Showing posts with label School & Learning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label School & Learning. Show all posts

Monday, September 07, 2020

Homeschool Week 2: Harder and sweeter than I expected

Okay, so in last week's report, I said we new homeschoolers are having tons of fun. Well, that was last week haha. We're still having fun, but now that we're done with the settling in, we're actually buckling down to studying the lessons. We've had a few tears ("Mama, why is this so hard to do now?") and there were two days when the kids asked that we skip the school day. So I said yes because I was tired, too.

Homeschoolers always say that the best thing about homeschooling is the flexibility. Me, I'm a woman who likes following a schedule down to the minute so all this flexibility going on is stressing me out haha. My eldest boy is like me so he gets annoyed when his brothers want to extend certain subjects because they want to keep discussing. So I have had to stop him from ringing the school bell a little too hard when he wants the little boys to hurry up.

I was the only one who followed the lesson.

But we're trying, we're trying. I'm opening my mind to this new system. I do feel like I'm second-guessing myself all the time. For example, for Art, we joined Kuya Robert's art class on diversity. He showed us how to paint with watercolors. The subject was making friends with different kinds of people - no matter what color, gender orientation, ability or disability, and beliefs. Well, my kids wanted to do something else. One boy didn't like watercolors and he took out his colored pencils. Another boy wanted a party because he wanted a reason for the friends to be together. Meanwhile, another boy wanted to do his own thing and abandoned Kuya Robert's class altogether (Blue is our pet rabbit).

I let them do their own thing because homeschooling is all about being flexible, interest-led, play up their individuality, etc etc. And the results were nice anyway and most importantly, they had so much fun. BUT... How about following instructions? What about learning something new instead of letting them insist on what they're used to?

So I don't have the answers haha. We'll figure this out. This meandering about our lessons - you know this "So what do we want to learn today?" - has resulted in many serious discussions where every little boy was absorbed and fascinated. Those wide, shining eyes and animated conversations are hard to beat. I've found myself talking about life more than academics, and while part of me knows the lessons I'm sharing won't ever appear in their tests in a few weeks, my heart is happy I can impart wisdom, not just knowledge.

I guess what matters now is they're liking school a lot, in this crazy time no less. That's a win in my book. But, yes, next week, we'll really start hitting the books.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Homeschooling Week 1: I learned flexibility and gratitude for life's surprises

Hello, I'm back! The blog was still active the past week because of guest posts published, but I know you prefer ME (yey!) so here I am with a report on what's been keeping me from blogging. Well, it's homeschooling!


Yes, we're one week in. Today is our second week and so far, so good. I can already see where we'll have a hard time (my boys like to annoy each other and joke around) and where we'll have an easy time (apparently, school is super fun for them... but it's only been the first week bwahaha).

Last time I wrote here about our new mode of education, I shared our schedule. Well, let me tell you, that first day, we didn't follow the schedule at all! Mostly because my kids like to talk so Circle Time went on and on. It took us a while to log in and understand their new e-learning platform. Then they liked Math too much so we extended. The rest of the week was pretty much the same - them asking for more time for school. So this September, we're extending subjects from 30 minutes to 45 minutes each.


So there goes my career!

It's okay. Really. Maybe because I actually don't have a career anyway haha. I do have a new gig as a columnist at Project Vanity (please read my articles!) so that's sweet since Liz, my editor, wants me to write about beauty but profoundly. I guess because she wants PV readers to see the point of view of an older and wiser woman. I'm also a writer for ParenTeam. I love this, too, since I'm not a mommy blogger anymore but this allows me to still write about parenting. My regular writing job at ANCx ended because of what this government did to ABS-CBN, so that's sad, but we live to fight another day.

So, career-wise, this year was a huge surprise. It started out so strong - I had PR clients, I had my ANCx gig and other writing projects. We were going to Boracay and to Guam because of my PR work. I was going to rake it in! Then the pandemic happened. 

Despite that, I'm happy. I'm even happier that I still get to write. That's all I ever wanted to do in my life anyway. I'm also glad the career slowed down because I'd hate to choose between my kids and my job, you know? Sometimes you take life by the horns and sometimes life decides for you. I'm glad this decision was made for me.


