Sunday, December 1, 2013

The clock strategy

To establish more routine in their day...
When kids haggle for more playtime, especially when it's time for things like bath & dinner, and bedtime...

Getting some help from the clock:

Of course, it was hung where they can see it clearly.  I chose to write the words, as I can't draw cute cartoons, then I read it for them.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chores for the little boys

This post really got me envious:
"What can a 6 year old do to help at home" @

When I was growing up (up to the present), I and my siblings have been spoiled when it comes to household chores.  My parent have hired a really selfless, loyal, trustworthy, and hardworking help (who's already family) when I was about 4 years old.  Not only is she very efficient when it comes to household work, she's also very good with children (she just might as well be the pied piper of Hamlin!).  We're very grateful for, and to her.

Here's the con.  I've become so dependent on her that I'm almost helpless when it comes to domestic stuff.  I can deal with 24 hours of duty in the hospital, but I remember that time when she had to leave us for a while, and I was left clueless with how to BE at home!  I was simply pathetic.  And I can also fall into the trap of letting her take care primarily of the kids most parts of the day (yes, she's still with us up to now, I JUST HAVE TO BORROW her from my mom).  She is like my second mom, and now she is like my sons' second mom.  And that just made me want to be more in control because THERE ARE ways or styles that I wanted to raise my boys that are different from how I was raised by my mom and her, for example, in terms of disciplining, and attitudes that I wanted the boys to catch.  Definitely needs working on.  Although she can be cooperative when it comes to what I want for the kids, it's not always that she is.

I know I'm partly ranting.  So anyway.   Here's a focus on teaching kids responsibility.  I realize that it's important to get them started early on (even experts say so).  And yes, let's not assume that they're too young to do chores.  Those who have been there say that they are actually more capable than we have thought of.

Since the 2 boys are in close age range, here's list that's good for both of them (for ages 3-5 years old):
  • brush their teeth (with supervision)
  • dress themselves
  • comb their hair
  • eat by themselves using spoon & fork
  • put toys away
  • put clothes in hamper
  • wipe spills
  • dust
  • return books to shelves
  • wash plastic dishes, utensils at sink
  • bring in mail
  • water plants
  • sort laundry
  • sweep floors
  • set & clear table
  • keep bedroom & play area tidy
  • fold laundry
  • anything else that I can think of that can be appropriate for them
  • The when/then can approach ("when you have kept your toys, then you can have your milk").  
  • Praise generously even before the task has been completed.  Encourage.  
  • Reward (i.e with stickers, small tokens).   
  • Allowances are discouraged, although monetary rewards can be given to older kids to motivate them to do extra work.  
  • Use a chore chart
I know that there are important things like having peace of mind, and the freedom to go away from home for a while with our Ate around (which is really priceless), and the extra hands that enable me to also take care of other important things without much hassle; but I also pray...

Lord, grant me the courage to let go, and go helper-less, so I may learn how to fully take responsibility, and take charge of, and run my household, the way you intended wives & mothers to be.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Early encouragement to self

We're nearing the end of our 2nd week.  I find myself asking if we're doing ok.  M2 definitely doesn't want any homeschooling at this point, which to him means answering preK workbooks (hey, the ones I bought were labelled for 3 years old).  But he makes sure he's there whenever I start reading a story.  M1 tries to avoid studying but can be coaxed into finishing tasks.

I do have a lesson plan/ schedule which I follow.  But what I have failed to do was set goals for our homeschool, not a generic goal, but OUR family's goals for this year.  From an article, it tells me that I have to focus on 4 aspects,

  1. intellectual
  2. physical
  3. spiritual
  4. social
Intellectually, that he will be able to read simple sentences by the end of Kindergarten, do simple addition and subtraction, and learn to write letters.  It's broad, but to be specific, I'll rely & try to stick with the lesson plans, and I'm giving ourselves 2 years for that level.  Habits: diligence, perseverance  

Physically, that he can learn to dress/undress himself with ease, good hygiene (washing of hands), for him to be able to brush his teeth on his own.  To eat on his own even when dining out. To eat & sleep on time

Spiritually, to start to appreciate the Mass in a simple way.  To learn to pray reverently.  Memorize basic prayers.  Be able to do choose what to do based on what he knows is right or wrong, even when I'm not around.  To be patient, self-controlled, kind, honest, obedient, and forgiving.

