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We should be starting our Schoolyear 2013-2014 soon, June 3 to be exact.  That’s if I follow the HIGH SCHOOL (Gulp!) homeschool schedules I had planned for this year.  But my sister from the U.S. is in town until the 3rd week of June and I need to do my “balikbayan chaperoning duties”. We’ll probably start off with a few subjects and go full blast after my sister returns to the U.S.  I would have wanted to go as scheduled since I already know how loaded high school can be, but I will let Arielle and Kayla spend time with my sister first and bond with her.  After all, she doesn’t come home that often and last time we all saw each other was in 2009.  Relationships first before academics.

We’re actually all set to start another schoolyear (Am I???).  I’ve covered all steps in my homeschool planning, except for the last step, step #12.  I should set aside time for that so that the girls and I will all be on the same page before we face a loaded year.

This year, following Debra Bell’s guide on her The Ultimate Homeschool Planner (a planning system designed by Debra Bell), it is my goal to teach better teach the girls two important life skills which should prepare them for college:  TIME MANAGEMENT and INDEPENDENCE.  Here’s a sneak peak of some of the pages of the Debra Bell’s planner to better understand how this is to be taught and how it’s supposed to be done successfully.

Here are the high school homeschool schedules I came up with for Kayla (7th Grade) and Arielle (3rd Year High School).  I did something similar last year but the girls ended up following a revised schedule they felt more comfortable with, which was longer hours spent on fewer subjects per day.  It did work for us but I feel things could be made better.   This time, I plan to be stricter and follow these skeds to be able to cover more subjects every day, every week, instead of cramming a number of subjects during the latter part of the quarter.   Do take note that P.E., Art, and TLE do not have to strictly follow the schedule (If they do not have P.E. in the afternoon, like in the case of Arielle, she can use that time to have a couple more minutes to finish up a subject in order to accomplish her week’s target).  I just assigned them during days and in time slots where I feel we would still be able to do and enjoy those subjects without much pressure and brain activity, which could also serve as our “down time.”   Another important change in our schedule is the inclusion of a Weekly Sked Approval during Mondays and a Weekly Review during Thursdays.  The Weekly Sked Approval at the start of the week will serve as a time for me to check the schedules our girls intend to do (That’s time management skills for them), in order to accomplish the tasks for the week.  This should also give us the time to be clear on the week’s to-do’s.   The Weekly Review at the end of each week, on the other hand, is meant to provide accountability, give feedback, suggestions, corrections, and encouragement, and pay attention to areas where guidance is most needed.

I really hope and pray that this strategy will work smoothly for all of us; that this will make the girls feel that they are in control of their time, feel more responsible and more independent, and have that sense of ownership of their learning.  However, I won’t be surprised if after just a couple of weeks after we’ve started our schoolyear, I would already need to do some tweaks in our schedule,  to avoid tension build-up and frustration right at the beginning of the schoolyear!  It’s not actually a favorite thing of mine to do, schedule adjustments (and doing grades), but I should remember to take it as a benefit of homeschooling; that we can scrap whatever doesn’t work for us and jump right in to what does.

7th Grade Homeschool Schedule

7th Grade
Homeschool Schedule


3rd Year High School's Homeschool Schedule

3rd Year High School
Homeschool Schedule


What kind of high school homeschool schedule do you follow?  What works for you and your teens?  I would love to know more about them and learn from you! 🙂


Nick Vujicjic's Unstoppable Faith Live in Manila!

Nick Vujicjic’s Unstoppable Faith
Live in Manila!

