Category Archives: Homeschool

Brighter and Happier Kids: The Power of Creative Play

Creative play is one of the most important facets of learning. It helps young learners develop a strong appreciation for learning while it prepares them for more complex lessons in the future. In learning, everything begins with love and appreciation, never with fear and intimidation. Creative play is a process that allows kids to use sensory experiences to discover things, develop math skills by playing with patterns and shapes, as well as encourage communication skills. Homeschooling gives kids an environment where they can freely explore and focus on their own interests. They hone their skills at their own pace and communicate their questions directly to their parents and other adults around them. Homeschooling and creative play are integrated, and this is why there is a huge success rate for homeschoolers and unschoolers around the world.

creative play using oli's boxship
Can’t wait to see them grow!

One of the challenges of homeschooling is putting together materials you need for creative play. Yes, it’s easy to go to the store and load up on art and other creative materials (I can do this all day!), but conceptualizing projects for creative play is a totally different story. There are many things to consider like age — so you can create age-appropriate activities, the safety and quality of materials, and making sure you never get near the shores of boredom. Creative play has to be a good mix of fun and learning. If it sounds like a lot of work, it is. However, it is one of the most fulfilling activities you can do at home with your young ones.

apron coloring
First, she makes her apron from Oli’s Boxship colorful.

Some of the exciting things we’ve done include making paper planes, boats, and all sorts of vehicles with imaginary engines; all kinds of fun and colorful jewelry; room designs; and we’ve also done fun science experiments like volcano eruptions (thanks to the very magical baking soda) and lava lamps. Attika loves making slimes and she has experimented on different kinds with colors, scents and whatnot. We have also planted seeds and herbs, of which some sadly didn’t survive — but hey, there’s also a lot of learning that goes into that experience, too.

And talking about growing things…

My daughter and I were recently talking about Christmas. We were thinking about the presents we wanted to give, and ones we secretly wanted to receive this year. A few days later,  we got through mail what we would consider our first and very early Christmas gift — the Farmer’s Garden from Oli’s Boxship!

An early Christmas gift from Oli! It’s one box that offers a lot of activities.

Meet Oli’s Boxship and Why This Box is Full of Wonders

oli's boxship materials, creative play project
Creative play using materials from Oli’s Boxship offers convenience to parents and teachers.

Oli’s Boxship is a one-of-its-kind subscription for creative play. Truth be told, parents don’t always have the energy to put together materials for creative play. There’s always that kilometric list of chores and things to do following us around. We have been homeschooling for many years now, and although the effort is so much lesser now that Attika is eight years old and has become more independent, I can’t help but recall the challenges we had when she was still very young. When I discovered Oli’s Boxship, I knew it would send a lot of parents cartwheeling. Oli’s Boxship has different themes like Galactic Galaxy, Animal Kingdom, Color My World and many more. Oli’s Boxship is delivered to your doorstep with your kid’s name on it. It’s like receiving a Christmas gift every month, only it’s from Oli, not Santa.

The one thing that I love about Oli’s Boxship is the convenience of not having to worry about what to do for the day if you were not able to prepare anything. You simply open the box and begin a new discovery. It is also a great way to move them away from gadgets and get them busy with things they can really learn from. Oli’s Boxship encourages interaction among family members and that means everyone is communicating and doing something together while having fun. I personally love the quality of the materials inside the box. Nothing in the entire package goes to waste. The Farmer’s Garden box, for instance, serves as a pretty planter holder for the alfalfa and radish sprouts that Attika got from Oli.

I love Oli’s Boxship because it’s fun to do! I also really like the part where I discover what’s in the box. Now, I’m just going to wait for my plants to grow and I can’t wait! ~ Attika

Now we wait for her new babies to grow.

Why Creative Play Makes Kids Happy and More Intelligent

Creative play benefits children in a lot of ways. Science has not shied away from admitting that there are cognitive advantages to letting kids explore. After all, exploration is a kind of investigation, and we know that it is the curious mind that benefits more from this world. As a mom, I love it that creative play strengthens the bond between the parents and their children. Singing together, reading to them, counting with them, positively interacting with them all point to kids who are spending no less than quality time with their parents.

Here are some of the benefits of creative play:

It fosters emotional strength.  Children love to express their emotions and providing a positive outlet for them makes them feel secure. Studies say that emotionally strong people come from families who have a loving, supportive environment at home where someone readily listens and interacts with then. This feeling of security will also lead the way for creative expression later on.

It helps develop math skills. Counting, reading and writing numbers, classifying, studying patterns and shapes all help in building foundational skills in Mathematics. Learning through play also significantly reduces the fear in numbers.

It develops communication skills. When children are presented with materials, they describe orally what they’re seeing and, in turn, their vocabulary is expanded. It impacts their language centers.

It hones motor skills. Activities such as cutting, drawing, folding and pasting refine motor skills in children. Art helps them practice their skills in hand control, which may be challenging for them at first.

It develops self-esteem. When children create something new they realize that they have the ability to create something unique that no one has thought of before. They are also given the opportunity to receive compliments.

When you give children a venue for fun and creative learning, you help them develop skills that they will need later on in their lives. You also move them away from the virtual world that we know is very detrimental to their cognitive development.

So why are kids indulged in creative play happier? It is because they get to spend time with people who are important to them. They explore new worlds in a safe environment. Art helps them express their feeling and thoughts, and this process of self-expression is essential to their growing up years and throughout their adult life.

When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college — that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?” ~ Howard Ikemoto

creative play, oli’s boxship, developmental learning, importance of play, why children should play, helping kids become smarter, how to make kids happy, cure for mondays, smart parenting, manila mommy blog, homeschooling

Using Media to Enhance Homeschool Curriculum

We are the only people we know who are not subscribed to a cable service, or who do not watch television. For some reason, people find that “strange” about us. When asked why, and believe me, we often get asked WHYYYY, Alex and I tell them that we don’t want our kids’ frontal lobes fried. Kidding aside, we don’t want our kids’ frontal lobes fried.

More than that, we don’t enjoy advertising companies telling our kids that it is perfectly fine to drink powdered juice with aspartame or that too much sugar and instant food are okay.

When you leave your kids to watch television it leaves you little control of the language, ideas and concepts that are presented to them.

Using Media to Enhance Homeschool Curriculum

This does not mean though that we are detached from media. As a matter of fact, we enjoy using media to enhance homeschool curriculum. We have quite an obsession with movies, science videos and short films. Alex dedicates a huge portion of his time reviewing films and videos so he has a database where we pull out our family-friendly movies that inspire and stimulate learning. You can’t blindly rely on films labeled ‘child-friendly’ as some of them have themes your child may not yet be ready for. Homeschooling gives you the opportunity to be mindful of the exposure of your kids to films, music, literary work and the like.

I am happy to partner with PureFlix and their Homeschool Curriculum Movie Resources where they find you help the right content to help you enhance your child’s education by using media to enhance homeschool curriculum. Find my tips below.

Photo courtesy of Pureflix

Becoming a Working, Homeschooling Mom

I published this article in 2012, the year when we decided to go back to homeschooling. It’s been six years and people continue to ask what made us decide to homeschool. I’m very glad that over the years, more and more parents have also started homeschooling or are now considering to start homeschooling their children. One of the best gifts we can give our children is time — time with them and time to focus on things that they are interested in. They are important and we have to make them feel that. We want our children to grow up as intelligent, strong, healthy, conscientious, kind, loving and most of all, happy individuals. Homeschooling allows us to work on all of that every day and best of all, together.

I admit that the idea of homeschooling and becoming a stay-at-home mom scared me so much. I knew that there were a lot of benefits in bringing education home, but there was this nagging fear inside me because I knew that it would change everything in our lives. Everything! True enough, it did. And everything changed for the better. The fact that my son was so much happier and actually had time for things he was genuinely interested in when he was younger (like Greek mythology) was enough to prove that we made the best decision for us as a family. Our son also became healthier, more energetic, more thirsty for knowledge.

I’m sharing this again because a lot of moms e-mail me to express how much they want to homeschool, but are very scared to do so. If you’re one of them, please know that I truly understand all those questions that keep you awake at night: What if I can’t do it right? What if I lose my patience? What if my child/children refuse to listen to me? What if I don’t have enough energy for this?

I have been there, so I understand. What I did initially was to do in-depth research about homeschooling and discuss everything with my husband over and over again. He was very patient with me and never got tired of listening to me when I’d repeatedly tell him about all the doubts I had in the world. It would help a lot if you discussed all your concerns and goals with your partner so you could build a good foundation for your home school.

Cure for Mondays is an extension of my thoughts, an attempt to a creative form of expression, a platform for my experiences as a homeschooling mother, our experiences as a homeschooling family, learning experiences, sometimes random thoughts (or nothingness), food, recipes and healthy, natural options for our family.

Like my husband, I also do not get tired of answering questions and I encourage you to ask. You may e-mail me at

The decision to go from working mom to SAHM was a bit scary to make, but there’s not a day when I’m not thankful I made the move. Just an update…now that the kids are a bit older, I once again dove into the publishing world and have been enjoying my editorial work tremendously. I’m doing it full time from home, so yes, I have the best of both worlds.

One of the things I consider a great blessing is getting featured in 9 Homeschooling Moms We Love by The Asian Parent. Light and Love to those who acknowledged our efforts!

Now here is the original post from 2012:

Today is Cole’s last day of classes. Today is also his last day in school. We were on our toes for weeks waiting for this day. The end of his days in school is the beginning of our journey into homeschooling. After four long years, my husband and I realized that we turned our backs on something that made it all wonderful for Cole, and for us as a family. We started homeschooling Cole when he was five years old, a time when others bring their kids to play schools. He learned how to read at the age of six, and he could do three of the basic operations in Math: addition, subtraction, and multiplication. If I remember it correctly we saved division for later when he turned seven.

Unlearning in School

When he was seven years old, we had to make what seemed to us then was a wise decision. We put him through school. Sometime in the middle of the school year in first grade, we began to feel that we might have made the wrong decision. For some reason, Cole began “unlearning” some of the things that he had known the months before he started school. All the fun in Math was suddenly gone and he was constantly confused. That was just the beginning of it all. It was also a time in my life when I went back to a career in publishing, then the corporate world, so putting him in school seemed like the right option for us. Every morning the parents go to work, and the son goes to school. It sounded right and attuned to the norm. Then it dragged on for four long years. In those four years, something was nagging my husband and me. Cole became disinterested in stuff that he used to really like and seemed to be always tired.

Communication is Key

One time when he was in third grade, I asked him what the problem was. My son discussed to us in detail what made school so uninteresting.

Some of the problems he mentioned included:

1. Too many people in the classroom (most schools in the Philippines, both public and private, have at least 40 students). The teacher hardly has time to check on individual student work and there was minimal student-teacher interaction.

2. Kids spoke bad words and answered their parents back in public.

3. Some teachers would get irritated when he’d ask questions.

4. A teacher in one of the schools he attended brought a curling iron and started fixing her hair in front of the class.

When he was in third grade, he asked if he could be homeschooled again. We said yes. However, we kind of pushed it a little bit more thinking that a reputable private school would solve the problem for us.

Cole was quite happy in that school during the first few months and Cole’s adviser even told us that he adjusted well and fast enough for a new student. But that feeling of happiness was short-lived, and we started feeling once again that something was not right. He would come home tired with loads of homework to do, and there would be lessons he’d be clueless about, but was forced to understand — all because the teacher had to breeze through some of them to make sure they’d be on time with the lesson plans. We respect teachers’ lesson plans; we just don’t think lessons plans do their job all the time.

Working Mom to SAHM

Whether to go back to homeschooling or not was initially my call. One of my fears was becoming a stay-at-home mom because I started working at the age of 18 and had tremendously enjoyed life being a working mother (even if I had slips in my choices of jobs along the way). My husband was patient and did not push me to make a decision right away. But the Universe has a way of answering questions and straightening out confusion. Our answer came in a small box called a pregnancy test. It was a miracle of miracles because I thought I’d never get pregnant again. Yet there it was, delivered straight from the heavens to our doorstep. The tiny seed growing in my tummy would later become Attika Xafiyya Ssian Sade. As soon as we confirmed through my OB-Gyne that indeed there was an earthling growing inside me, my husband put his feet down and said, “Welcome back, homeschooling!” And pure bliss hugged me.

So here we are, finally back home! I’m also delighted at the discovery that there are so many homeschooling parents in the Philippines now. The numbers significantly grew over the years and this means more and more kids are spending quality time at home and are getting a lot of love and learning from teacher parents who genuinely care for them.