I attended the Philippine Homeschool Convention 2018 looking for encouragement more than anything. Around that time, our family was going through some tough times which went on for two months. Hence, the delay of this blog post as well. It’s only now that our family is getting a sense of normalcy. Having said that, I’ve finally found the time to finish my blog and share with you all the things I’ve learned from the convention! Attending it was a tremendous blessing and a breath of fresh air for me. c”,)
Having my husband there with me also meant a lot because he really blocked off that Saturday and took a break from hospital duties to join me for our homeschool equipping day. c”,) And boy, did I really get encouraged! It was as if God prepared the conference just for me! I had specific issues that I didn’t know would be addressed that day. Will share more about it later.
It has become my annual tradition to make a recap of the homeschool conference. c”,) And although my yearly highlights had become my top performing posts among my blogs, I want to tell you, moms, that nothing compares to sitting there and soaking everything in. Plus, the interaction you will have with fellow homeschooling parents is so precious that no words can fully capture the joy of just being with kindred spirits!
First of all, let me just say a big thank you to the Educating For Life team consisting of Mariel, Michelle, Sanne, and Tina (I wish I knew how to Photoshop you in the picture below!). Thank you for tirelessly and selflessly organizing this yearly. You are all incredible blessings to the homeschooling community! I praise and thank God for each one of you!
Second, I love that we’re back at SMX SM Aura! It was very accessible and convenient for a lot of attendees. c”,) Lunch was a lot easier, too, with all the restaurants available at the mall. The expo was back in an airconditioned hall so the participants didn’t really feel that it was hot and crowded as they were going through each booth. The breakout sessions were held in bigger rooms as well. So, a big YAY for the location! c”,)
Homeschoolers welcomed participants from the front door to the registration table and halls. Beth Padrelanan and Sarah Muleta were fantastic hosts! The CFA Homeschool Orchestra once again wowed us with their performance. Not only that, there were homeschoolers who spoke during the plenary sessions, too! c”,) It was such a delight to see them showcasing their talents!
The plenary sessions were packed with experienced homeschool experts. Each of them had a unique homeschool journey and it was inspiring to hear not only their success stories but also the challenges they’ve encountered along the way. I wish we had a mid-break, though, to grab a drink or snack or go to the restroom. Haha! I mean, of course, you could go anytime but I’m one of those participants who didn’t want to miss anything. Good thing, we had gum and candy to keep our grumbling tummies silent and our bladder distracted. Haha!
Cassandra Shepherd: “You Can Homeschool!”
Cassandra Shepherd is a veteran homeschooler from New Zealand (I must say, I looove her Kiwi accent!). She is also the International Relations Director of the Institute for Cultural Communicators (ICC). I also attended her breakout session on homeschooling methodologies and styles. Cassandra’s talk was a mix of a primer for new homeschoolers and an inspiration toolkit for old-timers. I am somewhere in between new and old with three years of formal homeschooling and five years of informal homeschooling (more like play-schooling) under my belt. c”,)
Below are some nuggets of wisdom that Cassandra shared along with my personal takeaways. c”,)
- Learning in the heart of the home is a privilege. – I need to repeat this a thousand times, especially during not-so-good days. Haha!
- Homeschooling is a lifestyle. – It’s not just a number of hours per day. It should be an integral part of our lives.
- Homeschool is a personal journey. – So true. A lot of humbling and pruning on my part. I know there’s more to come! It’s so timely, I just read a quote this morning, “Children are holy sandpaper. Homeschooling your children will expose every flaw and weakness you have—and that is a GOOD thing!” Can I get an Amen? c”,)
- Real learning is a process of discovery. BE OPEN TO DISCOVER MORE – It’s not all instruction. It’s discovering things and experiences together. Teach less, discover more.
- Education is a spectrum. – I totally agree with this. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to education. As homeschoolers, we have the luxury to explore all the learning approaches and tools we can use for our children.
- Do simple things well. – YES, YES, YES. We don’t need to complicate our lives and make homeschooling such a chore.
- Curriculum is your servant and not your master. – For me, if I don’t enjoy preparing our lesson, more often than not, my son doesn’t enjoy it as well. Our children are so intuitive that they can sense if their lesson was done out of love or out of haste.
- You are empowered to choose what works for you. – As an eclectic homeschooler, I couldn’t agree more with this.
- How will you measure success? – I think this is one of the most important questions we should answer as homeschoolers. How we answer this will determine the way we’re going to homeschool our children.
