Homeschooling Part 2: Getting Started

As a continuation of my first post, today I will talk about our other activities. It gets quite challenging as a baby grows, to get their focus and to keep their attention. A lot of creativity and patience is needed to make sure your baby will love the idea of learning.

One must understand that Homeschooling is not limited to the confines of the home, just like learning. Books and materials are all good supplements for learning, but the more the child is exposed to the reality of the world, the better they become at understanding concepts. With Matilda, we make it a point to communicate with her, in every opportunity. We never get tired of explaining the reasons why a certain thing needs to be done, the consequence for each and every action, and the hard, but reality of the truth. No matter how complicated something might be for her to grasp, we never lie to her, we just patiently explain and ask for her respect and obedience. When a child is brought up knowing you have only pure interests at heart and their welfare is all you think about, it wouldn’t be very hard to instruct and teach your child. They will instantly develop love for learning, and this will become your lifestyle.
Whenever we are at home, we always try to make certain activities to be able to spend our time wisely. One of the things we started with, apart from those that I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, is coloring books.

Crayons and Coloring Books/Sketch Pads – this is an activity I personally loved while growing up. Because I have seen Matilda’s interest in writing through copying me by holding my pens, it was then I realized, she is ready. We started to introduce crayons and pencils just a few months after she turned a year old. After I showed her how these were used, I just allowed her to doodle, color however way she wanted, and just observed. There were times I’d sit beside her and color with her. She would watch and copy what I was doing and sometimes would ask for my help, I’d remind her how it is done and she’ll go back to doing it on her own.

I also used crayons to teach her colors by writing the alphabet and numbers on a sketch pad. I would also draw certain objects and would name them one by one. This helped in building her imagination as well as her vocabulary. Indeed, a lot of things can be taught through this activity. You just have to learn to be creative. 🙂

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Another thing we love to do is build things with play-doh.

Play-Doh – this is a good exercise for fine motor skills. The molding process is a good means for them to gain control and make their own shapes. Also a good way for them to develop in the area of art and crafts. To make it more fun, we sometimes use her toys and include some pretend-play, like a tea-party for her dolls. She enjoys this activity a lot and it pays really, as she gets to be imaginative in her play. Just be careful not to leave your child unattended with this as this is a choking hazard.

Educational Posters – I think this is a must in every home. These posters are what your child will get to see everyday and that is one of the best ways for them to memorize different things such as the alphabet, numbers, shapes, parts of the body, animals, opposites (big and small, short and tall, open and close, long and short etc.) It is really cheap and readily available at any local bookstores.

Another approach for learning is through Montessori-Inspired Materials. Because I came from a Monterssori school, I am familiar with the type of materials used when we were still in CASA (Nursery level). I incorporated these materials in our play-based learning in order to cover certain areas that are quite difficult for a small child to understand.

Ring Stacker – this would teach them colors and the concept of size recognition and differentiation. This is also a good activity for hand and eye coordination as they stack the rings to the rod.

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Nesting and Stacking Blocks – this teaches them the importance of balance and it’s relation to various sizes. Also a great activity for building whatever they like.

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Spindle Box – this is quite hard to find, if there is any. I made my own by using an illustration board with printed numbers and number words and bought a set of wooden sticks. This is a great material in teaching a child how to count and associate the numbers with actual counting objects, such as the wooden sticks. I would just show her how it is used and she watched me until she was able to get it. She now knows how to properly count because of this.

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Basic Skills Toy -this toy is for practical life skills. This will help your child in teaching them independence when it comes to tying their shoe lace, buttoning their shirt, snapping and unsnapping probably their clothes as well, opening and closing zippers, and fastening or buckling belts. You can also make your own and all you will need is an old shirt, a frame (optional-as this is Montessori-inspired ), and add whatever activity you’d like for them to master.

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Pizza Party – this toy or any other toy that has a similar concept will be a great tool in teaching them how to count as well as the concept of same and different. The different toppings on the pizza is useful in identifying which go together (alike) and which do not (different). This toy is also a great way to introduce fractions later on. It is a really good investment and even I enjoy playing with it!

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Puzzles – this helps in introducing the alphabet sounds or phonics. Getting them acquainted with the pictures and their corresponding names will enable them to identify which letter they begin with. A good activity you can practice to prepare them for reading.

