As a newbie homeschooler, I love asking tips and advice from moms who have been in this journey for quite some time. I haven’t been able to attend any seminar or workshop that’s related to homeschooling until last January when our Facebook group, Homeschoolers in the Philippines, held a south meet-up and last March when The Learning Basket held a workshop for preschool homeschoolers! I was so glad to attend both events! Usually, when there are homeschool events or seminars, I’m not able to go because either it’s too far or I’m sick or my toddler’s sick. I even skipped the Hippomum’s Mothering or Smothering parenting seminar, which was hosted by my dear friend Diane. It has been pretty challenging for me to get into these workshops for some reason.
I had been planning to attend The Learning Basket’s workshop “Starting your Preschool Homeschool” for the longest time but the location was always somewhere in the north. I live in the south so just the travel time of going back and forth is twice as much as the actual workshop. When they announced that they will hold one here in BF Menlo Clubhouse, I almost screamed in delight! :) I wasn’t able to register online because guess what? I was sick again up until the day before the event. I messaged Mariel Uyquiengco to ask if they were accepting walk-in registrants and I was so grateful she said yes! She was also the host of the workshop and founder of The Learning Basket where you can learn a lot about homeschooling, shop for great books, and discover ways to reinforce that you are your child’s first and best teacher. :)
I want to attend talks like these for three reasons: information, validation, and correction. I want to learn something new from parents who’ve been there, done that. I also want to feel validated if I am on the right track. And lastly, I want to correct the way I approach homeschooling if there are more effective ways of doing so. :) My husband actually asked me if I really wanted to go because for him he thinks I’m doing well in homeschooling Timmy. He’s so encouraging, no? :) However, I told him that I really need to learn more about this journey. And being the supportive partner that he is, he readily agreed and joined me, too! :)
Here are some of the things I’ve learned from the “Starting your Preschool Homeschool” workshop:
1. Play is a child’s work. :)
Mariel explored this idea in detail about how important it is for children to play and learn through play. Timmy has his “free play” time for stuff he wants to do. It’s unstructured. He shoots some hoops, plays with his trucks and cars, and scatters everything he can find in his toy boxes. His one-hour daily gadget use is also part of his free play. When we homeschool, every time I present him an activity I make sure that I’m overly excited about the counting game or craft activity I’m about to give him, making it appear like it’s still play time. I provide him with an audience of animals, dinosaurs, and trains to watch him finish our homeschool activity. :) Sometimes I ask myself if I’m letting my son play too much at home because our homeschool time is only for 20-30 minutes at a time and spaced throughout the day. Meanwhile, other kids are in daycare and regular schools. Being reminded that PLAY is what children are meant to be doing removed that recurring guilty feeling that I had. :) I also realized that those few minutes of learning we have are quality moments when Timmy is very much engaged. We don’t need to study 1.5 to 2 hours straight with distractions in between. We can learn through play for a few minutes and maximize that time. :)
2. Preschool homeschool is not school. It’s about preserving my son’s childhood.
Kids grow up very fast and I’m experiencing some serious separation anxiety right now. It seems like yesterday when Timmy was exploring his wobbly first steps and now I can’t seem to run after him! Spending each day with him is an opportunity to preserve and prolong his childhood. He just turned four last December and I really want to preserve and document every moment I have with him. I post his #timmyisms on Facebook so that I can go back and read his funny quips. I take lots of pictures, blog about his adventures—all because this season is too fleeting. It’s very encouraging to hear that it’s okay to not rush your child to grow up and mature because they’ll get there anyway. Let them be a toddler or a preschooler when they’re at that stage.
3. Learn at home NATURALLY—relaxed, unhurried (my favorite word lately), playful, and fun!
This is the advantage of homeschooling that I truly love. Timmy and I can read as many books as we want because we’re not pressed for time (unless it’s time for me to cook…haha!). He can work on his homeschool activities wearing his pajamas. He can do stuff anywhere—living room, dining room, and yes even the bedroom! The floor is his oyster. Haha! It’s a good reminder for me to keep his learning environment relaxed because this will encourage him to cooperate and participate even if we’re tackling something easy or difficult. :) I recently had Timmy take an online reading test from Sonlight and the San Diego Reading Assessment. At age four, his reading level is somewhere between Grades 3 and 4 or ages 8 and 9! We know that it’s only by God’s grace that Timmy is able to do it. :) At the same time, it was an affirmation that our decision to homeschool him was worth it because we’re able to leverage his strengths and interests to allow him to learn in a relaxing and fun environment. :)
4. Life is the curriculum.
A lot of the things that your child can learn are part of your daily activities. Timmy has been helping me wash the dishes and boy is he having a blast! Haha! It takes a while and a lot of wasted water, not to mention the wet floor but seeing his eagerness to help and learn how he can wash better next time has been very encouraging. :) Cleaning up after playing is one of the ways to teach discipline and organization to your child. Timmy shoots his toys in his toy box or cleans up really fast when we ask him to be like the Flash. :) I realized that there are still many things I could teach Timmy every day not only at home but also when we go out. We should really keep in mind that teachable moments are everywhere, we just need to open our eyes and be intentional. :)
5. Make memories!
Go places. Play pretend. Run around the house. Indoor camping and swimming. Makeshift slides and tents. Read together (at least 20 minutes a day—but my recommendation is, the longer the better!). :) Rough games! Wrestling! Sing and dance like crazy! These may just be small things but when accumulated will create a childhood full of wonderful memories for you and your child. :) Making memories is all about the intangibles. It’s that ear-piecing shriek, snorting chuckle, and soundless laughter that make the biggest impact in your child’s life. I know this when I hear Timmy say either “more” or “again, again.” :)
Mariel also shared lots of activities on how to homeschool your preschooler. It has become my checklist and go-to guide for things we’ve done and the things we have yet to do. The Learning Basket conducts this workshop all year round so you can simply find a schedule that works best for you! :) Thank you for bringing this event to the south! :) Continue inspiring parents to be their child’s first and best teacher! :)