Archive of ‘Homeschool’ category

Homeschool Q & A: How to Know What to Teach, Part 2

Read Part 1 here.

Last year, I had an opportunity to read and review a book about classical education. I wasn’t really expecting much, I thought it might be the kind of book that is hard to read. I mean, I already reviewed a classical curriculum, and for the life of me, I just couldn’t understand it! So when the book came in the mail, I wasn’t excited to read it. In fact, I put it down and left it alone for about a week.

When I finally opened it to read, I was so surprised because the first page I opened it to was a questionnaire on who we are as a family. Of course, this piqued my interest and I began reading it. Wow, it was as if a light suddenly opened in my mind! This book is Trivium Mastery – The Intersection of Three Roads: How To Give Your Child An Authentic Classical Home Education by Diane B. Lockman. You can read my review of this book here.

Diane Lockman was able to explain very well what classical education is all about. It isn’t just about studying the classics – it is mainly about the three areas of education – Language, Thought, Speech – that a child will have to master. Once these three areas are mastered, they will be ready to move on to higher learning.

Classical-Scholar-Header24Through her website, The Classical Scholar, I was lead to the Parent Workshops that she offers for free. Classical Education 101 is for families who are considering classical education for the first time. It is a series of essay questionnaires to answer about your family and your children. These questionnaires helped me greatly in understanding our family’s homeschool lifestyle. Though I knew my children very well, writing about their strengths and weaknesses helped me to see them clearly. What I found most valuable in this workshop is the Mastery Status chart which will further help to understand where your child is at in terms of his education.

So for those who are asking me what kind of curriculum I use for my children, my answer would be, there is no one-size-fits-all curriculum that everybody can just follow. Also, it is not only about choosing which books to use to teach your child. Mainly, it’s about what your child needs to learn. Every family is different and every child is different so you may find yourselves using different curriculums for each child.

My recommendation is that you visit The Classical Scholar, take time to read through Diane Lockman’s articles, then do the free Classical Education 101 workshop. After you have done this, you will be able to see clearly what each of your children need to learn.

TriviumMastery1D If you would like, you can also purchase this excellent book, Trivium Mastery – The Intersection of Three Roads: How To Give Your Child An Authentic Classical Home Education by Diane B. Lockman.

Homeschool Q & A: How to Know What to Teach

As a further response to those who have written me asking how I chose our curriculum, here is the continuation to my previous blog post.

The first four years we homeschooled, my children were enrolled in two other schools where the curriculum was already laid out for us. There was no need for us to decide because that decision has already been made for us. And this is a good thing. I say this because for someone who has no experience in homeschooling like me before, having a curriculum dictated by the school solved a lot of problems for me. I wasn’t going into this blind. It was easy because I didn’t have to make the difficult decision of searching for a good curriculum.

As the years of homeschooling passed, you would really come to a point when you can recognize that a homeschool material may not be a good fit for your child or even for you.

We started with Alpha Omega Lifepacs which we used for Guitar Babe’s Grade 1 and Grade 2. The lessons are excellent and laid out very well. For every grade level, you purchase a certain number of modules that you need to finish for the year. There is an amount of parent prep time for the week because you need to sit down and look through every module before you teach it to your child. For the Science Lifepacs, it’s necessary that you have prep time for that because of the experiments to be done. This worked great for us until I had to work part-time as a life insurance agent. With Alpha Omega Lifepacs, the parent has to be right there teaching the child.

After that, I found School of Tomorrow’s PACES which greatly encouraged independent learning by the student. For the first two years, Grade 3 & 4, it was okay. It was similar to AOP Lifepacs in that we bought the PACES required for each grade level. The difference is that there is not much parent prep time involved. You can open a PACE and start teaching the material immediately. Or the child studies the PACE on her own without parent participation. The problem we had here is that Guitar Babe became bored with it after two years. I didn’t want to keep forcing it on her because she exhibited anger in having to face all the PACES day in and day out.

