This is probably the topic everyone’s waiting for.  The question everyone asks homeschoolers. The question that never dies. So, I am not surprised if this was one of the top 3 reasons why the attendees chose to go to my breakout session in the last Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016. This is already the 4th topic of my presentation and if you missed the first three, you can read still read Part 1 on parenting, Part 2 on teaching, and Part 3 on experiencing.

WARNING: THIS POST IS A LONG ONE. When I was preparing for this part, I really felt God wanted me to look back on how we dealt with this perceived biggest problem of homeschoolers. And I was looking back, I said to myself that we weren’t doing anything extra special or extraordinary for our daughters to socialize.  We didn’t and don’t even have a regular homeschool co-op until this day!  So how did we socialize all these years?

First of all, we were a pack of four.  Where one goes, everybody goes.  That’s practically how our family setup or logistics was during most of our homeschooling years and so, meeting people and talking with them happened in a natural setting.  In a restaurant, in a shop, in church, when meeting their Papa’s contacts at work, when meeting and talking with the locals of Batangas (my province) which taught them how to switch from English to Tagalog (with the Batangueno accent). The least or perhaps the most we did was encourage our girls to smile and say “Hi!” or “Good afternoon!”

I’ll start discussing the above slide BEFORE I share what God actually revealed and TAUGHT me on what we’ve been doing to teach socialization to our homeschooled daughters.

High school was the time we started to let our girls join camps.  When I say camps, I mean 4-6 days…OUT OF TOWN…WITHOUT US. They joined CISV where they were able to meet other campers from different schools in Manila.  CISV Philippines is a global organization of volunteers and participants dedicated to peace education through cross-cultural friendship.  Their tagline or motto is building global friendship. Their camp venue was in another town in Batangas.  What we did was from our place in Batangas City, we went to the meetup/drop-off point in Manila so that our girls would experience the bus ride to the venue with all the other campers. Their experience with CISV could be one of the highlights of their high school years.

Being a beach-loving family, the other camp Arielle and Kayla enjoyed more is the Danjugan Marine and Wildlife Camp in Bacolod during summer.  They have joined this camp thrice and each time has always been fun and memorable for them.  It was always something they really GOT SO EXCITED ABOUT and LOOKED FORWARD TO!  In this camp, they experienced camping by the sea, learned how to live in a solar-powered island, how to conserve energy and water and at the same time, learn about nature and marine life, and most especially how to protect it.

The first time they joined this summer camp, Mike and I went with them to Bacolod and stayed at a friend’s house while they were at camp. We all flew to Bacolod together with 2 of their friends and flew back to Manila together.  On their second year, Mike and I flew to Bacolod with them, this time stayed at a hotel since they had more friends with them. (For this camp, they always stay an extra night before and after the official camp dates to not tire themselves too much and they also get the chance to explore Bacolod city with their friends and eat the local food specialty, chicken inasal!) After dropping them off at the meetup point, Mike and I flew back to Manila. When camp ended and it was time to pick them up, it was only Mike who flew back to Bacolod.  Last May, their 3rd time to join, the girls and their 4 friends flew to Bacolod and back to Manila by themselves.  Arielle became the organizer of the group, made their flight bookings, payment arrangements for the group, and housing arrangements with the camp organizers.  It was my way of training and preparing her for her move to Hong Kong for college. It worked out really well!

Do we allow them to meet up with friends?  Yes, we do.  Movie, going around the mall, go to Fully Booked or buy milk tea, Arielle and her art HOHOL (Hang Out Hang Out Lang) and Kayla with her golf buddies, school fairs, concerts a few times.  This has not been a problem with us as long as we know all the details of their meetups and they update us of their whereabouts.

They are also on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Telegram, Tumblr, Snow. WhatsApp and Viber (for convenience and a more private venue for family messaging).  There was a time, they or one of them was hooked to something (I forgot what it was) or they were spending too much time on their phones.  So I took their phones away.  But it didn’t happen often.  And I still remind them to keep their phones away during meal times.

They’re not on FB or IG all the time. They’re more of Snapchat and Telegram users to connect with friends. Somehow, they’ve learned how to make social media work for them.  Now that Arielle is in Hong Kong, she admits missing Kayla so much that I allow them to message each other or be on Face Time privately.  Sometimes, it’s me who’s excited about a post I saw or shared in Facebook and I would ask them “Did you see my post in FB??? I tagged you!”  And they will get back to me, “Ma, I haven’t been on FB lately.”

This is Arielle’s take on social media.  Social media is just a glimpse of you who are.  It only shows a tiny bit of someone’s personality.  Instagram, for instance.  That’s why she prefers to post pictures in IG that are random, colorful, and not too much like a gallery because she wants to show who she really is.  And for her: NOTHING BEATS HUMAN INTERACTION.  She’s on almost social networking site but she believes that if she doesn’t know how to talk to people, it’s useless. Actual meetups and spending time together are still THE BEST.

The girls were also able to do a few volunteering like calamity relief operations, sewing for the typhoon and earthquake victims in the Visayas, joining a beach clean-up in Anilao, volunteering for a day at Make-a-Wish Foundation. They were only a few occasions or opportunities that we were able to volunteer.  We simply shared our time and resources when we could.

Calamity Relief Operations, Project Hearts and Hands my friend and I did one Christmas, Anilao beach clean-up w/ college students.

