Thursday, September 21, 2017

Florante at Laura

I wanted to read  Florante at Laura with my 2 older children, so years ago,  I bought a book similar to the one I used when I was in school but we didn't get to do it. I recall looking at the book and asking myself, why? What was I thinking? I enjoyed Ang Ibong Adarna in high school, but at best, I was indifferent to Florante at Laura. I didn't hate it when I was in school but I also don't recall anything about it other than it started with a guy tied to a tree and my struggle not to fall asleep in class and to act like I was writing notes when I was actually doodling whatever on the sides of the book. The book I bought is still here in the house, untouched. So when I learned that the Learning Basket is selling a coloured book with English translations I felt that I should give it a try and we like it! We like it a lot!!! Thank you, The Learning Basket. 

The book starts with the translator's notes, followed by about 3 pages with a title Kay Celia (For Celia) which made the 3 of us wonder who is Celia? So we dropped by Wikipedia, here.
I think this version of Florante at Laura with English translation is superb and I am happy we have it for the following reasons:

1. Reading it gave my 3rd daughter a chance to read in Filipno and for me to correct her mispronounced words. I am so amazed that:

A. I could hardly translate the material and there are stanzas when I do understand majority of the words but don't know what the stanza meant! How did I do this in high school and pass? I don't seem to recall anything.
B. That my daughter can read through an entire page which is about 6 stanzas of about 4 lines per stanza and not understand anything! But she carries on knowing that it won't be in vain, thanks to the translation which I read with feelings.

2. We have to look up Roman and Greek mythology as the author Francisco Balagtas  mentioned:  Marte (Mars), Parcas (Parcae), Apolo (Apollo),  Aurora etc. I love it when reading materials crossover. We reflected that he must have read about them and probably memorised them for he was comfortable and confident enough to put such names into his work. As my son puts it, "People in the before times in the country" must know a lot more about Roman/ Greek mythology than people now or did Balagtas just assumed that his readers will know and appreciate it or will research about it.  Remember google was not around then.

 3. We laughed so much about the lions in the forest part. Take note National Geographic, Discovery Channel and David Attenborough were not available to Balagtas. Was there even a zoo in The Philippines then?

4. We have talked about how seemingly over the top Florante's reaction is to loosing Laura. Floranate has got to be the most over acting sawi sa pag-ibig character we have ever encountered. At first, I get it, he is ever so desperately sad and unfortunate, but by the time the Persian warrior showed up it has become hilarious! Ma-telenovela na pala tayo even during the Spanish Era or maybe we are ma-telenovela because of the Spanish Era. I can't wait to go back to reading the book! As of this afternoon we are in stanza 185 of 399.

5. I believe I have added to my children's (ages 13 and 9) memory bank. In years to come, I know I will remember this time and smile. I imagine seeing the book somewhere in the house and if I were in a movie Abba's song "Slipping Through My Fingers" will play in the background. (Here, if you want to listen to a Deutsch version. Here, Abba's version and here, Mama Mia version).

I ought to thank the translator, Randy M. Bustamante from the bottom of my heart, if not for your work I never would have appreciated the work of Balagtas and I wouldn't be having this time, this Florante at Laura moment with my children: reading, reflecting and laughing and feeling a bit mean that we are laughing at Florante at the moment, thank you so much.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I am happy with Independent Homeschooling

Because of my last post, I received a follow up question that goes: 

Hi, Alex Hao! I listened to your talk at the last HAPI homeschool conference and was much inspired by your courage in going the indie route. Still teetering on the brink of taking the plunge ourselves and so I wondered if you could write a similar blog post on the benefits of independent homeschooling. And if you could do it over again, would you? What would you do differently, if any? Thanks for the inspiration!

Turns out writing about the advantages of independent homeschooling is much harder than I thought for the simple reason that this is our way of life. When I think of advantages its like saying on top of things or on top of what is normal or compared to another norm or situation independent homeschooling is better for the following reasons. I don't see how I can fairly compare our way of doing things to how others do it and call it an advantage. But I am happy that our decision to independently home school our children translated to: 

1. I get to spend a lot of time with my children. My husband and I get to share ourselves with our children doing activities that matter to each of us, if not to all of us. We have unhurried mornings. My husband comes home for lunch everyday and we are able to take advantage of that too. We get to talk about all sorts of things and answer questions that begin with "During your time..." - a general reference to when mom and dad was younger.

2. It is so satisfying to watch my children choose what they want to learn and it makes things easy for me to impart what I think needs to be imparted since we can pick up and let go our own topics. 

My 3rd daughter remembers countries and historical events because she likes reading about real life princesses. Such information might be useless but I am not here to judge on such matters as I have other more important and sometimes pressing issues to consider and address. The fact that she can relate it to historical events and use it to prove a point is in some days brilliant and funny. And who knows where she will be in the future it might come handy for her. It was also her decision to take care of the chickens given to my husband and she is following through that decision. Its not a subject or a project, its the way things are for her because she wanted to save those chickens. So after breakfast and on most afternoons before going to swimming in the afternoon she attends to them.

