Enriching your Homeschool Experience with Technology: Join Us This Saturday #phc2017

As I begin to write this post,  the biggest mass shooting in the history of the United States (Las Vegas Strip) has begun to unfold.  I’ve been glued to CNN since last night.  Oh wow,  there are no words to sufficiently describe this tragedy.  CNN has just began identifying some of the victims and I just close my eyes as I listen to back stories and pray.

It was a Music Festival much like the many outdoor concerts we have in the Mall of Arena or BGC grounds.  I remember watching Cold Play last April and yes, there were buildings beside us  with people catching the concert from their top floor offices. Security was tight on the ground, but who would have thought that the risks would come  from above?

I recently shared a robbery incident to my son as we talked about the different forms of theft (online, armed robbery, break-in and all) . An incident involving a supermarket here in Alabang had armed robbers digging a tunnel to the office from where the cash was stored. Who would think that evil can come from below?

I face this day with these thoughts early this morning. I have to continue to believe that there is still so much love and goodness around, above and below , around, within, that can conquer such unthinkable acts of hate, terror and evil.   I am now thinking of the family of the 60 of those who died and the 400 injured, many of whom may be in critical condition, fighting for their lives, and I can only pray.

I face this day, preparing for the upcoming “Philippine Homeschool Conference 2017 ,  Educating for the  World of Tomorrow #homeschooltothefuture. I will be handling a break out session on Homeschooling and Technology.

I cannot help but think of “what future” really lies ahead and what future do we prepare ourselves and our children for.  It makes no sense to me to  I dig into using and maximizing  educational technology as we parent and homeschool our children and see this tragic event unfold, a  massacre using other forms of technology.

Oh, Technology! Technology??  There are so many sides to you. Why can’t we all just use you to make this world a better place indeed?  Why can  you  amazingly aid my children in their  education  (mine too!) and experience of this world but at the same time, also have the potential  to create the avenue to bully them and corrupt their minds and  souls?

For now, my answer is because Technology is just  a TOOL.  For now (my kids and i just had a quite interesting discussion if technology/artificial intelligence will eventually have a “mind” of its own, separate from the control of human brains/ boundaries), it is just a tool.  And I can only hope and pray and do what is within my control, to make it a positive, edifying and enriching tool.

I have to rest on that so I can move on and yes, prepare for his weekend’s homeschool conference. Join us, and yes, if you’re interested to know how it can enrich your homeschool experience, drop by in our session about Homeschooling and Technology.

This is what we seek to tackle: “Technology is the bane and boon of this generation of students. What exactly are the pros and cons of using technology in the homeschool? How can you utilize the online resources available to you while maintaining a balance with offline learning? How can teacher parents make use of technology to make homeschooling easier? Homeschooling mom Donna Pangilinan-Simpao talks about this as she shares her favorite tech resources, which she used in more than 10 years of homeschooling.”

Come, and listen to my favorite Senator! Kuya Kiko Pangilinan!

Efren Penaflorida and Marissa Leinart will join  Kuya Kiko as Keynote Speakers!

3:00-5:10 for these sessions!

Please make sure to stay till the end for exciting raffle prizes.

New Living Translation
1 Corinthians 10:23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.



Every Child Needs A Champion: The Visions of Hope Foundation Story in Malungon, Sarangani (Part 1 of 3)

I remember a blog post where I shared about God’s answer to my prayer many years back about expanding the four walls of our classroom.   Indeed God truly  continues to expand as He has brought me to various heights in merely passing what I have learned in our 16 years of non-stop homeschooling journey. From mentoring mini classes of homeschooling parents, to workshops for larger parent groups; from moderating a dynamic homeschool community of almost 9000 members to speaking in homeschooling conferences, it has been a truly an unforgettable journey of learning and passing on. It could be as simple as a FB message, a comment on a post or a call, or an email, God has been allowing His grace and encouragement to overflow from one home to another. I am truly blessed to part of this cycle of blessing.

Never did I think that God would enlarge the borders even further and really allow me to even cross continents to learn about  best practices in working with  poor children/ families in Guatemala  in an exposure trip last year.  And God opened the doors to eventually help oversee the educating of 160 children from the indigenous groups of B’laan and Tagakaolo in the Visions of Hope Christian School in  a province of Sarangani, the southernmost  tip of Mindanao Island.

Only God could have orchestrated it all.   With the help of good friend Steph De Los Santos who invited me to be part of the Visions of Hope Foundation and my now BFF in ministry, Arlene Sy, the homeschooling experience would prove to be a gold mine in “helping” home educate the many children who  need to live in boarding facilities in the school since their homes were just too far (2-3 hour walk, one way!)  Aligned with our mission/vision, we are now test running a curriculum that seeks to be a Christ centered, holistic, practical, relevant and indigenous culture sensitive. One that will celebrate the beautiful community of the B’laans and Tagakaolos  and help them as well end the cycle of poverty by helping raise productive citizens that will one day give back to their municipality, their province. And by careful crafting, we hope and pray that our graduates will be able to meet th needs of this community in the future. We truly seek to promote culture identity and preservation through lessons and activities.  Indeed a daunting task  but one the Lord never designed to be addressed by one group or individual. God indeed uses a multitude to  lovingly raise His little ones.

