Learning Experiences Outside the Four Walls of our Home

They say homeschooling is boring.  You don't see people very often, your child doesn't have a playmate, you don't get to do things aside from studying.  That's what you think...

The beauty of homeschooling is you can design your the activities for your child.  In a regular school, the child is given few options on what activities he/she can do.  They have a schedule to follow and activities are strict and rigid.  In homeschooling, a child is given an option what a child wants to study first and what extra-curricular activity he/she wants to have.  The interest of the child is very much respected in homeschooling and the child has more time to do it than when a child is studying in a regular school.  The child is always tired at the end of the day and when he/she gets home from school, he/she still needs to do a homework and prepare for the test on the following day.  

Currently, my son is into modelling.  He had been to several fashion shows at SM and Robinson's malls.  I also plan to let him undergo acting and singing workshops.  Here are some of his pictures doing ramp modelling:

Kib's first fashion show at SM Marikina

Fashion show at World Trade Center featuring Snoopy's holiday collection

Valentine fashion show at SM Taytay with co-model, Masheng Villestas

Mother's Day fashion show at Robinson's Galleria with me

I also expose Kib to different places of interest as I would like Kib to appreciate God's creation and learn from them.  We already had been to Museo Pambata, National Museum, Museum of the Filipino People, Philippine Science Centrum, PAGASA Observatory, PAGASA Planetarium, Manila Ocean Park, Avilon Zoo, Ark Avilon Zoo, Manila Zoo, Kinder Zoo, Malabon Zoo, Zoobic Safari, PAF Museum, Myth of the Human Body Exhibit, car shows, MV Logos Hope and USNS Tippecanoe (US merchant ship).  I also brought Kib to different tourist spots in the Philippines like Corregidor, Boracay, and Bohol.  A trip to Palawan has already been scheduled before the year ends.

The money that I saved from sending my son to a regular school had been allocated to travel.  There are still lots of places to visit in my bucket list.

This is what I love about homeschooling, giving you flexibility in schedule without worries of being absent in school.  You were able to do the things that you and your child both love.

School of Tomorrow--Our Homeschool Provider

I wanted to go on being an independent homeschooler forever, but if I have decided to mainstream Kib in the future, schools will look for some documents from me which I may not be able to present to them.  As a result, Kib may not be accepted by some schools =(

With this predicament, I am forced to look for a homeschool provider so that Kib will have an affiliation should I decide to enrol him in a regular school in the future.  For the past two years of being independent, I have been doing researches for the homeschool providers here and abroad.

Then I came across Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) program (http://www.aceministries.com/).  Being a graduate of ACE (in a school setting), I got excited to learn that ACE can also be applied in a homeschool setting.  So, I started emailing them, inquiring about the homeschool program.  I gave my brother's address in the United States and they sent a DVD containing information about their curriculum.  At the same time, they have rerouted my inquiry to their accredited provider here in the Philippines (http://www.sotphil.net/).  All my questions have been patiently answered by Miss Remia Camacho.

The DVD sent to me were very helpful, it contains information about ACE curriculum and the advantages of homeschooling

Then last March 2012, we went at School of Tomorrow for Kib's assessment.  I was so happy that he is qualified for Level 1 but we have to go back one week after because there is a need to reassess Kib's handwriting.  After the reassessment, I already paid the tuition and went back after two days to pick up the PACEs.  We're ready to start the school year!

School of Tomorrow has an open enrollment scheme, meaning you can enroll anytime of the year and start anytime of the year.  One must only remember their anniversary (in our case, March) for the enrollment for the next school year.

So far, Kib is doing well with the curriculum.  We're already halfway through Level 1 and he can immediately start with Level 2 should we finish before March.  He loves Ace so much (he is one of the characters on each PACE) and he can easily remember the stories.  He learned a lot about God and he always say that he loves God.  The challenge that we are having right now is reading passages in Filipino (he can understand Filipino but he speaks funny).

My Quest for Good and Quality Books

I'm a sucker for books.  When I was young, I only had few books to read.  When I was growing up, I also got addicted with Sweet Valley High and  Nancy Drew books.  I even read encyclopedias because I like facts!  When I became an adult, I like reading magazines and some mystery novels.

