We are now on Part 3 (of 8) of this blog series on the breakout session assigned to me during the last Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 held last October 22.  Part 1, my very first topic, was on parenting.  Part 2 was on teaching.  Let’s move on to part 3, experiencing.

What kind of experiences did our daughters have when they were in high school? Or what kind of experiences did we give them rather?

Compared to grade school, creating experiences or providing opportunities for our high schoolers was deeper and more intentional. If during their younger years, trying out something was simply to experience something new, in high school we were more intentional in the experiences or opportunities we allowed them to engage in. Instead of simply trying out for the sake of experience, it was our intention to know if they would like to explore it more. Would they like to learn more about it? Is it something they find themselves comfortable and competent doing? Will the experience help them narrow down or identify the course they plan on taking in college? Will the experience help them see themselves doing it as a career or a job?

Therefore, aside from the NEWness in the experience, we added another dimension to it, which is their GROWTH and INVOLVEMENT in making choices and decisions on the activities they would want to do or experiences they would want to have.

Before setting her goal on animation which is visual arts, Arielle became very interested in performing arts. She was able to join a professional theatre production at the age of 9 and joined auditions here and there, and have gotten callbacks. That was one experience which helped her really identify what she can do, compete with professional and amateur performers, and it taught her to face rejections and bounce back from them. That she can sing; that she can perform; and she’s always bold and brave to take big challenges of the real world, in the real world setting. If there’s one thing I learned from Arielle, it is bouncing back! She also co-started a group of young bloggers called I Know Write where they were able to organize a few events inspiring teens to blog about their passion.

Kayla, on the other hand, got very interested in culinary when she was younger.  We thought that was going to be her choice for college. So, we enrolled her in a few culinary classes, and let her work in the kitchen. But she lost interest in it and is now exploring the option of sports, particularly golf, as a way to enter college.

The opportunities and experiences our girls had (and Kayla continues to have) in their high school years were opportunities to let their roots grow deeper, securely and firmly. I believe this is where their roots have begun to strengthen them. Giving and supporting them in their experiences teach them to think bigger, see the bigger picture, make their own decisions, and even train them to think of opportunities that encourage them to come up with better ideas, better solutions to problems, and to give back to the community.

As a summary, we made the high school experience of our daughters even more intentional by consciously identifying where our their interests and strengths lie. It was finding where those interests, strengths, and learning environment all meet that we made sure they were given the opportunities for deeper learning, improvement, and enhancement  of their skills.

Next post will be about the “S” word!  SOCIALIZATION! It will be the longest post I will do as this was the topic that I felt God wanted me to really spend more time on as I was preparing my talk for the conference.  I had lots of prompting from God through various posts and articles I came across while preparing and it’s amazing how God clearly spoke to me in many instances!

Watch out for Part 4!


Kayla’s interest is in culinary.  As of the now, she says she wants to be a chef someday. One Sunday, I told the girls it was going to be a baking day.  Being the kinesthetic learner, Kayla was the more excited one.  She pulled out a boxed cake mix from the shelf (We usually bake from scratch) and the rest of the ingredients and tools we would be needing.  Well, she ended up doing everything by herself from measuring the ingredients, mixing them, cleaning up (This is still a work-in-progress), lining the cupcake pans, and pouring the batter into each hole in the pan.  She also did the frosting all by herself: measuring, mixing, and preparing the piping bag and decorating tip, and decorating the cupcakes.  The only thing that she can’t do yet is turn on our gas-fired oven, put the pans in and pull them out when the cake or cupcakes is done.  That’s still my role.

I congratulated her for doing a better job this time and really showing that she can bake by herself with less supervision.

