Archives for October 2011

Filipino for Homeschoolers

About two months ago, Elijah finished his 2nd grade requirements so we could move on to 3rd grade. At first, our hardest challenge was his Filipino subject. Since it is not my primary language, I had to do a lot of research on how to teach the grammar and how to decode the vocabulary.

I think most moms would agree with me when I say that the most difficult part about Filipino as a subject is not the grammar or the spelling, but the vocabulary! The textbooks have the kids learn words that they will never really use in day to day conversation. And using such uncolorful materials does not help with the motivation aspect. In fact, I took a look at Elijah’s grade 2 Filipino book and I was like, “There is no way I am going to teach this subject using this textbook!” Why? Because textbooks often have a way of zapping the joy out of learning. (As much as possible, I try to stay away from getting textbook type of curriculums for my kids.)

However, even though textbooks can be tedious, I don’t suggest that we throw them out the window either. Textbooks are a good reference for topics and lessons that a child needs to cover during the course of a year. I used Elijah’s Filipino textbook as a scope and sequence guide to comply with DepEd requirements. But, I did not make Elijah go through the book page by page.

Homeschooling has been a blessing because it gives my kids the flexibility to learn subjects in a way that interests them and keeps their interest. When I started teaching my own kids as a homeschool mom, I realized that making my children learn content was NOT more important than making them love learning itself. I noticed that a lot of moms who have to tutor their kids when they get home from school are so pressured about making their kids memorize content so their child can make the grade. And during exam time, it’s the moms who panic! Who can blame them? That is the system — they have to cope with it for the sake of their kids.

As a homeschooling family, we are not bound by conventional approaches. We don’t neglect standards or academic goals, but we take a more out of the box means to the same end. And sometimes, the end is a whole lot better than we had hoped for.

Elijah covered his Filipino subject by reading bilingual storybooks from publishers like Adarna, Hiyas, Lampara, and even Philippine Bible Society. I chose stories that covered fables, myths, and legends, bible stories, and moral lessons. He was allowed to read then in English first and then in Filipino.

The bilingual books were a great motivator for learning vocabulary and grammar. Vocabulary was learned in context, therefore easier to understand. Grammar concepts and rules were explained through the text as well.

Afterwards, Elijah and I made lapbooks — something he thoroughly enjoyed.

While I was originally concerned about finishing the material, we ended up accomplishing what ought to be the real goal of Filipino language instruction — a deeper appreciation for the richness of Philippine culture, and a greater sense of patriotism.

Planet Earth by Game

The boys enjoyed this Planet Earth game. I had forgotten that we had this game until I saw the box on one of our shelves. We didn’t know 60% of the answers to the questions, but we learned from our mistakes. Games like this can really make a subject like geography or science come alive for the kids. And we didn’t even feel the time go by!







Everyone Needs to Play!

My sister-in-law, Jenny, and I took the kids to Play Pilipinas last Friday. We hung out with our playgroup and let the kids explore the different play areas. They all had a blast!



























Who Is Afraid of Punk Barbie?

Mattel has launched a new Barbie that has pink hair and permanent tattoos on her. Even if Mattel says it’s more of a collector’s item intended for adults rather than children, parents are concerned that it is not a good role model for girls.

Do I really want my little daughter playing with a punk Barbie? Probably not. But I am not going to be suing Mattel for selling it. Toy makers ought to consider the impact they have on children’s perceptions of reality and the values they are inculcating, but as parents, we are ultimately responsible.

I remember that my parents never allowed us to play with a game called Dungeons and Dragons. And I am thankful that they were careful about the toys we played with and the TV shows we watched. For example, we were not allowed to watch the Simpsons. I’ve caught a couple of shows as an adult and they are hilarious, but it is a show that portrays so many wrong values. For instance, you have a passive father who is unable to lead himself or his family, and a disobedient and rebellious son who is conniving and irresponsible. My young, impressionable children don’t need to be watching this kind of stuff or other cartoons that distort God-ordained family roles or wrongly program their world-view.

