Typhoon Frank and its Aftermath, An Appeal to All

>> Monday, June 30, 2008

The relief drive has begun, I feel very grateful that the people whom we have approached have given so generously of what they have to give. Nothing is too little and every little bit we can spare is a blessing. I would like to make an appeal to my fellow Ilonggos who are based in Manila or elsewhere in the world to help our cause. This appeal is of course not only to the Ilonggo but to anyone who wants to help.

What started out as a relief drive planned by my best friend Viv and I, has now become bigger than ourselves. It started out with just plans to send out whatever we could give ourselves. Then evolved into asking friends and family. The enormous response is very heartwarming. From donations of used clothing and shoes to donations of sacks of rice and even cash.

Just this morning as I was riding home from the gym, the news on the radio told of the complaints of the people from the Island of Panay decrying the lack of support and relief being given. According to the news sources, the delay was because there was no means of transport to the affected areas. I feel that we have to do what we can to make that help be available to the people in the affected towns.

According to my bestfriends family in Iloilo, there is still no electricity, they have been calling Panay Electric and were told it would take at least a month to get the electricity up again. It will take years to rehabilitate the towns that have been destructed. The damage is extensive. Please check out this site for a Photo Story: The Rampage of Typhoon Frank. This photo story will unfold the day to day event covered by Iloilo photojournalist Leo Solinap from day one to its aftermath.

I have also attached some videos from YouTube:

To everyone reading this, we would like to make an appeal for donations of old clothing( there is much need for childrens clothing, especially school age children), shoes, blankets, food, medicines. We are conducting the drive in Manila, please email me at relief4iloilo@yahoo.com for drop off points for donations. There will be 2 drop off points, one in Makati and one in Paranaque. My best friends family, among those who have been very lucky to have been spared, are helping us out with the logistics in Iloilo. They will also be conducting garage sales and every portion of the sale will go towards purchasing rice, food, drinking water, medicines. If you want to make a donation, please click on the paypal link on the left side of the blog.

If anyone would like to help out with the shipping of the items, please do get in touch with me. We are trying to find a way to get the goods to Iloilo at the least cost.

Thank you to everyone who has been instrumental in this, we are very grateful and I just can't say my thanks enough.

May God bless you.


I'm Back and a Freebie

>> Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hi everyone, been so neglectful of this blog lately. The last time I was here was before I left the Philippines. Now, I am back….I guess you can say, I’m still working things out and sorting our life plans. Anyway.....

My Photoshop program has been down and so I was unable to scrap or do anything for the longest time. Even my kids know how bummed I was by that. Had everything reinstalled in my Mac just yesterday, and all bugs are fixed. YAY!!! Now, I’m up and running again. I was up till late last night getting myself reacquainted again with CS3 and going through tutorials (I love how you can find out how to do anything in the internet! I think I said that already in my other blog, but well it is true and I’m sure you will agree with me).

Last night I learned how to use patterns, thanks to Obsidian Dawn who is so very generous of her knowledge. I love her tutorials, so easy to understand and follow. She has got some great freebie brushes and patterns as well. Click on How to Use Photoshop Pattern Tutorials to get there.

I started making some papers to use for scrapping. I am trying to make a mini-kit to give away for a Donation Drive my best friend and I have set up for the victims of the recent typhoon that hit the Philippines, the province of Iloilo in particular which is my best friends hometown and my mother’s as well. You can read all about it in my other blog Beyond The Four Walls .

Here is a preview of the papers I made last night, not all of them will go in the kit since I will need to get permission first for use of brushes and patterns but you may download them here for a limited time before I finalize the rest of the kit ( for your personal use only), you may also go to Beyond The Four Walls if you wish to make a donation, the proceeds from this will go to help the people of Iloilo who have been badly hit by Typhoon Frank.

Click here to download: Relief


Thumbs Up!

Here is an easy to prepare meal my kids love: Roasted Herb Chicken and Mashed Potatoes. It was one of those days when thinking of what to prepare for lunch was so hard to do because all we had inside the freezer was “Chicken!” hahaha! Fried chicken? Nope, not again. Chicken curry? We just had that. Tinola (Chicken Soup with Ginger and Chili leaves) hmmm too hot to have soup….DH said why don’t you make your roast chicken we haven’t had that for awhile (ting! lightbulb moment!), great idea plus we have lots of potatoes because it was “Buy one Take one” at Shopwise (LOL) so I’m making mashed potatoes to go with it.

Roasted Herb Chicken

1 whole Chicken
½ cup olive oil
1 tbsp salt or to taste
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp thyme
1 tsp marjoram
2 tbsp rosemary
1 tsp cracked pepper

Mix the olive oil, Italian seasoning, thyme, marjoram, rosemary and black pepper. Rub the chicken (inside and out) with salt. Pour the olive oil mixture onto the chicken and rub the mixture all over including the cavity. Make sure you massage the oil and herbs well and it is distributed evenly all over. If you have sprigs of rosemary, place them inside the cavity.

Roast in oven at 300 degrees until crisp. If you have a turbo broiler this will even taste better!

