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

Monday, October 18, 2021

My hobby: Solitaire card games! (plus a confession)

Let's get the confession out of the way: I play online games while I'm working! Yes, and it's okay. Much of my work as operations manager of a communications agency based abroad is waiting for submissions to come in from our writers and artists. So when I approve copy and wait for the artist to lay it out, I switch to the tab where Solitaire is on and I play a few card games. 

It's better than toxic Facebook, believe me! Social media reels you in and you go up the heaven of cute corgis and kittens or down the hell hole of news and negative comments, and then you're too distracted to go back to work. So I've gone back to my childhood hobby of playing cards, but this time online.

I actually still have a deck of cards on my bedside table and I play solitaire sometimes on the bed as I chat with my husband. If he's reading or working and can't talk, I sing the Carpenters' song, "Solitaire" while I play. It's one of my favorite sad songs. 

Solitaire is a game my grandparents taught me to pass away afternoons, listening to radio dramas. My Lola said you can ask the cards a yes-no question and if you win the game, then it's a yes. So that's another confession. I ask the cards stuff!

So anyway, let me tell you about my new find, Solitaire.org. It has dozens of free solitaire games like Klondike, FreeCell, Spider, gin rummy, crazy eights, hearts, and more. Like a LOT more. But I usually just play solitaire because it's my favorite. It calms my mind and helps me focus. Makes me better at remembering deadlines and editing work. So it really is a good way to while away the time when I'm waiting for work to come in.  


What doesn't calm my mind is another game on the site called Zuma Ball Shooters and oh my goodness it drives me crazy! It's only 10 levels and I'm on Level 8 and I just can't get past that level! The goal of the game is to line up 3 balls of the same kind which will make all those balls disappear. I'm supposed to shoot out all the balls before they get to the end. It's so maddening!!! 

I don't dislike it. In fact, I play it every day because I just really want to get to Level 10! But I definitely don't play this game when I'm working. It doesn't relax me. It brings out all my killer instincts and I just want to blast those balls to kingdom come!!!

So let me reiterate that I don't play Zuma Ball while I work. Instead, when I'm not playing solitaire, I play this: Candy House. It's like Candy Crush but slower and more mellow. So again, makes me feel calm. which is great when I'm working.

There are dozens more games at Solitaire.org. Sometimes I let my kids play the games, too. For school! Patterns are part of math, you know! I highly recommend these games for your kids as a fun way to recognize patterns. 

And that's my little secret! And my new online find. Try Solitaire.org, too! Happy Monday and I hope you have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, September 05, 2021

5 things we learned from our first year of homeschooling

Been gone forever! August was a most exciting month. School started. And that's a whole big adventure there on its own, rights? So when this amazing job offer suddenly came up, logic said, "No, don't do it. You won't have the time!" But life is uncertain in a pandemic. Sieze the day! So now I have a new job. And still homeschooling. While cooking and cleaning. And trying to sell my book when I catch a breath!

Life is full!

Anyhoot, I missed you. I miss blogging. I have a lot to say, Loyal Readers know that about me. But life has to be lived and so I haven't been blogging. For now, I want to do a update - just so you know I'm still alive (I'm on Instagram btw!). Not just alive but thriving!


So anyway. I was a speaker at the Connect Homeschool and Intentional Parenting Summit #CHIPSThriveAtHome Homeschooling and Distance Learning Conference a few weeks ago. I was surprised they asked me to speak since I was pretty vocal about the daily hell homeschooling was haha But Tina S. Rodriguez (blogger of Truly Rich and Blessed) told me it's good to have someone at the conference talk about how hard homeschooling can be. They trusted me to be honest but not whiny haha I'm sharing with you the video I made on the 5 things we learned from our first year of homeschooling (scroll down belooooow). 

But let me tell you what happened here on my blog. Because at the conference, watched by strangers, I had to still be upbeat and inspiring. Here, I'm with friends (I hope!) and so I feel I can be a wee bit more honest with you all.


Last year, it was our first time to homeschool and it was HARD. I regretted it a few months in. But there we were and I'm the sort who will stand by a decision until it's impossible to stand it. 

Our unfortunate experience was mostly the fault of the homeschool provider we enrolled in. Yes. I say this not flippantly. I very rarely blame others for my difficulties but I, together with hundreds of parents, chose this particular provider because it was under the umbrella of the most prestigious homeschool provider in the country. It promised us a lot of good things that we desperately clung to because it was a pandemic.

But I should've listened to my gut when it felt queasy at the virtual Parents' Orientation and the speaker said very loudly, "Parents! Stop. Asking. The same. Questions. Again and again. Listen! Read! Pay attention!" I thought it was rude but hey, we were all stressed out last year, right?

