Christmas is Fast Approaching: How to Have Christmas-filled Quarter

In my 15 years of homeschooling, the quarter or period involving Christmas  seems to be the fastest and in some sense, the most distracting. Well, “distracting” , if you have this knack for wanting a list of worksheets complete, pages done and chapters completed. However, if you embrace the period, find season specific lessons that you can weave into your  daily “must learns”, if you try to highlight your own family traditions and involve your students in its preparation and celebration, you can actually have such a rich, no matter how rushed  it ca be, Christmas Season.

Here are a few things you may opt to do:

  1. If you have Bible Study/ Christian Living as a subject you can:
  • As early as early November, to start focusing your Bible Studies on the Birth of Jesus. You can easily google the top Old Testament prophecies about the birth if Jesus.   You can also tie this up with Chrismas songs that are based on such verses.  I can hear “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, “What Child is this” or “Immanuel”.  You can print the lyrics and study them together.  If any of your students are playing the piano, you can look and search for simple piano pieces on Christmas.  Or you can teach your students or you can all learn a new Christmas song.

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  • You can divide the days of December in reading the New Testament Verses related to the Nativity.
  • You can watch the Nativity Dvd or any other Christmas story in parts.
  • You can choose important concepts/character traits manifested in Christmas story and search other Bible verses or famous sayings to support  these. Examples are love, humility, grace, service. sacrifice,  joy and the like
  • Share your blessings with others this Christmas.  There are many ways to do this .
    • Prepare gift bags in your car with Noche Buena staples like fruit cocktail, cream, spaghetti noodles, cheese, tomato sauce, canned meat, and sweets.   If you find yourself in traffic or in parking ( make sure you don’t do it when there are too many people who may overwhelm you and your car) , then give them away a few days before Christmas. Or it can be gift bags for kids with treats and useful items
    • Choose a ministry or non government group that focuses on the poorest of the poor. Check with your church or even with your homeschool provider.  You may check visionsofhopefoundation.org and contact rlove.rojas@cct.org.ph if you would like to organize your family or your homeschool support groups for a Christmas activity or project with former and current street children all over Metro Manila or nearby province, Laguna.
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      Children in Commerce St. received these gift bags prepared by Gino.

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      Homeschooled kids wrapped these and created personal Christmas cards for kids affected by Yolanda typhoon in Ormoc City.

2.  “Decorate” your other  subjects with the Christmas themed activities and projects.

  • For History, you can research on the how certain traditions/beliefs came to be… Christmas gift giving , Christmas tree, Santa Claus  (that’s if you’re off the mystery already), reindeers, mistletoe. Include Filipino Christmas traditions as well.
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A page of Christmas Treasury Book
  • For Art/ HELE.
    • Christmas Card Making ( we did this year after year after year)
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Angel Gabriel by Raya
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Jesus is Born by Gino
Cool snowman by Marco
Cool snowman by Marco

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  • Baking of Christmas Cookies and Gingerbread House or cookies
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Raya’s Christmas Cupcakes!

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img_6730 img_6647 img_6602 img_6727 img_6732 img_6754Click here on how to make a Christmas Parol tail.

  • Creating your own Christmas Belen using recycled cardboard, boxes, acrylic paint and polymer clay.

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  • Involving your students in helping around the house (wrapping gifts, making tags, making DIY gifts or decors)fullsizerender
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Make more copies of the their Christmas Cards my making digital images and printing them:)
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Raya did this for her Papa who loves to bike:)
  • If you have several children, give each one some money or they can use some of their savings to give simple gifts to their siblings, grandparents and even helpers at home.  They can learn how to plan, budget, purchase , wrap,  and write a dedication. If you have a bit more budget, involve them in purchasing simple gifts for their other teachers (MAPE, homeschool provider advisor, and sports coaches).

3. Find good Christmas themed materials for Read-A-Loud.

Short Stories in this book are good!
Short Stories in this book are good!

I am thinking of doing   Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens with Gino this year.

Please share me with us other ideas you’ve done as well:) We brought out the Christmas pillows and as I began changing the covers, you could hear the oohs and ahhs from the younger kids, and see the grin from my almost adult boy. Christmas, don’t come so fast, we want to prepare our hearts and homes as we seek to celebrate the real purpose of Christmas.

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Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Homeschooling with God Nearby

This week is a tough week. As we continue to face big trials in our family, today was the 1st quarter portfolio review week of the kids with The Master’s Academy (TMA Homeschool). I also committed  a month ago to speak to parents of preschoolers this Friday morning. On top of that, my Dad was once again (3rd time this year) confined last Monday for a possible respiratory infection. And add to all that, it wasn’t really the best time for my cellphone screen to break and our car to be towed!