At this point, I’ll have to say that both AOP Lifepacs and SOT Paces are great resources for homeschooling. Both are well-arranged in modules and are Biblical. In fact, the SOT Paces for Wika and Sibika are very good. Also, I really liked AOP Lifepacs. As a parent, you will  have to investigate for yourself if this is a good fit for you and your child. I do know of one parent who grew up using the SOT Paces and it worked well for him. In fact, he likes it very much. The other advantage for using these is that if you know your student already know the subject, he can just go straight to the final test of the module without going through the whole module first. Grades are also easily computed with these two resources.

It was when Guitar Babe was exhibiting anger towards her PACE lessons that I became desperate enough to start searching online for better materials to use. Through this search, I found Cindy Rushton whose main work is to keep encouraging mothers to teach and and homeschool the easy way. I attended her online seminars and realized that there is really a better way to homeschool, that I need not beat myself up if one of my children become sick, and to recognize that where we are right now in our homeschool is exactly where the Lord wants us to be.

After this, it was a lot of trial and error for us where we tried out several materials that I was reviewing. If the children enjoyed the material and I don’t have a hard time teaching it, then we would go with that. It wasn’t until I came across Diane Lockman’s Trivium Mastery when it all became clearer to me… (to be continued).

Homeschool Q&A: Guitar Babe’s Curriculum

I received several emails regarding Kid’s World Integrated School and Kreative Kids, Moms & Dads after I blogged about why we like it. Most are asking me for more information about KWIS/KKMD and their tuition fee. Since we are set to have our year-end ceremony by next week, I have not found out yet what their program for next year is or how much the tuition fee is. Once I do, I will post it here.

Another question I got frequently is how I chose curriculum for my children. My quick answer would be with much trial and error. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’d know that I’m a product reviewer. I have the opportunity to use and review several homeschool products. At this point, many of the homeschool products that I received for free are the ones that I continued to use in my homeschool. Here are some that we have continued using:

Guitar Babe: 15 years old

Math: Life of Fred, Math Mammoth and Guitar Babe also likes the worksheets we got from America’s Math Teacher.

We like Life of Fred because the math concepts are very well explained in the book. The problems after every chapter are very challenging and the answer key is included in the book. Add to that the very humorous style of writing of the author. This is a great resource for Math.

We also use Math Mammoth and sometimes America’s Math Teacher alongside Life of Fred so that Guitar Babe can get used to answering worksheets. Life of Fred does not have those pages and pages of repetitive math problems that we commonly find in other Math books. However, I also saw that she also needed practice in that area to prepare her for her future school exams. For worksheets, we use Math Mammoth and America’s Math Teacher because the problems are short but enough to ensure mastery of the topic.

Language Arts: We use KISS Grammar for our grammar lessons, The Write Foundation for writing and for spelling and vocabulary, Big IQ Kids, which I am currently reviewing. You can also try out Big IQ Kids for free.

Science: We are currently using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright. I’ve read several positive reviews about Apologia Science which encouraged me to try it for my children. I like that the study of the subject includes narration, drawings, and several hands-on projects.

We also use several local books to study Filipino and Social Studies. For history, we’ve been reading The Great Lives Series by Tahanan Books for Young Readers. These are biographical series of great Filipinos such as Emilio Aguinaldo, Juan Luna, Teodora Alonso, Apolinario Mabini and many others.

As to the question of how we choose curriculum where I said through trial and error – this is pretty much how we did it. I did read several articles about learning styles and teaching styles and applied it to how I teach my children. I was able to recognize that Guitar Babe was actually an auditory learner. She likes being read to. She can actually sit still, listen and comprehend a pastor’s 45 minute message during Sunday worship. Lapbooking doesn’t work much with her but she likes oral narration.

Through time and experience, we are able to pick out which materials work and which ones don’t. I still don’t have it down pat, there are still some materials that just don’t work with her and I don’t force that.

I can say that with curriculum, there’s not one that can fit all students. What works with one family may not work with another. In fact, what works with one child may not work with the sibling. And this is the beauty of homeschooling: that you can tailor-fit your child’s education to your child’s individual needs. Parents should not be afraid to try out a material and to “throw” (or sell) it if the child seems to just suffer through the lessons.

