Thursday, October 23, 2014

Letter of the Week Activities with the Letter E

It has been an exciting week for us as we did various activities related to our letter of the week, which is the letter E!
Just like with our previous letters of the week, we began with my toddler (2-year-old son) finger painting the letter E in upper and lower case. I also let him trace his finger on a foam letter E before doing the painting exercise.

Next, we proceeded with an E as in Earth art activity. It was also an opportunity for my 6-year-old to practice his listening, spelling and writing skills as I dictated a Bible verse to him.

Let me share how we did this earth finger painting activity step by step:
1. I asked the boys to choose a round object that they would trace on a bond paper.
2. I asked my 6-year-old son to cut the circles.
3. I mixed a bit of white on our dark blue paint in another container.
4. The boys first painted the circle cut outs with blue paint using their fingers.
5. Air dry the painted cut outs.
6. While we were air-drying the globes/earths of the boys, I asked my eldest son to write a Bible verse on a bond paper. My youngest got hungry so he had some morning snack while waiting for his globe to dry. ;)
7. Once dry, the boys finger painted green paint (for the islands/continents) on their respective earths/globes.
8. We let them air dry once more and we cleaned their hands.
9. The boys glued the earths they painted on bond papers. My eldest son glued his earth on the same paper where he wrote a Bible verse about the earth. My younger son glued his on a clean sheet of bond paper.
10. Then, I helped my toddler write E as in Earth on his bond paper.
While the kids were painting, I let a song video about our Bible verse for the week play in the background. The boys tried to learn the song after our painting activity.

As usual, we posted their newly-finished works of art on our wall near our kids' study table.
The next activity that we had after that was reading of books. First, we read about the creation story and explained briefly how God made the earth to be full of His goodness. Moreover, I highlighted that E is also for Eve, the first woman, and E as in the Garden of Eden. We also read about the earth again from our Space Book. Then, we read about the flight from Egypt through one of the books we bought at the recent MIBF -- One Mighty, Awesome, Incredible Rescue.

After the boys woke up from their nap that day, we watched the movie Prince of Egypt.

The following day, we had food that started with the E. We had eggplant omelette and egg pie.

We also read a book about eagles titled Eagles Don't Fly, They Soar! The Adventures of Billy Big Toes by Bo Sanchez. I read this to the boys before their nap.

We read the books related to our letter of the week before nap time and at night. In between reading lines from the book, I ask the kids some questions or I let the kids fill in the details to check if they remembered the details of our stories.

I also taught the boys an action song that I learned when I was in college as part of a Catholic Charismatic community. My college friends and I taught this action song to the delegates of World Youth Day '95 wherein we served as facilitators. The boys had been singing and dancing to the tune of this song in the past days.


We also looked up Egypt on our globe and its flag on my eldest son's poster of the flags of nations. I showed them photos of pyramids and the sphinx as well.

Then, we made our own version of Egypt's flag. It was a joint effort of us three. I first folded a bond paper lengthwise into three parts. I asked my toddler to choose between black and red crayon. He said he wants to use black. So, I let him color the black part of the flag. After helping him finish his part of the flag, I asked my eldest son to color the red portion of the flag. When the boys were done with their part, I drew an eagle in the middle of the white portion. Then, I posted our flag on our wall.

Aside from these activities, I let my toddler watch this video on the letter E in the past days while holding/playing with some props.


Lastly, the boys made their own versions of pyramids using their building blocks.

These were the exciting activities we had with the letter E this past days. Watch out for my post for our next letter of the week -- the letter O!

Note: Aside from doing these activities, we also engage in other activities that our boys like doing each day. The letter of the week program is just one part of our homeschool adventure. You may read about our daily homeschool activities in detail here in my previous post.