Calamity Relief Operations, Project Hearts and Hands my friend and I did one Christmas, Anilao beach clean-up w/ college students.



Volunteering at Make-A-Wish Foundation; Arielle did a drawing for the little girl and gave it to her.

Volunteering at Make-A-Wish Foundation; Arielle did a drawing for the little girl and gave it to her.



Sewing for calamity victims

Sewing for calamity victims



Danjugan Summer Marine and Wildlife Camp in Bacolod

Danjugan Summer Marine and Wildlife Camp in Bacolod



Another plus that helped the socialization part of our homeschooling is letting them meet Mike’s and my own circle of friends. I am blessed to have a really close batch in high school and our girls have met some of them. They’ve seen the quality of friendship I’ve kept with them even after 30+ years. They’ve met my barkada, my girlfriends, the funny guys, the “sosyal” girls or “magulo” (or rowdy) group before. I also share with them how my high school life was before and how everyone has changed and mellowed, and became close to one another, like family. So, it became sort of a benchmark of the kind of friendship they would also like to have and keep someday.

At this point, you’ll probably say “Oh okay. We’re doing the same things you’re doing. You seem to be doing normal things.” SO WHAT MAKES SOCIALIZATION EASY or NOT AN ISSUE FOR OUR HOMESCHOOLED DAUGHTERS?

THIS IS WHAT I THINK AND WHAT GOD ACTUALLY REVEALED TO ME AS I WAS PREPARING FOR THIS PARTICULAR TOPIC.  We talk as a family. We talk about ideas, what we see on tv in the news, or what caught our attention in Facebook or Twitter, about the things we see around us. Because of this, Mike and I didn’t realize that by making them aware of events and situations happening around them and simply talking about them or having a deep conversation and discussion about them WITH them, we were teaching them a different meaning of socialization. We were teaching them that there are different kinds of people in society, with different living conditions, culture, and lifestyle different from ours and in that manner, we were teaching them how to behave in an acceptable manner in society.  (Merriam-Webster’s definition of “socialize” is “to teach (someone) to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.”)  With this, we were teaching them to look outward and not inward. That the world does not revolve around them!

So I’d like to pause here and let you think how you’ve been defining the “S” word all this time.

And I’d now like to REDEFINE “socialization” for you.  It’s not just having friends…or being surrounded by people…or being where the “party” or everyone is. Socialization is not Facebook where you have 1,000+ friends!  True socialization is the quality of relationships and not quantity.  It’s more character than contacts.  I really like how Merriam-Webster defined the word “socialize”.  Does it make you think now if those in traditional schools and workplaces are truly socialized people?

Now that I’ve mentioned character, are you aware that companies nowadays are eyeing college graduates from this particular university? Companies are preferring graduates from this school because they’ve seen that students from Ateneo, La Salle, UST (these top and elite universities) don’t last long in a job. Why? Because they can’t stand menial jobs. They feel they deserve a higher pay just because they graduated from these universities. It’s that feeling of entitlement. (By the way, the university is Polytechnic University of the Philippines).

Mike and I always tell our girls that whey they enter the corporate world, everyone is on equal footing. Even when applying for a job, when you submit that job application and get interviewed, all applicants are equal because they all lack experience and what would spell the difference is what you can contribute to the company. How you can be an asset, not a liability, to the company. So again, skills and experience PLUS CHARACTER. That’s also precisely the reason why teaching our kids CHORES is very important. CHORES teach RESPONSIBILITY, HARD WORK, COOPERATION, TEAMWORK, no SHORT-CUTS, GETTING HANDS DIRTY.  Another important skill is COGNITIVE skill, meaning skills relating to mental activities: thinking, understanding, learning, remembering, analyzing, evaluating. So, the Bloom’s Taxonomy is a very good training ground for our kids TO THINK OF new ideas, new approaches, new solutions, new ways of doing things!

As also shared by the other keynote speakers in the conference, modelling is one clear way to teach our children.  Mike is a living example of a socialized person. He talks and can talk to anyone, regardless of rank or position in society.  And it is actually natural for him and more comfortable for him to talk to drivers, security guards or street vendors. We three girls would often find ourselves saying “Ayan na naman si Papa, may kausap na naman. O nakikipagkwentuhan na naman sa driver.” (There goes your Papa again.  He’s talking to someone. He’s a having a friendly chat with a driver.) And he won’t be just talking with them. He will also eat with them at a carinderia or in a corner or under a tree.

One of Mike’s reminders to Arielle when we were in Hong Kong to send her off was to not look down on people.  Respect and be kind to your security guard or cleaning lady. Greet them because that could just make their day.

I come from a political family but I would always rather keep myself in low profile. I was never comfortable being given a special treatment.  Our girls know and have seen that, and so do other people who’ve come to know me better.

With Arielle now an international student at SCAD HK, socialization was never a problem. You can read more about it here.

We also get comments on Kayla being able to talk with older golfers and being independent. There was a tournament she joined recently where she was the ONLY junior golfer and all the other golfers were adults. She didn’t mind. And they didn’t mind at all! As a matter of fact, they acknowleged her presence in the tournament that the adults gave the prizes they won to Kayla!

