We started homeschooling our son, Ziggy, last year when he was 4 years old. It was nothing too serious though. We homeschooled independently and didn’t use any curriculum. I taught him basic knowledge, such as the alphabet and numbers, started him on writing and phonics exercises, sang and danced with him to many different songs, and read him a lot of books. Besides that, we just simply taught him about life and the world around him.
This year though, we are doing things a bit differently now that he’s 5 years old. According to the local Department of Education, kids entering kindergarten must be 5 years old by the time school starts in June. Thus, we figured it was time we tried enrolling him this year but not in a regular school. We opted to still continue homeschooling but with some changes to how we do things. Here are the major changes in our homeschooling set-up for this year.
Enrolling in a Homeschool Provider
My hubby and I really want to homeschool independently in the future. But for this year we had to consider the fact that I’ll be giving birth in a few months and would be busy with a new baby, aside from chores, my blog duties and my work responsibilities to my clients. I didn’t want to spread myself too thin because I didn’t want to risk not having enough time to homeschool.
Homeschooling our son is a priority for my hubby and I, so we wanted to make sure we’d be able to do it successfully. For this year at least, that means getting help by way of enrolling in a homeschool provider. Over the summer, we considered three local providers and ended up choosing Peniel Christian Academy for several reasons – they provide an open curriculum (although they can provide you with the DepEd curriculum as well if you choose to follow that), they can provide you with the books (although you can choose other books as well), they provide the homeschooler with activities to bond with other homeschoolers (such as field trips, etc), and they can provide the homeschooler with a report card at the end of the year and other DepEd required documents.
Basically, we figured it will make homeschooling easier for us this year because we now have a curriculum to follow. Besides, we wanted to experience having a provider so that in the future we can decide better between homeschooling independently versus having a provider.
We chose to avail of the books provided by Peniel. They are all local books that follow the DepEd curriculum. We’ve been using these books to guide us in the lessons. I ask Ziggy to do some of the activities prescribed in the book. But, I also add other activities that are fun and will supplement his learning.
Designated Homeschool Area
Last year, I homeschooled Ziggy in our bedroom, at least one hour per night. He used to sit on a small chair by the bed and work on a small table. This year, we decided to set up a learning area for him because 1) the bedroom will be occupied with a new baby soon (and I don’t want to disturb a sleeping baby with all the fun and chaos we’ll be doing while homeschooling), and 2) we scheduled homeschool lessons in the afternoon now while my husband is still sleeping (he works on a graveyard shift).
We decided to set up Ziggy’s homeschool space in one area of our living room. That area in between the upper and lower shelves is where the TV is supposed to be but we never placed it there anyway. We hardly entertain visitors too, so we might as well make this place useful, right?
I used the shelves to store Ziggy’s books and other materials. We added that 3-tier shelf on the left just this past weekend because we saw it on sale at Shopwise. Then, Ziggy uses a small desk and chair that we purchased for him a long time ago. The goal is to make this a Montessori-inspired area but that’s still a work in progress.
Some people might say that setting it up like this is just like bringing the school to the home, which is not really what homeschooling is all about. But, it’s not that case at all for us. I’m just OC. Haha! In our house, there’s a proper place for everything because I don’t want to waste time looking for stuff we need. I just wanted a designated place to put all his stuff. The truth is, we homeschool even if we’re not in this area because homeschooling should not be restricted to only one place. As I like to say, the world is our classroom.
Peniel has provided us with a list of lessons to be learned, per subject and per quarter. However, it is up to the homeschool parent how he or she will schedule the lessons throughout the quarter. Because I’m OC, I chose to organize the lessons using a homeschool planner I made myself using Excel.
My weekly homeschool planner lists down the lessons to be learned for the week, for each subject and for each day. I usually print two copies – one for my homeschool binder (where I store all weekly homeschool planners and my resources) and one for tacking up on the wall in our homeschool area. Because I’m teaching Ziggy to be organized too, I ask him to highlight each lesson or activity he has done for the day so that we can easily track what we have accomplished. We need to track these things because we have to submit to Peniel a portfolio of his projects, lessons, and other activities accomplished by the end of the school year. I’m not one to cram so we’re preparing the portfolio as early as now.
Fun Educational Activities
I’ve been researching on fun educational activities, especially pertaining to arts and crafts, since last year and because of that we’ve also accumulated quite a lot of arts and crafts materials already. Plus, I was subscribed to the toddler version of the Buribox for six months and I kept all the activities there that we have yet to finish.