I will confess that last week, when the boys' former school told me that their withdrawal process was complete and we can pick up their report cards and school records, my heart sank. As in, I cried. That was how bad it hit me. It's not regret. It was realizing that I worked so damn hard to get them in that school and keep them there. All those jobs I took, the sleepless nights working, just so we can afford their tuition and Chinese tutor. All those hard days hit me and I felt bad for that poor woman who worked and worked so hard. Then it was just going to end up like this - we'll pull them out of school because of a virus. I feel like I wasted my time, you know? Well, no, I didn't. All those years were still worth it and I'd do it all over again. It's just... It was hard.

So in many ways, this year is a relief. I don't have to kill myself working to keep them in that expensive school haha. Joking aside, I did a lot of crying out to God. I was so tired. I love working, but the exhaustion just drained out all the appreciation. So now here we are, income drastically cut, stuck at home for 6 months, homeschooling, and yet we're all having fun! Weird. 


I really am enjoying myself. I didn't anticipate how fun homeschooling was going to be. I really thought we'd be killing each other by now haha Instead, we're enjoying ourselves so much, I'm the one who can't keep up with the kids. Like, I beg off from more schooling. "Mama wants to nap! Stop bugging me for more Math!!!" What a shock. 

I didn't anticipate how annoying my sons can be, too. So there's that part of me that goes, "How am I going to discipline them - as a teacher or as a parent?" Well, the mama in me always wins, of course. I think I'll figure this out as we go but it's my house, my kids. I can't help being their mother. Problem is, I'm a really mean mom. I won't apologize for this. I have sons. I need to be tough on them. I'm very affectionate and generous and silly, okay. But I can be really strict, too. And I don't tolerate disrespect, lazy thinking, and sloppy work. 

One other thing I'm having a difficult time with is how I need to be flexible and quick-thinking, addressing the academic needs of each child (I have three sons!) while also managing the home. For example, I have to prepare lunch and teach them their lessons simultaneously. So there's a part of me that wishes we had household help. 


I also didn't realize this homeschooling adventure was going to consume my whole day. And night haha. For example, last Sunday, I stayed up all night making a weekly review for each boy. That's just the first week. As my husband said, it's a full-time job. 

It doesn't have to be a full-time job because their homeschool provider has the curriculum covered pretty darn well. I can mostly just be the guide, the one to explain things. But I used to be a teacher (did you know that?) so that part of me can't leave well enough alone.

Besides, it's fun. We're having so much fun. It bewilders me sometimes because I never enjoyed school (I hated school so much) and my kids were pretty meh about it, too. But now we're just excited to learn every day. They don't even want to have a weekend. Now that's a surprise, too. 

So first homeschooling week report: Excellent! Let's see how this week goes. Wish us luck!



Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Our schedule for our first ever month of homeschooling!

We are so excited to start homeschooling this year! Well, I am. My kids vacillate - sometimes they're so excited, they're the ones planning their lessons. Most times, they mourn the coming end of the longest summer vacation of their lives. So let me edit my first sentence. I am so excited to start homeschooling this year! I even made our schedules. Check them out.

Piero is Grade 1.

Our school week starts on Tuesday. This is because my husband and I have work. Mondays are usually our busiest days, whether it's for work or for errands, so my husband said we should leave Mondays open for us. To make their Saturday feel like a weekend, I lumped all the "dirty" classes on that day.

The kids' weekend will then be Sunday and Monday, which they honestly wouldn't feel anyway because we're all under quarantine. If I didn't force them to look at the calendar, they won't even know what day it is.

All my sons' schedules are the same, save for my Grade 4 boy, who has an extra subject, HELE (Home Economics and Livelihood Education), which can be an hour long in case we do cooking, carpentry, or typing. But if his little brothers want to join those activities, they can. Here's what their schedule is like:

Get Ready!
After breakfast, this is when the kids will brush their teeth, comb their hair, and change into their school robes. Yes, we got Harry Potter robes! The kids took Sorting Hat quizzes and got sorted into their houses - Vito is Hufflepuff, Iñigo is Gryffindor, and Piero is Ravenclaw! This is a good way to get them into the right frame of mind for school while still being fun and nerdy haha.

