N is for Nose

When we had N for our letter of the week, my little trooper was sick. But that didn’t prevent him from being active! He didn’t want to just lie down and rest so we still went on with his activities to keep him preoccupied. 🙂 He had to nebulize multiple times a day. To cheer him up, I told him that N is for Nebulize! Haha! That made him giggle. 🙂 Here’s how our week went:

Books and the Bible

Mr. Nosey and Mr. Noisy are just some of the Mr. Men books that Timmy loves. 🙂 The Nemo book is actually his introduction to the character. We haven’t watched the movie Finding Nemo yet. He still can’t stay put for 1.5 hours. He would rather play, read, or do something else than watch an entire movie. Maybe when he’s older. 🙂 The Nemo book, by the way, is part of the Fish in a Box set that contains books about Dory, Finn, and Gill.

The Napping House is one of our favorites. We make different snoring sounds which makes this book really fun to read! Noah and the Ark is a rhyming reading level book. Timmy has two versions of The Nose Book. One is the board book and the other one is part of his collection of Bright and Early Beginner Books About Me. Timmy enjoys reading Ay Naku! all the time mainly because of its colorful illustrations. 🙂

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For our Bible character, we learned about Nehemiah and how God granted him favor in everything he did. We also watched a couple of videos about him. 🙂 Nehemiah’s story encouraged me to always commit to the Lord everything I do. Sometimes I get so preoccupied with my to-do things for the day that I tend to forget to ask help from God. It’s amazing how being a homeschool mom has taught me a lot of things! 🙂

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God’s Story: Nehemiah from Crossroads Kids’ Club on Vimeo.

Primary Year C Quarter 4 Episode 8: “Nehemiah—God’s Builder” from Sabbath School on Vimeo.

Writing

For writing, Timmy placed Numbers on the N template. He really liked this activity because he loves numbers and stickers! It also kept him busy a little bit longer than usual. 🙂

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Here you will see my little boy nebulizing. He still wanted to practice writing N so I gave him his big flashcards. Doing activities while nebulizing distracts him from the discomfort of the mask. It eventually became a good idea for him to do something during his sessions. 🙂

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We also did his favorite reading-writing activity. I’m so glad that this exercise hasn’t lost its novelty yet! 🙂 He checked his own work and wrote “very good.” Haha!

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Art

I asked Timmy to draw different Noses. 🙂 He was more creative and free flowing when we just did it using pencil and plain bond paper. When I gave him faces with googly eyes and red mouth he became more careful in drawing! 🙂 I think he got conscious because the people looked better. Haha!

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Math

We continued with our skip counting and here he was doing it by 5’s. He didn’t complain doing this exercise because he always looks forward to our skip counting practices. I think my son is slowly becoming an expert in multi-tasking like nebulizing while doing some math drills. 🙂

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We did a counting exercise using Nuts. Timmy always ended up eating the nuts after he counted them. 🙂 I helped him eat, too! Haha! 🙂 What a very distracting activity! Heehee! 🙂

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N is for Notes so we did another counting activity that week and used his colorful pegs. He clipped the clothespins to the correct number of notes. 🙂

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It was a tough week for us because our little boy was sick but we praise and thank God that he got better eventually and he never lost his energy. 🙂 During times like these, I’m so grateful that we’re homeschooling. I don’t need to worry about absences and make-up exams. We can rest for as long as we want. And if my son is in the mood to learn despite being sick, I can indulge him and try to make learning fun and comfortable for him. 🙂 Watch for our C week on my next blog! Ciao! 🙂

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5 Things We Love About Kidzania Manila

I’ve been waiting for Kidzania Manila since last year. So when a special preview was offered to our Facebook community group Homeschoolers of the Philippines I was beyond ecstatic! Before I go on, I want to say thank you to our ever faithful and hardworking founder Donna Pangilinan-Simpao of Homescool.ph. She has been a huge inspiration to all of us. She was on top of things, coordinating this preview with Mr. Rudy Villar, Ministry of Tourism of Kidzania Manila. 🙂 It was also a great way for our community to celebrate our 4,000+ members! 🙂

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Just got his first Kidzos! 🙂

A lot of homeschoolers have already shared their Kidzania Manila experience from tips to FAQs and you will find these links helpful as you plan your visit. So instead of doing a thorough review about it, I’ve decided to share with you 5 things we love about this awesome city!