Another activity that I let my toddler engage in these past weeks is a matching game with different variations. All variations however have one main goal: that is to help him become more familiar with the letters of his name (MATEO). Watch out for my post also where I will enumerate and detail all the matching games that Mateo is playing to help him achieve this goal.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Embracing Gifted Me

I didn't have any idea about giftedness until I had my first baby and I read about the signs of giftedness in a book and started noticing these signs in my firstborn child. As I read more literature on the topic and attended seminars about it, slowly, it dawned on me that I am also gifted just like my son. I began to consider this when I heard in a seminar that giftedness is hereditary. I reviewed the traits of gifted people again and I realized that I possessed many of them. It was an AHA experience for me.
I'm grateful that we discovered that our son is gifted while he was young. This discovery helped me to discover a part of myself I never knew before. In my search for more information about giftedness so I would learn more how to parent my gifted child, I also learned many things about myself.
Let me share a few things I am most grateful to discover about giftedness and myself.
1. Perfectionist tendencies - One of the stories I most vividly remember about my perfectionist tendency was told by my mom. She said that when I was in Grade 1, I cried very hard over an exam wherein I had one mistake. They tried very hard to comfort me but I was so affected by the exam's result. She said that I got the highest score in our class but I was not content with that. I was still disappointed that I did not get all the answers right.
Every now and then, I would hear my mom (ever since I was young) telling me that I should stop being a perfectionist. That I can't always get everything right or make things happen according to my plan.
The truth is, I just can't help but strive for excellence in all that I choose to get involve in. And I get easily disappointed when things fall short of my expectations or do not happen according to plan.
I have tried over the years to curb this perfectionist tendency. I think I have improved a lot over the years. But it still surfaces many times.
When I learned that it's one of the traits of gifted individuals, I felt happy and relieved. My initial reaction was, "Oh! That's why!" I was very happy with my discovery. Finally, I felt relieved because all along I thought that something is wrong with me... why I can't easily move on when I get disappointed over things that fall short of my plans and when it's simply my default to strive to make things perfect.
When I learned that gifted people are wired this way, I grew to accept this trait more. Recognizing this in myself helped me to give myself permission to strive for excellence most of the time in the things I am involved in.
2. Ability to remember a lot of things/things that had a big impact on me - I remember many times when I was chided by my parents and some friends for remembering negative things that happened to me even after a very long time. Many people believe the cliché "To forgive is to forget." For a long time, I felt pressured to forget those painful experiences thinking that I am sinning or still harboring resentment because I can still vividly remember many of those hurtful experiences. It was a good thing that I once read a book about forgiveness and the author said that we should not equate forgiveness with the ability to forget certain events. The author said that when you remember and you feel the ill feelings resurface, you can choose to forgive that person again anyway. Moreover, the author said that one advantage of remembering the incident is that we get to remember the lessons as well from those experiences.
When I learned more about giftedness, I realized that it is also part of being gifted that I am extra sensitive and therefore it should not be a surprise to me that events or experiences which had a big impact on me (especially painful ones) would be very hard for me to forget.
Knowing this helped me to accept that I simply cannot forget or erase from my memory those experiences that I had. My brain was wired this way and so no matter how hard I try to forget, it would be putting unnecessary pressure on myself to forget those experiences. Because of this, I was also able to let go of feelings of guilt over remembering so many things in the past that many people tell me I should already forget.
3. Multipotentiality - I just learned about this recently when I read another blog post. Just like when I discovered about the two traits I mentioned earlier, I felt happy and relieved to learn about multipotentiality. I've been hearing from a number of people that I should learn to focus on accomplishing only one thing at a time and that I should choose to be an expert at only one thing instead of dabbling in a number of things.
I find it frustrating to limit myself to only one field. I just can't help but be interested in pursuing more than one thing and there are times when I want to pursue these things simultaneously. I'm really glad to learn that there are other people like me and that in this group, I am normal!
Those are just some of the traits I discovered recently about myself in my quest to learn more about giftedness. Discovering these things allowed me to embrace the giftedness in me. And as I embrace these traits in myself, I'm also learning to accept and embrace these traits as I see them manifested in my son.

This post is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop. Check out the other posts here.

