bahaySKUL midterm review

we try to pick ourselves up from a vacation in paradise and get back into full swing

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We have completed our first term right smack at the end of January. The boys have each taken their midterm evaluation tests at TLP, our homeschool provider – and passed! We had a little ravioli lasagna party to celebrate this success, just the three of us.

 

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And then we packed our luggage and flew off to Davao for a much-needed and very well-deserved vacation.

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Five days later we are back home. We have just moved to a new apartment so a lot of our things are still in boxes, and we’re still waiting for plumbing and electrical repairs to complete. I therefore declared this week as a free week. No bahaySKUL. So the boys are gung-ho on the TV watching Netflix and YouTube while incessantly asking when we will buy a new Xbox video game CD, which I promised, and that they are in fact entitled to after completing one bahaySKUL term.

I, on the other hand, will utilize this week planning for our final term. My goal is to complete our remaining modules over the next two months. So that beginning April, they are free to sign up for any summer activity of their interest, and we can also start on with a project for their ‘project-based learning’ requirement next school year. I am also taking this time to assess the previous term, where we did well, and what we can improve on for the succeeding terms and school years.

So here I draw up a list of the things and methods that worked for us last term. Everything on this list, we did for the first time this school year, and it worked great, at least for this season of homeschooling and at our children’s learning level.

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Daily math. Contrary to the bad reputation it has received, Math is a well-loved subject around here. It is simple and concrete, and easy to teach. All it takes is for me to introduce a new math concept, work problems with my kids, and once they grasp the concept, I need only to follow up with daily math practice. We start all of our bahaySKUL days with Math. We use Math LifePACS for our main curriculum, and supplement with a Singapore Math textbook, and oral math drills (fun!).

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Lapbooks. This year is the first time we have incorporated lapbooking into our bahaySKUL. We found lapbooks to be great tools for sealing in what was learned from the modules. Every once in a while, the boys look back at the lapbooks they’ve made, and then say, “Oh yeah, I know about this..” They are especially great for concept mastery and review, we mostly used our lapbooks when we reviewed for the midterm evaluation tests last month. Best of all, the boys enjoy making them, and keep asking to do more lapbooks!

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Story mapping and graphic organizers. The curriculum we’re using, LifePACS, is rather text-heavy. A lot of reading is required, and a lot of concepts are embedded within large chunks of text. For young kids who are just developing their comprehension skills, grasping concepts from heavy text formats might prove difficult, if not frustrating. To ease the process, we’ve been using a lot of graphic organizers for note-taking and identifying important pieces of information that we read from the text. This process has mostly replaced a lot of the copywork that we were doing last year. Visual formats are easier and more interesting for young readers, and help them to have a deeper understanding of the subject. This way, they also figure out which part of the lesson is most exciting, which they research and read up on afterwards.

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Reference books. We have a monthly budget allocated for books. Since we’re homeschooling, and we cut down on expenses like school transportation and tuition fees, we make it a point to set aside a certain amount to purchase books instead. We don’t have a library in our area that caters to our young learners’ needs, so we really have to buy books ourselves, if we want our kids to keep reading. Last year, our book purchases were mostly graphic novels (Adventures of Tintin, Smurfs) and classic literature, with the intention of developing a reading habit and love for books. This year, their book choices include series books (Geronimo Stilton, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and manga comics (Naruto). They also ask to buy special interest books, particularly Minecraft, we have a growing library of Minecraft-related books around here. And they have a monthly subscription to K-zone, a local kids’ magazine. Just recently, we found that adding illustrated reference books to this mix is a great way to keep the boys entertained with reading, as well as pique their interest in topics like astronomy or early Egyptian culture. We have found Usborne Discovery books to be especially helpful in this regard. These have website links when the kids want to find out more about what they read from the book. Some of the photos from the books are also downloadable from the Usborne site, which we can print out and use for lapbooking and other activities.

the daily soup

soup diet, anyone?