Arielle and her friends at SCAD (a Korean who came fr Singapore, one from Honduras, and another Filipino); Kayla as the only junior golfer in a tournament

Arielle and her friends at SCAD (a Korean who came fr Singapore, one from Honduras, and another Filipina); Kayla as the only junior golfer in a tournament

I would really like to encourage you to TAKE YOUR PARENTING AND the SOCIALIZATION EXPERIENCES of your children seriously. Don’t keep them sheltered. Don’t always make things comfortable and easy for them. Don’t make them feel that everything is going to be served to them. Make them do hard things. Make them do chores (I can’t stress this enough). Make them appreciate work and service done to them by your helpers, your drivers, the waiters, the security guards, the elevator operators, your garbage collectors, your pizza delivery person.

I read an article by The Washington Post entitled “How to Raise Kinder, Less Entitled Kids (according to science) and I’d like to copy here the few lines that caught may attention:

“What does this mean for kids and parents? Anything we provide or do regularly will become the new norm, whether it’s postgame milkshakes or a certain brand of clothes. And not doing things can also become a norm: If our kids have gotten used to having their beds made or dinner table set, they’ll come to expect that, too.
“I really think about it as ‘What’s the default that I’m setting up?”

And that’s one question I would now like you to think about…and answer THE socialization question that is always asked of you. WHAT IS THE DEFAULT SYSTEM I HAVE SET UP IN MY FAMILY?  Are meals always ready on the dining table? Are rooms cleaned by a helper every week or when trash is all over?Do we need to always go for branded clothes and shoes?  Be only with and catch up with families whose default system for semestral break or summer vacation is to travel abroad all the time?

With all that I’ve shared and written here about socialization, it’s time to have that paradigm shift and redefine the S word.

Socialization is EMPATHY where one puts himself in the shoes of another, to understand and care how someone else feels as if the other person’s life or story is happening to him, as opposed to sympathy were one just feels compassion or pity for the hardships or difficulties one is going through. “Kawawa naman.” (What a pity).

From Uplift Connect in Facebook

From Uplift Connect in Facebook

We all complain about our country…how undisciplined Filipinos are…that our country seems to be hopeless, how disrespectful teenagers are nowadays. Let our PARENTING and the SOCIALIZATION of our children be our contribution to build the CHARACTER of our children. It’s time to UN-CENTER OURSELVES. Let’s start the change and be the change we all are looking for. If we want our country to change and build the Philippines again, let’s start with our families…our children.

I think I’ve said more than enough and made my point. I do hope I was able to make you THINK and at least just agree with me on the real meaning of socialization.


With just a month and a week left before Arielle leaves for Hong Kong for college, guess what I’ve been teaching her, as both hands-on and plain verbal lectures and reminders (lots and lots of them)? They all have one thing in common. They are the things we adults do everyday or 99% of the time.  They are the things we struggle and juggle to do, making us survivors or experts of these skills.

They are all home management and real life skills.

Here is what my College 101 “lesson plan” or curriculum for Arielle looks like.  I came up with 5 categories: (1) meal planning, (2) laundry, (3) finance or money management, (4) social skills and character-building & application, (5) getting to places.


  • Weekly Menu Planning

For the past 3 or 4 weeks, Arielle’s been in-charge (and I mean, IN-CHARGE!) of our weekly menus. She lists them down using a printable menu planner such as this.  I taught her to try as much as possible, to have vegetables at least once a day, or if not, at least have a good distribution of beef, pork, chicken during the entire week.  My very least requirement for her when she’s already in Hong Kong is to prepare green smoothies every morning.  That is the fastest way to make sure that she gets to eat greens.

Since Arielle will be staying in a 3-bedroom unit with a small kitchen (like a condo) and the SCAD building does not really have a cafeteria where she can buy food (but there are lots of places to eat nearby), she has to learn how to cook and be economical.

I saw this great idea on Pinterest and so, Arielle and I made one (minus the actual binder/folder since it will be an extra weight in her luggage) with our own recipes, downloads, or photocopies.

We also made a pantry staples list with items that need to be in her grocery list to make sure that they are in stock in their kitchen.  Things like eggs, cooking oil, bread, butter, cheese, oatmeal, condiments, salt, pepper, rice, coffee/tea, honey, sugar, milk, etc.

  • Making a grocery shopping list

Based on her weekly menu plan, she learned to list down the kitchen and pantry items that need to be replenished and ingredients that need to be bought at the grocery.

  • Actual Meal Preparation, Cooking, Cleaning Up = TIME MANAGEMENT

This is probably the most challenging to teach.  Arielle hasn’t quite gotten the concept of time involved in preparing a meal.  The meat thawing (we don’t defrost meat using a microwave or oven method), cleaning and chopping of vegetables, marinating of the meat, tenderizing, different cooking methods all require TIME.  She still hasn’t fully understood that IT TAKES TIME to prepare a meal, to cook a meal (not unless one is going to eat straight from the can or bottle, which I do not recommend), and clean up afterwards. So, if she’s going to bring lunch to school or cook dinner after school, MENU PLANNING, a WELL-STOCKED PANTRY of INGREDIENTS, and CLAYGO (CLean As You GO) are key.

  • Leftovers Management

This is where Mike speaks.  “You have to learn how to eat leftovers.”  And I’m just glad that she is not a picky eater that she can eat leftovers.

