Homeschooling, Just My Thoughts, My Kids, Parenting, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Focus, Fruitfulness, and God’s Faithfulness

2012 was an amazingly fruitful year for me! Looking back at the pictures of people and events I took, looking at my pictures taken by other people in many church events and in friends’ homes, thinking about all the blogs I posted and all the get-togethers we hosted, not to mention the birthdays that we celebrated and family trips we took, plus homeschooling…..yeah, 2012 was indeed fruitful. Although it began as a blur, I was able to write down a few faith goals, one of which was to be productive, fruitful every day. God is faithful. He answered my prayer.

One of the faith goals I wrote down was regarding homeschooling, that God would confirm to me whether it was right to homeschool Danae or not, which of course He did. We began last June. I’ve posted a few about our experiences — Why Homeschool?, OurVery Own Homeschool Room, Perks of Homeschooling — Freedom and Creativity, Perks of Homeschooling — Flexible Hours, Perks of Homeschooling — Opportunities.

my name published! :)
my name published! 🙂

Another one I prayed for was that my name be published. I did not know how, when or where, but I just told God my desire. He answered that prayer in a really funny way. My friend Varsha Daswani asked me for some holiday safety tips because she was writing an article for a magazine. I sent her the few that I thought of, and later on she told me that she would quote me, and a bunch of our other friends, in the article. So there, my name is actually published in a magazine! Haha, I love God’s sense of humor!

This year, God’s word for me is FOCUS. Yes, He made me fruitful and productive last year, but this year I need to balance that. I need to focus on my priorities on a daily basis, do the things I need to do first everyday — personal quiet time, family devotions, exercise, and homeschooling. Everything else must work around those as much as possible.

I believe I started 2013 right, and there have already been breakthroughs in our homeschooling, even though it’s been barely a week since we began. Noelle has joined us, and Danae has somehow matured and no longer whines about working on her paces. Thank you Lord! We have been following a better routine, and it seems to be finally working for us. Most importantly, I think we all have BETTER ATTITUDES. Focus and keeping my priorities straight helps me to teach my children better, and therefore fosters a conducive atmosphere for learning. It really begins with me. God’s grace abounds when we obey.

I also started exercising again the day after I found out that I had high blood pressure. Thank God for annual physical exams! That was on the last week of December last year.  I’d been complaining about dizzy spells for more than a month, and that must have been the reason. Thank God it never spiked too high, especially with all the yummy food over the holidays. After our church’s annual January fast and exercising with our Xbox Kinect almost daily, I am happy to say that my blood pressure is normal again! It’ll take more exercise and a better diet to maintain this, of course.

I am grateful for 2012 and the many lessons I learned. I am thankful for the HOPE I have in JESUS, that even though I did make mistakes and I will still make mistakes, He is not finished with me yet. His mercies are new every morning. Every year is a new chance to do things right. Every day is a new chance to make the right choices.

I am hopeful for what is to come. Again, with the things I desire, I do not know how, where or when, but God is faithful. He wants to bless me and my family. His ways are higher than mine. His timing is perfect. 🙂

Homeschooling, My Kids, Parenting, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Perks of Homeschooling — Opportunities

Sparks Homeschoolers have had a tradition of putting up a bazaar during the Christmas season for the last 3 or 4 years. This year, they had the opportunity to do it in a commercial place called Soderno, a big tent open only on weekends for food and bazaars in Molito Lifestyle Center.

King and I also decided to take the opportunity to join so that Danae would learn a thing or two. It was my very first time to experience the whole thing as a seller, and I enjoyed it! It wasn’t a really busy place like other bazaars, so it wasn’t so stressful for me. Danae actually enjoyed playing with her friends and sister, while I manned our booth haha. I was able to teach her some about money, math and work. I learned a lot myself, and it was sort of a dream come true as I have always wanted to own a “sari-sari” (convenience) store. King always tells me it would never work because my kids and I will be the top customers haha.

I was so impressed by the older kids who manned their own booths! Watching and listening to them made it more fun for me. I loved talking to the other moms there as well. I loved that some of our homeschoolers showcased their talents by jamming with the acoustic act in the food area, and then they had their own jamming session in our area.

