What Really Matters in the End

 

When we are distracted by everyday busy-ness, we often forget what we should be pursuing. Instead of pursuing what really matters, we get side tracked of material possessions, other people’s lives via social media and fame. It is when we are most busy, that we should take a moment to reflect and check our lives – are we living it according to God’s prescription?

Here are some reminders:

DO NOT WASTE YOUR LIFE.

DO NOT LET SIN REIGN IN YOUR LIFE.

DO PRESENT YOUR LIFE AS INSTRUMENTS FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

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We should live day to day with the end in mind. And these statements should help us to choose how we are going to spend every waking day that the Lord has blessed us with. Because at the end of the day,  these are what really matters.

HomeschoolPiano Review

I’ve never learned how to play the piano and I don’t want my kids to experience the same. Thankfully, we were given an opportunity through the Schoolhouse Review Crew to review  HomeschoolPiano. We received a lifetime subscription for up to five students for HomeschoolPiano – Complete Set of Books. This would give my children an opportunity to learn playing the piano even while at home!

Homeschool Piano Review
HomeschoolPiano offers piano lessons online. The lessons are all-video based and is made for all ages! If you are a beginner or you already have prior lessons, HomeschoolPiano can help you read music and even create your own music! This is perfect for learning piano at your own pace since you can view the lessons anytime of the day from your computer or your mobile devices like the phones or tablets.

The program is a well rounded music curriculum as it follows a 6-steps cycle which lays a foundation based on the National Standards for Music Education.

Homeschool Piano Review
In every unit, the lessons center on the following fundamentals: Technique,Rhythm, Ear Training, Reading, Song, Improvisation. This ensures that the students learn how to develop their ear, read music and create their own music and improvisations later on. There are a total of 4 books, the Core Piano, Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3.

Core Piano is a collection of 30 lessons teaching piano essentials. It is a must for those who have no previous piano experience. Book 1 is for the absolute beginner, Book 2 is for those who have some previous  piano training and Book 3 is for the advanced student where he will learn to create piano rich arrangements.

Homeschool Piano Review
There are 7 lessons in each unit and 6 units in each Book. Every lesson ranges from 5 to 10 minutes in length. After watching the video, it is expected that the student will practice what he has learned on his own keyboard or piano.

To use HomeschoolPiano, you need to have reliable  internet connection and a piano or a keyboard with at least 49 keys. You may use your computer or your tablets since you don’t need any special software to view the videos as you access them online.

If you can not watch the video online, there is a link which allows you to download the mp3 file for audio and mp4 for video.
HomeschoolPiano can be purchased in 2 ways. Through the Success Package which means you have to pay $299 in one payment or the Payment Plan which means you can pay $99.97 per month for 3 months. You will have unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.

How We Used the Program

I created 2 logins for my 2 children. My 10 year old daughter started with Core Piano for 3 times a week. She has previous piano  experience so she breezed through most of the lessons in Core Piano, then she worked on Book 1.

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She also took the lesson quiz to assess her knowledge.

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After watching the video, she follows the instructor’s lessons on the keyboard so she remembers what she has learned. It usually takes her a total of 30 minutes per day to complete about 2 lessons.

My 7 year old son has no previous music or piano lessons so he took the lessons slower. He also started with Core Piano and is still watching Core Piano. He did the lessons twice a week.

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After watching the videos, we usually do the activities. Like when the lesson was about skip or steps, I asked my son to create his own steps scale and skip scale.

 

What We Thought of the Program

As the homeschool parent, I liked several aspects of  the program:

- It requires no assistance from me. I just made sure that they were properly logged in and doing their piano lessons.

- The continuinity of the lessons were important so that the student were learning efficiently. I am confident that they are not missing any foundational lessons.

-  My children can repeat the video lessons when needed. My daughter breezed through Core Piano and was excited to work on Book 1, but there were times when I asked her to check some topics in Core Piano again to remind her of the basics.

- I liked it that my children were learning music without us having to leave the house or hiring a piano teacher, since our budget can not accomodate it at the moment.

