Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Precious moments

As I relaxed a bit after putting my patient to sleep, I look at the clock: it's eight o'clock. The kids must be sleeping. Except for around 2 hours before their bedtime, and onwards, I spent the entire day playing with them. When I finally had work to do at the hospital, at least they'll be sleeping by then. Or so I thought. I arrived home 3 hours past the boys' bedtime only to find Marek greeting me with an obviously excited voice, from the dark, asking why I was home already. He, apparently, was waiting for me, and according to our yaya, he claimed that he wasn't sleepy, and had wanted to call a tricycle so they can go to the hospital to see me. He wanted me to be there beside him when he falls asleep. I asked him why he was still up, I was met with a face grinning from ear to ear, eyes that are telling of what is in his heart, and two small hands holding my head, happy I'm within reach.

So maybe playschool (or toddler school) may only take an hour our two, but if an hour or two amount that much to my children, then it's only right that at their tender age, they should have all their waking moments, their learning moments in the atmosphere that is home, (or wherever mommy happens to be). Never mind that a lot of toddlers, including our friends' tots, are now being sent to these toddler schools. My kids are happy to be home, and they're advancing just fine.

(As for my job, my husband and I have found a way so we will not be tied and be slave to our jobs-- getting there is already a work in progress).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Marek's Kindergarten Readiness Result

School Sparks-- I just found this wonderful website, and instantly loved it! The worksheets are very nice and attractive. The resource is comprehensive. And it's all free! (I hope it stays that way). M1 is still 2 years away from Kindergarten but I took the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment anyway and here's the result:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I am formally starting Marek's and Markus' habits training. So November and December are OBEDIENCE months.

An article from Catholic

Preschool Parent Pedagogy: Teaching Obedience in Preschool Children

The virtue of obedience must be taught and stressed from early childhood. The author gives good structure on how to introduce and enforce obedience, emphasizing that it takes gradual training and that a religious motive in teaching is usually very fruitful.


In the remarks on tantrums in June, we touched on the essentials involved in teaching virtues to young children, and last month we listed some pedagogical watchwords to keep in mind.

Remembering these, let us work out some suggestions with regard to teaching the virtue of obedience.

First of all, let us realize that the time to teach begins at birth. Training in regular habits, — eating because mother offers food at a certain time, — sleeping because mother puts baby into the crib, says the good-night prayer and walks away, — all these early habits are giving the infant the custom of conforming to discipline, which is obedience of a kind.

As the child grows out of babyhood, this habit must be developed into conscious obedience, which means that the child obeys not simply from habit, but because he knows that he must obey and finally because he wishes to obey because he loves God and God has told him to obey his father and mother.

Gradual Training

All this cannot be learned in a day, but it can and must be learned day by day.

The wise parent makes few rules, gives few commands, but insists upon their being carried out. A properly trained child of two has the beginning of the notion of obedience. Parents must seize the chances as they appear to teach obedience definitely. Suppose Mother says: "Baby, pick up the ball."

Baby laughs or pokes the ball further away.

Mother says: "No, bring the ball." Mother looks grave.

Baby brings the ball. Mother smiles, says "Good baby," kisses him and makes him feel happy.

Suppose that after two attempts baby does not bring the ball. What then? You may take the ball, put it into baby's hands and go through the motion of his giving it to you. Then bestow smile and kisses.

With a child of two it is usually foolish to fight a long battle the first time. Some mischievous tots think you are playing a game with them. It is better to distract them, push the ball out of sight, and do something different. In a few weeks try again. Do not make an issue of the incident. But make sure that after two or three trials you win. A smiling command will usually produce the ball. It must be clear that you are in authority.

Religious Motive

By the age of three or four, you can make a habit of saying, "Jesus loves obedient children. He always did quickly what Blessed Lady and St. Joseph told Him." If you persist in suggesting such a motive, you will find that by four or five the child will make the connection between obeying mother and doing so because he wants to copy Jesus.