On another occasion, she again baked cupcakes but from scratch.  She chose the recipe from her own recipe book and came up with her own combination of a chocolate kind of cupcake and frosting which she hasn’t tried doing before.  And VOILA!  This is her cupcake creation!  I was kinda uncertain at first as to how her cupcakes would taste like because it didn’t make use of butter, which I think is THE  ingredient that always makes cakes, cupcakes or cookies flavorful.  But when Arielle and I tried what she made (actually, not tried but ate! I avoid white sugar and bad carbs these days but I just couldn’t resist!), we were really surprised to taste a VERY YUMMY FROSTED CUPCAKE! I’m not kiddin’! It was the frosting that did the magic! JUST PERFECT for the chocolate cupcake!  We gave Kayla a two thumbs up!

Kayla’s tweaked and simplified version of S’mores cupcake

 

She decorated her cupcakes with mini marshmallows

 

She did a photo shoot of her creation.

 

Kayla’s BEST cupcake recipe so far! YUM! YUM!

 

There are a number of other skills and lessons learned from simple baking.  These are:

  1. Reading recipes
  2. Following instructions or procedures
  3. Math concepts:  measurements, fractions
  4. Hygiene, cleanliness
  5. Safety
  6. Chemistry (although we didn’t dig deeper into this last Sunday)
  7. Workflow efficiency
  8. Home economics: food handling and storage
  9. Creativity
  10. Sharing with others 🙂 – A remark we would always hear from Kayla is that she’ll bake cookies or pack food items and give them to the poor or those in the streets.  That’s her.  That’s her heart ❤.
  11. Entrepreneural spirit – She’s been wanting to make this a full-blown business but I just haven’t found the extra time to do it with her.  We’ve however touched on the topics of product development, packaging, purchasing, suppliers, costing and pricing, marketing, etc. and still continue to discuss the processes involved to set up and operate one.

Baking. Another life skill to teach our girls. What else?  Cooking. Knife skills. Basic hygiene in the kitchen. Food preparation. Marketing. Budgeting. A lot more! (No wonder the kitchen is usually the place where homeschooling families gather ’round!)  This is another way we make LEARNING REAL and BETTER for our girls.

Have you baked with your kids lately? It’s fun (and yummy, too!)


A few weeks ago, my family and I had the chance to go on a short vacation in Singapore.

Singapore is south of the Philippines, nearer to the equator, which makes its climate warmer than ours.

Flight from Manila took 3 hours and it was all our first time in this so-called “Little Red Dot”, also referred to as the “Lion City”.  It was a brief 5-day stay but each day had a full itinerary and at least one must-go-to destination.

Here’s how we planned out and maximized our stay in the city:

Day 1:  Day of Arrival;  We settled in at our hostel and went to Marina Bay Sands Theatre to watch the broadway hit musical “Wicked”.  This day was dedicated to Arielle, who loves theatre…watching musicals and being in it!

  

The show was awesome! After the show, on our way back to our hostel, we were able to see for ourselves for the first time, what a hawker center is.

A hawker center is basically a group of food stalls.

Day 2:  It’s Kayla’s day, being an animal-lover that she is. We spent the whole day walking at Singapore Zoo and the night, at the Night Safari!  It’s a good thing that we had opted to ride a tram in the Night Safari.  We were sooo tired from all the walking that we did at the zoo!

Singapore Zoo occupies a big land area and animals are healthy, well-fed and well-taken care of.

 

White Tiger

The Lion King!

 

An orangutan easily husking a coconut with her bare hands

 

Feeding an elephant

 

Feeding a giraffe

 

This is our female elephant, Gambe. She’s about 25 years old, born in the wild in Malaysia.

Day 3:  By this day, we had already learned how to commute in Singapore, and so, we hopped from one place to another, taking the MRT and buses around the city.  We went to the Science Center, walked next door to Snow City, moved to Albert “hawker” center, and checked out the Bugis market area which is similar to our Divisoria.  The famous Merlion tourist photo op landmark couldn’t be missed, too, where we also had the chance to watch and enjoy the Lights and Water show across the Marina Bay Sands in the evening. To even add to this day’s already full schedule, for dinner, we went out of our way to try the famous Singapore Chili Crab at a restaurant called “No Signboard”.