Also if you do a search of homeschool materials online, you’ll find that a lot of these vendors offer free samples of their products that you can try first before purchasing. Check out my own homeschool reviews in this blog. And for other homeschool product reviews, go to our TOS Homeschool Crew blog which is dedicated to reviews of various homeschool products.

Socialization in the Eyes of a Homeschooled Teen

22044_1131572464292_1676690913_261910_1413390_n Here is an essay by Guitar Babe about socialization. Since socialization is one of the first things we get questioned about, I thought I’d ask my teenager to share her thoughts on this.

They say homeschoolers are unsociable. I don’t believe so. I think homeschoolers are actually very sociable. Why do I say this? Because I am a homeschooler. It is not hard for me to make friends outside my home. My mom taught my siblings and me to be expressive of ourselves. So, whenever we’re in public, we are not shy around people. We are also capable of holding a whole conversation with a person much older than us.

 People have questioned me, “Since you’re homeschooled, do you have any friends?” or “Do you get exposed to people outside your home?” or “What about your social life?” I’ve been asked those questions countless number of times. I get relieved when they ask me those, because some people just judge us right off the bat. “Ah, homeschooler yan, walang mga kaibigan ang mga homeschoolers.” (Oh she’s a homeschooler, she probably doesn’t have any friends.) Pretty offensive, right? And when that happens, I have to defend myself and tell them, “No, that’s not true. We have friends. We get exposed (to people) a lot.”

Homeschoolers participate in a lot of extra activities that get us exposed to other people. We join sports, arts and crafts, music, etc. We also have a support group with other homeschoolers. It’s nice to know that we are much alike and different at the same time. We have different personalities, but we still get along with each other very well. And they agree too, that homeschoolers are sociable.

The other homeschoolers I’ve met are outgoing, friendly, and sociable. They also have lots of friends like me. So it is not true that homeschoolers don’t have many friends.

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*Photos courtesy of J. Tanael*

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Guitar Babe plays the guitar and sings for our church’s Praise and Worship Team for the last three years. She actively participates in the Youth Group in two of our churches. She is currently one of the popular youths in a group of about 150. The church we go to is at the 4th level of a mall. The moment we arrive in the mall and on our way to the 4th floor, she is constantly greeted by many friends.

She also participates in 3 sports groups where she has met many friends. The third sports group is one that she has observed practicing diligently at the park. She was very interested to join the group. With my help, she introduced herself to one of the members and inquired about joining. She is now learning a new sport with this group.

TOS Review: Kid Scoop’s Reluctant Reader Solution



If you have been following my blog, you would know that I’m a wide reader. When I had children, it was important to me that my children grow up with a love for reading. At this point, I can say that both my older kids have inherited my reading habits – the good and the bad. I say this because I don’t like reading the newspaper. So both Guitar Babe and Artsy Princess are not reluctant readers, but reading the newspaper was the one thing that I was unable to pass on. How can I when I can’t model it for them?

Kid Scoop’s Reluctant Reader Solution became the solution for that. The Reluctant Reader Solution comes in two parts:

Part 1 – The Reluctant Reader Solution E-book: A downloadable PDF File

This massive e-book is filled with 365 worksheets that your child can use for the whole year. Every set is 5-7 pages and is in newspaper format. It is in black and white for economical printing. Each worksheet is based on one high-interest topic and is filled with fun puzzles, short articles, great graphics, math activities and vocabulary builders. The worksheets are designed to spark interest in the child in a fun way. Learning truly happens while the children are having fun.

There was one particularly stressful day for me when the children were just teasing each other to tears. I was at my wits end which lead to some screaming (by me) and more tears (by the children). A few days later, I checked out my Reluctant Reader Solution E-book and found a topic about teasing. I printed two copies for my children and we spent time reading through it and discussing it. It was good because instead of me sermonizing down to the kids, we had a discussion about teasing. Guitar Babe did feel that the activities were too young for her, but the topic was relevant.