Socially, to be well-mannered, to learn to always use polite words.  To be attentive, and diligent.  To be able to answer the phone politely, to learn to greet other people.  To learn how to behave when at a friend's house.

* * *

When academics can be a pressure (when homeschool=RRR), a reminder to self (from Simply Charlotte Mason),
  1. Focus on the foundations:  habits, outside play, read-alouds, Bible
  2. Enrichment & beauty:  arts, music, crafts, poetry
  3. Reading, writing, math:  may be added as informal activities.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Taekwondo, etc.

We will not be having swimming lessons for their PE class.  The instructor told us that both the boys have learned whatever they can learn at their age.  We'll just arrange for a session with her every other month for the maintenance of their skills.  She encouraged us to go swimming regularly (on week-ends) so the boys will not forget.

Swimming has been replaced by Taekwondo which happens every Tues, Thurs, and Sat morning & afternoon, an hour per session.  Mommy & Poppa have also joined them, so this is our version of family fitness program.  (Today was our 2nd time).  But Taekwondo is more than just for physical fitness, and self-defense, it's also for developing character, especially discipline, respect, courage, and perseverance, among others.

* * *

Focus on virtues:  Attentiveness.
M1 get's easily distracted when he's not that keen about what I'm making him do, like going over his workbooks.  And so from today until the end of the month probably, our character training will be on attentiveness.  

* * *

Lesson learned on parenting.  Never let the children feel judged.  They'll be more open if they don't feel that they're being judged, or scrutinized.  As M1 and I were on his math practice, he was having a little confusion with the numerals 6, 8, and 9.  I asked him if he was wasn't sure about identifying one of them.  I sensed his hesitancy to tell me honestly, but when I gave him tips on how to remember, he realized that I only wanted to help.  And when I asked him if he's having the same challenge with the next numeral, he readily said 'yes', knowing that we'll be figuring out how he can remember.

Anyway, how we did it, we used rhyming words, and objects that can represent the numbers.  For 6, we played with the rhyming words six - yoyo tricks, as the yoyo can also look like number six.  For 8, "Eight! I see gate" with fingers forming binoculars which we then rotate vertically.  And, for 9, "nine, the lolipop is mine".  M1 is word smart, and visual, which probably explains why he appreciates the rhyming words coupled with our objects
* * *

I was flattered this morning with M2's comment.  He was showing me a sticker of that yellow mini car from Disney's Cars when I wrongly named the car (instead of Luigi, I was calling it Guido).  He was giggling at my mistake, and so I also laughed at my mistake.  Then he said, "ang cute mo Mommy" (Mommy, you're cute) with a really sweet smile.  That sure warmed my heart.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Accreditation issue

One of the most common concerns when it comes to homeschooling is accreditation.  When it comes to Philippine setting, this Nanay has good advice.  Reposting.

Monday, September 2, 2013

First day of school

I remember myself as a student every first day of school.  I would wake up in the morning for the first few days with butterflies in my stomach.  The duration lessened as I went into college.  But I was always anxious.  Today is my eldest's first day, but he didn't have to go through the same anxiety I had.  For him, it's just another day at home with loved ones.  It was me, who had a little anxiety last night.  Of course, I was wishing it would be the perfect 1st homeschool day.   So I limited ourselves to just letter practice, counting with Math U See, music, and story time.  But we did take the whole morning because it wasn't as different from his usual day either in the sense that I had to ask him several times to finish the task.  But as I was doing so, I would repeatedly tell myself that it's really about training him for things such as obedience, diligence, and attentiveness.

