a “more than one child/ one student ” set up and so, you are faced with a myriad of differences in preferences,  talents & abilities, educational milestones, personalities, demands, learning goals, etc and eventually, a whole set of varying outcomes!   You face different characters and character concerns, varying learning styles, and yes, even growth and development.

Did I ever research on this as I taught all the kids in a span of 15 years?  Believe it or not, I just began researching about it when I decided that it was time to pass on the best practices in Multilevel Teaching to other homeschooling parents.  Haha, I guess, I wanted a more solid backing in terms of “educational philosophies, studies and techniques” than mere experience.   However, much of what I had applied in teaching multiple kids could be drawn from general parenting books (of various topics like: discipline, creativity, teamwork, motivation, positive talk/speech, parenting during digital age, success, character formation) and my main manual in life, the Bible.

But then again, teaching is essentially parenting !  We learn parenting from many sources but I also realized that I had learned much from our four children (all made in God’s image, yes they are!!!!)  and actually “raising them”.. with a whole lot of trial and error, laughter,  tears and apologies,

So what did I actually find when I finally hit the books, searched online about Multilevel Teaching?  I was floored…..and yes in awe, because many of the beliefs I had formed in what we were doing, many of the techniques I had applied from common sense and practicality,  and  even the rationale in many of the adjustments and “tweaking” we had done to “thrive, bloom and soar” in the chaos of homeschooling 4 children  at the same time,  are emerging as solid approaches in multilevel set  up classroom !   These approaches  are now being implemented by regular schools that believe in Multilevel teaching!

So, what are these principles? What are the approaches ?  What are the best practices?   Well, be empowered like these  these amazing parents  by joining our next run on 29th of June 2017, Thursday form 930-12NN at the Parenting Emporium in New Manila, Quezon City! Email homescoolph@gmail.com for inquiries and/or to book a slot!

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This was our 2nd run in Boogi Furniture Store along Arnaiz Street, Makati. As an added bonus, I pulled in my sister Felichi to observe and share her precious insights as well! This was a crazy, LOL kind yet heartwarming group of parents! We could not stop laughing!

It was  really fun to “positively overwhelm” these committed parents in the photo above.  And borrowing a pose from a bitmoji app I had made of myself;

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My sister, Felichi Buizon, another homeschooler of almost 20 years, encouraged the group to pose as in my  personal bitmoji ! See, how fun and game, this group was.   We declared, Daddy Jomar Hilario as the parent with the winning pose!

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So, are you feeling like  “You can’t even!”?  as you face the daunting task of homeschooling multiple children?  Join us! Book now:)

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Philippians 4:13  I can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens me.

Be Positively Overwhelmed! : A Reminder Against Homeschool BurnOut

Said in the same fashion as “Confidently beautiful with a heart, “(Remember, Miss Universe 2016? Filipina Pia Wurzbach?”, I sort of coined this phrase during the recent homeschooling workshop on Multilevel Homeschooling as I wrapped up.  Yes, homeschooling on its own is overwhelming. What more Multilevel Homeschooling?

However, after sharing success stories, “pick up and stand up again from failure” moments, and tried and tested strategies for homeschooling several kids that differ in so many facets,  I said, “Yes, be positively overwhelmed. “

Stress we all know may be positive, negative or even neutral.  So in a sense, the key, in multilevel homeschooling, is to face stress as inevitable but taking  all the possible positives from it.   Veteran homeschooler and my “ate” Felichi Buizon says that, “Life in general is a series of interruptions.” And since homeschoolng is life, then expect, embrace and roll with them .  Don’t get us wrong.  It isn’t having a pessimistic, bleak outlook  or having a new mantra ala Murphy’s law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Rather, it is expecting , stress, interruptions,  and a whole gamut of things that are out of our control as teachers/ parents, and find ways to positively turn these experiences to benefit most, if not all.

One example in Multilevel Homeschooling I shared concerns the fear of learning gaps. Fearing that we won’t be able to teach everything since we  have several children to focus on.  Wait, who said, we have to teach everything? Do we know everything there is to know?  Even let’s say, we do KNOW (if there is such a state) everything, can our children absorb everything?