Part 2 – The Reluctant Reader Solution Online Newspaper for Kids

This online newspaper was something that sparked much interest and provided fun for Artsy Princess. This is the monthly subscription to Kid Scoop News. Kid Scoop News can be read online or may be printed out.


The online version is just like reading an actual newspaper online complete with the flipping sounds of turning pages. Each Kid Scoop News can be downloaded and saved to your PC in PDF. It also features an audio for kids who may want to have it read to them. I didn’t like the audio, however, because of its robotic quality.

The better option would be to print it out so that the child can do all the pencil activities. Artsy Princess definitely enjoyed the Kid Scoop News and says “They make reading the newspaper not boring. I’d like to have this every month, Mom.”

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The Kid Scoop’s Reluctant Reader Solution can be purchased for the price of $97.00. This price is for both the ebook and the monthly subscription to Kid Scoop News. The best part about this is that the owner is offering a one-year, full money-back, no questions asked, guarantee.

If you are not yet sure, you can also check out the Kid Scoop website and sign up for the FREE 30 Awesome Exercises and Ideas to Make Reading Fun. Once you sign up, you will get in your inbox, for the next 30 days, a daily delivery of different activities to encourage your children to read the newspaper. The activities are all fun and easy, the children won’t even notice that they are already reading a newspaper!

To find out how my other TOS Crewmates reviewed this product, please visit our TOS Crew Blog.

Disclosure: I received this product for free as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for this review.

Learning English Grammar with KISS Grammar – FREE

In my past blog posts, I have recommend several FREE resources that can be found online for homeschoolers to use. I have tried a few of them myself but still feel that I have not yet found the best resource for teaching English Grammar to my children.
Until I came across KISS Grammar, that is. KISS Grammar was created by Dr. Ed Vavra, an English professor at The Pennsylvania College of Technology. Disturbed by the way that English is being taught in schools in the US, Dr. Vavra decided to put online his method of teaching English grammar. At this point, KISS Grammar is FREE. Dr. Vavra has been so generous that he created workbooks for every grade level. Although he teaches college students, his workbooks are geared for the elementary learner and onwards.
I’ve been using KISS Grammar for my children since September last year and I am happy to say that it is a treasure indeed. Along with every workbook is a Parent’s Guide. It contains the answers for every exercise and the background explanation for the lessons. A treasure, right?
You will have to read the “An Introduction to KISS and the Master Books” first. You can either read it online or print it as I have because it is very, very long. If you prefer to print, go to this page and download the doc version. If you have older children, maybe you can teach it using the Master Books only. But if you would like to apply it to the children’s curriculum on a per level basis, you can use the printable Grade-Level workbooks. If you decide to go with the workbooks, read “An Explanation of the Grade Level Workbooks”.

The KISS Grammar website is HUGE! You may be intimidated by it as I have been, but with time and  patience, you will soon understand it. All workbooks/parent’s guides are downloadable, as are all the instructions and background information.

Remember, patience is the key for you parents. Once you start using it, I’m sure you will find it a treasure as many already have.
Dr. Ed Vavra also actively participates in a Yahoo group here. Anyone using KISS Grammar can join this group to participate in the discussions. Any questions directed to Dr. Vavra will be replied to by the author in a timely manner.

Again, here are the links:
KISS Grammar site:
KISS Yahoo Group:
An Introduction to KISS and the Master Books (online version):
An Introduction to KISS and the Master Books (doc version):
An Explanation of the Grade Level Workbooks (online version):
Printable KISS Grammar Books:

A note from Dr. Ed Vavra:


I really appreciate your blog post. The only thing that worries me is that you suggest that there are already completed books for each grade level. I’m coming close to a complete set for sixth grade, but there is a long way to go before there will be a complete set for every grade from three through eleven.

The other thing that has me wondering is if some people think that fifth graders, for example, are supposed to do ALL the fifth grade books, and then ALL the sixth grade books? That is not the case, but I’m not sure the explanation on the Printable Books page makes that clear enough.