1. Kidzania is where learning through play is experienced on a grand scale.

I’m an advocate of learning through play. My son is 4 years old and he loves learning new things especially when presented in the concept of play. 🙂 We love to play-pretend at home so you can just imagine how awesome it was for him to take on different roles with matching uniforms! Your child can be an actor, gardener, judge, innovator, doctor, and more! They can even study first to get a degree so they can earn more Kidzos (the Kidzania currency). 🙂 We didn’t try that, though, because we thought it was more for big kids. Besides, we’re already studying at home and we wouldn’t want to study outside! Haha! 🙂 I made a slideshow of the sights and spots at Kidzania to give you a glimpse of what to expect. 🙂

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With our homeschool co-op. 🙂 The rest of the moms in our group got in early! 🙂

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Timmy and Daddy. 🙂

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Timmy and Mommy. 🙂

It wasn’t easy at first because Timmy had a minor meltdown when we entered the city. There was an ongoing make-believe fire and the kiddie firemen were on their way with the fire truck and fire alarm blaring. In short, it was way too noisy and it scared our little man. He really wanted to go home! New place + just arrived + no nap + overwhelming noise = perfect meltdown formula. Yikes!

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Job 1: Construction Worker (still feeling his way through) 🙂

Good thing we were able to take him somewhere far from where the fire was. We found a construction site where he had his first “job” but it was more of play for him because he just needed to calm his nerves down. He wasn’t too keen on listening because he only wanted to play with the bricks. He didn’t even wear his uniform. The staff were so patient and nice to just let him be! That good and relaxing experience gave him the confidence to take on more jobs! To give you an idea on how confident he got, he took on 8 jobs in the 5 hours that we were there! 🙂

2. The staff of Kidzania treat your kids like professionals.

They were called Mister or Miss by the staff. Although I think it would be better if the kids had name tags because sometimes they don’t know if they were the Mister or Miss the staff was calling. The kiddie interns were given instructions on what they ought to do. 🙂 Timmy’s second job was an innovator. He loves to write and doodle so when he saw that there were lots of colorful pens at the Creative Hub, he jumped right into it! He even made a product presentation! Too cute! 🙂

Job 2: Innovator :)

Job 2: Innovator 🙂

Job 3: Drummer

Job 3: Drummer

3. Kidzania allows children to experience responsibility and independence.

With so many options for them, kids are given opportunities to choose the activity they want to participate in. They get paid for the job they do. Parents are not allowed inside the establishment during activities so your child is on his own. 🙂 We first went with what we knew Timmy really wanted like construction, innovation (write and doodle), and music (as a drummer). He really wanted to drive a car but he couldn’t until he got his license. He took a job as a gasoline boy first and then took his driving lessons. Unfortunately, he didn’t pass. Our 4-year-old enjoyed bumping posts and cars more than abiding in traffic rules. I actually saw him do that during his exam. Haha! 🙂

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Job 4: Gasoline crew

Driving lessons. :)

Driving lessons. 🙂

For his succeeding jobs we just went around showing him establishments and asking him if he wanted to try it. We skipped what he didn’t like and also the ones with long lines. He wanted to be a fireman but every time we checked it out the line was too long. To maximize our stay we would let him take on another job while waiting. The fire station is definitely the first establishment we’ll check out when we come back. 🙂 Oh and by the way, Timmy eventually got desensitized with the fire drill noise.

Our busy little guy also tried making some of his favorite treats like ice cream and chicken nuggets! 🙂 For activities like these you pay Kidzos because you get the actual product at the end.

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Job 5: Ice cream maker

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Job 6: Food tech (creating chicken nuggets)

Trying a mouthful of his own creation! Haha! :)

Trying a mouthful of his own creation! Haha! 🙂

4. The variety of establishments and professions cater to different ages.

Kidzania is for ages 4 to 14 and they can choose the establishment that is appropriate for their age. For young kids, there are many options like gardening, delivery, hotel, salon, and more! The bigger kids can be cable operators and show off their wall climbing skills. 🙂 There are also free play areas for kids ages 3 and below so if your little ones get tired of roaming around, they can stay there and relax. There’s also a parent recharging station and a breastfeeding station for moms. 🙂

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Job 7: Arborist. 🙂

Timmy wanted to ride the tour bus so we did! We also needed a breather that time. 🙂 It was actually tiring for parents with young kids because you have to wait 20-30 minutes for the activity to get done. You’ll be standing up most of the time so wear comfy shoes! Big kids can roam around on their own and parents can just wait at the restaurants or resting areas. Hopefully they’ll add slim benches near each station. Heehee! 🙂

Tired but happy parents. :)

Tired but happy parents. 🙂

Energy level is going down now for this little boy. :)

The cutie who wanted to ride the tour bus. 🙂

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Job 8: Delivery man. 🙂 Look! He’s receiving his salary! 🙂 Last job for the day!