The fear of learning gaps for Multilevel set ups may arise from the reality that every single homeschool day, the teacher has several students to monitor. Don’t regular schools have one teacher monitoring 50 kids in a 40 minute period or 200 kids in a batch?   I will never forget Debra Bell’s line many years back when she visited Manila, (just the gist and not verbatim ) , “Don’t be afraid of learning gaps.  For as long as your children have that passion to learn, they will learn some things you missed when they need it. ” 

And what is wrong with having a child wait while you handle a sibling who needs help?   Though I shared tips on how to maximize the homeschool period with a battery of  worksheets, video tutorials, games, puzzles, and other activities that can encourage independent work,  there are times, that kids just have to “do nothing” and wait.  More than ever, kids in this digital age need how to “do nothing” and wait.   Experts on creativity say that many ideas may come out of  these times anyway.

I then shared success stories of many children (graduating with honors, receiving academic and character awards)  raised in the many times messy, many times chaotic, many times crazy world of multilevel homeschooling !

I also realized as we did this workshop that  I have to remind all parents that homeschooling is a process with a lots of trial and error. Apart from the academic learning, it is character and relationship building. It is a process therefore with a beginning  where those who have gone ahead like me  were once just as or even more overwhelmed.

It is my desire that workshops, blog posts or even FB posts of  homeschoolers do not ever negatively overwhelm any one who wants to venture into homeschooling. So if a beginning homeschooler ever starts feeling  more discouraged in posts or activities that he or she thinks she will never be able to creatively think about or implement, this is a friendly and gentle reminder, be positively overwhelmed.   Those who have posted these are not boasting, or desiring to make you feel inadequate. Simply, these are shared as ideas and many who have great ideas, have had bad ideas too ( they just don’t post it of course) or they may have learned through  years and years of homeschooling and have learned what works!

So here is a shot of fellow homeschoolers who will venture into Multilevel Homeschooling this school year.  And we followed the hand gesture of my bitmoji app ( you should make own soon) ” I can’t even!’.  (June 1, 2017 Multilevel Homechooling Workshop at Boogi Furniture Store in Makati.

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So for, first timer homeschoolers, it is okay to feel overwhelmed. You would be quite a rare one if you did not feel this way. You are not alone in this!  I have cried buckets, lost sleep, and have become physically ill with stress related conditions through 15 years of homeschooling but I would do it all over again and again. Its just where AMAZING happens.  So, from the my homeschooling heart and mind to yours, “Be positively overwhelmed. ” And if you’d like to know the secret of “flourishing in the last 15 years of homeschooling? Read the verse below.

 

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Sometimes We Have to Let Nature Take Its Course and Bee Grateful!

We’ve just wrapped up our 4th quarter of SY 2016-17 and we are down to the our last homeschooled son at Level 5.  One more year? Maybe two?   Oh wow, who would have thought, 15 years would come by as it did.

Since he is our 4th homeschooled child, we did Botany again this year using Apologia’s Young Explorer Series: Exploring Science with Botany and as we did with our 2nd run with Astronomy, it was really a fun ride.

A few days ago, I was delighted to see our Guava Tree back in full bloom and ready to bear fruit.  I was in awe.   It was just a several months ago that I posted an image of luscious green guavas with a crunchy outside and bright pink, sweet tasting inside  Guava fruits, leaves and trees are  very much part of the growing years of my side of the family. We  climbed its branches,  hung from it like Tarzan as we jumped into a pool, ate its fruits for snacks  and yes, even boiled its leaves for wounds and skin infections.

However, I noticed, after bearing fruits, parts of the tree began to decline. Leaves were drying  and shriveling up,  the branches looked ill and the last few fruits didn’t anymore taste as good.  I thought that was the beginning of  the end of “reliving” our childhood days in our Antipolo residential farm.
Some who saw the tree said, “It may die soon like the langka tree beside it.”

But a few days ago I was in shock, as I peeked out of my window,  lush and green leaves  blended with  bees  feasting on the countless flowers!  Our lessons in Botany came in full swing again. The bees would play a crucial role in pollination in order to produce seeds and fruits!

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How does a tree heal? How did our guava tree heal?  With proper conditions of sunlight, lots of rain lately, and yes, the presence of helper birds and flying insects, it looks like our tree will yield fruits again. This whole idea made me think and smile.

We often find ourselves in situations whether as wives, mothers, sisters, aunts,daughters or friends, where we have done everything within our control  to try to solve a problem.  The problem however lingers.  The self preserving nature in us just wants distress, discomfort and pain out of the door as fast as possible.   But there is no clear answer ahead, there is no light visible in our the “tunnels” of our lives. And so we do what we all hate to do, wait.

The happy bees reminded me that waiting can bear fruit when that is what our dear Father in Heaven is asking us to do, to wait and trust. Waiting hones character and builds up faith.

