Why Our Hearts Matter More Than The Diploma

 

I’ve been following some talks made by Jack Ma, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerburg, and Warren Buffet. These are amazing people that are all leaders of their chosen fields and have big social responsibilities hanging on their heads.

Amongst the talks,  a common concern arises when they discuss the current model of our education system. I noticed that almost none of them credit their success to the education they got from school, but instead from developing an ability to learn from their failures.

The more they fail, the more they learn. They take risks, try new things, fail a whole lot more and try again.

I think the reason most successful people aren’t able to credit their success to school is because schools punish failures. It rewards perfection, exactness, predictability, and conformity. Oftentimes, there’s only one way to do things, and there’s too little room for error, limiting possibilities and creativity. A lot of A-type students need to adjust a whole lot more once they stepped into the real world and realize that there is no straight gate. The world is an inception of possibilities, and because of information being easily accessible theoretical knowledge is valued too little without practical application.

The real world teaches very differently from how our education system teaches us. In life, (it seems) perfection and success is not a good teacher, failure is. Getting it right the first time and all the time, doesn’t take you very far, but your failures and mistakes will, if you choose to learn from them. And the good news is you cannot fail all the time, when you fail enough you’ll eventually know what works, just don’t give up.

 

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The more they fail, the more they learn

 

I’m a Millenial baby and I’ve seen how our technology has been breaking walls and growing exponential lengths. From simple brick games, family computer, Nintendo, PS4 to the rise of virtual reality. I also remember the dial-up internet connection that takes 3-10mins just to connect to the web to today’s superfast fiber optics.

It’s a very exciting time to live! These technological advances made it possible for information to be accessible to billions of people everywhere with a single click. Now, we can teach ourselves almost anything just from watching Youtube videos! The rise of open universities like Khan Academy, edX, and Udacity provides great resources for a more systematic learning approach.

 

A CRISIS LOOMING

All these breakthroughs just prove the tragic truth that our education system is lagging behind. I feel so heartbroken that our system cannot keep up with these changes. While technology is growing exponentially, our education system is still on linear growth. It seems whatever is being taught in our schools today will be obsolete in about 10 years time, if not already. A lot of businesses will be embracing the efficiency of supercomputers and jobs will be lost. But at the same token jobs will be created that aren’t even taught in schools, this will all be learned self-taught or by finding a good mentor to learn the trade through on the job experience.

10, 20, 30 years from now artificial technology will take manufactured reality into a whole new level. Synthetic feelings, virtual experiences, an overdose of dopamine and other short-lived and addictive technology that provides temporary relief from all the human emptiness that comes from the junk the world is trying to feed us. It will be a vicious and addictive cycle and will ruin a lot of lives. Are the children ready for this?

If we want our education to cope with the current advances in technology, we need a radical reform that will be targeted towards the demands of the future. We need to keep away from the system that is built on uniformity, conformity, and standardization. Leaving these traditional methods and leading a self-motivated, interest-led learning that will be focused on addressing the uniqueness of each person using a method rather than a system.

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OUR WEAPON

Secure our children’s hearts. The Family is still the basic unit of our society, the power, and responsibility to raise disciples lies on each parent. As parents, we have the sacred calling to build a good moral and spiritual foundation for our children. Our homes are the most basic educational environment. We need not undermine our capacities to instill good-lasting values and habits to our children.

Children wouldn’t be able to withstand the blows of adversity if they have a weak spiritual, moral, and psychological foundation. All of which are instituted and cultivated within the walls of a Family that is built with love, care and respect for each other nourished with His Word.

I know that a lot of parents are drowning with responsibilities but we need to go back and identify what is really important. There has never been a generation when children have so desperately needed their parents’ time, thoughtful creativity, and friendship than the children of today. We need to use the technology towards our advantage and help counter the negative effects of it! Our children need to have a firm grasp of what is synthetic and what is real. An iron rod they can hold on to when their moral judgment, standards, and beliefs are being put to the test. A screen to filter out all the smug of the world and serve as a light in a troubled generation to lead them to see the beauty, goodness, and truth.

“In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it, for the most part, spent out of the fresh air.”

-Charlotte Mason

 

WHERE TO START?

In these precious early years, our children learn best through their surroundings. Their little hands are ready to explore, play, and learn. Our duty as parents is to create opportunities for our children to see the world, not hinder them from seeing it. Children need to play outside! We, Parents, need to set aside our worries and fears about what could go wrong, but instead focus on letting our children get as much experience to carry with them the beauty of the world around them — while they still can.

Free Forest School of Zambales

 

Unstructured, interest-led play is the best activity for the early years. One of which is called masterly inactivity — a wise and purposeful letting alone which is the best part of early childhood education. A healthy balance between guiding and giving freedom. Learning this can be a bit tricky because “master” and “inactivity” are joined together but the key is you must have your authority in place and boundaries set up first (masterly) before you can practice wise passiveness (inactivity) in allowing children to explore, learn, and grow within those set boundaries.