3. Academic work is an accepted necessity and not a matter of levelling up. There are basic stuff like spelling and math, but how fast they go is not an issue. How far they want to take it is up to them and of course the resources around them. I go back to #2. Its easier to teach a bit of spelling or geography when the topic is already interesting. Its easier for me not to explode like a roaring volcano when they don't get the topic at hand. I can't imagine not freaking out or having panic moments if we had a deadline.

When the children were young family activities are the highlight and become the main activity rather than academic work. This means that when somebody has a birthday academics are set aside to brainstorm and make birthday cards and/or posters or buy a gift etc. As they got older this died off slowly and I started hearing my older kids  prioritize finishing a book or math work or practicing the violin over making a birthday card with their younger siblings. Which brings me to #4.  

4. I am happy there was a time when family and family happenings took precedence over everything else. Now this is a memory no longer our reality. Our family is changing and we can never go back to how it was. We can only remember it now. 

5. I am happy that things/ trends etc gets filtered. Though I did not realize how important this would be as this was not the goal when we made the decision to home school. 


Books: When my eldest was a teenager (oh gosh!! I can't believe i just typed that! She turned 20 last week) I banned popular teenage books and called them a waste of brain space. Teen magazines are not welcome in our house too. What with all the must have lists that one would be better off with out at an age when they don't have income or allowance. I threw them out whenever someone gave one to my kids.

Here is another example:
Last year, while lining up in the grocery,  a boy of about  6 years old was begging his mother to buy him a trendy snack. My son looked concern as the scene was beginning to escalate, meaning the little boy's voice was getting louder than the bleep sounds of the code bar machine and grocery music. The mother held her ground despite the loud begging from her son. When they left a Lola behind me said, "And bait ng anak mo. Buti sya hindi nagpapabili." I smiled but what I wanted to say is, "Hindi po nya kasi alam ano yan." Heck! I would be out of my mind and inviting trouble to introduce trendy snacks to my kids. Though I was not able to explain this to the Lola in the grocery, I don't think I have a particularly well behaved child. I just have less challenges because we have less exposure to what is hot for the season.

I am happy when I get compliments about my children's good behaviour. But I think it boils down to the time I spend hanging out with them and the fact that things/ trends filtered out for them. My children know what's going to tick and please me and vice versa. I have come to accept that expecting my children (less than 12 years old)  to gamely check out shops or line up for whatever when they are hungry is stretching things far enough for them. So I don't do that. Teenagers though have a different stretch.

6. I still celebrate what I believe to be savings I am making though I don't have a mathematical way of putting this. I am happy when we buy/ choose materials together, but I feel like a winner now that my younger children are reusing materials that my older kids used a few years ago! 
I would home school my children independently again because the days are long but the years go by in a blink. I like where we are now and how my children are. I like that independent homeschooling allowed us the space and time to just be by ourselves as we were. The choice to take the children out of school  was a practical one rather than a sentimental or ideological one for our family. My children are OSY (out of school youth). They are not palaboy, but they are not in school. I embrace this fact as a choice we, their parents made for them.  Yes they are being educated at home but the education they are getting is not necessarily better than what schools are giving or what an umbrella school may provide and I don't see how it is less. To get back to mainstream school there's PEPT and ALS. And my eldest chose the ALS route while my second chose the PEPT route. Each have their own reasons. And both test have pros and cons.

 If I could change anything in our journey, I would change our house. I want a color coded organized space. I should have had a bigger kitchen with aircon, space for pets: dog, cat, chicken, rabbit, and fish and I would not keep moving the piano because as my second daughter said: its not furniture, its a musical instrument that has to be tuned. And I think tuning the piano costs a lot since I can not tell anyway if the piano is untuned, but my kids can. Or better yet, I really ought to have changed my attitude about our house not being perfect. 

I have written about our choice to home school back in 2013 as guest of the Learning Basket's Heart of Homeschooling Series and you can read about it here. I don't want to convince others to go independent on account of what seems to be the advantage of doing so. My take is, go independent for the realistic, practical and hopeful whys that you have in your head and your heart.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

What are the Disadvantages of Independent Homeschooling

This is not to discourage my reader from going independent and our family don't represent all independent homeschoolers in our city more so the country. I have been asked this question 3 times already this year and saw it this morning in Homeschoolers of The Philippines Facebook group. Here is what I know:
  1. If I need proof of academic learning in the form of a numerical or alphabetical grade then I don't have any. 
  2. If I need to declare a grade level, it can be confusing. We don't  have grade levels. Example, my 3rd daughter turned 13 in the first quarter of the year. She is doing grade 7 math, occasionally reads science books, is currently learning about Napoleon Bonaparte, is listening to me read The Count of Monte Cristo, crochets in the afternoons, is having a very hard time with her grade 4 Filipino workbook, takes care of 2 hens and a rooster and swims everyday, what grade level is she?
  3. We often fore go student discounts in establishments/activities that offer discounts because we don't have a school ID.
  4. When our eldest child said she wanted to go to university, we had to navigate through the requirements. Not a bad thing but very challenging for those who, like me, don't live in Metro Manila because provincial DepEd offices from what I have experienced 4 years ago are not used to handling uncommon cases. And now for my second child there's the whole senior high school thing. 
  5. I noticed with my children that when they are interested in an activity/ topic / academic subject they are super into it and spend a lot of time on it. They become pretty good at it but they remain poor in academic subjects that they are not interested in. And I think this is also because:
    • there are no good materials available or 
    • we could not find a good teacher/ tutor, or 
    • there are no clubs/ tutor service/ activity related to the subject as is the case with Filipino which I cannot teach because I am neither good at it nor am I interested in it. 
  6. There are educational activities or pursuits that we put resources on: time, money, etc that friends, family and our own upbringing consider folly and this is the pitfall of almost all mothers I know, guilt. And guilt can bite! Throw in self doubt and blame and there's the perfect recipe to freeze. 
  7. It did not save us money in the long run. My husband and I have not been in the habit of paying school fees that when our eldest entered college, the tuition fee was a regal shocker and it gobbled up what little we were able to set aside from not paying school fees in one go! Yes, we were able to save a bit in the beginning and we also did not spend money we did not have on school fees but there are lesson fees and field trips and the list can go sky high.
Freedom is not all rosy and independence can sometimes mean feeling all alone even when surrounded by all that is familiar. Thanks to the Facebook groups I am in where like minded people culminate.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