I was about to say, it’s as if God knew…. oh dear! He really knew, knew ahead. My omniscient God knew how everything was set and how everything was going to take place and fall into place. And He was going to supply everything that was needed to see me through. And though the week has not ended, I am praising Him for His goodness and HIs sovereignty in all things.

As I looked through each page of our 2 students’ homeschool portfolios, I see His faithfulness all over.  We learn, we can homeschool despite all other things going around or within us. And this kind of set up has been pretty much the way things go week after week in the last decade or so.  God wants our family  to be totally dependent on Him. And I believe this for every homeschooling family!

Prior to beginning of our school year, I visited a sister who had boxes of books in her stairway and my eyes locked on a book on George Muller:   Christian Heroes: Then & Now  featuring George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans by Janet and Geoff Benge. ( It was situated at the very top of the pile of books in the box ! imagine that? Who then made sure of that? )  We also read of missionary, Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime, around 2 years ago, which we tremendously learned from and immensely enjoyed.

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Project of Raya and Gino in Bible/Language/ Geography

For each homeschooling day during the past quarter, we tackled a chapter; and we saw glimpses of what is means to be near God through the life of George Muller! What a blessed faithful life, completely dependent on the Lord through prayer and waiting upon Him, shining indeed for His Glory .

This morning as we were preparing for our portfolio review, my reading was Psalm 124.

1 If the Lord had not been on our side—

let Israel say

2 if the Lord had not been on our side

when people attacked us,

3 they would have swallowed us alive

when their anger flared against us;

4 the flood would have engulfed us,

the torrent would have swept over us,

5 the raging waters

would have swept us away.

6 Praise be to the Lord,

who has not let us be torn by their teeth.

7 We have escaped like a bird

from the fowler’s snare;

the snare has been broken,

and we have escaped.

8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

As I meditated on these lines, I couldn’t help but remember, Moses’ words in Exodus 33:15-16:

15 Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. 16 “For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”…

And now reviewing the many amazing entries in his journal of George Muller :

The greatness of the sum required affords me a kind of secret JOY, for the greater the difficulty to be overcome, the more will it be seen to the GLORY of GOD how much can be done by prayer and faith.”

“If God is in this, He will supply.”

“I have known my Lord for 52 years and in all that time, I cannot recall a single instance when you He has not answered my prayer.”

So putting it all together, this is my super paraphrased homeschooler’s version of Psalm 124:

If the Lord had not been on our side—

let all homeschoolers say—

if the Lord had not been on our side

when the stresses of managing the home and the school at home are at their peak

they would have swallowed us alive

the fears and anxieties regarding our children’s education would have engulfed us,

the worries over curricula and materials would have swept over us,

the daily battles in the school room would have swept us away.

and our own tempers and tantrums would have consumed us !

BUT…..

Praise be to the Lord,

who has not let us be torn by the burdens we choose to carry

We have escaped and have been protected by our loving Father

Our HOMESCHOOL help is in the name of the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth who loves our children more than we can ever do.

And along the lines of Mr. Muller’s thinking, let me add, “If God is in our homeschool, He will supply.”

So, let us draw near to God. Homeschool with Him nearby. Call to him for every homeschooling ache in your heart and mind. Remember what James says.” Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts.” (James 4:8) Admit, confess to Him, say sorry to your students if you have hurt them or failed as a teacher in some way or another and start again, with God nearby.

So dear homeschooler, what will it take for you to homeschool with God nearby? Think about it. Make some adjustments. Pray and ask God to be near and He will draw near to you! I am a witness of that for the past 12 years of being a homeschooler! Praise be to our Lord indeed!

So despite the trials and interruptions during the past 10 weeks, the kids were able to submit and present their portfolios:) Raya is even wearing a dress she sewed for HELE!
So despite the trials and interruptions during the past 10 weeks, the kids were able to submit and present their portfolios:) Raya is even wearing a dress she sewed for HELE! Below is a photo with our most loving and supportive TMA Consultant, Ms. Girlie Argosino.IMG_3597

 

Psalm 65 :4 How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You to dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.

Psalm 145:18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.

Featured image of James 4:8 : http://mikepittman.org/?p=3071

2015 Philippine Homeschool Conference: A MUST FOR ALL HOMESCHOOLERS! See you there!

The 2015 Philippine Homeschool Conference: Ready For The World  on Oct 17, 2015 is a huge milestone in Philippine homeschooling scene that every homeschooler must attend.