Mashed Potatoes

8 medium potatoes
1 ½ tsp salt or to taste
½ tsp pepper
2 tbsp butter
¼ cup milk
Mash the potatoes, add the butter, salt and pepper, mix. Add the milk, mix.

Teo was so hungry and excited to eat the potatoes wanting to taste every time I mixed something new in. When it was all done, he told me, “Mom, before you put the other ingredients the taste was just okay (giving me the thumb sign but with the thumb facing horizontally), after you put in all the other ingredients the taste is yummy! (giving me the thumbs up sign)” I asked him to recite back to me the ingredients we put in. Next time, I’ll have him make the mashed potatoes himself.


Let Us Share Our Blessings

The classroom is now shaping up (my guest room that is!), the bed has been removed and given away, and my two extra large computer desks have come in very handy.

How I would love to have lots and lots of bookshelves…a lot of my books are now in boxes, such a shame. My one complain about the home we live in is that there is not enough storage space, well it is either that or I just have a lot of stuff (and to think I already gave so many of my things away already). Well I’m clearing my closets once more this weekend to look for things to donate, sometimes we are so burdened by all the material items we want to accumulate that it takes a tragic story to realize how much we still have and that we don’t really need very much.

A very bad thing has happened to my moms home town, Iloilo, so many towns were ravaged by the most recent Typhoon and a lot of the cities went underground, so many people whose lives were lost and whose property is gone forever. It has saddened me so much. My best friend, who is from there told me a lot of our friends were also affected, losing everything in their homes and that there are so many people now begging in the streets because they have lost everything.

My best friend and I have decided to have a donation drive – old clothes, blankets, shoes, anything that would be of help, please email at relief4iloilo@yahoo.com if you have anything to donate and I will email back the drop off address for the items or a Paypal link if you are donating any cash. We are going to accumulate everything we get and send them off to Iloilo. I am also preparing a small scrapbook kit to put up on sale for their benefit, proceeds from the sale of the kit shall be donated to a charity in the province. Do keep coming back to my blog to see if the Kit is up. Any help will be welcome, our collective efforts will make those small donations into something that will help some other persons life. I shall also be posting updates on how the drive is coming along and where the donations have gone. I thank you in advance for sharing your blessings.

On the lighter side, the children are adjusting to homeschool, they are very adjustable kids and can go with the flow. I am very thankful that they aren’t big whiners or rotten spoiled brats. They are both very sweet and lovable. We are very big on hugs and kisses at home, that is something I hope my children never outgrow. There is nothing like a great big hug to let one know how much you appreciate and love them. I am so blessed to have them.


A Challenge

>> Friday, June 20, 2008

This is our first week of homeschool, I can tell you, it is challenging as well as fulfilling. I have been trying not to get myself so overwhelmed by every bit of information I come across. It is so hard not to want the best of everything for your children and yet work with a limited budget. That too is part of the challenge. I thank God though that there are so many helpful and wonderful people who have taken the time to reach out to the homeschool community. So many helpful blogs and sites, e-groups and communities.

The previous week was spent looking for a curriculum to follow and I was able to stumble upon some pre-owned copies of Alpha Omega Publications Lifepac Gold 500 series which were in very good condition. I decided to use this for my 4th Grader and supplement the materials with books his brother used in traditional school and materials garnered from the net. My 6th grader has the Lifepac Gold 600 series for Science. Right now, I am kind of at a loss as to which curricula to use, so I am trying out a few things and still researching. At the moment the basis for my lesson planning is the World Book Curriculum Standards for 6th Grade. I have been using countless resources from the internet, my bookmark page has gotten so full. It's amazing what you can find but there are instances it becomes frustrating because you can't find the exact thing you are looking for sometimes.

It was quite difficult going about the lessons without any concrete schedule and lesson plan to follow. So I set about looking for some forms to use, I came across Donna Young.org, she has got such a complete set of forms to use, there were quite a lot and in all honesty I haven't really used all the forms, I decided I needed badly right now a weekly planner - you can check it out here: Weekly Lesson Plan Forms.

Now that I have the forms, the tricky part is filling it up. I never realized how much work it is to be a teacher, determining your lessons for the day. I had to ask myself "What exercises do I use? Will I need manipulatives? Will I need to do experiments? What about books to read or web sites to visit?"...all that needs to be thought out properly and integrated into the weekly lessons. I thought that since my 4th grader had the complete set of Lifepac modules, all I needed was to portion out the pages for him to study per day. Whoa! Was I in for a surprise, first I realized that I may be giving him too many or too little pages to study - what may seem simple to me, may not be so simple to my child. They may take their time because of the questions they ask, they may want to look it up in reference books, or look it up in the internet. And you have to make sure that they do understand before you leave the topic.

Nevertheless, I have forged on, armed with what I have. Each day has become a learning day, not only for my kids but also for me. There are days when I stay awake late into the night browsing the web, reading and looking for material for the next days lessons. It is work to do this and yet, these past few days I have realized that I am also enjoying this and enjoying the time I spend with the kids.


A Taste for Curry

>> Sunday, June 15, 2008

Here is a chicken curry recipe I tried that came out really delicious! My kids enjoyed the experience, they did not even notice that I gave them Basmati rice with the curry (haha).

