Jun 19, 2013

Dad's finally on board...

When I first talked about homeschooling to my husband, he was very hesitant. He understood my sentiments about my daughter's previous school (which is his alma mater) but he didn't see homeschooling as the solution to our problem. The whole idea of homeschooling was unimaginable for him.

It took a lot of prayers, patience and understanding before he finally considered. But even then, all he gave was consent. No other support was expected from him. Nevertheless, I was happy. I was happy to know that he trusts and loves me enough to let me decide on what I feel is best for our children.

A year has passed since we started on this journey. A lot of prayers have been said... cries to the heavens that we make it through.  A year has passed and he had a change of heart.

I've seen him become more engage with our activities. He's more willing to take part in our book reading sessions. He joins our toddler in singing, dancing and learning. I've seen the light in his eyes when he was telling me about the book activity that he helped my son with. I see a proud dad.

The other day when we had our relatives come over to the house for some get together, I overheard him tell them that our daughter's been learning Singapore Math for a year now (because our daughter's previous school just introduced SM this year, and since all her cousins are in that school, it's all new to them). A year ago, he didn't even know a thing about it and now he sounds like an expert on the matter. 

Before, when strangers ask where our children study, it was just me who answers. Now, when they ask, he answers them candidly, like it's [homeschool] the most natural thing to do.

God really works in mysterious ways. He has his own ways, his own time. We only need to put our trust in Him. Thank you Lord for finally making Dad on board our homeschool journey. 

Homeschool made us closer as a family. Our homeschool experience taught each of us different things. Thank you Lord for leading us to this path.

Jun 18, 2013

Homeschool our style...

One morning, after taking breakfast...

Me to Aia: Ok wash the dishes then we'll start with our lessons

After doing chores, Aia opened a pack of crackers.

Me: Oh, didn't I tell you we're going to start na?

Aia: Wait I'm going to take a break, di ba in school they also have recess... ako rin! (katatapos lang ng breakfast yan ha)

One Saturday morning...
Aia wake-up early (about 6am) in a good mood.

Aia: Mom, what are going to do today?
Me: (since I don't have any plans for the day) Uhm, I don't know. do you want to write?

Aia nods then gets her writing book and pencil, goes to the balcony and started writing. Out comes Migui from the room. Sees his "ate".

Migui: Mom me too! I want to write. (gets his book, sat beside "ate" and writes)

Mom - very happy!

Jun 5, 2012

Homeschool, Self-awareness and Socialization

Often times when other people hear about homeschool they immediately pose the question about socialization saying, "What about the child's socialization?" or "How is she going to have friends?" etc. Other people simply assumed that homeschooled kids will have a problem socializing with others. But I dare say otherwise. In fact, homeschooling can actually be crucial especially in the earlier years of social development of a child.

In the course of nature, babies are born with nothing else in their minds but themselves. It is all about "I, me and myself". They will cry, eat, sleep, etc without any regard to others but themselves. Eventually they will recognize other people who they consider their primary caregiver like their parents. At age 1, babies begin to be aware that their action affects other people. They know that when they cry, mommy comes. At this stage, narcissism is at its peak. Along with this comes the discovery of new emotions such as jealousy, frustration, self-confidence, anxiety and pride. They may be clingy in the morning and independent in the afternoon. At about age 2, they will again exhibit this "I, me and myself" phase in relation to the things around them. Thus, at this age they may often be heard saying, "mine!". At the same time, they are now taking note of other people's feelings. Toddlers may cry, giggle, shout, laugh just because another kid is doing it. Feeling what others are feeling gives them opportunity to practice empathy. This eventually makes them understand what sharing is about. At age 3, children are starting to form relationships. Through these relationships, they learn how other people act and think. They discover that other people are different from themselves. This is the time when they develop self-esteem and self-awareness.

Some children at this age are now put to school. Children who have not developed their sense of identity apart from their parent often manifest separation anxiety. Other children who have a sense of self see the school activity as their "own" activity. Unfortunately, at this crucial stage of building self-awareness, conventional schools are more concerned about conformity rather than developing identity. Does the child sit when everyone is told to sit?  Does he cooperate during class activities? Does he pay attention during class discussion?

In my opinion, this is why homeschool set-up is crucial in this developmental stage in their lives. It's true that in homeschool they are not expose to a class full of kids. Its true that they don’t have a fixed schedule of doing certain things at a certain time. Its true that most of the school activity is considered play. But these are the things that are essential in developing their sense of self. In homeschool, children are free to be who they want to be. They are free to discover their abilities in their own time. They are free to express their creativity in their own way.