5. There’s always something to look forward to on your next visit.

There are still so many jobs that Timmy didn’t get to try especially the ones with long lines like the fire station, airport, and hospital. I guess it would take 3 to 4 visits to actually cover everything and by then more establishments would’ve been open! Before we went home, Timmy spent his earnings at the Kidzania Department Store. 🙂 You actually have the option to save but we wanted him to enjoy the fruits of his labor/playtime. 🙂 I hope they’ll provide a store where kids can buy food or drinks with their Kidzos. As for the saving part, maybe we’ll consider depositing some of his money when we come back. 🙂 By the way, parents are not allowed inside the department store, too. Timmy chose his reward and ended up spending his money on football erasers. 🙂 Good choice, buddy!

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Football erasers for the hardworking little man! :)

Football erasers for the hardworking little man! 🙂

Kidzania Manila is now open to the public! We encourage you to go and experience this fun educational theme park with your family! 🙂 We’re pretty sure you’ll have a blast! Zank U, Kidzania! Z-U soon! 🙂

We love Kidzania Manila! :)

We love Kidzania Manila! 🙂

Zank U! Z-U!

Zank U! Z-U!

Confessions of a Laid-Back Homeschooler

I’m a very laid-back homeschooler. I’m not even sure if that’s a good thing or not. Haha! But so far it’s been working really well for me and Timmy. 🙂 It may look like that I have it together with all my posts about letter of the week (LOTW) activities but the truth is, most of them just happened on the fly! I just love documenting everything and putting them on collage because I plan to put them in a scrapbook. 🙂 But it’s NO WAY an indication that we had a well-planned week. Seriously! And let me tell you a little secret, those activities only take a few minutes (15-30 minutes tops)! 🙂

Sometimes I just stare at our pantry cabinet looking for something we can do a few minutes before Timmy wakes up. I know I’m cutting it close but some of my best ideas have come during buzzer beaters! 🙂 I always have my colored pens and colored papers within reach for quick activities. I do a quick Google and Pinterest search. I plan in my head what we’ll do for the day and leave room for something random.

My organized hubby :)

My organized hubby 🙂

The thing is I’m not much of a planner, really. And I’m also forgetful. That’s a pretty bad combination right there. Haha! That’s why I’m so grateful to be married to a man who likes to put everything in order. Omar keeps me organized. 🙂 There were days when I forgot to calendar our activities and it has caused us a lot of stress (e.g. surprise commitments, unplanned meet-ups, etc.). Sorry, hon! Thankfully, he’s very forgiving, too. 🙂

So how does a laid back, disorganized, forgetful mom homeschool?

I seek daily wisdom from the Best Teacher. Spending some time alone with God helps me relax and focus on what I need to do for the day. Apart from Him, I can’t do anything. Praying and reading His Word helps me start my day right. 🙂 It’s my time to declutter my thoughts. Recognizing my daily need for His guidance and wisdom has helped me a lot regardless of how my day goes. I mentioned in one of my previous posts that a lot of my homeschool eureka moments have come during this time. 🙂

My little teacher. :)

My little learner. 🙂

I take my teaching cues from my son. When Timmy shows interest on something—a book or topic—I latch on it quickly and take advantage of it. Is there a language or math principle we can learn from it? I also test his capabilities every now and then. When he showed interest in counting beyond tens I casually asked him to go on counting up to hundreds last year (he was 3). He enthusiastically worked on it! When we bought a book about skip counting he got so into it that now we’re skip counting by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s. Even and odd numbers are his new favorites. 🙂 I go full blast when I see that he’s ready but I also retract quickly when he shows signs of difficulty and resistance.

This is especially true with writing. He’s not a big tracing fan so I kept all his tracing worksheets and focused on how he wants to write—which is by copying my strokes. 🙂 I let him watch me write all the time. Those who have seen Timmy write were surprised at how legible, fast, and smooth he does it. I guess it comes from the fact that he watches an adult do it and when I do it I make it look easy, right? I also let him write in a fun way by using Q tips, colored pens, finger paints so that he will look forward to doing it over and over again!