Circle Time
To start the day, we'll all gather together for the national anthem, for prayer, and to study Bible verses, inspirational quotes, poetry, singing, reading aloud, and whatever we feel like talking about together. I only allotted 15 minutes for this but we can be flexible and extend to 30 minutes if the discussion is really good.

It's really important to encourage discussion during this time, not while in class where I think I'll be instructing more than conversing. Of course, questions are always welcome but I used to be a teacher and there's a time for instruction and then a time for questions. Because if you just keep opening the whole day to the kids, they'll never stop talking. A huge part of learning is listening.

Of course, a big part of learning is also discussing the topics, questioning, investigating, hence Circle Time. I also want Circle Time to be their chance to learn communication skills, correct pronunciation, the art of conversation, critical thinking, and debate. 

Part 1
My kids love Math and Music so I decided we should start the day with those subjects. Then I followed up with the subjects they don't like, Filipino and Araling Panlipunan.

Part 2
After recess, we'll study Science, Reading, Language and Writing. Science because it's always fun and can perk them up after Fil and AP haha. Reading, Language and Writing are quiet subjects, which is good for me so I can leave them while I prepare lunch.

Wrap Up!
This is going to be like Circle Time but it's more of a summary of the day. The boys can tell me if they need more time on a lesson or they can move forward. Our homeschool provider also recommends that the kids keep a journal of their day so that they themselves have a record of their progress. So we can do 5 minutes of journaling before packing up.

Iñigo is Grade 3.

The rest of the day is devoted to whatever they want. Sleep, play video games, play with each other. Extra-curricular activities like piano lessons, art class, language classes, quiet reading of books, and of course their chores. They can also study their lessons more, if they like.

Meanwhile, the afternoon is when I can work.

I hope this works!!!

This is just for the first month. For our first week, I don't think we'll actually follow it. I want us to settle down into the schedule. We all need to adjust to an academic routine again since there was no school for almost half a year. I plan to just get all of us get used to do the Get Ready! and Circle Time periods. I think we'll all be struggling with inertia. I, for one, need to wake up early again!

I read in some homeschooling blogs that it's good to start the first week of homeschooling on a Wednesday so everyone only has 3 days of school and won't get shocked by the change haha ("10 First Day of Homeschool Ideas" by The Reading Mama). We'll see! I'm pretty sure we won't follow our schedule hahahaha I'm just going to be chill about this whole business.

Wish us luck!

Vito is Grade 4.

We chose to homeschool this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We could've still enrolled them in their school. In fact, their school (I miss their school already) was so nice, they offered us the opportunity to enroll with tuition assistance. We really appreciate that but money wasn't really our concern. We chose to homeschool because:

1. My husband and I have virtual meetings with our colleagues. In our experience, more than an hour in a virtual meeting is inhuman hahaha It's never pleasant. I mean, the first 30 minutes to an hour is fine. But more than that, even I, a grown-up, couldn't sit still. What more for little boys?

2. We did try and see how the kids would take it. Over the summer, we took a few online sessions with MyNanai, an online babysitting service. My eldest actually lasted an hour without fidgeting. My two younger ones? They started standing up and leaving the session at the 30-minute mark. How rude! So mortifying haha. So when our boys' school said they'll have their classes from 7:30am to 2pm, we decided we didn't want our kids to go through 6 hours in a virtual class.

3. We were unsure of the future. During the summer, DepEd kept changing their mind about everything. Then the boys' school said they might ask the kids to come to school by the third quarter. We just knew, with how things were going in our country, that there is no way our kids will be safe by September. So we decided to keep them home.

That's it! That's why we're homeschooling! It's not because we think it's the best way to educate our kids. We don't even know how I'll be as a teacher. I bet I'll tear my hair out in a month's time haha. We're all approaching homeschooling as OUR best option, given the circumstances. And if we enjoy it, then hallelujah!

I'm actually looking forward to it. Wish us luck!