Our children are so young to be bombarded with math problems, textbooks, assignments, and deadlines. We need to choose to give our kids a healthy childhood by letting them be kids! Enjoy the mess, savor the season as it will not last forever.

Educating the mind is important but it is not the end goal. We need our children to be ready for the challenges of the real world — moral, mental, physical, emotional, and most importantly spiritual. We need to prepare and guard the hearts of our children.

In the future, everyone will have diplomas, honors, and skills (thanks to free government education) but not everyone will be able to listen, understand, serve, love, and care.

“The question is not, – how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education – but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”

-Charlotte Mason

 

Thank you for reading this post. If you’re inspired to learn more about ways to educate your own children start by reading For The Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. I hyperlinked the preface of her book, you can download a free audiobook in Audible.

With much love,

Eya❤️

 

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A Closer Look At The 3 Educational Instruments Part 1

 

The thing about reading Charlotte Mason’s teaching is that you can’t grasp her knowledge at one sitting. It needs to be a small, constant bite at the concepts and you must do some pondering for you to understand what she’s trying to say.

It isn’t a spoonfed type of learning, but more like a story-telling. And with the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, things will be made clear to you.

Summer is turning 4 this year, and I’d like to equip myself with different concepts that can help me teach my daughter.

Although Charlotte Mason homeschool doesn’t start formal teaching until the age of 6, we still have to follow the guidelines imposed by the Department of Education with regards to K-12.

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So, according to Charlotte Mason there are 3 Educational Instruments, these are:

  • Atmosphere of Environment
  • Discipline of Habit
  • Presentation of Living Ideas

Thus, Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.

Notice that Charlotte Mason used the term, Instruments. Made simple, these are the things that we can use to motivate the child, to get the child to learn.

 CM has been very specific that these are the 3 things that we should use and discouraged using any other form of motivation to make the child learn something you want them to, like Love, Guilt, Rewards etc. as this appeals to the flesh, which she thinks manipulates the child’s learning ability.

At first, I don’t understand what this means because growing up I don’t see anything wrong with studying hard to get good grades and most definitely the rewards that come with it. But as I go along pondering on what she’s trying to say, that’s when it started making sense.

CM talked about how children are motivated by grades, scholarships, prizes etc. Although these things do motivate, she found out that the child motivated by such lost his natural love of knowledge-for-its-own-sake over time.

These then become a stumbling block for a child to learn.

Now, it makes total sense, I remember when I was in High-school, I took a class about Agriculture because I think it’s the easiest and I can get good grades from it. I was graduating and needed to get good grades for me to get into a good school with a scholarship. Looking back, it was really sad, because if only I’m not focused on the grades, I could’ve appreciated the class for what it’s trying to teach me, I could’ve applied those lessons and successfully put up an organic garden today.

No wonder why cheating in exams is quite common. Most students don’t care to appreciate and really take the time to learn what is being taught, they just need to pass. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand anything, as long as you pass.

But grades are just numbers, the real takeaway should come from the experience and real learning you’ve gained from taking a course or a lesson.

As I think about the future, I can’t help but be concerned.

I remember Jack-Ma’s talk about grades. He told his son:

“You don’t need to be in the top three in your class, being in the middle is fine, so long as your grades aren’t too bad. Only this kind of person [a middle-of-the-road student] has enough free time to learn other skills.”

Sadly our school system only rewards children with good grades. As harsh as it seems, our school system has been created to produce good employees, not employers.

We reward those who follow the instructions best, those who stick to the rules of the book, who stays in the line  — no questions asked.

But this is not how the real world works. The real world rewards creativity. Those who are able to think outside the box. Problem solvers, decision makers, and creative thinkers.
In the real world, suddenly the rules in the book don’t seem to apply. There’s no instruction we can follow and we often find ourselves lost.

You see, Miss Mason is not just concerned about the ends. How we learn about things mattered as much as the end result.

The teacher who proposes marks and places as worthy aims will get work certainly but he will get no healthy love of knowledge for its own sake and no provision against the ennui of later days.

–Charlotte Mason {Vol. 6, p. 91}

 

Part II will be posted in a few days.

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Love,

Eya

“Children Are Born Persons”

It’s been a while since my last blog post, I figured it will be more effective for me to take time reading the Charlotte Mason Series and keep pondering on her teachings.

Reading through Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy on Homeschooling, the very first principle she listed was “Children are Born Persons.” It is easy to get lost defining this as a simple thought that each child is his own; traits, behavior, etc. But I think Miss Mason wanted us to look at this at a much larger context, one that can be used as a guiding rod in raising a well-rounded child.

CM site some examples of how Children are Born Persons:

  1. “If we have not proved that a child is born a person, with a mind as complete and as beautiful as his beautiful little body, we can at least show that he always has all the mind he requires for his occasion; that is, that his mind is the instrument of his education and that his education does not produce his mind.