  • Beef and Pork Meat Cuts Illustration, English translations, Cooking Guide

I was too focused on the meal planning and cooking tasks (since our daily meals depended on her!) that  I almost forgot that some of the recipes she follows have the meat cuts written in Tagalog. I realized that when she goes to the grocery or if she gets to go to the market in HK, she wouldn’t know the English translation of those meat cuts.  So, I immediately photocopied the flier I have in my files from Monterey, a local meat shop, which has an illustration of a cow and where the different beef cuts come from and their English names.  I didn’t have any flier on pork and so, I went to the website of Monterey, googled some more and went to Pinterest.  Whew!



  • Laundry (How-to to links and videos, International Fabric/Laundry Care Symbols)

Arielle admitted that she is not too confident about this.  She did laundry before using our washing machine and dryer when we didn’t have a house helper but it’s not something she mastered.  All she knows is to separate the whites from the colored, put the delicates in laundry wash/net bags, and to button or zip those that have buttons or zippers.  So, just last night, I emailed her links on how to do laundry plus visuals on the different fabric/laundry care symbols attached to the garments.  This is  still her reading assignment.


  • Opening a bank account

I am hoping that we would be able to open a bank account in Hong Kong on the day we arrive or at the latest, the day after.  But having seen the schedules sent by SCAD on the activities for the new students, everyday (including the Saturday and Sunday before their first day of class) is filled up with activities.  If we don’t get to do this with her, then she would have to do it by herself.

  • Budgeting, Wise and prudent spending

From the very start, Mike and I already explained to Arielle that her going to SCAD is going to be very expensive and that keeping the scholarship given to her would help A LOT.  So she knows and fully understands that she needs to be wise and prudent in order to keep spending low and on what’s necessary.  I’m thankful that when Arielle and I talk about her moving to Hong Kong, what really, (and I mean, REALLY!) excites her is going to class and learning!  Yes, she’s excited to try out new food, go around and see where she can buy clothes, but hearing that she has that attitude and love for learning inside her, it just makes me more at peace and confident that she’ll make it through college.



  • Social skills
  • Chores assignment, Meal planning, Cost sharing of common household items

Arielle will be with other international students and professors from different countries at SCAD. For this freshman year, she will be having two roommates with her who, fortunately, are going to be Filipinas. She will be in a Chinese-speaking territory. This is going to be the real test on socialization and character, on adaptability and getting along with different kinds of people.  I can’t wait to hear stories from her after a few weeks or so in Hong Kong.



  • Commuting (map reading, navigation, trip planning)

Fortunately, there’s a free scheduled shuttle bus that takes SCAD students living in the housing to the campus and back to the Residences throughout the day until evening. But going to other places like the grocery, restaurants, and shops would mean taking the MTR or bus.  Commuting will be her way of life in Hong Kong (which she never did in Manila or we never allowed her to do for safety reasons) and she would learn how to read maps, navigate and plan her trips well to maximize her time and be cost-efficient.


So you see, her gap year has been well-spent and she is still learning valuable skills that she needs to take with her before she finally leaves for college.  We all feel well-prepared, most especially, her, and that’s what’s important.

Our pieces of luggage are next in line, ready for packing.  Now that’s going to be another skill to teach her. How to pack (within the set baggage allowance) and eventually, how to travel on an international flight alone.  This college life is going to be one exciting journey (literally and figuratvely) for both Arielle and me!








I bared my heart in my last post.  It was a sincere one.  I wanted to let you know that I’m not a SuperMom or a Super HomeschoolMom always with her red cape on.  There are actually many times in our homeschool journey that I am just as lost and vulnerable as other moms are out there.

I received a feedback from my friend and art playmate (Yes, I do have a playmate!), Dette Ramos of Bananabellieboo, on my last post.  She told me that what I shared triggered a loooong discussion between her and her husband on how they could also encourage their young kids to dream for themselves and how they want to be able to support them in their dreams.  I was surprised when she told me that it actually took them about one whole hour just talking about it from her office to their house!

It made think how Mike and I started “dreaming” with Arielle and Kayla.  To be honest, I can’t seem to clearly recall what we did first or when the dreaming phase all started because to me, their growing up years, especially when they were toddlers, were more of just teaching them basic skills, making them wonder how and why things work they way they do, and checking if they are actually enjoying whatever they’re doing and interested to doing more.

Let me just share what I vividly recall doing with Arielle and Kayla when they were still very young and we were all trying to discover their potentials, talents, gifts, preferences, and inclinations.

1.  Books

I surrounded them with a lot of books, magazines, and newspapers.  That’s one thing for sure. Picture books, storybooks, chapter books, coloring books, activity books!  I remember I was able to take a video of Arielle with a book upside down in her hands, babbling on and on as she pretended to be reading the book she was holding 🙂   We noticed, on the other hand, that Kayla grew up liking Almanacs.  She would look forward going to National Bookstore or Fully Booked and buy the new almanac that comes out every year.  This mere observation made me see the personalities of our two girls.  One prefers lengthy books and that would be Arielle, while the other prefers bite-size chunks of information (Kayla).

It is through books and a lot of reading and printed materials that Arielle and Kayla were able to “see more” than what’s around them, explore possibilities, and express their thoughts and feelings after reading and having a casual conversation with them.