Commuting in Singapore was easy and safe.

 

Inside the Science Center

 

At Science Center

 

Tea Tarek, Kopi Teh, Milo Dinosaur, Horlicks Ice at Albert Center

 

Fish Lor Mee, much like our “lomi”

Singapore white pepper chili crab at No Signboard

 

At the Merlion Park

Lights and Water show

Day 4:  We enjoyed the rides and sensory-overload experience at Universal Studios.  It was still a fun thing to do with the kids even if we had already gone to the one in Los Angeles.  Again, it was like forgetting the real world for a while and stepping into a magical place full of thrill and excitement!  Theme parks is a great venue to bond with your kids, see and enjoy things as they would.

Kayla and Mike up there!

Day 5:  Our last day in the city was a Sunday.  We made it a point not to forget our Catholic obligation to hear mass.  Even if we were all already totally exhausted by this day, with our legs, feet, and backs aching, we managed to get up and attend the 9:00 am mass at the Church of the Sacred Heart.  With still a couple of hours in our hands before our flight back to Manila, we went to leisurely see the famous Orchard Road, and eat lunch at another hawker center in Newton.

What we did as first-time visitors in Singapore may sound quite ordinary and very common, but there’s always something new to learn in every new travel destination, be it local or overseas.  From the packing to airport-to-airplane procedures and manners, it was a whole learning experience from beginning to end, especially for our girls.  That is why, as a family, we try, whenever possible, to plan our vacations to places where we get a chance to experience something NEW and DIFFERENT each time.

So much is to be remembered from this trip!  It had made such an impact to our girls that Arielle now dreams of studying college there to pursue a course in Digital Arts or Animation.  She liked the city so much she thinks she can study there and be independent.  Kayla saw how clean the city was, the cars and buses well-maintained, and  that smoke-belching was totally non-existent. She now wonders if the “discipline” can be implemented in the Philippines.  After tasting, too, the Hainanese Chicken Rice and the Kaya toast, she was able to give her taste buds a different gustatory experience :).  The soft-boiled eggs Mike and I usually have for breakfast at Toast Box with our kaya toast and kopi made her think how the eggs come out soft and almost-looking fresh but without that eggy after-taste.  She still holds on to her dream of becoming a chef in the future!

Travel is really one of the best teachers one could have.  It’s a whole new experience and definitely hands-on!  The culture.  The cuisine.  The lifestyle.  The language.  Listening to how the locals talk. The government system and policies. Talking to people.  Seeing them on the road.  Watching how they prepare the food and eat them.  Taking the different modes of transportation available.  The list could go on…

What’s wonderful about traveling as a family is we always find ourselves engaged in lively discussions, comparing notes about what we see around us, how different or similar they are to what we do, and with how it is back in our home country.  It is a very good venue to do some critical and creative thinking 🙂

We all enjoyed our Singapore trip and hope to go back.  There is still so much to discover and explore, and I would say, so much to learn from the Singaporeans.

 


One of the benefits we enjoy in homeschooling is the flexibility of time.  With this, we are able to identify, focus, and spend more time on areas which we feel would be important not just 8 or 10 years from now when our children are about to enter college or are already full-fledged adults, but considered necessary as early as today.  In homeschooling, we get to teach our girls LIFE SKILLS that will help them become responsible, independent, productive, and discerning individuals, even if they are “just kids”.  These are skills that if taught in schools as a major subject, they may be considered useless or just a waste of time.  One of these life skills is being able to cook and work in the kitchen, with safety practices and minimal adult supervision.  After all, don’t we all need food to survive?  We also can’t always rely on our helper (a rare find these days!) and I don’t think you would like to hear your kids shouting “Yaya!” every time they’re hungry, right?   Pulling out a can of Spam or corned beef from the pantry, driving through fast food restos, eating out and ordering to-go’s don’t sound too good and healthy either (even in the pocket … I’m pretty sure you know that!)