If not for homeschooling and for Sparks, this wouldn’t have been possible for us. We are grateful for the opportunity to teach, to learn, not to mention earn. We will definitely be joining again next year. Maybe then I would be ready with some of my own creations. 🙂

Danae in front of our booth. One of the very few times that she was haha. :)
Danae in front of our booth. One of the very few times that she was haha. 🙂
Danae and Noelle's booth! We sold all kinds of things -- toys, stickers, pouches, awesome notebook and notepad covers, hand sanitizers, colognes, hand washes, and bags. :)
Danae and Noelle’s booth! We sold all kinds of things — toys, stickers, pouches, awesome notebook and notepad covers, hand sanitizers, colognes, hand washes, and bags. 🙂
Our beautiful notebook covers, created by my friend Donna Gaddi. :)
Our beautiful notebook covers, created by my friend Donna Gaddi. 🙂
Sam Battung's booth! She sold their own creations, from little trays and accessories to arts & crafts kits and little knick knacks. :)
Sam’s booth! She sold their (they are a family of very creative individuals) own creations, from little trays and accessories to arts & crafts kits and little knick knacks. 🙂
Andee and Julia's booth! Julia sold ballet-themed items, consistent with her being a ballerina. Andee sold other cute bags and wallets. :)
Andee and Julia’s booth! Julia sold ballet-themed items, consistent with her being a ballerina. Andee sold other cute bags and wallets, her mom’s creations. 🙂
Elise's booth! She and her mom sold Christmas bowls and plates, among other things. I actually bought some from them haha. :)
Elise’s booth! She and her mom sold Christmas bowls and plates, among other things. I actually bought some from them haha. 🙂
Matthew's booth, with sister Micah modelling! His mom sold shirts and accessories. :)
Matthew’s booth, with sister Micah modelling! His mom sold shirts and accessories. 🙂
Spring's booth! She and her mom sold framed art works. :)
Spring’s booth! She and her mom sold framed art works. 🙂
Spring and Sam's Grandma's booth! She sold quilts that she herself made. Told you they're a family of creative individuals! :)
Spring and Sam’s Grandma’s booth! She sold quilts that she herself made. Told you they’re a family of creative individuals! 🙂
Chuck's booth! He sold his mom's creations called Scentiments -- body oils and room sprays. :)
Chuck’s booth! He sold his mom’s creations called Scentiment — body oils and room sprays. Really great fragrances. 🙂
Yela's booth! She, her sister and mom sold shirts, colognes, credit card holders. :)
Yela’s booth! She, her sister and mom sold shirts, colognes, credit card holders. King bought little hand sanitizers from them. 🙂
Amber's booth! She sold stickers and notepads. her tattoos were my kids' favorite. Danae still has one on her clavicle, which she put over 2 weeks ago. :)
Amber’s booth! She sold stickers and notepads. Her tattoos were my kids’ favorite. Danae still has one on her clavicle, which she put over 2 weeks ago. 🙂
Trey's booth! He and his partner Joaquin, sold his awesome HASHTAG shirts. :)
Trey’s booth! He and his partner Joaquin, sold his awesome HASHTAG shirts. 🙂
Homeschooling, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Perks of Homeschooling — Flexible Hours

One of the perks of homeschooling is flexible hours. When we were starting out, I asked one of my go-to homeschooling moms, Michelle, how I ought to fix our daily schedule. She gave me great advice — set a schedule and see how it works out for the next few weeks, then adjust accordingly.

I wanted a daily routine, or at least some semblance of it, and scheduled Danae’s homeschooling within the 2 hours that Noelle was at her school, 1030am-1230pm. King’s only rest day every week is Monday, so I chose to only do homeschool for 4 days a week, even though Noelle has classes 5 days a week. Within those 4 days, the schedule was to have at least 3 subjects per day, and each subject was done at least twice a week. As you know, many things happen in a span of a few months, and so we weren’t able to really stick with the schedule or with the work allotted per day. We already started the school year late, at the last week of June to be exact, because I really didn’t want to be harassed with all the preparations plus it was Noelle’s first time to go to pre-school. And with all the interruptions — the kids and I getting sick, church events, family trips — we also ended the first quarter a bit late.