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I remember one mom sharing in a seminar that she fears  her homeschooling experience with her preschool daughter has gone really sour  and it’s time to click “restart”. Sometimes, all it takes is probably saying sorry to our loved ones to see the beauty in “restarting”.  On other occasions, it may mean, letting go of the “self inflicted” pressures we put into our homeschooling days that put our relationships with our students in jeopardy.   In the rush, we all need to take a few steps back to see really where we are going and to check what areas in our lives really need a restart. And when we have put in place the elements for a good restart, many times, we just have to wait and let new memories with our children replace the hurtful ones, and like the guava tree, we just grow together and for sure, the tree will be fruitful again.

Prayerfully waiting in some way is similar to  what happened to our tree. Nature and time  just took its course  and eventually healing and blooming set it.  It’s toughest to wait and “do nothing.” I’ve once read that “Praying” is not doing “nothing”.     We seem to always  have the tendency to believe that many of our stressing about can actually change, heal, restore, solve problems but we do need to know when Someone is asking us to just wait and let go.  Then one day,  the blooming and bearing fruits will happen again.

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I so needed that learning that day.  And I am sharing it  with it you. It’s fascinating how Jesus Himself looked at nature to explain foundational lessons in life in  Matthew 6:28-30, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life. And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendorwas dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” That morning, I knew it was Him who was saying , “Look at the guava tree, Donna, Look at it everyday .” (and while your at it, “Bee grateful” for those who have come alongside in the painful process of waiting). 

 

Matthew 6: 31 – 34 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

Reading “Shiloh” for the 4th Time and Still Loving It!

Gino is about to complete his reader for this month, Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. This will be my 4th time to read and discuss this material in maybe 10 years as it has been an  a required reader for all of our 4 children.

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This was how the first copy looked around 8 years ago. I think I borrowed and reborrowed a friend’s copy and eventually bought our own copy. The cover has even changed! See below.

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For some readers, I began using  some accompany workbooks or supplements to help “maximize” the learning experience.  I have used the Total Language Plus  (TLP) series for other titles like Charlotte’s Web, The Cricket in Times Square, The Wheel on the School, Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe, Christmas Stories, Twenty One Balloons, Where the Red Fern Grows, Courage of Sarah Noble,  The Whipping Boy and after using Total Language Plus several times, I started doing my own DIY version of  book review lessons/ extensions of Reading via notebook activities.  For non TLP titles, I just either created exercises and reading comprehension questions in notebooks or downloaded study guides or activities.

Online, Total Language Plus materials may be ordered from http://www.totallanguageplus.com; Locally, Learning Plus carries these titles as well.
Online, Total Language Plus materials may be ordered from http://www.totallanguageplus.com; Locally, Learning Plus carries these titles as well.

“Shiloh” is a fairly easy read for levels 3-5 with some guidance on some “slang” or even colloquial terms.  It deals with a very familiar, close to home “kiddie”  subject: “a beloved animal/ pet that needs to be saved.”  Both boys and girls will easily get hooked with the suspense and captivating plot.

Set in an Appalachian town of West Virginia, devoid of all digital modernities children are so accustomed with nowadays,  Marty and all the other characters become a part of very thought provoking, interesting yet unsettling plot.  The twists and turns are exciting and you would not be surprised if your child asks to read more than the assigned chapter for the day!

I appreciate the ways in which this story will allow your children to think through their motivations, their plans, and decision. It will give you a springboard to teach valuable moral lessons on honesty and integrity, righteousness, respect and honor.

It will provide the venue for you  and your students to dig deeper on the areas of compromise,  rationalization and justification and of the  questionable belief that “the end justifies the means. ”

In this world of uncertainties, where the  boundaries of right and wrong can be made to appear blurry, this material is truly spot on in challenging our children to think and reflect.

The book costs  about Php 290.00 from National Book Store or Fully Booked. Truly worth every peso!  Every chapter is overflowing with opportunities for deep reflection and pondering.  Your children can easily draw valuable insights from the situations presented in the the story!

To create lesson extenders, or to help you have a richer experience of the story, you  can download good study guides on it by just googling the key words : Study Guide on Shiloh, Reading Comprehension Questions for Shiloh, Lesson Plans for Shiloh. I particularly liked this one and we’re completing it this May 2017.

My daughter who loves to draw, paint and do Arts and Crafts painted her own version of “Shiloh” when she read the same story several years back.