2.  Arts and Crafts

Being and arts-and-crafts person myself, it wouldn’t be a surprise that I also exposed Arielle and Kayla to a lot of cutting and pasting, drawing, painting, lots of paper, crayons, markers, pencils, paint, etc.!   Doing art activities was one way of discovering more of who they are through the images they drew, the colors and strokes they used.  Art, being a visual and tactile activity, was a self-expression activity that I was able to use to know more about Arielle and Kayla in their younger years.  As they grew older, I saw all the more, through their works and time spent in the activities, that Arielle’s interest in arts was becoming more pronounced and Kayla wasn’t as much into it.

3.  Music and Theatre

Music has been part of their lives as early as probably when they were 4 to 6 months old when they were still in my belly.    I had headphones on my tummy with classical music on for them to listen to, and I remember playing the classic children’s songs (still in cassette tapes!) when we would play in the living room, when we would take afternoon naps, or when we would ride in the car.

We also watched musical plays for their entertainment value and a trip to the theatre was what made us discover that Arielle had this “dream” of performing on stage…as the lead role!  Yup!  We watched Peter Pan at CCP in 2007 and Arielle said, “I can see myself on stage doing the main character.”  She was watching at the edge of her seat (I’m not kidding!) the entire time!  And true enough, the next year, at 8 years old, she bravely tried out performing arts for the first time.  She took a summer theatre workshop and she loved it!  She landed the lead role (as Jack in Jack in the Beanstalk) in the workshop’s production and we knew that the stage was “part of her world” (as the Little Mermaid would sing it 🙂 )  A year after, she did “A Christmas Carol” professionally and it was one experience she’ll never ever forget!  It gave her the confidence to try out audition after audition, go to callbacks and open auditions) and even if she didn’t make it to the cast, it was still a dream for her to show to others what she can do and what she’s got.

We also convinced Kayla to try out theatre since she saw her Ate enjoying it immensely.  So she did too at age 7 and played one of the main characters, Pinocchio, in a summer workshop.  She confidently performed on stage, but she herself said that she liked it, but it’s not her thing.

Up to now, watching movies and plays, especially musicals, is a family activity we enjoy.  It is a way we support the visual, musical, and kinethestic personalities of Arielle and Kayla.

4.  Sports, Physical/Kinesthetic Activities

When we shifted to homeschooling, competitive swimming has been their P.E.  They did it for 5 years.  They got tired of it and found themselves trying archery and golf.  I admit that at times I still wish they stayed on with swimming but I know that even if they didn’t stick with the sport, they have learned the discipline in training for a sport and the other character traits that they have developed while at it like obedience, perseverance, working with team members, humility, among others.

Now that Kayla’s liking golf again (Thanks to Mike who is also playing again after giving up on it for a while), I see that this could be her “dream”.  Although she may not fully admit YET that golf is a dream of hers, I see that she’s BEGINNING to realize that this is a strength of hers, after being given positive feedbacks on how she plays the sport, and that this could actually open doors for her to somewhere we don’t know yet.  Kayla is also currently at the stage where she is starting to question what she really wants to do in her life.  Knowing that her Ate Arielle clearly knows what she wants to take up in college and what she really wants to do, Mike and I can sense that she is beginning to search for her unique path and calling in life.  So for now, we are here to support her in a strength of hers that is obvious and hopefully, it will really take her to bigger dreams.

Prior to golf,  we thought that she wanted to do cook and bake.  That she wanted to take the culinary path when the time comes.  We enrolled her in summer cooking classes. We tried recipes at home.  We baked cookies, cakes, and cupcakes.  We bought her cookbooks and encouraged her to print out recipes she would like to try and keep a file of them.  But again, her interest in it wasn’t sustained although she still likes to work in the kitchen.

5.  Travel

Another worthwhile activity we do as a family when we have the finances and time to do it is travel locally and abroad.  It is through first-hand experience of other culture and lifestyle that our girls learn for themselves what they would want to change in their own way of life and how they would want to live their own lives when they go to college and after.   Seeing for themselves how other people do their day-to-day activities in another place or country teaches them to think of better ways to do things and improve systems.  It is a way of dreaming for themselves and for our country. It also opens their eyes to opportunities that may not be available to them in Manila or in the Philippines, making them dream bigger and bolder.  It was when we went to the U.S. and Singapore that we all dreamed with Arielle in taking up Animation and being an animator someday!

6.  Meet other people

Of course, as we were doing all these activities…buying books, doing arts and crafts, watching musicals, enrolling in workshops and classes, traveling to places, we were able to give Arielle and Kayla the opportunities to meet other people in their natural settings who, in one way or another, were able to inspire and encourage them.  What can beat SOCIALIZING with REAL PEOPLE from different professions, from different fields, and from all ages?

So you see, encouraging our girls to dream involves a number of things:

1.  a hands-on and intentional parenting

2.  a discovery process which includes trial-and-error; It really is exposing your children to VARIED activities and finding out in the process which ones they are wired to do or where their potentials are.

3.  influencing them by our (parents’) own interests at the onset of or during the discovery process, but not dictating to them

4.  having faith in God, our Maker, who designed each one of us with a unique purpose, who ultimately knows what we are cut out for and who can make dreams come true

The words of Pope Francis when he visited our country a few weeks ago are still fresh in my mind. He stressed how important it is to dream in the family.   It was truly an affirmation of our decision and chosen lifestyle to homeschool our children because it is in homeschooling that we are all able to dream as a family and support one another in our dreams.