On Motherhood and Mission Work

"Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." Matthew 22:21 (You may read the other versions/translations and commentaries about this verse here.)
This was our point for reflection last Wednesday when our Parish Priest visited us at home during our eldest son's birthday celebration. This was also part of the Gospel yesterday.
I had been contemplating about how blessed I am to be given the privilege to have children this past week since it's our eldest son's birthday week. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for God for blessing my womb and allowing me to bear not one, but three children.
One of the blessings of motherhood that I feel most grateful for is the honor and privilege of raising kids and bringing them up to love and honor the Lord.
When I was still single, I had been actively serving the Church by immersing myself in a lot of evangelistic activities/work as part of the Catholic Charismatic communities I was a part of. Through these communities, I had the privilege to share about the Gospel and the love of God to many people.
I also shared my story/personal testimony to different groups especially after I published my first book When My Bridegroom Comes.
I travelled less often and gave talks less often after I got pregnant and had children, one after another.
I am home most days especially now that I am pregnant with our third child.
But one thing that God impressed upon my heart is that I am right where He wants me to be at this time of my life - at home with my children.
I feel a profound joy and peace knowing this.
I used to dream of doing big things for God and the kingdom when I was much younger. But when I got married, slowly but surely, God made me realize that my first and primary mission work is at home. That the first people I need to bring to the Lord are my family members. And now that I have children, my main mission (aside from being a witness to my husband) is to bring the hearts and souls of our children to God.
I learned that I am as much in mission as the missionaries who leave their families and homes to proclaim the Gospel in other countries.
It may seem that I am doing very ordinary or sometimes insignificant work (like routine chores at home) but the truth is whatever I do here at home for the glory of God is still part of my missionary work.
Before I should dream or work to evangelize people outside of my home, I need to evangelize the people in my own home.
God has entrusted these precious hearts and souls into my care.  I pray that I would do well in raising them to be the kind of men that God wants them to be.
Like what I shared with our guests last Wednesday, I actually think that it is much easier to give talks outside the home than to evangelize our kids daily, not so much with words but more so with my actions. I make a lot of mistakes daily and my kids witness these. It's humbling and at the same time challenging to keep on choosing to be faithful to the mission and to the call to follow Jesus and to encourage others (our kids particularly) to do the same.
Yesterday, the priest in his homily highlighted the verse "Give to God what belongs to God." He reminded us that we were all made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, it is our duty to bring back humanity to God. His words affirmed me of my duty to bring my children to God. Yes, I will also do my share in bringing other people to God but I will begin in my own home, with my children.
I felt God encouraging me through these developments since I have started teaching our Catholic ABC curriculum to our two sons. It's my way of making sure I am able to pass on my faith and the catechisms of the Catholic Church to them even at a young age. I wanted to make sure that our Catholic faith is an essential part of their education. Actually, that's one of the main reasons my husband and I chose to homeschool them. We want them to have a solid faith foundation.
I've learned that is so easy to teach academic subjects to kids. But teaching them values and forming their character is not that easy. It's not something that you can teach in one or two sessions and you'd expect them to take those values on. I can teach my sons, especially the eldest, academic concepts in one or two sessions and he would remember a lot of what we have discussed. But with character formation, it's a different story. I need to exercise patience and I need to consistently give reminders. I need to model the values and be a good role model to my kids day in and day out.
That's why I believe that it's only by the grace of God that our kids are growing up to be these kind of kids -- loving and prayerful. With all my flaws and shortcomings, I thank the Lord that they are taking on the values that we want them to take on.
One of my joys as a mother is witnessing my sons pray with all their hearts to God. I rejoice every time I see them automatically turn to God in prayer for whatever need or concern they may have. My heart leaps for joy when they are eager to go to Mass to worship God and when they participate with hearts full of devotion. During these times, I feel that all my efforts are being rewarded.
When they remember things that we have discussed about our faith, I feel a sense of fulfillment because I know that I am somehow fulfilling my mission as their mother.
Give to God what belongs to God... these children belong to God. They were entrusted temporarily into our care. It is my duty (together with my husband) to lead them to God. I dream and look forward to that day when I would see them serving God and honoring Him in their own unique ways. Will God call one of my boys to serve Him through the priesthood? I don't know. If it does happen, I would be honored to have raised a son who will serve the Church in that capacity. But whatever God would call them to do, I pray that I would be able to give the support that they need to fulfill that call and mission.
I love these lines from one of my desk calendars:
"God knows the feelings of discouragement, inadequacy, and failure which conscientious parents feel. But it was His idea to make them parents and to give them this particular set of children. He is Father to the parents, and promises every kind of help they need." (emphasis mine)
I do not think that it is coincidence that these lines were featured today in my desk calendar. I know in my heart that it is the Lord speaking to me through my desk calendar this morning.
He knows how much I need His words of affirmation and encouragement.
I thank the Lord for choosing to use me in spite of my sins and imperfection. May He continue to give me the grace to walk faithfully in this path and to plant the seeds of faith in these young hearts and souls.