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Practical Life Skills – I cannot thank my parents enough for exposing me to household chores at such an early age. They allowed me to play at the laundry area and wash hankies and socks, at the kitchen to wash the dishes (with help of course!), sweep the floor, polish shoes, wipe the tables to remove dust, and a lot more. These helped me in being responsible for my own room as I grew older, and eventually in our own house as a wife. These are activities which your child will surely enjoy as I did when I was younger.

There are really so many ways to make these materials and lot others are available as well. You don’t have to spend much to achieve the same kind of concepts. All you need is a bit of creativity using ordinary art supplies with your own recyclable things at home, and the internet to get ideas, with that, you are good to go. Try searching for toddler or preschool activities at home and you will be surprised at how much information there is on the web. Some examples are lacing beads for fine motor skills, using buttons or same colored objects to teach colors, painting for art, sorting same and different items, and a whole lot more depending on which area your child needs to improve on or develop.

There is something you have to keep in mind though, in whatever instance, do not pressure your child to sit down and do these activities if he/she is not ready. You don’t want a child getting traumatized with the idea of learning just because you are too eager to teach them or just because you think your child is far behind with what he/she knows. Remember that they develop at their own pace. Some kids develop early and some at a later time, and this doesn’t make them any better nor less smarter than others. As kids, they still love to play and are still very curious about other things. They easily get bored too, and you really have to find ways to motivate them to learn something new each day.

One of the things I noticed with Matilda is, words of affirmation gets her going. Whenever she hears me compliment her for something right she has done, or whenever she accomplished an activity, this gives her a boost to continue on. It really pays to know your child and in this case, it would be great to use that certain characteristic to your advantage when it comes to teaching.

Have you got other suggestions? Leave it in the comment box, so we can try them too! Also, would you happen to be interested in what activities we are up to now? These are more advanced and already include textbooks and workbooks. Just let me know so I can share them to you and make a Part 3 of this series. 🙂

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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!

The Biblical Aspect of Discipline

Matilda now at 2 years and 4 months old, has become very much curious in everything. A normal toddler just like her, has the ability to make her parents joyful and disappointed all at the same time. Well, that’s really how raising a child goes, don’t you agree?

Ever since Matilda was still in my tummy, we have always contemplated on how we will be able to raise her as a Godly child. I, myself, for example, wasn’t raised in a Christian home, but Joey on the other hand was. He grew up a fine man, with respect toward authorities, and has been very obedient to rules, whether set by his parents, in school, and now, as a professional. I praise God for how he was brought up to be the man he has become.

I know A LOT of people will take this post negatively. You might think that what I am about to tell you is some form of child abuse. You might even misjudge me for being impatient and worse, a bad parent. But don’t you worry, I have been judged way too many times with how I am raising my child, and honestly, it is just us, her parents, who reap all the benefits that Biblical Discipline has given her. And soon, as she grows up to be the woman she is bound to become, I know she will be grateful for it, just like her Papa is, to his parents.

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NASB)

As Christians, we are commanded in the Bible to train and discipline our children. This means, we as parents, are fully responsible in how we will be raising God-fearing, obedient and respectful kids. Ever wondered why your kid suddenly became so disobedient? That even though no one taught them to say no, or do the opposite of what was asked of them, they still grow up doing EXACTLY that? Why do you think children are so entitled thinking they should always have it their way, or else they will give you such a hard time pacifying them? Well, this verse clearly states the reason why.

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15 NASB)

What is this “foolishness” the Bible is talking about? Because of The Fall of Man, we have all become sinners in the eyes of our God. We have all been sinful even while we were inside the womb of our mothers. This means, we are to commit these sins even as children. And the most common of these are Disobedience and Disrespect.

Now that Biblically, I am painting this picture for you to understand why discipline is necessary, knowing the basis and background as to why children are really born to be like that, let us now go back to how we enforce this to our Matilda.

On the second part of the verse above, it says, The rod of discipline will remove it (foolishness) far from him. What is this “rod” we are talking about here? The rod is an object we use for spanking. It may actually be anything, but for us, we use the belt.

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. (Proverbs 13:24 NIV)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11 NIV)

We discipline by spanking because we believe that it is what God wants us to do. The Bible’s credibility cannot be questioned because of its infallibility and inerrancy. Did you know that from Genesis to Revelation, there is not even one contradicting statement in the Scripture? It’s one of the many reasons, apart from History, great amount of evidences, fulfilled prophecies and promises, and so on, why we believe it’s true. That it is in fact, the Word of God. And because of our faith in Him, we should obey His Word.

