This is the second of the series of blog posts I am doing after the recently concluded Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 “From Roots to Wings”. I was given the opportunity to share about our experiences and journey during our high school years but I felt that I missed out quite a lot during my assigned breakout session.  So, I decided to blog about it instead to make up for all that I failed (or was too nervous) to share.  If you missed my first post, click here.

Next in line is about TEACHING.

When our girls reached Grades 5 and 7, it was the time I noticed that they didn’t want me to be always watching what they were doing with their schoolwork.  They didn’t want me to be looking over their shoulders all the time like in the past years where I was seated beside or with them as they do their subjects. I took it as a signal to step back a bit. That’s how they also started to learn by themselves, BE INDEPENDENT, and learn about TIME MANAGEMENT. I stepped back a bit but I would still be in the background, checking how they were managing their time or simply asking them “What are you working on?” or “What subjects do you plan to do today?” or “What do plan to finish this week?”

It helped that we were able to use user- and student-friendly materials which taught them to learn by themselves. We used e-books which started to train them on working on their own laptops.  I remember doing A LOT OF RESEARCH for high school math books until I came across Teaching Textbooks online. I got attracted to it and we ended up using it from Grade 7 to 4th year high school Pre-calculus.  The set (workbook, answer key, CD) is pricey at USD185 but Arielle and Kayla managed to learn higher math on their own with it.  I only brought them to a math tutorial centre on certain occasions like when they needed a little help from another math teacher, when I felt they needed a change of learning environment or when I wanted another math teacher to test if they really understood their lessons.  Mike and I felt that if had chosen a cheaper math material and added a regular tutor service, it would come out even more costly than the cost of Teaching Textbooks.  Plus, the books were handed down from Arielle to Kayla which made  it really worth it! With Teaching Textbooks, I NEVER HAD TO TEACH MATH to them!

For Science, we used Apologia Science which to me, explains science topics really well and in an interesting and Christian view. I purchased our Apologia books from another homeschool site Rock Solid Inc. at cheaper prices.

For Filipino, I sought the help of The Learning Library. Because Arielle was suddenly moved up to 1st year high school, I wasn’t prepared to teach the Filipino classic literature Ibong Adarna. I had to seek help somewhere and it was from The Learning Library.  The girls had a very positive learning experience with them and fondly remembers their teachers and how they made learning Filipino FUN.

So, in high school, I changed my hat from a TEACHER to a COACH, just like what Bo Sanchez had shared in his presentation as a keynote speaker of the conference.  I was coaching them on INDEPENDENT LEARNING and TIME MANAGEMENT more than the academics. Besides, the lessons are more difficult to teach that I would have failed in my teaching job if I continued to teach them their lessons. The subjects where I continued to discuss with our girls are Character, Christian Living and our Catholic faith, World History (I couldn’t let go of Mystery of History; I wanted to continue reading the book and learn more what happened!.  Approach to Filipino was all basic.  To me, basic Filipino is learning how to converse, understand, and write in the language in such a way that they’re able to convey the message they want to convey. Nothing deep and too poetic for me in Filipino.

When they stepped into high school, it was also the time they attended more workshops and classes outside home, aside from their required MAPE (Music, Art, PE) subjects. I made it a conscious effort to be on the lookout for workshops and classes late in grade school in preparation for high school.  These are some of the workshops they (sometimes, WE, which means I joined them) joined:

  • Mindmapping with Ivy Marquez
  • Sewing by Anne del Rosario at Sew Easy for Kids (culminated by a fashion show where they modeled their own sewing creations)
  • Blogging by Arriane Serafico (who unfortunately is no longer based here in the Philippines)
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
  • Public Speaking and Presentation


A sample of our mindmapping

A sample of our mindmapping



We all learned how to sew! Kayla's summer culinary workshop!

We all learned how to sew!    Kayla’s summer culinary workshop!


Arielle and Kayla also joined a Hybrid Homeschool class with other homeschoolers,  once a week for one schoolyear. It was by Ivy Marquez and they had subjects which focused more on LIFE SKILLS such as Culinary and Food Science, Etiquette, Entrepreneurship.

As you can see, the workshops and classes they joined were very INTENTIONAL and really geared towards learning SKILLS, SKILLS, SKILLS, particularly LIFE and WORK SKILLS. I was already thinking forward.