Nothing so far has been mounted in this manner and I am truly excited. I have attended and on some occasions have spoken in several conferences presented by Homeschooling Association of the Philippine Islands  (HAPI), The Master’s Academy (TMA), Manila Workshops and  The Learning Basket separately through the years. But to have all these groups unite and collaborate for this year’s Philippine Homeschooling Conference at the SMX Aura and SMX Convention Center  that is going to be surely one AWESOME gathering and every homeschooler should be a part of it.ready for the world poster

Homeschooling Conferences are one of the best ways to get that encouragement boost as we continue home education which many say is truly a road less travelled. Just look at the program!

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Source: http://manilaworkshops.com/events/homeschool-conference-2015

You may download the actual program here.

As I surveyed the topics for plenary and workshop ssessions, here is how I see them:

The “Big Picture” topics:

  •  Give Me One Reason To Homeschool ( Workshop) 
  • Teaching Foundational Truth (Keynote Message)
  • Global Perspective in Homeschooling (Keynote Message) 

And the very practical and more “close to home topics”:

  • Parenting Basics; Getting Your Kids to Listen and Learn 
  • Stretching Your P-100 Budget in Homeschooling
  • Homeschooling 101: Getting Started
  •  Getting Your Homeschoolers Ready for Independent Homeschooling

The Big Picture topics will be handled by husband and wife, Davis and Rachael Carman, (“proprietors of the number 1 Creation based, biblically sound, long term homeschool curriculum material: Apologia”) and Mike Donnelly, director for the Global Outreach of the United States’ Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and the current secretary of the Global Home Education Conference 2016 (GHEC).

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Oh wow!!! Who would not want to spend the day listening to these speakers who live and breathe homeschooling with such a passion that brings them to far edges of the world to help fan the growing homeschooling fire worldwide????

On a personal note, our family has been an Apologia Science and What We Believe material user for almost 7 years!!!! I would definitely love to listen to the minds behind this brilliant Jesus-focused homeschooling program!

Add to this, are our local experts on the fields of finances, independent homeschooling, homeschooling basics and parenting!

  • Edric & Joy Tanchi
  • Tina Rodriguez
  • Chinkee Tan
  • Ched Azardon

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This year’s Philippine Homeschool Conference 2015 has also added a whole new dimension to the Homeschooling Expo with craft workshops for children 13 y.o and above. For those seeking for homeschooling materials, this will be this year’s best gathering of educational toys, tools and books!  I have  all this  range of materials and books that I’ve used and reused for more than  a decade now and when I am asked where I  sourced them, I say, “In a Homeschooling Conference!”

Apart from the learning sessions and the expo, there is just something so invigorating in seeing hundreds of other parents all gathered for one united purpose: home education. As moderator of the Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB community, I am also excited to meet as many homeschoolers during this time.

If you’d like to register and join this super duper, worth your while, exciting event,  please click here. It will only take a few minutes to register!

See you there!

If you’d like to avail of a free ticket to this event, and some prizes from Bee Happy Crafts, please visit: Facebook page of HomesCool.ph to see the mechanics on how to join!

Proversbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron,   so one person sharpens another.

An Art a Day takes the Blues Way: Lines make Shapes

We use lines to create outlines and so, lines create shapes.   Familiarize your students with the different kinds of shapes.  For older children, you can tie this with Math since shapes have formal definitions too.   For younger children, you may try to check this link to get ideas on how to make learning about shapes more fun.

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Photo credit: www.creativemarket.com

 

Shapes may either be two dimensional with only height and width, or three dimensional with height, width, and depth. You can go around the house and search for different shapes among your every day objects.

For preschoolers, you may check this video or another one to learn more about shapes through a video and song.  Then you can have a shape search around the house.  Basically they go around the house and draw shapes or outlines that they see and if they can, to try to spell the name of the shape.

You can print 4 of these in a A4 paper.
You can print 4 of these in a A4 paper.

 

They may draw the TV and say it’s “rectangle” or a “clock” and identify it as a circle. Make sure you write the shapes in written word so they can copy and learn how to spell.

If they are familiar with shapes and how to draw them, you can just ask them to choose one shape and make a drawing full of that shape only.  Our boy did this when they were 8 years old.

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You can open a magazine together and he/she can cut objects that represent a specific shape. You can make a “Shape” album with magazine cut outs.  For older kids, you may introduce 3-dimensional shapes such as cones, pyramids, rectangular prisms, sphere, cylinder and then also find objects at home that represent these 3-D shapes ( Canned goods, cheese or butter, ice cream cone, balls, etc)

The book, “There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly” by  Simms Taback is a really amusing story with lots of illustrations of shapes and outlines.