It is really beautiful to see how little children respond to the idea of copying little Jesus. They love to be like Him, provided, of course, they have been taught to love Him. And most encouraging of all, as the little ones grow up to be big girls and boys, they will often retain the ideal of copying Jesus, even though they never speak about it.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

SCM Early Years Guide

I've fallen in-love with Charlotte Mason's teachings, so we'll be switching with the following as guide (from Simply Charlotte

I will still have to figure out if and how I can incorporate CHC' Lesson Plans. Or use a local Christian Living textbook (by Vibal Publishing House) to cover the 'Bible'/ Catholicism subject.

To [buy and] read : The Early Years: A Charlotte Mason Preschool Handbook.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Charlotte M. & Habits

I have bought and printed Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook (Shafer). Finally. The more I'm reading it, the more I agree with her approach to, and principles in education. The more I am considering her approach for my sons, and to not simply just go eclectic. It is almost automatic to school the boys when they reach 3 1/2 to 4 years old. (We do celebrate their academic milestones). I can tell my boys are smarter than I am (but of course, I have the advantage of years... but you know what I mean). It's so tempting to send them off to school (in our case, start formal homeschooling), so that they can "get a good education". But CM is emphasizing something more basic, and essential, and of utmost importance-- the active pursuit of developing a child's (good) habits. (Surely, education is more than Math, and Languages, and Science. And character cannot be developed by leaving it all to the Religion teacher). It is something that we parents should definitely engage in, put an effort in-- much like the way we perceive, and approach their academics. Forming habits is a necessity. Inculcating good manners, and values, and turning these things into habits, indeed, can be a very big, overwhelming challenge, but the rewards are great. I think, only then, can our function as parents be fulfilled.

"The well-brought-up child has always been a child carefully trained in good habits."

"Sow an act, reap a habit, sow a habit, reap a character, sow a character, reap a destiny."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Ten Commandments For Parents To Have a Happy, Smart Child

1. Thou shall provide a home filled with love and joy
2. Thou shall respond promptly to the needs of your baby.
3. Thou shall talk and count to your baby as often as possible.
4. Thou shall be enthusiastic, energetic, and happy when talking, counting, playing, and stimulating your baby.
5. Thou shall read to your baby every day as often as possible.
6. Thou shall read the cues and temperament of your baby. Thou shall stop reading or stimulating her at the early sign of tiredness or bored-ness.
7. Thou shall not let her watch Television, VCR, or computer until she is 6 year old.
8. Thou shall not shout, fight, or be angry when baby is around her seeing or hearing distance.
9. Thou shall provide her with adequate books and toys for stimulation of her brain.
10. Thou shall maintain a stable and intact family.

Leo Leonidas, MD, FAAP,
Assistant Clinical Professor in Pediatrics,
Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston;

Attending Pediatrician,
Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor, Maine

Copyright Leo Leonidas 2002

Monday, September 26, 2011

More on disciplining

The second secret from Michele Borba's book, 12 Secrets Real Moms Know is: "A mother who is firm and fair gives her children a moral code to live by." The chapter includes the following 9 steps to dealing with bad behaviour firmly and fairly:

  1. Establish your rules.
  2. Deal with one behaviour at a time.
  3. Connect calmly with your child.
  4. Clarify your concerns.
  5. Suggest a positive alternative.
  6. Explain the consequence if the misbehaviour or rule infraction continues.
  7. Correct the misbehaviour on the spot and carry out the agreed consequence.
  8. Be fair.
  9. Congratulate good efforts.
When disciplining, I will always have to remind myself to "discipline in love-- never in anger."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Potty training... one down!

M1 now wears briefs during daytime. He knows how to pee in the potty already. And he sure is proud about it. Every time after he pees, he beams and tells me that he peed in the potty. Then I congratulate him. I rewarded him with a small yellow car. Next up-- poo in the potty (if only he wasn't constipated most of the time). I can finally lessen our expense on diapers. =)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Reading by Demand!

