Homeschool Schedule for my 4 year old

Just this January, I decided to give a bit of structure to our homeschool. I created a guide on what would do everyday. For a four year old pre-schooler, a good 30 minutes to 1 hour of focused time is all we need for every subject I am teaching.

For English and Writing we do letter writing, sounds of letters and try some small word reading. Honestly, my son does not enjoy  writing, but we encourage him to try. We also do a lot of language by asking questions and answering them, doing imaginary stories, and talking about feelings.

For Science, my son loves anatomy. We bought from a bookstore posters of lungs, internal organs, teeth, and more. We discuss this and he really enjoys it. After our session, Joshua would go to his dad and explain what he understood. 

For Piano, we enrolled Josh in Gray tones school of music. I love their curriculum for kids his age. It is a mix of play and music familiarization and playing the piano.

For Math, we do a bit of number practice 1-100 and concept of addition and make Johua write numbers. We also play a math app on the iPad where it introduces fractions, addition and subtraction and sequencing.

For Arts, I have to find ways to be creative… we do painting, we create animals, we do drawing. Lots of materials are found on Pinterest. One should take a look there and get inspired! This is a sample of what we made recently — butterflies using toilet paper rolls and some colored paper and pens.

For Values we discuss bible stories, and themes like sharing, caring for each other etc.. I love the Bible for Kids app by youversion.com. They make the stories come alive with their graphics and it is easy for kids to understand. We discuss what we read and then find ways to apply.

We also insert some physical activity for Joshua and so we enrolled in swimming at the Bert Lozada Swim School. It is a one hour swimming session where our 4 year old learns the skill on swimming and survival.

What Joshua has a lot of is play. He plays blocks, he plays with clay, he plays with toys and his sister. They watch their favourite movies, they sing and dance…. they fight, they make up, they laugh and play some more.

I am not strict on my son or on myself. We are enjoying the journey of discovery and learning together. Sometimes, I don’t follow my schedule and it is okay. Our pace sometimes is fast, sometimes it’s slow. We go on my child’s pace. As a homeschooling mom it is a discipline not to look at what others are doing and comparing my child with theirs. As a parent-teacher my goal is for my child to learn and enjoy learning.

So far by God’s sustaining grace, we are doing okay.

Celebrating Milestones with Google Photos

Our children each have their time. And every milestone is worthy of tight hugs, praises, and applauses. 

Remember your baby’s first smile, first time to grab your finger, first roll over, first tummy time, first crawl, first babble, first food, first time to say “mama” or “papa”? — ahhhh so many firsts! 

My son Joshua started his baby steps at 10 months. Anna began to do that at 12 months. Each child has their own time. As much as we like to compare, God made each child unique and special from the other.

  

Joshua has great verbal skills and Anna is great with her fine motor skills. Both like to sing and dance. Most of these we record through photos and videos. But the problem is how we store these precious moments?

Good thing, Google has this app called google photos. I learned about it when I was researching where I can upload my photos from my phone so I don’t lose them. 


There were other apps, but I really find google photos most useful and I will tell you why…

1. Downloading the app is free. If you are an android or iOS user you can download the app for free.

2. It syncs with your phone photos when you open the app. You also have free storage and can buy more storage when you have used up your free 5 GB storage.

3. It is attached to your email if you have a gmail account.

4. It helps organize for you. You can organize by date, by themes or by faces. We were able to make a quick collages with this app. Type swimming and all the photos with swimming will be shown to you. 

5. It can make movies for you and reminds you of what happened in the past year.

6. It helps you free up your phone photo storage. If you can’t take anymore photos or videos it means you have used up your phone’s internal storage. With Google photos it assists you by informing you what photos have been uploaded to the google photos cloud so you can erase it on your phone. You need not worry because you have it backed up!

I feel like an advocate for Google photos because I have been using this for years! I am truly happy with it and I know other moms and dads will be able to make good use of this application as their family memories grow!

Letter brain practice

When Joshua saw the wooden cut out letters I bought, he was so thrilled! He was excited because it came in many colors and looked like fun! So I used it to make him look for the right letter to spell words.

Then we tried a different approach. He had to find all the right letters to all 26 letters of the alphabet. He worked hard on it! After A-G, he was already breaking a sweat.

The reason I believe he was challenged because he had to complete 26 letters. Well I encouraged him to go on and he probably finished this activity in 12 minutes! 