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Try to get this book or use this video. Pause on every page to identify shapes.

For fine art examples, you may check out:

Paul Klees’s Red Balloon

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Or Henry Matisse’s  The Parakeet and the Mermaid.

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Photo Credit: http://famsterdamlife.com

Locally, our national artist, Cesar Legaspi is also known to make use of a style that creates shapes.

Photo Credit: www.Ayalamuseum.org
Photo Credit: www.Ayalamuseum.org

Arturo Luz creates shapes with more distinct outlines :

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Photo Credit: www.midcenturia.com

 

For older children, you can assign them to research more on Filipino artists who uses a lot of “shapes” or the illusion of  shapes.  You may even visit a few galleries on the Mega Mall 4th floor to just see more “Art” forms (include Sculpture, Sketches, Mosaic, etc) and recognize the elements of Art that we’ve been studying in this series.   If you feel “academic”, you can give the kids clipboards, a worksheet to answer and a camera to take photos of the art works that caught their attention. Have fun!

 

Photo Credit:  http://liferearranged.com/2014/03/sunday-smiles-135/
Photo Credit:
http://liferearranged.com/2014/03/sunday-smiles-135/

 

Being Released from a Decade of Homeschooling: A Teen Shares his Experience

In this category, Precious Partners, HomesCool.ph features entries/posts from  our dear co-laborers in Homeschooling.  They could be parents, teachers, students, pastors, doctors  and experts in various fields of education and child rearing:)  For our ever first entry in this category, a former homeschooler opens up!  Read on and be blessed:)

“The days were ticking by fast, and once August rolled in, there was no turning back. Being homeschooled my entire existence in this world, I had the faintest idea of how it would feel to be attending real school or, as we homeschoolers like to call it, “big school”. During my childhood, my parents decided to homeschool me. The purpose was to prepare me for big school. This was an excellent choice!

My mother was an above par teacher for almost all subjects. It was very easy to learn with my mother as my teacher. This is due to the fact that homeschooling offers a more personal teacher-student relationship. Another reason to homeschool was due to our family’s faith. Being Christians, my parents wanted to educate me about the Bible and instill its teachings and wisdom. My parents wanted to teach these things to me at a young age.

When I reached grade 7, my parents thought it was time for me to go to real school. I entered a fairly small international school. As my first day of class drew closer and closer, many questions plagued my mind, “How would I fit in?” was one of the biggest thoughts in my head.  This and a lll the questions however, vanished during my first day of school. I had so much fun, I totally forgot about what bothered me in the first place.  No kidding!  I think it helped because my batch mates were really a great bunch of people!

I found it really easy to adjust to school! The hardest part, I think, was waking up early in the morning. I made friends quickly and I received high marks in most of my subjects. However,  I still had to work on certain things coming from the homeschool environment.  Let me share what  the adjustments that most homeschoolers will face when the big day eventually comes:

Classmates: Finding and making friends is an important task that homeschoolers will have to be accustomed to. Coming from a small a school with only about 30-40 students per batch, this was not too difficult for me. My advice is to find a group of friends or a “barkada” where you just can be yourself. It shouldn’t be your top priority to be in the “cool” barkada, rather you should try to find people who share similar interests and hobbies with you. I, for instance, am fond of playing basketball and  I just  love everything about basketball. The friends I made in school were mostly basketball players. I also suggest not to just stay limited within your group of friends. Do not look down or even maybe bully those who are different or seem “uncool” to you. Reach out to them and get to know them better!

Teachers: Every school will have a variety of different teachers. Each teacher may have different personalities or teaching techniques. While some teachers may be friendly there are also other teachers who can be very strict. Treat all your teachers with respect and kindness even the ones you dislike. Now that you are in a real school, not all teachers will act towards you like your mother would. In my experience, I had a very strict and even scary looking teacher.

Class: Being in a real classroom is very different from being taught at home. I believe that it is essential to be confident, hardworking and a risk-taker in class to succeed. It is critical to be attentive and to participate in discussions and activities. For me, it is all right to talk or chat with classmates but one should know when he or she has gone over the line. In my school, asking questions is very important. You should take a risk in asking questions and also answering questions, this shows the teacher that you are enthusiastic to learn and gives you a better understanding of the lesson.

Activities: One of the biggest downside of Homeschooling in my opinion is the fact that there are no regular sports teams and after school activities are limited. When you first enter a school, don’t be afraid to try out or join teams or clubs. It will make help you gain many friends and fun memories.

