WHEN the Covid-19 pandemic happened, mom-of-two Joyce Tinaco took the brave leap in homeschooling her two young kids.
“At first, it was really just for practical reasons. We did not want to go through the challenges of online distance learning such as dealing with an intermittent internet connection, picking up learning activity sheets (LAS), and meeting deadlines. Plus, the fact that I am a stay-at-home mom with some teaching background made the decision a lot easier,” says Joyce, who is married to Reynald Tinaco, a Senior Systems administrator.
One year after, the Tinacos believe that homeschooling turned out to be one of the best decisions they have ever made as a family.
Eldest daughter Sage Moirrey, who is 11 years old and in Grade 5, shares that she loves how creative her mom/teacher is. She and her younger brother, second-grader Rine Nathaniel, 8, have so much fun that they sometimes forget that they are studying and learning.
“I studied the DepEd curriculum, which is found online. It was long and extremely specific, so I struggled at first. Luckily, I have a friend who is a public-school teacher. She shared with me the lesson outline designed for each grade level. And, since I love my daughter’s former school, I also patterned most of my lessons from their books and LAS,” discloses the AB Psychology graduate.
Joyce jokes that nowadays the internet is her “new BFF” and that homeschooling is almost free if one is resourceful enough. She points out that if parents have an outline of lessons/activities, they can find all kinds of print-ready supplemental activities online.
With the materials she gathered, Joyce innovatively came up with her own curriculum. She presented them to the kids and asked what they thought about it. The hands-on mom meticulously consulted which area/subject would be more challenging; what they looked forward to; and what they were more excited to learn. She even asked Sage and Rine to come up with a list of skills and sports that they wanted to practice with their dad.
“I wanted to let the kids know and feel that homeschooling was a team effort,” the 41-year-old mom divulges.
The Tinacos start their day with a prayer and eat breakfast together before dad Rey goes to work. Joyce and the kids then do the beds, clean up a little and go outside for some sun time and simple exercise.
Afterwards, they proceed to their study room to work on their lessons and end their class around 3 p.m. During Mondays, Joyce discusses the weekly plan after their flag ceremony.
Coming up with enjoyable activities is a piece of cake for Joyce who is a sought-after emcee and game master during PTA gatherings, pre-pandemic.
“I get inspired by current events and day-to-day things. For instance, March is Fire Prevention Month, so we had a lesson on how to prevent fire, what causes it, how to conserve energy, preparing a go-bag, etc.,” she discloses.
Sage loves geography and learning about different countries; science experiments; cooking and writing. In fact, writing her weekly essay is pure happiness for her. She also keeps a journal and enjoys creating comic strips. On the other hand, Rine delights in solving Math equations, puzzles, and Sudoku; building blocks; origami; arts; and practical skills.
Every activity is an opportunity to learn for the Tinacos. For instance, when the family cooks, Joyce also teaches the kids Math by measuring the ingredients and has quick lessons on where the flour came from and how cooking oil is made.
Living near Joyce’s family proved to be an advantage, too, as the kids learn how to cook from their grandpa, discover sewing from their grandma and even play basketball with their uncle.
Amazingly, the only time that Sage and Rine get to use their gadgets is every Saturday for two hours. How did the Tinacos pull this off? Joyce patiently explained the importance of responsible gadget use and as a family, agreed on a set of rules. “Be firm and consistent about it. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is,” the vivacious mom advises.
So instead of being glued to the screen, during their free time, the kids go biking and play badminton, board games, and their musical instruments. They also like reading a lot and create content for their YouTube channel, “Sage and Rine” and Facebook page, “Homeschooling with Sage and Rine”.
Doing household chores keep the young ones preoccupied as well. “Sage’s main chores are dishwashing and folding the clothes daily while Rine is in-charge of sweeping and cleaning their study room. One or two daily chores carried out by the kids already mean a lot to me because we do not have any household help. I also make Sage understand that she needs to look after her younger brother by reminding him to brush his teeth or comb his hair,” says Joyce.
When they play games, in place of money/gifts as prizes, Joyce gives the kids special coupons that they could use once (e.g., a one-hour extension on sleeping and game time; yummy treats from mom; etc.) This proved to be more effective and appreciated than toys and other prizes.
For parents who are considering homeschooling, Joyce says that they must start with a positive mindset and not look at it as an additional task. Instead, treat it as an opportunity to be able to see the kids grow right before their eyes. In addition, parents must be honest with themselves if they are up to the challenge. “You do not want to short-change your kids and give them a mediocre learning experience,” she gently reminds.
“For me, homeschooling is love because if you are just “forced” to do it then the results will not turn out great. However, if you find joy in teaching and doing activities with your kids then you can definitely do it!” Joyce cheers on.
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