However, the real battle is not the toys we buy or the shows we let our children watch. It is equipping them to exercise wisdom. How are they going to survive if they are dependent on us to determine what is good and not good for them? While they are young, we can filter through what they are exposed to, but eventually, they must be able to discern right from wrong on their own.

Since Edric and I have yet to see how our children will turn out in the future, I would like to talk about how my parents helped my siblings and I to develop wisdom. By God’s grace, all of us are walking with the Lord and following him (and I pray we will be faithful to the end because it is only by his grace). And I am not saying this to give credit to ourselves but to emphasize the importance of teaching our children to be wise. Here are some things you can do with your kids…

Tell them to ask God for wisdom. God loves to give wisdom to his children, it is something he freely and delightfully bestows on those who ask for it. My parents told us to pray for wisdom when we were young. All of us did this, clinging onto the promise in James 1:5 which says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

When King Solomon asked for wisdom rather than riches and power, God was so pleased he gave him all three. The irony is that Solomon may have been wise but he made some foolish personal choices that caused him to have a divided heart.

1 Kings 11:1-6 “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.”

Sadly, for all the wisdom of Solomon, he chose to follow the desires of his heart rather than to follow God. This tells me that wisdom does not fortify our children from foolish choices. Our children must not only be wise, they must fear God.

Communicate a correct view of God to your children. We can grow up with all kinds of misconceptions about God. We may think him loving, but forget he is holy and wrathful towards sin. Or, we may think him to be a cosmic kill-joy, impersonal, distant, and not see him for the personal, tender father that he is. As A.W. Tozer said, “what we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

I am grateful that my parents taught us to have a high view of God, to understand that as loving as he is, he is also holy, awesome in power, and able to bless those who follow him and curse those who do not. This gave us a healthy fear of God. We were motivated to serve and follow him because we loved him, but we were afraid to sin against him. This doesn’t mean that my siblings and I never made mistakes. We did! But, thanks to the intentional instruction of our parents, the compass of our hearts was aligned in the right direction. We wanted to pursue God’s will and we wanted to avoid the painful consequences of foolishness.

Proverbs 9:10-11 says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Teach your children the law of sowing and reaping. Galatians 6:7 gives this warning. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” My parents would often say, “you are free to choose, but you are not free to escape the consequences.” They did not parent us with a choke hold. We were given many liberties as young adults because the harder work of preparing us to make wise choices happened during our childhood. One example of the “harder work” my parents had to do was to discipline us. Without exception, my siblings and I were spanked when we disobeyed.

Did we resent our parents for it? Not at all. Spanking was a consequence for two things — disobedience and disrespect. We were not spanked in anger, publicly humiliated, or beaten as a punishment. Each one of us knew that there was a spanking belt that hung behind my parent’s bathroom door to be used in the same way (one to two swats across the buttocks) in the bathroom and only after a very serious conversation about what we did wrong. After five minutes or less, the whole ordeal was over and we were repentant and sorry. There would be alot of hugging and I love you’s exchanged.

Being disciplined was painful, but it was the kind of pain that saved us from greater pain. And as we grew past the elementary years, spanking was replaced by natural, logical consequences or withdrawal of privileges.

Proverbs 19:18 “Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.”

The law of sowing and reaping also applied to blessing. In the same way that we connected wrong choices with negative consequences, we connected right choices with blessing. We didn’t want to merely avoid consequences, we wanted God’s hand to be upon us, to have his favor and to experience the “fullness of life” that he promised. Blessing vs. Curse

Grow in faith and character as a family. Reading Proverbs is a great way to start. It is like an inexhaustible instruction manual for wise living. The introduction to Proverbs captures its very purpose.

“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—let the wise listen and add to their learning,and let the discerning get guidance— for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.” Proverbs 1:1-6

My dad would conduct weekly family bible studies on Proverbs. He would go over a Proverb, extract the meaning of it, and ask us to share our insights. After this, we would all talk about how we could apply it in our lives.