Since we realized the gravity that disciplining a child entails, we then started seeking God’s word. We wanted to learn even more from Him, on how we can raise a Godly child in order that we may bring all the Glory back to Him as we raise her. We also got the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart (where most of the principles written here are derived from), which explains our role as parents, and how we can be intentional in molding the heart of our child. It all begins from the heart, the behavior of your child is an overflow of the heart.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. (Luke 6:45 NLT)

Discipline is not an easy task. It takes a great amount of patience to be able to get it right. You see, we should never spank in anger. Children will know when you are angry, they will remember this, and it will give a negative effect in the implementation of discipline. In fact, being angry in itself is already sinful. Being angry, usually when we don’t have it our way is considered unholy anger, but to be angry at the sin in itself, knowing that this specific sin is never tolerated by God, and it makes you upset, that is holy anger. Always make sure your heart is on the right place. So, when do we spank? And how do we begin to do it?

19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. (James 1:19-20)

First of all, for a child to know the concept of obedience, we must instill this to them at a very young age. If I remember correctly, I started talking to Matilda about obedience when she was around 6-7 months old. Around this time, they already show their very distinct behavior. When you observe them play, interact with others, eat, or even during idle time, you will notice their character slowly forming. With Matilda, I began by getting her familiar with the word “obey”. I would always remind her this whenever I attend to her. For example, during diaper changes. Babies can be very irritable especially when you put them down for this. So what I do is, I look her in the eyes and say, “Matilda, you have to stay still and behave, I am going to change your diaper. You have to OBEY Mommy.” I tell her this, every opportunity I get, with a firm voice. It may be during play time as well. Like when she started dropping her toys from the crib to the floor, I would remind her, “Matilda, the floor is dirty, if you want to play with your toys some more, you have to keep them in your crib. You have to OBEY Mommy.” These are just some instances, so you would have an idea. And this advice was something I learned from Deonna Tan-Chi when we attended a Parenting Seminar at CCF, called Counterflow.

You have to understand something, babies are very smart. They can already comprehend even when they can’t talk yet. So, never underestimate their capability to understand and never get tired of explaining to them these things. As for Matilda, we knew she could very well understand us at around 9-10 months. It was the time we started contemplating that it may be good to start spanking. Just so you know, we spank only on two occasions, and that is when she disobeys or disrespects us. The moment she defies our authority, we administer spanking. So here’s how.

Knowing FULL well that Matilda understood that she had to obey and instead she still defied us, we would get her and bring her to a private place (for us it’s our other room where we store our things). I put her on my lap and talk to her. I would remind her of what she did, explain to her why it was wrong and reinforce that she had to obey. I would then tell her that I would need to spank her because it is what God wants me to do in order to discipline her. I’d go on and tell her how many swats she’ll get, (we do just one) and then I proceed by telling her I love her, and that I am doing this for her own good, so that next time, she would learn to OBEY. Next is to put down her pants, and lay her face down on my lap, her bottom exposed. I would get the belt and give one swat. One is enough for us because I do it effectively. It should be hard and painful but not to the point the skin breaks. (With us, her skin usually turns red for a while). And then I immediately put on her pants and hug her tight. I console her from the pain, and then reassure her of my love. When she is already calm and collected, we say a prayer together.

For the first few times we did this, it was very, very difficult. I cried with Matilda at the sight of seeing her in pain. I also had a hard time accepting my responsibility to enforce discipline and have not been consistent at it. Those inconsistencies brought confusion in Matilda and I realized I am making it even more difficult for her, because she couldn’t get the message clearly. Although, remembering all the promises in the Bible gave me peace knowing that what I am doing is God’s will, and His will is always good. Also, knowing the fact that I am just His agent, whom He expects to do his duty, I, myself, am bound to obey. So, I then made it a point to consciously be on the lookout for circumstances wherein discipline should be enforced, and did it consistently this time around.

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.(Ephesians 6:1-3)

I praise God that we are now even more blessed to have Matilda understand the gravity of obedience and respect. She is growing up to be a good little girl who listens and obeys without question, challenge or delay. Sure, there are still moments wherein she fails, and acts differently, but those times are now becoming very rare. As of this moment, I can no longer remember the last time I spanked her. This is the exact validation how we know, we are on the right track. As I have said in the beginning of this post, we do this because we believe that this is our duty as parents. God entrusted us with a child who will someday become of influence to this world. It is a big responsibility to be able to bring her up in the fear of the Lord, so that someday, she will be useful for the glory of His kingdom. Discipline is not easy and without God’s grace, we wouldn’t be able to do it effectively. It is our prayer as parents, that Matilda will remember the principles we are instilling in her young mind, and then hopefully apply it, as she grows.