Thanks again,

Q&A Time: 10 Reasons Why We Like Kreative Kids, Moms & Dads

Some time ago, I received a follow-up email from Inquiring Mom. I already answered some of her emails in the past here. She asked me why we decided to enroll our kids at Kid’s World Integrated School/Kreative Kids, Moms and Dads after going independent for two years. I’ve decided to share here the reasons why we like KWIS/KKMD. Here it goes:
1. MAPE – Every Saturday, we go all the way to Ortigas where all the homeschoolers meet. They have floorball, music, arts, performing arts and a lot of other extras. All these activities are included in our low enrollment fee.
2. Open curriculum – KWIS/KKMD does not impose what curriculum we would like to use for our children. We are all free to choose what we want to use, how we homeschool our children. The negative side of this is that if you are a new homeschooler, choosing homeschool materials from the thousands available out there may be difficult at first. But talking with other homeschool families can solve this dilemma.
3. DepEd Records – Children enrolled at KWIS/KKMD will not be classified as Out of School Youth by our Department of Education because of Kid’s World Integrated School. They are enrolled and will receive report cards every end of the school year.
4. Mommy Support – The friendship and camaraderie that parents share at KKMD is tremendous. We share our lives, we pray for each other, we share our hopes for our children, we look out for each others’ kids. I love it. This is not to say that there is no friction. Any place where you’ve been there for some time will cause friction among its members. It just depends on your maturity how you will handle the friction.
5. Friendship among homeschoolers – Our children have all learned to be comfortable with each other. They still experience the awkwardness of making new friends, but once they overcome that, they learn to accept and love each other. The thing I’ve noticed is that there is also no negative peer pressure amongst the children. And since they are all of different ages, the children learn to respect each other despite their age.
6. Meeting other people of different professions – Ms. Ane Palaruan, the directress, and her team, have brought in people of different professions to speak to the children. This way, the children are exposed to many professionals giving them the chance also to see how they can grow up to be in the future.
7. Involvement in extra activities held at Union Church of Manila – Since our directress’ husband works at the UCM in Makati, we are constantly invited to activities held at UCM. My children have participated in several and have enjoyed it so much! Not only that, they grow in their knowledge of the Lord in these activities.
8. Support of Greenhills Christian Fellowship – Our Saturday classes are held at GCF in Ortigas, Pasig City. To my knowledge, we are not charged for the use of their facilities. If we are, it is very minimal. Our children are able to use their airconditioned classrooms giving them comfort while learning.
9. Low cost of tuition fee – The tuition fee is very low. You can email me to ask how much. For a low tuition fee, the children are enrolled at KWIS and KKMD’s Saturday activities.
10. Dedication of our directress and her support group – I cannot say enough thanks to Ms. Ane Palaruan, her sister Ms. Lucy Andes and her team for their dedication to KKMD. They are all very creative, very helpful and are determined to help homeschool families in every way they can. They are not perfect, they are people who also make mistakes, but you can count on them to be there for you all along the way.
There are more reasons I can list down here, but that’s already for the next time I post about KKMD.
Disclosure: This blog post about KKMD is not a paid post. These are my own honest opinion. KWIS/KKMD did not require me to write a post about them.

Q&A Time: Living on a Single Income

Early last year, I had someone write to me asking how we managed to homeschool despite the difficult time here in the Philippines. He and his family were about to come home from another country and are convinced that homeschooling was the way to go. However, he and his wife are not sure how they can manage it since both of them work outside the home. I looked back on this email today and thought that my reply to his email was blog worthy so I’m sharing my reply here:

Well, as to your question on how we have managed it financially, my only answer is that God provides. Now, my husband has a well-paying job so we can afford for me to stay at home. It’s really just good enough for our family, sobrang tipid din kami (we are very thrifty). You see, my husband and I believe that no matter how much I can earn working outside the home, it will not replace the time lost or time away from our children.

When we first got married, I was still working. When the children came, I decided to stop working although my husband preferred me to work. At that time, about a year before we started homeschooling, my husband was just an ordinary employee earning a little above the minimum wage. Because of my desire to stay at home, then eventually homeschool, we just made it work. And God has been faithful. He really provided all that we need and even want.