I think CM started her example by saying “If we have not proved that a child is born a person” in view of the fact that, during her time, there was an English philosopher named John Locke who asserted that at birth, a child is a Blank Slate, empty of ideas. Thus, children are seen as empty buckets that the teacher can pour knowledge into them. The pedagogy that the teacher is responsible for all decisions about learning because the teacher is the one who knows best. Fast forward 100 years later, this method of education is still widely used and the philosophy of the Blank Slate is argued by Miss Mason’s first principle that children are born persons, with a mind of their own. In this sense, his mind is the instrument of his education, it is a wonderful tool capable of great things, it is not some empty bucket to be filled with information, ergo, his education does not produce his mind.

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2. “Reason is present in a child’s mind, as well as imagination.”

Children are capable of reasoning, they can imagine things more than we can understand and we don’t need to talk down to them. “Imagine the mind, like a body that digests its proper food, and it must have the labor of digestion or it ceases to function.” Our role here is to keep engaging the child to follow a good reasoning, for him to manage his mood and control over his feelings. I can remember my toddler making a guilty face and her body language telling that a child does know right and wrong. We can lead a child to better reasoning and judgment by forming and developing good habits.

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3. “A child has a body and a mind, his body needs proper food to grow healthy and strong. And just as his body, his mind needs food, a feast of living ideas.”

Children are hungry for knowledge, not information. Presenting a subject as a dry fact does not make a connection on a child’s mind. What a child wants is the world, the very environment he’s living in. Our job is to lead these wonderful little persons to a feast of living ideas – history, art, science, math, music, literature, religion are some beautiful and rich subject areas that we can build a foundation on. By and by children will be able to make a connection of these things in their mind that we need not to talk much or explain the subject fully to them because they are able to understand better within themselves.

As Lao-Tzu wrote “If you tell me, I will listen. If you show me, I will see. But if you let me experience, I will learn.” Children learn by experience, they experience all the things they hear and read. Truly, an idea is what feeds the mind…literally. “Mind must come into contract with mind through medium of ideas.”

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4. “It is not only a child’s intellect but his heart that comes to us thoroughly furnished. Can any of us love like a child? He has a conscience.”

Every child has a big heart, capable of loving and forgiving everything. They are genuine and they are as much as a person as we are. They have feelings, and we must be careful not to offend them. A child is never too young to pray or hear the word of God, in the sense that we are all created in God’s image and each with hunger and thirst for God at the very root of our being.

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This is just the first principle of CM, have I mentioned there’s 19 more? Crayyyyy!

I am still so overwhelmed when I study CM’s concepts and principles. I’ve been praying for continued support and guidance as I seek for knowledge and wisdom on this journey. The thought of being responsible for my child’s education scares the hell out of me. I know that the task is daunting but I always find comfort knowing that God is my Ultimate Mentor, and I put my trust in Him.

Homeschooling is indeed a calling and there’s still so much more that I need to learn and ponder upon. I am writing today in hopes of connecting with like-minded families that I could share this beautiful journey with, bounce ideas with, and find encouragement during trying times. We are just starting our CM journey and I can definitely use all the feedback I can get so let me know what you think and we can talk more about it 🙂

With much love,

Eya

Stay at Home… Mom.

I can still remember that great feeling of uncertainty, contemplating whether I’ll quit my job and leave a career that I’ve invested almost five years of my life, or stay at home and be with my precious little daughter. Both of which I truly love and care for.

It was hard, trying to choose, but I know that I have to make a decision soon.

There are several things I have to consider before finally being able to make a decision. First, we’re not rich, so leaving my job isn’t exactly the best choice financially. Second, I am weeks away from my job confirmation and leaving soon would mean starting all over again if I decide to come back, and that is if there’s anything to come back to. Third, I’m anxious on how I can keep my sanity once I’m at home, with a baby, 24/7.

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Taking care of a child is a big responsibility in itself and along with it I also need to make it a point to take care of myself, because as they say you can’t give something you don’t have. I’ve read tons of articles about how to transition from being a working mom to a stay at home mom. But still, the idea of staying at home scares me, but by the same token, it’s exciting. One is because finally I’ll be with my daughter again and I could just be lazy, breastfeed and cuddle her all day. Two, I’ll be with a baby that isn’t really someone I can talk to and bounce ideas with like the people I have at work.

I know I’ll be happy staying at home with my daughter, but for how long? Will I be truly happy? I’ve heard horror stories of moms staying at home but are so unhappy and miserable. I’ve also heard stories about moms, working so hard for their family for years but ended up wishing they stayed at home and now it’s too late.  I don’t want to be any of that person.