M2 has developed a gusto for reading. It's the first thing that he asks in the morning, and the last thing that he asks for at night. Above anything else! Or else he'll throw a fit! Like when he woke up this noon after his nap. The moment he opened his eyes, the first thing that got out of his mouth was "Read tayo" (Let's read!). This compensates for his almost daily demand to watch "Finding Nemo" (he's not supposed to watch yet because he's not two years old... but he is such a choleric!).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Defying Defiance

There is a stage when toddlers test your limits, and assert their independence. This shows as the toddler being defiant. I'm not sure if all toddlers go through this, I guess a lot do, and Marek has just become one of them that do. How now? A lot of times there's power struggle-- sometimes we give in, other times he ends up crying or having tantrums, and some other times we just ignore his misbehaviour. On occasions, we are able to reason out with him and he understands, but sometimes he knows what is right but insists on what is wrong just so he could have his way.

Expert advice (What to includes: focusing on the positive, mean it when you say "no", and be consistent about the consequences; and by prevention-- explaining the reasons behind the rules, reducing unnecessary "no", not to admonish prematurely, encouraging self control, and acknowledging good behaviour.

Now, to help me know how to handle situations better, and for better parenting's sake, I'm reading the following the books: 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know by Michele Borba, and Masterly Inactivity by Sonya Shafer. And I'm seriously considering buying Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook, also by Sonya Shafer thru Simply Charlotte

I pray I can handle this phase well, be able to set rules that can be (and ought to be) followed without crushing spirits.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Online Libraries

I am running out of fresh books to read to the 2 boys. Thanks to these 2 online libraries, I can print stories in an instant...

The Rosetta Project
The Baldwin Project

Ambleside Online also provides an extensive booklist.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Letter Recognition

I have very much relaxed on teaching Marek how to read. And now I feel like we have to step back, and have Marek brush up on his aphabet once again. I was looking for printable alphabets so I can review him on his ABCs, and reinforce. The plan now is make alphabet booklets (Markus also loves reading books, so he just might benefit from the exposure). Ideas from:
Preschool Alphabet

Reflection: As any homeschooling mom will soon learn, educating kids also means finding ways to make things interesting for them. It's I who should adjust to his learning style, and not him adjusting to my teaching style.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Marek's 1st read word

Hooray! M1 just read his first word! We were reading his Alphabetti Book (from Progressive Phonics), and he read d-o-g. He's well on his way!
Take a look at Marek's reward. Maybe it doesn't look like much, but he sure is happy about it, and we are, too.

Monday, June 13, 2011

While waiting for Pre-K

A number of M1's "batchmates" (those born in 2008) have already started their formal schooling, nursery/pre-K. But since he's among the youngest in the "batch", born towards the end of December of that year, I'll start his Nursery level when he's 3 and a half years old. That's still a good one year from now. M1 is almost perfect at his letter recognition, so I will just re-inforce his alphabet, and then his numbers, with themed lessons from Everything Preschool. I'll also incorporate Play and Learn Activities, read to him everyday, use Brain Quest for 3s, play children's music and Bible songs. Markus will tag-along. He picks up bits and pieces of Marek's lessons, and is wonderful at it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Programs for Preschool (then maybe Kindergarten)

Since I've abandoned much of our 'daily lesson guide', and since I'm not an 'unschooler', I have a little compulsion to make a semblance of a structure. If not for this school year, then the next-- for Marek's preschool. These things need a lot of consideration... hence, I'm planning a year ahead! I'll be putting them under the Mater Amabilis program (a Catholic Charlotte Mason approach) intertwined with Catholic Heritage Curricula. I just found out about the latter, and reading through their catalog, I felt like I had just found a treasure!

In the meanwhile, we'll make use of the books we already have, that means lots of read-alouds, nursery rhymes, Bible stories, and their accompanying music, and Brain Quest ("my first brain quest" and "for threes", for Markus and Marek, respectively). As for the Kumon First Steps Workbooks, I don't think Marek is ready for that yet. It will have to wait for a little while).

Friday, June 3, 2011

Do Babies Learn From Media?