You might wonder, what does it have to do with socialization? Isn't socialization about interacting with other people? Yes, precisely. But what one may not be aware of is that the key to effective socialization is self-awareness. Just like in the earlier years of life, one must first identify himself before identifying others. A child will not learn how to share until he understands how to own. You cannot teach a child empathy unless he understands his own emotions.  A child must first learn who he is to himself before we expect him to know who he is to others.
Our sense of self forms our identity, our self-concept. It helps us understand our emotions, our motivations, our fears, our frustrations and everything that we translate to others.

The homeschool environment gives the opportunity to develop the sense of identity before developing the sense of social conformity. In homeschool, it's ok if a child colors the trees purple or the grass yellow, if this is how he shows his creativity. It's ok to learn ABC's in a fireman suit, because role playing helps define a character in the society. It's okay to learn numbers while jumping up and down, if this is an outlet of his energy. The uniqueness of the child is respected and recognized unlike in conventional schools when the child is expected to conform to what is considered normal in class. These activities promote self-discovery. It helps the child learn about his interests, his strengths and weaknesses, his abilities, all of which helps to be aware of one's self.

What does it mean then, to be self-aware and how does this affect how a child socialize? A child whose individuality is acknowledged and respected is more likely to respect other's individuality as well. A child who can understand his own emotions is more likely to be empathetic to others. A child who has a strong sense of identity is less likely to need validation from peers therefore, is less likely to succumb to peer pressure. A child who is able to form a quality relationship with his parents is more likely to distinguish a quality relationship with his peers.

I firmly believe that homeschooling does not prevent a child from socializing. Instead, it lays the foundation for one's social development by  fostering self-awareness.

 "Socialization… is not about the quantity but the quality.."

"Filipino" at Play

I was having difficulty teaching my daughter Filipino because of her limited Filipino vocabulary. She was initially taught to name things in English, read books in English and talk in English. Her Filipino language is just catching up now. She gets easily frustrated with words in Filipino that she doesn't know.

We we're discussing PANGNGALAN this time. I intentionally finished discussing with her NOUNS a week ago so we could go through the present topic and see the equivalent term in English. Still she was kind of bored, simply because the medium of instruction was in Filipino.

Time to change gears. I made board game (sort of) out of a white cartolina. Drew some circles and wrote tao, bagay, hayop, lugar, pangyayari. There were lines connecting the circles indicating the next space we can jump into. I wrote some words in a piece of paper folded it so we can't see what's written. This serves as our word bank. The object of the game is to identify each PANGNGALAN. We start at the bottom with a box that says SIMULA then we work our way up to the box that say PANALO. Whoever reaches the top box first wins the game. We pick words from the word bank then identify each word. We check the board if there's a circle that corresponds to our PANGNGALAN that is connected to where our token is. If there is then we jump to that space, if there is none then we simply stay where we are and wait for the next turn. for our tokens, we just choose anything around us that fits the circle. We chose our erasers. :D

Immediately, my daughter got the hang of it. It was amazing to see her face light up after winning the first round. She then said, "one more!" We got daddy to join in as well. The second time around, she won again. And then again she wanted to play more. Although there were words that she was not familiar with in the word bank, she was not frustrated anymore. She's now eager to know now what that word is because she wanted to know if she has a "move" on the board. Two days after, she still wants to play the game. Talk about enthusiasm!

It was like I won a prize that day. The change in her attitude towards the lesson was so big. I was so happy and proud that I was able to think of something that can tickle her mind and get her motivated. It's an AHA moment for me. Next time she feels bored and inattentive, I know now what to do!!! YIPEE!!!

Jun 2, 2012

Psychology of Homeschooling

During the time that I was just learning about what homeschooling is, lessons taken up during my college years were refreshed, touching on Theories of Learning, Educational Psychology and Developmental Psychology as well. This cemented my decision to homeschool. I've learned that homeschooling is the closest thing there is to what learning is all about and that conventional schools nowadays tend to stray from how and what learning really is. Here are my notes and I'd like to share them with you.

I've learned that:

  1. Homeschooling gives more opportunity to learn using the five senses.
  • Being able to learn using as many senses to learn enables the learner to grasp the information better, deeper and retains longer.
  • This is related to how our memory works. The more senses that are stimulated, the more connections are made and the more it deepens in the memory bank.
  • Ex: Teaching soft and hard.
    • (sight) to see the word "soft"/"hard" and connect it to the actual object
    • (touch) to feel what soft or hard is by pressing a pillow or a rock
    • (hearing) to hear how soft/hard is pronounced
    • (taste) to eat a gummy bear and a lollipop and classify it as soft or hard; to feel how soft/hard [food] is using the tongue

*Conventional schools now tend to limit learning through what can be seen or heard, not so much to what can be experienced.