- One program for both kids. Since this product is for all ages, we can use it for both of our kids.

- The creative side of my children is also being trained as they are continuing on with their lessons. They are encouraged to vocalize and improvise.

- There are online quizzess to check whether they are learning their lessons.

- We have unlimited lifetime access to a program that can be used for a couple of years.

The most challenging aspect of this program for us is our internet connection. There were days that we had a hard time accessing the video online because of our slow or intermittent internet connection.

Another factor is that we have to be consistent in watching and practising the new learnings. As with most programs, it is up to the diligence of the student if she wants to learn and make the most out of an amazing product.

If you are looking to learn piano at home and unleash your musical side, this is a good product to try out. For more information, you can check HomeschoolPiano Facebook  or at HomeschoolPiano Twitter or at HomeschoolPiano Pinterest.

Homeschool Piano Review
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Heart and Mind of a Homeschooling Mom: Lynden Tablante

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The last mom to be featured on our series Heart and Mind of a Homeschooling Mom is someone I’ve met personally when I was just beginning my homeschooling journey, Ms. Lynden Tablante.

lynden

 

Hi Lynden! Thank you for agreeing to be featured on my blog. Please share something about yourself for our readers. 

I am a home schooler mom, home keeper, mission partner and helpmeet to my husband Dennis who is an engineer by education, an academician/school administrator (Malayan Colleges Laguna) by profession, and a Sunday School Teacher/Home Cell leader /church deacon by vocation.  Prior to homeschooling,   l used  to hold a managerial position in the Treasury and Investments Department  of a local universal bank.  We are blessed with three kids – Paolo Miguel (13 years old), Aliya Magaret (10 years old) and Sean Andrew (6 years old).  We started homeschooling in June 2009  and we are well on our 5th  year now.

Why did you choose to homeschool  your children?

In a planning seminar I attended during my working years in a bank, we were asked by the facilitator to complete the sentence “I want to be the best ________”.  I remember jotting down the word “mother” in the blank, passionately so, as I was pregnant with my first baby then.   Surprisingly, all working moms in the group gave the same answer!  It was the facilitator’s comments afterwards that struck me and stayed with me through the years. He said, “If you want to be the best mother, then you ought to be in your homes!”  I did not yield immediately to God’s prodding then.  I waited for the string of promotions to come – and so they did, one after another.  Lulled by the allurement of financial stability and empowerment,  it took me more years before I realized I already had  three kids growing and spending more time without me ( and vice versa).  In my personal quiet time, God’s words in Matthew 8:13  “Go back home” were as darts piercing my heart and soul.   The still, small voice reverberated more loudly and clearly as days went by.  Hence, my decision to resign from work and be a fulltime mom after 17 years in the corporate world.

But ,why homeschool?  That was another feat to battle with. My initial idea was simply to resign from work, manage the household, set up a small business, and let my two older children  continue their studies in a Christian school.  When my husband broached the idea of homeschooling, I was not very enthusiastic about it.  After months of praying, researching, attending seminars and conferences, and digging into God’s Word – I was more and more convinced that the homeschooling path, albeit less trodden and unconventional, is what God wants my family to take.  We took His commandment in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as our mandate, not an option.  It requires that parentsteach their children to apply all of the Lord’s commandments in every circumstance of life.  Clearly, this is what homeschooling is all about! I cannot just relegate this God-ordained responsibility to anyone or to any institution, no matter how well-meaning they can be.  After all, it will be us, parents, who will be held answerable to God for who raised our children, and how they were raised.

What are you using with your children?

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”— Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ESV)

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.” – Charlotte Mason

  • “Education is an atmosphere” doesn’t mean that we should create an artificial environment for children, but that we use the opportunities in the environment he already lives in to educate him. Children learn from real things in the real world.
  • “Education is a discipline” means that we train a child to have good habits and self-control.
  • “Education is a life” means that education should apply to body, soul and spirit. The mind needs ideas of all kinds, so the child’s curriculum should be varied and generous with many subjects included.