And so it went okay.  We're a little off with the schedule, but basically, we stuck with the lesson plan.  I just have to remind myself everyday, otherwise put up a DIY poster, about building, and not breaking my child, and to have the attitude that would encourage him to develop a love of learning, and not a homeschool burn out, and of course, to prioritize on lessons that will make him become a better human, and not a walking encyclopedia.

Keep it gentle & loving.  Here's to a smooth sailing... cheers!

Friday, August 23, 2013

25 Manners Every Kid Needs (repost)

What to say to kids instead (a repost)

Linking to this article before it gets lost under a pile of Facebook "likes".

10 Things to Stop Saying to Your Kids (and what to say instead)

Again, say (or something along these lines):
  • "You really tried hard on that!"
  • "I appreciate it so much when you cooperate."
  • "I saw you share a toy with your friend."
  • "I see red, and blue, and yellow.  Can you tell me about your picture?"
  • "It's not ok to hit your brother.  I'm worried he will get hurt, or he will retaliate and hurt you.  If you'd like something to hit, you may hit the pillow, the couch, or the bed."
  • "Thank you so much for helping me clean up!"
  • "Wow! You really tried hard on that."
  • "It's ok to cry.  Everyone needs to cry sometimes.  I'll be right here to listen to you."
  • "You're really disappointed that we can't go to the park right now, huh?"
  • "I know you really want to have a play date with your friend this weekend, and we'll do our best to make that happen.  Please remember sometimes unexpected things come up, so I can't guarantee that it will happen this weekend."
  • "I know you really wanted to do that, but it's not going to work out for today."
  • "I'm sorry you're disappointed, but the answer is no."
  • "Were you feeling frustrated because your friends weren't listening to your idea?
Reminder to self:
  • Teach that efforts are more important than results
  • Give children real information about what you want, and how it impacts your experience
  • Offer alternatives
  • Offer genuine gratitude
  • Be an example of honesty, or take responsibility for your failure
  • Empathize with their feelings
  • Open lines of communication
  • Verbalize for them what they feel

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Our new logo

What's in name?  What's in a logo?  Our homeschool logo was made upon the request of yours truly, the homeschool mom.  

The tree with the scroll is a symbol of guided learning in the home.  The tree nurtures and protects as it is growing, while the scroll is a symbol of scholastic pursuits.  That is why it is aligned with the Latin word Cognoscere meaning "to learn" or "to know".  The connected letters V and M stand for our family names which represent the familial heritage of our children.  They are sprouting to symbolize continued growth and intimate relationships.  Familia, the Latin word for 'family' stresses the importance to us of our bond as a family which is among the top reasons why we homeschool.  Lastly, but not the least, Fides, which means "faith" stands in the center, represented by a golden cross, which puts Christ in the center of our family.  It also represents our pursuit of growing our children in faith, love for the Lord, teaching them core Catholic Christian values, and principles... educating them for eternity.

About grades

This can be tricky.  I don't think I'll compute every quiz and test scores to come up with a grade for every semester.  I do recognize that every score in an activity is a valid form of assessment of the child's understanding of the subject, for which I may have to use external tests from time to time.  For our family, it's more important to assess how much my child has understood a lesson that is being taught, so that it becomes inherent for us to go over the subject repeatedly until he has a firm understanding or grasp of the matter.  Unlike in brick & mortar schools, one moves on to the next lesson just as long as he/she "passed" which does not necessarily mean that the student has a mastery of the subject.  We aim for our children to really learn, not just "pass".

We'll also be commenting on, and include in the record, work habits, developmental milestones, character, special recognition, and volunteer work/ extra curricular activities.

From 1st grade onwards, we'll have the kids take tests yearly with DepEd's standardized exams, which can also reveal their strengths & weaknesses.

So, ours will probably be descriptive.  For pre-K/ Kindergarten, maybe we'll just use smileys or stars.  :)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Get kids cooking

Just a few links to recipes to get kids involved in the kitchen:

Inner Child Food

No cook recipes for kids

Read it and cook it!

