My five-year-old nephew is so excited to see his classmates when school opens in less than three weeks, it doesn’t matter if he socializes with them on the screen of their tablets or laptops. Department of Education (DepEd) chief Leonor Briones confirmed that school year (SY) 2020-2021 would start on August 24, adopting blended/distance learning modalities.
Traditional face-to-face classes will not happen until January 2021, when limited physical classes might be allowed in low-risk areas.

Data from the Learner Enrollment and Survey Form showed that 8.8 million parents preferred modular while 3.9 million voted for blended learning, which combines different modalities: module, television and radio, and radio with online. To understand some challenges of the learning delivery modalities, I talked to three mothers about their kids’ education — home schooling was Mec’s choice, while Margot’s child uses the blending learning approach of a private school. Angeline, a farmer based in northern Benguet, had no choice but to adapt modular distance learning from DepEd.

Individualized instruction in modular distance learning is useful in remote areas with limited internet access such as mountains. Learners use self-learning modules in print or digital format. They may need home visits by teachers for learners’ remediation or assistance. If it is workable, students could reach their teacher via email, telephone, text message or instant messaging. Angeline told me the mothers with kids from kindergarten to Grade 3 worry that they might spend less time in their vegetable farms. Hiring teaching assistants or para-teachers to help parents who cannot monitor and guide their children is being considered by DepEd in the new-normal setup.ADVERTISING

The blended learning approach used by Margot’s son in Grade 1 uses synchronous and asynchronous sessions. His classes in his private school started this month from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Lessons for the day follow the synchronous sessions done online with their teacher and classmates. Around 20 to 30 minutes of the synchronous sessions followed by an asynchronous session with a guided independent study is his routine from Monday to Friday. They have tasks or seatwork that they have to do on their own. If her son has a question, he could easily reach his teacher in their Google Classroom setup. Her time is spent seated beside her son because he’s not too familiar with navigating the laptop, as most kids these days are more familiar with a tablet’s touch screen, which doesn’t deal with a mouse. It consumes too much of her time that she can’t do other chores. However, she gets a respite during the many breaks in between classes.

Mec, who has been homeschooling her two kids for the past eight years, didn’t doubt her ability to teach, but faced challenges in the discipline of having a system to facilitate instruction. In the time of pandemic, the approach changed because classes that are taken outside the home, such as robotics or music, are now done online. Enrolled with Homeschool Global in their Touch Program, Mec teaches everything unless she outsources materials. Even if her sons take online programs in math, English, science, computer and physical education, Mec reviews their progress and integrates it into other subjects. Attending workshops helps since she meets other families in a similar situation. I know some parents will start with the homeschooling system instead of the of the blended learning approach.

Parents working from home will now have additional work — providing tech support or guidance in their schoolwork. It is difficult adjusting meetings and other tasks with online classes. And considering that at most times, several kids in one family could use only one computer. Both teachers and parents will need additional workshops in the conduct of online classes. For farmers with young kids, they need teaching support, either from DepEd or their community. Private groups and individuals, along with the two big telecommunications companies in the Philippines, are helping students acquire gadgets and affordable internet connection, but this is not crucial for modular distance learning. While these challenges are still being addressed, parents and caregivers can look forward to this new arrangement as an opportunity to be a partner in raising kids with the school in teaching them necessary life skills.

First published at Sunday Business & IT


A few years ago, my younger sister told me to watch the movie “Disconnect” which tackles the issues surrounding the internet from Webcam sex shows, identity theft, and cyber-bullying. Only Robinson Galleria was showing the movie. As an advocate for kids’ web safety, I thought of watching it to see if there is anything new. I won’t write any reviews but the movie can be summed up this way.

Disconnect is three stories, with each plot a dire warning about this new-fangled Internet technology. One story is about a local TV reporter (Andrea Riseborough) and her relationship with a young man (Max Thieriot) who does sex-cam shows. Another follows a married couple (Alexander Skarsgard and Paula Patton) who have their identity stolen, and are plunged further into debt. The third tale revolves around two high school kids (Colin Ford and Aviad Bernstein) who pretend to be a teenage girl on Facebook so they can play a cruel prank on their shy classmate (Jonah Bobo).