So, let’s make the kitchen a learning space for our children.  Teach them the BASIC LIFE SKILL of cooking.  Not only will they learn the various practical culinary skills.  You’ll be surprised to see math, science, character, health, economics, and entrepreneurship popping out somewhere.  (See?  So many to teach and learn in the seemingly mundane task of cooking!)  We, parents, can also eventually teach them to make the right and healthy food choices as they become more familiar about ingredients, cooking methods, reading food labels, and more! (Or are the adults the ones who will learn to make a switch to a healthier lifestyle instead?  Hmmm, something to think about … )

Here’s what Arielle and Kayla have been busy with in the kitchen these past two days.  They chose two recipes each from what they learned from their week-long culinary class and did them at home. They did most of the work involved and where was I?  Waiting to eat what they prepared which turned out really good!!!

Arielle’s GRILLED BURGER with MUSHROOM GRAVY

 

Kayla’s POLVORON

 

Kayla’s BAKED LASAGNA

 

Arielle’s S’MORES

 

 


We didn’t feel like homeschooling today.  I felt we three girls needed a break from our daily routine and so we took a day off from our books and worksheets (except Arielle wanted to do a worksheet in Science).  We spent the day cooking and baking!  Kayla has been very interested in culinary lately perhaps because of the Culinary class in their Hybrid Homeschool Program and the new tv show Junior Master Chef. In fact, she now dreams to become a chef someday!

So what did Arielle, Kayla, and I cook and bake?  For lunch, we cooked beef salpicao and Kayla wanted to learn how to make mashed potatoes.  With instructions orally given to her by her Papa during breakfast, she was able to do the mashed potatoes on her own.  The beef we bought yesterday from the grocery didn’t turn out very tender but our helper said she can pressure cook it so we can still have it for dinner. Something quite didn’t turn out right with the Devil’s Food Cake but it can still be eaten and the decorating that I did with it was  appreciated!

 

Kayla’s been wanting to make meringue and it was a success even if I couldn’t set the temperature of our oven to what was on the recipe.  The green beans with beef we had for dinner was flavorful too.

 
 

Even if we did not stick our noses to our books or laptops, today was rich in hands-on learning! What SKILLS exactly did the girls learn today?

1. How to pick out the ingredients we would need in the grocery (Kayla and I went on a quick trip to the grocery yesterday)

2.  To put away grocery items upon arriving home

3. To pay attention to another person when he is speaking  or giving instructions

4.  Knife skills:  slicing meat, vegetables, mincing garlic

5.  What ‘boil’ means

6. How to properly measure the ingredients using measuring spoons and cups (for dry ingredients and for liquid ingredients)

7.  How to use the calculator to convert fraction to a decimal and to multiply with fractions (I had to tell Arielle to find out what 3/4 of 225 grams is.  That was for the butter 🙂 )

8.  To use and read the numbers on a weighing scale

9.  To read food labels

10.  To carefully read recipes and follow procedures

11. How to use other kitchen utensils such as a potato masher, peeler, angled spatulas, rubber spatulas, piping bags and cake decorating tips

12.  To familiarize oneself with and operate kitchen appliances such as a Kitchenaide mixer and induction stove

13.  How to crack eggs, and separate the whites from the yolks

14.  New baking terms such as “soft ball stage” and “hard ball stage”

15.  The difference between “soft peaks” and “stiff peaks”

16.  To wait for the precise time to add the next ingredient or do the next procedure or when it’s time to turn off a running kitchen appliance

17.  To take turns and cooperate with others to be able to finish a task

18.  To appreciate one’s efforts and give praise to another for a “Good job!”

19.  To share what we cooked and baked to our helpers

20.  To clean up and share in the house chores

21. To simply try and learn how to make things better next time!

 

So when we do have those days when I don’t feel like teaching and the girls also don’t feel like studying, simple daily activities in the house come in as the “substitute teacher” and usually turn out more fun, more memorable, more engaging and more personal to Arielle and Kayla.