But that’s the beauty of homeschooling — it’s FLEXIBLE.

science project: make a report about her guppy

I adjusted our schedule and I find that doing Math, English and Science daily (Tuesday to Friday, that is), and Filipino and Civics three times a week (Tuesday to Thursday) seems to be working much better for us. Friday afternoon is reserved for the SPARKS class where Danae gets to be in a classroom with other homeschoolers her age for some Music & Rhythm, Arts & Crafts, Reading, and Science Experiments. We are not able to finish within the two hours that Noelle is at school, but it’s also good because sometimes Noelle joins us after lunch and we do work on her workbook or her puzzles.

And now, we have already caught up. Even though we sometimes extend our homeschooling time, or re-schedule to another time or day, we are already done with 2nd quarter exams! She just needs to finish her science project, then we begin the 3rd quarter on Tuesday.

For a mom like me, flexible hours is so convenient. I don’t have to be pressured by time, since in the first place, I’m not at all an early riser. I do not use that as an excuse, however, to move our home school time to the afternoon. Having a routine, or like I said some semblance of it, would be pointless. There should be goals set daily. But it does take the pressure off to know that even if we start a little or a lot late, we can always adjust and still not miss anything. We can also adjust the amount of work Danae is able to do per day. We can stop when she’s tired or needs an attitude adjustment (haha) or when I need an attitude adjustment (double haha), and she can do more work if she chooses to. We can miss a day or a few days of homeschooling, but we are still able to complete the lessons and the work.

We’ve already hit the half mark of our very first homeschool year and I think we’re doing pretty good. It hasn’t been perfect but I’m convinced that this year isn’t the only year I’m homeschooling. 🙂

*SPARKS stands for Shepherding, Promoting And Realizing Kids’ Skills

* click here to know why we chose to homeschool Danae and here to know why Noelle is in regular school.

Homeschooling, Parenting, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Why Homeschool?

The question I asked myself last year was “To homeschool or not to homeschool?” Now that that has been answered, the question a few people ask me is “Why? Why homeschool?”

Maybe I should answer that by answering the question “Why not homeschool?” first. We’ve always been open to it, but our considerations in the past had to do with Danae needing social interaction, not because she lacked it or because she had poor social skills, but because she was (still is) such a social being. She just enjoyed playing with and being around people. I also considered the fact that Noelle came the year that Danae was going to start pre-school (2009). Homeschooling, for me, would have been impossible while taking care of a baby. A small school was the next best thing.

Come Kinder, Danae and I would butt heads a lot when reviewing for exams. That just reinforced our decision to keep her in Kidvantage Learning Center. I could not imagine the stress we would both be enduring everyday if we started homeschooling then. Before Prep started, I discovered that she was actually interested to homeschool, but it being such a surprise to me and since classes were 3 months away, we agreed to wait till 1st grade.

I tell you, I had gone back and forth so many times last school year, trying to decide whether it would be right for us to start homeschooling or not. Every time Danae and I would encounter problems, I would think I’m not ready. I’m not cut out for it.

Then I noticed certain changes in her behavior and speech that surprised me (in a bad way). I also noticed her complaining more and more about teasing in the classroom and about some kids being mean to her. My concerns about INFLUENCE resurfaced.

When my friend Michelle shared with me a conversation she had with her husband, it struck me. The real reason I was hesitant to homeschool was ME. Besides being afraid of the probability that Mom-venger Hulk would come out often, I didn’t want the work or the stress involved. I realized too that my lack of patience and self-control had become my excuse, my comfort zone. I was actually willing to be stuck there, instead of taking the opportunity to grow in character. I knew then that homeschooling wouldn’t just be for Danae’s best interest, it would be for mine too.

school work at home

So why homeschool? First, to REGROUP. We want to have better control of the influence surrounding Danae again, so that we can better build strong foundations, and better help her form her values and build her CHARACTER. She is 6 years old and we believe that this age is crucial. Whatever values and attitude she practices now, she will most probably carry till adulthood. We just don’t want to take the risk.

art time, MAPE class
photo credit: Michelle Remulla

If you’re wondering about her socialization, she’s got plenty. She belongs to the homeschool group which the moms called SPARKS, or Shepherding, Promoting And Realizing Kids’ Skills. She joins a weekly MAPE (Music, Arts, Phys Ed) class with a bit of reading taught by yours truly and science experiments taught by my friend May, with a bunch of other homeschoolers her age. We belong to a huge spiritual family, and she gets to interact with all kinds of people, children and adults alike, each week. We schedule play dates with old classmates and friends as well.

pre-school graduation

Second, TIMING. I believe 1st grade is the perfect time for us to start. It was right to put Danae in a regular school for pre-school because it helped us to teach her independence, discipline, putting value to her work, and to help her love for learning grow. In our case, regular school actually prepared her for homeschool.