The principles stated above are the guiding principles my husband  and I follow in teaching and training our kids.  As God’s stewards, we agreed to seek His will so we can raise them up in the admonition of God’s Word especially in this time and age that even the approach in education has become so utilitarian.

With the earnest desire to educate our kids at home, we use the following programs and curricula which we know would prepare them in acquiring virtue and would prepare them for life ahead:

Sing, Spell, Read and Write Phonics Program

Sing, Spell, Read & Write uses phonics songs, interactive charts, and games to teach the alphabetic principle, phonemic awareness, sound/letter correspondence, short vowel sounds, and blending – in a fun and meaningful way. By the end of Kindergarten students will be reading fully-decodable story books with single-, short- vowel words.

…Using this program, my son learned to read and write with comprehension at age 4.

 School of Tomorrow ‘s Accelerated Christian Education (ACE)

For over 40 years, the A.C.E. program has been the trendsetter in Biblical educational reform. Its philosophy is built on basic principles of the Word of God. Students are taught to see life from God’s point of view, to take responsibility for their own learning, and to walk in Godly wisdom and character. Its learning principles are as follows:

  1. The students must be on a level of curriculum where he can perform.
  2. The student must set reasonable goals that can be achieved in a prescribed period of time.
  3. The student must be controlled and motivated.
  4. The student’s learning must be measurable.
  5. The student’s learning must be rewarded.

 Lving Heritage Academy, the homeschool arm of the Philippine Christian School of Tomorrow, Paranaque City

Accelerated Christian Education® has taken the conventionally styled textbook and divided it into bite-sized, achievable, worktexts called PACEs. Each PACE is similar to a unit in a textbook. Each level consists of 12 PACEs in each subject. PACEs integrate Godly character-building lessons into the academic content, and self-instructional activities are carefully designed to develop thinking skills and create mastery learning.  Since 1970, A.C.E. PACEs have proven to be effective tools for goal setting and for achieving academic excellence.

The Student Programs of Accelerated Christian Education® (A.C.E.) give students opportunities to build character and learn leadership skills outside the classroom.

Student Conventions challenge students ages 8 and older to develop their ministry skills by competing in more than 140 events in categories such as music, speech/drama, athletics, arts, and academics.

 

Suzuki Method

The Suzuki method, also known as the “mother-tongue approach,” is a method of teaching that stresses the importance of parental influence and involvement. Parents and teachers work together to achieve a common goal. Parents are expected to know each lesson and serve as nurturing teachers at home.

 As in most cases, speaking comes earlier than writing.  Children can be taught to play musical instruments earlier even before they read notes from music pieces.  Reading may be learned later.

 Aside from playing the piano, they play the violin too. We grab every opportunity for our kids to minister through their God-given talents

 

 Classical Christian Education

Following classical approach, it is important to consider the three important pathways:

  1. Grammar or language acquisition,
  2. Dialectic or critical thinking, and
  3. Rhetoric or written and oral composition.

 

This is called the “trivium.” The central point at which the three roads of the trivium intersect represents mastery of the skills (language, thought, and speech), and it is at this intersection that the apprentice has the necessary tools to move on to deeper study of knowledge within specific disciplines.

Love for reading is one characteristic of those trained the classical way…

Our kids are always excited to meet the authors of the books they read.

Reading aloud, as in any classical education, is a must.  We enjoy every read aloud sessions.

We see to it that learning is not just confined at home, we use the opportunities in the environment to educate them.

We ensure that they are provided the mentors for specialized trainings for arts and music.

 

How will their life matter? We teach from the Scripture that life is short and that they should use it to glorify God.  To stress the point, we find it fitting to bring them to the cemetery from time to time to show the brevity of life.

Our homeschool journey   allows us to have a disciplined mind to stay on track while honing and perfecting the talents God endowed each one—be it in arts music, sports, writing composition or what have they. 

 

Are you enrolled in a DepEd accredited homeschool provider or others? Which one?