But then, that look on my daughter’s face everytime I come home from a week’s work says everything. (We live in different cities, so I only get to see her during my days off.) How can I best describe it? You know when you’re trying to remember a familiar face? That puzzled look and deep thought. When put into words goes something like “Who’s this person, she looks familiar, let me take a second.” Then that Aha! moment when the puzzle finally starts to come together. I still feel a pinch in my heart when I remember that look on her face. I might’ve been overly sensitive to this but it’s very sad that a weeks absence did make my daughter forget for a second who I am.

Then all at once, the smoke and blur started to disappear. I can see clearly now what I should choose. I chose to be with my daughter, I don’t ever want to feel a gap or miss anything with her again. I want to be the person that she wants to cling to when she feels sad or gets some discomfort. I want to be there for her, in thought and presence.

My decision was locked in, and RJ was very supportive about it. He’s definitely been my rock through the emotional roller coaster of staying at home. He encouraged me to get a hobby and a support group to fill in the social bucket. I’m so blessed to have him through all of it.

I was afraid of losing myself if I stay at home. But staying at home gave me a purpose, a sense of direction. I might’ve lost myself in raising and caring for my daughter, but I found a better me in the process. I discovered new ideas, interests, and skills that  I know I couldn’t have done if I continued with my usual office work. I now read, listen to poetry, do garden works and is more involved in the community. Sounds like an old person, but I really like it. The best part of it all is that I see my daughter grow as a person right before my eyes. I didn’t think of it before but now I realize that as I teach my daughter, I learn and discover things about myself too.

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If you feel stuck on making a decision between a career and your kid. Listen to your heart. Follow your gut and keep praying for it. What I can say is, there’s an amazing life outside that cubicle and with God’s grace things will always work out the way they’re supposed to. I never thought staying at home will still be an avenue for me to grow as an individual but everyday I surprise myself with the things I do. I’ve been a stay at home mom for almost 3 years now, I know it’s nothing compared to veteran stay at home moms out there, but it’s a big thing for me. Now I also work at home for almost 2 years and it has been awesome. Don’t let fear stop you, take that leap of faith. Remember that you can always earn money but you can never bring back your kids’ childhood.

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Love always,

Eya

5 Tips On How To Continue Breastfeeding While Working Away From Home

It’s a common misconception that women need to stop breastfeeding because they’ll  be working soon or their maternity leave is over. Most breastfeeding mothers have very little to no access to information on how to make this transition from being a stay-at-home-mom to a career mom while still giving the best nutrition to her child/children.

In my experience EVERYTHING I know about breastfeeding, I learned from a community support group in Facebook, Breastfeeding Pinays. This group has been so helpful in teaching mothers how to discern facts from myths by using updated research and studies that gives a needed boost to continue breastfeeding.

Let me just say that I’m no expert on breastfeeding but I will share my experience with you on how we made it work and hopefully it helps you or someone you know on their own breastfeeding journey.

Here are 5 Tips on How to Continue Breastfeeding Your Child While Working Away From Home:

  1. BUILD A MILK STASH. If you’re thinking about applying for a new job or need to go back to work soon, the best way to prepare you and your child for this transition is to start building a milk stash. This stash should be able to hold the amount of milk NEEDED to be consumed by the baby when you’re away. Noticed that I emphasized on the word needed because a baby only needs 1-1.5oz/hr of breastmilk. So, that means if you’ll be away for 24 hrs, you need to prepare 24-36ounces of breastmilk. Allow enough time for yourself to build a milk stash, in my case I started building it at least a month before I returned from my maternity leave.
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Photo from Google

 How to build a milk stash? I started by using a manual single barrel pump that my dear friend gave me as a gift to express breastmilk. (Please do not use a “pot-pot” pump because over time moisture can build up on the rubber pump and molds can form, you do not want to give that to your baby. ) But then it can get so tiring to manually squeeze the handle so I decided to buy an electric breast pump. It was nothing fancy, I bought it from our local department store and costs about 3,000 pesos but it was on sale and I got it for 1,800 pesos.

When to express milk? I usually express breastmilk in the morning when my milk supply is so abundant! Nursing mothers can absolutely relate to this. You feel fuller in the morning especially if you have a baby that sleeps well through the night. It’s also a good time to express while nursing your child because the letdown will be on both breasts and instead of the extra milk going to waste why not express and save it 🙂

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How to store breastmilk? There are different ways on how to store breastmilk and it will very much depend on how long you’ll need it stored. I’m sure it will surprise you how robust our breastmilk is as it doesn’t spoil easily when stored property. In my case, since I’ll be working for 5 full days and only gets to see my daughter during my days off, (she’s in Subic and I work in Pampanga) I needed to store my milk longer so I used a double zip lock breastmilk storage bags and store it in the freezer. But over time our freezer gets so crowded with milk and there’s not enough space for other food to be stored, so we switched to a chest freezer. In many cases, if you’ll just be away for a couple of hrs/day, you can use a clean glass container or a sterilized breastmilk storage bottle and put your milk in the refrigerator. Just allow enough time for the milk to be at room temperature before giving it to the baby.