With The Master’s Academy, we were required to present a portfolio at the end of every quarter to showcase what they had learned and accomplished in each subject during the quarter.  We used to live in Batangas and what I used to do was compile all their work or output in a binder, bring them to their academic consultant in TMA in Manila for her to review, then set another appointment with her for the scheduled portfolio review.  Can you imagine the travel and time factor involved? So I decided to go electronic or digital.  From hard copies in thick, heavy binders, we switched to Google Docs which allowed them to work on shared portfolio outputs but separately on their laptops.  It was like working in an office on your own workstation and contributing work as a team.  With Google Docs, I would just email our academic consultant the link of their Google Docs portfolio and schedule a trip to Manila for their portfolio review. What a convenience and time-saver!

After Google Docs, I thought doing their portfolio via blogs would even be a BETTER idea! It would teach them creative writing, which was a priority area for me, since I knew that writing essays would be one of the college application requirements.  Aside from learning how to write, blogging would also allow them to integrate  photography, graphic design. Arielle managed to learn the codes on how to design or tweak the theme of her own blogsite. Take a peek at Arielle’s homeschool blog called The Homeschooled Mermaid and Kayla’s KaylaNeverKeila.

Laslty, what made high school learning also fun was WE ALL LEARNED TOGETHER. We learned how to mindmap together.  Arielle and I joined a blogging workshop together.  We three learned how to sew together. There were also other arts and crafts workshops we all joined like stamp-carving, silk screen printing, calligraphy, brush lettering watercolor painting.  So, I was learning new things and skills with them. WE ARE ALL LEARNERS and they were opportunities to show them that I AM A LIFELONG LEARNER myself. LEARNING WITH THEM was one way that we all connected and I STAY TUNED with them.

One last sharing on TEACHING.  In a recent Catholic homeschoolers gathering I attended with Mike, this question was asked: Where or how do you delineate your role as a parent and as a homeschool teacher? Where do you draw the line?  A very good question, don’t you think?  The speaker gave an answer without having to think long (not even 2 seconds!).  And I agree with what she said which was to let the academics suffer but not your relationship with your child.  NEVER.

With that I end my sharing on TEACHING in the high school years.  I really hope that with the first blog post and this second one, I was able to give tips to keep in mind and resources to bookmark.

My next blog post will be on EXPERIENCING.  What EXPERIENCES should I let our teenagers have during high school?  Enjoy my first two posts while you take your semestral or holiday break as I try to do the same.


Last Saturday early morning, we were all awakened by Mike’s voice in the living room. One by one, we went out of our rooms to check what it was all about.  It was me first.  Then, Arielle.  Then, Kayla. That was before 5:30 a.m.  He was talking with his sister in the U.S.  Mommy’s gone.  Lola’s gone.  She passed away, January 25, Saturday, 3 a.m. (Philippine time).   She was diabetic and a mass was found in her kidney.  It was cancer. 

We knew Mommy/Lola was getting weaker and was in her old age.  She was in her late 70s or early 80s.  We were praying hard for her to get stronger and for her healing.  She’s been in our daily prayers ever since we knew that she wasn’t in the pink of health these past recent years.  We were even planning on flying to California when we found out last week that her organs were already failing. Mike had expedited the renewal of Arielle’s passport.  It was going to be too expensive but Mike wanted all of us to go.  He knew that this could be our last chance to see and be with her. Last year, he went on an emergency trip and was able to spend a few weeks with her when he learned that she was getting weak.  That was his last opportunity to be with her.  But she had gone too soon.  She took her one deep breath and that was her last.  At least, God answered our prayer to spare her from pain and suffering.

I had a WordPress workshop that day by TheHappy Wahm and The Technie Mom and to be honest, I wasn’t able to fully concentrate.  I don’t even know if I remember everything we discussed that day.  My mind was just floating.  Everything felt and still feels like they are floating.

During breakfast, I tried to lift up everyone’s spirits and the only way I knew how was to tell them to think of their fondest memory of Mommy/Lola.  Arielle remembers Sunday lunches with her and other family members gathered around the table.  Kayla remembers her reminder to drink milk and eat crackers during snack time.  Mike and I will not forget how she took care of the girls when they were still babies, especially during bath time.  She was very hands-on.  Those memories made us laugh and smile, lifting the burden off our chests.  Another fond memory of her was our conversations about food, recipes, theatre, and musicals.  She really loved talking about those! (As I write this, Arielle just posted a recording for her in SoundCloud, especially dedicated to her. Mommy was so, so supportive of Arielle in her theatre endeavors and dreams! I can tell that Arielle is really missing her so much already.)

