Homeschooling Part 1: Where do I begin?

When I married Joey, I never imagined myself homeschooling our future child. It has entered my mind though, and I thought it was good, but it never really made an impact until I had Matilda. We realized how much children actually learn through their peers and how they can be easily influenced to do almost anything. Honestly, this scared me having gone through that lifestyle myself. The horror of having some random kid bully my child entered my mind as well, so many times – an experience I had that I never want her to EVER encounter. And above all, we wanted to really be intentional in our parenting which led us to the ultimate decision, which is to homeschool.

Homeschooling is something that needs love, patience and passion. What drives me to stay focused is the idea that Matilda will learn from me, first hand. That whatever she learns will be coming from me and the materials we will be using. That’s quite scary, don’t you agree? Being the one responsible for your child’s knowledge and skill is daunting. But you know what? Something else is much more important that all of that – Character. When you have a child focused on God, and you raise him/her with love and fear in the Lord, everything else will follow. Joey and I agreed on this decision, wholeheartedly, knowing this is what is best for our daughter.

Deuteronomy 11: 18-19 New International Version (NIV)

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Proverbs 22:6 New International Version (NIV)

 6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 6:20-23 New International Version (NIV)

20 My son, keep your father’s command
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
21 Bind them always on your heart;
    fasten them around your neck.
22 When you walk, they will guide you;
    when you sleep, they will watch over you;
    when you awake, they will speak to you.
23 For this command is a lamp,
    this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
    are the way to life

These verses I cannot stress any better. The truth is, we, as parents, are commanded by God to disciple our own children. To disciple them means to teach them about God, to be intentional in the way we raise them, which is the most important thing of all. To be clear, I have nothing against traditional schooling, it’s just that we want to protect the character of our little girl. We believe that our home is the best place to start, to keep her away from bad influences, and also for her to have a more focused form of learning. We always pray that we will be able to instill values that she will hold on to and practice as she grows. The academic aspect is just a plus for us, we will just feel accomplished, that we have successfully done our part as parents, if we are able to raise a child who knows that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

On the other hand, the frustrated teacher in me is very happy to be doing this for our Matilda. Even though she isn’t formally enrolled yet to a homeschool provider, which we will eventually do so with TMA, (The Master’s Academy) we have begun long ago in building this dream, one step at a time.

As a hands on mom to my child, I made it a point to observe her individual traits and qualities. Since Matilda was young, I have seen her interest in music, books and educational toys. These are some of the tools we used, to foster learning. I remember, she was still in my tummy when I started collecting books that I wanted to read for her during the day. We started doing this as soon as she was born even if she doesn’t seem to understand anything yet. Looking back, I’m really glad I started early, because good books, award-winning titles at that, are quite hard to find and they can be very pricey too! Plus, because I introduced books at an early age, Matilda is so fond of them and she would personally request her favorites to be read, sometimes, over and over again! Here are some of Matilda’s favorites you might want to get your hands on: Goodnight Moon, Guess How Much I Love You, Goodnight Gorilla, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Runaway Bunny, Mommy Loves, The Going to Bed Book and Counting Kisses, and of course, The Bible.

Another thing I like to do is sing her songs as well. We both love listening to nursery rhymes and children’s worship songs and I try my best to make it fun and interactive by making movements or actions, for her to follow. At around 5-6 months she already began copying some actions, and it felt so rewarding to see how much she was learning. Some of her favorite songs with actions or sounds she can mimic are as follows: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Wheel’s on The Bus, Old MacDonald had a Farm, Incy Wincy Spider, Barney’s Mr. Sun Song, If You’re Happy and You Know It, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Father Abraham and Jesus Loves Me.

Constant communication has also given us great benefits. I never underestimated Matilda’s capability to understand. In fact, even when she was a small baby, I’d talk to her like a normal adult. I’d give her instructions, reminders, and affirmation like I would do with an older child. Yes, I cuddle her, show her love and affection like any mother to a child, but it didn’t stop there. I taught her independence as well at a very early age, like in the area of eating, and packing-away her toys. Some simple activities that enhance her self-discipline, and as I have said, independence.