Sarangani is one of the poorest provinces in our country.  According to the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 2015,  Sarangani is the 3rd poorest province with a poverty incidence of 61.7% meaning 6 out of 10 families do not earn enough to provide for basic food and non food needs.  With poverty, education  becomes a non-priority as the children are expected to help add to the family income . Some opt to let their children marry early (early teens) so as to pass the burden of care for others.  Armed with  our mother organization, Center for Community Transformation‘s call to work in the poorest of the poor,  we knew Visions of Hope Foundation needed to provide better access to quality and relevant education for our indigenous children.

So after many meetings and several visits to Mindanao, it is  with the deepest gratitude for  Our Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord , our Provider) and greatest joy that I would like to share the photos of our recent Thanksgiving and Inauguration Ceremony  last September 13, 2017 as our new school building was turned over to us by our generous donor, the Security Bank Foundation as they continue to roll out their commitment in their  “Build a School. Build a Nation: Classrooms Project!”

Let me share our journey as we saw this day unfold and as we marvel in  witnessing God’s faithfulness to His children through these photos:

During my initial visit,  I met the students and teachers of Visions of Hope Christian School in both Malungon, Sarangani and General Santos.

With Teacher Carol:) Our B’laan music and dance teacher. She is also an ALS teacher ( Alternative Learning System)
With Teacher Lei, our Social Studies teacher.

Construction workers from partner ministry, Kaibigan Ministry
I had a chance to meet our Visions of Hope Christian Preschool teachers, students and parents in General Santos. The school here is constructing new facilities as well and will need our help!
Sunday Worship with Malungon Church in Malungon Retreat and Training Center


Photo courtesy of Malungon Retreat and Training Center FB Page

I had the chance to stay over at the beautiful Malungon Retreat and Training Center (MRTC) run by CCT (Center for Community Transformation).  

Check out FB page of Malungon Retreat and Training Center

Set in a hilly and sloping property in Malungon, the training center has mini buildings with a meeting hall and several rooms for lodging.  A highlight of this center is the Bamboo Worship/School Structure !

i really love this “palace”!

Look at this beautiful “bamboo palace” at night.

Photo courtesy of Malungon Retreat and Training Center FB page
Situated on a hill, with many coconut trees surrounding the Visions of Hope Christian School in Sitio Lao, Nagpan, Sarangani Province was donated by the ever generous SB (Security Bank) Foundation. Here is the the 6 classroom 2- story building in its early stages of construction.

I toured the grounds to see the current classrooms being used for preschool up to level 7 . They all were in bad shape, needing major repairs.  But  really, I loved the native feel of the materials in these rooms/cottages. Hopefully, we can add a bit of natural feel into the new school building that had to meet design requirements of our donor, Security Bank Foundation.

I  also had a chance to witness the B’laan way of weaving as I visited  the Lamiflew Living Museum and School of Living Traditions.

I met the wonderful teachers of our school. I spent time with them sharing what it means to be a creative teacher and how to inspire creativity.

With Alternative Learning System Consultant (ALS)  “Ate” Ms. Flonette de Castro

At the core of making this all happen are two of the most dedicated workers I have ever met and worked with. Meet Ms. Arlene Sy, the Visions of Hope Foundation Executive Director  and our every so young, multitalented and gracious program developer and researcher, Ms. Abi Limpin.

With Professor Romeo, Arlene Sy and Abi Limpin as we met in creating a curriculum that promotes and preserves indigenous culture.

We are also to privileged to have Professor Romeo Dela Cruz to be on board in curriculum development.   Prof Romeo or Kuya Toto to  others is a former assistant professor of CAS-DH (College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Humanities) University of the Philippines, Los Banos and former commissioner at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

On my next visit, our building was taking shape.

I had more time with the teachers as we discussed how to use Unit Studies in their lessons.

Please say a prayer for our teachers, our battle front liners!
I was also able to spend early morning devotions with the teachers 🙂

Professor Romeo had a very productive workshop with our teachers in culture identity and preservation!

Last Wednesday, was a big day for all of us.  It was a perfect day. Not hot, not rainy, cloudy with just enough cool wind and see how the day went:

The newly built building is behind us. That’s Ressel and Gina, students of Visions of Hope Christian School, Malungon.
More of the children! I had a great time talking about their passions and interests. Praying for their hearts’ desires,,, I am believing that I talked to future teachers, chefs, engineers, doctors, artists, pilots, architects.

A simple program featured short messages from  Malungon Mayor Tessa Constantino, Security Bank Foundation Chairperson, Mr Rafael Simpao, Jr (yes that’s Papa!), and Visions of Hope Foundation Chairperson Ms. Stephanie De Los Santos.  It was a delight to see the gathering of other committed partners from CCT,  Security Bank, and local government.  I even had a nice chat with a friend, quite close to my father in law,  Ms. Anastasia  Dy, executive director of Security Bank Corporation and President of Security Bank Foundation (Papa’s Boss!) .

From Left to Right: Ms. Anastasia Dy, Papa Rafael F. Simpao, Ms. Stephanie de los Santos and yours truly!