There is really nothing new with the movie. ““Disconnect” is best summed up by the words of the cyber detective, ““If you’re going to [expletive] with someone, do it to their face.” While identity theft, cyber-bullying, and underage sex performers are a reality, these do not define the communications in the Internet age. As a mother with kids during the early years of the internet in the mid nineties, I have always followed the golden rule that parenting online isn’t much different than parenting your child when they aren’t in front of a keyboard.

For our kids, social networking is an exciting way to stay informed, grow relationships and have fun.

Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

pew internet parent survey

The fact is “teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they did in the past.” Although there are no studies done in the Philippines, results of a PEW survey of 802 teens that examines teens’ privacy management on social media sites is disturbing (You can read the full report here). Teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they did in the past such as the following:

91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
71% post their school name, up from 49%.
71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
53% post their email address, up from 29%.
20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%.

Knowing that these information may land in the wrong hands is worrisome. I also believe that teens should become more proactive with their safety . They need to be part of the solution. Steps to safeguard them starts when they are younger, way before they are teens.

Parents need to educate them about staying safer and more secure on the internet. If you allow your kids to use social media, safety is knowing the right settings and supervising them . It has to be said again.

1. Educate your kids on the dangers of sharing too much information.

2. Make sure your computer has adequate virus protection to prevent trojans in the computer.

3 . Keep the computer in a social area of the house so it is easy to monitor who your children are interacting with.

Disconnect 1

Caring for our children’s digital footprints


My two girls used a screen moniker when they were pre-teens using the world wide web. There were no social networks before except chat rooms and the comment section of blogs. Safety was my number one concern. Since I cannot cover their eyes, or shadow them everywhere, I needed to teach them how to see and how to behave responsibly. I started them early.

These days, a lot of teens probably don’t know that every time they post publicly, they are leaving their digital footprint. A digital footprint is the data trail one leaves with everything our kids do online. Data is being stored from their smartphone to the Internet and social networks. Parents can gently remind their teens on caring about their digital footprint through this article, Teenagers: Why You Should Care About Your Digital Footprint :

1. Information travels fast and is often taken out of context.

Depending on what it is that you see, take a moment to find out if it’s true. Call your friend or check other news sources,. If you’re not sure, wait

2. Don’t be impulsive.

If you do want an outlet to further explain your thoughts and feelings, think about blogging! Blogging is a more appropriate space for some topics we think about posting on Facebook. If you do decide to blog, be mindful of what you say, how it can be interpreted and what it says about you. It’s still a digital place where your body language can’t be seen.

3. If you wouldn’t say it face to face, don’t say it in the social space.

‘Treat others as you want to be treated’, still applies online.

4. Not everything is personal

Just take a second, breathe and reread a post before responding. Even better, if you’re not sure, privately message your friend and ask them about it.

5. You are not as anonymous as you think

Assume that there is no such thing as privacy. Blogs, emails, websites and comments can be tracked back to you. This shouldn’t scare you, but will help you reconsider your potential online actions.

6. Your online actions could make or break you

College recruiters, potential employers and colleagues will look at your digital footprint. If you wouldn’t say it or show it to your grandma, it probably shouldn’t go online. From photos to status remarks, you should always portray yourself in a positive light.

7.Stop Before You Hit Submit

Consider the reactions of those who see your content. Before you post, think:
Does anyone really care?
Is this really something I want to share or am I just venting?
How would I feel if I was the one receiving or reading that?
Could this hurt someone I know?

While the issues of “Disconnect”, the movie is painfully real, it is not as morbid as it should be. The story of a family disconnected through technology can happen but it is the parent who can keep the family together. There is no need to disconnect from the reality that this is wired generation. Parents should connect with their kids at an early age. Online privacy, cyber-bullying and your digital footprint is a serious matter. We need to remind our children to take of themselves, their reputation and look out for their friends.

I have always stated that family values need to be passed along. Family values passed along to every generation play a monumental role in how our child learns and grows. Defining this time will help our family to understand what is important and what it means when one is talking about issues such as family time, play time, and other larger issues such as spirituality and the beliefs that we wish our child to grow up with.