These family devotions were moments of meaningful dialogue and heart conversations. We used this time to minister to one another, share our triumphs, struggles, and heartaches. It allowed us to keep one another accountable, too. We would end with prayer, for decisions that had to be made or difficult circumstances that had to be endured or faced.

Build the habit of reading the Bible and reading through it every year. I suppose my dad is somewhat an exception when I say that he literally spent hours studying the Word of God daily. It was a blessing that he was an entrepreneur with the option of more time. And as a pastor, he was often preparing messages and bible studies, so he was in the Word alot. I am sharing this because I can’t even begin to explain the impact his devotion to Scripture and prayer had on me. I saw first-hand that faith is intensely personal and that the Word of God is an inexhaustible treasure of truth and principles for living. Not every parent may have as much time to devote to studying God’s Word, but the point is that we need to model the daily habit of growing in the Lord, delving into his Word and praying as a way of life. We may not all be church leaders teaching from the pulpit, but we can all lead and impact the most important church — our home, family, children.

Memorize scripture as a family. My parents taught us key verses that became ammunition against temptation, strength during times of difficulty, promises to hope in, or words of encouragement to share with someone in need. Admittedly, I am terrible with bible references, but I know so many verses by heart because we learned them as a family. (Just don’t ask me to give you the reference because I will need for help! I love that keyword search function!)

Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

The earlier our children hide God’s word in their hearts, the better! Last Saturday, during an event called Sword Fight — a bible-fest for homeschoolers — I watched a young girl, Paige, recite lengthy passages from the Bible. When I asked her mom, Dawn, how she was able to commit so much scripture to memory, she told me about Sing the Word. Here is a clip of her daughter reciting all the verses she learned from A to Z. Paige Ong recites 26 Bible verses from memory at age 5

Give your children a basic foundation in apologetics. Our children need to know the basis of faith, that it is objective and sound, not faith for the sake of faith. My parents made sure we understood who Jesus is and that he is who he claimed to be. They gave us the foundations of what we believe — answers to questions like who is God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit? Can we really believe in the resurrection? Is the Bible accurate, reliable, and trustworthy? How can one be assured of salvation and why?

I know apologetics sounds intimidating but the apostle Peter commands all of us to be able to defend the hope that is in us — to be certain of what we believe so that when difficult times come, we will not waiver.

1 Peter 3:14-15 “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.”

If you need help with apologetics, these sites are great tools for uncovering the basis of faith and truth: Jesus – fact or fiction, Answers in Genesis for Kids and Parents , Find answers to your faith questions with investigative journalist, Lee Strobel.

Involve your children in ministry. When my siblings and I were kids, we got to attend my parents’ bible studies, outreach activities, and even counseling sessions (depending on the gravity of the case). This exposure to ministry allowed us to observe and learn from the mistakes and right choices of others. It made us realize that Satan has the same strategy to bait and destroy people, but the packaging of the temptation is customized for each individual.

Avoid hypocrisy at all costs. The other day, Edric and I were discussing how we need to be vigilant about the example we set for our children. We cannot be the type of parents who say one thing and do the opposite. I can’t remember where I got this quote, but I think it poignantly illustrates the problem of hypocrisy. “As Christians, we often shoot each other on the battlefield of life.” Are we shooting our children down and destroying their convictions because we do not practice what we preach? Are we causing them to stumble?

Matthew 18:6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

After being homeschooled I went to an American Christian school where most of the kids were children of missionaries. It was a great school and I made some wonderful friends, but it was sad to see that a number of kids were not committed Christians. They were children of missionaries! In my opinion, missionaries are like the marines of Christianity. I had such high regard for these people who left everything to bring the gospel to third world countries. And as I tried to understand why the kids did not share the same convictions as their parents, many times it was because the parents were not the same people at home as they were out on the mission field. At home, they were cranky, short-tempered, or too busy to be intentional with their kids. While these parents did not represent the majority, I witnessed enough damage to learn a valuable lesson about parenting. Hypocrisy is a faith-killer in the lives of our children. It will turn them off. While I believe in the power and grace of God to remedy our failings, do we really want to take a chance on the lives of our kids?