A favorite part of the event was being to share this entire experience with my last homeschooled son, Gino, who had an out of this world “school” exposure trip.

Here is Gino with “Papa” Babes whom my children call as  “Daddy” because 1) Gilbert is Papa and 2) there was resistance to be called Lolo many years back 🙂 It was priceless to have Gino see Lolo  “Daddy Babes” and “Mama Donna” in action. Truly an unforgettable experience  for us all!

The kids presented an indigenous dance number.

Please include of all these committed and loving teachers in your prayers. The new curriculum is not easy to execute, we are challenging to go beyond what they have been used and to try new things.
Mayor Tessa Constantino made sure to attend our inauguration ceremony and donated giant story books for our children. It is truly heartwarming to have an ally in government, Thank you, Mayor Tessa. L-R  Melchi Uyasan ( Save the Children), Mayor Tessa,  Steph de los Santos (VOH) , Arlene Sy (VOH) and Lalaine Naquita (CCT’s Executive Director for Tribal Ministries.

We then proceeded to our new school building for ribbon  cutting and turning over ceremony.

Here together with other partners! I was so thrilled to have co Board of Directors of Visions of Hope Foundation Atty Weena Mendoza with us. She brought her colleagues, Rob and Therese from Wholistic Transformation Resource Center (WTRC).
L-R Ann Dy (SB Foundation), Rafael Simpao (SB Foundation), Steph de los Santos (VOH), Joy Limen ( Principal, VOHCS, Malungon) with 2 students
The uphill climb to our new building. Photo courtesy of Ms. Arlene Sy. More photos to follow on our building in my next post.

I shall end and take a pause here.  I was able to take a school tour and observe a typical school day and will create a part 2 post for that. Part 3 will be about how to help if you’d like to join us in becoming a champion for the kids.  I will cite different options where your talents and resources may be of use in blessing our school .

As I close, let me share a photo of our teachers having a light moment here.  Photo was posted by Teacher Jen Bag-o Pido on  her FB page.   The challenge is truly enormous but these teachers are simply empowered and encouraged by God to press on. Their faith and commitment blesses me tremendously.

Like the weaving masterpieces of cloth seen in the skirts of our teachers, I can’t help but feel the warmth of  God’s “woven” work among His people. Different threads, different colors coming together to create a beautiful work of art that will be showcased again and again.  We all need partners as we fight for children at risk indeed, and I thank you all, all the threads coming together for this worthy, God given endeavor.
Indeed, God loves His children. (We are all His children, remember??!!)  The experiences shared here show just that.  We are all part of His labor of Love. We are doers and at the same time recipients of that love. That thought just blows me away.
1 Corinthians 12; 12, 20
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 20 As it is, there are many parts,[b] yet one body.
Psalm 127: 3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

Slow Down, Stop and Yes, Look at the Birds, Listen to them and Smell the Flowers

It has been a long while since my last post. And I think, it is mainly because I had to learn to slow down, to say, “No” and breathe. Some others think it is because  of the many homeschool seminars we’ve been running, not really.  Or, that I have become too busy. I have maybe an average of  2 half day runs per month and that’s really not so bad.  We actually have one this afternoon but instead of fussing about, I am now listening to the birds outside my  window and blogging away.

Yes, everyone needs to slow down and find that pace in life that isn’t too slow, lethargic and unproductive, yet is not too hectic, unhealthy and stressful (full!) .  The online world and social media aren’t really helping in this quest for the right pace. At one end, it can push you to sluggishness, consuming every content out there, but it can also lead to feeling the “super invincible woman” who can multitask and attend to so many demands with your smartphone and all the apps that make life simpler. Does it really?

Well, all I know is that I have slowed down.  For one, I have, without guilt, caught up with a TV mini series my husband was into and it has opened a world of conversation and connection for us.  Guess which series???

I have found time to reconnect with grade school, high school and college and even Medicine batch mates in the last several months. Trips to Quezon City no longer daunt and haunt me.  Remember the Danish proverb??? “The road to a friend’s house is never long.”

With Maryknoll Grade School Classmates Rina Puno Avecilla and Mian Alentajan! Despite a 3 hour trip, this bonding was sure worth it.
My UP College of Medicine Batchmates! We welcomed a few classmates from the US.
My precious Anatomy group mates: Hazel, Miko and Jep ( not in photo: Amelen and Liza!)
Highschool/College/ Med School BFF Dr. Nanette Lizardo-Lajo. Twinning here!

And yes finally, finally, I had time to bond with sisters on a joint or one on one dates, short ones or even overnight in the beach or in a farm.

Yehey for bonding in Anilao!

I was reminded of this need to slow down just a few days ago…  I  put this on a desk at home and one family member said, “It’s nice. What photo will you put into it? ”

Maybe, the image wasn’t worthy to display.  But then how about the message?  It was sure worth it for me. When I saw this card from  Floral Atelier in Tiong Bahru area in  Singapore, I just knew I had to get it… and thought of a nice silver frame for it, but I ended up with this acrylic frame, on sale, from Crate and Barrel in Makati.  But some can miss it really.

Slow down and read. Slow down and appreciate.