To Senior High school or not to Senior High school Part 3

What am I looking for in a Senior High School (SHS)?

With a bit of consideration on where we are and the landscape in which we are in now, this would be my dream SHS. Libre naman mangarap at pwede namang mangarap, so here it goes. If I were to send my second daughter to SHS I want the following:

1. A SHS with a 2 year program that my daughter wants with an outline of how they will be filling up their time including extra curricular or complementary courses. This will either be in Davao City or in a boarding school with in the country that fits our budget.
2. A SHS who have graduates who are leaders in their field and are eager to help out in the programs of the SHS where they came from. Since my daughter is only the second batch of SHS I obviously can’t find a school under the Department of Education that would have a grade 11 and 12 alumni or a track record that can say ___% of our graduates are still working in the track they chose.
3. International exchange activities. At least one foreign travel related to their track or extra curricular activities with in the two years of SHS.
4. Foreign Language Course. Since SHS is suppose to make Philippine education at par with the rest of the world then this should be available. My 2nd daughter took up German Classes here in Davao and took the A level test at the Goethe Institute last year. I do want her to pick up on this within the year.
5. A flexible PE Program that considers people with special needs like scoliosis. She has to keep going to therapy at least 2x a week.
6. I want her to be with people approximately her age whom she can laugh with and collaborate with, aka friends.

My daughters will be coming home for this week and we shall sit down and decide on this matter. I am still searching and my husband and I are talking about this a lot. Of my 6 desires for SHS, #1 and #6 weigh in the most and we can’t fore go of #5 for the sake of having the required papers to be able to go to university...

Friday, April 7, 2017

To Senior High school or not to Senior High school Part 2

If I am enrolling my daughter to SHS this this means we have about 10 weeks to go! Having just typed that I feel a quiver of panic! And having acknowledged my panic I am a bit calm now. Lets carry on…

When I was looking for a preschool for my eldest child I had a school visit and a teacher’s appointment way ahead of where I am now!!! How has it come to this? Here I am with a teenager who knows what she wants with an additional 2 years of high school where the government requires she choose a track. Knowing that I have the final say in this I have narrowed things down to two questions for me:

1. What is my heart telling me?
2. What do I want from a SHS?

Lets Start with the first question: What is in my heart telling me?

I love my daughter and I respect where she is now and I look forward to the possibilities that might come her way. On my death bed I hope with all my heart that she is well with her siblings and I can hold her hand and say I am happy I am your mother. Okay so I am crying now, I better go back to the topic at hand which is what to do for senior high school.

If she is going to do SHS I believe it is best if she stays with us or she stays in a boarding school. Why? Because right now she is living on her own and taking care of things like her grocery, meal choices and preparation, transportation etc. I would like these things to be out of the way if she were to do SHS which in my understanding will be a 7:30 am to 4pm kind of schedule plus the possibility of over time.

What about a foriegn home school provider? I have checked out this option too and this deserves a post of its own. First thing’s first, we have to make up our minds if she is going to SHS or if she will carry on the way way we are - independent homeschoolers aka OSY (Out of School Youth).

So, what exactly is she doing now?
 She is living her life like you and me. If I have to make a report card about how she is filling up her time it would look like this:

I.  Academics
Math (Geometry)
Literature/ History (her choice of reading materials)

II.  Extra Curricular Activities
P.E - Physical Therapy for her scoliosis at The Peak
Music: Violin Lessons in UP Extension Program
Orchestra - UP Diliman
Music Theory - UP Extension Program
Art - Painting
Watching shows with her older sister (theater, orcherstra, opera etc) that we don't have here in Davao

III.  And a bunch of life skills that living on your own compels you to acquire.

I am not sure where to put the PEPT (you can read more here). Should it be in Academics or Extra Curricular, same goes for Music Theory? Argh!! Where I put PEPT or Music Theory is so irrelevant! I obviously have a bigger fish to fry and I have to figure out where to prepare it and how and where to serve it.

My next post will be my #2 question: What do I want from a SHS?

Monday, April 3, 2017

What to do for Senior High School?

This post is not going to be about me lamenting why and how come the Department of Education implemented Senior High School (SHS) the way it's being done now.