Last Saturday, May 18, my family and I met up with another homeschooling mom (my good friend, Lizzie Cuyugan) with her 2 boys (Manuel and Joaquin) for Nick Vujicjic (pronounced VOO-yee-cheech)’s Unstoppable Faith at the new CCF Building (God bless that building!).  Lizzie and her family’s now based in Hongkong and while on their short vacation here, we’ve been trying to find time to catch up with each other’s lives, most especially on our homeschooling, because every meetup doesn’t always seem to give us enough time! But this Saturday was blessed!  Having anticipated a HUGE audience (I heard that the venue in CCF holds a 10,000-seating capacity??!) for Nick’s event scheduled at 4:30pm, we were able to meet up on time (11:00 am…excited, noh!);  we were able to easily find parking in the next building (no sweat!);  we bonded over a good, hearty Pinoy lunch at Bistro Mateo, updating each other on homeschooling plans and concerns; and we were able to see with our very own eyes (and more importantly, listen to) God’s living miracle in the person of Nick Vujicjic.  Actually, there were two of them, Nick Vujicjic, and Pastor Steve Ruetschle (pronounced as Rich-ly). 

The event, hosted by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio and Judah Paolo, started promptly at 4:30pm with worship.  It was followed Randell Tiongson‘s (He was the girls’ teacher on Entrepreneurship in a Hybrid Homeschool Program 3 years ago) talk on financial stewardship, and then, Pastor Steve’s. When it was the segment on Pastor Steve, a short video about his tragic story was played before he came out live on stage.  When he walked into the stage, I was totally caught by surprise giving a jerk on my seat as I didn’t expect him to be walking on his two feet!  To know more about Pastor Steve, here’s his blog and Facebook page.

Pastor Steve Ruetschle

Pastor Steve Ruetschle

Going back to our main man that Saturday, Nick Vujicjic was born without arms and legs (Watch his video here).  Yes, no arms and no legs! (How can that possibly be? How do you deal with that? How do you live a life???)  BUT THAT. DID NOT. STOP. HIM.  He may be living a life without limbs but that even made him soar greater heights than normal people.  For Nick, NO ARMS, NO LEGS means NO LIMITS!  (He is now married to wife, Kanae (Nick’s proposal to Kanae on video), and they had just been blessed with a baby boy named Kiyoshi James!) 

Pastor Steve’s prognosis of paralysis of all four limbs (or quadriplegia) and Nick’s having no arms and legs taught me these life lessons:


  • When we can’t seem to move from where we are
  • When we don’t know what to do  
  • When we don’t know how to help ourselves
  • When we can’t change the situation  
  • When everything’s on a standstill
  • When we feel helpless and worthless
  • When life seems senseless and hopeless
  • When we can’t change our circumstances, no matter how we try to exhaust all our efforts and resources
  • When our efforts all seem futile
  • When all we can say is “I can’t”, “There is no way”, “It’s impossible!”



  • When we have to rely on others to get by daily
  • When we feel so useless and worthless
  • When it feels like all our efforts are ending up nowhere
  • When life is not worth living
  • When we don’t look forward to each day, to tomorrow anymore
  • When it feels like being stuck in a dark pit
  • When everything is pitch black
  • When all eyes are on us because we look different, move differently, or have made decisions against what everyone does (Does this sound like homeschooling?)
  • When we felt betrayed
  • When we don’t want to go on anymore
  • When all we see, think of, and feel around us is our limitations


Nick Vujicjic

Nick Vujicjic



But having seen and heard Pastor Steve and Nick last Saturday was plain proof that it is when we are in our darkest hours, in our utter hopelessness, that:

  • God’s light, love, and power work tremendously in our lives
  • our weakness is replaced by unimaginable strength only God has the power to give
  • our weaknesses and imperfections can simply mean STRENGTH and A BEAUTIFUL REVELATION of a higher calling, a higher purpose, and a unique design



I know, I know.  Easier said than done.  It’s a totally different story when you’re in the situation.  But I believe that that is THE MESSAGE that Nick and Pastor Steve want to share to all of us. To put our HOPE in GOD and His Son, Jesus Christ, our one and only Savior.  Nick and Pastor Steve are  living witnesses of God’s power, of God’s love and mercy.  They both are LIVING MIRACLES OF GOD; GOD, being LIMITLESS AND WITH NO BOUNDARIES!!!

Going further, the story of these two men also taught me how having an unstoppable faith is not only for those going through those sufferings and challenges.  WE can BE THOSE PEOPLE WITH UNSTOPPABLE FAITH for OTHERS who need the encouragement, patience, hope, and love.  That is exactly what happened to Nick and Pastor Steve.  They were abudantly blessed with people around them with unstoppable faith who never gave up on them.  They are LIVING MIRACLES (and SAINTS!), too! 