  1. Homeshooling provides more avenues to develop ones multiple intelligence.
  • Different intelligence includes:
    1. Musical - recognizing beats, rhythm and pitch
    2. Linguistic - deals with written and spoken language
    3. Interpersonal - ability to recognize others' feeling; learning empathy
    4. Intrapersonal - self-awareness
    5. Logico-mathematical - thinking conceptually and abstractly
    6. Spatial - drawn to blocks, paints, clay; putting together and taking apart
    7. Bodily-kinesthetic - ability to coordinate body movements; motor skills
  • In homeschool, children are viewed holistically and individually. Learning is not only limited to what can be read and calculated but rather learning is geared towards ones totality.
  • John Dewey (psychologist, educational reformer) makes a strong case for the importance of education not only as a place to gain content knowledge, but also as a place to learn how to live. In his eyes, the purpose of education should not revolve around the acquisition of a pre-determined set of skills, but rather the realization of one’s full potential and the ability to use those skills for the greater good.   <>

  1. Homeschooling has the capability to tailor fit learning to each individual need.
  • Not all children have the same learning styles. Knowing which is it and being able to adapt to it helps in providing motivation to learn. It is hard to teach someone who is not motivated to learn.
  • Not all children learn the same thing at the same time. Different individuals process information differently based on their cognitive development and ability to connect present information to past experiences.
  • Jean Piaget (developmental psychology, theories of cognitive development) - "Moreover, younger and older children may often interpret and respond to the same objects and events in very different ways because cognitive structures take different forms at different ages."
 Shaffer, D. R., Wood, E., & Willoughby, T. (2005). Developmental psychology: Childhood and adolescence. Toronto, Ontario: Nelson Education Canada.
  •   "...According to these theories, changes in information processing mechanisms, such as speed of processing and working memory, are responsible for ascension from stage to stage. Moreover, differences between individuals in these processes explain why some individuals develop faster than other individuals" (Demetriou, 1998).

  1. Homeschooling promotes active learning rather than a passive one.
  • Active learning involves examining of information, questioning and rationalizing ideas to make a sensible connection to ones own experience.
  • According to the theory of Constructivism, learning is a process in which the learner actively constructs or builds new ideas or concepts based upon current and past knowledge or experience. Constructivists recognizes the role of the learner to actively make sense of ideas presented to him, to confirm or contradict earlier perception and to construct one's own knowledge.

  • This is why some children, after reading a textbook, simply cannot make sense of what they read. It is because the process of connecting it [topic] to his past experience or knowledge has not taken place. Therefore, construction of one's own knowledge has not taken place and true learning did not exist.
  • Ex: To a child, who hasn't seen a caterpillar turn into a butterfly, explaining that a caterpillar is actually a baby butterfly is absurd and defies previously conceived notion. The child may be confused and ask where are its wings and legs and why does it look very different. But if you let the child observe an actual caterpillar go through its process of becoming a butterfly, he would then process this information even before you lecture him about it.

  • Active learning also refers to an active questioning, examining and concluding of ideas.
    • In conventional schools, children are presented with topics to be learned. The teacher lectures and the students are expected to  understand the lessons presented. Information is fed and not learned. Often times students are expected to keep quiet and pay attention during the lecture. Not much chance is given to the child to speak, whatever it is that they have to say.
    • In homeschool, parents have all the time to listen to each and every inquiry how trivial they may be. These questions are oftentimes considered cues for learning. It is encouraged for information to come from the child based on what he discovered rather than just being fed to him. Discovery and exploration are some  of the avenues for learning and not just lectures.
      • Jean Piaget - By contrast, in cooperative relations, power is more evenly distributed between participants so that a more symmetrical relationship emerges. Under these conditions, authentic forms of intellectual exchange become possible; each partner has the freedom to project his or her own thoughts, consider the positions of others, and defend his or her own point of view. In such circumstances, where children’s thinking is not limited by a dominant influence, Piaget believed "the reconstruction of knowledge", or favorable conditions for the emergence of constructive solutions to problems, exists.