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Photo from Pinterest

EXTRA TIP: When expressing breastmilk, it is recommended to wait until your baby is six weeks and older. By six weeks your milk supply stables and you avoid the chances of getting an oversupply of milk which can lead to breast tenderness, engorgement or worst mastitis since milk ducts are not being emptied properly. The best way to express milk is by hand expression. Learn this skill and never worry about carrying a pump again.

2. EVERYONE SHOULD BE ON BOARD. What this means is that if you are fully committed to continuing breastfeeding your child, your baby’s caregiver, if not your entire household should be on board with your plan. Since the person who will look after your child will be his/her primary caregiver and will have full control on what and how the baby is fed when you’re away, you should explain and make sure they understand why you’re doing what you’re doing and how they can be successful in doing it to avoid conflicts.

In my experience, RJ made sure that 1-1.5oz/hr rule is followed when feeding our daughter. This is to ensure that our milk stash will last until I get home and replenish it. We follow a first in, first out policy when it comes to thawing breastmilk.

Before I get back to work, our daughter had a hard time transitioning from breast to bottle. Babies are so smart to know that bottles have fake nipples so she won’t take it. We tried different bottle nipples and luckily found that Avent does the trick. It was quite pricey but we’ll still be saving a whole bunch of money not buying formula every single week.

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EXTRA TIP: Encourage the baby’s caregiver to learn how to cup-feed your baby. This is the best way to give express milk to a baby and eliminates the risk of nipple confusion among others. You’ll be surprised that babies have the ability to drink from a shot glass this early. It takes a whole lot of practice but once you master it you’ll never have to wash a bottle again.

3. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009, R.A.10028 Section 11 mandated all health & non-health facilities, establishments, and institutions to establish a Lactation Station. Know that a toilet doesn’t count as a lactation station. It is not sanitary and certainly not comfortable. A Lactation Station should include a lavatory, refrigeration or appropriate cooling facility for storing expressed breastmilk; electrical outlets for breastpump, a small table, comfortable seats, all of which meets the standards imposed by the Department of Health.

Section 12, grants nursing employees Lactation Periods on top of regular time off for lunch and other mandated breaks. Lactation break shall include the time it takes an employee to get to and from the workplace lactation station and shall be counted as compensable hours worked. The intervals shall not be less than a total of forty (40) minutes for every eight (8)-hour working period. These mandates come with sanctions if the institution fails or refuses to comply, which can range from 50,000 pesos – 1 million pesos and cancellation of business permit (see Section 21.)

This law has been one of the rocks that I hold on to when the going gets though. I was lucky enough that the company I was working for back then was very supportive of my breastfeeding journey and they fully complied with the law. Although some co-worker seems to not understand why I need to express milk at the office when we can buy formula. I feel that it is both a right and a responsibility to let other people know that as breastfeeding mothers, we are protected by the law as we do our best to perform our work duties and give the best nourishment to our babies at the same time.

EXTRA TIP: If breastfeeding station is currently not available at your workplace, write a formal letter or talk to your HR Manager or Supervisor about it. Explain the importance of having a lactation station in a respectful way while letting them know that compliance to it is required by the law.

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Photo from Google

4. STICK TO THE SCHEDULE. Breastfeeding follows the law of supply and demand. When a baby latches and suckles, it signals your body to make milk. The more the baby breastfeeds, the more milk you produce. Believe me when I say this, no matter how much galactagogues like malunggay soup, cookies, tablets, drink etc. etc you take if your baby doesn’t breastfeed you will not produce enough milk for him/her. You might be asking, since you’re working away how do you keep your milk supply enough? The answer is to keep a pumping/milk expression schedule and religiously adhere to it.

The ideal is to express milk every 3-4hours. Do not let 4 hours pass by without expressing milk because it’s like telling your body that there’s no baby to feed, so don’t make milk. When you strictly adhere to a pumping schedule, this ensures that your body produce enough milk for your baby and also prevents you from getting discomforts from engorgement and plugged ducts.

TIP: When traveling with breastmilk, you need to carry it in a good thermal bag with ice packs or a cooler to keep your milk cold and prevent it from spoiling. Breastmilk does not spoil easily, a cooler with 3 ice packs can last up to 24hrs while a thermal bag with ice packs can last up to 12 hours.

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Photo from Google

5. Unli-latch. This means an unlimited latch or feed the baby on demand. When you get home and reunite with your little one, take every opportunity to breastfeed your baby. Not only that it helps with maternal and child bonding, NOTHING else beats the suckling power of a baby compared to any hi-powered, expensive, sophisticated pump available on the market no matter how good they say it is. Your baby is the best tool to stimulate milk production.

EXTRA TIP: Do not fall into the trap of supplementing formula milk when you feel you don’t have enough milk (top-up-trap). When you give into formula, remember that the amount of formula milk you gave would’ve been the amount of breastmilk you could’ve produced. Formula has only been around for about 50 years and human race survived without it century after century.