Last Saturday made me grateful for what I have, and where I am now.   It made me hopeful and more positive, and I so pray that I may have that unstoppable faith when confronted with hurdles in life or caught in a dead-end situation.  I pray moreso to have that unstoppable faith for others who need it most.  Unstoppable…one that never stops to grow!

Can you say that you have an unstoppable faith? 


Ultimate Homeschool Planners

Our Ultimate Homeschool Planners by Debra Bell

It’s May already and that tells me that in just a few weeks time, we should be starting another schoolyear.  When we shifted to homeschooling, we still follow the June-to-March school calendar (Lately, it’s been up to April).  (Where did my vacation go?)  As much as I would want to delay our new schoolyear by about a month, I’m held back by the fact that Arielle will soon be off to college and colleges in Manila start their schoolyear in May or June.  We can’t afford to slow down now.  So, these days, I’m trying to shift my mindset from vacation mode to back-to-work mode (I’m struggling, to tell you honestly!) and here’s how I’m preparing for a new homeschool schoolyear, in order (I’m currently on Steps 4 to 10, and spending long hours on Steps 8 and 9):

1.  Buy planners — We usually buy these December of previous year or early January of current year;  For this year, I got us Debra Bell’s Ultimate Homeschool Planner and Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens .  Of course, any planner will do, but I got sooo inspired by Ms. Debra Bell during the last Philippine Homeschool Conference that I decided to get hers, hoping that it will be a helpful tool to homeschool my teens.  The minute I received our copies, I read the introduction pages which give a detailed explanation guide on how to use the planner and ultimately teach independence to kids. I hope I’ll be successful in achieving this goal!

2.  Cover and label books (from the U.S.A and non-TMA sources; TMA stands for The Master’s Academy, our homeschool provider)  — I usually order books from the U.S sometime 4th quarter of previous year, which means I research for new materials sometime 3rd quarter.  Below were ordered from the U.S.:


3.  Do an inventory of school supplies then list down what needs replenishment.

4.  Start familiarizing myself with all the books, reading the table of contents, and skimming through the pages.

5.  After or as I do Step 4, photocopy exercises and tests — I photocopy because Kayla will use the same books used by her Ate Arielle.   In case we decide to change our books, then I can resell the books without writing and markings.

6.  Photocopy grading sheets for MAPE (Music, Art, P.E.) and TLE (Technology and Livelihood Education;  We haven’t decided yet if we’re going to enroll the girls in a class or short course for this.)

7.  Print MAPE attendance sheet — This is to record the number of sessions already attended by the girls and as a reminder on the next payment to be made.

8.  Do another review of each book/subject’s table of contents and divide scope per quarter — I do this as much as I can to really prepare (or brace) myself with what the girls are going to study this schoolyear, and be on the lookout for activities to do on our own, with a co-op or other homeschoolers.

9.  Do a one-glance spreadsheet of topics/lessons to cover per subject — Now this is where I spend most of my hours!  Per quarter, I list down the scope to be studied from 1st to 4th quarter and do adjustments during the schoolyear. (Last year, I think I overpacked our quarters, and I didn’t like the feeling of having to rush and be enslaved by the schedule I made at the start of the schoolyear. I hope to learn the lesson this year.)

10.  Get medical certificates and have ID photos taken, as enrollment requirements of TMA

11.  Enroll at TMA (with medical certificates and IDs ready) and buy the other books with Teacher’s Guide and/or Answer Keys from them — We can actually do a headstart of the other subjects already before enrolling with our DepEd (Department of Education)-accredited homeschool provider, if we wish to.

12.  Discuss goals for the year (character and academic) with Arielle and Kayla — I let Arielle and Kayla participate, get involved! This also gives us the opportunity to review our past schoolyear(s) and take note of what worked for us and what didn’t. 