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (Proverbs 29:17 ESV)

How is the heart of your child? Have you been diligent in disciplining them? If so, are you happy with the result? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

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On Dealing With Bullies

My 23 month old toddler has become very active. She equally loves to play alone and also interact with other children. As her mom, I am very protective of her simply because she is my daughter. I love her and I believe that it is my responsibility to keep her away from harm or from harming others.

If it’s your first time to be reading my blog, let me share a brief background about what I do. I am a stay-at-home mom also known as a (plain) housewife. I personally look after my Matilda and we do not have a yaya. Because this is our set-up, I have seen how my daughter is at home as well as when we are out. I know her moods and I know everything there is about her. She is very kind – biases aside, it is the truth. By God’s grace, I try my best to discipline her and mold her to be Christ-like.

Like any other normal kid, she is always excited to see other children. One reason is that, it is mostly just the two of us who play with each other. So, whenever we have the chance to go to the Day Care at my husband’s workplace, we always make the most out of it.

The Day Care is just a simple play space with a slide, a pretend-house, and small tables with chairs, perfect for kids. Every morning, the teachers facilitate a circle time wherein they sing songs, dance and play with the kids – this is Matilda’s favorite part aside from going up and down the slide. We also love going because of the friends we have made there.

Almost all the kids are regulars, meaning they are there daily and are usually accompanied by their yayas. There are two very kind and loving teachers as well to keep the place organized, and also make sure the kids are well-behaved. But, sometimes, when there are plenty of kids and only one teacher is present, things can become a bit chaotic like this one day I will tell you about next.

About a week ago, on what is seemed like a regular day at the day care, a little boy aged 3 came in and was left by his mother. That day, if I remember correctly, he was the only kid without a yaya. According to the mom, as what the teacher also said, the kid will only be left for an hour, as the father will come to pick him up. It wasn’t the first time I met this little boy though. I have seen how he is when he is around, and I must say, the kid has the tendency to hurt other children, both big and small. So, I was on the lookout. I didn’t want Matilda to be hurt in any way so I made sure I was close by at all times.

In just a matter of 15 minutes, the little boy already started acting a bit too hard to control. The teacher kept reminding him to behave as there are babies around, playing. He kept on running, not minding anybody who he might bump into. I thought maybe he was just really excited, perhaps happy to be around other kids as well. The teacher then noticed that he is kind of too hyperactive so, she decided to get some toys for the boy to keep him busy, and placed him inside the house to play by himself for a little while. As I watched Matilda roam around, I happened to see she wanted to go inside the play house too. I let her walk her way through, confident that it was fine since I was right beside her. To my surprise, before getting to the entrance of the house, the little boy got a glimpse of Matilda and kicked her right at her tummy. It was all so sudden. I was shocked as I saw Matilda fall to the ground. My instinct was that I immediately held her and checked if she got hurt. I thanked God she was fine and saw that she was just a bit startled with what just happened.

If you are a mother, I am pretty sure you know how it must have felt like to see your baby get bullied right before your eyes. This was the very first time a kid hurt my child, though we had plenty of  “toy-grabbing” incidents before, this was probably the worst so far. I did what I knew what was right at that moment and approached the boy to ask for an apology. I told him that hurting others is wrong and he should never do that again. I appreciate the fact that the boy said sorry even though I knew he probably didn’t really mean it. I’m not even sure if he truly understood what I told him, rather, the gravity of what he did.

The teacher, yayas and other kids saw what happened and the teacher apologized to me, and I assured her that everything was okay. She must have felt bad and somewhat responsible for what happened even though it wasn’t her fault at all. Few minutes passed and then the father of the boy arrived. I asked him if he is the father (just to be extra sure) and told him these exact words, “Kayo po ba yung father ni (little boy’s name)? Sinipa kasi niya itong baby ko.” (Are you the father of (little boy’s name)? Because he kicked my little girl.). The father nodded his head, walked towards his son, asked if he apologized and told him not to do it again. After which, he sat down in one of the small chairs and started fiddling with his phone. He never approached me, did not even properly acknowledge what his son did, and worse, he did not even bother to look after his son the entire time. I must admit, I felt irritated with this. It felt as though it was something so casual that he did not even say anything. Nothing! How would you feel if you were me? I’m sure you’d feel really insulted.