Practicing letter D. :)

Practicing letter D. 🙂

Writing with Q tips! :)

Writing with Q tips! 🙂

Now I understand from a child’s standpoint how much of a chore tracing can be because you’re left to do it on your own following boring dotted lines. Whereas when you write using engaging materials, see an adult “demo” it, and do it together often, your child will see how easy it is! Well, at least for my son. There are kids who thrive in tracing and if that’s your child just go with it! 🙂

That’s exactly what I love about homeschooling. You’re not tied to a curriculum that forces your child to learn all subjects at once. You can focus on his strengths and interests then change your approach in areas where your child is struggling. You’re not limited to using one medium. You become more in tune with your child’s learning style and adapt to it accordingly. 🙂

I follow a flexible schedule and flexible curriculum. I have an outline of some sort which serves as my guide for our routine during the day. We start our homeschooling around 9:00-9:30am (yup, we don’t struggle with waking up early). We finish at around 11:00am. It’s not all sit-down learning. Reading time (our favorite) is part of it, playing and lots of tickles in between (another favorite), arts and crafts (especially painting), and writing activities.

In the afternoon, after his nap time we read again and we either do art or another homeschool activity after. Nothing is broken down into minutes like 10:00-10:30 is this subject, etc. Timmy knows his schedule (i.e. the outline of his day) and the predictability helps him cooperate and adjust. 🙂 But no, he’s not confined to a rigid minute-to-minute period.

Timmy's schedule board. :)

Timmy’s schedule board. 🙂

We do the LOTW activities for structure purposes. But I’m very flexible with it. There are days when the bulk of our activity happens in one day. Then the next two days we won’t do any LOTW stuff. We would do other learning through play activities instead. We would go back to it over the weekend or something. We’re also doing Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) on the side. Again, for structure purposes just so I have a guide. 🙂

Here’s the thing, preschool homeschool should really be unstructured. The attention span of 3 to 4-year-olds is way too short for sit-down learning. Aside from our flexible schedule and curriculum, I also consult different reliable sites for developmental milestones and signs of delay and use it as guide for age-appropriate activities.

Sure my son knows a lot for his age and I could have well enrolled him in a homeschool provider for Kindergarten or even Grade 1. But he’s only 4 and won’t turn 5 till December. He will be 5 1/2 years old when he gets into Kinder next school year and we’re totally fine about it. Besides, he’s still within the age-5 bracket. 🙂 By that time, he will be more cooperative and attentive.

635727663375033139 (2) The choice between enrolling him at 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 was crucial for me and my husband. Childhood is too fleeting to be hurried. Knowledge is one thing, maturity is another. We went for the latter because based on how we know our child we assessed that he will be more ready by then not based on head knowledge but based on everything else. Less frustrations for me, too! 🙂

I make up for what we missed. I confess that we have gone through an entire week without any homeschool activity. There were days when our letter of the week became letter of the day, meaning we only had the chance to tackle the letter in one day. So what did I do? I made up for it the following week. It’s not like he stopped learning for one week. We still did the basics—play (yup, it’s a requirement), read, sing, and write/draw. We just didn’t covered a lot for a certain letter. 🙂 Sometimes those breaks help, too. It gives Timmy more options to learn other things before he goes back to his routine.

Being a laid-back homeschooler doesn’t mean being irresponsible. It just means that you’re not too uptight with teaching your child like clockwork. It means that you allow for breathing room and reasonable breaks to change things up to encourage creativity and self-discovery in your child. 🙂

Planting carrot seeds. :) There are carrot sprouts now! :)

Planting carrot seeds. 🙂 There are carrot sprouts now! 🙂

The fun part right now is that my son doesn’t have any concept of “catching up on lessons” yet so he doesn’t feel any pressure. He just knows that we’re always learning something new. 🙂 But in my head, “This was supposed to be for last week, sweetheart.” Haha!

I know that as Timmy grows up and his lessons become more complicated I will need to step up my game, prepare my lessons way ahead of time, and be more organized. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun anymore. It could be that we will find new ways to be engaged in our subjects and find dynamic tools and resources to make learning consistently enjoyable for both of us! 🙂

Will I outgrow being a laid-back homeschooler? Probably not. That’s who I am and so far it matches the spontaneity and flexibility that homeschooling provides for us. 🙂 Imagine you can discuss history for an entire week and put math on hold because your child is so engrossed with your Vikings lesson! There are so many things you can do without being confined to a rigid schedule! Being laid back not only means being relaxed but also being willing to embrace unique, non-traditional learning opportunities along the way. 🙂

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We’re a homeschooling family! 🙂

What matters to us is that our son learns in a way that is most beneficial for him. There will be days when worksheets will take a back seat when we see the need to deal with character issues first. There will be weeks when we’ll struggle with certain concepts. But when your child knows that he can count on his mommy-teacher and daddy-teacher to find ways to help him through a steep learning curve, he’ll be more motivated to learn. 🙂

