Meanwhile at the Teens’

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In the past few months, the teens at Abot Tala celebrated the Chilean and Brazilian way with food galore, the Pinoy way via a karaoke party, Star Wars via fencing, shot a short film in a farm location, let their imagination run away to the max via Dungeons and Dragons, studied sign language, shared what they learned with their families through the block presentation, spent time jamming, chatting and chillaxing.  Nobody can take away the laughter, stories and memories except perhaps, if we let them.

 

 

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The Day’s Take-Away

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Last year, we all wore purple for Laksmi.  This year, Laksmi was still in purple but she also wore the teen-designed Abot Tala t-shirt along four other costumes, changing several times like Superman swooshing in and out of a telephone booth.

Somebody asked what’s the best take-away from the Philippine Homeschool Convention 2019 and there are just so many to mention.  One is the realization that despite so many different styles of homeschooling, we are all united in our desire to improve ourselves, to encourage, support and learn from one another.  It’s always inspiring to hear veteran homeschoolers and unschoolers share their stories and these are just some of my notes from the plenary and break-out sessions:

Dawn Fung, a leader-organizer of the homeschooling community in Singapore learned that she had to sacrifice her vision of trophy children.  Donna Simpao said that her kids appreciated the focus on being a good person first and only after could they become a good student.  Marla Taviano and her unschooling family moved from America to Cambodia where they built libraries and an adventure-filled life.  Kay Ang emphasized experiences over material things and encouraged parents to take their kids to work.  Aileen Santos advises parents to take on a coaching mindset while her 20-year old daughter, Fudge recounted how she developed self-discipline and initiative as a homeschooler and how she learned not to please everyone.  Dawn Fung had a sizable audience break up into groups, brainstorm about their dream homeschool co-op, after which each group leader pitched the ideas back to the crowd.

A great shout-out of thanks to the organizers of the convention and much appreciation for the team of teens and mentors headed by Owie who made the Abot Tala booth a reality.

 

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Juniors Welcome

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Abot Tala was originally intended for young people ages 12 to 18, but after opening this April 2019, we realized it was too good not to share the experience to kids from 6 to 11 years old.  Thus, Abot Tala Junior was formed with its separate space and a complete team of mentor-teachers eager to redefine school for the 21st-century learner.  As an interest-led learning center, Abot Tala Junior seeks to celebrate and honor each child’s innate curiosity, what they are naturally drawn to and their unique way of seeing the world.

The program focuses on:

  • The child as a whole person – nourishing their body, heart, mind
  • Providing a caring, supportive, and nurturing environment where kids are respected and seen as interesting individuals
  • Designing a space where each kid achieves and feels good at their own level (no competition, just enjoyment on their own personal progress)
  • Training them to develop basic tools of education: questioning, self-expression, exploration, discovery, stories.
  • Forming the 21st century skills: creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration
  • Integrated learning – English, Math, Science, History, Social studies, Entrepreneurship, Care for Environment and other topics integrated into activities that are interactive and engaging
  • Interest-led and personalized – following the child’s interests and where that could lead them

 

METHODS

1. Inquiry-based learning

Children will be provided with opportunities to ask questions, investigate, and figure out the answers to their inquiries. This will help them know their interests.

2. Project-based learning

Children are going to delve into exploring real-world problem, thinking of solutions, and creating one relevant project.

3. Personal and group goal setting

Teachers collaborate with the kids, especially when it comes to planning of the activities and setting of expectations. This will help build a sense of community where everyone looks after one another, solves problems, and learn together.

4. A buffet of topics and activities 

They will be presented with a menu of stimulating topics and activities to see what will generate interest and spark curiosity.

5. Teachers as facilitators and models

The teachers will learn beside the kids, collaborate with them, and guide them in pursuing their interests. They are also responsible for developing in themselves the same things that they want the children to learn.

 

There are two sets of age groups: those who are 6, 7, 8 years old and those ages 9, 10, 11.  There are two full-time teacher-facilitators and from time to time, guest teachers will come to give special pop-up classes.  There is a limit of 5 to 6 kids per age group.

Just like Abot Tala for Teens, Abot Tala Junior is not a school.  The children who join this program are either homeschooling already or intend to homeschool.  Abot Tala Junior is an alternative to mainstream school.  If the children want to transition to regular school, they need to take the PEP Test at DepEd or get a homeschool provider or support.

Abot Tala Junior runs Monday to Thursday from 9am to 3pm.  Families can choose to join once, twice, thrice or four times a week.  We accept children at any point of the year.

Following are quotes that inspire us:

“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” -Leo F. Buscaglia

“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” -Mr. Rogers

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.” -Carl Jung

“Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.” -Plato

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” Kahlil Gibran

That last quote keeps me dreaming of an open green space nearby where children could freely run and play on the grass, under the trees and sky.  Oh, if we could find a place like Gopala Learning Haven in Silang, Cavite but here in Manila!   Looking forward to the Juniors’ field trip there one of these days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burned and Scarred

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Burned and scarred

Burned and scarred

That’s what we are

Scarred and burned

Scarred and burned

Beyond wanting to try

Beyond repair

No cure

No treatment

Stretched to the marrow

Stretched further past

Tomorrow’s tomorrows

Strained beyond

Patience and understanding

Extended in excess of

One lifetime’s quota

Terminated cartoon bridge

Free falling off a cliff

Burned and scarred

Too much to recognize

What took place before

Everything that added

To much too much

To the equation that never

Was meant to balance

Hearts hardened

Numbed beyond resuscitation

Apologies unacceptable

Erasing whole histories

Denying existence

Since hurt knows how

To hurt and lash back

Unto itself gallons

Upon gallons of bloodcurdling

Screams nails scratching

Chalkboard never again

Overpowering curse

Transcending generations

Spared not one

Not even the unlikeliest

Catching us by surprise

Blocked and hardened

Blocked and hardened

Arteries refuse

Because it happens

This hardening

This blockage

That knows no forgiveness.