This is the connection that needs to be defined with our children.

Photo of digital footprint from

Technology inside the classroom is not a new idea. Even though technology progresses, the message is relevant. I came in an era of filmstrip projectors, copy machines, tape recorders, cassette players and television sets. Then VCRs, CD players, DVD players and a myriad of other tools came along. These are forms of technology that have aided teachers and enhanced instruction in the past. Today, Virtual reality (VR) is the future of education. Students will enjoy VR-enabled textbooks and virtual classrooms soon.

The skepticism of VR on our kids is a concern. I dealt with the same apprehension when I first introduced my children to the internet in 1995. The decision to make technology a healthy and positive part of family life was to embrace it. I learned to educate myself about it and go hands-on with new devices, apps, social networks and services wherever accessible.

virtual reality classrooms

Image from Some rights reserved.

A Common Sense research in 2018, titled “Virtual Reality 101: What You Need to Know About Kids and VR,” helps bring clarity by summing up the existing body of studies. The report was co-authored with researchers at Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. Virtual Reality 101 “explores the potential positive and negative effects of VR experiences on kids’ cognitive, social, and physical well-being and its potential to shape young people’s perspectives.” It pays to understand the risks and benefits of VR. Key findings of the paper show:

1. VR is likely to have powerful effects on children because it can provoke a response to virtual experiences similar to a response to actual experiences.

2. The long-term effects of children’s use of immersive VR on their still-developing brains and health are unknown, but most parents are concerned, and experts advocate moderation and supervision.

3. Only one in five US parents (21 percent) today report living in a household with VR, and the majority (65 percent) are not planning to purchase VR hardware. However, the interest levels of US children are high, while parent interest is mixed.

4. Characters in VR may be influential on young children, even more so than characters on TV or computers. This can be good or bad depending on the influence.

5. Students often feel more enthusiasm for learning while using VR, but they do not necessarily learn more through VR than through video or computer games.

6. VR can potentially be an effective tool for encouraging empathy among children, though most parents are skeptical.

7. When choosing VR content, parents should consider whether they would want their children to have the same experience in the real world.

virtual reality classrooms

Image via

VR is evolving and schools and households will embrace this technology in the coming years. It is critical for parents and educators to understand VR’s dynamic effects, as there are not enough studies on how this immersive medium affects a child’s developing brain. More than half of the parents surveyed in this report said they are at least “somewhat concerned” that their children will experience negative health effects while using VR. There is a need for caution with its usage by young children. VR manufacturers have been careful to recognize that the effects of VR on toddlers and the risks are unknown. Except for VR devices targeted toward child users, most companies suggest that children below 12 years old should not use them. The study recommends that adult participants use VR for only 20 minutes at a time without a break. When the lab studies young kids, they are in VR for five minutes or less at any one time to avoid simulator sickness.

As a parent confronted with the internet and personal computers in the mid-nineties, I prefer that my children read a book, or play volleyball than vegetate in front of the computer. Internet and computers were not available in the classrooms. But I thought the internet can have a place at home and I took the risk of exposing them to this technology before it got introduced in their classrooms. Though I don’t have young kids at home. I continue to immerse in new technologies even buying a standalone virtual reality headset to understand the risks and benefits to children. It can be safe, uplifting and a wonderful part of kids’ lives if spent wisely, together with other balanced and healthy daily activities.

You can download the full report “Virtual Reality 101: What You Need to Know About Kids and VR,” at Common Sense is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology.

Helicopter parents take away a child’s character and his ability to do things on his own. This type of parenting is backfiring. – Lisa Hein


I only heard of term, helicopter parenting from Cookie when I asked for suggestions on topics. I did a little research and found out that helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not.

I wondered if I was so I asked Lauren if I was a helicopter parent because I knew at some point I was a protective and strict parent. She said “no”. Sometimes I think I am so laid back but I don’t think I was a helicopter parent except when it came to the internet usage. In 1996, there were very few kids online and I had no one to ask advice on web safety. I learned to let go when the girls were in college but I never hovered like a helicopter when it came to their academics. In fact, I never fussed about their grades except when they needed help on a topic. Part of growing up is learning to stand on their own. The girls knew we were always there to ask for help.