As a suggestion SHS sounds cool and something that I would like and go for. Why?
1. Because I see value in that additional 2 years. A bit more space to grow and mature.
2. Because I appreciate that it allows young people to declare that they want to pursue something specific. The fact is, we can’t do it all, so why drain time and energy away from what matters. It's but right that we go for what we are interested in, what we believe in, what we think makes the world a better place and put energy into it.

On my eldest daughter’s last year of homeschooling when friends ask if she is in college already I would happily answer that K12 was in effect in our homeschooling. I felt then, like we were slowly crossing a threshold. This time however with the implementation of K12, I feel that we are standing on a precipice.

My second daughter should be grade 11 this coming June or August (some schools start in June, others in August). She wants to pursue classical music for higher education. The way I understand it, when you say music as a subject, it branches out and have smaller branches too. Like science would have Biology that would have its sub-branches too. So in her case she has fallen in love with a sub-branch already and would like to learn more and hopefully grow a leaf in that side of the music tree.

So here I am researching and making some calls to schools that offer grade 11 and 12. So far I have inquired in 1 traditional school, a Waldorf school and have looked into 2 US homeschool providers.

After reading here and there I am now asking myself, what is my heart telling me and what am I looking for in a SHS? I stiffen at the rumour that you can’t be an independent homeschooler for SHS. I could not find a specific law that says this but if the university requires a SHS diploma from all its applicants then without one my child won’t be eligible to apply to a University here in the country.

We have been talking about this a lot. Three nights ago she said that we were simply going around in circles. And that’s true. For now, I think its good because going around in circles will force us to stop at one point and take a stand until the room stops spinning and we can take a sure step forward.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Field Trip to The Bone Museum

We went to D'Bone Museum last Monday and it was worth it! I am so happy I insisted on going as my 3rd daughter did not like the idea of visiting a place where there are bones which means dead animals and her utmost concern was the possibility of sea creatures. But I said it was the perfect way to wrap up our science lesson about the skeletal system. Our discussion on the matter lasted longer than the museum tour.
Here's Ms Reluctant and Nervous and Mr Eager Beaver!

In the first floor of the museum, there is a small gift shop where you pay for your entrance fee: P80.00 for adults and P70.00 for children comes with a tour guide. There is a work area that my son liked.
I wonder if they will have like a summer class for bone something for kids.

The third floor was a stressful place for Ms Reluctant and Nervous as she has an issue with sea creatures.
 But by the end of the tour she was released and being all reflective.
With our tour guide
We went back to the second floor and my daughter remembered the afternoon she went horse back riding with her sisters and the little brother in the Davao Horse Club, here.
Horse skeleton from the Davao Horse Club
I am so happy we have this museum in Davao! We shall visit this place again when we ever get to study/ talk about vertebrates or mammals. At the moment we are learning about the circulatory system. I suggested that we should get a blood test but both my kids said no!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Skeletal System

I can't believe my 3rd daughter does not want to go to the museum. She just wants a quiz and another quiz and said that we should proceed to the circulatory system. But I can not do that!!! We have a museum here in Davao! We have to support the museum is now part of my reasons to go.

She is worried it might be gross to go to the bone museum after I showed he a photo of the ore fish, here and the video here. The ore fish sightings and video has nothing to do with the skeletal system of the human body but the sea creatures are vertebrates like us and all this happen to be all over the news lately. Anyway, I insist that we go to the Bone Museum this afternoon to wrap up our skeletal system topic and I am super excited to go!

Celebrating the First National Homeschool Day in Davao City Philippines

It was pleasantly invigorating to meet up with fellow homeschooling parents. we had a total of 3 dads and 6 moms. I wish I prepared an activity for the children but they ended talking peacefully while we, the grownups had our own table.
 I instructed my children to wear any of the following colors: red, blue, yellow or white.

 Love this photo. 
I met Rhoda 2 years ago in this place. And I wish now that we took a photo or our children back then.
 We talked about why we are homeschooling, where we are now, what are the challenges we have or are anticipating and what we like about homeschooling. 
We were a mixed group. A total of 6 families and its such a joy for me to listen to those who are starting out. I am happy I got to talk to a mom who has a daughter who is entering Senior High school too.  I wonder what the theme will be for next year's Homeschooling Day 2018...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

On the eve of #hapiday2017

Photo: from HAPI Facebook Page

Tomorrow is the first ever homeschooling day in The Philippines with the theme, "Building Up The Philippines One Family at a Time." I am looking forward to meet the others who are coming over in the little gathering I organized. Its been 11 years since we took our eldest and second child out of school and did the whole thing ourselves. But we were not an island. The children joined various activities and were up and about that an older family member once commented that it was probably less hectic for me if I just send my kids to school. I don't agree with him though. 

When we started homeschooling I was happy and I felt safe to be below the radar and not bother with accreditation. My thinking was, if the whole Philippines were a family, then we are definitely very dysfunctional and extremely delayed in our actions. But in the tragedy that we are in, there springs hope and resilience and love that somehow balance things out. Since there are many people who can't go to school for various reasons, there must be a way for a person who does not have a formal education to get back or get into  the system. I figured, we (our family) would not bother the system, as in DeptEd, as we are only we are only one family and there are so many others out there who certainly need the resources and intervention of DeptEd. So, I am not going to be samok-samok.