Now that I have a son, I want my son to have a passion for reading.  I always bring my son with me whenever I buy books so that he can also choose books for himself.  Being a kuripot mom, I only bought second-hand books from Booksale.  When I learned about Scholastic Warehouse Sale, I made it to a point that I go there during sale periods.  I was able to purchase from Scholastic Warehouse Sale for 3 times already.  The Scholastic Warehouse is located in Pasig City which is 15-20 minutes away from home.  Here are some of the pictures of the books that I bought from Scholastic Warehouse:

I so love Magic School Bus!  It's a fun way of learning science concepts

Kib checking out the books that we bought

Then news about the floating bookstore is making waves on TV and newspapers.  MV Doulos had docked on Philippine ports twice but never had a chance to visit it.  When I heard that MV Doulos had retired, I got sad, thinking that I won't have the experience of buying something from the floating bookstore.  This year, MV Logos Hope docked on Philippine ports again.  I got busy last March and forgot about it.  I just remembered about it again when I saw on one of my friend's Facebook account pictures of her MV Logos Hope experience.  So, I asked her about it and she said it's worthwhile.  I searched on the internet about their schedule in the Philippines (http://www.gbaships.org/).  I was glad that they also made a stop in Subic.  My family had to go to Bataan because a relative died and I took that opportunity to visit MV Logos Hope since our place in Bataan is an hour away from Subic by bus.  I asked my cousins to go with me there since I don't know how to get to Subic.  I brought my son with me because I don't want him to miss that opportunity having riding a ship full of books.

The crew of MV Logos Hope came from different countries and work there voluntarily.  The ship is managed by a Christian organization.  Here are some of the pictures that I took from MV Logos Hope:

Me and Kib having our picture taken outside MV Logos Hope

One of the postings inside MV Logos Hope.  Can you answer this?

Kib posing on one of the book stands

Me, shopping for books

The bookstore is U-shaped.  This is one section of the bookstore, so organized like you're shopping for books at National Bookstore or Powerbooks

As you go out of the bookstore area, you will be passing on a maze-like story hall, telling the story of The Prodigal Son in a modern setting

MV Logos Hope is also into AIDS awareness.  These are some of the comments of the people who have learned about AIDS.  Me and my cousins have also went inside the room to know more about AIDS...the revelations about AIDS are very scary

The brochure about MV Logos Hope and the layout of the ship

Here are the books that we have bought at MV Logos Hope

The crew of MV Logos Hope depends on donations.  I made a donation and they gave us a button.  On the button it says, "I support Logos Hope"

Sing, Spell, Read and Write

I first learned about this reading curriculum when I was still teaching in a regular school.  I find this curriculum very effective in terms of teaching a child how to read and write and I read a lot of reviews about this both from regular school teachers and homeschooling parents.

And, my search for this kit is on....

I know that it is locally available in the Philippines but I don't know where to purchase it.  I looked at the Internet and all I can see are US version which is a bit pricey.  I was asking my brother to buy one for Kib but he doesn't want to get one because it's expensive =(

I went at 31st Manila International Book Fair in 2010 to look for books that me and Kib can use for our homeschooling adventure.  I was so happy to see different publishers and bookstores selling different kinds of books, from workbooks to storybooks to references to curriculum packs.  Seeing curriculum packs being sold by several distributors, my quest for Sing, Spell, Read and Write was awakened.  I rounded up the whole convention center for several times to look for this kit.  On my last round, I was able to glance upon this kit and without hesitation, I bought the kit for P5,000 (I already forgot the actual amount).  C&E Publishing, Inc. is the authorized distributor of this kit here in the Philippines.

The package contains storybooks, workbooks, flashcards and posters. The only missing from the US version are the reward tokens.

The storybooks are written based on phonics.  There are 17 storybooks and 3 workbooks.  First workbook is for the basics, learning how to write the letters of the alphabet and learning the letter sounds.  The other two workbooks work hand-in-hand; you do the Raceway Book first for the phonics/vocabulary enrichment; second, read the storybook and last, answer the Assessment Book for story comprehension and word review.  Right now we are on Book 16, almost done with the pack, yahoo!

Kib and I started with the first workbook (Off We Go) in November 2010.  We finished the book 
in February 2011.  Before I introduced reading to Kib, I make sure that he has mastered the basic letter sounds.  On May 2011 I started teaching Kib how to read CVC words.  So happy he was able to master reading CVC words in two months!  Kib's reading ability is far better than the average.  Watch the video of Kib reading a book.

This is where Kib read a story.  You can see the letter sounds that can be learned from this book.

The kit is still in good condition, even the workbooks.  What I did is I photocopied the workbook so that I can share (or even sell) the kit to my friends after I have used it.