Raya read the book, "Shiloh" for her HomesCool Reading/Language Arts. It was a story of a boy and a beagle. We then had some lessons on how to draw a beagle and then she did this on her own.
As her Art activity,  Raya painted “Shiloh” using acrylic on canvas.

So, I encourage you to give this book a try.  It may hook you to the habit of having good and well thought of discussions with your students!

James 1:22- 25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Pass It On, Dearest Homeschooler, Pass it On: The Joy of Being Part of the Cycle of His Blessing

I first came across the “mentoring” idea when I was part of our youth group in Christ’s Commission Fellowship in the late 1980s. It was through the verse:  2 Timothy 2:2  You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

For some reason, it was ingrained in my mind that we need to be constantly passing on what we have received to continue the cycle of blessing.  From teaching Sunday School and and leading a teen care group,   to volunteering in a creche when we were assigned in the UK, from  hosting couples Bible study groups to beginning the MILK (Mothers of Infants and Little Kids) with my bff Candy when we were young mothers,  I just happily received and passed on.

When I would feel inadequate or unworthy, I would remember,  another verse from Paul to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4: 14 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. I rested in the fact that I didn’t have to reach some sort of gold standard in order to start teaching others but I I was simply a vessel to pass blessings and always, always point to the Great Provider of blessings. Focus on the Giver they say, never the gifts. Point to Him, never to yourself.

Parenting, however, is a daunting, close to impossible task.  And when you are asked to share about raising children, you have this nagging and crippling feeling that you can never start preaching when the products of your own “parenting ” journey have not been tested. But then , the call is to pass on what you have learned.  Paul didn’t say, perfect the skill first, memorize the principles and produce awesome children then start teaching others.  Just pass what you have learned from God in the most real, authentic and transparent way.

I found some solace and peace in an Apologia textbook  entitled “Who Am I?”  the 2nd of their What We Believe Series.  They reiterated the  call for parents, the call to faithfulness to what God was calling us to do as fathers and mothers to our children. The business of transforming hearts of our children is God’s, not ours. The same principle applies for all relationships, we cannot change people. We can simply help with ingredients needed for growth but  I firmly believe, it is God who causes growth or change.  What a liberating thought!

Eventually this passing on nature found its way to homeschooling as  I began opening our doors to teaching and mentoring others. As we released one teen after another to regular schooling, (we’re now down to one tween).  I had found more time to actually share what I had learned from our own homeschooling journey through this social media, some interviews, and eventually to seminars and conferences.

The last 6 months opened a whole lot of doors to  come alongside homeschoolers and parents in the homeschooling/parenting journey and it’s been a great ride. Let me post a sort of timeline here:

Nov 2016: with support of  Phoenix Educational Systems,  I spoke on “Raising Creative Learners”

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Raising Creative Learners 2

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I have to say, homeschooling moms are part of very sweet type of mothers.I felt like this was a photo with my BFFS, but actually I have just met 3 of them for the first time: )

Dec 2016:  with Sunlife and Businessworks, Inc, we mounted the “Building Blocks of Homeschooling” seminar.  It was really memorable doing this with my family: brother Anthony and sisters, Felichi and Maricel! IMG_3715

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Here with a book on training our caregivers/nannies, “I Love You, Yaya!” Co written by Maricel Laxa Pangilinan, Felichi Buizon and yours truly.

February 2017: CCF “Chosen, A Retreat for Mothers” at the Makiling Retreat and Training Center.

Here speaking to mothers on, “Becoming Mothers After God’s Own Heart

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One of the highlights of this retreat was meeting the many women being led by one of the teen girls of a care group I  led in the late 80s to early 90s. Oh my, that is indeed 2 Timothy 2:2! I was blessed beyond words, meeting them all. Best of all, apart from speaking in this retreat, I was able to participate as an attendee with my BFF sister Felichi who was my first “church” care group leader . Great grandmother meets her great grand daughters. Ching Tan-Sy, the lovely lady in between us, was the “mother”  link:) Thank you Ching for passing it on as well:)

February 2017: Educating for Life’s Flavor of Homeschooling at, “The Study” by Enderun in Podium. This was a workshop on Unit Studies.  I met another bunch of the sweetest and most dedicated mothers ever!