Everything just felt right. My heart was in the right place, and we were all excited to embark on this journey. I did not even stress about preparations and all, probably because my husband is partnering with me and because I have a strong support group in the Alabang Homeschoolers’ moms, who already know what they are doing and who are willing to help me.

So far, it’s been good. I have since discovered more reasons why homeschooling is right for us at this time, which I will share with you in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I hope you are inspired, encouraged, or even challenged by this post. God bless you and enjoy your children! 🙂

Family, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Another Season of Firsts

The past few months have been another season of firsts for our family.

Last April 20-21, King and Danae participated in their very first Me and My Dad Camp. It was held on a mountain in Quezon, with just dads and little kids aged 6 to maybe 10. It was also King’s first time to spend a night alone with Danae. They would go out on dates alone, for about a couple of hours. I have also left both Danae and Noelle at home with him for half the day, but they’ve never been out alone together overnight! It’s easy when they’re at home, but at a camp site, in a tent, without the comfort of their own bathroom? I admit, I was a bit concerned, especially since there would be no heaters in the bathroom. I really warned Danae that she can’t freak out there haha. King was confident and Danae is pretty low-maintenance, so it went well. The memories they built between father and daughter — priceless. I wonder how it would be when he has both girls at the camp 3 years from now haha.

As I blogged a while back, last May 17-19 was Noelle’s first time to attend Vacation Bible Camp. It was a breakthrough for her to stay in a room virtually full of strangers (since her sister and friends were scattered depending on age), for about 3 hours for 3 consecutive days. Great memories were also built at “Pandamaniar.”

During summer last year, Danae had her first try at cheerleading and ballet. She got to perform her cheerleading routine in front of many at Our Lady of Pilar Montessori’s summer recital. That was a first too. We wanted to continue her ballet with TEAM Dance Studio, but our schedules and sleeping habits (haha) did not permit. This year, my mom sponsored her to take piano lessons at Music for Little Mozarts in SM Southmall. It was her first time to take formal lessons, and to be just sitting in one place for one full hour each session! She had 12 sessions between May 2 and May 28, and she got to join the summer recital last June 8. It was her first time to perform, playing the piano, in front of people she didn’t know. She did exceptionally well! She was nervous but she pulled through without a hitch. She is continuing her lessons this month.

Last June 20 was Noelle’s first day of school as a Nursery student in Kidvantage Learning Center. It was another breakthrough as she did not cry nor cling to me! Danae and I were inside school premises, but she did not have any problems staying in her class. On her second day, I was already able to leave her in school without any drama! We are so proud of her! Every time we pick her up to go home, she always says she had fun in school!

The very first MAPE class for school year 2012-2013 was held last June 22. It was Danae’s first time as a homeschool student and it was my first time to teach their class. I actually just read them a story, asked them questions to ensure comprehension, and included some simple vocabulary from the story. It was fun! I love that my daughter gets to learn music & dance from Tita Bianca, arts & crafts from the Battung sisters, and science experiments from Tita May as well.

1st day of homsechool; Bible time with daddy
Bible Time with Daddy

We officially started homeschool on June 26! A little late, I know, but that’s one of the perks of homeschooling. We didn’t mean for it to start that late, but I believe it all fell into place. The homeschool room was ready by then. The materials took a while, but the ones I needed to begin arrived the weekend before. I was also emotionally prepared, since I was able to take my time with the preparations. It went considerably well, it being our first time to do homeschool ever and it being our first day.

The Lord is good. The Lord is faithful. His grace is sufficient indeed. Looking forward to more wonderful firsts this year and in the years to come! 🙂

Family, FEATURED, Parenting, THE BRAINY BUNCH

OUR VERY OWN HOMESCHOOL ROOM!