We are enrolled in Philippine Christian School of Tomorrow’s  Home Education Program  (Living Heritage Academy) which uses the Accelerated Christian Education Program, a comprehensive Bible-based program that serves both the campus-based schools and the homeschools

Until when do you plan to homeschool your child?

From the beginning, we envisioned our children to be homeschooled until 12th grade.  Our 13-year old is currently working on Grade 11 PACES and by 2016; he will have finished his Senior High School.  However, we are yet to see the ramifications DepEd’s Proposed Senior High School curriculum will have on our existing curriculum.  For now, we are prayerfully keeping our options open

Share one lesson you’ve learned over the years about homeschooling.

It is during this phase of my life where I saw the seriousness of modelling Christ to our children consistently – both in words and actions.  It is so easy to lecture, quote verses, and mimic nobility to our children ; but to exemplify these with authenticity in familiar surroundings, under ordinary circumstances, day in and day out  - require supernatural grace and power.  And, oh how many times I failed!  Yet, God is merciful, faithful and true to His promises.  There was never a day where I dared not seek God’s forgiveness for flaws committed, and not also experience the all-sufficient grace He has lovingly provided.  More than homeschooling my kids, I must humbly and honestly confess that this journey has been about me being “homeschooled” by God.  Looking back, I must say “I am what I am by the grace of God. He is changing me, my husband, and each of my three children – from glory to glory!”

Strive:

a)      Not to impress, but to impact

b)      Not to be the center of attention, but to pay attention

c)       Not to be a supermom,  but a mom with a super-God

d)      Not to be presumptuous, but to be prayerful

 

Thank you Lynden for sharing your homeschooling journey with us! If you have any questions about homeschooling, please leave a comment and we will try our best to answer your inquiry. 

To read the rest of this series, check Heart and Mind of a Homeschooling Mom.

WriteShop Junior Book D Review

WriteShop Review

I was looking around for a writing curriculum for my 5th grade daughter and I stumbled upon WriteShop. It seemed like a good choice so when I was given the opportunity to review the product through SchoolHouse Review Crew, it was an answered prayer for us! We reviewed the WriteShop Junior: Book D Set.

WriteShop is an incremental writing curriculum for kindergarden to high school. They offer WriteShop Primary for grades K-3, WriteShop Junior for grades 3-5, WriteShop for grades 6-10, Write Shop II for grades 8-12. They also offer Fold-N-GoGrammar lessons.

WriteShop Review

I chose the WriteShop Junior D to review with my 10 year old daughter. WriteShop Junior D is recommended for students in 3rd grade-4th grade but can also be used by struggling students in 5th grade and 6th grade or those who have never taken any formal elementary writing lessons. The lessons are taught in a step by step approach using the stages of  pre-writing, brainstorming, writing and self-editing . Using the correct punctuation marks, brainstorming before writing, structuring a sentence, narrowing a broad topic and self-editing and revising your own work are just some of the skills introduced in this book. The student will also have the opportunity to write the following:

> Letter of Invitation
> Humor 
> Adventure 
> Science Fiction 
> Mystery 
> Poetry/Haiku
> Folktales 
> Historical Fiction
> Personal Narrative
> Expository Writing: Factual Article

We were given digital copies of the following items:

Book D Teacher’s Guide digital copy costs $35.50. It contains 278 pages of comprehensive instructions on how to use the writing program. Daily lesson plans, writing samples, guided scripts and list of required supplies for each activity set can be found here. It is also available in a spiral bound physical book which costs $45.95.  This is a required component for the effective use of the writing curriculum.

WriteShop Review
Activity Pack digital copy costs $35.5o. It includes the 66 pages of engaging student worksheets and 72 pages of  Level 1 Fold-N-Go Grammar pack. The activity sheets are presented in an animated, fun and creative manner. Student will enjoy completing all the interactive activities which makes learning fun!  Some of the pre-writing activities need preparation from the teacher. Preparation includes printing and cutting. Level 1 Fold-N-Go Grammar pack is a reference tool to help review grammar rules. You can assemble it by using file folders.