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March 2017

I finally took on something that I’ve been wanting to do for several years now. I wanted to run a small, mentoring class on homeschooling.  Though big, high impact conferences may have its place in moving homeschool forward and creating real ‘homeschool” noise, nothing beats the connection ,  the laid back, relaxed set up and lots of interaction which a small group can offer.  So with the encouragement of Ms. Arlene Sy and with help of some friends, and Gino, my working student-seminar assistant, we pulled of the first of hopefully a continuing and evolving Homeschool Mentoring Series with 2 sessions in Alabang. Our topics were: How to Start Your Homeschool Journey and Multilevel Homeschooling.

Again, these  two groups floored me with their commitment, friendliness and warmth!

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As mentioned several times in  past posts, I do volunteer work with Visions of Hope Foundation.  And by God’s awesome orchestration, when  the poor children we work with needed to be home educated in home care facilities several years ago, I was at the right place at the right time. They needed a homeschooler! And I was willing and available. It has been several years now that we had been training and providing material for preschool teachers in the poorest preschools of our country where Visions of Hope foundation operates. Recently, I had the chance to spend 3 days with another set of passionate and committed teachers (and mothers): the  Visions of Hope  Christian School teachers of Malungon, General Santos and Palawan .  In June 2017, the Visions of Hope Christian School in Malungon, Saranggani will be opening its doors to around 130 students with a new building and new, somewhat homeschool inspired curriculum!!!!   This, for me, is a kind of “passing on'” that I never really envisioned. It is amazing indeed when you just make yourself available for God’s work.  Visions of Hope Foundation  sees every child as a vision of hope. If you are led, to “pass on” in whatever, way, shape or form, do check our website and, volunteer and give.

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With the grant from Security Bank Foundation, the two story building by God’s grace will be ready for turnover in June 2017!
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With building engineer, Norman, foundation executive  director Ms. Arlene Sy and teachers Carol, Diza, Lei and Nurse Hannah with our student for next school year (I forgot his name, so sorry) .

 

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Visions of Hope Christian School Staff/ Teachers with our consultant on culture identity and preservation for teaching children in indigenous communities, Mr. Romeo dela Cruz.
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These teachers are so excited (and yes, a bit anxious, please pray for them) to use the new “homeschool” type of material as they teach 130 students this school year

And so, the “passing on” continues and may I invite you to any of these coming seminars:

May 11 & 12 , 2017:

Inspire Creativity

May 25 & June 1:
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Hope to see you in any of these  above mentioned events! And for those who have been a able to learn a thing or two in any of the recent seminars I  have conducted, please continue to pass on the learnings and yes, do give me feedback on how we can improve further through homescoolph@gmail.com.

 

Titus 3:5 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Credits to www.mrsikhnet.com for the featured image of passing the baton.

 

All Time Favorites! Materials to Pass on to the Next Generation!

After 15+ years of homeschooling, we’ve probably had 30x of major decluttering of homeschool materials, books, supplies and yes, even toys. I’ve passed on many of our favorite story and reference books to younger cousins but I’ve kept my all time favorites because the children, though a bit older now, still love looking at many of these timeless pieces and I guess, I still use several of them with my last homeschooled son at level 5.

But there are indeed timeless pieces which I want to keep in a room with a rocking chair and a rug!  Can you picture what I am envisioning? God willing, I will one day become more than just Tita Donna welcoming little and grown up nieces and nephews in my home with their favorite chocolate chip cookies. For the little ones, I sometimes read them a book, do some arts and crafts or homeschool a bit here and there.  God willing, I will be, hopefully  be a cool, endearing and warm grandmother with the best books and toys in her house!

Though not arranged in level of importance, here are my top favorite printed material: reference books, storybooks, and chapter books!

  1. For the Study of God’s Word and Character Education:

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storybook-Copy What-We-Believe-Series

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2.  Stories we just kept reading night after night for maybe close to a decade and our favorite Read-A-Louds!

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This was our children’s favorite for years and years of bedtime stories. They seem to have all the parent-child concerns laid out in a story book. As parents, we were able to deal with a lot of character issues in a non-threatening, light and fun manner through the Berenstain Bears series!
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Other series we collected: DW series, Amelia Bedelia, Franklin, Froggy, Frog and Toad, Geronimo Stilton, Thea Stilton, American Girl, How to Train a Dragon, Percy Jackson, Nate the Grate, Big Nate, Diary of the Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants,  Books by Beverly Cleary and Andrew Clements, Eloise & Amelia Series , Series of Unfortunate Events………….We love reading!
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Our Favorites: Go, Dog, Go! ; The Cat in the Hat; Green Eggs and Ham,;One Fish, Two Fish; Wacky Wednesday
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One of the best collections of children’s stories for 3-8 year olds!
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We spent 2 years of our children’s growing years in Wondon ( that’s how our baby would say, London) and we loved the tales of Peter Rabbit!