Well, we got even more stressed out, I tell ya. Our former homeschool provider was disorganized, unhelpful, unprepared. Sad. We parents had to help each other out because our emails to the school were hardly ever answered, and when they were, the replies were curt and not helpful at all. Dismissive. Literally didn't answer the question. So upsetting. 

Well, we - as well as many parents - left that provider and things are soooo much better now with our new one. 

But our problems aren't over yet with the former provider. It's already September and I requested for my kids' report cards and certificates of enrollment many months ago. I need them so that my enrollment with our new provider will be complete. But still nothing from the old one. I emailed to follow up and an automatic reply said, "This email address is no longer active. For concerns, log your issue on this platform [link provided]." Not a surprise. But I dutifully logged the follow-up request as instructed and I got a reply that said (and I paraphrase), "Requests for report cards are filed by date. By sending another request, your request is now at the end of the list. Further requests will put your request at the bottom of the list. Refrain from following up."
   
WOW. 


Anyway. That's the least of my problems. There's a pandemic. There are anti-vaxxers. There's this government. The delay of my kids' records is my only problem in my life, and I'll take it. If that can be my only problem in my entire life, please let it be so. I'm not going to take all the good things in my life for granted. I'm happy, I'm healthy. I'm vaxxed. My husband is also super happy, also healthy, also vaxxed. Our kids are healthy and happy, too. And having so much fun with homeschooling! Hooray!

What a huge relief! Life is good. Life is great! So I'll leave you now with my little video on the 5 things we learned from our first year of homeschooling. I hope you like it and learn a few things from our experience.


Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Review: "Homeschool Moms at the Feet of Jesus" by Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag

Our first year of homeschooling is finally done. It was most definitely not a walk in the park. I think we had some days when we yearned for "school school", you know, real school with real teachers who have real education degrees. That said, I'm happy to report that the kids enjoyed homeschooling more than I did. So that's a credit to me, right? Sigh. Let me tell you I may have made their homeschooling experience great but I truly had a hard time enjoying it. I'll tell you more about my conflicting feelings about homeschooling another day. For today, we'll do a book review of Homeschool Moms at the Feet of Jesus by Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag. 


Homeschool Moms at the Feet of Jesus is a 31-day devotional for homeschooling moms. If you're a dad, you'll appreciate it, too. In fact, since all of us are homeschooling anyway (hello, parents of online distance learning kids!), you will need this book. Every day for a month, you get a Bible verse, a little story of encouragement, questions to reflect on, a short prayer, and then a page of worksheet to write down your concerns and what you're grateful for. It's as simple as that!

The devotional is also part memoir since Teresa shares her own homeschooling journey in every entry. It's obvious that she is very happy with homeschooling (unlike me haha). Teresa is really an educator. Her job as a trainer, coach, and consultant is all about teaching so it's easy to see why homeschooling was the most natural decision for her. It was kinda sweet to see how excited she is about teaching her kids and how much joy she got out of that. I guess that's because she dedicated her homeschooling to God and relies on the Holy Spirit to give her wisdom and the right attitude, and she really is grateful for the privilege of being her kids' teacher. (Frances, take note!)



I got an advance copy of this book so I was able to go through a few days of devotions. Homeschool Moms at the Feet of Jesus is a book I'd have appreciated way back in August last year when we chose to homeschool because of the pandemic. It really addresses the fears and worries of a new homeschooling parent and it may have helped me adjust my attitude. 

Then again, I didn't actually fear homeschooling. I used to be a teacher and I have helped my kids with their homework for years. Many times I explained the lessons better than their teachers ever did. So my ability to teach them was not a worry. I'll talk about my struggle with homeschooling in another post! 

What's so good about this devotional is the emphasis on encouragement and the counting of blessings. Because there truly were many wonderful things that happened because I was my kids' teacher. I saw how they think and process information (okay, this is both a good and a bad thing!), I saw what made them bored and interested and so I was able to adjust the lessons. We had fun for many days! But most of all, homeschooling kept us safe from the pandemic. We're healthy, alive, and learning. That's the most important part. The simple exercise of writing down everything great that happened every school day does wonders. That's the habit this devotional wants us parents to cultivate.


Homeschool Moms at the Feet of Jesus by Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag is available for download on Amazon Kindle for only USD 2.99. From now till tomorrow, July 1, it's FREE! It's also free on Kindle Unlimited. Download your copy now.

*photos courtesy of Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag.


Look back on the blog entries every Wednesday of this June for my reviews of books written by Filipino mommies! Support mommies! Support literature! Support local! I'll try to do a review of a local author, a Filipino mom especially, every end of the month. 

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Review: "I Am Happy" by Kim Espartero and various Filipino artists

 

June is when we celebrate our independence from foreign powers. Now that it's being threatened again, I think it's important we teach our kids the beauty of our country and our culture so that they grow up proud of being Filipino and fiercely protective of our sovereignty.

