Monday, February 1, 2016

Goodbye January

And Just like that January is over. How did our academics go for the first month of 2016?

First of all, I have been falsely admired for being patient because of this photo: 
Oh my goodness he really has to do it the hard way �� and I am just going to sit here and watch him carry on ��️����
#math #multiplication #haohs
 As much as it made me smile the truth is, I am not a patient person. It is such an effort not to nag and get upset when things are not in place - it feels like I have to scale a a high wall and I am running out of breath and time when I know I have to exercise patience. The struggle is very real! 

There were so many times I wanted to pull clumps of my hair all at once while doing a project with my kids. For this month we are into science experiments and of course, Math, which has always been my Waterloo. 

For my high school daughter, I just can't help her. I don't get Algebra. I had medals in elementary and  high school and graduated college but I don't get Algebra. Some things are familiar but that's it. 

My grade 6 daughter does not ask for help so far. 

For my grade 1 son, he likes to do it himself and there are days this month when he starts out whining/ talking to himself while trying to figure our a very simple problem like 8 + 7 or 5 x 3. Listening to him feels seems like an eternity. When I offer to help him he rejects my help and says he will do it himself. However, he also wants feedback right after doing a problem. I can't really leave him on his own. So, how do I survive or manage to tolerate this? I came up with 4 strategies:

1. At the start of our Math time, which for the month of January, starts after lunch from 1:30 to 3:00, I tell myself, I love this person with all my heart, mind and body. We don't use up all that time okay. But we work with Math within that time frame.

2. I remind myself, whatever is happening with their Math work is not my problem to solve and we don't have a deadline. For my son, it's of no consequence if he does not get 3x8 today. Maybe tomorrow he will, maybe next year, maybe when he is 12. 

For my daughter who does Algebra, she can't speed up just to finish the book. So it's okay if she does not finish algebra in a year. She can linger.  I can sit with her and try solving the problems, but chances are, I'm not going to get it right! So it's important that she understands the concept because I don't. I can't really teach her. I can just be with her. I think it would be so corny if there is another member in our family who is Algebra illiterate like me.

3. I busy myself as a form of diversion. Thanks to: a line a day (a latest addition), my calendar, brush pens, water color, my phone (I delete photos or take photos), and this blog.

4. I try to think like a monk and I remind myself that the I have the time to do some caligraphy/ painting/ writing, because of my kids academic time. Sometimes, I think that maybe my hand writing or painting would have been better if my son wasn't so loud or didn't nudge my arm.  But then, I have decided that if monks can discard their intricate mandala why should I be upset with my wrong stroke or accidental line, right? 


This is how our space looks like today:
Majority of the things are mine :D
Those are my 4 strategies towards looking/ acting patient. I don't think I am a patient mom/ person. I think I am coping better, compared to how it was 8 years ago, but I would still go gaga and I still have the impulse to pull my hair out when challenged and I do nag when things go missing! 

As for science, We (my 6th grade daughter and 1st grade son) plan to finish all 11 experiments from My First Mind Blowing Science Experiment Kit.  I enjoy doing this and my 6th grade is actually into it but my son asked me, what is this all for? What's the point? Why are we doing this?


I also read  this excellent article. I hope you like it as much as I have. And hello February.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What if I had to grade him?

What if I told my son that if his answer is wrong then, he will lose 1 point? Because instead of barn he spelled the word farm. Should he get a mark for it? An X  for wrong or a C for creative? What are both for?

Would he have come up with the next answer? 

If I told him what was in the picture, so he could simply sound out the letters in the word, I would have missed out on what he thinks and how he sees the simple pictures. Would he have been so eager to flip the cover and see the word?

Yes that's a W and he turned it around to make an M because he wanted to be fast so we could move on to the next card. He wasn't being lazy or defiant. He wanted to move on fast. He wanted to flip the cover and see if he got it right. 

I am happy I got to see him apply himself to the task at hand. Although the words he came up with are different from the the one in the card, are they wrong? Seeing him in a eureka moment is priceless. I am convinced that education for young people should chase after eureka moments rather than letter or numerical grades.

What if I had to grade him? What if he wanted a high grade? Would he have been so bold and sure in his answers?  Would he have laughed when they did not match? I will never know because I don't assign or compute grades for him or his sisters. I just spend time with them. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Our Batang Pinoy 2015 Experience

I spent 5 days in Koronadal for the Batang Pinoy Games. I am so proud of my dear girl, its her first time to join Batang Pinoy and her positive, can do attitude is invigorating. She kept saying "thank you mom and dad." I couldn't just say welcome this time. Being in Koronadal for Batang Pinoy is such an eye opener for me. So, I said thank you to her too. It was her desire to swim and compete that got us all there.