Influence: Another reason why Homeschooling is very crucial to our family is to that,  I believe, it created a strong foundation of values and principles early in my childhood and primary years. This will help avoid from picking up bad influences from other people as we are released to mainstream schooling. This is the reason WHY my parents wanted to prepare me before sending me off the real school. In reality, every school, I believe has a variety of bad influences which commonly come from other students. These may include constant swearing, cheating, lying, perverted jokes, pornography, drinking, smoking and even drugs. As a follower of Christ, I try to avoid picking up bad influences, but I am not perfect. The best way not to get influenced is to avoid hanging around students who are not the best role models. You may think that since a lot of people smoke, swear or drink, these then are automatically “cool” . This is called Peer Pressure and reality, I’m pretty sure God does not think such behaviors are “cool”. Peer Pressure is something that you need to avoid or resist. You CANNOT make use the excuse that “If everyone does it, why can’t I do it?” or “Since my friends are doing it, I think Ill try it”. You must learn how to simply just say “No” and if people do laugh at you then let them. This then ultimately shows how important it is for you to surround yourself with good friends as mentioned earlier. Being a good example yourself can help ward off bad influences.

I am still young and will face a lot more challenges and adjustments. It’s only my 4th year of being released from Homeschool. Since then, I have moved to a much bigger and more mainstream High School. But I am thankful for my Homeschooling Years. These, I totally believe, were one of the best experiences that I will ever encounter in my growing years. “

Will you entrust your children to a teacher who says, Vigan is in “Longganisa”?

Oh yes, there are days when it seems like I left my teacher brain somewhere.  Answers to some questions seem to have been unearthed in a reflexive manner as shown in the title of this article. Yes, it’s true. It happened. I have 3 witnesses!

After telling a story set in Vigan (a city in Northern part of the country), one of my students asked, “Where is Vigan?” Without batting an eyelash and without shame, I blurted out “Longganisa”. Yes, I did. I wish you were right there in our HomesCool room to see their faces and listen to the burst of laughter.

Longganisa is a term used to describe a Filipino version for “flavored”  sausage.  And Vigan is known for these yummy sausages.  Vigan may be a type of longganisa but the answer should have been “Ilocos Sur”, a province in Northern Luzon.

Was is just a mix–up since the 2 words begin with the same syllable ? Was I hungry? Did I have Vigan longganiza for breakfast that morning? Was that the most associated word with Vigan at that very moment? I will never know.

HomesCooling will have days like this and you just have to laugh with it!

There was another time when my son simply asked, “Ma, what is “movie house” in Tagalog?”   and I answered with much confidence, “pi-ni-la-kang ta-bing”. It was a deep Filipino word, not usually used in everyday conversation.  In English, it’s like  I was just supposed to answer “cinema or theater” but then I said “silver screen”!!! My then 11-year old son had the strangest look. Wasn’t sure if he was more “freaked out” with my reply or if he was so scared of spelling it!

After trying to rush to complete requirements, my son, as he was answering a long test I prepared, asked , “Ma, were you asleep when you made this? “ Oh dear.

After many years, I have learned to be kinder to myself and allow these momentary short circuits to happen. And just smile and move on. I guess, having 4 multilevel kids with different textbooks and lessons can make ones’ brain konk out once in a while.

There are days when your students may feel “alone” because the teacher was just too busy to be consulted. Don’t fret. They can learn a thing or two from being in such a predicament.  We can’t be all that we want to be as a teacher and mother to our children.

I remember a seat work wherein instead of asking her teacher, my poor daughter wrote the words from a Beatles song, “Help I need somebody, Help not just anybody,”  complete with a drawing of a sad face on her Math worksheet.

Such occasional experiences may be funny but they may be windows of what’s really going on inside.  They may  mean that we are functioning on overdrive and need to rest or chill. There were times that I have had to disrupt a lesson that I was teaching due to fatigue and made this request, “ Kids, Mom is just too tired and needs to doze a bit.” (Of course, they happily accepted and knew then that 95% of the time, when I woke up, I would opt not to resume and call it a day.)