One weekend ago, I just decided to say “Yes” without much ado  and be the “malaking hadlang” (MH, one who blocks or one makes two, a crowd, by joining!)  to my sister and her hubby.   It has been tough gathering and uniting schedules of Gilbert and 4 kids for a beach trip so when there was a chance, I grabbed it. For myself.  I said I can go.  I figured my family can do without me for a one night and two full days.

Lovely time with the Coates family at Kawayan Cove !!!! Nenette , my sister is beside me.
And yes, I had tea with an English man and a German! Thank you Lori and Becca for that awesome tea!

We then decided to visit brother Kiko’s Sweet Spring Farm in Alfonso after a day in the beach in Nasugbu and I learned a whole lot from brother in law, Boogi.

Boogi: Do you see the ostrich up there? (Oh we need to stop and see indeed!)
Boogi pointed me to this nest on the ground. It has been one of my wishes to be able to take home a “discarded nest.” Sorry, Mama Bird if you still wanted to use this ( I doubt it though since it was on the ground already near many predators) . I took it home, I sprayed some lacquer into it and it is my reminder for God’s awesome creation and yes, to slow down indeed.
They always say “Look Up” . But in a farm??? You do need to look down. We found many amazing stuff!
Thank you, Kuya Boogi for teaching me to slow down and take time to look at life! Boogi Zipperich is my German brother in law married to Ate Nenette. They have an awesome shop called Boogi in Arnaiz St and LRI Plaza, both in Makati.
We grew up in our Antipolo farm house with lots of fruit trees and had santol, guava, star apple, balimbing as snacks! And just like the good old days, one would pull the branch down, and one would pick the fruits. We did that last week. Ate Nenette and I. Oh memories!
Our loot! Made some guava jam after!
Indeed, I took time to really stare at the flowing water in this sweet spring!

And finally, my BFFS bond with my sister Felichi! That’s not very often, and it was really heartwarming to see such bonding.

With BFFs in my tennis team, Joyce and Candy, and ate Felichi! Love it!
And a highlight of this month was seeing good friends from our days in London! Here with Jon and Arly ( my son Marco’s godmother) and Angeli. Jon and Arly came from a brief visit. Outside the window, my children were bonding with theirs! Take time, take time…

Indeed, we all need to slow down. Slow down doesn’t always mean doing less but I guess, slowing down  to know what really matters and focusing on those. And yes, we all need that. In this world of non stop calls for our attention, and distraction, we need to slow down.

What will this mean for you? Think it through and make the adjustments. It could be as simple as turning off the phone, limiting social media or simplifying some things like meals (my sister would have  sandwich nights when dinner preparations were tough to handle). For me, one of the best ways to slow down is to start your day early and slowly, when many concerns and people are still asleep (hehe) and listen to music, meditate, read God’s word and pray!

I need to sign off for now. Off to Quezon City for a seminar. It’s August 26 and let me take this chance to greet my ate (mommy) Angeli, Happy Birthday dearest sister!  I’ll see you later!

The blessings of 4 sisters. I need to slow down today to spend time with them and celebrate love and life, Happy Birthday Ate Angeli:)

Jeremiah 2:25 “Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry?
    Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? (The Message) 

Favorite Games/Activities for MultiLevel Children

Games are necessary if you have multilevel children!  You definitely need something to spice up your days.  But here is the challenge….  you have to think of games that are not skill or age based since the eldest child will always end up being the winner.   These games  may also be applied in your co-op or support groups if you lack participants.  So here are some of the games and activities.

  1. Obstacle Course –

You may set up in your street (if it is safe) , your garden, a clubhouse in your village, in the park or even in your home (room or hallway) .   What can you use?  A wooden plank for balancing, wheels for that jump in and out kind of run, a “tunnel” or barrel where they can crawl through, a stool to go around, a jump rope to maybe do 3-4 jumps and a flag to pick up. You may even put a basin of water to jump over. Be creative.

This was after an obstacle course !

2.  Relays 

Pillow Case Race!
Three Legged Race
Carry Me Race
Wheel barrow race
  • Sack race or pillow case race
  • Going to the market
  • Spoon with a pingpong ball relay
  • Putting straws on several soft drink bottles or juice pitchers
  • Two legged where you tie two pairs of legs (or calves) on the ankle part with a long scarf
  • Wheel barrow game
  • Google for more ideas!

3.  Treasure Hunt

We used this list one time as we ventured into the park and around the village!

This may need some preparation! But it will be worth it indeed.  You may use the plots of the books of your read-alouds, your children’s readers in describing clues and all!  Use adjectives, riddles, or figurative language in giving clues. You may provide word games like WORD FIND, unscramble, word play or even search for letters and make them into a word as your provide clues for the treasure hunt.

4. Brown Bag of Things that Begin with _____ .

This is usually for the toddler-preschooler kids where you let them trace a letter (upper and lowercase)  on a big brown bag and you let them find items around the house that begin with the sound that letter makes. For instance,  for letter Aa,   they can find apple, arrow,  airplane, avocado, airplane, ant, apron.  You can also reverse this by putting things ahead in the bag and letting the kids guess what are inside the bag.