Now there are so many families who are homeschooling and since communication is much faster now than ever, here I am on the eve of the first ever National Homeschool Day. On top of my head are the following thoughts:
1. I am happy we took this route. I am thankful that my daughters' teacher in Brainworks School who was supportive of our desire to try out homeschooling 11 years ago.
2. I appreciate and value the freedom that we have as independent homeschoolers. No curriculum provider meant spending money on classes/ activities that mattered when it mattered to my children.
3. What to do with senior highchool for my second child. Its its about 3 or 4 years away for my 3rd child so I am not yet thinking about Senior Highschool for her or for our youngest just yet. I trust that things would have sorted itself out by then.
4. I hope it does not rain tomorrow, so we will be comfortable in the venue.
5. I should wear any of the following colors: blue, red , yellow or white. Thanks to my fellow homeschooling mom Stifanny for letting me know about the outfit request in the HAPI Facebook page

5. I wonder if we will exceed 5 families tomorrow?

Good evening and tomorrow it's #hapiday2017...

Monday, February 20, 2017

First National Homeschooling Day of The Philippines

I got all excited for the first ever Homeschooling Day in the Philippines and you can learn more about HAPI here. I am delighted by the openness and that it's being organised in such a way that everybody can pitch in and do what little they can and it's does not have a groupie 'we know better' or 'its just us' vibe. 

I posted this in the Facebook group Davao Homeschool support group, then I posted it in the other homeschool groups I am in:

Would you guys like to participate? Here is what I have in mind:
Let's meet up and just say hi to each other.

Date: 3 March, Friday
Venue: Lasislawa Swimming Pool (just order your own food)
Time 3:30 to 5:30 pm 

If you are game just leave a comment with the following info:
                                   Your name:
                                   Children's name and ages:
                                   Homeschool Provider:
5 moms/ dads or both is good enough I think. But of course, the more the merrier You can bring your children. There is a playground or they can swim too if you like (Pool Fee: P100.00 per person) 

So far 8 people said they are interested. We have a theme, we have a hashtag, I can't wait for the meet up on March 3.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Nervous System

I am happy to share that my nervous system plan which I mentioned here is a success. I am going to interrupt my narrative with questions that I anticipated while writing this post, because I feel so giddy at the moment and the questions are coming up. I brought up the topic of the nervous system along with 2 books for with my 13 year old 3rd daughter and my 8 year old son.

We sprawled ourselves on the floor to learn about the nervous system after lunch, around 2:30 on Wednesday. Within 10 minutes, we were on "daldalan" (talkative, see Tagalog dictionary) mode.
Question 1: There is daldalan during academic lessons? 
Yes, I know it was bawal (forbidden) in the school I attended. I recall the heart palpitations and teary eyes and rage I experienced when I first saw my name on the blackboard under the heading most talkative. But I grew up and gained perspective, forgave everyone including myself, so that's behind me now. Yes, there is interruption and daldalan as we learn about the nervous system. We pause and segue a bit for connections, comments, suggestions and reactions. Example:
When I read this, “The midbrain and the hindbrain are considered the primitive brain because all organisms have them- or atlas the ones with a brain- from worm..." my 3rd daughter said, “Ew I don't like to think of a worm's brain” and my son said,  "Worms think..." And this prompted questions like Do worms think? What would they think about? Is the brain just for thinking? Etc. etc.

Sometimes I am the one needing the pause to make an exciting connection, examlple: When we were going through the parts of the brain and I read about the cerebellum and cerebrum scenes from the movie and the cartoon series Xmen flashed by with Professor X going to and being inside cerebro. I think that thought should be shared! Cerebro Cerebellum Cerebrum, cool right?

Question 2: If there are interruptions, am I not concerned that my children won't develop good listening skills? 
For me, the best guarantee that my 8 year old is listening is when he is excitedly participating. I used to be a bit more formal and asked my older kids to raise their hand or let me finish the sentence before asking but I now know and accept that at age 8, the joy of saying, " Hey I know that," is so genuine and urgent that my older children probably did not here the last few words of the sentence I was reading while signalling me that they have something to say. It does not mean that I never ask this two younger ones to raise their hand and let me finish the sentence. From time to time the need does arise but I no longer see interruptions as unnecessary or a sign of some future tragedy.

Question 3: So whats going to happen to my children when they go school and join the real world? 
They are in the real world. They are not in school and both are not likely going to go to school soon. They are at home with me, their mother and my son who at the moment is, Mr Aha I know That, is not going to be 8 forever. He is going to be 9 soon. There is time to improve. 

Going back to our afternoon, by 3:00 pm we have identified and coloured all the parts of the brain and we were moving on to the spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system. My son lost interest somewhere between the brain stem and the spinal cord so he was not mentally with us by the time we were reading up on reflex. He was still in the room but he was playing with his lego.

Question 4: Am I not worried/ annoyed that he is missing out on the topic/ subject?
Yup he is missing out! And I suppose he is saturated already. I am sure we will have another opportunity to tackle this and I would rather give my full attention to my third daughter who is interested. What a waste of momentum if I have to stop and reel in my son who has moved on to another activity on his own. I am highlighting what he has done like; coloring parts of the brain and connecting new information with what he knows rather than fret on the fact that he is missing on the  rest of the nervous system topic I prepared for. 