Breastfeeding and working away from home is possible. It’s challenging yes, but I was able to do it and you can too! I’m very grateful that RJ has been very supportive on our breastfeeding journey, I owe half of our success to him 

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You are not alone, we have a whole community of mothers, lactation consultants, peer counselors and breastfeeding friendly doctors to back you up when the going gets though. And get this, they are just a click away! My ULTIMATE tip is to join Breastfeeding Pinays on Facebook, read the pinned post, FAQ’s and use the search button to help you get started. If still, you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be involved and surround yourself with like-minded people.

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Hakab Na! Olongapo 2016
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Hakab Na! Olongapo 2017
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Hakab Na! Olongapo 2016

Wooh-hoo! You reached this part! I hope you learned something and use it to help you get through the tough times. I can definitely say that breastfeeding is not for the faint-hearted. It will demand your time, (lots of it!) commitment, a mountain of patience and sacrifice. But you can do it! Trust in your body that God designed a woman’s body to make milk and nourish her child. Remember, you are making a lifetime investment for you and your child, the benefits of breastfeeding goes beyond formative years! Seeing your little one grow up healthy because of you, even when you’re not physically there makes everything absolutely worthwhile! I thank God everyday for the gift of milk to us humans, it truly is Liquid Gold. It’s free and will always be THE BEST FOR OUR BABIES.

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With lots of love,

Eya

5 Reasons Why Kids Need To Play Outdoors

Do you remember that time when we were kids, our playmates used to call out our names and asked us to play outside or vice versa?

We look at mom and ask if we can go, with hopeful eyes that shine with gladness, match it with a big warm smile, and then she quickly glance at you… I sometimes get a nod or a long set of reminders depending on how busy she is, prepping for our meals or tidying up the house but most of the time she manages to bargain and make a deal for us to clean our rooms first or fix whatever before she says yes.

Then OFF WE GO! To explore the great outdoors! In our case, it’s usually a vacant lot near our house, where lots of wild grass and flowers grow. That smell of fresh air and the sun on your skin, Ahh! the beauty of living in the province!

Fast forward to twenty-something years. Oh, how time has changed. Yes indeed. Children nowadays spend most of their awake hours indoors, watching tv, playing with their gadgets, tweaking their talking ABC or what not … Technology has taken its toll on us.

Most parents give gadgets or screen time to their children as early as 3 months old. No judgment here, I’m sure everyone has their reasons. But what does this do to our children? I wouldn’t go into big details with that but as you notice there are more obese children in our time more than ever. Children with short attention span, ADHD, young children wearing glasses etc. Now is a great time to get our kids outdoors.

Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. Playing outdoors will make a child Happy, Healthy and Bright. A study made by Bell and Dyment of the University of Colorado states that locations with a greater number of plants, greener views, and access to natural play areas show significant results in reducing stress on highly stressed children. It reduces symptoms of attention deficit disorder in children as young as five years old.  Play in nature is especially important for developing capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual development.  But that’s not all, the more time spent outdoors is related to reduced rates of nearsightedness, also known as myopia, in children and adolescents. Our children are walking balls of energy and what a better way to release that energy than unstructured play in the outdoors! Parents can guide on what to see, but let the child watch and explore what he might be interested in. Charlotte Mason is BIG on nature walks and outdoor plays. She recommends that a child gets a nature journal to keep track of his adventure outdoors.

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2. Children, develop a sense of love and care for nature and all living things. Charlotte Mason shares “ a love of nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humor.” Our children are the next stewards of this planet and if they do not develop a love for nature, how are they suppose to care for it? Exposing a child outdoor will enable him to have good memories and build a connection with nature which he’ll treasure for as long as he lives. It is up to us parents to nurture and cultivate that love for nature so the child grows up as a responsible adult who guards and cares for his environment.

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3. Creates beautiful and lasting memories with the Family. I know memories forever sound like a cliché but it’s true. When our children are older they will not remember the expensive toy we worked so hard to buy them, or that shiny new pair of shoes you got them for Christmas, but what they would remember is your weekend away in the mountains, camping and roasting some marshmallows, how you held them close and carry them through the deep cold river or that long holiday you spent at the beach, picking out seashells and getting soaked. So instead of buying your kid a new toy, which will last for a month, a year or a day… how about saving up and planning your next family getaway or even just a walk in a park near you or the beach, just don’t forget to bring water and some snacks!

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4.   Nature walk is a great way of introducing various subjects to children.  The great outdoors holds a feast of ideas and topics. As your child explores and discovers nature, this lays a foundation for formal science studies. When a child sees the beauty of a butterfly and remembers how it went from flower to flower, he can make that connection when he reads about them in a science book later. Or, when he spends time getting soaked on rivers and ponds he’ll be familiar with how bodies of water differs and that it could be located on far-away lands, his sense of location widens and when Geography is introduced later he has stories that can bring these places to life instead of dry facts that do not interest a child.