A study from the Dept. of Psychology of the University of Virginia, as published in the Psychological Science journal says that:


In recent years, parents in the United States and worldwide have purchased enormous numbers of videos and DVDs designed and marketed for infants, many assuming that their children would benefit from watching them. We examined how many new words 12- to 18-month-old children learned from viewing a popular DVD several times a week for 4 weeks at home. The most important result was that children who viewed the DVD did not learn any more words from their monthlong exposure to it than did a control group. The highest level of learning occurred in a no-video condition in which parents tried to teach their children the same target words during everyday activities. Another important result was that parents who liked the DVD tended to overestimate how much their children had learned from it. We conclude that infants learn relatively little from infant media and that their parents sometimes overestimate what they do learn.

I'm quite relieved that we didn't stick with our schedule below which includes several exposures to media. We were left with reading to the boys daily (I so love the latest addition to our library The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury: Picture Books & Stories to Read Aloud), play, and lots of conversations. And sometimes, I make Marek sit to do a page (or more) of one of his Kumon First Steps Workbooks.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Water babies

Marek doesn't like taking a bath. But we don't have a hard time getting him into the pool. And Markus, oh, he's a water baby! We had modified the swimming lesson a bit. Once we saw that the boys were very comfortable in the water, we did the cheek roll. We're now waiting for the next opportunity that we can regularly visit the pool. But that might have to wait a bit since I and the boys will be flying to Manila. But when we get back, we will have to be committed about our swimming lessons schedule.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Marek Goes Classical

Marek was humming Georges Bizet's Habanera from Carmen this morning. So I decided to go beyond HBO's Classical Baby series, and downloaded choice classical masterpieces:

  • Vivaldi's Spring
  • Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
  • Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz
  • Bizet's Habanera
  • Pachelbel's Canon in D
  • Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee
  • Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C Minor
  • Tchaikovsky's Swan Theme
  • Debussy's Claire de Lune
  • Bach's Air on G String
  • Ravel's Bolero
  • Basie's Boogie Woogie

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Up with a schedule

I finally came up with a schedule (see bottom of the webpage). But we're not strict about it, it's flexible. It's just a guide. We're very relaxed with them. We just let them play. I just want a semblance of routine (I read they're good for tikes).

Sesame Street revived (at least for me). Actually, the only idea of M1 about the show is their Play-Doh. I have forgotten how it actually was a good educational tv show (because when I was a kid, it was entertaining and that was that, I didn't really mind that it was actually imparting something). I visited their website and I found it quite nice, and as something I can use as a teaching aid, or an alternative to Peppa Pig.

I was quite amazed at M1 when he was able to identify all the letters of the alphabet. He also already knows most of their sounds. I don't see reading too far behind. But, really, there's no hurry.

Read these 2 worthwhile essays:
More advice at Best Homeschooling.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April Treasures

The cheapest way to find lessons nowadays is thru the internet. There are a lot of good stuff out there. But sometimes, it's exactly THAT, that's the problem. It's like I've been tossed into the ocean! You have things in your mind, you have goals, but when you go surfing for stuff, one can easily get so distracted. But recently, I found really good sites that I can use for Marek and Markus. Now, I'm getting more organized.

For April, I wanted the boys to have swimming lessons... so fitting for summer! However, in this side of the planet, the recommended swimming teacher we know is out on vacation, and we haven't found another swim class. And then, I found a book-- Learn to Swim: Step by step water confidence and safety skills for babies and young children by Rob and Kathy McKay. Looks like our inflatable pool will be put to really good use afterall. And Mark can learn to swim with the kids, too!

As for academics, I've decided for early education. Free ebooks at promoting early reading and math literacy convinced me. And the window for Marek is fast approaching.

The list is long for teaching values, but an article, sited the following are crucial and relevant to toddlers:

  • obedience
  • submission to authority
  • control of temper tantrums
  • sharing of toys, love and forgivenes
  • resolving conflicts
  • developing sensitivity to others

For these, I will be needing Bible stories, and Veggietales, playmates (neighbor friends), and of course, actual situations as they come along.

And last, but not the least, for M1, potty training! Mark bought The Everything Potty Training Book by Linda Sonna a long time ago. We thought M1 was making progress but he later somehow became averse to using the potty and so I decided to give it a long break. But I think now he's showing signs of readiness.