When he was done it felt like an accomplishment. But he was also so tired looking for the right letter to match his chart.

I’m so happy he never gave up and was able to succeed in this task. This is a good activity to do at home.

Challenged to read

The reading milestone came as a surprise. You see, Joshua and I have been going through alphabets and their sounds. Everytime I try to push him to read, he would always show disinterest and would rather do numbers. When that happens, I just go with his flow and do subjects or topics he likes. 

So that day we did writing practice, we did some counting, and again when we were about to do letters, he again did not want to continue. He was eyeing to open my portable TABOO game. I told him I can’t let him play with it because it requires reading and he still can’t read.

I did not realize that challenged him. He really wanted to open Taboo game and try to read. So I allowed him to open the game and we went through some of the cards. The first one I showed him was “Mickey Mouse” and as he slowly followed the sound of every letter, he read it on his own! I was so thrilled. But to make sure, I tried another card and the word was “Donald duck”. Yes again he slowly read it! I was happy because he finally got encouraged to read.


There is joy as well for my little boy because he felt accomplished being able to read! We did a lot of high fives too because he read at least 15 words that day! I thank God for such a blessing to see my three year old’s literacy blossoming before my very eyes.

Here is a video of Joshua slowly reading some words. It’s a mother’s joy so bear with my excitement! 

Another Angel

You surprised me when I got back from Hawaii. I thought I was jet lagged. I was feeling strange… Always hungry, body warming up, and feeling tired. Then a couple of days of feeling that way, I decided to check. Just maybe, who knows I may be pregnant.

True enough you were alive. I saw you on your 5th week. Yes you were tucked in a sac, with a heartbeat. I had mixed emotions… Could not believe that at 39, I would be going through pregnancy again. But I did get excited that you have come, my love. 


I settled in my heart, that I would slow down to have you. I chuckled how since 2012, I have not stopped breastfeeding. I am sure I will commit to breastfeed you like Josh and Anna. I wondered if you were a girl or a boy.  I am happy that my pregnancy symptoms were not as overwhelming as the last one. You were going to be someone great because I prayed that God would use you and make you beautiful.

Then, I started to bleed. I never bled in any of my pregnancies. Doc says just to take progesterone and isoxilan and you should be fine. I checked on you and you were there showing off your heart to me. It was beating but not at optimum. Doc says there is blood above the sac. I should stay still and relax. So mommy did. 

Two weeks later, I brought your older brother  Josh to my check-up. He was excited to see you. He has been kissing mom’s tummy and praying for you. Then Doc said, you no longer have a heartbeat. Joshua blurted “Baby died?” I had to tell him, you returned to Jesus.  Joshua could not believe that baby is dead and is in heaven. He says he wants to go to heaven too.

I was crushed inside because I will not have the opportunity to meet you here. I will have to wait for heaven to know you. Baby, know this… I love you even when you were mine for a little while. Oh Daddy was more sad because he wanted you so much!

I now have to wait for when you will come out of me. It’s a very strange thing knowing you are still in my uterus but no longer alive. 

I thank the Lord for the opportunity to be pregnant again. I thank Him for the weeks I held you,  baby. But in everything, I will still choose to say… The Lord gives, the Lord takes away… And yet,  Blessed be the name of my Good and Faithful Lord.

When your child teaches grace…

I was so happy to have been invited by Child Evangelism Fellowship to share to a group of pastors how I taught my 3 year old son about the bible. I shared how my 3 year old was able to memorise 10 bible verses.  I was in so much delight to encourage them to keep sharing the gospel to every child in their home, church and community.  It was a blessed morning of testimony sharing.

Returning home from that event, I was greeted by my children. After lunch I prepared to bring Joshua to his swimming class. He enjoys swimming and I really want him to learn the basics of surviving in water.

In swimming class, my son is the youngest student. In order for him to feel secure, I have to get in the water and join him too. Good thing the coach is very understanding towards us. After most of the drills that day, Joshua suddenly changed his mood. He must have felt tired. But instead of saying he is tired, he started screaming and feeling upset at me. After discussing and trying to pacify, he just kept screaming at me in the pool. I knew we had to stop swimming. So I asked his nanny to take him to the bathroom and change him so we could go home. He screamed and cried even harder and we could still hear him from outside.  I was getting embarrassed because other parents were asking if he was okay. I tried to rush and leave the hotel.