Good thing though is that I was able to keep my cool and I just silently said a prayer. I prayed that God would help me control my emotions and that the Holy Spirit will fill me so that I will not do anything I would regret later on. Because I was upset, I just sent Joey a text message and told him about the incident. Only seconds after, Joey was already standing there looking for the little boy and his father. He asked which kid kicked Matilda in a firm voice as he approached his daughter. After hugging her and making sure she’s alright, he then asked again where the boy is. I told him it’s the one beside the teacher, who is patiently keeping him occupied to avoid another untoward incident. As you know, the father is so busy with his phone and this got Joey’s attention. He asked where the guardian of the boy is (again) but his father won’t respond. I’m not sure if it was because Joey’s voice wasn’t loud enough for him to hear or maybe he is just really focused with what he is doing. Joey then asked, “Sinong bantay nito?” (Who is this boy’s guardian?), referring to the boy beside him. It was only then the father looked up and said, “Pinagalitan ko na siya”. (I already scolded him.)Joey responded to him by saying, “Paki bantayan na lang mabuti, paki bantayan lang.” (Please just look after him, please watch him carefully.), in a very firm voice. I felt he was also insulted with the way the father answered. He did not even stand from the chair he is sitting on.

This scene that just happened caused a bit of tension inside the day care. I saw yayas began moving aside and talking quietly among each other of what they just witnessed. I saw a bit of panic in their eyes most especially the teacher who was in the middle of the confrontation. I guess she must have sensed that it isn’t the end of it all, yet. As it turns out, she was right. Moments after, the mom of the boy came in and asked casually about what happened. I was there beside the teacher waiting for her to apologize for how his son behaved. Although, just like her husband, she did not even acknowledge me at all. It was then I realized how much of an impact we have with the development of our children. How modeling affects their personality and character. If his parents are like this, how in the world will their son grow up to be?

You see, as parents, we have complete responsibility towards our children. These children were entrusted to us by God for this very main purpose – that we ought to teach them to love the Lord and to carefully follow all his commands as stated in the following verses:

Deuteronomy 6: 1-9 New International Version (NIV)

These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

What is our DUTY as Parents?

We are to raise our kids in the fear of the Lord by following all his commands – so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you.

What do we get in return?

The blessing of being intentional in our parenting is that WE, as Parents will be rewarded according to God’s promise – so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey. 

Why should we follow what is said in the Bible?

Because the Bible is God’s word. Everything written in the Bible is revealed to us so that we will know who God is and how He can transform our lives.

I always say, my handbook on parenting is the Bible. I can never be a perfect mom, nor Joey as a father to Matilda. But, as Christians, we carefully train her to be God-fearing, and a child who loves the Lord. If we fail in this, it is us, the parents who will suffer eventually.

I know it won’t be the last time we will encounter a “bully’ and I also know that the character of every person is based on how he was brought up. I just pray that I will be able to teach Matilda well enough to understand that this kind of attitude is wrong, and that she must never copy it. I also have a previous post about my personal experience being bullied as a child here, what I learned from it and why we want to go for homeschooling. As for the parents of the child, I feel like I also fell short on how I handled the situation. I should have set my emotions aside and spoke to them. I should have explained clearly what happened and I should have grabbed to opportunity to show them kindness. Now, I know what to do next time and I should really keep that in mind. How about you? Do you have kids who were bullied? What did you do? How did you explain this to your kids?

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Intentional Parenting at A Glance

Being a hands-on Mom is great because you get to spend most (if not all) of your time with your child. However, it can be a bit challenging too, as days go by.

When Matilda was still very young, around 0-6 months, our routine was very simple. She’ll feed, sleep, play a bit, feed and feed and then sleep again. She’s awake for short periods only and we used that time to play.

When she started walking, around 11 months, that’s when it began to be a little tiring for me. I had to constantly guide her and guard her from falling. She also explored a lot and that was the beginning of all the mess we have in our room (and everywhere else!). It was really fun for most part, but, there were also days when I just wanted to rest, and days when I too, got sick and I still had to take care of her.