What are your and your children’s dreams?  How do you hold on to and pursue them as a family?


Litrato mula sa:


Ang isa sa mga ugaling Pilipino na gustung-gusto kong ibalik at muling isabuhay nina Arielle at Kayla ay ang PAGMAMANO SA MATATANDA O NAKATATANDA sa kanila.   Marunong naman sila kaya lang, siguro, dahil sa iba’t ibang klaseng tao ang nakilala at patuloy na nakikilala nila na may iba’t ibang pamumuhay, mas madalas silang humalik bilang pagbati o paggalang kaysa magmano.  Eto rin kasi ang nakikita nila sa kanilang mga kaibigan.

Pinaalalahanan ko sila nung minsan, pagkatapos namin magmisa, na gusto kong MAGMANO sila sa amin ng Papa nila, PAGKATAPOS NG MISA at TUWING HAPON.   Nung sinabi ko ito sa kanila, parang naalala nga nila na hindi na nila ito nagagawa.  

Ngayon, dahan-dahan naming ibinabalik ang pagmamano sa aming tahanan at buhay.  Mas maganda lang kasi at mas nararamdaman ko ang respeto o paggalang, MALIBAN SA PAGGAMIT NG “PO” AT “OPO.”   Sa sobrang makabago at mabilis na pag-ikot ng ating mundo ngayon, naniniwala ako na may mga bagay pa rin…makaluma, tradisyon, at nakaugalian na…na dapat panatilihing buhay sa ating mga Pilipino.

Maidagdag ko lang.   Medyo tama o akma rin pala itong “post” ko sa aking or aming goals para sa taong 2013…na magpakita ng pagkamamamayan at maging mas makabayan o maka-Pilipino.


Last January 3, Mike accompanied Arielle and Kayla to the bank.  It’s been a tradition for us to deposit the cash money that they received as Christmas gifts every start of the new year.  This teaches the girls the process of making deposits, makes them familiar with the bank atmosphere, transactions, forms used, procedures, etc.  This time, Mike made Arielle and Kayla do the deposit themselves which was via a computer screen first then, the teller. (They said they were no more deposit slips to be used.)  Arielle also deposited a cheque to Mike’s account.

The next day, January 4, Mike and I had to go to Manila first thing in the morning.  Mike asked Arielle to deposit a cheque to his bank account in another bank.  Kayla went with her.  Arielle was able to do the transaction without adult supervision.  The teller praised her for being able to know what to do and how to do it (She was told that she just missed writing down the branch of the bank. It looks like this bank had a different procedure, this time, with the use of deposit slips).  

Making bank deposits is important.  It is one of the many life skills we must teach our children, and I have more in my list that I want them to learn and need to teach to them! For those with younger kids, they may not be capable yet to make deposits or withdrawals from the bank, but you can already teach them about money and what the bank does by tagging them along the next time you yourself go to the bank.  Make it a mini field trip 🙂  Same with the grocery, bake shop, restaurant, hardware store, repair shop, etc.  

I like seeing and meeting kids who show independence and self-reliance at quite a young age, or at least, at their age level.  I’m not talking about “being advanced” here.  Just being developmentally age-appropriate, perhaps?  Essentially, this is also just one way that we make our LEARNING AND SOCIALIZATION REAL.

What life skills have you taught your children and how do you teach it to them?  



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.


I am homeschooling a high schooler now, and I didn’t think we’d continue to do it.  So far, everything’s working out fine.  Soon, Kayla, our youngest, will also be in high school.  This is a helpful reminder that homeschooling in high school is possible and could even be a way better option during those critical years in our children’s lives.

Eight Common Myths About Homeschooling In High School

Here’s an article I just received from one of my email subscriptions (’s High School):

Why Homeschool Teens?

by Elizabeth Smith

When our children reach the high school years, we begin to question whether homeschooling can really provide them with what they need—spiritually, socially, and academically. But homeschooling is effective in high school for the same reasons it is effective in the younger grades. As a matter of fact, homeschooling in high school can yield great dividends in the life of your teen.
Here are 10 reasons why you might want to consider homeschooling your teen.
1. Continue the Family-Building Process
The teen years are a strategic time to cement relationships that last a lifetime. Parents can continue as the primary role models. You can make sure that your teen is instructed and discipled consistently each day with moral training and sound doctrine.

2. Cement Family Relationships
Relationships are the most important thing in family life. When teens are away from home for six-to-eight hours a day, subtle changes begin to erode relationships at home. Divided allegiance or “serving two masters” can shake their foundation. The result is weakened family ties and parental influence.

3. Provide an Excellent Learning Environment
Receiving one-on-one instruction is the most effective way to learn. At home, academics have priority, and there are no classroom distractions. Conversely, studies show that barely one third of the school day in traditional high schools is dedicated to academics.


4. Individualize Education Based on Needs
You can customize your teen’s education to provide motivating opportunities to develop gifts and abilities. In areas of academic weakness, you can provide extra time and help. No classroom setting can offer this consistent and loving support.

5. Accelerate Academic Progress
Many homeschooled children are academically ready to do college-level work between the ages of 14 and 16. Additionally, researchers have found that age/grade isolation or segregation actually inhibits socialization. Available data demonstrates that homeschooled children are ahead of their public school counterparts in maturity, socialization, and vocabulary development.