Question 5: Don't I feel bad that I prepared and he is not interested?
As Budhist monks can just throw away their sand art so I too can let go of my nervous system preparation. He participated long enough to give me a chance to work with my 3rd daughter better. 

I was able to demonstrate to my third daughter how one avoids and reacts to pain and how one's anticipation of pain can magnify pain itself. I got to show her how she can work with her breathing to cope with pain: sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system etc. I am very pleased with this.

Finally, time is up bu 4:00 and my third daughter requested for a quiz and time to read the book by herself when she comes home for swimming so she can have another quiz the next day!

Question 6: Did I give a quiz to my son too? Wouldn't a quiz be a perfect opportunity to show him what happens if he does not listen to the lesson?
Heck no! He is 8 and can hardly read on his own why would I give him a quiz? What's to gain? There is more to loose if I give him a quiz, like my hair that I might start pulling out while waiting for him to finish the quiz that I created (waste of my time) and he does not care about (waste of his time). 

I am going to make another nervous system quiz by request for Monday and because my 3rd daughter requested it, then it is not a waste of time but a challenge to partake in. I want to push things further by having a return demo of the breathing technique we did. She was not so into it last time, but I am and maybe my son will join in again...

 The human body topic/ unit study is in high gear now and by next week we should be able to move on to the skeletal system and maybe visit the bone museum or we can learn about the circulatory system and get a blood test done. I will ask them if they know their blood type.

Have a happy weekend!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Wrapping up Grade 10

What does that mean, wrapping up grade 10? That's what we call our decision to send our second daughter to Manila. She isn't exactly doing grade 10 and she is not senior high school coz she isn't even grade 10 yet based on the PEPT she took a few years ago she is grade 3. She is doing high school academic work and pursuing what sparks her. Because this whole Senior High school thing is new, we felt its best to give her the option to go to Senior High school if she wants too and we decided after doing the math and pros and cons list, this is the way to go for the following reasons:

Here in Davao it is given twice a year; June and November. Last year the November 2016 schedule was postponed and as of last week there was no schedule yet as to when it will be given here in Davao, but in Pasig you can walk-in and get a schedule. We don't expect our second daughter to pass this test in one sitting so it would be too expensive and unnecessarily time consuming if she stayed here and we have to fly to Manila for the PEPT which requires the following:
1. Go to Pasig, submit requirements, get a schedule - can be a week to 3 weeks away.
2. Go back to Pasig on the scheduled PEPT to take the test, and
3. Go back to Pasig to get results and repeat step 1 to 3 until she gets to Grade 10.

The first time she took the PEPT we skipped step 1 as the schedule was arranged for us. But this time we are doing it ourselves.

II. Violin Class, Orchestra and Music Theory
Her violin teacher told us last year that she is moving back to Manila and recommended another teacher in Manila too. And my second daughter learned that UP College of music has an Extension Program she can join. She also hopped to be able to join an orchestra.

III. Memories with the sister and other activities not available in Davao.
This move has got to be the ultimate bahay-bahayan! Sisters living together for a year! They have to run their little place, do their own cooking and grocery, coordinate and manage their time and watch shows together- something they like that we don't have much of in Davao. 

I have moments of restlessness and fear, like last week, she rode the jeep alone for the first time, you can read it here. She has never taken the jeep all by herself here in Davao. My 3rd daughter who rode the jeep when she went to Laguna for PhilSwim Short Course Swim Series 2016 had a lot say. I miss my two daughters. The house is different without the two of them. The sound of my second daughter practicing used to fill the house. I came home from the grocery with my son last Monday and the house was quiet. I used to hear her violin from the gate.

When I am worried and I miss my girls, I go back to the reasons why they are away. I call them and thank the heavens for FaceTime but there is nothing like a hug and a face to face chat. The hope is that they will blossom, in ways that we can not see how if they stayed with us. It is this hope that I hold on to when I long for them and my heart aches and my tears well up.

Have a hopeful week ahead...

Friday, February 3, 2017

How has interest-led learning shape the path of your children when choosing what college degree to pursue?

Part 5 of 5 Questions received after the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016.

Out of out 4 children, its only our eldest who is in university. Yes she chose a course she was interested in. My eldest enrolled in ALS because she liked the idea that she might be able to go to university when I told her that I would like it if she had that option. And we talked about why its a good idea and possible courses. She did not decide on what course to take over night or on the eve of enrolment which is what happened to me when I enrolled for college 22 years ago.

When she got her high school diploma after passing the ALS, my husband asked her, "What is it that she really wants to do? As she is only passing through this life once. - This is so my husband, very open ended. While I asked her, "What do you want to do for college?" - implied that she is going to college. From here we worked out what is available and possible.

My second daughter is in Manila now wrapping up her grade 10 (more of this in another post). Her being in grade 10 is an estimate based on her age now. Mainly she is in Manila because her main interest is there and to take the PEPT. I don't know yet how we will do Senior High school and college is about 2 years away for her. So lets leave it at this for now.

May you have an interesting weekend... 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How do you measure if your child has learned enough based on what he is interested in?

Part 4 of 5 Questions received after the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016.

My question is, Why should I measure their learning? What kind of yardstick should I use?