After I get to tick off each of the items on this list, then, we’re ready to go!  Just a little note to self.  No matter how much I’ve painstakingly done in preparing for a new homeschool schoolyear, I should remember to be flexible and be ready to make adjustments as needed, along the way.   I should not allow stress to sneak in our daily routine 🙂  And of course, to always pray for guidance, patience, and faithfulness to this calling to homeschool our children.  Here’s to our 7th year in homeschooling!  

How are you planning and preparing for a new homeschool schoolyear, especially with high schoolers?



When we started to homeschool almost seven years ago, my husband, Mike, and I agreed that he would also teach, that it won’t be my sole job to do it and that he would also take on roles of a HOMESCHOOL father, and not just be a ‘regular’ father.  I think it was on our 3rd year when he had to let go of his teaching role because the needs of our family also started to grow.   He needed to spend more time outside of the house to work and make sure that he is doing his primary responsibility of being the provider of the family.  That made me a full-time homeschool mom to our two girls up to present.  Now that we are about to start our 7th year in homeschooling, it made me look back at the past six years and feel really blessed and thankful for the support that Mike has untiringly been giving us all these years.

What are the top 7 roles of the HOMESCHOOL FATHER in our family?  Below are Mike’s roles in our homeschool life, which come in no particular order:

1.  FINANCIER — Mike has been working really hard to be the breadwinner of the family.  He does not only give us our basic needs but he also has been able to give us opportunities to go on vacations, trips, breaks, and have other perks or extras which make our homeschooling and our life, in general, more fun and something to be really thankful for.

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2.  APPROVES BOOKS, MATERIALS, AND OTHER ACTIVITIES that support learning and each of our child’s individual development, even if it would mean working doubly hard for them — Mike actively reviews the books we want to use that I feel matches Arielle and Kayla’s learning styles and which they would enjoy using, PLUS other classes or programs being offered which we both think would ultimately contribute to our girls’ growth and well-being, physically, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and financially.

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3.  DRIVER — I’ve stopped driving and so, Mike patiently drives us and the girls to their classes outside the house or to wherever we need to go and fetches us afterwards.  If he cannot be our personal chauffeur because of a meeting or conflict in schedule, then he looks for someone who can drive us and makes sure that we get to do what we need to do.

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4.  SUBSTITUTE TEACHER / TUTOR — When I don’t anymore know how to explain a lesson or topic to our girls in a way that they would really grasp it or in a manner that spells F-U-N, or simply when I do not understand a lesson, then that’s when I give Mike an SOS call and he takes over as soon as he can.  

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5.  COACH — Since I tend to be organized, detailed, sometimes very rigid or structured, Mike’s role as a coach helps Arielle and Kayla solve problems or setbacks from a different perspective. His simplified, relaxed, and sometimes, humorous approach makes situations more manageable and bearable for Arielle and Kayla, teaching them (and me, too!) to be more flexible, optimistic, and resilient in life.

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6.  SPIRITUAL LEADER —  Mike makes sure that we ALL go to church together to hear mass every Saturday (for an anticipated mass) or Sunday and leads us into prayer as a family every Holy Communion time, when we’re traveling in the car, and at night before we go to bed.

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7.  CHEERLEADER IN SPORTS — Whether it’s swimming (for both our girls), scuba diving (for Arielle), or now, golf (for Kayla), Mike’s been very supportive of the girls’ P.E.  As a matter of fact, Kayla’s back to golf and is now really more interested in pursuing it because Mike’s been going with her to the driving range.  Since he himself has gone back to the sport, it makes Kayla feel more secure and confident.  I can clearly see that Mike’s BEING WITH Kayla is building her confidence, teaching her to have focus, discipline, and character training, not only in golf, but in her studies and life as well.

I can only thank God for a very patient, hardworking, supporting, and open-minded husband who makes his family his priority and vocation; for a husband who doesn’t mind being a very hands-on father to our two girls.   We would have given up homeschooling and probably didn’t push through with it in the first place, if Mike weren’t all these.   How about you?  What tasks or duties does your husband have in your homeschooling family?  I’d like to know the other roles of the homeschool father in your home.