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5. It prepares your child’s heart to worship God.  Charlotte Mason shares “From the flower in the crannied wall to the glorious firmament on high, all the things of Nature proclaim without ceasing, ‘Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty ”  The outdoor is a perfect way to show how mighty and loving our Creator is. Your kid will marvel at the beauty and wonders of nature and how everything is so different but always connected at some point because God created everything with a purpose in mind.

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That is the most important of all but I decided to make it the last point so you will remember it, (funny how we always remember the first and last?) But going back, the point is children learn from the environment they’re already in. We just have to maximize their environment and let them see what’s out there to discover! Learning is not a race but an experience, let your child play and learn at his own pace and time.

Have fun and think big!

Cheers,

Eya

Our Free Forest School Adventure

EDIT:

Free Forest School Zambales has been successfully launched last June 2018. If you’re interested to join us, please do so by sending us a request and answering the questions at our Facebook Group.

You can also learn more about Free Forest School of Zambales here.

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I’m so excited to finally have the time (and energy) to be able to write again and share with you what we’ve been up to. Although I’ve mostly posted about this on Facebook, I realized that documenting our experience here on my blog would be more beneficial for future reference.

It was during our regular afternoon neighborhood walks that we thought about how fun would it be if we have a group of children we can do outdoor activities with. I remember going back to our home that day desperately searching the internet for a group or even just individuals who are interested in exploring nature with little kids.

I found something similar but it was more of a summer camp for kids and located more than eight hours away from where we live. I’m almost ready to give up searching until I bumped into the Free Forest School Organization.

Free Forest School Organization
Free Forest School Organization

Free Forest School Organization was founded in Texas, year 2015 by Anna Sharratt who is an avid rock climber. When her family temporarily need to move to New York, she invited some neighbors to meet in the park to recreate their experience playing outdoors in nature with the urban kids. Just overnight they got an overwhelming response of more than 100 members! This “Prospect Park Free Forest School” on Facebook was born and when Anna went back to Austin that was when she created Free Forest School.

The group was formally launched as a non-profit organization last May of 2017, and it is developed by volunteer parents and educators who are passionate about bringing the core values of Free Forest School to life in their families, schools, and communities. FFS now has over 30 locations in North America and is continuously growing!

I was so ecstatic to have found this group, and to know that it is free! However, there’s no chapter near me, or anywhere in the country! (we live in the Philippines). But I read more about FFS and found out that you can actually start a chapter for your community, and you don’t have to be an expert or anything, you just have to have the desire and the time to form the group, scout for location, and invite families to join. The most reassuring was, they (FFS volunteers) will help you. Amazing right?

I decided to send them an e-mail and they were very nice and accommodating. They gave guidelines on how to choose a location, what to expect when doing FFS, and some FAQ’s that were very helpful.

We then started scouting for locations here in Olongapo but since it is a small city, we only found playgrounds that are jam-packed on weekends and not very suitable for what we feel Free Forest School should look like.

Until we found the Pamulaklakin Forest Trail located inside SBMA. It was just perfect! You have to see how beautiful it is, absolutely worth visiting. We started a small forest exploration group, and we’re now trying to open a chapter under The Free Forest School Organization. While we’re working on the approval, we’ve continued to explore the forest and we’re now on Week 9 of our forest adventure!

Pamulaklakin Forest Trail
Pamulaklakin Forest Trail

Our attendees vary from week to week but we’re hopeful that we’ll grow the group and build a strong community of children and like-minded families. Those who will stick with us for long-term exploration to fully appreciate nature and enjoy its life-long benefits.

The core values and approach of Free Forest School resonates with our parenting views, that’s why we absolutely love it!

 

 

 

“In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air.”  -Charlotte Mason

These early years go by so fast. We want to secure a quiet growing time for our child, to play and just enjoy her childhood, free from distractions and pressures of the society. This weekly forest adventure provides our children the opportunity of free unstructured play in nature, where they can explore, jump in the mud, soak in the cold flowing steam, climb trees, and be all messy while having a lot of fun! The forest gives enough challenge for children to develop their decision-making skills, manage their temper, socialize with peers, enhance their creativity, and problem-solving skills using real-life interaction with nature.

 

 

 

Does this kind of play sound familiar to you? This is exactly what play used to be for centuries! Ever wonder what happened?

The rise of technology definitely has its price, and some of that is being paid by our children. Despite the continuous warning of the American Academy of Pediatrics against screentime, children below 8 are more exposed to screentime now more than ever. We all want what’s best for our children, but the real challenge parents face nowadays is setting the environment where our children grow.

Indoor Generation
Indoor Generation

We’re raising a generation that has been labeled as the “indoor generation“. Since we started disconnecting ourselves from nature and chose to stay indoors not knowing the trees around us anymore, how about the birds and insects who live among us? We’ve bought so much stuff and fill our houses with things we like so we wouldn’t spend our free time out of doors, and when we do feel like going out… we choose to spend our time going to the malls. This is what our children are going to be doing for years and years unless we break the cycle and give them the chance to explore nature.