To gauge something means to set measurable parameters and that in itself can set the limit. Not that limits are wrong, but the fact is, this is their way of life. My children were not sent to school and I don't want to bring school home for them. The world will want to measure them, eventually, so I don't see the need to do it when they are young or worse because they happen to be interested in a subject/ topic: I suddenly have the right and/ or duty to come over and lord over the situation like some all knowing goddess who says what should matter when learning something because I will check it? I don't want that for myself.

My son asked for piano lessons. I think his older sister convinced him that playing the piano is a good idea. And here she is, reviewing the baby brother. 

Yes the big sister calls the little brother to review. They talk about piano stuff and what teacher Wendy said about this and that. Big sister is even more strict than the piano teacher according to the little brother. 

There's dynamics here that I can't even begin to explain but I see it and I am aware of it. Should I grade this? Should I give a star stamp to my son for being obedient to the older sister? Should I reward the older sister for helping the younger brother? I don't think so. 

I am not eager to put marks on what we are working on, even with Math, our only consistent academic work. Here is my son's math work a few months ago. As you can see he did not draw a line from the shape cone to the word cone. 
When I pointed this out to him, he said he has never seed a solid cone. All cones are hollow like an ice-cream cone and a party hat. And then he asked me if I have seen a solid cone. I said I couldn't think of one at the moment. I told him that there must be a solid cone somewhere, maybe a paper weight or something like that. He just nodded and we left it at that. If I were focused on scoring his work then I might have asked him to draw a line to the cone so I can give him a check mark and a score, discounting the fact he just mentioned. Would a move like that be fair or right?

As I have seen with my eldest child and now my second daughter, they are willing to do things needed when they are up to something. When they understand why they need tests like SATS, ALS, PEPT, ABRSM etc. they go ahead and do it. For my eldest child she now regularly reviews for quizzes and exams in University. Something that was not a regular thing when she was homeschooling. I am now convinced that such tests should not be part of childhood specially when there are very limited resources and opportunities to begin with, which seems to be the case with my second daughter.

Monday, January 30, 2017

What if, after starting a lesson/ activity or learning a new topic, your child loses interest?

Part 3 of 5 Questions received after the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016.

Do you convince them to carry on or do you just allow them to move on?

I do not persuade them to carry on. It might just be a step as high as an ant hill but if they see it as a useless climb up Everest, why carry on? We don't have grades or quizzes unless we are playing and I don't keep tab of the scores. I am talking about academic and creative pursuits, not housework or taking care of pets or handling relationships/ friendships.

We encourage our children to write their thoughts (essay, poem, diary, blog). They all know that we look forward to reading what essay or poem(s) they comes up with. Which brings me to a realisation that I haven't read a written piece from my eldest for sometime now! There are no grades or prices for a job well done.  We talk about what they have written and sometimes point out misspelled words, grammar, capitalisations and punctuation marks. But the best correction will come from them in the future when they look at their work and see what they missed. They might even expand the work they started years ago...
Photo of my second daughters work that I read and kept.
No need for red marks for the budding writer/ artist.
When I want to do something, I tell my children why I want them to do it or why I think its important that they try it. Right now, I am planning to work on the human body, just a short part about the nervous system. This is a subject that I don't think my 12 and 8 year old will pick up on their own. I want to do this because I think it will be useful for them and I found some good materials that we already have. Its up to them to read more or move on from there. Maybe I will make this our theme for February. What could be a good field trip for this? Now I am excited! 

Friday, January 27, 2017

How far do you take "interest-led" learning?

Part 2 of 5 Questions received after the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016.

 Do you pursue every interest your child mentions to you? The question sounds dreadfully tedious. I am a supporting role when it comes to my children's interests. Its awesome when I happen to be interested in what they are into, but if I am not, then I just let them be. They have the freedom to take it as far as they want because they do have the time for it. Our only fixed academic work is Math. And how long do they work on Math:
For my 16 year old its about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the lesson and the lecture from Mondays to Fridays.  
For my 12 year old, it's 45 minutes Mondays to Fridays, and 
For my 8 year old its about 30 minutes on M, W, Th, F . 

Whatever they are interested in is also what we talk about, laugh about and ponder on. Everybody in the family gets to pick up something from the other's interest. And this is where I come in; to listen, give feedback, make sure its safe and look up resources that I show them. Some interests stay for years, others weeks, days only. There is no need for a paper or a quiz or an oral recitation to check on what they have learned.

Here is a sample of  pursuing an interest: Last year, my third daughter rescued a hen and a rooster that she named Beatrice and Axl. The hen, Beatrice laid eggs which got her into reading about chickens.

Correction: more than 3 eggs were laid 2 hatched but only 1 survived

Now she is still at it. Bebitka, the egg that hatched is so loved. So far, aside from feeding Bebitka, there are dance moves, a sort of lullaby and games for the beloved chicken. If you happen to be interested in chickens you might like this blog. Here is the latest photo of Bebitka. I still can't believe my daughter can carry the chicken with such confidence!
Bebitka wrapped in newspaper because it is a cold day. 
When they are interested in something they naturally talk about it, and it gets everybody in the house a bit into it too. The next thing we know, we have invested in it already: a field trip,  a book, we visit a friend or enrolled in a class etc. I think it is vital to have enough space, physically and mentally that they are able to say: let me go try that or I want that, or I will do that. 