So yes, I’m a laid-back homeschooler teaching my son under the constant guidance of my Heavenly Father and the full support of my husband. Although it’s far from ideal, it’s what works for us. After all, when you think of home shouldn’t it be welcoming and relaxing? I believe the same rules apply for homeschooling as well. 🙂

Clay activities for the reluctant clay user

My son is probably one of the few kids who doesn’t like clay. He doesn’t like the icky feeling that goes along with it. Although he has no problems getting himself dirty, clay is an entirely different story. The most he could do with it was form a ball or flatten it. He wouldn’t create other things the way I’ve seen other kids do it. Timmy received clay gifts the past couple of years. We tried using them but he would stop immediately. He would even complain about the sticky, gooey feeling. I decided to give it a rest and planned to introduce it again. Months later, I came up with fun clay activities that wouldn’t highlight the icky feeling but would still enhance his creativity and develop his fine motor skills  (Thank You, Lord, for the ideas!). 🙂

Animal stamping

I mixed 2 colors of clay and flattened it with Timmy’s help. 🙂 I asked him to press his animals’ feet on the clay so he could see the different footprints! He had to press extra hard so he could see the prints. 🙂 Flex those finger muscles!

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Getting his animals ready! 🙂

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Stamping time! 🙂

Clay Poking

I cut pieces of straw and asked Timmy to poke the clay! This simple activity allowed him to create different scenarios like a forest for the green straws and a birthday cake for the pink ones (he even blew the straw candles and sang Happy Birthday!). 🙂 He also did animal stamping again on his forest. 🙂 He enjoyed it when small pieces of clay got stuck inside the straw! He would press the straw so that the small round pieces of clay would come out. 🙂

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Creating his forest. 🙂

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Focused straw poking. 🙂

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T-Rex invades the forest and leaves footprints!

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Pressing hard to see the prints. 🙂

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Creating a birthday cake! 🙂

He likes the clay getting stuck in the straw. :)

He likes the clay getting stuck in the straw because it looks like a candle. 🙂

Letter Carving

We formed words and pressed the letters on the clay. Timmy removed them so he could see the word we carved on it. 🙂 This is a great fine motor exercise especially if you’re using hard, sticky clay. 🙂

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We used his small lacing letters and pressed them on clay. 🙂

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Time to remove them! 🙂

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Timmy’s icky face. Haha! 🙂

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Carefully removing his pressed letters. 🙂

These activities are for clay lovers and clay haters alike. 🙂 Timmy has found new uses for clay after we did these. I was so glad it didn’t go to waste! Sometimes we just need to give our kids different options for them to appreciate the things they initially don’t like. 🙂 Hope you’ll enjoy doing them as much as we did!

How Homeschooling Helped My Shy Son Socialize

Parents with shy kids know how frustrating it can be when you’re child refuses to participate in group activities. No amount of encouragement and assurances can make them do it. They would hide behind your back and on a bad day they would even cry when pushed too much.

As early as a few months old, Timmy already showed that he was an introvert. He didn’t want to be carried by other people except family members. Between 1 to 2 years old, it would take him 2 to 4 hours to warm up to guests. By the time he’s ready to play with them, the party’s over or they’re about to leave. I couldn’t help but think that he was just waiting for them to go away and he couldn’t contain his excitement that’s why he played with them for a few minutes to make their visit worthwhile. Haha!

My son is shy and he got this from his dad. 🙂 Most of our friends don’t know that my husband Omar is an introvert. Maybe because he’s a teacher and he really speaks eloquently in front of a crowd. But if he had it his way, he would rather stay at home.

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On the other hand, Timmy’s momma has no idea what it means to be shy. I’ve always been a people person so I had to adjust to my son’s personality. Unlike his dad, who has learned the ropes of socialization already, Timmy is just beginning and it’s not easy especially for someone who’s still exploring and discovering things for himself.

For most people I’ve already perfected the “bad parent” equation:

Only child + shy personality = homeschool

It may look that way on the surface but as I see my son progress in his socialization skills God affirmed that our decision to homeschool him was the right one. God removed my fears by showing me first-hand the improvements in the way Timmy interacts with different people as he grows older. 🙂

Confidence begins at home

A child seeks approval from his parents. We are the big people they look up to, run to, and extend their arms to. Our nod is the incentive they want most. Whenever Timmy says or does something really funny and we laugh at it, he keeps doing it again and again. He gains satisfaction that what he does solicits a positive response from us. Every time he receives compliments from us, he beams with pride. 🙂