Jayson Lo: “Homeschooling With A Vision”
I must say, that his talk was my husband’s favorite. c”,) Omar thought it was very insightful and practical. Jayson Lo talked about “Homeschooling with a Vision” using the three Cs. They are:
- Culture – Basically, he said culture is “the way we do things around here.” That resonated with me because we really need to develop our own family culture based on what we believe in.
- Character – It is the ability to meet the demands of reality. And that’s true. When push comes to shove and the ideal is out of the picture, how we face reality is a reflection of our character. This is why one of the advantages of homeschooling is being able to focus on the character formation of our children.
- Competence – Encourage based on EFFORT. Have a growth mindset and not a fixed mindset. Focus on learning and discovery.
Jayson closed by saying that visions are dreams with a deadline. We all envision something for our children and they, too, have a vision for themselves. Homeschooling allows us to work together towards that vision. There are no shortcuts. One of the pieces of advice I received early on was to take homeschooling one year at a time. Jayson mentioned it as well. It was good to be reminded that homeschooling is indeed a journey, not a race to finish a curriculum or textbook. This is so easy to forget especially when it’s portfolio time. Haha!
I love that Jayson’s daughter, Gabbie, spoke and talked about how different she was from her sister. It was a good reminder for parents with multiple kids to approach each child differently and appreciate their individual uniqueness. I love Gabbie’s quiet confidence! I think she will be a great speaker like her dad someday. c”,)
Michelle Padrelanan: Homeschooling Through The Mountains and Valleys of Life
Michelle’s talk was one of the talks I really needed to hear. She shared about her family went through a tough time and how they put homeschool on hold because that wasn’t what they needed to do at that time. When they were ready to homeschool again, they just picked up where they left off. It was comforting to hear because as I mentioned earlier, we went through a difficult time with my mother-in-law being in the hospital for two months and sadly passing away after a well-fought battle. :'( During that time, there were days and weeks when we would just not homeschool.
Hearing Michelle’s story was God’s way of reassuring me that our son will be fine. He may have missed days of homeschooling but it didn’t mean he stopped learning. Our son has learned compassion for the sick and elderly, kindness, patience, and understanding. His ability to self-study was fast-tracked as he immersed himself in books during “no homeschool days.” He discovered new words in the process, which consequently, encouraged him to write even more. I didn’t realize those things in the previous weeks prior to the convention because I was drowning in mommy guilt! So yes, I was greatly encouraged by her talk. c”,)
Michelle shared that we can homeschool through the mountains and valleys of life by simply keeping on.
- K – Know your goals
- E – Entrust your children to the Lord
- E – Enlist help when needed
- P – Pray (for your children and yourself)
- ON- Onwards not backwards (pick up where you left off)
Dr. Teresa Moon: “The Secret to More Time and Energy”
When I saw in the program the title of Dr. Teresa Moon’s talk, I told myself “I NEED THIS.” Haha! I think every mom needs it. c”,) Okay, moms listen, the secret is this, “We gain more time doing less and gain more energy by loving the less we do.” That basically means that when we do less, we end up having more energy to love the ones that we’re supposed to do. I also love Teresa’s definition of STRESS – Still Trying to Run the Entire Solar System. Haha! Oh my. We really take that herculean task upon ourselves, don’t we? No wonder we go insane, moms!
Teresa also reminded us that homeschool is a long game. She also said that we should practice discipline. And discipline means preventing everything in your life from being filled up. She shared with us three Cs that will help us have more time and energy.
- Clarity – Vision brings clarity. And yes, decisions are easier to make when you know your vision. Teresa gave a very helpful tip, “if a test doesn’t value what you value then do something else.” We shouldn’t be tied to something that is not consistent with the things that are important to us.
- Connection – Find people who know you and connect with you. We all need support. Whether it’s a mom you can chat with or a group of moms you can meet up with. Connecting with other fellow homeschooling moms works wonders.
- Control – Control the things you can control like your schedule and the time with your children. And then she said something really important: “our children want to be known.” Thus, they need our time and attention. We can control these two things.