If you are thinking about interest led homeschooling go ahead. It does not mean that you won't initiate or introduce topics but do lay low on the lesson planning and scoring/ grading work.  Instead go for feedback, conversation and experiences. Prepare your heart and mind to learn with your child and discover what they can do. I often find myself being taught.

What if what they are interested in is wrong? Then they are likely not going to talk about it openly. People make mistakes and it happens that young people can choose unwisely. What's wrong is wrong.  Instead of punishing and judging its better to retrace one's steps, understand why the decision/ action is wrong and move forward.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Why Interest Led Learning?

Part 1 of 5 Questions received after the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016.

When we started homeschooling the children were ages 9, 6 and 2 . At first my mind set was to teach/present the subjects to them vey much like how I was taught. About 2 years after we started we had a new baby in the family and between breastfeeding, changing diapers, catching up on sleep etc it wasn't possible for me to be available to teach/present/work on the subject the way thought I should. Instead of feeling low, I started asking myself:
Why do I even have to do all the things I think I should do? 
What really mattered to me when I was child? 
When was I happiest? What was memorable? 
What am I interested in? As oppose to, what should we be learning?
Photo from 2008 that  I share during the PHSC 2016 breakout session.

From my answers, I felt I can relax and so I lessened my goal and told myself that I will just read one book in the afternoon for all 3 children since I have a newborn to care for and I do need my rest. We became laid back and the kids played a lot and did a bit of math. Until our baby was about a year old and things became more predictable.

What are the advantages?
There's no prodding needed. Each child can go as far as they want with a given topic/subject and because of that I have less to do. They are motivated because they are interested. I think now that I became respectful of where my children are in that season of their lives. I think it was at this time that I saw how the what ifs of the larger world can be momentarily cast aside. I also discovered that I have forgotten how to play for the sake of playing and how liberating it was to be included in a make believe game that isn't really going anywhere. Yes, it was a melancholy way for me to waste time. I could have organised my table or clean my drawers but instead I played a make believe game for the whole morning. I remembered the games I had with my playmates and my sister and I hope my kids will remember that I played with them. They were dead serious when they told me to say silly lines and reminded me to change the way I talk so I can stay in character.

Is there a downside to this approach?
Yes, something's always got to give no matter how good the deal is. I notice that my kids can go in-depth with subjects they are interested in but can abandon subjects that they don't like. I have also been asked; what if what they want to learn is wrong?

What about the core subjects like Math, Science, Language Arts, Filipino?
Subjects sort of intertwine. Example, when my eldest daughter was into ballet she read human anatomy and was well verse with dancers' injury , etc., She also knows a lot about Russia than anybody in our house. Let's take a look at the core subjects mentioned:

I am not good in Math and my kids know this. Early on we established that this is a subject that must be done. No matter how slow or fast, we will do it. The only way I can think of doing math is through baking but I am not creative enough to expand this. So, I rely on workbooks. 

We don't do science every year. It's very sporadic. My 12 year old daughter did grade 3 science earlier last year but lost interest. The 3 times I bought science materials, they were not maximised unless I initiate. Its a bit different for high school, my eldest did Biology and Chemistry. My second child who is currently in Manila wrapping up her grade 10 did Biology and is now doing Chemistry. I hope she goes ahead and do Physics. I did Physics and I don't even know how I passed.

For Language Arts, we don't have it every year. I read aloud to my children and my 16 year old reads to my 8 year old (before she left for Manila).

We don't do Filipino at all. I feel certain that if I forced it, I will just ruin it for them. I am surprised that my eldest who is now in university and has never been taught Filipino as a subject is considering minoring in Filipino now. I tried doing Filipino, but it always went nowhere. I would buy a book then read the first 2 to 5 pages then we somehow forget it exists. My eldest learned Filipino when she attended the ALS review. I had Filipino in school and again I don't know how I levelled up. I just did.

Although geography was not mentioned as a core subject, I think a geography workbook will be really fun, but we are still waiting for the Geography Book my son and I ordered last September in Book Depository. It's still not here to date!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

And just like that 2016 is over.  I regret not updating this space. I blame it on life and Instagram. I don't even know what to highlight from last year as so much happened and I think that if I try, I might spend all my energy looking back. Still, I want to share one highlight from last year; The Philippine Homeschool Conference.  I am stating this year by sharing some of the questions I received after the Philippine Homeschool Conference talk. I hope to attend the conference again this year, assuming there will be one. I hope the stars align for this.

Sharing the poster and some pictures from PHSC 2016.

My profile that the organisers made that made me feel extra special.
And they made one for Ashley too. I wish I took a better video of her.

The most memorable question I got during the breakout session Q and A came from a homeschooling dad. His question was something like: What does your husband say/ do or where does he fit in all this?
My answer: My husband is the promotor (the guy who rallies everybody to carry on), general manager, financier and the calm that I need. He seems to be in the back burner but homeschooling the children was something he thought we should do and here we are 10 years later.

I wish that I had more time to go around and say hi to other moms and families. My next 5 posts will be the questions I got after PHSC 2016. Happy New Year to all!!!
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