Joshua just did not stop his tantrum. He kept crying and screaming and was not at all listening to my instruction to keep quiet. This was going on for about 30 minutes already. People were looking, and I was stressed.  He kept on crying as we rode the elevator, all the way in the lobby of the hotel and even when he reached the car.  Despite all the commotion, the staff of my husband wanted to get from me the hotel membership card. I asked if I could give it at home because Joshua’s tantrum was uncontrollable. However, she asked if I could give it now because she needed it already.  Having Joshua screaming and crying by my ear…I banged the door at her, slapped Joshua’s mouth and screamed “SHUT UP JOSHUA!”.  I said this in front of my driver and the nanny, and of course even the staff of Steve heard all of this. Joshua mellowed a bit, yet I was so tense looking for the card in my wallet.  Finally, I found the card and gave it to the staff, but my good testimony in the morning was lost in that moment of tantrum.

It felt like a long way home as Joshua continued crying. My mind was just out in space in disgust with my own behaviour. Here I am professing I am a Christian, and at that one moment of stress, I blew it.  I lost my cool, I let anger take over, and it was such a bad testimony.

When we got home, I had to administer discipline on Joshua.  His butt met the spanking rod and he asked for forgiveness and stopped crying.  But the whole commotion overwhelmed me, that I was so upset with how I behaved. I just kept quiet when Joshua said “sorry” and did not mind him. In the shower, I prayed and told the Lord how I felt and how upset I am with myself. Meanwhile, Steve was talking to Joshua about obeying and respecting me.  Joshua knocked at the door of the bathroom and kept saying, “Mom, I’m really sorry.” But I kept quiet and did not mind him.

When I got out of the bathroom he kept following me. He would from time to time say, “Mom, I am sorry.”

Then I told him, “Joshua I need you to stop fighting mom. Im feeling sad.”

Joshua looking at me said again, “mom, I’m sorry.”

I told him, “I need time out from you, I am feeling sad.”

In my surprise, my 3 year old came close, placed his hand on my head and said… “Dear Jesus, thank you for my mommy.  Take her sadness, make her healthy and strong, make her have good dreams tonight, in Jesus name. Amen”. When he did that, my heart softened and I hugged him.  I then told Joshua, “Next time when you are feeling upset and angry, I should pray for you so you don’t fight mommy.” He then blurted, “pray for me now. pray so I don’t get angry.”

It was a moment of grace. My 3 year old was teaching me not to delay and pray.  So I placed my hand over his head and prayed, “Dear Jesus, thank you for Joshua. Give him a good heart, remove anger from his heart. We cast out any spirit of anger in his heart. Lord, make him obedient, loving, and kind. Help him love you Jesus. Let him know that Nothing can separate him from the love of God. In Jesus name”  and we both said, “Amen.”

I was fully humbled by God! Yes, I can start the day right, mess up in the middle, but God will always, always, make me right with Him at the end of that same day.  His mercy and His grace is so overflowing.  God used my 3 year old to show me an area in my life that I need to improve on — To be consistent in prayer, consistent in discipline, consistent in forgiveness and in the knowledge of God’s grace.

I thank the Lord for giving me a child who teaches me how to stand up after I stumble and reminding me that God’s grace is sufficient even in my weakness.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swim Lessons

Joshua had introductory swim lessons when he was 2 years old. We just wanted him to get familiar with the water. We also wanted him to have no fear of the deep and learn to survive in the water. 

We may have forced him to get into swimming lessons too early because he wanted to play more than to do the drills. For a time he did not want to take lessons and he felt maybe a bit pressured.  But Joshua loves the water. We just want him to build the confidence to swim.

There was a time that he became reliant on a batman body floater that he received as a gift. He would jump with it and be unafraid because he knew he would surface. 

But we want him not to be dependent on the floaters. We want our son to be able to swim.

Good thing Bert Lozada Swim School opened in Gensan. I enrolled Joshua and he is one of the smaller kids in his batch. He likes the swim coach and enjoys having classmates who do swim drills in the pool. 

He can now float and not be afraid to lie on his back.


He can now go underwater and hold his breath for 10 counts! 


He can kick with a kick board


He can also swim short distances. 