5. Let’s Pretend

I wanted to teach the kids empathy and sensitivity.   I think we were reading “Helen Keller” and so I was trying to help them realize what it means to be blind.  You can for 10 minutes, blindfold all the children and try to go about  your plans for the day for 10-15 minutes without the sense of sight.  We took this activity further and wrote down a few of the senses and abilities in pieces of paper:  ability to talk, to walk, to use hands and to see.  We then drew lots and pretended what we drew (disability) for half an hour.  We tried to communicate by writing, move by inching with our bottoms, etc etc. We did this before bedtime. Though there were times we laughed as we struggled with our “assigned” abilities, it allowed us to think through the activity and imagine what it would be like if  we had this concern, not for half an hour in a simulated and timed game, but really for life! We then talked about the topic of “persons with disability” and what we can do to help or assist them.

Or you can just do dramatization!   If you read a lot of stories, why not assign roles and just let the script flow and evolve?

Re-enacted a Bible story about the poor widow and what she gave:)

Or be surgeons for the day!

One of my most favorite times was  acting like wandering nomads with the children. We all pretended to live like our “hunting and gathering” ancestors and just played out various scenarios and acted them all out. ” Ok, it’s your turn to keep watch for wild animals and to make sure the fire is burning while we get some sleep, okay? ”  packed with our tents and all our belongings tied in a blanket with a stick!

If you have helpers, you can decide for one meal or even half a day to reverse roles too! Let the children serve their helpers, let the children do some of the chores usually done by your helpers.

6. Sports 

With 4 kids,  we were able to play a whole lot of badminton, volleyball, swimming relays too.  We even did a  mini “Olympics” in line with out History lesson on the first Olympics, our  Math lesson on measurement and Science lesson on speed and distance.

There are so many possibilities in terms of activities and games with multilevel kids! So instead of saying, ” Oh my, there are so many children to look after and teach!”, just embrace this season and say, “Oh how exciting, we can do so many games and activities together, I don’t even know where to start!”,,,,,,,, let me make one suggestion, which all our children learned and mastered two weeks ago, teach them mahjong!   hahahha… and yes,  with all the culture and tradition that come with playing this game.  Our kids loved it and couldn’t stop playing !

Not even the beauty of sunny skies could lure these mahjong players out of the room !

And if you need help with teaching and bonding and yes, homeschooling multilevel children, we are having our 4th run!  First was Alabang, then Makati and Quezon City and finally in Ortigas Center!



Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things from Japan City Store

It’s raining. And yes, that song is running on my head. “Raindrops and roses, and whiskers on kittens…” from the hit musical/movie, Sound of Music ( which by the way is coming soon to Manila. )

And yes, I had a chance to create a favorite list when I visited a big Japan City Store ( related to the Daiso/ Japan Home chain of Php 66-88 stores) in The Festival Mall in Alabang.  Well, let me clarify this list further, it is my homeschooler’s favorite list.

Check it out!

  1. Two Side Dry Erase Board 

One side is for free drawing, writing, doodling and even computing Math problems.


While the other side is for practice penmanship. I appreciate it that the font side if about more than one inch and so perfect fro preschool to maybe level 3. IMG_3460

My middle schooler still likes his Dry Erase Board.   For practice lettering when he was younger, to computing math problems: This has become a staple in our last 15 years of homeschooling. Now, it has become a reminder board when I have leave stuff for my homeschoolers to do. For smaller illustrations when I teach, this comes in handy. For 4 children, I used to have a giant white board !

2. Pack of Balloons


Whether for a Science experiment or DIY balloons for a birthday party, this pack will always come in handy. You may even use it for Art!

3. Orange Cones


You can use this in setting up an obstacle course, or a target for ball play like tennis or soccer.  It may be  guides for a winding path for running or biking.  These will come in handy for mini relays at home!

4. Lots of Magnets


For Science, of course!  But you may also use this for Art in making DIY refrigerator magnets.

5.   Colorful Clipboards


Outdoor activities may require recording or drawing observations.   You may decide to do Art in the park, and sketch a tree in the garden, or have some worksheets for field trips.  A clipboard will always be useful.

6. A Roll of Drawing Paper!


Paper offers limitless possibilities.  A roll of paper literally expands what can be done ! You could even make a DIY easel and use it.  You may use it to cover a young child’s table so he can draw away anytime! Using stamp art, or doodling, your child can turn this paper into a  his own signature gift wrapper!

7. Stickers, Reward Stickers

IMG_3480 IMG_3479

Every teacher loves her stickers.  Enough is said.  No, I have to say something!  Haha.  I am now using my planner – ala scrapbook and so I need stickers, more stickers ( said to the tune of the Count in Sesame Street).

8. Color Coded Pencil and Supplies Box for Multilevel Homeschoolers


These boxes  can hold a good number of supplies of various shapes: pencils,rulers, markers, scissors, glue stick, eraser.

9. Garden Tools/Accessories

IMG_3470Kids would be so thrilled to have their own, Yes, no need to share since it is so cheap if he has other siblings. Each one could have all the shoveling fun in sand or soil.

10.  A Box for Everything and Everything in its Box.

Organization is key in every  classroom !  It is more doable to use reasonably priced bins to keep all you supplies in your classroom. Label if necessary!