Oftentimes people ask, “What do you do everyday?”, or “Don’t you get bored at home?”. My answer is always the same. “A lot!” is my answer to the first and “Of course, not!”, is my answer to the second. Let me give you a brief overview of our usual routine for the day now that Matilda is already 1 year and 7 months old.

8-8:30am Usual Wake-up Time
8:30-9:30am Breakfast
9:30-10:30am Play
10:30-12:00pm Nap Time
12-1pm Lunch
1-1:30pm Bath
1:30-3:30pm Play
3:30-5:30pm Nap Time
5:30-7pm Play
7-8pm Dinner
8-8:30pm Bath
8:30-9pm Play
9-8:30am Sleep

We have a No-TV policy at home so even us adults, do not watch at all. A lot of studies have shown that kids don’t actually learn anything from watching the television. Kids also tend to become used to the fast-paced entertainment they get, which in turn causes them to get bored when they actually start playing. Due to this, Joey and I made a commitment that as much as we can, we will not expose Matilda to this yet and just let her appreciate “playing” for what it really is.

So, what do we actually do during play time? Here’s a list of the things we do:

  • Read books
  • Color books
  • Pretend play (cooking, tea-party, picnic, dress-up, grocery shopping, cleaning)
  • Sing songs
  • Dance
  • Interact with kids from our neighborhood
  • Pick flowers
  • Ride the bike
  • Make a mess (art and crafts)
  • Clean the mess (pack away)

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Believe it or not, these things can never get boring. As your child learns while you play, it gives you a some sort of accomplishment that you were able to impart something that will become the foundation of their knowledge as they grow older. Simple activities enhance your child’s ability to learn without you even realizing it. Like for example, I like to sing Praise Songs and Nursery Rhymes to Matilda. I also invent actions to make it fun and entertaining. One day, she just started imitating me and there she was, doing the actions as she listens to me sing.

These are the things that make it all worth while. The fact that I am being there for her, not just to take care of her, but also play with her and teach her (discipline her) in the process is fulfilling enough for me.

This technique that we are doing, wherein we set certain standards is called Intentional Parenting. The focus of Intentional Parenting is molding the heart into helping your children be Christlike. It is being:

Proactive in teaching your kids – raising them in the fear of the Lord so they will know what is right instead of correcting them when they start doing wrong. Like for example, we try to teach Matilda everything that we do on a daily basis like read the Bible, Pray, fix her toys, eat properly, be polite, how to behave when at home and when we’re out, and so on. By doing this, we limit using the word “no” to her since we started with her training at a very young age.

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭22‬:‭6‬ NASB)

Modeling to them – setting yourself as an example of authenticity and not perfection. Being a model is being true to yourself. It means you are who you are at home and when in public. We should be reminded that children copy us both positively and negatively. In all that we do, we should be aware that they are watching our every move. One example I specifically have for this is submission and respect to people in authority. In our home, Joey being my husband, is the person in authority over us. As much as I can, even though it is such a struggle, I try to be a submissive and respectful wife to him. I would like Matilda to be a submissive and respectful person to those in authority, first and foremost, to God and then to all those He assigned to lead, may it be in the family, church or government.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭9‬ NIV)

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭13‬:‭20‬ ESV)

Being there for them – playing with them and caring for them. I think, you will agree with me when I say, children who were personally cared for by their parents grow up to be God-fearing and well-mannered children. Well that is if they were brought up the right way! But the point is, if you are there for them to nurture and guide them, I’m pretty sure they’d end up great in terms of their character. This is because they would most likely be closer to you than their peers. We all know most of the foolish things we did back then we learned from our friends, right? So if your kids have a good relationship with you, with open communication at all times, then you won’t  have to worry about them being pressured to conform in today’s world.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. (‭1 Peter‬ ‭5‬:‭2-3‬ NLT)

and most importantly..

Disciplining them – shepherding the heart about obedience and respect which will eventually pave the way for you to connect them to the Lord, our God. I must admit, this last part is indeed the hardest. I do know discipline is part of parenting, but I never really understood the depth of it until I read Tedd Tripp’s book entitled, Shepherding A Child’s Heart. The main theme of the book is discipline through spanking. I know, I know, most of you will raise your eyebrows in this area, but following what is said in the scriptures is part or our so-called “non-negotiables” in our faith. As Christian parents, we are commanded to discipline our children this way so they may grow in wisdom and stature just like Jesus Christ.