I believe that children learn best at play and so even if there are activities in Ziggy’s school books, I still choose ones that are not only related to the lessons for the week but are also fun for him too. It is only Week 3 in our homeschool year but we’ve done quite a lot of activities already. Here are some samples.
We tried a clay making activity last week when we were learning about the five senses. This activity was supposed to be for the lesson on sense of touch. It was a fail though because the recipe didn’t quite work. Haha! But at least we still had fun.
During the first week, we learned about the different parts of the body. So, we had a hand tracing activity, among others.
My mom celebrated her birthday last week so I asked Ziggy to make her a card. Since it was also Father’s Day the day before that, Ziggy made a card for his dad too (not in the photo though).
Today, we were finalizing his lesson on shapes. So, I thought it would be fun if Ziggy can make pictures by gluing different shapes together. Look what he came up with!
Ziggy doesn’t have a book for Music, Arts and PE and so I have to come up with activities for those and I usually choose those that incorporate lessons from his other subjects, such as the clay making and shapes activities. The same goes for the songs I teach. For instance, I taught him to sing “Sampung mga Daliri” among others when we were learning about body parts. I always incorporate actions when we sing too so that we can both have some physical activity.
Moreover, although we have our homeschool planner, it’s not rigid. I know there will be days that we’ll do less or do more depending on what else is going on in our life. And that’s okay. That’s the beauty of homeschooling for us – it’s very flexible.
For instance, last Thursday, I had to attend an event. I took Ziggy with me and he had an opportunity to play there with other kids his age. So, yes, not only did he get some physical exercise, he got some socialization too.
We also went to another event where he got to play with old friends and participate with some games. Then, there was this instance when we took him to a playground when we visited a mall. He got to play with his bubble gun and had fun with the kids at the playground too.
Below was Ziggy playing with an Ipad app I downloaded. Even though learning about flags isn’t part of our curriculum yet, he’s learning about them now through this puzzle up, just because he’s interested in them. We want to encourage him to explore his interests and so we find time and resources so he can pursue them. Like I said, it’s not all about the lessons in his books.
Even when Ziggy was a baby, we already started teaching him about the world around him and that doesn’t stop now. He goes with hubby and I all the time, even when we’re just doing errands. We take those as opportunities to teach him how the world works.
For instance, when we go to a store to buy something, we let him practice paying at the counter. He can’t actually count money yet but it won’t hurt to get him comfortable already with the experience of going up to a counter and handing the items we’re purchasing plus the payment to the cashier.
When we do the groceries, he already helps us figure out which particular items to buy. By now, he’s already familiar with the brands or products that we consider staples in our household. Last Friday, when we did the grocery we also had an opportunity to stop by two pet stores. So, that was like a mini field trip for him as well.
He even got to accompany me to my 6th month prenatal check up. We see it as an opportunity for him to learn what OBs to do ensure mommy and baby’s health. He got to hear the baby’s heartbeats. He also got to witness me getting an anti-tetanus shot. All this will help prepare him for being a big brother.
So far, that’s what we’ve been doing. We have a lot more plans for the rest of the year. One of those would be enrolling him at The Learning Library for Filipino lessons. The Learning Library has partnered with me in promoting their programs for the year and since Ziggy is not really conversant in Filipino yet I thought it would also be a good opportunity for him to try out their program. I’ll be blogging about The Learning Library soon so watch out for that.
Some of you might think that what we’re doing is too much work and that you can’t possibly homeschool your own children. It’s really a serious choice to make and just because it’s right for our family doesn’t mean it’s right for yours. And just because this is how we are doing things now doesn’t mean I would recommend the same for other homeschool families. Each family, child and parent is different. Do what works for you and your child.
For us though, homeschooling is not just a choice brought about by the desire to save on money (although cost was a consideration on our part). It’s a huge commitment. You have to really want to do it with all your heart and be willing to do whatever it takes to make sure your homeschooling journey will be a success. If you are truly committed, you can make it work.
Hubby and I believe that this is the best way to educate our child. Ziggy, on his own, doesn’t want to go to regular school and prefers to be homeschooled instead. He has taken part in several short classes in sports, math, reading and science already where he got to experience regular and classroom type learning. Although he enjoyed some of them, he says he just wants mommy to his teacher. So this is where we are now. This is what we do. Good luck to us!
For those of you who wish to join us in our journey, I promise to share more in the future. In case there are veteran homeschooling moms or dads reading this, we’re very open to your suggestions as well. Just comment below! Thanks!