He loves showing his artwork, writings, block buildings—anything he creates because he wants to hear what we have to say. Are we going to approve? Criticize? When he gets an enthusiastic cheer from me, whether it’s a homeschooling exercise or the basketball shots he makes, he’s encouraged to do more. 🙂

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When he talks, I look him straight in the eye and listen intently. If he can’t find the words to say, I would encourage him to go on. I would fill in the words sometimes but mostly I would let him figure out a way to express himself and help him process it better after he’s able to finish his sentence. Timmy knows that mommy and daddy are ready to listen so he can take his time when telling his story. 🙂

At the heart of socialization is confidence. It takes confidence to talk to someone, express one’s thoughts freely, and interact with other people. We first noticed Timmy initiating conversations with old people. He loves grandmas and grandpas in the malls or restaurants. Maybe because he talks to adults most of the time. He’s more comfortable talking to strangers than having people we know talk to him. In short, he prefers initiating. 🙂

Even in his homeschool coop, I noticed that he has significantly changed in the way he interacts with his friends. Warm up became shorter and shorter as he got to know them longer. He enjoys playing with them even if most of the bigger kids like to carry him. Haha! They look at Timmy as the baby in the group. Whenever we get home from our coop, he would say that he misses his friends. 🙂

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Timmy is not rejected or put down at home. It’s the safest and most secure environment for him emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and socially. This gave him the confidence to socialize with other people. He is encouraged to speak his mind. I ask him questions and allow him to interrupt our storytelling if he has ideas or some random thoughts. When he makes mistakes in our homeschool exercises, I would tell him that it’s okay and ask him if he wants to do it again, to which he will agree. 🙂

Sometimes he intentionally commits mistakes because he likes my “oh no” face. Haha! So I have to tell him that we can fool around later but he needs to focus on his activity first. I would challenge him to show his toy animals or something else that he can finish it. Haha! He would cooperate not out of fear but out of obedience, respect, and I guess fun. 🙂

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My shy boy’s shining moments

Once we were eating at this restaurant that had a play area. Timmy always looks forward to going there. It was a weekend I think and there were a lot of kids. He approached everyone and said, “Hey, guys!” I was like, “Did he just say that?” Haha! He then started talking to the boys there. He has the habit of telling other kids the object he’s holding like, “This is a dragon. This is a porcupine. This is a killer whale.” It didn’t bother him that some ignored him. I mean that’s rejection right there. He just kept talking until someone responded!

I think he’s a teacher in the making. 🙂 He likes to share his books to other kids and sharing something informative. At first, he would put the book on the floor near the kid because he’s shy. Now, he would give the book directly and tell the title like, “This is Barry the Fish with Fingers.” Most of the time, kids are not interested in the books he offers. And it breaks my heart! Not because he looks rejected but because a lot of kids don’t like books anymore. 😦 But when Timmy shows toys, he gets their attention.

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One time we were at a bookstore and Timmy approached this little girl sitting on the floor. He offered his book again. She didn’t look interested so he got another one and showed it to her. I think the girl was only two years old. He read the title and some of the words inside. The little girl just stayed there but looked at other books. Timmy didn’t leave! He stayed there and kept trying to engage the girl in a conversation. Haha! 🙂

He actually does this every time we’re in a bookstore. He would approach kids, give them books, and talk to their parents! Sometimes he would sit beside the parent reading to the kid, listen, and answer the mom’s questions. Seeing these moments affirmed our decision to homeschool Timmy. 🙂 We took our time developing his confidence at home, observing what kinds of environments overwhelm him, managing his emotions, and helping him adapt.

It’s a process

As Timmy gets older, I’m also learning how to deal with his shyness better. Omar has also been very helpful giving me an inside look in the world of an introvert. 🙂 This socialization progress didn’t happen overnight. Being with him all the time allowed me to see what situations are threatening to him and allowed me to help him cope under those circumstances. Let me share with you some of them:

Situation 1:

Timmy doesn’t like it when he’s asked to perform on the spot. Sometimes he just runs away, although he does this playfully. I told him that instead of running or hiding to just tell me or the person asking him, “I’m shy” or “I feel conscious.” I told him that they will understand. He doesn’t like it when people are staring at him. This has helped him especially when friends or relatives ask him perform his antics. Given enough time, Timmy shows off his dance moves and shooting prowess but not instantly. 🙂

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Situation 2:

Timmy doesn’t like being surprised. The anticipation scares him. I have a friend who has a big personality and she tends to get really loud and shout whenever she sees Timmy. He gets shocked every time he sees her. As a result, he doesn’t like being with her. He has this impression “na gugulatin sya” (that he will be surprised) when she’s around. He would play with her eventually but it would take a long time. We slept at her house for two nights and he only felt comfortable on the day we were about to leave. I told my friend not to surprise Timmy and when she took my advice, the next time they saw each other they became instant best friends! Homeschooling allows me to not only help my son but also other people around him by orienting them on how to deal with shy kids like him. 🙂

Situation 3:

Timmy doesn’t like loud birthday parties (e.g. Jollibee or McDonald’s parties). The noise is just too much for him. One time I told him that we’ll be there to just watch them. No one will force him to join the games. He took comfort in the fact that we’re just there to observe. Being an introvert, new environments can be overwhelming to him. So we would stay at the back and I would let him go and roam around when he’s ready. He would leave my side eventually and interact with other kids but at his own pace. 🙂

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I’ve learned NOT TO FORCE my son because socialization doesn’t really work that way. There’s a way to approach people and interact with them without feeling awkward or coming on too strong. Some kids are just not built for the stage. My son is one of them. And it’s definitely okay. 🙂 God beautifully and wonderfully created him that way. Maybe he’ll be the director or scriptwriter but not the actor. Other children are born to perform. I was the type who could sing and dance whenever my preschool teacher would ask me to. Meanwhile, my husband wailed his way through preschool not wanting my mother-in-law to leave.

We didn’t want to subject Timmy to that. Now, our shy boy is getting more and more independent and confident. He skipped all the stress of being thrown immediately to a new environment and being left there to survive alone. I’m sure some kids will thrive there but not my son. I would rather build his confidence at home and let him go at his own pace rather than rush him to “socialization maturity” and be traumatized in the process. He’ll get there anyway and we see it right now in the way he interacts with other people regardless of their age. 🙂

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Yes, he may be an only child and a shy one at that. But he is our child and we know him more than anyone. Homeschooling didn’t shelter him from the world. It prepared him in a way that best fits his spiritual, emotional, mental, and social progress. He’s still an introvert but he’s learning socialization in a way that’s easier and more enjoyable for him. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂 He even has random spurts of performing on the spot when asked to! He’s still finding his way with people and we’ll happily take our time. 🙂

Socialization was the homeschooling giant I secretly feared but I held on to God’s promise in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” And that meant that He will also take care of his people skills. All He asks of me is not to fear nor be discouraged. He’ll give my son the ability to slay that giant. 🙂 God has already gone before me in this homeschooling journey. He is with me, covering all the bases. I just need to stay close to Him every step of the way so that I don’t lose sight of what truly matters—building my son’s character and creating a loving, God-fearing, and accepting home where he can thrive inside and out. 🙂

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P.S. My husband cried while reading this blog because I was able to articulate what a shy child needs. Those were the very things he needed, too. He added that he was grateful that we’re able to do it right with Timmy this time. 🙂

Why Being Advanced Doesn’t Really Matter

One of the first things I discovered being a mom is that I live in a culture where being advanced is applauded. When Timmy was a little over a year old, a local TV show featured a 2-year-old genius who can write and read like a 5-year-old. My mom even called me to watch and said Timmy could also be like that. While it sure was a compliment from a grandma who sees the potential of her first apo (grandchild), it really got me nervous.

InstagramCapture_0025089a-06fa-4f0c-8ac1-29cec0c942cbClearly, that kid was the exception and featuring him was a great idea. But then it also added unnecessary pressure to all the parents watching the show at that time. I remember feeling so competitive back then but when I looked at my baby who was exploring, walking tiptoed, touching everything out of curiosity I asked myself, “Do you really need to do all that at 2 years old?” So I decided not to let that show affect me but I still couldn’t shake the pressure that came along with it.

As parents we all want our children to succeed and do well in life. But as I navigate this parenting journey, I realized that success is relative and it’s up to us to define what that is to our kids. I’m proud of my son and all the things he accomplishes—big or small. But I also realized that he can’t possibly do well in everything.

Advanced but not quite

Timmy may be way too advanced in reading but he still doesn’t color within the lines and he still finds it difficult to use scissors. Whatever big words he knows today will also be read by other kids of his age when they all grow up. We all follow the same curriculum guide from the Department of Education (DepEd) anyway and they will all learn the same thing down the line.

InstagramCapture_8c77beba-6775-4bba-bc56-0d32fbd17cf7He may write fast and I mean quickly scribble the letters/words that come to his mind but he doesn’t draw the usual stick people, cars, or houses that most boys do. He’s unconventional in so many ways like going for bond paper over ruled paper, colored pens over pencils, paints over crayons—and God has been using all these things to remove the conventional student mold in my head, to get my cue from my child’s interests more than what traditional schools dictate.