Discipline is not a suggestion, it is a way of life. Those who did not experience discipline grew up without honoring and obeying their parents. And those people are more often than not, made mistakes that led to terrible consequences, some even caused it their future. For us, Matilda should be trained to obey those in authority, which is us, her parents for now that she’s under our care and to those she will be subject to later in life, like school, work, government, etc. If she learns to obey and honor us, she will grow up able to discern right from wrong. And when the time comes that she’s old enough to make her own life decisions, she will be responsible in making them. Knowing that in every action there is a consequence, is what we are trying to impress on her heart as we discipline her. I will dedicate a separate post about this next time from the things I learned on the book and elaborate on the do’s and don’ts of spanking. There is a right procedure and state of mind to do this, mind you, and it is done not with an unholy anger but with a calm and loving attitude.

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭13‬:‭24‬ NIV)

We love Matilda dearly and knowing that she is entrusted to us by God for a greater purpose, it gives parenting a clear meaning for me and Joey. We are to lead her to God and the most successful way to do this is to apply the principles of Intentional Parenting.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV)

 

Bullying and Homeschooling

As a child, I knew going to school was necessary for me to learn and to be able to “work” someday. It was clearly explained to me while I was growing up, mostly by my father. Being a child, however, doesn’t quite give you a wide understanding of the things that you will have to go through to get there.

I started pre-school a little bit late. I was 6 years old then and even though I passed the assessment test for the “prep” level, my parents insisted that I must go through the “kinder” level first to lessen the pressure of learning on my part. They wanted me to be able adjust first with the idea of school and they thought I wasn’t ready yet for the higher level. As it turned out, no amount of preparation could actually get you to that state anyway.

That entire first year in school went by smoothly. I wasn’t excited about the fact I’ll be left in school alone as my parents recalled. Because I was really young then, my memories of school were bits and pieces of both good and bad. One particular thing I clearly remember though, was that right from the start, I was always the target of the bullies in school.

If you don’t know me personally, my mother is Filipina and my father is Indian. I don’t actually look like an Indian except for the fact that when I was young, my everyday hairdo was a simple braid for my long and curly hair. My complexion is fair, I got that from my mom. The height, being tallest in the class is from my dad. At around 6-9 years old, my teeth looked terrible and to top it all off, I was very chubby. Yeah, I wasn’t as appealing compared to the other girls in school. And that was the reason I was the bully’s favorite.

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Fast forward to 2nd grade, I grew older and so somehow, everything I was going through already took its toll on me. I started showing signs that I disliked school. I didn’t show any excitement about it and that made every morning difficult, for my mother.

I don’t know why I didn’t tell my parents sooner what I was experiencing in school. Until one day when a group of boys from my class intentionally threw my lunch and tore my lunch box apart. In my attempt to stop them, I got hurt when one of them kicked me. A lot of students saw what happened and immediately called the attention of the teacher who wasn’t in the room when it happened. The teacher called my mom and informed her of the incident and it was just then when I told them the truth.

Everyday as I went to school, my classmates (boys) would call me names, trip me while walking, pull my braid, steal my things, and a lot more. Being a child at that time, who had been treated the same way for a while, I honestly thought what they were doing to me was normal. If not for that incident, my parents would not have known the truth about my experiences in school.

One more incident took place months after that. A boy from my class brought a pellet gun and he shot me right at my chin with it. Thank God he did not hit me in the eye and though it hurt so bad, it did not leave any permanent damage. And this was the first time I personally told my mom about a particular bullying incident.

As a mother now to my baby girl, thinking about what happened to me breaks my heart twice harder. I couldn’t for the life of me ever imagine for her to be treated that way. I now understand what my mom could have felt at that time and why she did all that she could to protect me and my memories of childhood.

After months of probation and deliberation, two of these bullies eventually got expelled from school because of other numerous incidents that involved them. But even though they weren’t in school anymore, it did not lessen my anxiety about the idea of going to school in any way.

Because of all the bullying, I developed an intense feeling of insecurity. I avoided playing with other kids except for some of my closest girl friends. I also had anxiety attacks wherein my tummy would get so upset on the way to school and sometimes I’d develop a fever out of nowhere. This was a serious concern for my parents and so whenever I showed signs that I wasn’t well, they wouldn’t force me to go to school anymore.

You see, communication is very important. It’s very common among children not to inform parents about certain things when they think that it is normal. Always make sure you talk to your child about what specifically happens in school. Ask them questions in detail to be able to know how they are doing. You also have to watch out for signs. If your child isn’t showing any interest in school, ask them and investigate why.

