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  • Lessons From Taal: How Homeschooling Moms Are Turning The Calamity Into A Teachable Moment

    Every moment is an opportunity to make our kids richer in knowledge and compassion
    by May de Jesus-Palacpac .
Lessons From Taal: How Homeschooling Moms Are Turning The Calamity Into A Teachable Moment
PHOTO BY @coffee_dante/Instagram, Armi Baticados
  • When Taal Volcano erupted on January 12, 2020, many members of Homeschoolers of the Philippines (HoP), a homeschooling community on Facebook, took it as an opportunity to teach their children about natural disasters, preparedness, and most importantly, human kindness.

    SmartParenting.com.ph reached out to them for insights on how they make unfortunate incidents such as this one into a teachable moment for their children.

    When 9-year old Drake saw the news, he asked his mother, Carissa Simmons, how they can help. 

    “I honestly did not know what to do until I read a post on Facebook about a teacher asking for books so they can continue teaching the kids to distract them from what was happening,” Carissa says.

    The Simmons mark their old books “keep” or “sell.” The ones marked for selling are supposed to be used to raise funds for new books. But Isis, 8, said, “money is just money, right mum?” So they gathered all their books under the sell pile to donate. (Click here to see how you could donate to victims of the Taal volcano eruption.)

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    PHOTO BY courtesy of Carissa Simmons
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    Carissa shares that her kids realized that they need to take care of their things better in case someone else would need them in the future.  

    Carissa also told her brood to prepare should anything happen. “I was scared that all these natural disasters will hit all at once. We made contingency plans on where we would go. Being prepared and ready was what we needed to be.”

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    Kristine Reyes Nueva, mom to Ramia, 11, Keziah, 7, and Izziah, 6, and whose family lives just two hours from Tagaytay, took a proactive approach by offering the extra space in their house to gather donations from friends and relatives. 

    “I want my kids to witness these acts. I believe that volunteering and giving are both effective ways to teach moral empathy towards others, an opportunity to infuse values like generosity and caring,” she says, “More than the academics, I want to take this opportunity for character and spiritual development. 

    She proudly shares that her daughter, who would be celebrating her 8th birthday on the 27th of January, agreed to a simpler celebration at home so they can use the money intended for a more elaborate party to donate to programs that would provide food for babies and children in evacuation centers. 

    PHOTO BY courtesy of Kristine Nueva
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    PHOTO BY Kristine Nueva

    Kristine was teary eyed when her daughter said she wasn’t sad to let go of her party so they can do good to others. “She says she’ll have more birthdays to celebrate,” Kristine says. 

    Donna Donor admits that her teenage son, Kib, wasn’t so interested in what happened in Taal, presumably because they weren’t directly hit by it, until she reminded him of the many people that fled their homes and the animals that they left behind. “I showed him pictures of dogs covered in ashfall and naawa naman siya sa mga doggies.” (Ashfall could trigger asthma attacks! Find out how you could protect your family.

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    She continues, “To further explain the damage a volcanic eruption can cause, we watched Dante’s Peak. That’s when he realized that even if a volcanic eruption is a natural phenomenon, it can cost lives of people and other living things, and can destroy homes and businesses.”

    Donna and Kib plan to donate to relief programs, as they always do in times like this.

    PHOTO BY courtesy of Donna Donor
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    She ends with a practical note, “natural disasters should not always be used as a springboard  for learning the Science behind it, but also an opportunity to help and to be a realization point on how to create an evacuation plan for the family. While we are all excited to make this phenomenon a learning opportunity for our kids, like how a volcano erupts, the composition of the ashfall, the difference between magma and lava, let us not forget to teach compassion first to the people and other living things who are directly affected by the disaster.”

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    Elizabeth Macam, mom to 6-year old Raven, together with her sister and nieces, are collecting goods from neighbors to deliver to victims in evacuation centers in Sto. Tomas and Laurel, Batangas. 

    Raven has been in Laurel and Tagaytay with them since last January 12 and he was surprised upon seeing the drastic changes in condition in their community brought about by the eruption. 

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    “We choose to expose him to real situations,” she said. “Typical na makulit pero through observation, madali niyang naiintinidihan. We respond when he asks. Importante kasi yung interes ng bata.”

    PHOTO BY courtesy of Elizabeth Macam

    An ECE teacher, Elizabeth admits not everything she’s learned as a preschool teacher is applicable in homeschooling. “This opens doors for us to integrate academic to life skills, with Natural Science as our motivating tool.”

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    “When I read the news last Sunday, I was shocked because I didn’t expect Taal to erupt in my lifetime,” shares Armi Baticados, mother of an 8-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy, Mayumi and Sinag

    The Baticados could see the eruption from where they live behind Mt. Makiling, so Armi took her kids to the rooftop to watch the eruption as it happens. “They were amazed, not yet aware of the imminent danger,” she says. 

    Typical of homeschoolers, their family sees everything as a learning opportunity. They watched the news and continued to talk about volcanoes as the ashfall reached their location the next day and prayed for both the victims and those bringing help. 

    PHOTO BY courtesy of Armi Baticados
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    PHOTO BY courtesy of Armi Baticados

    “Natural phenomena like typhoons and volcanic eruptions, while devastating to us, are ecologically significant. They are part of God’s wonderful design,” Armi says. She thoughtfully shares, “Our family have had our personal tragedies and is still dealing with repercussions. We go through them by allowing God to work in us. When we pray, our problems will not go away but prayer changes us and our perspective.”

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    Tin Clemente-Dionglay, mom to 6-year old Asaph, and 3-year old Akila, agrees. Asaph is very fond of nature, so when he learned about the eruption, he threw Tin and her husband, Christian, a lot of questions. Tin stresses, “This was a perfect time to tell them how devastated the area now is, that a lot of people and animals need shelter, food to eat and water to drink. We don’t tell our kids exactly what to do, but we pray every time. Prayer is our default! We focused on Psalm 91:1 and our son realised exactly what he wanted to pray for.”

    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tin Dionglay
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    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tin Dionglay

    “We take advantage of every event not to bring fear, but educate them how God designed his creation,” she shares. “We make every effort to integrate God’s Word and look at our study in light of the Scriptures. The recent event was an opportunity to let our kids know how to respond in faith, love and compassion.” 

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