Chicken Curry with Coconut

Serves 6-8
Preparation: 15-20 min
Cooking: 45-55 min

2 tablespoons chile oil (I substituted with regular palm or canola oil since my kids won't eat it spicy)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper (capsicum), seeded and finely sliced
2 teaspoons of curry paste (since I did not know where to find the curry paste, I used 2 teaspoons of curry powder)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup (50g) cashew nuts
1 (200g) can pineapple cubes, drained, juice reserved (the first time I made this I did not have a can pineapple ready so I substituted the pineapple with sliced ripe mangoes, and the juice was just sugared water)
6 curry leaves (I could not find this and so did not put this in, it did not change the deliciousness of the dish)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
3 1/2 cups coconut milk (fresh is always better than the powdered variety)
8 boneless chicken breasts cut into quarters or 1 whole chicken cut into pieces
5 medium sized tomatoes or 10 cherry tomatoes
Juice of 1/2 lime
Generous handful of finely chopped cilantro (coriander)
Freshly cooked basmati rice to serve

Heat wok or large frying pan over low heat and add the chile (or palm/canola) oil.
Add the onion, bell pepper, curry, ginger, garlic, paprika, turmeric and cashews. Stir-fry until aromatic, 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of the reserved pineapple juice
Return to low heat and add the curry leaves, bay leaves, soy sauce and brown sugar.
Pour in the coconut milk. Bring to a boil.
Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the sauce has been reduced by 1/3.
Remove from the heat and remove the bay and curry leaves.
Blend with a blender until smooth. Return to pan.
Add the chicken and tomatoes (you may add a small can of garbanzo beans, drain the liquid, the beans went well with the recipe)
Return to heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked.
Remove the chicken and place on serving dish covered with a bed of freshly cooked basmati rice.
Add the lime juice, cilantro, pineapple to the sauce and stir over high heat for 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
Spoon over the chicken and rice. Serve hot.

What I loved about this recipe was that the texture of the sauce was very different from the usual Filipino style chicken curry I learned to cook. It had all these flavors in it but you could not see what was in the sauce because everything got blended. The aroma was so pungent you could almost believe you were in an Indian or Middle Eastern restaurant. You can even substitute the chicken for prawns if you want, it really is the sauce the makes this recipe so impressive.

Go ahead, try it, I'm so sure your family will love it...mine did!


Something Thai

>> Tuesday, June 10, 2008

About 2 weeks ago we had our first International Saturday lunch - the order of the day was Thai food. There was no rhyme or reason for choosing Thai food over another, it just so happened that as I was grocering at Shopwise, I came across some Thai Sauces and Dips and the uncooked rice noodles and purchased some to stock in my mini-pantry.

Since I had no idea whatsoever on how to cook Thai food, I had to turn to my best source of information - the internet. You can find just about any recipe over the net, be it at Food Network, Recipezaar, AllRecipes or About.com. Or just type into Google the kind of recipe you are looking for and get a multitude of answers.

Sometimes you will find so many variations of the same recipe that it will get confusing - "What should I choose?" What I normally do is choose the recipe that has the most number of reviews - take in mind though that a recipe may have 4 stars but only one person reviewed it, so I normally scroll down and choose the one with the most number of people who have tried the recipe and have given it good reviews. More often than not, I tend to look at 2 or 3 of the recipes I have narrowed down and check the ingredient list. If I can't find the ingredient in our local grocer or at the wet market, then I try to check the other recipes if there is something I can substitute. You just really have to be open experimenting with what you have available.

Because I did not have any particular Thai food in mind, I just typed in "Thai Food" and ended up with some Thai recipes from About.com and settled on Pad Thai, Pineapple Rice, Spring Rolls and Tom Yum soup. What I like about the About.com site is they have a lot of pictures and show you everything step by step, they even had a video on how to make the pineapple boat for the rice.

Like anything you do for the first time, make sure to give yourself ample time for preparation. Prepare all ingredients before hand, making sure everything is chopped, sliced, diced, crushed or whatever is in the recipe. All ingredients have to be measured before hand so you are not at a loss and trying to grab onto the copy of the recipe each and every time. Take it from me, I'm guilty of that, it will make your life so much easier. I never did get a chance to make the Tom Yum soup because I got so overwhelmed with all that preparation, that I ended up serving lunch at 1 p.m.!

Here are the recipes (you can click on the type of recipe if you want to go straight to the site and see their step by step picture guide):

Phuket Pad Thai

Place 10-14 oz.(or 1 package) Thai rice noodles in a pot of cool water (the noodles should be roughly the thickness of linguini). 10 oz. of dry noodles makes enough for 2 people. Allow noodles to soak for 1 hour, then drain.
If You're in a Hurry: Bring the water to a near-boil, then remove from heat. Soak noodles in this water for 10-20 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. The noodles should soften but not "cook". When they are tender enough to eat (but still firm and a little "crunchy"), drain and run through with cold water. Then pour 1 tsp. of canola oil onto noodles and mix through with your hands (this will keep them from sticking together). [Cooking Mama Notes: For those of us looking for the Thai rice noodles, you don't need to go too far, Shopwise carries the noodle in its noodle section, just make sure to choose the thinner noodle since I made the mistake of getting the thicker one.]

