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.

Ultimate Homeschool Planners

Our Ultimate Homeschool Planners by Debra Bell

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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