I transformed from being unfamiliar to homeschooling, to being a believer, and now an advocate. I have learned that homeschooling recognizes the cognitive development of each individual learner and that it is the perfect setting to address the specific need for each stage. I also learned that homeschooling provides the environment and  the set-up described by the earlier psychologists of Constructivism about what learning is about and how learning takes place. In the world of Educational Psychology, the works of educators like Charlotte Mason and Maria Montessori have been 
household name in many of the homeschooling families. This is a proof that there is real science behind homeschooling and its methodologies. As more and more families are now adapting this educational set-up, hopefully, the world would finally recognize and grant Homeschooling its rightful place in the area of education.

May 22, 2012

My first Philippine Homeschool Conference experience (Part1)

Last Saturday, I attended the Philippine Homeschool Conference. I went alone. How I wished my husband was with me to hear the wonderful messages imparted by the speakers.
I was early (unusual for me, hehe!). This is because I'm on the lookout for fellow ROCKER moms that I'm very much looking forward to meeting for the first time. It was such a pleasant thing meeting them. Although this was the first time we'll be meeting in person, it didn't feel like meeting with total strangers. They were so nice that they let me sit with them.

After sometime the conference finally began. But let me start sharing with Bo's talk. The first keynote speaker, Bo Sanchez hit something in me right away. You see, I'm in a place right now where I feel all alone in this journey to homeschooling. I feel that I have to defend my decision to everyone around me including my husband. Although I consider him a "convert", from being completely against it to somewhat being open-minded about it, he is still not sure that this is the right thing to do. In my heart I know that this is the right thing for us to do. And just like Bo, I've prayed that prayer (and still praying) asking the Lord to talk to my husband. I know that He's the only one who can change my husband's heart and  get him fully on board this venture. It is a dream for me that my prayers will soon be answered. It is a sweet, sweet dream that I so wish would happen soon.

Then, Bo talked about giving your child WORTH. My parents were not very good at it, that I can say. I know what it feels like on the other end and I don't want my children to feel the way I felt then. I want them to know that they are special and that I love them so much. This is why every morning when they wake up and every night before they sleep, I give them a hug, then a sweet kiss and tell them I love them.

Then he talked about WISDOM. Someday, when they grow up, I hope and I pray that they would be able to say that their mother taught them everything they needed to know about life. The greatest reward for me is to see my children "LIVE" their lives. To know that I've helped them be the best that they can ever be is an affirmation for me that I did good.

Then he talked about being the WORD OF GOD. I want my children to see God's love through me. I want their relationship with God to be meaningful and personal. I call Jesus my SUPERFRIEND and I pray that they'll be able to make that strong connection with Him as well. I have a long way to go and so much to do in order for me to achieve this.

That in all things, God may be glorified

Feb 4, 2012

My New Goal for Educating my Children

Thanks to the disputable administration of my child's current school, my goals for educating my children have changed. It used to be finding a good school and delegating the responsibility of educating my children to them. Now it's  about finding a school that can help me act on the responsibility that is solely mine.

How can I say that I have been a good parent if the school I choose intentionally excludes the parent as part of the learning process? Is it not the main responsibility of a parent is to raise these youngsters and education especially in terms of academics is only a mere part of acting on that responsibility? And yet, the school is taking over most of their waking hours, bombarding them with facts then they call it education.

I've come to realize that parents' view of what they want their children to be become skewed once they enter the four walls of the school. It now becomes an unending race to achieve a somewhat deceitful goal, to be placed in a rank among honors, to be a valedictorian, to be attain the most number of medals, to win in the most prestigious national competition. What happened to the simple goal of raising your children to become a good person? To raise them in a way most pleasing to God so that when they grow up they may be able to glorify God through the things that they do?

I've heard of stories of parents menacing other people just so their children may achieve that deceitful goal. Others even resulted in physical violence that is simply contradictory to the supposedly ultimate goal. Have we as parents forgotten why we are blessed to have offsprings of our own? Have we forgotten what is important when the  end of our time has come? Do we want our children to value these pretentious things than be ready to face our creator?

I am scared of what I might become if I continue to travel this path. I've been that parent who meticulously goes over every test item to check for corrections. I confess to being frustrated when I force my child to study. I find myself in the faculty room questioning my child's grades. I stepped back and realize the horror that I've become. Is this what I want? Is this what I want for my children?

"I only have one shot at parenting and I want to do it right." I've heard this from someone and it almost brought me to tears. My heart is shouting the very same thing. I have to keep check my goals for parenting. Academic education is just a part of it and should not be the main focus. Now my aim is to educate my children about how to live their lives. A life that is God-centered, God-fearing, God-glorifying. Yes, I still want them to be good in Math, Science,etc but not because I want them to bag the highest honors, but because I want them to maximize whatever talent or gift God has given them.