 

We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it.

And to take good care of it, we have to know it.

And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.

-WENDELL BERRY

 

 

 

Free Forest School provides free unstructured play in nature where we can let our children’s interest and curiosity blossom. Our aim is to also foster the next generation of environmental stewards, and children who grow up playing with nature develop a deep relationship with the environment… They will be willing to take care of it. This is a legacy which we can pass on to our children – the love for nature, and God’s creation.

 

 

 

Yes, it is important for our children to learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. But teaching life skills, values, and love for the natural world they’re in, builds their character and prepares them for the bigger challenges in life. Learning should not always be about the children sitting at their desks training their mind, it should also be about buidling their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs… The outdoors can help with all of these 🙂

My hope is for us parents to enable our children not just for school, but for real life.

“The question is not, – how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education – but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”-Charlotte Mason 

Free Forest School - Circle Time
Free Forest School – Circle Time

 

Eya

My November ’17

So… I haven’t written in ages, but I feel like writing again to remind myself how I’ve learned so many things this month.

I’m not sure if I’m having my first life crisis or what but what I’m sure of is I need to break my routine and just try something different.

I decided to go back and practice my profession being a nurse, while still having my full-time home-based job. So its a 16-hr work day for me, every day for almost a month now.  How do I feel? Tired. Aside from that, I don’t know, to be honest. I want to find a purpose, a deeper meaning of the things I do and why do I do it.

What I realized is that I’m looking for something to fill me up, but not really to fix what is missing. And what’s missing is my relationship with God.

I’ve always known that God is there for me, but I haven’t been around much for Him. Having more tasks to do makes me realize the things that I really want to do.. and what really matters.

It all goes back to:

  1. God
  2.  Family
  3. Friends
  4. Community involvement
  5. Service. service. service

It isn’t enough that I pray everyday, but I need to put an effort to really get to know Him, for me to Love Him, and Serve Him.

I know this isn’t something that might be interesting for anybody out there, but… I want to share anyway. One day you’ll eventually come to a point in your life where you feel stuck. I don’t care what your age is and financial status, you will eventually get to that point. Other folks seem like they got things figured out, but at the end of the day, it’s not always what it seems. I’m no life coach or whatever, but what I learn is you just keep going… things will eventually get better.

Making more money doesn’t make you really happy. It can buy you some joy, yes.. but it’s all temporary. The moment you realize that you just have one life and that you need to live this life because this is it, no replays… would you still want to take that overtime or go fishing with your kid? or watch a movie with mom?

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I’ve always told myself this, but I can’t believe that I still did the exact opposite! Life continuously teaches us lessons to prepare us for the more trying times. Maybe right now Life is trying to teach me to value the things I already have, make use of those things, and find my purpose instead of finding meaning in my life.

I vow to take control of my life. To seize every moment and learn the best I can from every experience. To treasure my time with people and see the best in everyone.

Love people, use things.

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Eya

 

 

Exploring Charlotte Mason Inspired Homeschool

Today I stumbled across a blog entry about how Mariel transitioned to a Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool through her website The Learning Basket. As I browse through the material she shared, the way Charlotte Mason describes how to teach a child resonates well with my beliefs and our goals as a family.

We are currently doing Before Five in A Row, which made our read alouds exceedingly joyful and exciting! (Read more about Before Five in A Row here) I feel that the Charlotte Mason inspired Homeschool would even enhance our BFIAR experience and boost my daughter’s love for learning.

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The Runaway Bunny – Margaret Wise Brown

Charlotte Mason believes that a child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” (Read more about Charlotte Mason philosophy here.)

This made such a huge impact on me because the main reason that I want to homeschool my child is to be able to focus on her totality, nurturing her mind, body, and spirit which generally lacks in traditional public/private schooling.  I feel that the reason we have a growing number of job/career mismatch is because we are so focused on academics and have neglected to nurture the true interest of a person. We failed to discover talents and learning opportunities at an early age and just continued with the system because we think that it’s the only option.

I’m so excited to read more about Charlotte Mason’s philosophies and I know that I’ll need to have my reading list compiled and truly dedicate myself to stick to the schedule. It’s a bit challenging since I am a full-time mom that has an 8-hr home based job, and I tell you it can get crazy fast! (I’ll save that story for later).

Summer just turned 3 last month and I’ve been exploring a lot of homeschooling materials. We’ve attended the Philippine Homeschool Conference last year, themed as From Roots to Wings and I gained so much insight and inspiration about homeschooling.  I’m so bad at keeping notes but we are very blessed that Ivy shared her notes on her blog The Vine That Writes.

I hope you stick around as I share more of our homeschool journey here, plus this and that 🙂

Have fun and think big!

Cheers,

Eya