Queuing up for her ID.
Like biometrics for the election.
She has a mat from The Philippine Sports Commission

with Coach Carlo Rodriguez
Some sibling love. Dinner.
Caught a glimpse Karatedo in the mall
During warm up.
Little brother, checking out the soccer field and holding onto a receipt he found.
We did not bring any paper to draw on.
Check out the shower.


Waiting for her meet.
She wants to join again next year and improve her time. I am a bit excited and I think, if we get to go next year I should be more prepared. I should remember:
1.  Look for the nearest Church. We missed Sunday mass. Tsk!
2. There is a lot of hotel time, bring:
      a. Math workbook
      b. Board Game: Avengers Monopoly
      c. Cards
      d. Word Factory
      e. Paper and pens
We need paper to draw on!!! That's my too much TV face!
3. Bring extra Sun Block
4. Bring extra pillows
We found the crab place! Check them out here 
5. Take a good family picture.

6. Bring a first aid kit.
7. Bring Cooler for drinks.
8. Bring a fan and a hat.

On the drive back, she said she can't wait for next year's Batang Pinoy and she hopes she can make it to the nationals (can do positive attitude!). I will be reading this post before the games next year and I shall be a better equipped parent for Palarong Pambansa 2016! Till then...



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Laid Back Learning: Enjoying Science Videos

Last week, I am happy to have spent 2 afternoons being with my 2 children on our sofa. I got my hair combed and styled by my daughter while sitting down with my son. A day later, I got to braid my daughter's hair while watching another science video. Just the 3 of us in our quiet house. Well, my 15 year old was upstairs doing her math. She was not interested in the video.
Then after watching we had snacks and then head off to my daughter's swimming practice. It is this kind of energy, companionship and family life that I was after when we decided not to send the children to school. 
If I told my son and daughter that we will have a test after the video and they can not do this or that if they don't get a good score, then I think we would have all missed out on the chance to just be. I think giving a test so I could grade them would be threatening, counter productive and limiting. Instead of absorbing what matters to them and/ or what they are interested in, they might start watching the video in the light of what they think will come out on the test. 

Here are the videos we watched. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
Tomorrow afternoon, Thursday, I a planning to watch a science video again with my kiddos. If I let my son choose he will want dinosaur stuff which will not suit the girls. So I am choosing. Here are my picks:
I am not recommending these videos as I haven't seen both, but I am hoping to watch one of them with my 3 children. I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Thanks for dropping by my blog and hope you are having a wonderful Wednesday. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Independent Homeschooling and Swimming

I talked my third daughter and my son into swimming class in the hope that my son's asthma attacks will lessen. After 30 sessions my son had enough of it and had no asthma attacks yet, while my 3rd daughter has become so into it.

She showed me this tear jerking video, here. If you clicked on the link and watched the video you can wipe your tears now. My dear girl has joined her first competition last July and is now looking forward to her second competition at the end of the month. I am excited for her because I can see how much she puts into swimming.

I did a little research about the Palarong Pambansa because my girl wanted to join the qualifying round a week or so ago. I found out that as an independent homeschooler my daughter can not join the Palarong Pambansa. Why? Because: " 1. The Palarong Pambansa Program is an annual multi-level national scholastic athletic competition conducted by the Department of Education and participated in by the elementary and secondary pupils / students both from public and private schools." You can read more about that here.

Being an independent homeschooler, my children are OSY [Out of School Youth]. I explained this to my daughter. Her quick fix reaction was that she ought to go to school. I pointed out that sometimes her teammates miss swimming because they have school activities/ exams, while in her case, her activities can adjust to her swimming schedule. I told her that we can't be included in activities all the time. The fact is, as she grows older she will have to refuse activities she wants to join for a number of reasons and because she has to prioritise. Good thing is that she can join the Batang Pinoy.

I told her, that by all accounts she is lucky to be 11 years old now at this time and place. The Palarong Pambansa started in  1948 (source: here ), while I could not find the year when Batang Pinoy started. Anyway, had she been 11 years old where we are in 1938, she would not have the opportunity for Palarong Pambansa and most likely, Batang Pinoy would not be in place. We talked a bit about how it would have been like where we are and what other obstacles would be there for someone like her, a young girl who likes swimming in 1938.

For now, she better be thankful and make the most of being an OSY swimmer. Hope you have a good week ahead dear reader and you may you get to do the most where you are this week.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Standardised Test As The Need Arise (Part 2 of 2)

We only have so much hours in a day! Maybe our lack of structure in our homeschooling will be a liability, so far I don't think it is. One thing I am sure of, my children will have something to say about this later on. For now, there is so much to do and there are so many enriching ways to spend one's time other than reviewing for a standardised test for the sake of having a letter or numerical grade or grade level.
Here's my 15 year old and my 11 year old right after breakfast. Painting because they want. There was no conversation or lecture about art appreciation just available art materials and time on their hands.