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I started a new fad in my household. We now eat soup more times in a day than we have dessert. Not kidding. I love soup. Ari likes soup but only occasionally, like every time we eat out :) Uri hates it. Turo is so-so about it. But hey, I’m the President of my kitchen. I do the grocery and get stuff from the market and pay for takeouts and I set the meal plan for the week. In short, I wield a lot of power over everyone else’s food choices. So one day, I woke up and said, we’re gonna eat soup everyday. And so we did.

Every morning, I wake up, cut up vegetables, simmer them in water, add a pinch of spices, a sprinkle of herbs, maybe some milk or yogurt or cream, grated cheese when I’m feeling fancy, or egg when I’m feeling exceptionally hungry. And then the rest of the pack wakes up to a bowl of soup each, with toast or crackers on the side. That’s what we have for breakfast EVERY SINGLE DAY for about a month now.

Nobody’s complaining. Who could resist my I-don’t-have-to-fix-my-own-breakfast offer? So y’all might think I’m dragging my entire household into this diet revolution, but there’s more to it than trying to lose pounds or belly flabs.

Why go on a soup diet? Continue reading

wrapping up another homeschool year

It’s been a while since I posted anything about our bahaySKUL activities. Not that there wasn’t much going on, but the opposite. There has been too much going on in our household, and my plate is brimming full with daily routine as well as the random and unexpected.

It has been an exciting bahaySKULyear indeed. We finished Uri’s first grade and Ari’s second grade at about the same time this August. We have submitted our grades, project outputs and the rest of the boys’ portfolio to our homeschool provider. And now, they’re registered as 2nd and 3rd graders for this new school year! Our household has been filled with nothing but the air of triumph for about a week now. Neither the boys, nor I could get over it just yet. This is a family achievement, after all. And yes, we’ve had pizza and Coke way too many times this week! Continue reading

cloth diapering (6 months up)

Cloth diapers to go

My little boy is now 9 months old, and we have been (almost) exclusively cloth diapering for about the same time. Because there are days when deadlines get deadly, and the diaper laundry sits awhile, and I couldn’t get prefolds and covers to dry before the clean ones run out. I confess to having a secret stash of disposable diapers just for these occasions. They get me through very tough times. The rest of the time, though, my baby is on cloth 24/7.

So how does our cloth diaper stash look like right now? Continue reading

slow cooker success

how the slow cooker became my new best bud..

slow cooker seafood pasta

slow cooker seafood pasta

We are 5 months (and counting) without a house helper (the first time in 8 years!). I never imagined I’d be brave enough to fire, perhaps lay off is more politically correct, our house helper of 4 years. But I got to the point when I decided I needed to be in full control of my household and our family life, and that meant cutting off our dependencies on other people. This whole ‘simplifying our life’ has really gotten to me, that many people might think I’m crazy for letting go of our reliable house helper when other families I know are in dire need of one. Continue reading

organic for a cause

we’re rooting for local organic farmers (ourselves included), and we get a basketful of veggies in return. sweet.

Today we received our first farm “share” of locally produced organic vegetables. We subscribed to a community-shared agriculture (CSA) scheme where we paid 4 weeks’ worth of seasonal, organic produce from farmers organized by Good Food Community. GoodFoodCo. is based in Quezon City, but recently, a group of young, organic farmers (including us!) from where we live here in Los Banos, thought of replicating this CSA scheme here.

What is CSA and how does it work?

