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!
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!