As my husband got promoted and the income increased, our family also grew. In time, my husband also decided that he preferred for me to stay home with the kids. He has not wavered in that decision since he saw how good for our family that I’m home.

You know, in the US and Canada, the trend now among homeschool families is that Mom finds either a part time work or work full time from home. I’m doing the same thing. It’s not easy but because we want this, we just make things work.

Another thing, my husband came home from New Zealand two years ago. When he came home, it was supposedly for vacation only. He only had 3 weeks off from his job in NZ. But he was already gone from us for two years and we badly missed each other. So, after much prayer, we decided for him to give up his job in NZ and just stay home. He had no work for the first half of 2009. I was not working also. But God has been so good to us, He really saw us through. Mahirap, pero doable naman(It was very difficult but doable and not impossible). God touched a lot of family and friends to help us while hubby was looking for a job. Honestly, walang panahon na hindi kami kumain. At laging masarap ang pagkain namin (There was never a time that we were unable to eat and our food was always delicious). We did not have to leave our rented home.

God did not allow us to live without dignity.

God is good and His love endures forever.

TOS Crew Review: Times Alive! by City Creek Press

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Learning the multiplication table can be tiresome for some kids. I remember when I was the one endlessly memorizing numbers, it can be such a heavy load on the brain. I knew that for my kids, memorizing the multiplication table would not be so easy as well. Not only that, recalling all the facts that they memorized can also be a challenge. I am pretty sure that many children still struggle with their multiplication tables.

Now, thanks to City Creek Press, who produced the Times Alive! software, children can now learn their times tables the fun and easy way. Times Alive! is based on the award-winning book Times Tables the Fun Way! by Judy Liautaud and Dave Rodriguez. My review will focus on the instant download software of Times Alive!

First of all, it was very easy to download and install the software to my PC. It did take a day or two for the download link to be sent to my email after I ordered, but I did not encounter any problems in downloading and installation.

The software opens with a warning that only kids who want to have fun should use it. That immediately draws in the user to find out how learning the times tables can be fun. It has 18 lessons in all where all the most difficult multiplication facts are taught. Each lesson has a short story that they can listen to as well as read along. Following the story is a song that will further cement the fact in the child’s memory. Then there are interesting games and quizzes for the child.

Above is a sample of the song that makes learning their multiplication facts really interesting. For more samples, please visit their youtube page here.


I had both Guitar Babe and Artsy Princess work on Times Alive! 15 year old Guitar Babe found the activities to be geared towards the younger ages BUT she did say that the way it was taught was all so annoyingly clever. Being a lover of music, she also admired how the songs included a hook, which will literally “hook” the listener to remember the songs. She said all this with a note of admiration in her voice.

Artsy Princess worked on the Times Alive! longer than Guitar Babe. She has been doing it by herself. I told her to listen to the whole lesson two times before moving on to the next lesson. At this point, she’s done until Lesson 8 and has now memorized all the facts that she went through. She said that she feels that it’s too young for her BUT that she learned a lot. She finds the games and quizzes most interesting of all. When I checked her quizzes, I did see that with every lesson, her grades have gone up continuously.

As for me, I am SOLD on the Times Alive! software. It should be a part of everyone’s homeschool and classroom because it makes learning about the multiplication tables fun and easy.

For other reviews, check out what other TOS Crewmates said about Times Alive! here.

Note: I received this software for free in exchange for a review as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I am not required to write a positive review.

Review: United States Trivia Pack by Python Printable Games


If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to add to your and your children’s knowledge of the 50 states of the USA, then the United States Trivia Pack by Python Printable Games is for you.

The United States Trivia Pack  is available as a download from Python Printable Games. For US$ 19.95, add some paper, you get trivia questions about fun facts for the United States. Every state has 15 questions on the first page with the answers on the second page. Some of the questions are facts about the state, some are just questions that are fun to know.

This is great not only for homeschoolers, but for families who want to know more about the United States. It’s great for long road trips, classroom contests, and even for a quick resource to supplement your geography lessons.

You can try out other Python Printable Games for FREE right here.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

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