All these happened in less than 10 sessions! I really like the technique and style of Bert Lozada Swim School. I could say my 3 year old has improved in confidence, endurance, and survival skills. I know if we continue, he can really become a formal swimmer.

For moms in my area, I suggest for the summer to enroll your children to Bert Lozada Swim School in Greenleaf Gensan. Coaches are from Manila and they are great instructors. I highly recommend it. Plus the French fries and the spaghetti in Greenleaf are pretty good to eat after swim class! 

Make your own bubbles! 

I bought my kids a hand held bubble maker. We had so much fun with all the bubbles that we were making. My little girl was trying to catch bubbles and Joshua was blowing them away. 

   
 
We were having so much fun and we ran out of the bubble solution. Often times we ask ourselves if we should go to the toy store and buy bubble solution or make it ourselves? So I searched for recipes on bubble recipes. And I found one that I liked. It is the Tear Free bubble solution.

  
Here is this simple recipe:

TEAR FREE BUBBLE SOLUTION:

1/4 cup tear-free baby shampoo

3/4 cup water

3 Tablespoons light corn syrup 

As simple as this, you can let your toddler be the one to make it (with supervision of course). Mix the shampoo and water and then add the light corn syrup after. 

  
Not only was this solution easy and convenient. It is definitely cheaper. The bubbles would make big round bubbles that would float long in the air. It’s pretty good quality bubbles. But because of the corn syrup which is sweet and sticky, I suggest you play with the bubble maker outside of the house.

  
Children will always be amused with the bubbles. It’s a good bonding activity with your kids.

Saving the Earth

I have to thank the video of Pocoyo about Earth Hour. Joshua happened to browse that on YouTube channel and he just could not get his mind off what he saw. 

The video showed the earth turning red because of global warming. Everything on earth dying, the water rising, and a change in climate. The video stuck to Joshua’s mind so it became a teaching moment! 

  
I explained that the more we cut trees, and the more we pollute or scatter garbage, the hotter the earth becomes. Later, it becomes so hot everything burns and we will all die. The one way we can help is by planting trees! 

So Joshua kept repeating this story to his Lola (grandmother). Lola was amused by his interest that she kept this in her mind.

So the next thing she did was take Joshua to see the trees she planted in the farm. She told him that the tree grew so big and tall after taking care of it.  

   
Then Lola gave Josh a coconut seedling that he could plant. They walked around the garden and searched a place where he could plant his first tree!  

 
Josh kept talking about the red earth and he was quite serious about planting his first tree. They bore a hole in the garden where he would place the seedling. And he placed the soil around it. We talked to his tree which he just wants to name “Coconut”.  We told him to grow, to be strong and to be a good tree.

  
He watered his tree and felt very accomplished in planting it.His Lola was supervising and watching Joshua as he was experiencing his first tree planting.

I know this lesson will stay with Josh because he is not only interested, but he also had the opportunity to apply what he learned from that Earth Hour video. If every family teaches their children to do their part in saving planet earth, then maybe we can have a different future.

Teach My Preschooler

I was very happy to purchase on Amazon this kit called “Teach my Preschooler”. It has 4 categories and only needs 20 minutes of concentrated time. 

The Kit includes numbers, math, writing, and intro to reading. Joshua is pretty excited about it and he can’t stop going through the bag. 

  
I told him, “Mommy is going to be your teacher.” And he then answered in curiosity, “You are my teacher? Like teacher Alvin (his swim teacher)?”  Of course I answered, “Yes! Mom is going to teach you and we are going to have lots of fun!”

So we started with numbers. It has a booklet that helps your child get familiar to numbers from 1-100. When we went through it, I was really having so much fun because Joshua was able to count 1-100 on the first round!  Not bad for a 3 year and 1 month old.

2 days later, Joshua begged  to try out the math. He is getting more and more familiar with the concept of addition. The concept of zero is actually more difficult to comprehend than adding actual number values. But the more we practice, the more he will master it.

  
So yes, home school has started in our home. At this age, a lot of it is play.  It helps being creative when bringing up the concepts learned when we play. 

For instance the concept of addition.  As we play “guess how many in your body?”, we ask questions like, “how many eyes do you have?” and then we check by counting the body part. I will keep asking till we reach fingers and toes because It is more challenging to count. 

It’s been a blessing more than a challenge to teach my son. Looking forward to witness how he is growing in knowledge and wisdom.