There was a tough season as a daughter to elderly parents a year or so ago. My dad was hospitalized for 5x in like 3 months. On one occasion, as we got home after Dad’s discharge, Mom had to be rushed to the ER!  Being the doctor of the family and  the  main “daughter” assigned to take care of basic needs of our elderly parents, that was really a very draining time.  I could not teach at home and would often leave assigned work  or just let kids watch educational videos.  One afternoon after being in the hospital all day after admitting Dad, I couldn’t find the strength to teach at all.  So I just asked my nine and eleven year old students, if they wanted to just pretend play and I was going to let them be surgeons for the day and teach them what it’s like to work in the hospital.   Below are photos of that super fun homeschooling time:

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I just had to teach something that I didn't nee any books or gadgets since I was just so tired.
I just had to teach something that I didn’t need any books or gadgets since I was just so tired.
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I taught the kids what happens inside the operating room. This was a case of a woman who needed to have surgery to remove a “mass” or “tumor” in her body . We even formed a lump from play dough to represent that removed part.

 

So do not worry. Do not beat yourself up on certain days when you can’t do what was originally planned.  Listen to your own body and  check your stress levels.  When you need to take it easy, simplify the lesson plans, and if you can, nap  to recharge.

Two of the four Simpao HomesCooled kids have moved on to regular schools and they are products of a decade of HomesCooling that had a lot of these kinds of days.  With 2 HomesCoolers left, there is less chaos in our HomesCooling schedule, lesson plans and HomesCooling rooms.  Hopefully there will be more order, less errors in “DIY tests”,  and correct answers from the teacher! But hey, the ones who have moved on have been awarded academic excellence awards together with character commendations recently so we must have done something right amidst those short circuits.  Praising God for how gracious He is indeed, working through our limitations and failures.

 

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything , with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

Genesis 2:2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

Credits to www.marketmanila.com/images for the longganisa image.

 

How to Spot a HomesCooler !

HomesCoolers will definitely stand out  because we are alternative educators.  Despite being around our country for more than several decades,  HomesCooling is still a radical approach to educating children. After 15 years of HomesCooling,  let me share with you how to spot a HomesCooler and yes please appreciate them. They are treading through a very bold and daunting journey.

H – oarder!   Whether it be educational materials,  support groups,  activities for our students, teaching tips and advise from those who have gone ahead of us,  we love to Hoard! And sometimes, to a great fault. There is GIANT insecurity of not having what a traditional school can offer so we try to compensate, overcompensate. So you’ll always see us in bookstores (dropping by even if we don’t need anything), books fairs, “Book Sale” branches, searching online, etc. Of course, we  are limited by our financial budgets,  However, we sometimes try to rationalize purchasing “one more” thing by saying, we don’t a have huge tuition fee anyway. However the “Hoarder” in us will eventually calm down at some point.

O – verwhelmed.   This can happen several times a day which we can overcome as we go about our day.  However,  boulders of “Overwhelmed Feelings” can really railroad us for longer periods of time. Imagine taking care of all subjects while taking care of the home?  Imagine taking care ofALL subjects of MULTIPLE children and taking care of the home?  First time homeschoolers may be  more prone to this as they learn how to adjust and mix home life with education.  However, as time goes by and as more and more products of ones homesCooling surface, there is a switch from a negative kind of “Overwhelmed” to the positive kinds; “Overwhelmed with excitement, overwhelmed with joy, overwhelmed with ideas.” Beware she might just end up convincing you to HomesCool.

M– rs. Doubtfire.   This term came from a movie by Robin Williams.  Beginner HomesCoolers are also prone to a barrage of doubts.  “What am I doing?”, “”Can I really do this?”, “Will my children learn? ” , and “Am I destroying our children’s future” can actually set one into an avalanche of self-doubt. Doubts can either cripple us or make us humble and seek help. I have learned to commit our HomesCooling to the Lord and seek Him first.  I try to be quick to learn from others and to be willing to seek and avail of help.  Doubts can draw you to commit your family and your journey to God.

E -ager to Encourage.  I am a witness to this amazing transformation among HomesCoolers in this area.  A doubting teacher, through time and experience, begins to  willingly come alongside  and support others. HomesCoolers who meet other HomesCoolers is the one of the most wonderful fellowships ever as encouragement instantly overflows.

S -upport seeker. The Homeschoolers in the Philippines Facebook page, I set up a year ago, is the best proof of this. HomesCoolers are always in need of help in various forms. We are nearing the 9300 mark in membership!

C- haos Expert. This especially applies to those who have many students to teach. The more closely spaced the children are, the more chaos, and the more one becomes an expert to remain calm amidst so many things happening. I remember breastfeeding while teaching two preschooler and depending on my feet to reach stuff!  Calmness, one trait my close friends believe I possess, is borne out of years of homeschooling four children (and being the youngest of nine children, I guess).