I hope you find these available in the branches near you! You can always take a trip to Alabang, and let’s meet for coffee???

P. S  It would have been ideal to have 10 Favorite Things so I am adding my 11th as a P.S.  Hehe….  Did you know that P.S comes from the Latin word post scriptum which means “written after”?

The 11th

Loose Practice Sheets

Long written texts may be easier for those with developing writing skills when they use a wider piece of paper vs a very narrow notebook. Again, the font size here is bigger than standard level  3 writing notebooks from local books store.  What I used to do with these loose sheets is put them under our students’ drawings so they can also write about them,  I then paste their written work in a “landscape” format under copy paper or  even use A3 size paper. These sheets are also perfect for portfolio material because you can punch holes in them or slip them in clear files or  page projectors if using a 3 hole binder ( Japan Home also has those binders and 3 holed page protectors, they got it all, like SM!)

IMG_3461 IMG_3462

So there. I close with the 1st stanza of the song ” My Favorite Things”, as I wrap this up on a rainy evening.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things”

Genesis 9: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.


10 Simple Things That Can Make A Difference in Your Homeschooling Day

For this post, let me share a few simple habits or practices that can actually help bring some freshness or jazz up your homeschooling day.

  1. Look Good.

A common saying among the Filipino  children  born in the 1970s and 80s goes, ” If you can’t perform, Japorms. ”  “Porma ” seems to come from the Spanish term, “forma” which means “shape”.  Porma is locally known as  to dress,move or accessorize  in such a way to impress!  So, dress as if you are going to a meeting or to the office, why not?   While you’re at it, do the usual moisturize, sunblock your face and do the “no make up, make up” look. At least, groom your eyebrows, curl your eyelashes, put some concealer for those with dark under eyes and put light foundation and blush , and yes, top it with a nice nude lipstick or gloss!

Read more 10 Simple Things That Can Make A Difference in Your Homeschooling Day

Multilevel Homeschooling: You Can Do It!

My husband Gilbert and I are in awe of how close our four children have become.  They can talk all night, share music, watch videos, do crazy stuff (that only they could understand) together,  have inside jokes from shared experiences. The  3 boys play basketball with their Papa, and Raya plays tennis with me.


From eldest to youngest, here are their current ages: 18 y.o , 16 y,o, 14 y.o  and 11 y.o (turning 12 soon).  Yes, I finally had an “adult” this year, the kind of year they all turn “even” !  Yes, they once were like steps in stairs, marching according to height. Now, the 2nd has overtaken the first and the last is almost as tall as the 3rd. Haha, sounds like a mathematical equation ?



Truly, truly, one of the best benefits of Multilevel homeschooling is the solid foundation it sets for sibling closeness.  I am actually smiling now as I write this.   It is our prayer that this bond will be rock solid and will be an awesome ally for all their  lives indeed.


As more children have been released to regular school, I find myself having more time available for a few other passions:  running seminars for homeschooling/part time working, participating more actively in a non-government organization for the poor, and being active in HAPI (Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands).

Recently, I began a Homeschooling Mentoring  Seminar Series as a trial run for a smaller group of parents.   Homeschool conferences are quite helpful in the bigger picture encouragement and pumping up but I do find the workshops with small number of participants with a lot of interaction and experiential activities, a bit more personal and heartwarming.  I love connecting with others and hearing their homeschooling experiences. And yes, finally, I get to personally meet  many of my online friends from the Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB page.

This was our first run in Commerce Center, Alabang. This was really a fun, intimate and cozy group!
This was our first run in Commerce Center, Alabang. This was really a fun, intimate and cozy group!

One of the topics,  I love to share is How to Run a Multilevel Homeschooling Set up.  Multilevel Homeschooling is basically having a “more than one child/ one student ” set up and so, you are faced with a myriad of differences in preferences,  talents & abilities, educational milestones, personalities, demands, learning goals, etc and eventually, a whole set of varying outcomes!   You face different characters and character concerns, varying learning styles, and yes, even growth and development.

Did I ever research on this as I taught all the kids in a span of 15 years?  Believe it or not, I just began researching about it when I decided that it was time to pass on the best practices in Multilevel Teaching to other homeschooling parents.  Haha, I guess, I wanted a more solid backing in terms of “educational philosophies, studies and techniques” than mere experience.   However, much of what I had applied in teaching multiple kids could be drawn from general parenting books (of various topics like: discipline, creativity, teamwork, motivation, positive talk/speech, parenting during digital age, success, character formation) and my main manual in life, the Bible.

But then again, teaching is essentially parenting !  We learn parenting from many sources but I also realized that I had learned much from our four children (all made in God’s image, yes they are!!!!)  and actually “raising them”.. with a whole lot of trial and error, laughter,  tears and apologies,

So what did I actually find when I finally hit the books, searched online about Multilevel Teaching?  I was floored…..and yes in awe, because many of the beliefs I had formed in what we were doing, many of the techniques I had applied from common sense and practicality,  and  even the rationale in many of the adjustments and “tweaking” we had done to “thrive, bloom and soar” in the chaos of homeschooling 4 children  at the same time,  are emerging as solid approaches in multilevel set  up classroom !   These approaches  are now being implemented by regular schools that believe in Multilevel teaching!