I almost forgot, Easter is just around the corner, I hope this time we finally get to hunt easter eggs! Watching out for ads.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Preparing for 'smooth and easy days'

Homeschooling is a dynamic process. I can do research for a month about what to teach the boys, especially M1, and how to teach. But at the end of the day, it's I who has to be flexible, rather than M1 adjust to his lessons. And so we end up not having any curriculum to follow at all (which is actually the point of homeschool). The key I think is to have a goal of what he needs to know. It'll be more relevant for us at this stage to have a checklist rather than a daily schedule. And because what M1 already knows is at least, at par with Kindergartens (mind you, he's only two), I'm refocusing his lessons more on character formation (along side early reading... he knows most of his alphabet and how they sound). Marek is a cautious boy. It takes him time to warm up to new people and new situations, but he IS assertive and can be quite stubborn sometimes. I found this ebook quite inspiring, Smooth and Easy Days, for teaching M1 good habits/ values. We'll be starting of with obedience. I find it easier to have M1's cooperation when he feels that I'm making myself more available to him, not necessarily by placing the other baby, M2, in the backseat, but by being around all the time and giving him more loving attention. Above anything else, really giving him time is of utmost importance. That's the framework for any of our lesson. Hopefully within two months, we wouldn't have to remind him why Nemo was captured by the SCUBA divers (which he calls screw divers).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Beginning homeschool

It used to be that most kids start school at 4 years old. I skipped Nursery but I think I was already the exception. Now, babies go to school (and they do so in their diapers, of course)-- playschool, even before they turn one! And so Mark and I were pretty excited about the prospect of him learning so many things already. He's one brilliant kid. Before he even turned 2, he already knows the primary and secondary colors, and black and white and brown, shapes, and can recite numbers 1-5 (now he can count to 10), can name most parts of his body, uses adjectives and pronouns well. He does not baby talk and is very conversant already. He loves to read and loves to listen to stories. Now that he's 2, he mainly goes for Grolier's 'I Wonder Why...' book set. Needless to say, he goes into a barrage of WHYs everyday, every moment. And he does listen to our answers. We can already tell that he is, in the 'multiple intelligence' school of thought, a "word smart". We were convinced of homeschooling him, soon--now! So as to maximize the sponge-like property of his developing brain. (Oh yeah, did we say homeschool?! Yes, and we know what you're thinking... NO, socialization shouldn't be a problem. As a matter of fact, the "socialization" that kids gets exposed to at school now a days is among the primary reasons why we will try to homeschool our kids). I was, (and still am), excited (sometimes overwhelmed). And so, here begins our journey on the less chosen way of educating our children.

I've already bought Marek his first Kumon workbooks on coloring, cutting, pasting and stickering, and folding which he already has started to use. Out of excitement, I also bought the 1st three sets of Brain Quest flashcards on early childhood, and their pre-K workbook; Gymboree's Play and Learn; Ultimate Book of Homeschool Ideas by Linda Dobson; 100 Bible Stories; Little Hands Playtime! Book, to encourage cooperation and sharing; and, what I really found useful, The Complete Daily Curriculum for Early Childhood (focuses on multiple intelligences) by Pam Schiller. The kids are not exposed to the television (we refuse to own one) but we got Marek (and Markus) videos on numbers, letters, and reading: LeapFrog: Learning Set (his favorite... and, it does work!), the Preschool Prep & Sight Words series, and Your Baby Can Read Set as teaching aids. (Marek always watch with us or Tita Judy who teaches effectively). As for curricula, we've taken quite a good look at International Bacculaureate Organization's Primary Years Program. I'm still looking up and reading on different school of thoughts and approaches regarding homeschooling for they all have wonderful points, that's why we decided to be eclectic (the mishmash of different principles). Right now I'm familiarizing myself with Charlotte Mason's teachings. I love her concept of 'living books'.

At the end of the day, toddlers learn by playing. Also, they're intrisically curious beings, very good at exploring and unraveling many things themselves. So, I don't pressure Marek into going into 'school mode' and force feed him with 'lessons for the day'. And of course, I and Mark give him and Markus time, and space, we let them play, we walk outside, we talk, we read books, and of course, we give our little boys lots of hugs and kisses and cheers.