All Time Favorite Read A louds:

  • My Father’s Dragon
  • Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series
  • Five Dog Stories
  • Number the Stars
  • The Tale of Despereaux
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins
  • Dr. Dolittle
  • Christian Heroes Then and Now Series
  • Mystery of History and Apologia What We Believe Stories
  • and many others!

3. Nothing beats Apologia Science Resource Textbooks – These are written as Read-A-Loud material with easy to apply Science experiments doable at home!

 

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4.  To keep the Filipino culture, history and language alive in a practical and relevant way.

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Brilliant way to introduce our nation’s history, told by a child living in a specific era, in the Filipino language (some with Ilonggo words, even) ! Click on the image to know more about the books by Adarna House.

I supplement these Adarna History Story books above with my own Read A Loud Style ( or assign chapters for reading for the independent student)  using the following and my student’s own Social Studies textbook. So I do read ahead sometimes so I can read the historical texts like a story!

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Here are our well loved story books from Adarna/Hiyas Publishishers
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Chapter book series for the older student (maybe 7-12 years old?)
Chapter book series for the older student (maybe 7-12 years old?),  we enjoyed this series by Xi Zuq!

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Health, Science and Filipino Language (and culture) for the win, from Hiyas!  Available in OMF Bookshops.

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Click on the image to know more about Hiyas Products

 

6. World History

a. The Mystery of History series

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b. The Story of the World Series

We began with this series when the kids were preschool age b
We began with this series when the kids were preschool age but eventually shifted to Mystery of History. We are now in Volume 3!

7. How I became the kid’s first Art  and Music Teacher

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If you’d like to start an art series with your preschoolers, try this series on this blog.  Just use the search bar and type Art, colors, lines and shapes and you’ll see a whole lot of Art Lessons you can do at home!

We only had a few of these. We also borrowed from other homeschoolers! Now, we're trying to also learn Filipino Musicians and Artists
We only had a few of these. We also borrowed from other homeschoolers! Now, we’re trying to also learn Filipino Musicians and Artists
From National Bookstore
From National Bookstore
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An All Time Favorite to introduce the famous composers, the orchestra and its member instruments

8. Various Reference Books! 

 

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Boys and yes even girls love maps! Teach them about the various countries while they color land and water!
Being a doctor-teacher, we just had to have this! Well guess what, I think our eldest son wants to become a doctor!
Being a doctor-teacher, we just had to have this! Well guess what, I think our eldest son wants to become a doctor!
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To learn about other faiths and religions and teach respect and awareness.
One Country a Day !
One Country a Day, use with map templates! Or adjust based on global issues!

Though online materials are truly award-winning, engaging and cost-efficient, we prefer to have a library of quality materials.  With four children, nephews and nieces, even using them as guides in teaching others how to homeschool, and probably grandkids in the future, I truly believe that costs both in time and money (endless searching for good deals, discounts, sharing balikbayan boxes with others, purchasing some in installment), were all super worth it.I am sure some books  in our library which were not mentioned for this first blog post of favorite materials feel bad! (“We were not featured yet we taught them so much!!!” said the unmentioned books.)  I will add and edit along the way but these are the ones that came to mind instantly! For Math, we’ve been Mathusee users for more than a decade and supplement a bit here and there with other approaches like Singapore Math or Simpao Math (Hahaha! The practical way of applying Math I guess!).

I shared these materials to give you a picture of what to look for  in reading materials to purchase! You may come up with a totally different set of titles and that’s surely OK!  I guess the best gauge for good quality materials would be how often they are used, the memorable experiences they bring and the in depth learning they provide.

 

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” -Ray Bradbury

Proverbs 10:14 “The Wise treasure knowledge.”

P.S. Am currently reviewing additional material such as  Worldbook’s New ChildCraft Series, Filway’s  Learning Math with Albert and will post soon!

Light Bulb Moments: How to Teach to Drive the Lesson Home

We super love the Mystery of History series and are now on our 3rd volume after maybe 7 years of being introduced to this material.

The other day, my 11-year old student and I learned about philosopher and political theorist, John Locke.