UPDATE: First week of homeschooling done and we didn't follow the schedule! We just went with the flow. The kids wanted more time for Math because they love Math. For one Araling Panlipunan class, we made the Philippine flag so that suddenly became AP and Art! Gotta be flexible =)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

AHEAD: Ensuring Quality Education and Learning During COVID19 and Beyond

PRESS RELEASE - After months of class cancellations, we now ask ourselves, how will learning look like in the new normal? How do we ensure the quality of education during and even after these uncertain times? 

It is undeniable that education is a necessity. It is an essential activity that needs to be adjusted to in the new normal. Especially for kids since education and learning plays a critical role in their development.

Given the effects of the current pandemic, the processes of learning and education have shifted taking schools, teachers, and parents by surprise. Alternative but necessary solutions are now being set in place such as online learning to ensure continuity of learning and growth for students. 

AHEAD has established its credibility as a supplemental education provider that is equipped and ready for online learning. In fact, it has been offering online tutorials since 2008. While the shift to online learning was sudden, AHEAD was able to transition smoothly to a digital set up. Additionally, preparations were already set in place for teachers and staff with training on multiple educational applications to conduct seamless classes online. Since online learning was something that most Filipino students are not familiar with, AHEAD decided to conduct free trial sessions to allow students to experience online learning.


SHARING THE EXPERIENCE 

Recognizing the need for education now more than ever, AHEAD gave students the opportunity to try online learning by providing free daily warm-up classes in Math, Science, and English since last March 23.

In less than a month, more than a thousand Grade 12 students have signed up for these free warm-up classes. This has been a helpful way of giving them something meaningful and beneficial to do during their time at home not to mention experience online learning. 

With the extension of the ECQ, AHEAD has decided to offer other free online services such as a review sampler which is a week-long free review to maximize the student’s time at home. They have also provided a mock test that shows you how you would score should you take the UPCAT today and which subjects you need to improve on. Free supplementary classes that tackle specific topics such as Language Proficiency are also available here. Summer enhancements for kids as young as 5 years old are also being offered. 

ROLE OF EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS 

Supplemental learning institutions like AHEAD truly play a significant role in our education system and how this season will shape the next generation’s knowledge and skills. It provides them the additional skill and training they need for school. 

However, the shift to learning online or digital is inevitable with the uncertainties of the future. We saw how physically learning together can be interrupted anytime just like what happened in the past few months. Forecasts predict that the online learning setup will now be part of the new normal. 

This is why AHEAD President Ms. Rossana Llenado launched AHEAD Alpha - the first BlendFlex school in the country that merges recorded or live online and/or onsite learning, incorporating the best of traditional, progressive and home school practices used in different parts of the world, revolutionizing the educational landscape in the Philippines amidst the pandemic. 


THERE'S A NEW ALPHA IN TOWN 

AHEAD Alpha aims to provide solutions to the worries and hassles of online learning by making education accessible yet exceptional. Years of expertise and experience of educating students has enabled AHEAD to effectively adapt to the situation and transition to a purely online educational system. 

Using a one of a kind learning method that inspires learning, AHEAD Alpha promotes non-graded assessments, unique curriculum, Singapore Math training, and the unique application of Mind-Mapping and Speed Reading techniques to Science and History. 

Trusting the programs crafted by education experts, one can actually enjoy the benefits of online learning such as flexible schedule and environment, lower transportation costs of going physically to a center/ school, and most of all the sense of self-discipline and responsibility one develops by managing your time to study. 

Formally opening its doors for enrollment last May 8, orientation activities parent seminars, free trials, short enrichment classes will commence these coming weeks with the first round of classes set to begin on June 8. 

As AHEAD continues to develop unique lesson plans and learning methods that are tailor-fit for every child in the best and effective way possible, Alpha will surely make a big difference during this unprecedented time.

*To be featured on Press Release Tuesdays, send it to frances@topazhorizon.com.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

KooBits brings Singapore Math to Filipino homes!

I truly believe that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we won't be going back to school anytime soon. So I've been exploring homeschooling and online educational platforms. Koobits sent me this press release and I think it's interesting enough for my kids to use since they're studying Singapore Math in school. Check it out, mamas!