6. Have Direct Influence over Peer Relationships
Homeschooling allows parents to fulfill their God-given responsibility to oversee the choices and amount of time spent outside the family. Parents can mentor their teens as they develop the important lifeskills of evaluating and choosing friends, resolving conflicts, and handling romantic relationships.
7. Protect from the Pressure to Conform
Teens feel strong pressure to compromise their standards and personal identity to conform to “the group.” Few are mature enough to withstand constant pressure.


8. Maintain Flexibility
Homeschooling allows great flexibility for family plans and work or service opportunities. Through these venues, teens can gain valuable experience to help prepare them for future adult responsibilities.

9. Create a Safe Learning Environment
News headlines tell us that the presence of drugs and violence are escalating on high school campuses across the country. Homeschooling offers a safe haven for learning, and it provides more opportunity for parents to recognize and lovingly intervene if their child exhibits at-risk behavior.

10. Allow God to Show Himself Strong
2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” Let us look to God and trust Him as our provider during these special years.

You may also find it here:

As our schoolyear is about to end and thinking that Arielle will be moving up already to Grade 7 next year (Then, it’s high school! Yikes!), this article made me pray harder again to God to ask for His guidance in our homeschooling.  I thought Mike and I had already decided that we are going to homeschool the kids until high school but recently, we find ourselves (all of us, including our girls, Arielle and Kayla) at a crossroad.  Are we doing this until high or school or not?  Will sending them back to traditional school by high school be the right decision?  It’s like a tug-of-war situation when I try to think about this but I put my trust in God that He will clearly show us the answer.

Meantime, let me share an article which helps us parents check if we have been doing our jobs in preparing our young adults for the job market.


Preparing for the Job Market


One of the most important jobs that we as parents have is to train our children to survive—and indeed, thrive—in the world that faces them. We try to give them a solid education, develop their character and work ethic, and impart core values that glorify God. These things are among the most important elements we can give our children. However, survival in this present world demands that they be able to provide for themselves and for the families that God gives them. As many of us know, that is not an easy task, especially in the current economy. So how do we prepare our children to enter an uncertain job market? How do we ourselves adapt to the vagaries of the current economy and provide for our families when jobs are scarce and careers unstable?

The answers to these questions may surprise you. A few months ago, in my role as a journalist, I covered a local economic summit. The event was hosted by the North Carolina JOBS Commission, with the avowed purpose of bringing state business leaders and educators together so that educators could learn what skills employers sought most in employees. It was an eye-opening experience, one that both motivated me to change some of the ways I homeschool my children and encouraged me to see that that there were so many advantages that homeschooling offers prospective job seekers. In this article, we will discuss some of skills that employers seek and how we can best prepare our children—and ourselves—for survival in today’s job market jungle.

1. Be willing to learn.

The job market is changing rapidly and we have to be willing to change with it. In the past, options were fairly limited, and career counseling meant simply matching the right person to the right job. However, the reality is that we need to prepare our children to meet the challenges of jobs that are entirely new. Laura Bingham, former president of PeaceCollege, explained, “The challenge we face in this fast-evolving economy is that we have to educate our children now for jobs that don’t exist yet.”

As Sam Houston, President and CEO of the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center, commented at the conference, “Today, it is important that we give students strategies to deal with the unknown.” Our increasing economic dependence on new and changing technologies means that almost everyone has to be in training mode at any given moment. Those who have not learned to process new ideas and adapt to new workforce realities will be left behind. Those who are willing and eager to learn will thrive. Developing in your children this ability and eagerness to learn is a key to future prosperity.


2. Focus on higher education, not just college.

In the past, the conventional wisdom has been that a college degree is necessary to achieve economic success. Indeed, those with a bachelor’s degree are likely to make almost twice as much in lifetime earnings as are those with only high school diplomas (2.1 million dollars as opposed to 1.2 million dollars, according to a 2002 U.S. Census report).1  College graduates are also more likely to have jobs that offer benefits.

However, the current focus on technical skills and job-specific training means that programs offered by community colleges and technical training schools are increasing in importance. You may opt for this training instead or plan to begin with an associate’s degree in a specific field and transfer to a broader-based college program later. Even an associate’s degree is likely to increase earning potential by a significant amount (an average of 1.6 million in lifetime earnings).This option may also make better economic sense in terms of college costs and allows homeschool students to ease into classroom situations before approaching the more academic rigors of earning a bachelor’s degree.


3. Plan on a backup career.

Another advantage of looking to local trade and technical schools is that it prepares you for more career options should your original plans fail. As many people have learned during the current economic struggles, careers are not always certain, no matter how good you are. The more skills you have under your belt, the more attractive you are to an employer and the better your chances of finding a fallback position. As Rick Davis, an executive with Spirit AeroSystems quipped at the conference, “I make it a point to make coffee at least once a day so that I have a marketable job skill.”