The English philosopher and political theorist John Locke (1632-1704) laid much of the groundwork for the Enlightenment and made central contributions to the development of liberalism. Trained in medicine, he was a key advocate of the empirical approaches of the Scientific Revolution. In his “Essay Concerning Human Understanding,” he advanced a theory of the self as a blank page, with knowledge and identity arising only from accumulated experience. His political theory of government by the consent of the governed as a means to protect “life, liberty and estate” deeply influenced the United States’ founding documents. His essays on religious tolerance provided an early model for the separation of church and state.” (www.history.com) 

How then do you bring this closer to a 11 year old’s mind? How do you explain the concept of “tabula rasa“, the state of being brought into this world with blank slates/ minds, without any mental content and that all knowledge come from actual experience??? Did we totally agree with it?

Light Bulb Moment!!!!!  (pun not intended, you’ll realize in a while)   One of the beautiful things with being able to see your children grow 24/7  from infancy to school age years lies in seeing all the moments you can always look back to, laugh about, ponder on and just “bond” endlessly through shared memories.  So this is how I drove this seeming  “high and mighty” big concept closer to home for my son.

Mama Donna:  Gino, remember when you touched a lit light bulb (Mama’s bedside lamp, now there’s the pun!!) and burned your little finger ? And you cried so hard?

Gino (chuckling) : Yes (laughing now).

Mama Donna: Well, like this argument of John Locke, you can say you had a blank knowledge about the fact that light emits heat and therefore a lit bulb is hot and dangerous to touch.  Without that knowledge, you went ahead and burned yourself. And as John Locke says, you have learned something new by  this experience (that act of touching it and burning your finger) and will most likely not do it ever again, right?

By this point, I know, because of something so “close to home: an unforgettable and painful experience” for my son, I knew I got his attention.

I then proceeded to challenge him to  think by citing the argument that though you learn through experience, there are absolute truths in life.  There are truths that you do not need to experience in order to learn the lesson or the principle.  (Can you know imagine where this conversation can lead to? I can talk all day, Gino, but I controlled myself.)

For Christian families, absolute truth comes from the Word of God.  The commands laid out, we believe, are there for our own protection, given by our loving Creator. In faith, we believe in that. We do not need to experience theft, or slander, to know that it is wrong. We do not need to kill in order to know that murder is evil.

Scientific truths like gravity, concept of time (day and night), the Earth’s rotation and revolution are absolutes. No one can argue those things.  And yes, Gino, light energy also emits heat. Mama is truly sorry that I was not able to teach that earlier on so you could have prevented that burning incident. Experience then taught you big time and you will probably never repeat the same action,  but then if I had told you the truth that lit light bulbs are hot to touch, you probably would have not touched it in the first place, right ( or curiosity can actually sometimes confuse things, or you may not believe Mama and try it out yourself )?

This seemingly simple 10 minute conversation with my son during homeschool time was precious. I know we both got thinking on how life and lessons merge and how basic principles in the course of our study can make one stop and think and wonder, and yes relate what you’ve just read to many other areas of your life.  AND, THIS. IS. WHY. WE. LOVE. HOMESCHOOLING. AND .WHY. IT. ROCKS!

 

Deuteronomy 6:7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

A More than a Skin Deep Skin Session : A Unit Study on the Skin (Integumentary System)

I love Science. I think that is one of the reasons why I love homeschooling.  I want to  spread how cool Science is and  how we always find ourselves in awe of our amazing  Creator of all living things that make up the bulk of Science!

One of the reasons why I ended up completing Medical School was to really to master the human body. It’s simply the most spectacular, awe-inspiring creation of our Good Lord!

This is my 4th leg in teaching Anatomy and I don’t tire really !  So let me share with you our exciting unit study on SKIN  (The Integumentary System) .

I usually begin a lesson with stating the relevance of the lesson. I try to captivate the interest and curiosity of my students with unique facts or practical applications where the lesson may be applied. So for the skin, I say, ” Do you know that the skin is the largest organ in our bodies? ” or I may make them think with, ” Can you imagine if skin wounds do not heal? ”

Parts of the Unit Study:

  1. Students need to know the basic parts of the skin. You may opt to watch a video, download a skin template to fill or make your own representation of the skin as shown below. Focus on learning how the skin works and the functions of the part of different parts.
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On a illustration board, with the use of clay (layers of skin, sweat and sebaceous glands, crayon (fat) black construction paper (hair follicle) , thin thread ( nerve endings) and red and blue thread arteries/veins), try to make a diagram of the parts of the skin.

You may , if  the student is interested and not easily grossed out, show basic conditions of the skin like rashes, pimples, dryness, allergies or eczema.  My Xmen loving son was quite interested when I told him that Hugh Jackman suffers from recurrent melanoma, aka skin cancer.