PRESS RELEASE - Award-winning Singapore-based EdTech startup KooBits, announced the launch of two new products: ‘Home-Based Learning’, an online mathematics learning platform, and ‘Live Tutoring’, an AI-enabled online live tutoring service — both with accompanying apps for parents to track learning progress. This is the first official launch of KooBits e-learning products to the consumer market, catering to parents and kids across households in the Philippines and beyond.

KooBits is the most engaging website in the e-learning category in Southeast Asia. It already sees enthusiastic use among over 150,000 children worldwide, with more than 20,000 children voluntarily spending time on the platform to learn every day.


“KooBits has always been dedicated to fostering higher-order thinking skills and problem-solving capabilities in the leaders of our next generation. Our new offerings provide more ways for parents to keep track of their child’s learning progress, ensuring parents are more involved in their child’s development. We are bringing the tried and tested methods from our work with schools right into your households to enrich your child’s maths education with a personalised and engaging online curriculum.” said Stanley Han, CEO of KooBits. 

Their school-based product 'KooBits ProblemSums' helps children build a deep understanding of maths via the acclaimed Singapore Maths pedagogy. It is one of the most widely-used and successful EdTech solutions in the region and beyond, with 361 schools using the system. 


AI-based education tools to foster independent, self-motivated learners 

Both of the KooBits products — ‘Home-Based Learning’ and ‘Live Tutoring’ — utilise AI to provide effective learning solutions for children. The KooBits platform uses its personalization technology and gamification to support students to learn on their own; and at the same time, uses AI and big data to generate learning insights and make them visible to parents and teachers. 

‘Home-Based Learning’ comes with access to unlimited worksheets with full solutions, and comprehensive video tutorials. These tutorials are based on the tried and tested Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (CBA) approach, which is the model used by Singapore’s education system. This ensures that children do not simply rote-memorise the steps to solving a problem, but are able to visualise and understand the underlying concepts. Once they have mastered the concepts, they are also able to test their skills against their peers with fun activities and friendly competitions, gaining a mastery of the school syllabus from the comfort of their homes. 

‘Live Tutoring’ provides an affordable home learning alternative compared to the industry average. Through a short pre-class assignment that is part of every session, the platform automatically identifies each child’s weaknesses and gaps in learning, and automatically groups them, so tutors can personalise their lesson and address relevant issues for the students during each class. 

The platform also enables assignment of homework to follow up on the concepts that require reinforcement, to ensure that understanding has been achieved. As a result, each tutoring session is customized according to the child’s needs — generating a personalized learning pathway that maximises their strengths, and rectifies their weaknesses. 

Parents can also keep track of their child’s progress, gaining an insight into their child’s strengths and weaknesses. They can monitor what milestones their children have reached in relation to the national syllabus, and can also benchmark their child’s progress against their peers. Armed with this knowledge, they can gently guide their child’s learning pathway, without impinging on their independence. 





Making home-based learning easier and accessible to all 

With ‘Home-Based Learning’ and ‘Live Tutoring’, parents are able to enroll their children in the programmes and are no longer dependent on the school adopting the KooBits system. These new home-based products give parents access to the insights on their child’s learning progress — something that only teachers had access to previously. 

Furthermore, in order to help parents and educators cope with the transition to fully home-based learning, KooBits is making their 'KooBits Weekly Homework' program — that was previously only offered to partner schools — available to everyone at zero cost, at https://www.koobits.com/public. This free service will be open for all till the end of this academic year. 


To ensure the continuity of high-quality education outside the classroom, KooBits has engaged experienced teachers to hand-pick and set questions for interested students in the form of structured formative and summative assessments on a twice-weekly basis. This not only gives students relevant and timely revision, but also presents parents with data on how their child is performing relative to the cohort. 

Stanley said, “We understand that this is a trying period for both parents and children, with a lot of uncertainty surrounding education. We hope that our platform, which encourages children to self-pace and self-direct their own learning, can put their minds at rest when it comes to at-home maths education.” 

With the objective of further democratizing education and helping to accelerate the migration towards online teaching and learning, KooBits plans to offer their e-learning system to all tuition centres by the end of the second quarter of 2020. They are also working on Science education programs, set to roll out in the second quarter of the year. 

Find out more about KooBits at https://www.koobits.com/.

*To be featured on Press Release Tuesdays, send it to frances@topazhorizon.com.