Homeschooling, My Kids, Parenting, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Noelle in School

Noelle’s school, Kidvantage Learning Center, celebrated Linggo ng Wika (Language Week) two weeks ago. All the kids were asked to wear Filipino costume, and each class prepared a Filipino number to show to the parents.

The day before however, I forgot about the adjusted schedule and brought Noelle to school when practice day was already over. I was concerned that she might feel awkward that she was not able to practice her dance with her classmates and that she may feel bad that she wouldn’t be able to follow the moves, but her teacher was confident that she’d be able to do it.

That Friday, we woke up late and got to the event by 8am. I thought Noelle had missed her dance, but thank God she didn’t. I know I know, I was kinda out of it that week…..or should I say I was out of it for an entire month! Glad we’ve gotten back in the groove though.

When it came time for her to perform, she did great! She wasn’t shy at all and she followed the moves quite well! Danae, on the other hand, was such a stage sister, coaching Noelle to pay more attention to what she was doing haha. We are super proud of our 3-year-old!

I love that my youngest daughter is in regular school, while her big sis is homeschooling. Danae spent 3 years in pre-school, had her own thing while Noelle was just home with me. This time around, Noelle has her own thing while her sister is at home. We thought we’d give her the opportunity that Danae had at her age to learn in a classroom setting, to bring and eat snacks (her favorite), to have time on the playground, to do homework, to have a routine, to experience school activities and programs. She wanted it so badly too, since last school year. She really enjoys it.

Aside from the fact that I don’t think I’m yet capable of handling two homeschoolers, we really felt Noelle needed time away from me because she’s the more clingy type. It showed more than ever when we put her in summer school when she was two (2011). If we put Danae in regular school because she is such a people person, we put Noelle in regular school for the opposite reason. Danae has always been fearless and friendly, Noelle a bit timid and choosy. Albeit differently, regular school has definitely benefited them both.

Having said that, Noelle also enjoys tagging along with Danae in her MAPE class. I’ve been noticing that she likes doing homework too. She and I have been talking about it, and it looks like she is open to homeschooling as well. I don’t know how everything is going to play out, but like what most homeschooling moms say, we will take it a year at a time. Everything is great just as they are right now, but who knows? I may have two homeschoolers in my hands next year. 🙂

My Kids, Parenting

My Speech at Danae’s Graduation

About a month ago, I was asked by Danae’s teacher to speak or share a testimony at Danae’s graduation ceremony about Danae’s and our experience in Kidvantage. It was such an honor to be able to share this on March 29, 2012.

Let me begin by saying that my husband and I believe that EDUCATION BEGINS AT HOME. We, the parents are our children’s first teachers, and hopefully their constant source of knowledge and wisdom as they grow older.

Our daughter Danae was not a traditional learner because she was, still is, very active, and had quite a short attention span. She learned from play time, from our conversations, from bed-time and other stories, from videos, from our trips to the mall or the beach, in the car, on a boat or on a plane. Like all children, she was, still is, a sponge – soaking up everything she is exposed to. She wasn’t really the type who would sit down and learn, which made me just a little bit worried. This is where Kidvantage came into the picture.

We enrolled Danae in the summer workshop when she was 2 and a half years old. Her teacher was Teacher Chris, who was great at distracting her from the thought of my absence (I was right outside, of course) and at keeping her interested in being in the classroom. That class helped in teaching her to stay in a confined space, to pay attention, to be with other kids her age, to respect authority, to be independent, and have fun while learning. How perfect that Kidvantage believes that PLAY IS A CHILD’S SERIOUS WORK.

We waited 1 year before enrolling Danae in Nursery because we wanted to make sure she would not be pressured to mature or to keep up with older classmates. It was also perfect timing because she already knew how to read 3 to 4-letter words by then. She adjusted well and she made new friends. It was also then that T. Milette discovered and nurtured Danae’s ability to read and understand short stories, hence her first excellence in reading award that year. In Kinder, we noticed that she enjoyed answering her workbooks and doing homework. It was quite unexpected, but we took the opportunity to buy her other books and to ask Teacher Grace for more work sheets. Teacher Grace was kind enough to accommodate us on our request. This year under T. Milette and T.Cel’s tutelage, we saw that Danae enjoys Math and Language. She has surprisingly been doing pretty well in Filipino, too. They also told us that she has been steadily improving in her social skills.

In the last 3 years, we have learned that academics are essential, yes, but we believe that CHARACTER BUILDING IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT. We appreciate the role that Kidvantage, the teachers and staff play in helping us mold our child into a God-fearing, wise, kind and loving individual.

Teachers, when you mediate fights between Danae and a classmate, you CO-LABOR with my husband and I in teaching Danae about friendship, about communication, about self-control, about patience, about humility, about love, about forgiveness. When you remind her that she cannot force her ideas or beliefs on others, you co-labor with us in teaching her acceptance and to respect others. When you remind her to wait for her turn and to share, you co-labor with us in teaching her about having a good attitude and about generosity. When you teach about polite expressions, you co-labor with us in teaching her good manners and respect. When you tell your class to line up, to keep quiet, to listen, to raise their hand, to clean up, to follow rules, you co-labor with us in disciplining her. When you assign her to be teacher’s helper for the day, you co-labor with us in training her to follow and to lead. When you involve our family in school activities, you co-labor with us in building precious memories with her and in teaching her the importance and value of family. When you pray and read Bible stories to the class, you co-labor with us in teaching her to love and honor God. When you encourage her to join games and programs, you co-labor with us in teaching her about unity, cooperation, good sportsmanship, self-confidence. When you teach about different people and different nations, you co-labor with us in teaching her about the world, about dreams, about the future. When you include play, laughter, creativity inside the classroom, you co-labor with us in teaching her to have a love for learning because learning is fun.

So thank you for your hard work and your patience in PARTNERING with us. Thank you that despite the individual lives you lead, which come with its own share of problems and difficulties, you still come to class with smiles on your faces and give your best. Thank you for your passion for your work, that even though it is a high-expectation, low-appreciation, not to mention a not-so-well-compensated kind of job, you are faithful and joyful with the responsibility of giving our child quality and quantity lessons. I’m sure I speak for the parents here when we say thank you for your great love for all our children, who may not always be the nicest or most behaved little human beings in the world, and who may not have the most understanding parents in the world either. Thank you for sowing into our children’s lives. We deeply appreciate it.

May you, Kidvantage, continue to live up to your vision/mission statement that “the whole child is the whole idea.” God bless you, more power, and see you next year….because it’s going to be Noelle’s turn. Thank you.

CONGRATULATIONS DANAE! WE ARE SO VERY PROUD OF YOU! DADDY AND I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT WE ALREADY HAVE A GRADUATE — OUR FIRST GRADUATE! Pre-school yeah, but still a graduate haha. And yes you’re done with pre-school, but not with school. (She was so happy after graduation, saying that she’s done with school hahaha.) Great job on your 3rd Reading Excellence award too (3 years in a row)! WE LOVE YOU NAE-NAE! 🙂

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! 🙂