One way to do that is through books! So book review time! Today's literary feature is a small but mighty book called I Am Happy by Kim Espartero and various Filipino artists. 


I Am Happy is part of a series of books created for our Pinoy kids. The words are all about gratitude. It's really very simple. "I'm happy about this, I'm grateful for that." It doesn't lay on the patriotism too thick. It's just a happy list of things around us that we should appreciate - food, fun, sea and sky, family and friends. 


But the gorgeous illustrations on every page - each one illustrated by a Filipino artist - is a joyful exhibition of our country and culture! Nakakatuwa siya. So while you read to your child the words that hardly talk about the country itself, the pictures exploding with color and beauty will make you want to point out every beautiful thing about our country. Ipagyayabang mo talaga sa anak mo ang kulturang Pilipino - pawikan at parol, fiesta at saranggola, lechon at iba pa!    


Plus, every page encourages your child to think about what he is grateful for. It doesn't have to be about the country, of course. So the book, while short, is big on many things - gratitude for our blessings, love for country, and art and culture.


Highly recommend this book, mamas! Do buy a copy!

To learn more about I Am Happy by Kim Espartero and how to buy, check out Let's Be Super on Facebook.

*Visit the blog every Wednesday night this June for my reviews of books written by Filipino mommies! Support mommies! Support literature! Support local! 

Monday, October 05, 2020

Homeschool Month 1: We get down to work

Guess what? It's MY day today! And every parent who's teaching their kid this crazy year! And of course the day of real teachers everywhere. Dearest teachers, I think I'm doing a great job as Teacher Mama but I certainly know now I'd rather not do this haha You guys are the best!

We need to raise teachers' salaries everywhere. (Wait. I'm not even getting a salary.) Good heavens, what an insane occupation this is. But I'm going to claim this day as MY day. And I'm going to celebrate with a Cledor coffee ice cream bar. 


That's the photo on my Teacher Mama ID, by the way. That's why I chose it for my little "Yey me!' card I made for me haha. It's been a month and 1 week of homeschooling. There have been yelling (me), ripping of a Math book page (wasn't me), and tears (all of us). So 8 more months of this! 

Well, there's also been tons of fun with us dancing, singing, reading books and poems, discussing governments (especially this government - y'all know I got a lot to say about that!). We all learned new things - yes, even me! We've been poring over books, the Bible (for their Christian Education), and Googling and Google Translating everything to death. 

We've done mental health checks (I got the materials from Big Life Journal). We've painted and glued and drawn cute animals. We've played catch and throw, prepared for the zombie apocalypse (that's what we call cardio), and are now studying street dance. We're discovering a lot of things together and it's been, well, fun most of the time. It's definitely been an experience!

It sounds like a lot of play but it's not. I know many homeschooling moms blog about how they make learning fun and they play all day. We don't. I'm a very serious teacher. I think that's what makes me unsuitable for this homeschooling thing haha! 

I like academic excellence. I like competition. I like good grades. I like sitting up straight and doing well. I like structure. My kids - because their experience of learning is through a traditional school - have no problem really with my way because it's very much like the school they know, except at their pace, more focused, and a bit more flexible. I think they also like it that way. And yet there's a part of me that second-guesses myself, especially when I'm being hard on the boys.

We're doing okay. I think we're going too slow, to be honest. I'm a bit surprised that there's a Tiger Mom inside me after all. I'd never had known if it weren't for this pandemic! I don't want her to come out because homeschooling moms are gentle lambs who respect their children's pace and interests. They're not supposed to be Tiger Moms. Well, we'll see!

I know I sound like I'm unhappy. I'm not. It's more on I'm still finding my way through this whole new experience, trying to understand myself and my kids, trying to be the best I can be as a teacher, as a mom, and as a woman who doesn't like mediocre work. It's difficult: Who responds to this learning situation - the gentle teacher, the loving mom, or the mentor who demands excellence? There are no lines.

When people were greeting teachers today on Facebook Happy Teacher's Day, I didn't think I was a teacher. Mostly because this morning, I was in mom mode. Only after dinner, while I was scheduling lesson plans, did it hit me that I was a teacher now, too, and that this is my day. I didn't feel like I should celebrate. I've been on the job for just 5 weeks, no mentors and no helpers, and not much to show for it yet. 

But as the day ended, I decided I'm claiming this day - for me and for my boys. My kids and I are learning together. We may not be doing this whole thing professionally, we don't even know if we're doing it correctly, but we're teaching each other something new every single day. And sometimes, okay, most times, we're thrilled at what we find out. I guess that's all that matters. 

Happy Teacher's Day to all of you parents-suddenly-teachers. Happy Teacher's Day, too, to our kids who teach us so much about life and ourselves. God bless us all.

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.