So, what are these principles? What are the approaches ?  What are the best practices?   Well, be empowered like these  these amazing parents  by joining our next run on 29th of July, Saturday  form 900-12NN at the Unleash International, 31F Jollibee Plaza, F. Ortigas Ave, (former F. Ortigas Ave), Ortigas Center! Email homescoolph@gmail.com for inquiries and/or to book a slot!

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This was our 2nd run in Boogi Furniture Store along Arnaiz Street, Makati. As an added bonus, I pulled in my sister Felichi to observe and share her precious insights as well! This was a crazy, LOL kind yet heartwarming group of parents! We could not stop laughing!

It was  really fun to “positively overwhelm” these committed parents in the photo above.  And borrowing a pose from a bitmoji app I had made of myself;



My sister, Felichi Buizon, another homeschooler of almost 20 years, encouraged the group to pose as in my  personal bitmoji ! See, how fun and game, this group was.   We declared, Daddy Jomar Hilario as the parent with the winning pose!


So, are you feeling like  “You can’t even!”?  as you face the daunting task of homeschooling multiple children?  Join us! Book now:)


If you are a first time homeschooler, you may also opt to attend this:

Here are a few photos of our run last June at The Parenting Emporium :

Here in The Parenting Emporium, QC, with our brave multilevel homeschoolers! From Alabang to Makati, From QC to Ortigas Center on July 29!
With The Parenting Emporium owner, Ms. Maricel Soriano Cua and co-speaker and sister, Ms. Felichi Buizon. All from Maryknoll High School ! (now known as Miriam College!
Learning Basket owners and fellow homeschoolers, Mariel Uyquiengco and Sanne Unson. Check out www.thelearningbasket.com

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Indeed, this last photo says it all.  Multilevel Homeschooling is another example of ways in which Parenting is indeed shared.  We hope to impart to more parents as we seek to make homeschooling more practical, more doable and sustainable and more fun for all!

Philippians 4:13  I can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens me.

Be Positively Overwhelmed! : A Reminder Against Homeschool BurnOut

Said in the same fashion as “Confidently beautiful with a heart, “(Remember, Miss Universe 2016? Filipina Pia Wurzbach?”, I sort of coined this phrase during the recent homeschooling workshop on Multilevel Homeschooling as I wrapped up.  Yes, homeschooling on its own is overwhelming. What more Multilevel Homeschooling?

However, after sharing success stories, “pick up and stand up again from failure” moments, and tried and tested strategies for homeschooling several kids that differ in so many facets,  I said, “Yes, be positively overwhelmed. “

Stress we all know may be positive, negative or even neutral.  So in a sense, the key, in multilevel homeschooling, is to face stress as inevitable but taking  all the possible positives from it.   Veteran homeschooler and my “ate” Felichi Buizon says that, “Life in general is a series of interruptions.” And since homeschoolng is life, then expect, embrace and roll with them .  Don’t get us wrong.  It isn’t having a pessimistic, bleak outlook  or having a new mantra ala Murphy’s law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Rather, it is expecting , stress, interruptions,  and a whole gamut of things that are out of our control as teachers/ parents, and find ways to positively turn these experiences to benefit most, if not all.

Read more Be Positively Overwhelmed! : A Reminder Against Homeschool BurnOut

Sometimes We Have to Let Nature Take Its Course and Bee Grateful!

We’ve just wrapped up our 4th quarter of SY 2016-17 and we are down to the our last homeschooled son at Level 5.  One more year? Maybe two?   Oh wow, who would have thought, 15 years would come by as it did.

Since he is our 4th homeschooled child, we did Botany again this year using Apologia’s Young Explorer Series: Exploring Science with Botany and as we did with our 2nd run with Astronomy, it was really a fun ride.

A few days ago, I was delighted to see our Guava Tree back in full bloom and ready to bear fruit.  I was in awe.   It was just a several months ago that I posted an image of luscious green guavas with a crunchy outside and bright pink, sweet tasting inside  Guava fruits, leaves and trees are  very much part of the growing years of my side of the family. We  climbed its branches,  hung from it like Tarzan as we jumped into a pool, ate its fruits for snacks  and yes, even boiled its leaves for wounds and skin infections.

However, I noticed, after bearing fruits, parts of the tree began to decline. Leaves were drying  and shriveling up,  the branches looked ill and the last few fruits didn’t anymore taste as good.  I thought that was the beginning of  the end of “reliving” our childhood days in our Antipolo residential farm.
Some who saw the tree said, “It may die soon like the langka tree beside it.”

But a few days ago I was in shock, as I peeked out of my window,  lush and green leaves  blended with  bees  feasting on the countless flowers!  Our lessons in Botany came in full swing again. The bees would play a crucial role in pollination in order to produce seeds and fruits!


How does a tree heal? How did our guava tree heal?  With proper conditions of sunlight, lots of rain lately, and yes, the presence of helper birds and flying insects, it looks like our tree will yield fruits again. This whole idea made me think and smile.