The digital copy enables you to print as many copies as you need for your entire family. If you want to buy the hard copy, it costs $45.95 but do note that it  can only be used by 1 child. This is a required component for the writing curriculum.

WriteShop Review
Optional Time Saver Pack digital copy costs $11.50. It has 24 pages of ready made tools to lessen preparation time of the pre-writing activities from the activity packs. It is also available in hard copy and costs $14.95. Note that this is just an optional component for the writing curriculum.

All files can be simply opened using Adobe Acrobat.

How We Used The Product

We were given 8 weeks to use this product. As soon as I got the files, I immediately opened the Teacher’s Guide. As I scanned the document, I was a bit overwhelemed with the wealth of information found in this file. I decided to read the document in sections. I liked it that WriteShop has laid out a 2 week and 3 week cycle schedule of  the lessons. We chose to use the 3 week schedule and printed it out so we have a visual guide. To save on paper, we only printed the Activity Worksheets.

My daughter worked on Fold-N-Go Grammar on Mondays while I prepared the activities for pre-writing. photo 4 (8)

We worked on the pre-writing activity and this is where we have the most fun! There is a different fun activity in every lesson.

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Then we follow the Model and Teach script. For the following days, I asked my daughter to work on the journal writing practice, brainstorming activities and the writing project.

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Usually, my daughter types the finished project into the computer. Then she edits and revises the document using the self-editing checklist provided by WriteShop. After the 3 week cycle, we evaluate her work and the skills she learned during the entire cycle.

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What We Thought Of the Product

My daughter Kyla thinks that the product is wonderful. It’s a  fun and creative curriculum that allowed her to grow as a writer. She mentioned that she liked how the lessons started with games and made the lessons easier to remember. Every start of a new lesson, she looks forward to the unique games and it sets the tone for her writing assignment.  She also appreciates the self-editing checklist since it made editing and revision work easier for her. Her favorite lesson so far is the humor writing project. It was her first time to write a humor piece and it turned out quite good!

As the parent teacher, I liked the different activities that WriteShop provides. Instead of the usual drills, it adds creativity and widens my daughter’s choice of words and story lines in the different writing projects. The step by step approach was able to guide my daughter in forming the different skills needed to write more creatively. I especially liked the exercise on narrowing a broad topic, as it helped her to think more specifically on her writing assignments.

After 8 weeks of use, this product has not failed my expectations. If you have a reluctant writer in your home or if you are looking for a fun way to unleash your child’s creativity, I suggest you give WriteShop a try!

For more information on WriteShop, check the WriteShop Facebook page  or follow WriteShop Twitter or the WriteShop  
Pinterest or Writeshop @ Instagram or Google+ 
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Support Group

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What is a support group?

Whether you are a homeschooling parent, or a work at home mom or an advocate for something,  it is important that we find like-minded friends who will support us through your journey. They are the people who believes in what you believe in and share a common goal with you. You meet regularly and consistently to connect and supprort one another.

 

Why do I need to find a support group?

We all know that tough days will come and when they do, these friends or our support group will help remind  us that there are people who understand and support us in these situations that we go through. They can provide insight, encouragement and prayer in our own journey.

 

 

How do I find a support group?

Finding such a group can be difficult. It is a known fact that we can’t get along with everyone and we are all different. But if we are sensitive to the Lord’s leading, He will provide us with friends who He knows will bring out the best in us. The usual places where we can meet like minded friends can be :

> through online communities

> through church

> through common friends

 

If you are a homeschooler, I would encourage you to find your own group. If you can’t find an existing one, then create one.

Pray about it.  Invite people. Extend grace.

In the 5 years that we have been homeschooling, I am grateful that I have a support group that meets, if not, stays in touch with each other through email and prayer. I probably wouldn’t have homeschooled until today without them.

If you are a new homeschooler, this would be a great avenue to finding life long friends. If you are a veteran homeschooler, this would be a way to pass on the knowledge and share the experience to newbie families who needs support and guidance. As Proverbs 17:17 says “a friend loves at all times”. Let us be God’s instrument to others who are making the same journey with us.