Kindergarten Recipes Activities

Recipes for kids aged 6 years and under

Recipes to Make with Kids

KidsHealth Recipes & Cooking

Kidspot Kitchen:  Kids cooking

BBC GoodFood:  Kids cooking recipes

Channel 4:  Cooking with kids

Healhy Kids:  Kid-friendly recipes

Martha Stewart:  Easy recipes kids can help make

Spoonful:  Cooking with kids

Fun Recipes for Kids @ Pinterest

Classroom Cooking @ Pinterest

No bake fun recipes for kids @ Pinterest

Monday, May 27, 2013

Our Preschool & Kindergarten Curricula*


(up to 1 hour daily)
Number and literacy activities – daily, 20 to 30 minutes total
Religion – daily, up to 10 minutes
Story time – daily, up to 20 minutes
In addition to this more structured time, aim to include nature study and art and craft activities each week.
**Preschool (3-5 years old) foundations.

Bible stories**                                                                                 
The Mass Book for Children                                                           
Who Am I? Workbook A                      

Let There Be Llamas!                                                                          
God’s Wisdom for Little Boys                                                             
Poems & Prayers for the Very Young   
Brambly Hedge Collection                                                                           
Raggedy Andy Stories
The Real Mother Goose
The Year at Maple Hill Farm
Eric Carle’s Animals Animals  

[our old books, including]:                                                                       
The Children’s Book of Virtues (Bennet)                                       
The 20th Century Children’s Book Treasury                                       
Harper Collin’s Picture Book Classics
Catholic Children's Treasury Box Vol. 1-10
Childcraft Stories & Fables
Childcraft Poems & Rhymes

Top 3 habits to work on:  obedience, attentiveness, truthfulness

Freeplay & exploration outside

Making Music Praying Twice

Swimming lessons

Number & Logic Games for Preschoolers                                            
Kumon Numbers 1-30                                                           

I Can Find Letter Sounds  



(1 to 1.5 hours daily)
Religion – four times weekly, for 10 to 15 minutes
History and geography – twice weekly, for 10 to 15 minutes
Music appreciation and picture study – weekly, for around 10 minutes
Poetry – twice weekly, for 5 to 10 minutes
Story time – daily, for 10 to 15 minutes

Monday - Bible, Reading, Painting, Break, Number, Handwork, Geography, Writing
Tuesday – Tales, Number, Handwork, Break, Reading, Singing Games, Writing, Nature Study
Wednesday – Poetry, Reading, Nature Study, Break, Number, Handwork, History, Writing
Thursday – Bible, Number, Handwork, Break, Reading, Singing Games, Writing, Tales
Friday – Tales, Reading, Picture Study, Break, Number, Handwork, Nature Study, Writing
*A break for free play must be included as shown above.

Other afternoon activities:
·         physical exercise,
·         outdoor nature observation,
·         gardening,
·         outdoor geography
·         more listening to stories.
* The arrangement of these must depend largely on weather and climate. Children should be allowed to help in the house and in the care of animals.

Sample Schedule

Monday to Thursday

Session 1 (45 mins):
Religion (10 mins)
Reading (10 mins)
Picture study, Music Appreciation or Poetry (10 mins)
History or Geography (10 mins)
Handwriting (5 mins)

Session 2 (25 mins):
Maths (10 mins)
Story time (15 mins)


Session 1 (45 minutes):
Reading (10 mins)
Art or craft activity (30 mins)
Handwriting (5 mins)

Session 2 (25 mins):
Maths (10 mins)
Story time (15 mins)

Who Am I? K Workbook  (CHC)                                                 
God’s Love Story  (CHC)                                                                   
Bible stories                                                                              
-      The Clown of God (Tomie dePaola)                                          
-      The Christmas Story (Little Golden Book)                                  
[Easter] The Easter Story (St. Joseph Picture Books)                                        