If our children are to grow in wisdom, they must see true wisdom in us first. James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” May we all exercise the wisdom from above and see it bear fruit in the lives of our children. Then, we won’t have to worry about things like punk Barbies!


The Most Well-Mannered are the Most Well-Socialized

Most parents who ask me about socialization mean well. Their general perception is that homeschooled kids are isolated from the world and lack opportunities to be with their peers. What I find interesting is that parents can be more concerned about the number of friends their children interact with rather than their social development.

I like the way this site described social development in children. “Social development refers to the process by which a child learns to interact with others around them. As they develop and perceive their own individuality within their community, they also gain skills to communicate with other people and process their actions. Social development most often refers to how a child develops friendships and other relationships, as well how a child handles conflict with peers.” Social Development in Children

The reality is, I seldom meet a child who is unable to make friends, whether homeschooled or not. Children are relational, some may be more quiet or reserved than others, but if you put two children who do not know each other in a room together, they will gravitate towards each other and be friends in no time.

As parents, our greater concern ought to be equipping our children with social graces. Are they well-mannered and polite? Do they know how to be sensitive to cultural differences? Are they comfortable at formal occasions or gatherings? Do they know when to avoid drawing attention to themselves?

Three weeks ago, Edric and I realized how important it is to prioritize our children’s “social instruction.” Both of us decided to take our kids to Isabela without bringing along our house help. We said,”Wouldn’t it be great to bring all four children without any yayas? Let’s try doing everything ourselves!”

After being with American homeschooling families (who had an average of seven children), Edric and I thought four didn’t seem like too many. He was going to be preaching at a church in Isabela that weekend but I didn’t have to do anything except watch the kids so I was totally okay with that. I usually like to be really hands on with the kids anyway.

At first, I thought that things were under control. From eating, to bathing, to brushing teeth, to walking in a particular order, to seating arrangements and sleeping places, to responsibilities, the kids were complying. Then, a mortifying thing happened. During a special dinner that was prepared for us, one of our older sons blurted out,”I hate this food!” Not only was the comment totally rude, it came at the worst time. Edric and I had just been talking about home education and all its benefits. (Isn’t it amazing how God teaches humility?!) Since we were at a restaurant with fifteen other people, we waited till we were alone with the children to talk to them.

Edric used the occasion to teach all of our boys a lesson on social graces. He shared that we must always consider what we say, reminding them of Ephesians 4:29 which says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” He explained that there is a positive and polite way to say that you don’t like something. Furthermore, he encouraged them to focus on being affirming towards people and circumstances.

The boys took it well. The very next day, our son who had made a mistake during dinner tried to apply what Edric told him. He sincerely complimented a friend with whom we spent the next morning. “Thank you for being so nice,” our son said, “You stayed with us at the airport, helped us with our bags, gave us food…” (He enummerrated several things that he appreciated.) Edric and I told him that we were so blessed and proud of him for obeying and applying what he learned about positive words.

Even though our children are pretty responsive and in agreement that social graces are important, so far, we are on an uphill climb. We find ourselves having to remind our boys of little things like…

“Please don’t pick your nose in public.”
“Please let women through a door before you enter.”
“Please don’t run into an elevator when people are exiting.”
“Please modulate your voice so you are not being loud.”
“Please say ‘please’ and ‘excuse me’ and ‘thank you’.”
“Please do not interrupt adults when they are talking.”
“Please ask permission from the host of a home or occasion when you want to borrow, play with, or go somewhere as a guest.”
“Please modify your behavior when you are getting too rowdy in a public place.”
“Please answer and look people in the eye when you are being spoken to.”
“Please say ‘nice to meet you’ when you are being introduced.”

The list goes on and on. Sometimes it feels like trying to take the jungle out of three Tarzans!

However, Edric and I are committed to teaching our children manners and etiquette. As much as possible, we do not let them get away with inappropriate, discourteous, disrespectful, or socially ignorant responses to situations. We try to do one or a combination of the following when we need to address their behavior:

– We have a family conference, dialogue, or Bible study on the character trait that applies.
– Edric or myself will take a child aside to have a serious talk with him so he can apologize or correct the person he has wronged, and change his behavior.
– Our children are disciplined if a clear rule or command was broken.

Teaching manners can be so overwhelming so we emphasize the essence of it, the “what.” This is found in Philippians 2:3. “Do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind consider others as more important than yourself.” This is the character trait of “deference.” Deference is about putting others before yourself — making their needs more important than your own. When I was a child, my parents also made Matthew 7:12 a golden rule for relating to others. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”

But even beyond the “what” is the “why”, the higher motivation for social graces. When I said to Edric, “Hon, maybe we are passing on the pressure of appearances to our children by being particular about their behavior.” And he was quick to correct me, “Hon, I don’t agree with you. Appearances are important when you are representing the Lord.”

As I thought about this, I realized that he was correct. 1 Peter 2:12 challenges us to live an exemplary life, to live in an excellent way so that people will glorify God by our lives. Matthew 5:16 also says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

If we claim to be followers of Jesus, but our children behave in all kinds of socially inappropriate ways then how can this bring glory to God’s name?

We are not called to be perfect, but we are called to pursue a standard of excellence. At the same time, this does not give us the right to criticize others or look down on families whose children have not been taught right conduct. It does mean that we are accountable for the testimony of our family. And our children need to understand that if they claim to know Jesus and have a relationship with him, then their lives have to reflect this in the most excellent way.

Fortunately, because of homeschooling, Edric and I are around our children alot and they are exposed to what Chris Klicka called, “real world” socialization. According to Klicka, “Homeschool kids are completely prepared for the ‘real world’ of the workplace and the home. They relate regularly with adults and follow their examples rather than the examples of foolish peers. They learn based on ‘hands on’ experiences and early apprenticeship training.” Socialization: Homeschoolers Are in the Real World

Since our children have many ‘real world’ socialization opportunities, we are given the best contexts in which to teach manners. We don’t cover a book on “good morals and right conduct” as a subject, although we have a great etiquette book and character book as references. Instead, we watch our children’s social behaviour closely and train them as a way of life. I believe this is a benefit to homeschooling that is worth mentioning. But every family can have well-mannered children, whether homeschooled or not.

The reality is, we all need help in this area. Parenting our children so they have a heart for God, as well as obey and respect us is enough of a challenge. So to imagine having to go further to raise them to be ladies and gentlemen seems equivalent to the feat of climbing Mt. Everest. Few try and few make it. Haven’t people been saying for years, “chivalry is dead.” And add to that a comment I read on a site by a disgruntled man that went something like this, “I don’t get why women complain so much about men not being gentlemen when women these days are far from lady-like. They want a man with traditional values but they don’t know how to be a traditional woman.” Touché.

So there is a shortage of both species today. But we, as parents, can do something about it by beginning with our families. If you feel helplessly flawed and incapable of reaching this standard, take comfort in this verse which has been a comfort to me. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) This verse tells me God knows my flaws as a parent. He knows Edric’s flaws and my children’s flaws but if we do our part to stay connected to him, he will supply the grace and power we need to live the life he has called us to.

Let’s aim for the highest standard, not for ourselves, so that we can look good or so that our children will use it for personal gain, but because God has called us to be radically excellent for his glory.

And remember, homeschooled or not, it is the most well-mannered children who are the most well-socialized!

Essential Pre-Reading Skills

Checklist for your toddler:

  • Vocabulary – Knowing the name of things.
  • Print Awareness – Noticing print, knowing how to handle a book and knowing how to follow the words on a page. (left to right)
  • Letter Knowledge: Knowing letters are different from each other, knowing their names and sounds and recognizing letters everywhere.
  • Phonological Awareness: Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.
  • Print Motivation: Being interested in and enjoying books.
  • Narrative Skills: Being able to describe things and events and tell stories.

Reference –$LhdHdev$aSSNl1Q%3D%3D61662

Ideas for you:




  • Letter stamps to spell name



Examples of materials that encourage pre-reading skills in our home: (Most of these images are linked. Just click on the image.)

Alphabet Tub Letters (Baby and Co. has something similar to this)

Sing, Spell, Read, and Write for Preschool (We used the K/1 Level Combo Kit without using the books for our toddlers)


Wood Alphabet Blocks (There's a smaller version available at National Bookstore)

Alphabet Stamp Set

Wall Stickers -- Alphabet

Letter Peg Puzzle

Some books and stories my kids have enjoyed (available at Fully Booked or Amazon):

Helpful Resources:

Related posts:




Rice Mill Field Trip

During our recent trip to Isabela, the kids got to visit the biggest rice mill in the Philippines. It was very educational and alot of fun for the kids and for Edric and I!
















High Streeting the Afternoon

We may not have a big backyard but this one will do for now…







Doodle-ly Art

I love this find at Fully Booked in High Street! It contains black and white graphics that the kids can fill in or add their personal designs to and it’s just 240 pesos.



The 75/25 Principle

On the trip from Branson, Missouri to Sacramento, I devoured Dr. John Rosemond’s book, Parenting by the Book. Check out his site at As America’s most widely-read parenting expert, he has authored numerous books on parenting and is on demand as a speaker all around the United States. Some of his other works include, Parenting The Strong-Willed Child , Making the “Terrible” Twos Terrific, Because I Said So , The NEW Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children, Toilet Training Without Tantrums .

He has a very unique perspective as a Christian psychologist and confesses to having bought into all the psychological theories and perspectives that flourished in the 1960s before he became a Christian. He claims that after the 1960’s parenting in America changed for the worse. As a Christian who knows psychology and Bible truth, he explains that the root problem of people, children included, is our sinful nature. Pyschologists subscribe to things like “behaviour modification,” but experimenting on rats does not reveal the truth about human nature.

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, as Proverbs tells us, and parents have got to take back their position of leadership in the home to train their children in the way they should go. Of course all of this is still done in the context of love.

One of the most interesting parts of the book was the revelation that most parents today do 75% parenting and 25% marriage. Last week when I gave a seminar on Learning Styles, I asked the audience, “What do you parents talk about when you get together with other parents? How about when you are with your spouse?” They answered, “the kids.” I’m guilty of this, too! How often have I inserted the children as a topic of conversation during date nights with Edric? They just keep coming up and are so top of mind! Rosemond asked us the same question during the HSLDA conference in Missouri. His point was parents have become so child-centered in their parenting. It really should be 75% marriage, 25% parenting and not the other way around.

Rosemond painted a picture of the good ol’ days. He said that when a husband would come home, he looked forward to being with his wife. And the wife would be ready to meet him at the door. By the time her husband came home, she would have made sure that the home was in order, she was physically presentable, and the kids were managed. But nowadays, a father will come home and his first instinct will be to pay attention to the kids. He is seen as the playful and fun one by the children. While this may seem like a great thing, Rosemond says that many times this is pretty much the only role a father will perform when it comes to parenting. He doesn’t really discipline or disciple his children, that has been relegated to the wife’s department.

But there’s an even bigger problem. Children are no longer seeing their parents love each other as husband and wife. He warns that children who do not grow up seeing a healthy, loving relationship modeled by their parents, grow up insecure. They are much more secure when they know that mom and dad prioritize each other and have a strong marriage. This includes seeing them be romantic and sweet with one another.

Edric and I were happy when we heard this because we have always believed in couple time and getting away to be together without the kids. We still have our date nights and we make a conscious effort to be romantic with each other. Edric does a better job of it than I do! But, for a while we felt guilty when the kids would say things like, “Aww, you are going out again? Can’t we go, too?” But after hearing Rosemond’s talk, we realized that the guilt was not necessary. Our children need to know that our time together is important and it is a priority. Loving each other as husband and wife will enable us to love them better as our children. That is how God designed it – marriage first, then the kids.

Sadly, child-centered parenting is one of the reasons why so many children are problematic. Parents over-protect, over-serve, over-manage their children, so much so that the children are literally the center of the home. In some ways I was like this with my first child, which is why I didn’t sleep train him till much later than he should have been. It was really to my detriment. I must have aged ten years from all the sleep deprivation. But I was afraid that if I let my baby cry at night and didn’t pick him up, I would psychologically damage him or that I was a bad mom. Well, guess what? A very wise couple said something like this to us, “you have to train your child to sleep through the night by 3 months or that window closes.” That window sure closed for us! We didn’t try to sleep train him until much later and our son kept waking up to breastfeed throughout the night until the age of nearly 2 years.

With my subsequent children, I became a little smarter. They were trained to sleep through most of the night by 2.5 months and I was a happy mom. I still got to breastfeed them but I made them adjust to my schedule. And they all turned out very fine (so far, at least!).

I know many people who have semblances of the 75% parenting and 25% marriage going on in their families. Just the other day I was speaking to a friend who told me that she and her husband have built a beautiful new home but they have not gotten to sleep in their bedroom yet. They have been sleeping on the floor of their sons’ room because their kids want them to stay in the room with them. When she found out that my kids put themselves to bed and sleep in their own room, she was shocked. And I was shocked that she was shocked.

It is really quite common that parents and kids all sleep together in the same room (at least in the Philippines), but this is a no-no. It is emblematic of the 75% parenting and 25% marriage issue. Of course I shared with this friend my concern and I was very honest with her, saying that she and her husband need to transfer to their own room and let their kids get used to sleeping on their own, even if they have to cry for a few nights to adjust. (Our youngest has already turned one, so she will be moving out to her own room as well. We’ve got to figure that out though because we are still in our condo.)

Having your master’s bedroom to yourself as husband and wife is just one of the ways you can send a clear message to your children that they need to respect your relationship as husband and wife. You are not bad parents if you let your kids sleep in their own room, and trust me, they don’t need a yaya or nanny to be in there with them. And, spending on another airconditioner will be worth it. Once you experience what it is like to have your own private space just for couple time, you will want to keep it that way. It does wonders for a marriage. But don’t forget to add date nights and couple bonding, too.

I can’t remember who wrote this, but I remember reading somewhere that “marriage does not naturally make a husband and wife grow closer to one another. In fact, the very opposite is often the tendency. People naturally grow apart in marriage unless you work at it.” If we are so busy being parents and putting all our energy into parenting, how can we possibly be working on our marriage? We really need to make a conscious effort to preserve the intimacy, romance, enjoyment, and fun.

75% God-centered marriage + 25% God-centered parenting makes family life 100% better!


Edric and I enjoying the grass after we took a drive to Brooklyn. We had a lot of couple time during this trip and after 3 weeks we were ready to get back to the kids!



Edric and I at Central Park pretending to be the "Romeo and Juliet" statues. Hey! I guess the statues weren't showing a kiss. Oh well!


1955 to 2011. What is Your Legacy?

When Steve Jobs’ passed from this earth a page on Apple’s site read, “Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”

Steve Jobs. 1955 to 2011.

During the HSLDA conference in Branson, Missouri, last September, I listened to a speaker by the name of Arnold Pent III talk about “faith.” He began by reciting the entire book of Hebrews 11 beginning with one of my favourite passages, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

A man now in his 70’s, with successful businesses in real estate, oil and energy, Arnold recounted the days of his youth and the legacy of faith his parents passed on to him. Hebrews 11 was only one of the many books of the Bible he and his siblings memorized as children. This was back in the 1950s.

Arnold Pent’s father instituted one very important thing in his home – that all his children would be saturated in the word of God. When he came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, Arnold’s father decided to walk away from his very successful cigar business, go into ministry and begin a fertilizer business. They didn’t have a lot of money. In fact, they were a travelling family, earning their money from place to place. But Arnold said they had, “the riches of faith.”


At 18, he wrote the book, Ten P’s in a Pod. It is the only book he ever wrote, but it is significant to the homeschooling community because it talks about his experience as a homeschooled child, together with his siblings. (Edric and I were so blessed to receive a free copy! I am looking forward to reading it.)

The first thing they did in the morning was wake up to read their Bible, have breakfast, followed by another hour and a half of scripture memorization. If the children said, “Dad, we don’t have time for more Bible,” Arnold’s father would say, “Then, we ought to skip breakfast.” (Wow, parents have certainly gotten much too soft over the years!)

The study of scripture was the only real education Arnold received as a child. His father decided that given the state of public education in America, it was imperative that his children be educated at home. And it was the greatest education they could have ever received.

I continued to listen intently as he shared the rest of his story. And it was this one point that really impacted me.  “Live beyond your means.” He meant this in the spiritual sense. A life of faith that is surrendered to God and dependent on him experiences the greatest blessing.

Most people live under their means. Once again, this is spiritually speaking.  What do I mean? I’ve been guilty of this. Many times I have believed that amassing wealth is necessary for security and a measure of happiness. My husband, Edric, and I have this joke between us that goes something like this, “Who says money can’t buy happiness when it can certainly buy a little bit of it?!” We’ve often said this when we are enjoying a family vacation, a good dinner, or the ability to buy something we like. And we can make the mistake of thinking that if we focus our efforts on making more money, the better off we will be. But, the greatest security I should have in this life is my personal relationship with God. God “will supply all my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 4:19)

I don’t need to worry about whether Edric and I will have enough to provide well for our children. If we continue to follow God and be faithful in our roles as husband and wife, in parenting our children to love him, in business practices, in ministry, and in our relationships with others, then we will experience a life beyond our means, courtesy of God himself!

As Arnold Pent closed his talk, he shared that his sons wrote him personal letters during his last birthday. These letters all read something like this, “Dad, thank you for saturating me in the word of God, for pushing me to memorize scripture and grow in faith. It was the greatest legacy you passed on to us.” This was probably the only time in his talk that Pent was moved to tears. And Edric and I started to tear, too, as we asked ourselves, what legacy are we passing on to our children?

Edric and I came away from that talk inspired to reemphasize the study of Scriptures with our kids and to be a family that truly lives by faith. And yes, to keep homeschooling so we can effectively do this!

Few can be like Steve Jobs, but guess what?  God calls us to be so much more. The world praises Jobs for his legacy of genius, but the highest of all successes is a legacy of faith.  I saw this in the Pent family – a family with a spiritual heritage of 5 generations and counting…




Essential Pre-Math Skills

It is often easier for toddlers to understand a math concept if they experience it concretely first and if they can connect it to their daily life experiences.  I’ve seen this approach work with my kids. Therefore, I try to avoid worksheets when they are little until they have a good grasp of pre-math concepts. 

Checklist for your toddler:

  • Knows shapes and can identify shapes in his environment.
  • Identifies numbers (1 to 10 or more) and understands that numbers are symbols that represent how many. For example: * * * is 3.
  • Makes comparisons (ex. fewer or more)
  • Understands positions (inside and outside, left and right, left, middle and right, above and below, top and bottom, under)
  • Classifies based on attributes (ex. sorting by same color, same size, same texture, etc.)
  • Can follow a simple sequence or pattern
  • Familiar enough with local currency to identify 25 cents, 1 peso, ten pesos, etc.
  • Differentiates between size (long and short, tall and short, light and heavy, holds more or less, wide and narrow)



Ideas for you (videos):

Some examples of materials that encourage pre-math skills in our home: (Most of these images are linked. Just click on the image.)

Marbles as counters

Bath numbers and shapes

Magna Tiles

Shapes and Sorting - Turn the Wheel Book

Number Peg Board

Matching Shapes and Colors

Geometric Stacker

Magnetic Numbers

Beginner Pattern Blocks

Helpful Resources:

How to teach position and direction

See also…Essential Pre-writing Skills and Homeschooling the Toddler Years