Community Shared/Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. A farmer, or an organized group of farmers, offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Interested consumers purchase a “share” or “membership” or a “subscription”, which is a lump sum amount paid in advance, and in return receive a box/bag/basket of seasonal produce every week throughout the farming season. This arrangement benefits farmers because they get a sure market for their produce and they receive payment at the start of the planting season, which helps to have a stable farm cash flow.

our weekly CSA farm share delivered to our doorstep

our weekly CSA farm share delivered to our doorstep

In the GoodFoodCo. CSA scheme, each share can be one of 3 options: a bayong pambahay (roughly 3.5 kg of cooking vegetables good for a family of 4), a salad pack (roughly 500g of salad greens and herbs, with occasional fruit in season), and a juice pack (a choice mix of juicing vegetables good for approx. 500ml). We are currently subscribed to the juice pack, and this week our basket included celery, cilantro, lettuce, kale, cucumbers, lemons and ginger–all for PhP 370/week!

our veggie smoothie

our veggie smoothie

Nothing beats fresh, organic vegetables, pureed with bananas, papayas and yogurt. That’s our recipe for a high-fiber smoothie, which we usually have for breakfast or afternoon snack. And for less than 400 bucks a week, Turo and I can have this every day, plus a few sips each for our little boys.

Joining a CSA makes getting a variety of freshly harvested, organic produce super duper easy. No need to go to a farmers’ market as you get your veggie load delivered right to your doorstep. It’s also a great way to pack more vegetables into meal planning. Since we’re now only subscribed to the juice pack, next month we’ll subscribe to the bayong pambahay so we can also have fresh organic veggies to cook with. Really, this has simplified our dilemma of eating organic exclusively at a price we can comfortably afford. And soon enough, our farm will be part of this CSA program as we’ll be providing organic lettuce for the salad packs!

Read more about how we transformed the way that we eat and our healthy lifestyle choices from these posts:

The local food project

The food that we eat

Conscious consumption

Small and sustainable

the convenience of cloth

2 months, 10 lbs., 3 different wash routines later, we are still cloth diapering exclusively and enjoying fully the convenience of cloth.

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Our cloth diaper stash from my previous post has gone pretty much unchanged, save for the addition of some AIOs or all-in-one cloth diapers. We’ve decided to use covers and flats and prefolds (no pocket diapers and no microfiber inserts) this time around, and we’re loving this diapering system more and more as the days go by. When baby was a month old, we were dependent on flats as it was basically pee and poop every hour. But now that he’s going for longer periods without pooping, I find myself reaching for prefolds at almost every diaper change. At 2 months, baby poops about 5-7 times in a day, and we’d have no more than 12 diaper changes within a 24-hour period. That’s a lot less compared to 16+ changes when he was a newborn. Continue reading

discovering prefold diapers

Every baby wearing disposable diapers can generate as much as one ton of landfill waste before the age of two.

Readers of this blog probably already know that our family has long been trying to maintain a simple, sustainable and non-consumerist lifestyle. Now that we have a new addition to the family, we attempt to carry on with these principles while raising a newborn.

Why cloth diapers?

The decision to cloth diaper our baby is an obvious one. Disposable diapers may be convenient, but they are also wasteful and expensive. The cost savings are actually secondary. It’s the amount of waste created by using disposables that we can’t live with. Continue reading

packing the hospital bag

packed yet still procrastinating…

I am currently on my 37th week of pregnancy, nearly full-term, and I just might go into labor any moment now. I’ve been procrastinating on so many preparations during this pregnancy, but the other night, I felt I seriously needed to pack for when I go to the hospital for delivery. So I was up until way past midnight packing my hospital bag. Here’s a list of the stuff I’d bring once labor comes a-knocking. Continue reading

photo-finishing first grade

if my planning serves me right, we will complete our first year of homeschooling this month!

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We are so nearly there. Our first bahaySKUL year completed in 12 crazy months. We are actually quite behind, because the regular school year starts next week, and Ari should be prepping for second grade at this time, but we are still finishing up with the fourth grading period of his first grade. But still. We’re really just counting the days. Doing the final lessons. Taking the last batch of tests. Putting together our first-ever bahaySKUL portfolio. So yeah, we have tons of photos to sort and print and organise, test papers to file, art projects to frame, grades to compute. And this is probably going to take us a couple of weeks more. But seriously, another couple of weeks is zilch compared to the last eleven months of this roller-coaster ride that we call bahaySKUL. Continue reading