Little Folk’s Number Practice
Math-U-See Primer   
·         Counting songs
·         Number games (dominoes, number lotto)
·         Board games with dice
·         Make and copy sequences and patterns
·         Time (clock with movable hands)
·         Measuring (ruler, weight scale)
·         Cooking (measurement)
·         Money (learn different coins, count pennies)

Little Folk’s Letter Practice                                                          
Little Stories for Little Folks Phonics Program                                      
Catholic Heritage Handwriting K   

 *Math(s), reading and writing – daily, for 10 minutes each (less for handwriting)

Term 1: The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter (Beatrix Potter)      
Term 2: Charlotte’s Web (E.B.White)                                                        
Term 3: Winnie-the-Pooh (A.A.Milne)

Poems and Prayers for the Very Young
A Child's Garden of Verses
Childcraft Poems and Rhymes
When We Were Very Young (A.A. Milne)
Now We are Six (A.A. Milne)

Folk songs
National anthem
Ay, Naku! (Tahanan Books)
Araw sa Palengke (Adarna House)
Dalawang Bayani ng Bansa (Adarna House)

The Year at Maple Hill Farm (Alice and Martin Provensen)             
One Small Square series: Backyard, Seashore, Pond, Night Sky                                                            

Art Masterpieces:  A Liturgical Collection (CHC)

Childcraft Make and Do
Gardening – Onions in My Boots (CHC)
Finger, & watercolor painting
Help with household chores                                            

Making Music Praying Twice
Classical music – Classical Kids

Swimming lessons
*Based on Mater Amabilis' Prep Level Curriculum, with contents amended to fit our family's needs.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Like fishes in the sea!

Major accomplishment for the boys this summer is learning a new skill-- swimming!  In just 10 days (20 hours) they learn to not be afraid of going to the deeper side of the pool, to hold their breaths for seconds, and to kick & move themselves from one end of the pool, with a board at first, and without one in the end.  It was not totally tear-free in the 1st two days, but in the end, they developed a confidence and love for swimming.  They're actually asking when they can next go the beach/ pool.  I do plan to have them continue with the lessons weekly as their instructor will continue to offer swimming lessons throughout the [school] year.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Reposting: Boys & Violence

I just wanted to link to this blog post because even if violence is definitely something negative, she has a point.  But I'd rather call it self-defense.  When diplomacy fails, and the when the society would rather just watch, my boys should definitely know (as a last resort) how to physically stand up for themselves and the people that will need their help.  I'll have them engage in martial arts early on (probably next year).  But of course teaching them on principles, when to use force, is necessary.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Yesterday's Small Celebration

As M1 finished his Kumon Easy Mazes workbook, I got excited in filling up the Certificate of Achievement, the very last page of the book.  I gave him a big hug and kiss, and a handshake, and posted the certificate on the wall.  He surely was proud of himself and his accomplishment.  And M2 was now looking forward to having his certificate, too.  Then we had a halo-halo snack at Big Joe's.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Trying out new things: Behind the Shutter

Last weekend we attended a wedding, and my hubby left the camera with me.  Good thing I remembered to grab an opportunity... to let M1 try out photography.  Let's see if he has the eye for it.  

For a 4-year old 1st-timer with a DSLR camera, I should say his shots were great!  And I can count it as part of homeschooling!  So proud of your work, my boy!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Treasures in the shelf

Last December, we finally took home the old Childcraft series my mother in law was handing the kids down months prior.  The volumes Stories and Fables, and Poems and Rhymes had to be my favorite.  They're classic!  (Because of these, I can hold off hoarding books from bookshops (online/offline) which me & my hubby's pockets will appreciate).  I still have to run through with the other volumes as a I feel that several information might already be in need of updating.

Aside from Childcraft, I'm also loving the Catholic Children's Treasure Box (though I only have the 1st set).  These are also great fillers when we go a little off-track from my lesson plans, as I know that books-- lots of stories, are the way to the boys' attention.