Taking the Ateneo Prep Test

Ateneo Prep Test is one of the most dreaded big school entrance test of parents (next to UPIS Prep Test, maybe).  They say it is not just a simple entrance test;  the proctor also assesses the child's EQ during examinations.  It is not enough that a child is smart; he must also exhibit attentiveness and ability to follow directions.  It doesn't give a child a foot ahead if his parents graduated from the said school or he has a sibling who is currently studying in Ateneo.  

It is every parents' dream that their child will be able to study in a prestigious school like Ateneo.  I also like my son to attend Ateneo simply because I graduated from the neighboring school (by the way, I studied college and post-graduate studies at Miriam College).  I like my son to attend Ateneo in the future, but not now.

I let Kib take the Ateneo Prep Test just to assess if he will pass or not, but not really having an intention of enrolling him there.  As part of our preparation for the said exams, I let him answer some test reviewers which includes, analogy, sequencing, story comprehension, substitution, and association.  I also gave him some reminders to listen to the teacher and only do what the teacher will say.  

Days before Kib's exam day, I got sick...very sick.  I was only diagnosed the day before Kib's exams and was advised to be hospitalized (I had dengue fever).  I refused to be confined because I need to drive Kib to Ateneo the following day.

Kib's exams at Ateneo went smoothly.  It only lasted for 45 minutes.  They were given a gelatin as a reward.  Kib didn't let me open the gelatin there because the teacher said that they should eat it at home.  We were given a small piece of paper indicating final reminders for parents regarding the release of the results of the exams.  We will receive a mail or give Ateneo a call for the results by October 2011.

I just called Ateneo for the results because our postal mail system here is not very efficient.  Correspondences always come in late.  I was so happy to know that my son passed the Ateneo Prep Test.  It's really a pride on my part too that even if he doesn't have any formal schooling yet, he was able to nail it.  There were regular schooled kids who weren't able to pass the test.

But we have to give our slot to others.  As I've said awhile ago, I just let Kib took the Ateneo Prep Test for assessment purposes only.  So proud of my little boy passing it and it's rewarding on our part, at least I can prove to others that homeschooling is effective.

Kib's Handwriting

One of the most important things that a child must learn is how to write.  There are different techniques in teaching a child how to write.  But one important thing to consider is the child's readiness towards writing.  He/She must have pre-writing skills, like holding the pencil properly, the weight of the strokes (if it's light or heavy), and of course, the attitude of the child towards writing.  Why did I include attitude?  I can see a lot of adults who are forcing the child to write.  The child is already crying and the adult at times tells that he/she must learn how to write NOW.  When I saw Kib's strokes are light and he seems bored when we were practicing writing during our first few months of homeschooling, I stopped and waited for the right time to teach him how to write the alphabet and numbers.  He just turned 4 then.

I started teaching him how to write in November 2011.

What I did is I taught him first how to write the capital letters, starting from the letters with vertical and horizontal lines (I, L, E, F, H, T), then letters with slanting lines (A, K, M, N, V, W, X, Y, Z), and lastly, letters with curved lines (B, C, D, G, J, O, P, Q, R, S, U).  I didn't teach him to write his name first as the letters of his name contains different strokes.  When I was able to teach writing all the letters of his name, then I started practicing him how to write his name (KIB).  When we were able to finish all the letters of the alphabet, then I encouraged him to write his full name (JADAN KIB D. JAVIER).  I let him master writing the capital letters first before I introduced the small letters as small letters contain a lot of curved lines.

When we finished writing the alphabet in big and small letters, then I started teaching him how to write numbers.  

I didn't force him to write following the lines of the paper at first because I find it stressful for the child.  I just encouraged Kib to write following the lines in July 2011 because he is going to take an entrance test in Ateneo.

All in all, Kib learned how to write letters and numbers in 3 months.

Here are some of the pictures of Kib's handwriting history:

Look how crooked the lines were before, and the sizes of the letters were inconsistent.  I'm already happy seeing he can write the letters regardless of the size and legibility.

This was Kib's handwriting before his test with his current homeschool provider, but I was encouraged to teach him the correct strokes and to follow the lines more.  He writes small letters and with one pencil stroke only.  

This is Kib's handwriting now

First Time Homeschooler

Me and my son started our homeschool adventures on June 2010, here are some of the pictures....

I let Kib check the weather outside

During our art activity.  Kib is wearing a personalized apron from Loot Fairy

We made fruit salad!