In our home, they can decide on how they want to spend the time they have. We have routines, rituals and expectations and this fill out most of  my children’s time until they start having ideas of their own. Because we are loosely structured no two days are alike. By deciding how they spend and allocate their time, I think they begin to put value on what is important to learn and how important it is to them. 
Here is my little boy humming while drawing as I blog away. 
When my children pick up "work" and stay with it I do not disturb them! I don't see the value in imposing a math time for somebody who has already decided to practice soccer or is browsing a book. 

It is also important that there are clear expectations. For example we expect the children do Math, but I do not grade them for this. I ask them where they are and they are free to ask me when they do not understand something. So unless they see the need for standardised test I think it will be a waste of our time to prepare for one because there is only so little time in a day. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Standardised Test As The Need Arise (Part 1 of 2)

My husband and I decided to keep the children away from standardised test until:
1. They want it.
2. The need arise.

Our 2 older children now age 18 and 15 both wanted to do something that required some form of test or a paper to show they are in a certain grade level etc. Both were more than willing to sit down and study for it because they need it.

I want to keep our homeschooling relaxed and interest driven. We each set our own goals and have no use for grades. We only have grades in school, not in life. I don't think there is a need to quiz a young person and gauge how much facts he or she can recall. I think its threatening and if I would have to do this again and again or year after year, then it seems careless and disrespectful. Children need experiences and memories.

Our experiences are the well spring of inspiration.  I have seen how simple experiences can make my children want to level up. Here is my little boy determined to write his name and birthday perfectly the day after visiting the bank and opening his own account. He said, next time he signs "important papers," he wants to get it right and it "should be perfect" because they are "so serious." Beside him is his older sister doing Math.
 After breakfast scene. This looks like detention punishment from some 80's movie. But no one told him to do that.

I did not have to teach him or drill him for better hand writing. He saw the need for it! Some experiences create waves while others I suppose are forgotten or hopefully will be remembered later as the need arise. 
It did not seem wise to take this two with me to the COMELEC office when I had my biometrics, but I felt that it would be a perfect opportunity for them to see how and where stuff like this happen. Based on my limited experience, this is actually the perfect age to take them around, 11 and 7. Too young to refuse when I make it sound potentially exciting and they really have not much to do if they don't come with me. We talked about why I had to do this and I told them there will be a lot of people. We also got to talk about the elections. The only highlight of this trip is that I am amazed at how fast it turned out to be. And my son's head got hit by the door as we were going out so he had a Harry Potter scratch for a few days. Other than that we have not talked about this again.

There is so much to do at home and so many errands where I can take the children with me rather than prepare them for a test. This brings me to my next reason why we not subjecting our children to standardised test unless they want it: time.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Woolly Rhino

My son had been announcing that he wants to sculpt something and have been asking me to buy him clay while we were in Manila. I kept explaining that the polymer clay I have is not the kind of clay that he needs. I explained this to my husband too, but they joined forces and bought the first grey coloured clay they saw. 

Last Sunday they spent 2 hours forming the woolly Rhino they saw on YouTube, here. If you are wondering if there is such a thing as a woolly rhino, then check this out. I told them them that I think they can’t bake the clay based on the way they were shaping it. But, its like I wasn’t even in the room. Blocked out by the woolly rhino, obviously! They didn't even call me when they baked the woolly rhino. The oven is my appliance, I get called whenever they have to use it! But not this afternoon!

And then, just as darkness fell to declare the night, I saw my dear son coming up to me in a gait and with the silent tears that only the defeated and the disappointed can articulate. He said, “Its a failure!” 
How I wish I was able to get a photo of their work before they popped it into the toaster oven. That’s why they didn't call me! They both thought that if bread can get toasted in the toaster, then for sure, clay will do just fine.  Voila! Meet Woolly Rhino #1. You can still tell where the legs and horn once were, right?
By dinner time father and son were planning a 2nd woolly rhino. We found self drying clay in Morning Light Art Shop and Gallery, just like what the guy in the video used. 
Father and son started slaving away for the extinct woolly rhino. And 2 hours later,
Here is the Woolly Rhino #2. My little boy declared with much joy. " It will dry after 10 plus 2 days. Then we will paint it." 

I will upload the finish project in 2 weeks. Have an energised and inspired Wednesday.


Update, 12 October 2015.  Photo of Wolly Rhino #3. He is with my father in law now. My little boy wrapped it up as a birthday present for his Lolo. My little boy made it all by himself.



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