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New to Teaching Kids at Home?

Denice Sy

As parents, we are our children’s first teachers. This is specifically pertinent for values formation and basic life skills, all of which are first developed at home. But the Covid-19 situation has forced many mothers to take on the role as our children’s academic educators. 

I asked three homeschooling mothers for their advice: Nove-ann Tan, Acel Bisa Van Ommen, and Lizette Tan Bamba to share valuable insights for parents unaccustomed with this setup.


Nove-Ann is the bestselling author of I Homeschool: How to Homeschool Without Losing Your Mind, and Happy Wife, Happy Life, which she co-wrote with her husband, inspirational speaker Chinkee Tan. She’s successfully homeschooled for over 12 years, and she summarizes her homeschooling tips in the acronym CARES.


C – Choose Your Battles

According to Nove-Ann, one of the biggest mistakes she sees parents make is forcing the curriculum upfront. Her advice is to choose battles by managing our emotions and expectations. Start the homeschooling process by finding out your child’s interests. Develop a relationship with them to kickstart the learning process.

“It’s not even about organizing your day, it’s really prioritizing your kids and building trust before anything else. This is more critical than completing their homework.”

A – Accept This Reality

“Model the acceptance,” says Nove-Ann. Because of Covid-19, home education is the new reality of our situation. As parents who have never taught in the past, this may be difficult to take in. It’s a must that parents absorb their role as teachers willingly, as the attitude of acceptance will also empower children to assume their new role as your student.

Nove-ann encourages exchanging feelings and having meaningful conversations to enable mutual acceptance. In these discussions, parents can set up parameters for homeschooling. Parents should not feel pressured into mirroring the classroom setting at home. Rather, feel free to create an entirely new experience that both parties can appreciate, including their agreed start of day. “If you value longer sleep and eating breakfast together, start your session at 9 a.m,” she says. Schedule of classes can also be open for dialogue, even the format of deliverables.

R – Relationship over Academics

Expounding on the first two tips, Nove-Ann highlights the significance of getting to know our children. Once we learn their likes and dislikes, we figure out their learning behavior and how to motivate them.

E – Expand and Explore

Nove-ann focuses on three key areas for development: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic (Math). She always looks for ways to make the learning process more relevant and enjoyable by incorporating current events and expanding its breadth. For instance, recently she focused on Covid-19 as the main topic for all relatable subjects, whether in reaction essays, verbal reports, mathematical problem-solving, or cause-and-effect analysis for social studies. 

A workshop for DIY face masks, which are donated to non-profit organizations, can be designed as a fun activity for Home Economics and Livelihood Education (HELE) while practicing actual social responsibility.

S – Surrender to God

This world crisis shows just how much we need the Lord. Nove-ann advises other parents to use this time to connect to God and bring their children closer to Him. 

Light atmosphere

Acel Bisa Van Ommen, a singer-songwriter and recording artist for ABS-CBN’s Star Music and Cornerstone management, keeps it light and easy with three short tips.


HAPPY FAMILY Acel Bisa van Ommen with husband Danny, and children Tashi (11), Yeshi ( 9), and Tenzi ( 3)

  1. Just relax and don’t panic.

As a mother of three, Acel embraces her role as a homeschooling mom by guiding them, not forcing them, in comprehending the concepts. “There is a ready curriculum, all you have to do is teach it in a way the child will understand,” she says.

  1. Enjoy this opportunity.

You probably will not have a similar opportunity the quarantine is lifted. Use this amazing time to bond with your child and mold him with values you would like to see in the next generation. “This is only a quick window between childhood and adulthood. Before you know it, they will be all grown up and will no longer be dependent on you,” she says.

  1. It’s okay to make mistakes.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself when you feel you’ve made a mistake.” Just like Nove-ann, Acel puts relationship building at top priority. Just as perfect scores on exams and academic subjects are not most important, cut yourself some slack and learn as you go, alongside your children. 

Relatable lessons

Mother-of-two Lizette Tan Bamba had homeschooled her kids from ages four and six until eight and 12, respectively. Her approach to homeschooling is practical and straightforward.

  1. Be clear and upfront.

Align goals and expectations with kids. It’s easier to move forward with clear directions.

  1. Have a support system.

Lizette finds that maintaining accountability among a community of co-parents helps keep her in check, and assures her she’s on the right path. Brainstorm strategies with parents who share the same conviction to enhance the homeschooling experience. 

Right now, there are a lot of new homeschooling parents who are forced into their roles because of the coronavirus quarantine. Chat about best practices, discuss your struggles and slip-up, and come up with solutions together.

  1. Trust in the Lord

In the end, we are only stewards of God’s plan. “Ultimately, we can only trust that our Mighty Maker will lead us through this homeschooling season. Have faith that He will carry you through for His purposeful glory.”

Lizette is back to homeschooling her kids because of the lockdown. She’s been maximizing this time to exchange perspectives about the world, economy, and politics, while sliding in Christian learnings that can be adopted in their spiritual lives. It’s been refreshing for her to return to this atmosphere.


Source: Manila Bulletin (

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