Because we have a no-TV policy at home, this also helped a lot to make sure our time is really well-spent. Joey and I invested in good quality educational toys, mostly made of wood, which Matilda really enjoys until now. The reason why we prefer wooden toys over plastic or battery-operated is that, these toys help a child in using their imagination. A child who is used to playing with battery-operated ones tend to be easily bored, just like those babies who are used to watching TV or videos. Their attention span are shorter and they can’t seem to enjoy quality play-time anymore. We just introduced certain videos, which are also educational, when Matilda turned two years old. Although, people we are close to can actually attest that she would still prefer to play rather than watch videos, as this is what she was accustomed to, since she was a lot younger. We truly praise God for this!

Each child is unique in terms of reaching their development, however, I believe that “play” is the best foundation of learning. Educational Toys will be your best friends when it comes to teaching your child. Some of our favorites when Matilda was around a year old are as follows: Shape Sorters, Wooden Puzzles, Wooden Blocks, Lego Blocks and Musical Instruments. These toys helped me teach her the basics like the Alphabet, Numbers, Colors, Shapes and Animals. I actually never thought she would learn from them until we got to prove it ourselves. Now at 2.5 years old, Matilda has mastered all of them and is already showing signs of readiness to read and write. It is really all by God’s grace. He really amazes me with all of His blessings!

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You may even be surprised upon reading this that you are already doing some sort of informal homeschooling. Congratulations! Isn’t it fun? You get to play and learn at the same time while bonding with your child. Remember, you don’t need to spend much to be able to do all of these. Sometimes, all you need is a little creativity. And don’t forget, that children do not necessarily learn all these things right away. Do not compare as it usually takes some time for others. Just be patient and consistent in doing your daily activities, and again, find it in your heart to enjoy it. 🙂

PS: Watch out for Part 2, as I will talk about in detail our activities from when Matilda was around 18 months, until now that she is about to turn 2 and a half years old. I will share the materials we use as well as my personal strategies and tips to make learning fun and easy. Hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this post!

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Pick Your Pack of Crayons by Crayola for only Php 99.75!

Back when I was a child, one of my favorite activities was coloring. I remember having piles of books and tons of coloring materials, my favorite of which was crayons by Crayola. So when Matilda was already a toddler, I introduced her to the same activity not only for fun, but also as a tool for learning. For a toddler, however, she is already showing preferences for certain colors. Her favorites are shades pink, purple, orange and brown. And in a box of 24 crayons, you only get a shade or two of each color, it’s a bit sad! Although, just a few weeks back, upon passing by a store called Ogalala in Shangri-La Mall, I had one of my childhood dreams come to a reality. We got to choose the colors we want in a box of 24, for only 99.75 pesos!! Most of those colors I haven’t seen before and are not included in the regular box of crayons. I was so ecstatic! And these were our top picks:

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The names of the colors from left to right: Granny Smith Apple, Olive Green, Green Yellow, Goldenrod, Atomic Tangerine, Mango Tango, Peach, Melon, Carnation Pink, Tickle Me Pink, Mauvelous, Lavender, Purple Pizzazz, Red Violet, Plum, Tan, Bittersweet, Copper, Violet Red, Razzmatazz, Turquoise Blue, Aquamarine, Sky Blue, Cadet Blue

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Ogalala is located at the 3rd level, East Wing (new mall) of Shangri-La Mall. Near Mamaway and the Barbie Store.

Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

Matilda was still very small, when Joey and I agreed on trying for another baby as soon as she turns 2 years old. When Matilda was already about to turn two, (it was faster than I expected!) I also had my own hesitations about having another baby. In my head, I was thinking, “What if my pregnancy becomes complicated that we need to stop breastfeeding?”. And during this time, Matilda wasn’t showing any sign of weaning yet, even the slightest bit. Honestly, it made me anxious from time to time and I just relied onto God’s Word, for strength to overcome it.