Speaking of lesson plans/ schedules, I'm following Mater Amabilis general way of going about the day.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Friendly neighbors

Among the questions constantly thrown at us, as with other homeschoolers, is how can they develop socially?  (Isn't it that the baranggay is the basic unit of society?)  Well, I also make use of the baranggay (in our case.  I encourage my kids to say hi to other kids.  Naturally, they were a little hesitant, but this morning, they sure made me proud.  Kuya M had a very good self-control.  A toddler w/ the sister who's as old as M rode his kart as soon as they got hold of it, but M held himself back and let them play.  Then we met another boy who M used to dislike but now he was willing to lend his toys.  We even invited the boy to our house where M & MP showed and shared him their toys, and weren't even willing to let him go home.  For their reward, they get to stick their 'social' butterfly on our WCV reward poster.

Friday, January 18, 2013


We homeschool for reasons that matter to us most, something truly close to the heart.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Maths: Numbers & Numerals

M1 knows about his numbers since he was 2 but I'm just making sure that he didn't missed steps, and so I'm just running through Montessori at Home-style numbers and numerals.  I skipped buying sandpaper numerals but what I did was use glitter glue over Joytoy numbers puzzles to provide texture.  M2 will use the same materials when he's ready.  For counting we use coins, the abacus, blocks, and the small paper rolls you see above from another toy.  I might ask an aunt to make us Montessori teen beads.  M1 gets a little confused with numerals 6, 8, and 9, but has mastered counting 0-10+.  Next up: 11-20 practice & mastery.  M2 counts to 20.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I'm so pleased that "What your Preschooler needs to know:  Read-alouds to get ready for Kindergarten" from The Core Knowledge Series, has finally arrived at our doorstep.  The contents are divided into the following:  poems, songs, stories, history, science, and art, with some resources for parents included.  History we couldn't relate to very much since it's all American, but I suppose there are values there to be learned.  There are a couple of stories that the kids are already familiar with, but there are still more stuff to be explored.  The illustrations are eye candies and will definitely catch their attention.  A lot of the things here we can learn from somewhere but this book just makes it all coherent, and is reassuring that minimal, if not none, will be missed in homeschooling during the preschool years.  Definitely the stuff that will engage my boys.

Our other new materials:
Audio:  Susan Hammond and the Classical Kids
            Wee Sing Children's Songs and Fingerplays

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back to school (2nd in the same school year) update

I've stepped down as Chair of our department (and also asked to be able to go on duty on days that will be more friendly to our homeschooling schedule) to better focus on our homeschooling.  When it comes to planning, I have a generalized schedule for the week, but really, we just take it one day at a time.  I've stuck with my old favorites, Mater Amabilis, Montessori at Home, and Catholic Heritage Curricula.  With regards as to how M1 is taking it... Well... he's a little mischievous for Montessori but I'm still managing to have a little of his cooperation.  I do notice that they really stop and listen when it comes to literature, so perhaps Sonlight, or Before Five in a Row would have been the way to go.  But I find the planning part, and dividing the stories into lesson plans and subjects a little challenging, perhaps when I've developed more creativeness (which I hope will come with experience in homeschooling).  And, so we have read-alouds everyday but I'm not using the stories the way BFIAR/ Sonlight does it.  But I love buying us living books... I'm sure there are always pearls they can consciously/ unconsciously pick up.

But I think the best way I can teach them at this point is by being a good example.  Again, stressing the importance of continuous personal growth, and development as a parent.  I look at my eldest now, and he has certainly caught a couple of my not so good traits.  They do watch me, and catch on the way adults act around them.  When I see them pick on the bad habits, it gets me fidgety thinking how fast time is and it seemed I have little time to correct them and get them back on the rail, and I find myself asking for more time to build them on their formative/ foundation years.  But I see the good in them also, and how M1 can be a compassionate and a good leader between them two, and it makes me proud.  It gives me faith that I'm on the right path when parents around me are telling me stories how their children have started to excel academically.