In closing, she said that these three things will give us a calm mind. And a calm mind brings clarity, content, and compassion. c”,)
Rienzie Biolena: “Financial Literacy For Kids”
This talk is one of my husband’s favorite keynotes, too! c”,) He is big on practical, straightforward talk. He literally said, “the best talks were from the men.” Haha! I guess those are the ones that resonated with him, too! Rienzie gave a lot of useful tips and our main take home in teaching literacy is getting 3 piggy banks for our son as he suggested—one for saving, one for spending, and the last one for giving. From the time we gave him his 3 coin banks, our little boy has been putting more on saving, next on giving, and last for spending. c”,)
Laksmi and Vishnu Maluya: “Spreading the Fire of Homeschooling”
When I saw this mother and daughter tandem on stage, my heart soared inside. Through them, I saw the investment Laksmi made in the lives of her children and the inspiring returns of that lifelong investment. c”,) Laksmi herself was homeschooled. She eventually did the same with her children. Now, she is a homeschool provider putting up Gopala Learning Haven! Everything came full circle. And if you ever get the chance to talk to her, she is one down-to-earth lady who is so generous of her time and knowledge. Laksmi shared the following insights:
- Homeschooling is an opportunity to individualize the learning of your child. – Customized learning is one of the main reasons why we homeschooled!
- Their homeschool journey adjusted to their lifestyle and their daily routine is based on their family life. – This is true because we homeschool as life happens.
She also shared what DREAM meant in their homeschool journey.
- Determination to finish. – we need to focus on our end goal
- Respect others. – in the process of homeschooling, we shouldn’t forget the importance of molding our child’s character
- Eagerness to learn. – this is something we should show and fuel in our kids
- Always be patient. – a prerequisite for us teacher moms!
- Make God the center. – because He alone can guide and empower us in our homeschool journey!
Vishnu shared her experience being homeschooled and how that helped her in college. She also discussed their new homeschool platform for teens called Abot Tala. I so look forward to this for my son!
Adrienne Lia Cua: “Making a Difference As a Homeschooled Kid”
Twelve-year-old Lia shared how homeschooling has helped her make a difference in the community. She founded the Earth Crew Kids when she was 11 years old when she read that all the fish would be gone by 2035. Lia took action by starting this advocacy. She shared that homeschooling has allowed her to do research, write blog posts, organize events, and spend more time with her parents who are supportive of her passions.
Jen Wi-Bellosillo: “Homeschooling Special Needs Kids: A Life-Changing Vocation”
Jen Bellosillo’s talk is another inspiring one. She shared how she managed to homeschool her child with special needs using integrated home program therapies with structured homeschooling. For those in the same situation, she gave this very meaningful encouragement, that when you say “yes to sacrifice,” you are also saying “yes to success and yes to your child’s future.” Jen also said, “you can rest but you can’t quit.” She added that parents with special needs kids should find a group that would make them feel that they belong. I love that she also emphasized the importance of preparedness saying that she prepares “my best lesson plans for my best students—my children.” Beautiful, just beautiful. I should keep that in mind all the time!
Camille Paguio: “Homeschooling Works”
Camille Paquio is a successful professional who was formerly homeschooled. I must say, she is the embodiment of confidence! She’s a classic example that socialization—including public speaking—is not an issue with homeschooled kids. Camille shared that homeschooling has given her freedom which meant more time to do what she wanted.
One of the powerful statements she said was, “homeschoolers are living out the theories.” They just don’t study and memorize, they are living it because of the extensive exposure and freedom they have to explore what they’ve learned. Another statement she said that I loved was, “the well-pruned vine bears the best fruit.” She said that she appreciated the values formation that came along with homeschooling. It allows homeschoolers to learn their purpose, passion, and uniqueness.
Dr. Teresa Moon: “Teaching the Most Feared Activity: Public Speaking”
I attended Dr. Teresa Moon’s talk because my son is innately shy. He takes after his dad, who despite being a teacher and speaker, is surprisingly an introvert. Here are some of the things she shared:
- Public speaking requires a public. It’s the very essence of learning public speaking. If we want our children to be good at it, they need an audience. I love that Teresa said that we shouldn’t always interpret what our kids are trying to say. We should allow them to explain themselves and not make excuses for them.
- Practice makes permanent. – This is especially true in public speaking. If you want to be good at it, you have to practice it. I’m so happy that our homeschool coop bought a public speaking program so we can practice as a group! We split the fee amongst ourselves since the program can be shared up to 10 users. Can’t wait to have our first session!
- Communication requires energy. – Yes it does! Getting your message across is vital and it takes effort.
- SOAP – Sources (know and cite your sources when your speak), Others (be considerate of others; have your own ideas and respect other people’s ideas; be a good listener; show up on time), Authority (be mindful of how you treat authority and speak about authority), Platform (respect the platform; use the platform; talk about the things you can but respect the platform; think before you speak). One example she gave was social media. We can’t just allow our kids to rant on social media. They need to respect the platform. They can express their opinions but they should respect the platform they are given.