We really wanted to go past the 2-year mark to maximize the benefits of breastfeeding, however, deep inside I knew that if ever the need arise, Matilda will be more than ready physically, as she gets her main source of nutrition now from solid food. It would then just be the psychological aspect I would need to address.

Breastfeeding is one of those things, like birthing a child, which I never thought I would endure. It is truly all by God’s grace! All I really wanted was to be able to give my best in all that I do, especially when it comes to bringing up my future children. With that, I knew in my heart I never wanted to force Matilda to wean if she’s not yet ready, that’s why I am still breastfeeding her up to now, and will continue to do so until she decides to wean on her own.

”Isn’t it dangerous to breastfeed while pregnant?”

As long as you have an uncomplicated pregnancy without any underlying medical conditions, (you are not classified as high-risk) and you don’t experience bleeding, premature contractions, lower back pain, or severe cramping in the abdomen, then it is safe to continue breastfeeding, until you reach your term.

Right now, I am close to reaching my 4th month. I haven’t encountered any problems from what I mentioned above, that’s why my OB-Gyne, who I love so much, never asked me to stop breastfeeding. This is because there really is no concrete evidence that links premature births to breastfeeding. And there are also plenty of mothers who have done it successfully. There isn’t really anything to worry about as long as your OB-Gyne is really knowledgeable, and an advocate for breastfeeding.

“Isn’t that milk supposed to be ‘reserved’ for the next baby?”

Our bodies are made perfect by God to be able to nourish our young. It does not stop producing milk as long as there is a demand. When baby number two comes, there will still be enough milk for them to share, hence, the term, tandem feeding. This happens when an older child feeds along with the younger sibling. This term is also used for breastfeeding multiple babies, such in the case of twin siblings.

“I always get so hungry because of breastfeeding, isn’t that a sign the baby in my tummy is being deprived of nutrients?”

The answer is, no. Because our body changes during the pregnancy, even the size of our organs also change with it. If you noticed, whenever we are pregnant, we can no longer eat as much as we used to, in one sitting. We tend to eat smaller portions, but we do it frequently. This also applies when we are breastfeeding during pregnancy. We just have to be smart in the choices we make when it comes to food and pick those that will benefit us, as well as our babies. Food that are high in calcium, iron and fiber are some of the things we need to add more to our diet, like that of green leafy vegetables and seasonal (local) fruits. Remember, we are not eating for two, (or in my case, three!) in a sense that we should eat a lot! We eat for two (or three) knowing that there is extra nourishment needed for our baby to grow healthy, and not in terms of the actual amount of food we eat.

“My breasts are so sensitive during pregnancy, it hurts so bad. How do I go on breastfeeding?”

This part is inevitable. Yes, it is true that it may hurt during the 1st trimester as our body adjusts to the changes brought about by our pregnancy. Nipples become very sensitive and based on my own experience, having a good and deep latch really alleviates the discomfort. Take note that this pain usually goes away in the second trimester, so a little sacrifice on our end is all we need. And if it’s any consolation, seeing the satisfied look on the face of your child who is just happy to be comforted by your breasts will really help you overcome it too.

“How do I manage breastfeeding 2 kids if they both want to feed at the same time?”

My expert friends say that it would be good to breastfeed the younger child first to make sure he/she gets all the colostrum he/she needs in the early days of life. As soon as the mature milk comes in, usually on the 4th or 5th day after birth, it really doesn’t matter which child nurses first. If you can manage to feed them together with each of your breasts, that would also be a good idea. However, take note that since breastmilk changes in composition depending on the age of your younger child, usually, the older child becomes so full from the breastmilk (which is high in calories to support the infant’s growth), they sometimes lose their appetite for solid food. It would be good to also watch out for this as it would possibly disrupt the established eating pattern of your child. Finding the balance is still the key.

Are you currently pregnant and breastfeeding? Or thinking about continuing to breastfeed even when you conceive again? Please leave a comment and let’s talk about your concerns!

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