How can you tell if you are a helicopter parent? A parent shared me her article 10 ways to tell if you are a helicopter parent, ten signs that you’re well on the road to driving your children, and yourself, insane. What is disturbing is the results of a study that says ” overly protective parents might be leaving a lasting impact on their child’s personality.” The US study, which surveyed college freshman, is one of the first to try to define exactly what helicopter parenting is, and measure it.

Can you imagine what it will be like in the more conservative Philippine setting? Only 10 % of the students surveyed had helicopter parents. I think I saw a few during registration period in Ateneo when I fetched my daughter after she was done.

What did the study show?

“Students with helicopter parents tended to be less open to new ideas and actions, as well as more vulnerable, anxious and self-consciousness, among other factors, compared with their counterparts with more distant parents.”

“We have a person who is dependent, who is vulnerable, who is self-conscious, who is anxious, who is impulsive, not open to new actions or ideas; is that going to make a successful college student?”

Many educators have been searching for ways to tell parents when to back off. It’s a tricky line to walk, since studies link parents’ engagement in a child’s education to better grades, higher test scores, less substance abuse and better college outcomes. Given a choice, teachers say, overinvolved parents are preferable to invisible ones.

The challenge is helping parents know when they are crossing a line.

My advice is letting go slowly… starting at 8 years old, determine if your child can wean off from your tutorial time, decide extra curricular activities and even making decisions with your guidance. Remember , a certain amount of hovering is understandable when it comes to young kids, but when it persists through high school and college, I think it is so unhealthy for both sides.

‘Give ’em the morals, give ’em the right start, but you’ve got to let them go.’ They deserve to live their own lives.”


Image posted at and

Homeschooling or traditional education

Our eldest daughter just turned three last March but she was already showing signs of interest for school as early as age 2. Her grandmother’s house is right in front of a public school and our own neighborhood is near three schools so it is understandable that her excitement builds up every time the academic year starts as uniformed youngsters dragging along their bags and lunch boxes are fetched by school buses.

But a lot of things are making my husband and me think twice about taking the traditional route to learning. Money-wise, a good pre-school demands tuition fees as high as universities so I started kidding about saving up for college by home schooling our kids now. What started as a joke took a serious turn when a friend bewailed about the stress her son went through as they scouted for a pre-school.

At the age of 4, he was already expected to know how to identify the alphabets and colors, count one to ten, read simple words and write his name. My friend was confident her son would breeze through all the pre-acceptance tests with all the home-training she did with the yaya and he almost did. There were practices that scared the wits out of the little boy. One school made him enter an empty room without proper orientation so when the time came for a teacher to appraise his skills, he made an excuse to see his mother. He said he pooped and had to go to the toilet but actually, all he wanted was to run to the comfort of his mom and convince her to go home. Another school did not like the child’s confidence and branded him disobedient. He was told to count one to ten but he proudly insisted on counting one to twenty. My friend was asked to bring her son back for debriefing to teach him to follow rules. Something is amiss here. A child’s learning has endless possibilities. Why clip his wings before he could even learn to fly?

There goes the dilemma. How do I explain to my excited tyke that school will be home and not in a big building just like where the rest of the kids go? Will we deprive her of the excitement of trudging with her backpack and lunch bag in tow? How will she develop social skills if we take her away from the classroom set-up?

But then again, we see that our daughter is smart for her age (modesty aside) and has great potential for advanced learning. What if conventional school does not meet her needs and limits her enthusiasm to explore? Think with me as the search begins.

Requirements for the parent. The ideal set-up is for one parent to work for sustenance while the other focuses on the tutelage. It could be more challenging for single parents or couples who are employed since she or he has to juggle work with the child’s education. The key is focus and dedication. There are even academies that assist Overseas Filipino Workers to home school their children on line. Dedicating two to three hours of quality time daily is a good start. It becomes easier if the child learns to self-study as she/he grows older.