Note: Be careful not to over-soften them, or they'll become soggy once they're stir-fried.

For this recipe, you will also need:
3 Tbsp. each of: fish sauce [our local patis], rice vinegar (or white vinegar), and soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 red chillies (2 makes this dish very spicy), minced
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth
8-12 medium or large fresh raw prawns
optional: 1/2 to 1 cup cooked chicken, and/or 1 cup tofu, cut into cubes
1 egg
approximately 2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cup each of fresh coriander [this is called Wan-soy locally] and fresh basil
1 lime, cut into wedges
canola oil, or other good-quality oil for stir-frying
optional: 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, ground or roughly chopped
optional: shrimp-flavored crushed chilli

Soften the Noodles.
Mix the Stir-Fry Sauce in a Cup.
Stir-Fry Garlic and Chillies.
Add the Prawns (plus chicken and tofu) and Stir-Fry
Add the Egg.
Add the noodles.
Add the Stir-Fry Sauce.
Stir-fry the Noodles.
Add the Beansprouts.

Plate the Pad Thai, Add Toppings, and Enjoy!

Pineapple Fried Rice


1 cup pineapple tidbits (fresh is better, but canned will work too)
3 cups cooked rice, preferably several days old
4 Tbsp oil for frying - peanut or other nut oils work well [I did not have peanut oil so made do with half canola oil and half sesame oil]
1-3 Tbsp. chicken or vegetable stock
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red or green chili (de-seeded if milder rice is desired)
1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 egg, beaten (omit if vegan)
1/4 cup currants (or raisins)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce or vegetarian fish sauce (available at Vietnamese stores)
2 tsp. curry powder
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1/3 cup fresh coriander [Wan-soy]
Optional: 8-12 fresh prawns

Start by preparing the rice. Add a little oil to the rice (up to 1 Tbsp.) and work through with your fingers. You want to separate the grains of rice, so that they don't stick together. Set aside.

Prepare the Rice
Stir fry the Shallots, Garlic, and Chilli
Add the Egg.
Add Spice and Sauces
Add the Cashews
Add the Rice
Add the Peas, Currents (or Raisins), and Pineapple.
Continue Stir frying and do a Taste Test

Thai Spring Rolls

This Thai spring roll recipe can be made vegetarian with tofu, or with baby shrimp if you prefer. Brimming with vegetables and lots of flavor, these spring rolls make a great appetizer or party food. And they're surprisingly easy to make. Get some help from your children or guests with the rolling, and you'll be enjoying these spring rolls in no time.

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger), grated
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced (omit altogether if you prefer very mild springrolls)
1/2 cup shredded or finely chopped cabbage
4-6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 cup tofu, cut into matchstick-like pieces (Optional if non-vegetarian: add 1/2 cup baby shrimp instead)
approx. 2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cup fresh coriander [Wan-soy], roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. oil for stir-frying, plus more for deep-frying
1 pkg. small spring roll wrappers
2 Tbsp. regular soy sauce
2 Tbsp. fish sauce (if vegetarian, use vegetarian oyster sauce)
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. sugar

Thai sweet chilli sauce (available in Asian/Chinese food stores, and some grocery chains in the Asian section)
Mix 1/3 cup plum sauce with 2 Tbsp. soy sauce and 1 Tbsp. fish sauce (or vegetarian fish sauce). Add chilli if desired.

Place 2 Tbsp. oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium to high heat. Add garlic, galangal (or ginger), shallots, and chilli. Stir-fry until fragrant (about 1 minute). Stir-frying Tip: Add a little water to the wok/pan when it gets too dry instead of more oil.

Add cabbage, mushrooms, and tofu (or shrimp).
As you stir-fry, add the sauce. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes, until vegetables have softened.
Add bean sprouts, tossing to mix in. Remove from heat.
Do a taste test for salt, adding 1 Tbsp. more fish sauce if not salty enough.

To assemble rolls, place a spring roll wrapper on a clean working surface. Add one heaping Tbsp. of the filling on the wrapper. Tips: Spread the filling lengthwise along the spring roll wrapper nearer the end closest to you. Also, try not to include too much of the liquid left in the bottom of your wok/pan - drier filling is better.

Sprinkle some of the fresh coriander and basil over the filling.

Fold the left and right sides of wrapper over filling, then lift up the end nearest you and tuck overtop. Roll to the other end. Secure the roll by dipping your fingers in some water and wetting the end, "pasting" it shut.

To fry spring rolls, place some oil (about 1 inch deep) in a wok or deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. When bubbles rise from the bottom of the pan, or when the oil begins to form snake-like lines across the bottom of the pan, the oil may be hot enough. To test it, dip one corner of a spring roll into the oil. If it beginsto sizzle and cook, the oil is ready. If not, wait another 30 seconds to one minute and try again.

Using tongs, place spring rolls in oil, allowing them to fry about 1 minute on each side. Spring rolls are done when they turn light to medium golden-brown. Place on paper towels (or a clean dish towel) to drain while you finish frying all the rolls.
Serve spring rolls while still hot with Thai sweet chili sauce, or your own dipping sauce (recipe above).