Some of Kib's artworks displayed on the wall

Kib's lola was also excited about our "mini-school", showing to her kumares the pictures of our adventure. 

I stopped after three months because I felt that he is not yet "ready", so to speak.  I don't want to force him to learn concepts because he might hate me and schooling itself because of the pressure that I'm putting to him.  I went back teaching him concepts after two months when I saw some readiness on his part, and I'm not wrong on my hunch feelings.  The results were amazing after that because he was able to learn phonics and writing the alphabet and numbers in 3 months!  

Preparing for Homeschooling

And now, I have finally decided to get serious about homeschooling...Question is, what do I need to prepare?

I started by purchasing materials and equipments for my son.  I had a table and bookshelf built by a carpenter (which by the way, cheaper compared when you purchase one at the furniture shop).   I bought formica as a tabletop for easy cleaning.   I invested on good chairs (I bought them at Handyman), and began collecting books by buying at Booksale and Scholastic Warehouse.  I bought a chart from an online store at Multiply for the days, months and weather checks.  I asked my brothers to send some school materials that me and my son can use.  I purchased workbooks from National Bookstore.  Kib's ninongs and ninangs gave him school materials, storybooks and workbooks.  I bought a personalized apron for Kib at Loot Fairy.  Now, ready for homeschool!

Kib's bookshelf.  I asked the carpenter to make one with a door so that Kib won't mess with the books!  I only put few books on top for him to read and change them occasionally.  Our book collection has already grown big, thanks to friends who added books for his collection (Mommy Charro Gonzales, Teacher Joy Rombaoa, Ninong Gilbert Madriaga, Tita Peachy Villamayor, Ate Sophia Villamayor, Ninong Andro Ambrose, Ninang Jaysel Ladica, Ninang Lei Daan, Ninong Denise Donor, Teacher Lita Malundras) and my endless quest for cheap but quality books at Booksale, Scholastic Warehouse Sale, National Book Fair, and MV Logos Hope (the floating bookstore)

Kib's study table.  The tabletop can be opened so I can also keep some things inside it.  I bought two chairs so that we will have one each.  The chart is for the date, weather and feelings.

Why Homeschool?

I started homeschooling my son when he was three years old.  Two years of being an independent homeschooler and this is the first year that I enrolled him to a homeschool provider.  Some find homeschooling cute, some difficult, some weird, and some even criticize you for not letting your child "experience" the real world, but I have my own reasons of choosing homeschooling for my son...lots of it.

My idea of homeschooling came from my ex-husband.  He mentioned homeschooling during our normal conversations because "mag-aartista si Kib".  Then it dawned to me, "Oo nga noh?! Showbiz kids have no normal study hours."  So I find this reason "cute".

Way back 2009 I met a good friend of mine who is considering homeschooling for her daughters because of high tuition fees.  Then the idea of homeschooling popped on to me and I also mentioned to her my intentions of homeschooling my child.  So, she added me up to a Yahoo group (pinoyhomeschool) so I can learn more about homeschooling.  There, I learned how to start homeschooling my child, the legal aspects of homeschooling, and meeting homeschooling families whom I met some personally and shared information/resources.

When I'm already saying my intentions of homeschooling to my mom, I made it into a joke.  I said, "Magiging bayani si Kib, si Jose Rizal homeschooled yun, gusto ko magkaron sya ng monumento gaya ke Jose Rizal." Sounds funny, isn't it?!

Being a teacher by profession made me confident that I can do homeschooling.  If I can teach other kids, why can't I teach my own son, right?!  It'll also be a pride on my part if my son learned the basics from me (ehem, ehem).  It'll also build a stronger mother-child relationship as well.  On the other hand, since I'm a teacher and I know what a teacher does in school makes me also ponder that I may be a "monster parent" in school, up to the point of being "pakialamera" in school.  

I also worry about the school environment, the bullying by other kids and adults in school. I don't want to elaborate on this as I may offend some people here.  Period.

I'm also lazy going out of the house, if I enrol my son in a regular school, I need to bring him to school everyday. I don't want to entrust my son to a school service.  I need a flexible schedule since I ran errands for my parents and having a fixed schedule to and from school will make things difficult for me especially in budgeting time.

Family situation is also a reason why I chose homeschooling.  Currently, I am undergoing separation from my husband and having an incomplete family may be a source of insecurity of my son especially when the topic in school is about family.  

My reasons may not be reasonable for some, but when I got serious about homeschooling, I was so happy with the results.