The Department of Education requires home schooling parents to be college graduates. If the parent feels ill-equipped, guidance for teaching difficult subjects could be drawn from parent support groups, teachers and academic consultants of schools that offer home schooling. In fact, many parents who do not have teaching experiences successfully home school their kids.

Check out learning institutions that offer home school programs accredited by the Department of Education and study their approaches and curriculum to see if it fits your family. Enrolment dates may vary for every school. Before the child is enrolled in the home school program, parents are required to attend the orientation to prepare them for the task.

Home schooling may start when the child reaches 3 ½ years old. For the first grade, the child should be at least 6 years old. Initially the child is assessed by the home schooling academy to enter the Grade 1+ level.

Upon assessment of the child, an academic consultant recommends an appropriate curriculum for the year which will be used as basis for buying materials. Parents may provide another option subject to approval of the academic consultant.

The curriculum will then be furnished by the school. The schedule and place of teaching and creativity in handling the lessons is up to the parent. Preacher Bro. Bo Sanchez capitalized on his son’s passion for horses. From there, lessons on anatomy, arts, culture and even business sprang.

Children are tested annually through a standardized achievement test which serves as a basis on how the kids are faring compared to their peers. The test could also be used as diagnostic tool for the child’s next level. The achievement test measures the child’s proficiency in language, arts, science, math and social studies. Aside from this, there is the regular portfolio review with the academic consultant to monitor their progress.

Dep Ed requires records from Preparatory School to High School. These are usually honoured in conventional academies and universities before accepting the home-schooled child provided he/she passes the entrance examination.

Most of the apprehensions about home schooling are based on the fear that children will be deprived of opportunities for socialization. This is a fallacy. The best socialization happens at home where the child builds his self-confidence on the feeling of security around his family. Home schooling academies also offer opportunities to relate with their contemporaries through weekly meet-ups, summer camps, retreats, field trips, clubs and on-line organizations.

Less Expense. Although parents who decide to teach their kids at home have to spend for curriculum materials, field trips and out-of-town excursions, the expense for home schooling is way lower than the tuition fees, miscellaneous fees, transportation and daily allowances.

More peace of mind. With all the headlines on crimes committed against children and bullying occurring in schools, we could not help but be more wary and protective of our little girls. Home schooling seems a better option to shield them from the exploitations of the world and unnecessary bad experiences that may scar them for life.

More time for building relationships. My chum Tess confesses that home schooling her two boys could really be so physically taxing especially now that she is pregnant with their third child but the joy of deepening bonds with her sons is definitely priceless.

More edge. Studies show that home schooled children excel more since their learning is designed one-on-one and the parent adjusts to the readiness of the child to learn.

Some of the home schooled children are scientist Albert Einstein, most of the US presidents including Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, writer Mark Twain, nurse Florence Nightingale and the list goes on. Who knows? Your child may just be the next in the long line of achievers and shakers.

Photo: “Olivia working on homeschooling” by Ann, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

by Jasmine Barrios

“Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.”Lawrence Kasdan


““Grades matter,” I often told my little girls, “but only as a stepping stone to getting to your college choice. Those grades are yours, not mine.” I often reminded them as they poured over their books. When my eldest daughter stopped receiving honors in her third grade, I asked her, ““Do you want to be an honor student?” She folded her arms and shook her head miserably. No, she didn’t want the pressure. ““Okay, fine. Get the best grades you can achieve.” My other girl seemed more driven, wanting to achieve higher grades. That’s the reality of school. Grades are needed to bring you from one level to another. How involved was I with my children’s homework?

I made it a priority to establish good and effective study habits starting at six years old. I bought study tables during their first grade, complete with book and paper organizers. The sturdy table lasted them till their early college years when I decided to discard it when we moved to a new home.

A study routine was set between dinner and bed time. It was early dinner at 6:00p.m. and study hours from 6:30 p.m. till 9:00 p.m. I stressed that they had to finish their homework or studies within that time frame so they could sleep at exactly 9:00 p.m. Television time was definitely out of the picture except for Friday night and the weekend. The girls never complained. They knew that television time will eat up their study hours. I also believed that once used to a study routine, it will be mutually beneficial for both of us. They learn good study habits and in turn , I will not get stressed out with their homework.