The Pineapple fried rice was a hit with the adults and my eldest son ( my youngest son as usual picked at it and eventually asked for white rice!), as was the spring roll (though I still thought it needed a bit more tweaking in the size department, I can't seem to make them nice and tiny like the one served in Thai restaurants). My pad thai needs a bit more work, I found the noodles too thick (the uncooked noodle was about the size of fetuccine noodles but when soaked expanded) and the sauce a bit too dry when following the recipe. I suggest making more stir fry sauce and just keep adding to taste or till the consistency is right.

This was all so much fun doing! I love trying to present the food nicely and so made do with whatever platters I had on hand adding little touches here and there (pictures as shown above). But you know what was the best thing? It was being around family and just enjoying the moment. Have a good day and happy eating!


Best Recognition

Because I love to cook and experiment, and love to eat nonetheless, I felt that it would be good to get my children interested in all things that happened in our kitchen. Of course, part of the plan was to get them interested in cooking or helping out so they would learn to eat and be exposed to different kinds of flavors and types of food.

My children are picky eaters, especially my youngest who will take so long to finish a meal. He picks at his food, segregating the bits and pieces he won't eat and he likes to spit out anything that feels to him like soft, squishy meat fat. They both may like a dish one day and want to eat it all the time, and the next time you serve it they will snub the dish altogether. It is enough to send someone with little or no patience a little bit crazy. Looking at them, you would think that the mother eats everything! LOL!

So here I am with my plan to cook for them a different international flavored meal each week. Saturday lunch is the scheduled International Feast Day at home. I like it because, it gives me a chance to experiment and try out some recipes I've been wanting to learn and at the same time it helps the children develop a palate for something new or out of the ordinary. But best of all, is that kids, when involved in a task, tend to be more excited to try something new because they were a part of it.

I would want to raise my boys having, if not a skilled hand in the kitchen then at least the ability to make the most basic dishes. Although I have no fancy culinary degree, it is enough for me to know that my family enjoys eating what I cook and my kids coming up to me and telling me "You're the Top Chef Mom!" is the best recognition any mother would feel.


Things I've Learned from a Homeschool Nanay

>> Monday, June 9, 2008

I have been scouring the internet looking to learn more about homeschooling and came across this blog by a Filipino Homeschool mother - "The Homeschool Nanay", one of her posts was very educational for me and I would like to thank her for it. I would like to reprint it here as I thought it was very informative and could help us newbies choose the direction we feel is best suited for our individual needs.

Although this was written with a non-secular frame of mind, it would still be very helpful for those parents considering secular type homeschooling. (You may click on the blog name to go to The Homeschool Nanay's Blog or click on "What to Expect.." to be taken directly to her article). The article below is credited to the Homeschool Nanay, I reproduced a copy because I felt the article relevant to my search for the right homeschool style to adapt. Thank you Homeschool Nanay for your great article!

[Erratum: The Homeschool Nanay has very kindly informed me that the article should be credited to the homeschooling members of the MILK Ministry of Christ's Commission Fellowship (CCF) in Alabang, this was the third of a series of three entries on Homeschooling 101, which was actually an orientation/forum for those interested in homeschooling organized by this ministry of CCF. In the Homeschool Nanay's own words "these hardworking & generous ladies came up with a hand-out for this event, which is where those three entries came from". Thank you to the MILK Ministry of CCF for this article and to the Homeschool Nanay for making this invaluable article available to the rest of us!]


A. Opposition

Because not very many know what homeschool is all about, you will find that there will be friends and relatives who will question your decision to do it. Do not be discouraged since this is a very normal reaction. If you persevere, you will find out later that they will be convinced about the benefits once they see the results on your children.

Because you are teaching your children the way of the Lord, you will find that Satan will be working to discourage you. It is therefore absolutely necessary to start each day with the Lord. Heart preparation is absolutely essential to getting through the day.

B. Adjustment

If your children are now in a traditional school, there will be a period of adjustment which may prove to be difficult. During my first week of homeschool, my children complained a lot. They said that all I did was talk and talk and talk- I cried a lot. Talk to other homeschoolers to get encouragement and to get tips. I found out soon enough that you need to be flexible and creative when it comes to teaching. It is also necessary for you to determine what kind of learner your child is so you can adjust your methods.

Preparation is important so that your children's interest is always aroused. You will find, therefore, that you will be spending a lot of time in the initial months on getting prepared and organized. It will sometimes be tiring.

You will have less time to yourself because the demands are daily, prepare yourself with the proper attitude so that you avoid disappointment. Focus on why you are doing it and draw your strength from the power of the Holy Spirit.

C. Choice of a Curriculum

Because there are so many available (see Homeschool.com for an idea), you will end up being confused, It would be good to choose a curriculum that someone is familiar with so that it will be easy for you to get support. Also, you will have the opportunity to buy the second-hand materials of your friends.

Because there is really so much material, you may also end up ordering so much and find out that you will not have the time to use all of it. I am sure those who have done it will agree with me that you will have the tendency to overbuy in the initial stage. It would therefore be good if you decide on a curriculum and then order the core requirements. Order the supplements once you see that your child is ready to take on additional work.