We often find ourselves in situations whether as wives, mothers, sisters, aunts,daughters or friends, where we have done everything within our control  to try to solve a problem.  The problem however lingers.  The self preserving nature in us just wants distress, discomfort and pain out of the door as fast as possible.   But there is no clear answer ahead, there is no light visible in our the “tunnels” of our lives. And so we do what we all hate to do, wait.

The happy bees reminded me that waiting can bear fruit when that is what our dear Father in Heaven is asking us to do, to wait and trust. Waiting hones character and builds up faith.


I remember one mom sharing in a seminar that she fears  her homeschooling experience with her preschool daughter has gone really sour  and it’s time to click “restart”. Sometimes, all it takes is probably saying sorry to our loved ones to see the beauty in “restarting”.  On other occasions, it may mean, letting go of the “self inflicted” pressures we put into our homeschooling days that put our relationships with our students in jeopardy.   In the rush, we all need to take a few steps back to see really where we are going and to check what areas in our lives really need a restart. And when we have put in place the elements for a good restart, many times, we just have to wait and let new memories with our children replace the hurtful ones, and like the guava tree, we just grow together and for sure, the tree will be fruitful again.

Prayerfully waiting in some way is similar to  what happened to our tree. Nature and time  just took its course  and eventually healing and blooming set it.  It’s toughest to wait and “do nothing.” I’ve once read that “Praying” is not doing “nothing”.     We seem to always  have the tendency to believe that many of our stressing about can actually change, heal, restore, solve problems but we do need to know when Someone is asking us to just wait and let go.  Then one day,  the blooming and bearing fruits will happen again.

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I so needed that learning that day.  And I am sharing it  with it you. It’s fascinating how Jesus Himself looked at nature to explain foundational lessons in life in  Matthew 6:28-30, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life. And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendorwas dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” That morning, I knew it was Him who was saying , “Look at the guava tree, Donna, Look at it everyday .” (and while your at it, “Bee grateful” for those who have come alongside in the painful process of waiting). 


Matthew 6: 31 – 34 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


Reading “Shiloh” for the 4th Time and Still Loving It!

Gino is about to complete his reader for this month, Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. This will be my 4th time to read and discuss this material in maybe 10 years as it has been an  a required reader for all of our 4 children.

This was how the first copy looked around 8 years ago. I think I borrowed and reborrowed a friend’s copy and eventually bought our own copy. The cover has even changed! See below.


For some readers, I began using  some accompany workbooks or supplements to help “maximize” the learning experience.  I have used the Total Language Plus  (TLP) series for other titles like Charlotte’s Web, The Cricket in Times Square, The Wheel on the School, Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe, Christmas Stories, Twenty One Balloons, Where the Red Fern Grows, Courage of Sarah Noble,  The Whipping Boy and after using Total Language Plus several times, I started doing my own DIY version of  book review lessons/ extensions of Reading via notebook activities.  For non TLP titles, I just either created exercises and reading comprehension questions in notebooks or downloaded study guides or activities.

Online, Total Language Plus materials may be ordered from http://www.totallanguageplus.com; Locally, Learning Plus carries these titles as well.
Online, Total Language Plus materials may be ordered from http://www.totallanguageplus.com; Locally, Learning Plus carries these titles as well.

“Shiloh” is a fairly easy read for levels 3-5 with some guidance on some “slang” or even colloquial terms.  It deals with a very familiar, close to home “kiddie”  subject: “a beloved animal/ pet that needs to be saved.”  Both boys and girls will easily get hooked with the suspense and captivating plot.

Set in an Appalachian town of West Virginia, devoid of all digital modernities children are so accustomed with nowadays,  Marty and all the other characters become a part of very thought provoking, interesting yet unsettling plot.  The twists and turns are exciting and you would not be surprised if your child asks to read more than the assigned chapter for the day!

I appreciate the ways in which this story will allow your children to think through their motivations, their plans, and decision. It will give you a springboard to teach valuable moral lessons on honesty and integrity, righteousness, respect and honor.

It will provide the venue for you  and your students to dig deeper on the areas of compromise,  rationalization and justification and of the  questionable belief that “the end justifies the means. ”

In this world of uncertainties, where the  boundaries of right and wrong can be made to appear blurry, this material is truly spot on in challenging our children to think and reflect.

The book costs  about Php 290.00 from National Book Store or Fully Booked. Truly worth every peso!  Every chapter is overflowing with opportunities for deep reflection and pondering.  Your children can easily draw valuable insights from the situations presented in the the story!

To create lesson extenders, or to help you have a richer experience of the story, you  can download good study guides on it by just googling the key words : Study Guide on Shiloh, Reading Comprehension Questions for Shiloh, Lesson Plans for Shiloh. I particularly liked this one and we’re completing it this May 2017.

My daughter who loves to draw, paint and do Arts and Crafts painted her own version of “Shiloh” when she read the same story several years back.

Raya read the book, "Shiloh" for her HomesCool Reading/Language Arts. It was a story of a boy and a beagle. We then had some lessons on how to draw a beagle and then she did this on her own.
As her Art activity,  Raya painted “Shiloh” using acrylic on canvas.

So, I encourage you to give this book a try.  It may hook you to the habit of having good and well thought of discussions with your students!

James 1:22- 25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.