Try to explain also what gives skin their color and you may push the lesson further if you’d like to discuss the various issues that concern skin color.

2.  Fingerprints are determined by the patterns on the skin surface of the skin.      It would be noteworthy to look at various patterns of fingerprints. As an activity, have all members of the household and maybe even  some neighbors, put their thumbprint on a piece of paper and label with the corresponding name of the owner of the print. Compare the various patterns on one’s skin.

Here is an activity I borrowed from wikihow.  It is a fun activity! Be detectives for the day by “finding fingerprints in a  crime scene.” You’ll need powder,  make up brush ,  finger prints on glass materials (on  a glass slide,  on a glass, mirror or magnifying class)  scotch tape .IMG_6417

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3.  For older students, introduce news articles that make the lesson . Introduce the study of Forensics.

From Oxfordictionaries. com
From Oxfordictionaries. com.

4.  Art may be extended by doing  thumbprint creations with  variety of colored stamp pads.

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Raya’s duck has the cutest beak!
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Have a go, and join in the fun. Do out like my frogs?
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Up, Up, Up and Away by Raya Simpao
Thumbprint animals by Gino Simpao
Thumbprint animals by Gino Simpao

5. Using pork meat (with skin), pretend to be plastic surgeons of the day in repairing a laceration .
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Preparing the shots!
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We pretended to 1) give anti tetanus shot (which may be given for open wounds. 2) sterilize the are for minor operation 3) anesthetize prior to suturing.
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The basics on suturing (we had to move to the less tough muscle part, my advise is to use pork parts that have softer outer skin, we only got this because it was only Php90 as is in the meat section, and I wanted to have a laugh with showing the kids the pig’s tail!)

IMG_7015Giving local anesthesia!

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IMG_7027Don’t forget to bandage!

This was fun, and I guarantee 100% depth and mastery. For the win, right? Have a go then?

So there, hope you enjoyed our more than skin deep Unit Study on the Skin!

 

1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Get ready for the 1st ever National Homeschool Day 2017!

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Steps on How to Celebrate National Homeschool Day 2017

1. Check out www.hapi.ph for various announcements regarding this day.  There is an ongoing video contest that ends tonight, 12 AM! The prizes are awesome.

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2. From the map below, decide if you will join any of the groups as mapped out in the Philippine Map. Check out the Homeschoolers of the Philippines (HOP) FB Page and type your area in search bar (the general areas are  Quezon City, Pasig, Taguig, Makati,  Paranaque, Muntinlupa, Cavite, Laguna,  Rizal (Antipolo), Cebu and Davao. Read the post about these meet ups and contact the person in charge or visit the FB page they’ve set up for this specific Homeschool Day Meet Up.

3.  Bring packed lunch if the place you plan to go will not offer food, and bring money since some meet ups will have some “2nd hand sale” of sorts. Some meet ups may have to charge to cover for venue cost, aircon and sound system.

4.  Bring the whole family and leave the gadgets at home (no IPADs, phones must be kept!)!

5. Have a cheerful, open, ready to mingle mind. Who knows if support groups or coops may be born out of this day?

6. If you plan to celebrate at home, or with a few families, don’t homeschool academic subjects and maybe just create a fun unit on homeschooling. Maybe it would be a good time to talk about how you guys are doing, get feedback and ponder on this year’s theme: “Building Up the Philippines, One Family at a Time”.  Try to discuss why homeschooling can help in nation building ( that’s if your kids are old enough).  Have fun (if only Homeschool Association of the Philippine Island HAPI can declare is a no homeschooling day). Do something different and check out what everyone else is doing by checking the different Philippine  based Homeschool FB groups.  Check out IG @wearehapi or #HAPIDAY2017.

7. You may also gather your other homeschooling families to avail of the hart to resist promo of Kidzania Manila.   Check out their promo!

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8. If you want to share any of the photos or videos of your celebration, please use the hashtag #HAPIDAY2017.

At this very moment, my 11 year old son and I are preparing for Pasig’s gathering at Valle Verde Gym 5. He is assisting in preparing for tomorrow and that is how we are homeschooling today! I will create a post for the Pasig Celebration. 🙂

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Gino, my homeschooled son, helped put this together
Gino, my homeschooled son, helped put this together

 

 

Here helping create nametas
Here helping create name tags.
Pricing some new and fairly used items for a cause
Pricing some new and fairly used items for a cause

Praying for a HAPIDAY indeed!!!!!!  See you !