Most of the homeschoolers in CCF have either used Alpha Omega (see www.aop.com), Bob Jones (see www.bjup.com), or Sonlight (www.sonlight. coin). The website www.homeschool.com is very useful.

In order to help you get started, you may want to read the following homeschool books. They are all on the list of the top ten homeschooling books of homeschool.com.

1. So You're Thinking About Homeschooling: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It by Lisa Whelchel
2. The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12 by Linda Dobson
3. Homeschool.com' s Homeschooling for Success by Rebecca Kochenderfer and Elizabeth Kanna
4. The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn
5. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
6. CarSchooling by Diane Flynn Keith
7. The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child's Classroom by Mary Griffith
8. The Homeschooling Book of Answers: The 88 Most Important Questions Answered by Homeschooling's Most Respected Voices Edited by Linda Dobson
9. Deschoolinq our Lives Edited by Matt Hern
10. The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook: A Creative and Stress-Free Approach to Homeschooling by Raymond & Dorothy Moore

You will also find that there are many approaches or methods to educating your children at home, The more you read, the more confused you will be. I would suggest that you start with the school-at-home approach. As you gain more experience in your child's capability and his learning style, you can start using different approaches depending on the subject and the topic you are teaching, Just remember that the objective is learning. If a method causes the student to learn better, then certainly adopt it.

These are the various homeschooling approaches. Each approach has its merits. Identifying your child's learning style, especially for new homeschoolers, is helpful. Is he or she an auditory learner, a visual learner, or a kinesthetic learner? Effective home teachers use lessons that vary the learning modalities.

School-at-home is the style most often portrayed in the media because it is so easy to understand and can be accompanied by a photo of children studying around the kitchen table. This is also the most expensive method and the style with the highest burnout rate. Most families who follow the school-at-home approach purchase a boxed curriculum that comes with textbooks, study schedules, grades, and record keeping.

Some families use the school-at-home approach but make up their own lesson plans and find their own learning materials. The advantage of this style is that families know exactly what to teach and when to teach it. That can be a comfort when you are just starting out. The disadvantage is that this method requires much more work on the part of the teacher/parent and the lessons are not as much fun for the children.

Unit Studies
Unit studies use your child's interest and then ties that interest into subject areas like math, reading, spelling, science, art, and history. For example, if you have a child who is interested in ancient Egypt, you would learn the history of Egypt, read books about Egypt, write stories about Egypt, do art projects about pyramids, and leam about Egyptian artifacts or mapping skills to map out a catacomb.

Packaged unit studies are available on popular topics like the Little House and American Girl books and also for virtues like patience, trust, and obedience. The advantage of this homeschooling method is that it recognizes the fact that people learn best when they are interested in the topic. The disadvantage is that sometimes parents can be over-zealous and make a unit study out of everything, scaring the child off from talking about a new interest they might have.

"Relaxed" or "Eclectic" Homeschooling
"Relaxed" or ''Eclectic" homeschooling is the method used most often by homeschoolers. Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, and taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects.

The advantage of this method is that the parent feels that the subjects they believe are most important are covered thoroughly. This method also allows the family to choose textbooks, field trips, and classes that fit their needs and interests.

Unschooling is also known as natural, interest-led, and child-led learning. Unschoolers learn from everyday life experiences and do not use school schedules or formal lessons. Instead, unschooled children follow their interests and learn in much the same way as adults do-by pursuing an interest or curiosity. In the same way that children leam to walk and talk, unschooled children learn their math, science, reading, and history. John Holt, schoolteacher and founder of the unschooling movement, told educators in his book, What Do I Do Monday?: "We can see that there is no difference between living and learning, that living is learning, that it is impossible, and misleading, and harmful to think of them as being separate. We say to children, 'you come to school to learn.' We say to each other [educators], 'our job is to teach children to learn.' But the children have been learning, all the time, for all of their lives before they met us. What is more, they are very likely to be much better at leaming than most of us who plan to teach them something."

The advantage to unschooling is that unschooled children have the time and research abilities to become experts in their areas of interest. The disadvantage is that because unschoolers do not follow the typical school schedule, they may not do as well on grade-level assessments and may have a harder time if they reenter the school system. Unschooling books are available from the John Holt Association Bookstore (now operated by FUN-Books.com) at 1-888-FUN-7020.

Classical Homeschooling
The "classical" method began in the Middle Ages and was the approach used by some of the greatest minds in history. The goal of the classical approach is to teach people how to learn for themselves. The five tools of learning, known as the Trivium, are reason, record, research, relate, and rhetoric. Younger children begin with the preparing stage, where they learn basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. The grammar stage is next, which emphasizes compositions and collections, and then the dialectic stage, where serious reading, study, and research take place.

All the tools come together in the rhetoric stage, where communication is the primary focus. Popular books on the classical approach include The Well-Trained Mind: A guide to Classical Education at Home by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer and Recovering the Lost tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson. Also available is the book Teaching the Trivium by Harvie and Laurie Bluedorn from Trivium Pursuit (1-309-537-3641).