We are trying to cope with the death.  Mike seems to be able to handle it well, except when I catch some moments of him quieter than usual.  Arielle cried during mass yesterday.  She said she could hear Lola singing.  She really cried.  Kayla seems to be okay…for now.  And I am in a daze.  She was a good mother-in-law.  Very caring.  Family and God have always been her priority.  

Mommy will be cremated and we are waiting for her ashes to be brought over this February by Papa and Mike’s second sister.  Life goes on, but this time, with much grief and sorrow, heaviness and bittersweetness in our hearts.

Mommy’s passing taught me these life lessons which I felt deserve space in my 365 notes challenge.  It is especially inspired by Mommy. 

Mommy/Lola, thank you for all the care, love, and support you’ve given us, especially to Arielle and Kayla.  You gave them overflowing love with all your heart and with your selfless hands.  Thank you for the wisdom and lessons you have imparted to each of us as a person and as a family.  WE LOVE YOU and WE WILL REMEMBER YOU FOR THE HAPPY MEMORIES WE ALL HAD WITH YOU.  Your life story was a good one!  Rest in peace and smile down on us, ok? 

Today marks the 14th year of my motherhood.  Arielle, our eldest, turns 14 today!  It sounds cliche but I’m still going to say it.  HOW FAST TIME FLIES!  These past few days, I’ve been downloading photos I’ve posted in Multiply and looking back at them as far back as 2004 makes me sentimental, giving me that kind of feeling inside only mothers can perfectly understand.

Fourteen years.  Arielle, you used to be that little girl who happily drew and painted on the Manila paper I taped on the wall or refrigerator door.  The one who sat on the floor, enjoying the taho spilled all over your body, and squeezing the sago with your bare hands.  The toddler who confidently babbled as you read your storybook upside down 🙂  And of course, how could I forget your prophetic statement “I can see myself perform on stage doing the main character”, at the age of 9!

Fourteen years.  You’re now a young lady who has accomplished much already at your age and yet, with a lot more dreams you yourself have painted in your canvas of life.  I’ve seen you hang those stars, those dreams up in the sky, and am always elated to be your first witness every time each one lights up and comes true.

Fourteen years and my mind is now doing a rewind of how those years went by. How did I survive those fourteen years???  You were our first-born and everything I did as a mom, I did it the first time with you.  So that makes you my teacher, Arielle.  My hands-on mentor all these years! You may just be our daughter but no else has taught me simple life lessons like you did.  And to this day, you teach me to:

1.  like the color purple (at least, appreciate it more)

2.  be more colorful!

3.  be messy (Sometimes, it’s really more fun!)

3.  sing or listen to music while working

4.  draw more 🙂

5.  not be afraid to try something new or different

6.  visualize my dreams (You are good at this!)

8.  quickly bounce back from a fall and move on as if nothing has happened (This is one of your strong traits which I’m not very good at)

9.  look forward, be a dreamer, and yet live today like no other

10.  smile and laugh more

11.  take more and better pictures (Hahaha!)

12.  be more positive and always let the sun shine!

13.  be amazed at the things one can do and become by just self-learning (This is sooo you!)

14.  strongly believe that God truly has a plan for each one of us

Thank you, Arielle, for these 14 ordinary and yet, personal and meaningful life lessons you’ve taught and continue to remind me, your Mom, these past 14 years.  Our relationship may not have always been smooth, but it will never be like anyone else’s.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  I can only pray that all your heart’s desires be given to you at God’s perfect time and that you will live the life and purpose designed for you and only you!  I LOVE YOU!

From:  Simple Homeschool

Subject:  An open letter to my non-homeschooling friends

The subject title of this particular email in my inbox immediately caught my eye.  I opened it, read it, and am sharing it!  I loved the way it was simply, honestly, and beautifully written.  Perhaps it’s because I can so relate!  I’m sure some or most of you will, too! 🙂

An Open Letter to my Non-Homeschooling Friends

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