We converted my brother’s old room into our very own homeschool room! We used purple (Danae’s favorite color), pink (Noelle’s favorite), and green for the walls, ceiling, drawers, and cabinets. We also already had a white and pink desk to begin with, so we needed colors that would go well with that. King and our handyman did the painting.

I originally planned to hang strips of fabric on the curtain rod to make a striped curtain, but since I bought the wrong kind, I braided them instead and used them for Danae & Noelle’s corner, where they can hang their art work. (Yes, we included Noelle even though she’s not being homeschooled yet.) I put old rubber mats on the floor so they have a place to read. Then I opted for a solid bright pink curtain.

I used pipe cleaners to shape my daughters’ names and colored paper as background, and put them in an old picture frame. I tied nylon string at the back so I could hang it on a nail that was already there. I just added stickers to cutify it even more.

These two movable drawer sets have been with us for more than 15 years, and they’ve been idle for more than 10 years. I was inspired to have them painted and used as book shelves, somewhat patterned after a long shelf I saw online, except that one was hanging on the wall. These serve as tables as well, and the drawers themselves could be used as storage. Everything on top, by the way, is not new. We’ve had them for years, and were mostly given. The globe is probably 20 years old.

I was able to put my old letter creations to good use here. Those digital-looking ones date as far back as year 2000. Others I’ve used for parties. The rest are new ones made from old paper. I did not buy anything for this, except those dragon fly stickers on either side. Danae, Noelle & my friend Jo helped me put them up. Danae also commented that the letters are for Noelle since she already knows her alphabet.

It’s been fun creating a space for our daughters that is conducive for learning, for reading, for being creative, and for having fun. Can’t wait to build more wonderful memories with King and my children in here. This is just the beginning! 🙂

Just My Thoughts, Parenting

TO HOMESCHOOL OR NOT TO HOMESCHOOL?

My 5-year-old Danae is in Kinder. She goes to Kidvantage Learning Center, a school 10 minutes away from our house. We were always open to homeschooling, but seeing that Danae enjoyed her first tries at school so much and that she’s such a people person, we decided to enroll her in a regular school — a small school, whose teacher to student ratio is ideal (1 plus 1 assistant is to 12) and whose teaching styles, activities and results I am quite happy with, and whose teachers are very approachable. I believe a small school is the next best thing to homeschooling, because I can better monitor my child’s progress and growth than if she were in a big school. Oh and did I mention that I do not believe I am patient enough to create a lesson plan myself, let alone teach my kid daily? Funny thing is I used to work as a teacher, and I think I’m a pretty okay teacher. But reviewing for Danae’s exams this school year just proved to me that we should not YET do homeschool, for my sake and hers. Needless to say, there were times we both got exasperated and frustrated.

So why on earth did I ask her which she preferred between regular school and homeschool last week??? I wasn’t even thinking. Maybe I was expecting her to say something else, but man, was I unprepared for her answer! She actually told me that she wanted to do homeschool. She said she wants to just do homework, and that I should just buy the books. What!!??? I thought for sure she’d tell me she loves school and that she’d miss her friends. Instead she told me she wants to do what her friends Pablo and Jaden are doing.

I panicked in my head, knowing that I will not be able to pull that off so soon! I was set to enroll her for next year already. So I resolved to make a deal with Danae. WE BOTH AGREED THAT WE WILL TRY HOMESCHOOLING IN 1ST GRADE.

When I told my friends, they laughed (because they know me and my apprehensions) and gave me all the selling points of homeschooling — no more homework because all the work is done at home, no more tardiness, I can meet Danae at her level, our schedule will be more flexible, and so on. What solidified the decision to wait till and start in 1st grade was what my friend Michelle said. Her 3rd son Jaden will be in 1st grade the same year that Danae is!!! That makes me feel so much better — that I can ask help from a veteran homeschooling mom (she’s been homeschooling her boys for at least 9 years I imagine, since her eldest is now 12), and ride along her lesson plans and then learn from there. The task doesn’t seem as daunting anymore.

So as I gave my word to Danae, we’re homeschooling in June 2012. I have more than a year to prepare the curriculum, lesson plan, etc…to prepare Danae, and most especially to prepare myself. We’ll take it a year at a time. God help me! 🙂