Multiple Intelligences
"Multiple intelligences" is an idea developed by Howard Gardner and Harvard University's "project zero." The belief is that everyone is intelligent in his or her own way and that learning is easiest and most effective when it uses a person's strengths instead of their weakness. For example, most schools use a linguistic and logical-mathematical approach when teaching, but not everyone learns that way. Some students, the bodily kinesthetic learners for example, learn best by touching and not by listening or reading. Most successful homeschoolers naturally emphasize their children's strengths and automatically tailor their teaching to match their child's learning style. Successful homeschoolers also adjust their learning environment and schedule so that it brings out their child's' best.

Some children prefer structure and learn best when they are told what to do, others learn best on their own. Some children do their best work around the kitchen table, and others excel when they are out of doors. The goal for the homeschooling parents is to identify how, when, and what their child learns best and to adapt their teaching style to their child.

DVD/Video Schooling
This approach can be used with all different styles of homeschooling. Use quality educational titles to help your child learn Science, Physics, American History, World History, Religion, Preschool skills, Music, Art and more. This is not watching television. A powerful movie can inspire a new interest or help your child develop a solid understanding of a complicated area of learning.

Recommended Resources: Educational DVDs from quality producers like National Geographic, PBS, A&E, and The Discovery Channel are available from Homeschool.com's DVD rentals.

Internet Homeschooling
Harness the power of the Internet by accessing virtual tutors, virtual schools, online curriculum, and quality websites. You need never feel that you can't find the help, expert advice or resources necessary to homeschool your child. Did you hate math as a child and feel you can't possibly help your child learn math? Or what about (YIKES) Algebra? How about Physics? No problem.

There is a wealth of cutting-edge online curriculum programs, private distance learning schools, homeschool support academies and more.

D. Physical Arrangements

Normally, setting up the place where children will be homeschooled is done as a last thought. However, establishing an environment for learning early in the homeschooling process supports your educational efforts in several key ways.

• It shows the child that the parent teacher is serious about home instruction, and that he or she will be required to meet expectations.
• The dedication of a space to the classroom reinforces the importance placed on the child's education.
• It helps to keep materials organized and available, which in turn makes it easier to select appropriate items for each day, as well as the materials to take on field trips and other excursions.

Creating a good educational environment is especially important for new homeschoolers, and for students who need additional help in focusing on the lessons at hand. The following helpful suggestions for building the right homeschool classroom were complied from conversations with the experts -- experienced homeschooling families.

Setting up your classroom:

If possible, assign a specific area in your home to be your classroom. This can be a spare room, the dining room, the kitchen table, or a den area. Ideally, this space should be employed solely for homeschooling purposes so the students associate it as an area for academic instruction. If that is not possible--as is frequently the case--then make sure when instruction begins, the area is clear of other, non-educational items, which could prove distracting. The classroom should offer storage space, such as a bookcase, and good lighting,

A comfortable chair and desk--or other workspace--is important. If homeschooling several children, study carrels are helpful. They provide private work areas for each child and limit distractions.

Having an easel, flip chart, or whiteboard available can enhance instruction. You will also want to have wall space available for displaying your student's work maps, and posters. Access to a globe, a dictionary, other reference materials, and a computer are helpful additions to the academic setting.

Establishing the rules:

In some homes, classroom rules come about naturally. In other homes, parents find they must establish rules. These rules of order might include what to wear for class or how to ask questions. If you establish rules, stick to them! For instance, if you are teaching more than one child and one of them is calling out answers all the time, you might consider having him raise his hand. You might even consider posting a list of your classroom rules.

Staying organized:

Develop a system for compiling, evaluating, and filing the student's work. Many experienced home teachers use folders or notebooks. If you have several children, try using a colour-coding system. Your students will quickly learn to look for their personal folder or notebook when an assignment is completed. Use your lesson manual to track your progress and to make notes concerning a need for review or other questions. In areas where local school officials want to see proof of your student's work these notes and files are invaluable.

Keeping to task:

Let family and friends know when school is in session. Keep interruptions to a minimum, and use the answering machine to handle unnecessary telephone calls. If possible, schedule appointments around the school day and resist the temptation to forego lessons for chores and errands. Remember that the decision to homeschool will provide you with more quality family time during, and after, the daily lessons!

Everyone can benefit from the creation of the proper "home school" environment. Most children thrive when placed in a proper environment for learning and when the guidelines for their behavior and expectations are clear. Parents benefit by not having to constantly establish order or create a space for schooling. Try including your children in setting up the classroom so that you both feel comfortable in the space.

Successful homeschooling occurs when you select appropriate lessons for your child and create a good environment for learning, and it is maintained by a parent committed to inspiring the best in a child.

E. Recognition of Work

Parents may eventually choose to enroll their children in a formal school after years of homeschooling. Many choose to bring their children back to a traditional school for secondary schooling. To be able to enroll your students in a traditional school, many will require your report cards and documentation from DepEd that your children have met the necessary requirements for promotion to the level you are intending to place them in. At the moment, the guidelines to be able to get the proper documentation are unclear. However, the steps are not impossible.