O – bedient to the Calling.  HomesCooling is a calling. It all begins with that.  As new homesCoolers start their adventure, a lot of skepticism, criticism and opposition will come in many forms and various directions. However, if the calling is secure,  obedient HomesCoolers will definitely weather through, thrive, survive and flourish.

–  ccasionally Obsessed ( forgive us!).  Sometimes you may meet someone who is just  so into HomesCooling, and it just shows in every area of their lives. Well, HomesCooling is a lifestyle so that’s expected. So be gracious to those who can’t stop talking about it. Eventually, things will settle down at some point. Sometimes, it helps HomesCoolers to talk about it to destress.

L – lifelong Learner.  One of the best things about being a parent-teacher is “learning or relearning” alongside your children. I have become a passionate History (World and Philippine) reader, a multiple subject (including ART !) piano, baking, cooking, basic carpentry, Filipino games, volleyball teacher (and many other skills!) as a result of our HomeCooling. My love for reading has been re-ignited. I believe I have a become “better person” through the many lessons  I have had to learn and teach. HomesCoolers are definitely eager learners. It’s the only way we can infect our children with the passion to learn!

So there, HOMESCOOL tips on how to spot US.

 Deuteronomy 6:6-8  “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  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.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”

Be a Blessing!

Last year,  I was invited to speak in a homeschooling conference on the topic of “Conquering Homeschool Fatigue.”  As I was about to wrap up my preparation, God was quick to remind me of something very valuable .  I was reminded of this verse in Proverbs  11:15 , ” He who refreshes others will themselves be refreshed.”

It may seem quite ironic but truly the Word is true in this promise. Homeschooling will be tiring and draining if the direction is always inward. If all you’re in for is how to raise wonderful, smart and happy children, it is going to get tiring at some point.

As Christ’s followers, we desire to be part of the circle blessing not merely as recipients but also as givers. So we find opportunities in our homeschooling to bless others.  As early as toddlers and preschoolers, we can teach  the virtues of humility, compassion and  generosity. We can encourage ways  on how they can bring comfort and joy to others no matter how young our students are.

And as they say, “Charity begins at home.”  We then seek to extend the blessing to the one nearest: a sibling, a parent, a grandparent, a neighbor, a person in the hospital, a helper?  Who do you think needs encouragement ? Who do you think can you bless?

Blessings come in various forms such a commitment to pray  for a sick friend,  writing a get well soon card for someone in the hospital,   visiting a grandparent, or even just giving some cookies to a new neighbor.

We can incorporate this in our daily/weekly schedules. If you pray together as you begin homeschooling, then  have a short time discussing those who may need your prayers as a family. Write it down, if you have a  homeschooling prayer list.  Is anyone’s birthday coming up? Pray for that person.

As part of Language/ Creative Writing, you may challenge your students to write to their grandparents or some cousin who lives abroad.  For a coming birthday of someone you’d like to bless,  allot some time for Art to create cards.

In summary, here are some simple and doable examples :

1.  Card making  –  Make it your ART activity for the day  to make their own cards .

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Card Making – One of our favorite Art activities

 

Tita Chel so happy with Marco's DIY birthday card.
Tita Chel so happy with Marco’s DIY birthday card.

 

Card with buttons and cloth
Card with buttons and cloth

 

"Thank you, Raya!"
“Thank you, Raya!”

 

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For Lola LIssa and Lola Emma

 

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“Turn Art to bless a HEART.”

 

 

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Jesus is Born by Gino
Jesus is Born by Gino.

 

2. Making Gifts

If you have budding artists, you can encourage DIY gifts for Grandparents, Dads, or other loved ones. Raya loves to sew and paint:)  So for many years now, she has been giving hand made stuff and it has been really wonderful seeing the smiles as they unwrap their gifts. Gilbert and I have been recipients as well of this, from aprons to cross-stitched frames, to flower arrangements:)

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My homeschooled niece Kaila has an amazing gift of paper folding (origami). She created a frame for Lola Emma using this amazing talent!

 

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Raya’s secret Christmas gift to her parents.

 

3. Flower Arrangement –  Just google youtube videos on flower arranging for whatever flower you would like to do.

My parents are both in their 80s.  It has been  a difficult time health wise  and we have found ourselves in and out of the hospital for the past 2 or so years. Dad doesn’t engage much and prefers to sleep and lie down most of the time.  This is heartbreaking for Mom, his wife of 59 years!  So we all try to do our part to “cushion” the blow and yes, homeschooling is a great avenue to include your children in this endeavor.  For all their 59 years, we have witnessed, rain or shine, in good times and bad times, a bouquet of flowers from Dad  for Mom’s birthday, their wedding anniversary and Valentines. 🙂  For their 58th Wedding Anniversary and Valentine’s Day ( 7 weeks apart),  our homesCool decided to help Dad continue on with this lifetime promise — and included flower arranging in our Art/HELE activity. Oh it was pure joy. We sourced the flowers from Dangwa/ Alabang Market to save on cost.  Imagine for Mom’s 80th birthday, the entire clan attempted to give her 1000 roses  (some where in other forms like origami, paintings, printed on a dress or bag.)