InstagramCapture_0a5db76c-3001-4bbe-bda2-6fe890dc785dTimmy loves numbers and reads them by the thousands and enjoys skip counting of even and odd numbers. He’s so fascinated with numbers that he even memorizes car plates! Haha! But he’s a careless counter. He loses track of what he counts because he gets too excited. He tends to skip pointing on objects or points twice at the same thing. So we’re still working on his slow counting. 🙂 Slow, slow, slow like a sloth as Eric Carle would put it. 🙂

I need God’s grace to remind me continuously that I’m dealing with my child more than he is my student. And I guess this is something that every homeschooling mom struggles with, balancing our parent-teacher side. Every day I am learning to use his preferences as my teaching springboard to communicate with him more effectively. 🙂

WP_20150325_10_11_19_ProAlso, I have to keep reminding myself that he’s only four and to stick to what he needs to know at this age. I think it’s something that all newbie parents should keep into perspective—to never rush their kids, to enjoy every age and every stage. Because they really do grow up really fast. But that doesn’t mean I will limit him. I also have to be sensitive and follow where he wants to progress faster and at the same time rein him in if we’re going too fast so that he won’t get confused. 🙂

What really matters

I’m not an expert in parenting. I’ve been at it for only four years. And every time Timmy gets a year older, it’s a whole new ball game for me. Like when he turned four, I was so excited to know and discover with him what it’s like to be at that age again! 🙂 All this time God has been repeatedly teaching me to be gentle and patient with my child; to listen to his thoughts and stories; to ride on his interests and leverage it for learning; to spend quality time with him; and above all, to draw Timmy closer to Him.

20150516_161135I didn’t become a parent to raise a genius. There’s much more to parenting than teaching academic lessons. The values and life skills our children need to learn outweigh the need to master the 3 R’s (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic). They will learn those things eventually because they have to. But character building is a different story. We need to be more intentional on this one because they NEED this more than academics when they face the world on their own.

No one would care how smart your child is if he’s such a pain to work with. No one would bother to listen to him if he’s full of himself. He may be smart and talented in many ways but if all he wants is to get his way then no one would follow him. Companies now even value EQ more than IQ because anything can be learned these days. The way you deal with people and your overall work ethics are given more weight than head knowledge.

20130312_211104A teachable student can only come from a teachable heart. If my son doesn’t learn about obedience and respect first then he won’t listen to me. There are values that he needs to develop before he could even comprehend fractions or geography. He needs to learn patience, perseverance, hard work, honesty, humility, and more to help him not just with his academics but with real life challenges as well. Life skills are learned more easily when they have the foundational values first.

Like for example, cleaning up his toys took repetitive obedience before Timmy got used to it. You earn cooperation by doing things together like washing the dishes. It sure takes time and a lot of wasted water and dishwashing soap but seeing my son beam with pride makes it all worth it. Last night as he went down his chair (because he can’t reach the sink yet) he said, “Thank you for helping me wash the dishes!” It was as if he owned the chore and I was just there to help him! 🙂

Those little things help in easy transition to learning like, “Let’s read together! It’s writing time! Let’s count together!” Because you get to him to cooperate and participate on non-academic things, getting him on board during study time becomes much easier. 🙂 There’s so much more that our kids need to learn. Even us adults learn something new every day. So why stress out on getting everything right the first time or being ahead of everybody else?

20150517_094834At the end of the day, it’s never really about whose kid is advanced where. It isn’t about how many degrees my son will finish or how many awards he will get. I would rather measure his success by how many lives he will touch by his kindness and how many will follow his lead because of his integrity. It isn’t about finishing first all the time but about finishing well in life. 🙂

I remember my dad would always say about drivers overtaking, “Okay lang yan, sabay sabay din tayo sa dulo ng stoplight. (That’s okay, we’ll all meet at the stoplight anyway.)” Same goes with being advanced. Our kids will all get there. They will all become adults and converse like adults. But the question is, will they become responsible adults? Will they be part of a God-fearing generation who will walk with integrity? Will they be compassionate and kind?

20150516_161822While it may be great to have an “advanced child” let’s not forget to advance them on the things that matter. Let’s give them a head start on values and character building because those are the foundational life skills they need that will help them thrive in the real world. 🙂 I’m still learning and growing in these areas up to now, which is why I recognize that my son still has a long way to go. And that’s the beauty of parenting right there, you grow and learn together—and it never stops. 🙂