A Way in the Wilderness: Mission Ministries Philippines’ Journey During PANDEMIC Season

In March of  2020, the government issued a lockdown on most parts of the Philippines. What we thought of as a short-term lockdown has now gone to almost two years of unprecedented events.

This tiny bit of virus has claimed millions of lives and altered the course of life throughout the world. Everyone was affected, and education is one of them.

In the first months of lockdown, Mission Ministries Philippines still hopes that everything will return to normal.  But as the days went by, reality set in. For many who are not tech-savvy, we were all caught off guard.

Fear may have paralyzed some of us, but by the grace of God, He gave us courage, wisdom, and perseverance. The pandemic brought changes in the way we do things but we strongly believe that this should not stop our work. With limitations in meeting physically, we find ways to continue on what we are called to do, “TRANSFORMING LIVES THROUGH EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION”, still meeting the needs in Early Childhood Education and strengthening families and communities whatever it takes.  So in May 2020, MMP offered its first webinar to its partners about Blended Learning and Homeschooling via zoom. Our speaker Professor Bing Amihan introduced the terms synchronous and asynchronous learning, which most of our partners were unfamiliar with. This method of teaching is being used in western countries. Though there are limitations in the Philippines, it is still applicable. This encouraged most of the partners to continue their preschool operation despite the drop of enrollees. And to further explain and help apply the knowledge learned in blended learning and homeschooling webinars, Mission Ministries supervisors piloted the practical training. The supervisors presented the strategies, materials, lesson plans, online play, and online applications the partners can use to cope with the technology adopting synchronous and asynchronous learning.   Shifting into the new platform should not deviate our developmentally appropriate practices philosophy in teaching to our students. As we learned from Prof. Bing “there are still non-negotiable principles like integration of God’s word, Christian values, and good character.

As the world started embracing the digital age, Mission Ministries Philippines explored other possible ways to continue its mission in serving our partners and our advocacy to provide better education to indigent children.

MMP’s thrust that no child is left behind is a must!!! MMP  is committed to caring for the children and shaping them into what God created them to be. Providing access to basic needs on their development and enjoying their childhood. Furthermore, the pandemic season made MMP revive its feeding program, but this time with a significant tweak in its feature, thus we call it “Feeding the Mind & the Body” (FMB), where the feeding program is integrated into the existing curriculum of MMP. MMP Partners, are given the option to integrate its feeding program with Sunday school lessons, Remedial Reading or Kidpreneur, or teaching business skills for children via the online and face-to-face platform.

Moving on…. All MMP seminars were geared toward maximizing technology in delivering quality education without compromising our philosophy. Speakers emphasized the importance of building relationships between teachers and parents as they hone their children’s potentials. Resource persons enlightened the use of technology and the danger it brings to the children. Research shows that too much exposure to screen time can hamper the brain development of children. The webinars also laid principles and ways to sustain the school operation.

With all these worries and stresses brought by the pandemic, it is a fact that many have suffered from anxieties and mental health issues. So in response, another webinar was conducted addressing this issue.

Aside from these seminars, supervising the partners was also done online. Partners were encouraged to attend the classes of the supervisors for them to observe the online classes and process them afterward. In the same way, supervisors were able to observe and coach the online classes of partners.

The pandemic may have closed many doors but new opportunities were opened to MMP by God’s grace. Mission Ministries herald to preach the gospel to the children have now intentionally reached even the parents by administering parenting seminars. These webinars not only give guidance for good parenting but most especially in preaching the gospel of salvation.

The pandemic may have momentarily thwarted the course of MMP and yet God used this to flourish and spread its roots to reach others further. Now MMP can now post a new challenging question to possible new partners. Would you like to set up or enrich your existing Early Childhood Program like Preschool, Daycare, SNP ( Supervised Neighborhood Play, Stimulation Center, After class program or tutorial program for children …. What do you prefer  ??? Face to face or On-Line?????.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.Isaiah 43:19

First Refresher Course – Hurried Child Syndrome

Are you pushing your child to grow too soon? This is the question the seminar like to point out in MMP’s first refresher course seminar entitled “Hurried Child Syndrome : How to build up children without hurrying them” last September 11, 2021. Prof. Elizabeth Anne King- Santos shared her insights founded by studies made on the cause and effects of hurrying the child.

In this seminar Prof. Santos explained that hurrying a child opposes the nature of a child’s development and adds to the stresses and frustrations that a child is suffering.

We need to build up relationship to the child to better understand him/her and how we can help their development. Focus on individual differences, abilities, learning styles and development. Adults should focus on the character of the child rather on their scores or grades. And let the child play as this is the business of a child, they learn through play.

Prof. Santos, holds a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from Walden University, Minnesota, USA and graduate of Bachelor of Science in Family Life and Child Development at the University of the Philippines with Latin honors have been a regular speaker of MMP seminars.

ACAP – MMP SEMINAR

Mission Ministries Philippines (MMP) and Action for the Care and Development of the Poor in the Philippines (ACAP) joined the venture with a 5-day online seminar held last September 16, 23, 24, 30 and, October 1.

The seminar aims to equip their parent-volunteers in their tutorial projects with the underprivileged children in the communities of Paranaque.

Topics were designed to prepare the volunteers for their mission. In the seminar Ms. Chonabelle Domingo, CEO/President of MMP tackled the Importance of Parenting Education and the Philosophy of Early Childhood Education.  Involvement of parents The in their child’s education is vital with the child’s success.  Ms. Domingo stressed that parents should anchor their strength to God as He is the source of everything and He designed each child with a purpose.  She also discussed the nature of children and how each child develops.

Other topics were Love Languages of Children, Child Discipline, Teaching through Play facilitated by Ms. Aida Acorda, and Reading using the Marungko Approach shared by Ms. Erlyn Isidro.

ACAP is a non-profit organization that aims to empower marginalized youth through a combination of education, social development,  health, and nutritional feeding programs.  ACAP Executive Director Ms. Didith van der Linden and Ms. Maria Baylon, the Programs Director made this partnership possible.

Building Bridges to the New Normal in Early Childhood Education (ECE 1 and 2 Seminars)

At the beginning of the school year 2021-2022 in education, Mission Ministries Philippines headed the training for partner schools and guest participants engaged in early childhood education with its seminars in Early Childhood Education level 1 and 2  last August 12 –14 and 18-20. This year’s theme is Building Bridges to the New Normal in Early Childhood Education.

The seminar aims to help teachers and parents to address the stresses and other related effects to the children brought by the pandemic. 

Topics were all designed to help teachers navigate the new system in teaching preschoolers and even their parents with the new normal.

Speakers who are experts in their field shared their knowledge that even in online classes, the Developmentally Appropriate Practices ( DAP ) can still be done. As long as we can embrace the principles of DAP, technology can be an effective tool for teaching children. The main idea is to know how the development and learning of each child. It can help in assessing the progress and the ways teachers can help the children learn.

Another matter was maximizing the role of parents. Studies showed a positive correlation between parent involvement and student success. Moreover, in an online class, both parents and teachers share the load in teaching the child. 

Times have changed a lot in just almost two years of this pandemic.  Homeschooling is now the main option in terms of education. The use of technology increased phenomenally and brought another problem in Screen time and technology addiction. How much is too much time on screen time?

The Level 2 seminar also addressed the challenges to the administrators and school principals.