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Even the boys helped cut flowers and arrange in vases

 

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Raya learned how to make a bouquet for Lola Emma and Lolo Dony’s 58th Wedding Anniversary.

 

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“We have to help Lolo fulfill his promise to Lola!”

 

4. Going the extra mile for others

For her 80th birthday, Language Arts session was turned into Poetry Making for Lola Emma. They read the poem during her birthdday celebration.

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Take a break from HomesCool and visit an elderly relative.  Here, I think, we also interviewed Owa about the Japanese War and how her family was spared from the rough times up north in Ilocos. We miss Owa, a constant source of stories who passed away last year.

The only Great Grandmother, Owa, my children had a chance to know and bond with. Miss you, Owa.
The only Great Grandmother, Owa, my children had a chance to know and bond with. Miss you, Owa.

 

5. Responding to people in need –

There will always be people in need around us.  And we can always find ways to help.    The Bible in Ephesians 2;10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  During the typhoon  Ondoy in 2009 when many areas in NCR and Central Luzon were flooded, we could not homeschool in a business-as-usual fashion.  We knew of  many evacuation centers near our home with Filipinos who will surely be blessed with warm, home cooked meals.  

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What started as a one family and one kitchen effort became a community movement as more homes sent food and volunteers for repacking of warm meals wrapped in banana leaves.

 

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The kids took their spots in the assembly line of making “binalot” with adobo and boiled egg with rice. On other days, it was lumpiang shanghai.

 

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We just thought that maybe after days of probably “instant noodles”, we could “refresh” others with this warm, home cooked meal wrapped in banana leaves.

 

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Kids packed, counted and labelled.

 

The "Binalot Movement" was so contagious, cousins and neighbors quickly came to help feed hundreds in evacuation centers.
The “Binalot Movement” was so contagious, cousins and neighbors quickly came to help feed hundreds in evacuation centers.

 

Typhoons will continue to come  so we try to do our part whenever we can .

Relief Goods
Relief Goods

 

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Rallied kids and other children to make cards for the children of Ormoc for Christmas after Yolanda struck in 2013.

 

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Inspirational books for the children of Ormoc. Kids helped wrap as well

 

God wants His children to love, bless and encourage one another. HomesCooling can provide many ways to teach this very fundamental foundational truth in life . So as  you teach, there are days when there will be a tug in your heart to do something for someone or for a family. Include your children in the process as you respond to this tug in your heart.   A time will come, you will be surprised when God will move your children’s hearts to bless someone.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Luke 6: 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Soft Opening of HomesCool.ph

Oh my! Is this for real? I somehow knew that this had to start at some point. Thankful to Janna & Ian Simpao and Zoe Tuico who helped set this up. And so as the Nike tagline goes, just do it. So here it is. Born April 4, 2015, homescool.ph is a homeschooling blog born from our home. I am Donna Simpao, a homeschooler in the Philippines for the past 13 years. I’ve been married to Gilbert, my college sweetheart, and we have four children, Vince, Marco, Gino and Raya. Our two older boys, Vince and Marco are now in regular schools and we still have Raya, and Gino, in our “leaner” homeschool batch this school year.

Education-wise, I graduated grade and high school from Maryknoll (now Miriam) and completed a degree in Psychology in UP Diliman. I went further to earn a medical degree from UP College of Medicine but shortly after passing the boards, my husband was assigned abroad and I was not able to pursue my residency.

As we settled back in 2001, the wonderful window of homeschooling opened up with the help of my sister, Ate Felichi Buizon, who was then two years into homeschooling. Not only did I open the window but truly opened my heart and all doors of our home as I embraced homeschooling. Homeschooling four children became a full-time career for me eventually as more children came.

Encouragement is so important in the homeschooling community. And this is the main purpose of this blog, to encourage all those who may opt to formally or informally “homeschool” their children. Though this blog may be most helpful to the “official” and registered homeschoolers, we all know that every home is a school for every child. So I guess that explains “dropping” the word “school” from this blog’s name. I’d like to reach out to every parent out there who wishes to make her home a fun and cool place to learn and grow.

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