During their first till third grades, monitoring their homework was necessary to set the routine. If my child faced a difficult lesson, we both tried to solve it. I felt that I shouldn’t stress out over my children’s tasks. I also believed that parent involvement need not interfere with learning. For example, even if I am good in math, I did not want to confuse my children with the teaching techniques offered in the classroom. Their school used finger math, which is alien to me. Though the school taught the parents on the proper use of finger math, it seemed quite inefficient to me.

Parent involvement in homework can turn into parent interference if parents complete tasks that the child is capable of completing alone. Independence was what I wanted them to achieve. ““Try to solve it first,” I’d suggest. Much later on, I discovered that one of my girls had a weakness in numbers during her fifth grade. I resisted the idea of getting a math tutor. She used to be so smart in math. So what is the tutor for? I asked the school guidance counselor. I learned that if a child needs help, give it. So I asked my girl, ““Do you need extra help with math?” She nodded ““I find math so difficult. I need help.” I know now that If a child is having difficulty with homework, parents should become involved by paying close attention. She practically grew up with her math tutor until her last math course in college. By the time my girls reached their intermediate and high school years, they were pretty much on their own, following the study routine set since their first grade.

Maybe my second daughter loved studying or she just had many assignments but she asked for more extension on her study hours. I gave in to her wishes because I could see she was determined to ace her subjects. Unfortunately, her dad thought otherwise and would tell her to sleep if he caught her: ““That’s enough studying. You need to sleep”.

I never believed in giving material rewards whenever a child gets a good grade. My rationale was that the achievement of a good grade is incentive enough. Of course, there was the occasional surprise food treats at home. I wanted my girls to take personal pride in their achievement and that material gifts are not the main goal for studying.

Did the good study habits help? Their high grades surely brought them to their colleges of choice. More than that, the discipline and time management established by good and effective study habits helped them hurdle challenges in life. Mommy didn’t have to always solve every little problem. I smile as I watch my grown-up ladies from afar, now financially independent and making life decisions with our blessings.
Photo source: credit here

How do we explain natural disasters to our children, and how do we fulfill our role to protect and nurture them? In two natural disasters, I was not home to comfort my children. I remember the strong earthquake in 1990 that struck Northern Luzon and also affected Metro Manila. My children were below four years old then. As the earth shook beneath me, I could only think of my two children left behind at home with their caregivers in Pasig. Were they traumatized?

The two girls didn’t seem terrified but in the next few days, one daughter scribbled what seemed like an earthquake scenario. I took it as a sign that she wanted to express her experience. Speaking to her calmly, I explained that earthquakes cannot be predicted but I will do all my best to keep everyone safe. To give assurance, I initiated earthquake drills at home and showed them the earthquake kit by the door.

Can you imagine the children affected by floods such as the Yolanda (Haiyan) disaster? There are many ways to help them deal with tragedy such as art therapy, play, or reading a book.

happy water sad water

And there is Read for Hope. Read for Hope started as an outreach activity in response to the Yolanda tragedy in Tacloban, Leyte in 2014. The team, composed of young professionals from Metro Manila, gave aid in the form of a mobile library and post-trauma relief to the students of Cabuynan Elementary School located in Tanauan, Leyte. In 2015, the team extended its activities in Guiuan, Samar with a Resiliency and Leadership Seminar for High School Students and Basic Computer Literacy Program for teachers.

During their first trip to Tacloban last May 2014, they talked and played with the kids recovering from the trauma of Yolanda . The children used to love taking a bath in the middle of a hot day and they enjoyed playing in the rain and they loved to swim at the beaches nearby. They could do it all day every day like normal kids do. But when the Read of Hope were there, the children were scared. Scared of the slightest downpour. Terrified by thunder and lightning. Traumatized to even go near the beach. This experience inspired them to write a book.

read for hope

It  came up with this story book, entitled Happy Water, Sad Water: A Story To Prepare Kids for Floods and The Aftermath. The group got inspired to help them overcome this fear. Inspired to share their story so we can all learn from their experience.  It aims to raise awareness for the environmental effects of global warming and climate change among children today and at the same time raise funds for the group’s upcoming efforts.