Generally, schools will require that you present results of a validation test or the PEPT test. For your children to take a validation test, it will be necessary for you to present proof of work. either in a report card and/or test and work sheets. Children are normally required to take a test for each level that they were away from formal schooling. The permit to take a validation test is issued by the DepEd NCR in Quezon City. The actual test is administered in DepEd, Pasig. Other parents have taken the option to take the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT). The PEPT is normally given to children who have been out of school for a considerable amount of time and do not have any record of any kind of study. DepEd itself is unclear as to which is applicable since the recommendations on which exams to take differ depending on the student and the person at DepEd. One thing is sure, however. Each homeschool student will need to take a test if he or she has been independently homeschooling.

In order to avoid the problems at DepEd, it is possible to enroll under the accredited homeschool programs of DepEd. There are a number of schools who have an approved homeschool program but the popular ones are The Master's Academy (TMA) and the Living Heritage Academy (LHA). Both institutions will give full credit for the studies accomplished at home and will issue report cards that are accepted in all local schools.

The other option, though more expensive, is to enroll your children with U.S. homeschooling institutions who will also issue the necessary report cards. You will then be considered to have studied in an American school. Bob Jones University is an example of such. There is plenty of information on the Internet regarding this option.

The choice of whether to enroll in an accredited program or to do an independent program is a decision that depends on the availability of time, the flexibility and the learning styles of your children. It should be a personal decision that should meet the personal circumstances of each family. I have known families who have been successful under both conditions.


Am I Out of My Mind Or What?

The concept of homeschool has been brewing and percolating in my mind for close to two years now. It seemed like a good idea then and it still seems like a good idea now. Sometime ago, my sister was reading a book called "The Call to Brilliance" by Resa Steindel Brown, this was at a time when the concept of homeschool was new to me. One of the precepts of the book is that "all children are born brilliant, it is up to us to help them find their brilliance". Reading the book has been instrumental in convincing me of the merits of homeschooling. I thought to myself then, "if only I could be so brave as to do the actual thing".

Well don't get me wrong, this is something I truly believe will change the course of my children's lives, the way they think and how they will interact and cope with life outside the four walls of home but I know from the onset that this is no easy task. I see and sense my children's thirst for knowledge. How they like to ask all these questions of how, what, where and why. How they like to imagine the what ifs. I ask myself, how do I as a parent keep that thirst for knowledge intact, no matter how old they get? My fear then was if I could do this and be dedicated to doing it long-term, knowing that I will have to dedicate a large chunk of my time to educating my children? Will I have enough patience? Will I have enough resources or the money to buy the resources?

Once you decide to homeschool, finding the right curricula can be an overwhelming task. I used to think that all I had to do was enroll the child in a homeschool provider of choice and follow the set curricula. But it is not as easy as one, two, three, especially if there is a particular agenda or concept you have in mind. Last school year, I had been eyeing enrolling my kids in the Catholic Filipino Academy. This has particularly drawn my attention because I was looking for a homeschool provider that was Catholic biased, as I wanted my children to be reared as Catholics. They were attending at the time a traditional but "Montessori" called school that was ecumenical and therefore did not teach religion. Another plus factor was that the CFA homeschool was DepEd accredited, so if homeschool did not work for us after the first year, then if would be easy to put the children back in regular school. Check out Bo Sanchez's "10 Powerful Principles On How You Can Teach Your Own Children At Home" - these are his 10 Core Principles of Homeschool, it is very good and was instrumental also in my decision to homeschool.

This school year, I attended the orientation of CFA but have ultimately decided not to enroll my children in their program, not because I did not like the program, it was good program and the people were great and very helpful but after lots of research, I felt it was just not for me, I wanted a program that would allow my kids to progress as fast or as slow as they wanted, and not follow the DepEd school year. Of course, that is just me, who am I to say that my children will learn faster than the prescribed school years curricula. I just want to be given the flexibility to be as eclectic as possible. There is also Calvert I am looking into. I had them send me their catalog which was so nice and glossy and had really great looking material plus online support, but at the moment cost is a big issue and therefore I am still shying away from it.

At the moment, I am still educating myself and figuring out which modules to follow, there are so many educational materials out there that it could literally drive you nuts trying to figure out which ones to use. There are also so many websites and blogs espousing this and that. Ultimately it boils down to what you think will be best for your child's learning style.

This year is our trial year - mine and my two boys. I ask myself, "am I out of my mind or what?", but no matter what anyone will say, I feel deeply at this point that this is what is best. Whatever we do choose, I'm sure this learning experience, if not for anything else, will bring us closer and will give me insight into my children's world, one that I used to have limited time for.

Related Posts with Thumbnails



About This Blog

All about me, my musings, ramblings, fancies, quirks and dreams; the blessings in my life - the kids and their growing years; and my love for digital scrapbooking/design and graphic arts; and my eternal quest to keep learning something new each day and give back in my little way.

This blog used to be 3 blogs which I decided to merge together, my scrapping blog (Pandoras Box of Thought), the blog about my kids (Beyond the Four Walls) and my cooking/recipe blog (Cooking Mama) - all the old posts are still up but I've decided to just post everything in the future in one forum, with all the things I'm doing, I'd like to keep everything in one neat container :)

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP