School Set-up in a 27-sqm Home

Adjusting to this “new normal” is very much challenging for all of us, including the young ones. If it’s hard enough for adults, think about the children and how this whole pandemic has affected their socialization, routines, outdoor time, and a lot more.

I am speaking based on our experience. Monica is an only child. We live in a small condo unit. Enrolling her to school at an early age was our way for her to meet friends, be exposed to different cultures, and such. School definitely helped improve her empathy, socialization, and self-expression. This whole community quarantine has greatly affected our immediate plans for her.

What choice do we have? I see a silver lining in all these; it is a way for us to strengthen her foundation at home — that’s where everything starts anyway. This new normal gives us a chance to become more mindful and more present as parents. It also reinforces our partnership with the school to help Monica develop her skills and abilities. Her school is offering 100% online curriculum for this school-year. This means she gets to be in a class with 30 to 45 minutes per session thrice a week. Everything will be purely virtual. And the rest of the time, we learn about practical skills. Why did we still enroll her if I can teach her on my own? I want to, because Monica loves her school and I respect that.

PREPARATION FOR ONLINE SCHOOLING

These are the things that so far worked for us. I understand it’s not the same for everybody — but sharing still in case somebody wants to know.

  1. We enrolled her to an online summer class for a month just to see if she’ll get a hang of it. Luckily, she did and she adjusted well. So my advice if you want to continue formal schooling, go ahead and look for free trial classes and see how your child will respond.
  2. Online schooling requires a “venue” for a child to feel that he/she is in school. Focus matters. In our case since we don’t have a spare room, I make sure to clear a space just for her classes. Then we just revert to the original setup after each class is done.
  3. Inasmuch as I want all her school supplies to be in just one storage, we only have a limited room space. So I made sure she knows where her things are (all within her reach) so she’ll be the one to get and return those. This way, it gives her responsibility in keeping her things together. So far, so good.

OUR HOME AS HER NEW SCHOOL

At first I was really worried on how our setup will be. We don’t have much area so a “study room” is not possible. But then again, I realized why not make our whole space a place for her learning? Since she’s already able to understand and perform small chores, I make sure to involve her. Learning is not only done in school so it’s now the perfect time to teach some life skills while maximizing every corner in our home!

  1. KITCHEN: She helps me prepare the ingredients for a recipe, arrange utensils, and a lot more. During our time in the kitchen, I make sure to engage her in different conversations, which improve instant vocabulary and confidence level enhancement.
  2. LIVING ROOM AND DINING ROOM: Since we have the same space for both, we do activities here together. Her daddy works at home so it teaches her how to respect time and how to focus on one area for play, at least for a certain time. This is why routine and schedule really play a big part.
  3. BATHROOM: I also let her help me do the laundry. It’s all play for her. Yes, it often results to added mess for me to clean, but it yields extra happiness for her. She also knows she needs to wash her hands thoroughly after every bathroom use.
  4. BEDROOM: This is where her toys and books are, so play happens here most of the time. She knows she has to pack away and clean-up on her own every time.
  5. BALCONY: Luckily, we have a small balcony and it’s been our source of “outside world” ever since this whole quarantine started. We started growing plants recently and this experience is giving Monica simple lessons on biology. I get to explain things such as why we should wait, why we should water them, and the like, as she sees development on the plants each day.
  6. Even though she has a small space for physical activities, I think of ways to make it fun. We exercise, jump, or just do silly things together. We may have missed the fun outside but it doesn’t mean we cannot improvise.

My description above feels like we live in a big house, but really, it’s just a 27-sqm. one-bedroom unit. So you see, just because we have a small place does not mean we cannot make it conducive for learning. I love the idea of going to school, but I also love that our home is where she can learn the basic values first — quarantine or not. 🙂

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Reading at 3 Years Old

I remember a conversation I had with Beejay 3 years ago, Monica was just less than a year old; “Love, bibili tayo ulit ng books, parang ang dami na?” Beej answered “Love, ‘wag na ‘wag tayong manghihinayang sa books.”

Since then, books became a staple in Monica’s routines; she would choose books over her toys. We read books everyday, no fail. She would point at something and we will tell her what it was. She learned about letters. numbers, shapes, and colors at 1 year and 3 months; with no pressure nor force. Monica was just really interested which made it easy for her to absorb and understand.♥️

So How Did We Enable Monica To Read?

I’ve always believed that reading doesn’t start and end with just plain “reading”. At 2 years old, Monica can already “read” traffic and road signs and that’s good enough for us. We just continued with storytelling, nurturing her interests, and so on without the pressure on making her read early.

When she entered preschool at 3 years old, her interest on letters became more evident; I noticed she can already read sight words but I didn’t really make a big deal out of it because I know that kids learn fast. As days went by, Monica got better with phonics. Credits to her Teacher Lex of Golden Values School because I know she played a big part as Monica will always tell me about school and how she enjoyed making the “letter sounds”.

It was middle of the school year when I confirmed she’s really trying to read on her own; she has gotten better with sight words and she would try to read the words based on how they sound. That’s when we became involved – we practiced and read things together. Until one day, she started reading in sentences all on her own and she would read 5 books every night before she sleeps. What makes it more special? She understands what she reads and she enjoys doing it. It is very important that she’s not only reading but comprehending as well. How do I know? We will talk about the book as soon as she’s done reading it. And voila, she can answer my questions correctly.



Fast forward to these days, she keeps reading and reading – I would give her anything with letters and she would read it. Just recently, she has started reading in Filipino. I was so surprised to witness her reading and finishing the Bahay Kubo book. She is turning 4 years old next month and her reading and comprehension is improving everyday. I can’t be more excited to witness the things she will do and discover.

Alongside her developing reading skills is the improvement on how she writes and spells words. Whatever she reads, she can easily translate into writing. Note that she doesn’t have correct spelling all the time. But we just let her do inventive spelling as it helps her decipher sounds and understand words better. I guess these things work hand in hand because Monica’s vocabulary grows each day.

Tips on How to ENABLE Your Child Read

These tips are based on our experience; I am not in any way a formal educator and I don’t claim to be one. Haha. Just sharing what worked FOR US.😉

  1. DON’T PRESSURE, DON’T FORCE. WHEN THE CHILD IS READY, IT WILL JUST BE EASY. I can’t stress this enough. A lot have been asking me on why and how Monica is able to read already and I keep answering that “because she likes it, that’s why it’s easy for her.”
  2. Make the books accessible. Monica’s books are just within her reach; I guess this is why a day doesn’t go by without reading or holding a book. This helped Monica in getting interested.
  3. Master the phonetics. Monica’s school did a really great job on this. I don’t really teach her at home, I just do some follow-through’s. All her lessons came from school and I think they have a big impact on Monica. If you can’t enroll your kid yet, I guess, you can learn the phonics together. Again, ONLY WHEN YOUR CHILD IS READY.
  4. Practice Most Common Sight Words. This is easy to do, just make sure you don’t overdo it as your kid might get tired of this. Start with simple and rhyming words. Read aloud.
  5. Don’t correct right away. Build your child’s confidence. When Monica doesn’t read some words correctly, I would ask her to repeat and she will figure out on her own. I only correct when she asks me to.
  6. Make reading a fun experience for you and your child. In our case, we maximized different activities to nurture her reading skills. We tried Word Hunt, Match The Words, Color the Word, Reading and Comprehension activities and so on. (Tip: Check @thecrafterteacher on IG for free worksheet printables) 😉
  7. Zero to Less Gadget Use. THIS WORKS FOR US but of course I cannot force this on anyone. Monica has not had any gadget use for over a year now. I noticed that her focus is very good and that she can handle her emotions well. I think this helps in her being interested in reading as her energy gets diverted into learning instead of just watching and playing with a gadget.

More than all these things, what really matters is how your child responds to whatever we teach them. Let’s respect when they are ready; I tell you, when that time comes, everything will be easy.

I hope you find this useful or helpful. On my next blog, I will share about Monica’s progress in writing and spelling. ☺️

Thank you for reading. 😘

Din

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