These simple things may make or break your child’s character. And honestly, it is one of the main reasons why we are leaning towards homeschooling our Matilda. I’m very thankful that no matter how rough those circumstances were to me, at least I somehow ended up to be a normal, happy person. But even though I turned out fine, that doesn’t mean it left no emotional scar in my childhood. Of course, it did! I can still remember the hate I felt towards every one of those bullies. In my mind, I wished bad things to happen to them and I grew up holding grudges against them. It was only when I came to know the Lord, through his mercy and grace, that I was able to forgive all of them.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31, 32 NLT)

Knowing the formative years are very crucial, I cannot depend on the school or a teacher for that matter, to lead my child into Christlikeness. That responsibility is mine and I have to own it. As her mother, she was entrusted to me by God for a reason. A reason that only a Christian parent will understand. This involves leading her to follow Christ and for her to do the same when she’s already of age. We want her character molded in a place where circumstances are within our control. And we (Joey and I) consider the home to be a safe place where I can monitor what she learns, how she does things, and everything else in between. I want to be able to personally guide her in the process of building her own personality, and not to be dictated by how other children perceive who she is. I want myself to set a good example for her and not for her to copy someone who doesn’t have any set of values – just like the bullies present in school.

I may be paranoid and my reasons may be invalid but if you were bullied like me, I’m sure you wouldn’t want your child to experience the same. And one way for me to prevent that is to home school her instead. Yes, I know, bullying is inevitable and it can happen absolutely anywhere, even in play areas and the like. All I want is to lessen the possibility since the school is a place wherein children interact with one another on a daily basis, and the chances of it happening there, are far greater. Plus, the effects based on their interaction without you around, are much more critical too.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying sending your child to a regular school is wrong. Of course it’s absolutely okay. It’s just that, you, as the parent should be responsible enough to make sure your child goes to a school which gives importance to your child’s inward orientation. Sure, they will learn well in this particular school knowing all the students who have graduated turned out successful. But, think about their heart. Where is Jesus in their lives? Was the school able to instill important life lessons such as having a personal relationship with God? Is the school as aggressive in building the child’s character and not just feeding them with curriculum lessons? Evaluate the school, the teachers and the students. You have to know where they stand. After all, you’ll leave your child with these people who will greatly influence their life. Wouldn’t you want to know who they will learn from and what they will contribute to the development of their character?

When you look at schooling this way, it is only then you will understand its gravity. Whatever your decision might be, it is best to consider what will work for your family. What works for us might not work for you and vice versa. Just make sure you have prayed and asked God for guidance in making the right decisions such as choosing the right school for you child.

In the event however, that your child is already being bullied, here are some tips I thought to share with you:

1. Try your best to keep your cool and go to the school immediately and talk to the proper authorities about it. Never, ever confront the bully or his parents. Note: “Anti-Bullying Act of 2012”
2. Request a guidance counselor to monitor your child’s behavior at school. A weekly meeting may help your child gain his/her self-esteem back.
3. Enroll your child in a sport that would enhance his skill in self-defense like Taekwondo or Muay Thai. (Note: Teach them to defend themselves and NOT to fight back!)
4. Encourage your child to communicate with you about his daily activities in school.
5. Explain the importance of forgiveness and that it is God’s command for him to do so. Pray with your child that God will grant you wisdom in understanding the heart of the bully. Doing this will allow him/her to be able to have peace in his heart.

  • Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13 NIV)

6. Set a good example to your child by showing proper attitude against people who mistreat you. How your child responds is usually how they see it from their parents. Make sure you are being a role-model at all times, even when things don’t go your way.

  • “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. (Matthew 5:38, 39 NLT)

7. Consider the benefits of homeschooling, both for you and your child.

My parents wanted the best for me that’s why they sent me to that particular school. The only mistake they made was that they trusted the school too much and they forgot to scrutinize how they value the formation of their student’s character.

The bullying was a depressing chapter of my life but I learned a lot from it. One is to extend my patience further and another is to have an understanding and forgiving heart towards difficult people. Part of who I am now is because of all the experiences I encountered in the past and I will be forever grateful for it.

Were you bullied as a child? Or do you have a child who is being bullied in school? What actions did you take? How did it affect your child? Let’s talk about it and let me know how I can pray for you!