4. Develop entrepreneurial skills early.

Several of the CEOs of large corporations represented at the summit bemoaned the fact that many people were entering the job market with little or no idea of how businesses ran or of the cost of doing business. “Where is the kid with the corner lemonade stand or the summer lawn service?” one of these business titans bewailed. Even such simple jobs teach the value of a dollar and the realities of cost and profit. Fortunately, homeschooled students are in a prime position to initiate those kinds of creative, successful endeavors. The flexibility of homeschooling makes it easier for a teenager to work a job, compared to his traditionally schooled counterparts. In addition, according to the TOS Magazine Reader Survey 2007, of the nearly 5,000 homeschooled families who responded, roughly 15% of homeschooled children are either involved in their family’s home-based business or own their own businesses.3

5. Improve your communication skills.

If you survey the jobs section of most newspapers or websites, you will soon realize the importance of good communication skills. Oral and written communication skills are a must for those who work with the public or who are seeking higher-level management positions. Unfortunately, these qualifications are becoming more and more rare. As Dan Gerlach, President of the Golden LEAF Foundation, complained, “This generation knows how to ‘tweet,’ but they don’t know how to look you in the eye and talk to you.”  Fortunately, homeschooled students tend to score much higher in these areas than others do,4 primarily because they tend to communicate on an adult level earlier and more often. Parents can enhance their students’ communication skills with solid language arts and rhetoric programs and the inclusion of strong vocabulary and writing elements in curricula. These efforts will more than pay off in the long run.


6. Develop logic and critical-thinking skills.

Another common theme among business leaders is the desire to hire employees who demonstrate strong logic and critical-thinking skills. The typical employee, they said, can push a button but has a hard time recognizing when a problem exists and knowing how to troubleshoot it. Also, as Dr. Bill Carver, President of Nash Community College, pointed out, “So many students are so used to multiple choice questions, that they have trouble making connections between things in the real workplace.”

These skills are so important that many pre-employment tests are now testing such elements to help determine fitness for a position. Fortunately, a wealth of traditional and homeschool-specific books that address issues such as logic, critical thinking, and problem solving is available. Some games (computer, video, and board games) also help develop skills in this area. (“Professor Layton and the Curious Village” is one of my video game favorites). When buying gifts for your children, it may be a good idea to look for books and games that develop these skills.


7. Hone computer skills.

Let’s face it: We now live in the twenty-first century and computers are here to stay. Most young people today have grown up in a computer-oriented world and therefore already have an advantage over older jobseekers who may still be a little wary of technology.

Almost every job today requires some familiarity with computer basics, so plan on investing in a good computer and software packages (such as Microsoft Office) that are commonly used in the business world. Sites such as allow homeschoolers to purchase software at lower prices, a courtesy commonly offered to public schools. Courses in keyboarding and basic computer skills are available from a variety of sources ranging from computer software to online classes to local community colleges. Of course, actual practice is the best instructor, as most homeschooling families already realize. According to the TOS Magazine Reader Survey 2007,nearly all homeschool families own computers.5

Job applicants also should possess good computer skills. Today, most employers require individuals to apply first online, either through the Internet or through a company’s intranet computer. Many companies also make use of computerized tests and survey questions as a part of the online application process, so it is to the applicant’s advantage to gain experience with this type of test-taking format. Many of these tests focus on communication abilities, critical-thinking skills, and interpersonal relationships.


8. Work on social skills.

Many jobs today demand good customer service skills,and therefore the qualities of common courtesy and self-control are in high demand. Homeschooled students often excel in these areas because they tend to be able to adapt easily and successfully during interaction with a variety of age groups and are more comfortable in situations that involve adult interaction.6

Years ago, when I was traveling home from a homeschooling conference, I met a businessman on a plane. As we talked, I discovered that he was the CEO of a corporation that owned a group of nursing homes. Though he did not homeschool, he told me that he and his staff actively recruited homeschool teens to work for them because homeschoolers tended to interact better with the senior citizens and had more flexible schedules. Clearly, he had seen firsthand the advantages homeschooling gave to employees.

At the economic summit I attended, several of the prospective employers also mentioned social networking media skills as a huge plus. Some prospective employers now request that you send them links to personal websites or social networking accounts such as Facebook. However, these links can function as a two-edged sword: Their use indicates that you have computer savvy and great social media skills; however, they also reveal a great deal of information about your life and personality. Make sure that these sites don’t contain elements that would harm your reputation or reflect a negative attitude toward authority—good advice in any case.


9. Enhance your resumé.


Even before young people begin the job hunt, they can begin to find ways to enhance their resumés. Many employers now want resumés that focus on acquired skills, rather than mere experience. Keep track of your volunteer work and entry-level jobs, and document the skills that you have learned. For instance, you could increase your audiovisual, computer, or child care skills by volunteering at your church. You could improve your social skills by volunteering at a hospital or nursing home. Or you could learn organizational skills by helping to set up events for your homeschool group.

A listing of classes you’ve taken at your local community college can enhance your resumé too. Even courses such as CPR training, auto repair, sewing, or child care add to your skill set and indicate a desire to learn. Of course, computer and keyboarding classes are particularly valuable.

As you can see, success in today’s job market requires far more than educational basics and a good work ethic. The more scarce jobs are, the more choosy employers become. However, the news is good for homeschooling families, because many of the skills and attitudes that are in such great demand are ones that homeschool families focus on. Homeschoolers have the potential not only to thrive in today’s economy but also to be the economic leaders of the future. However, it is up to us—their parents—to equip them for the challenges that lie ahead.


Originally posted March 4, 2011


Amelia Harper is a homeschooling mother of five and a pastor’s wife. She is also the author of Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary-level students. In addition, she is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to newspapers and magazines. For more information, go to