- Start at home. – I immediately followed her advice when she said we can ask our children to prepare something to share with our guests or relatives. So I asked Timmy to share with his grandfather what he did the day before. It was a really good practice! We’ve tried this a number of times already and I was actually surprised to see how good my son was in expressing himself when you give him something “canned” to talk about in a non-threatening atmosphere. I believe that with more practice, this can translate smoothly into public speaking. All I need to do is look at my husband for inspiration. Haha! Anyone who has heard him speak would never believe that he is an extremely shy guy. c”,)
- Every child has a story to tell. – We should help them tell that story well. Practice, practice, practice. They need to know how to articulate themselves. They should be able to communicate their ideas.
- The person who has the platform has the power and influence. – As our kids learn to communicate and use their platforms with respect, they learn to become influencers.
Cassandra Shepherd: “A Look at Homeschooling Methodologies and Styles”
I have found a kindred spirit in Cassandra Shepherd! We’re both eclectic homeschoolers with flexible schedules and a penchant for unstructured homeschooling. Haha! Cassandra gave a rundown of homeschool methodologies along with their pros and cons. I love how she presented the education spectrum! Here are some of the insights she shared:
- “I can be a terrible carbon copy or be the best me.” – This really resonated with me because the temptation to try what others are doing is hard to resist! I have to remember that my curriculum is my child and he is unique. Whatever works for him may not work for others and vice versa.
- In choosing a methodology, Cassandra shared that we need to ask ourselves these questions: What are your family and education goals? What are your values? How will you measure success? – The last question struck me because sometimes I admittedly get concerned with grades (remnants from traditional school mindset). We tell our son not to be concerned when he makes mistakes because giving his best is what’s more important. But I admit, deep inside I get agitated sometimes, too!
- Comparison is a thief of joy. – SO TRUE! Comparison can kill you from the inside. I have learned to consciously ask God (before I browse social media) to guard my heart against envy and to fill it with genuine joy so that I won’t fall into the comparison trap. We all need encouragement and we should give that to each other more and more. It takes a village to homeschool and we shouldn’t allow comparison to break our village.
- Every method has merit. – No method is better than the other. They all have pros and cons. We need to choose the one that fits our children’s learning style. We need to choose what works for our little learners.
Gina Guerrero-Roldan: “How to Inject Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in Your Homeschool”
I chose this session because for some reason I feel that it will help me slow down. Haha! And it did! Hearing Gina was a big boost of encouragement for me. Here are some of the things she shared.
- We all have a natural longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. – I agree with this because we all want what is good, true, and beautiful. We yearn for it and we appreciate it when we see it.
- Truth, goodness, and beauty are transcendental. – They withstand the test of time. This is why we teach our children truths to live by, showing goodness to everyone, and appreciating the beauty of what they see or experience.
- REST so we can give the best part of ourselves to our children. – This is so true because lack of rest has made me cranky and impatient many times. And I really feel bad when this happens! The truth is, I really need my power nap in the afternoon to refresh me. But there are days when I can’t afford to take a nap because of work. Soooo, when Timmy wakes up from his nap and I didn’t get mine, he gets a cranky mom with a headache. Let’s just say that frustrations creep in pretty quickly during homeschool time. Even my husband would ask me, “Hon, nakapag-nap ka ba?” Haha! So yes, moms, we need to be intentional with our rest!
Gina also shared a video of her son reciting poetry. I was so happy to see that because we’ve been having our poetry day, art appreciation exercises, and narration practices in our language arts. At some point, I was getting discouraged wondering if all of these things have an effect on our son. I mustered the courage to talk to Gina after the session and thanked her for the encouragement! I shared with her that we use a classical curriculum for language arts and these are the things we do but I’m not sure if those things have an impact on our son. She assured me that there will be and she urged me to press on. I really needed that validation that we’re on to something here!
THE BEST PART
Every time I go to a homeschool conference/convention, I look forward to seeing fellow homeschooling moms! I love learning with them. It’s empowering to be part of this tribe of homeschooling families because we all know that this is the road less traveled but we still do it anyway because we know it will make a difference. I am just grateful to have known a lot of homeschooling parents over the years who have come alongside us. I’m excited to attend next year’s convention! I know it will be as inspiring and insightful as this one! If you want to find out what happened during the previous conferences, check out the links below! c”,)