Read for Hope

The e-storybook aims to raise funds for the reconstruction of the library in Sulangan Central School, Guian, Eastern Samar on August 25-28, 2o16. (Learn more about their past efforts here.)

The e-storybook is priced at P300, but any amount of donation will do. Read more on how you can help.

Some rights reserved by Melanie Holtsman

Some rights reserved by Melanie Holtsman

My then nine year old daughter beamed at me, as she proudly held a certificate. I noted the top portion, “National Reading month” and as I scrawled to the bottom “Most number of books borrowed at the library”. Aww, my daughter loved the library so much . It was practically her hangout. All my children are avid readers. I started them as early as six months old, through picture books. Every night before they slept, I hugged them all and read them a story every night. I read with different voices to make it seem like a play. I read children books from many publishers and told them to remember “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

scholastic books

And so, that is how my children loved to read. They are now adults who have left our family abode and now soaring high in their respective careers. Reading is important to children . As a parent, you have the power to boost your children’s learning potential simply by making books an integral part of their lives. I also see reading as a nurturing activity that will bring your kids closer together.  I loved that the school of my daughters also nurtured this love of reading.

It is just timely that Scholastic , the world’s largest publisher and distributor of over 600 original titles annually , continues to purse various initiatives in its commitment to help build a nation of readers such as the Scholastic Literacy Pro and the Literacy Pro Library

Scholastic Literacy Pro is an online monitoring program which provides teachers with accurate and timely reports on their students’ progress and performance, giving them research-based insights to make informed teaching and learning decisions. It also promotes the student’s growth in reading by developing an individualized reading plan with corresponding teacher reports. It’s three-pronged program is to create successful reads involved in the following action points: assess, inform, develop.


scholastic literacy pro


The Scholastic Literacy Pro Library is an ebook library which gives readers if different proficiency levels unlimited access to more than 650 fiction and non fiction ebooks.  There is a  guarantee of 150 new titles every three months and LitPro quizzes for titles. MGC New Life Academy in Bonifacio Global City and De La Salle-Zobel in Alabang are among the first educational institutions to implement this groundbreaking programs from Scholastic. More schools are scheduled to joined their ranks.

scholastic readers cup


It takes unrelenting efforts to spread the advocacy of literacy to produce a nation that is globally competitive .  Our children should be able to attain a creative, analytical and educated mind that will open doors of endless possibilities. On August 12 2015, the second Scholastic Readers Cup was held to culminate the interschool competititon recognizing the exemplary efforts of educators , from teaches and librarians to principals and schools . This year, the Readers Cup was given to a number of educational institutions including SJ- Sto. Rosario Academy, OSJ- Holy Family Academy, St. Thomas Academy, Dr. Yanga’s Colleges Inc., St, Paul College, Balayan, Iloilo Scholastic Academy, OSJ – Saint Joseph Institute, Saint Mary’s Angels College of Valenzuela, OSJ- Saint James Academy , OSJ- Joseph Marello Institute, Sta Teresa College, Notre dame of Greater Manila, MGC New Life Academy and Falcon School.


Scholastic readers cup

“Our teachers, librarians , principal and school administrators are doing a fine job at helping is raise a nation of readers, and we should all be grateful to them. The Scholastic Readers Cup is just one way of giving recognition to those noble educators. They are the real heroes in our quest  for a more globally competitive  Philippines.” says Fritzie Salem-Cruz, General Manager of Scholastic in the Philippines.

Indeed, the home and school both provide the nurturing environment for building a nation of readers.


kidzania with cebu pacific

Something exciting will soon happen for kids in Manila. If I had young kids, I know they would be thrilled with KidZania , which is set to open at the Bonifacio Global City in 2015. Cebu Pacific announced it will launch its newest flights to the nation where kids rule- KidZania Manila. The journey of KidZania begins at an airport, the KidZania International Airport. Kids will check in at Cebu Pacific counters, get their boarding passes and enter KidZania Manila, a child-sized , interactive play city built just for them. This family educational entertainment center is designed as a real city to provide the ultimate role playing environment for kids 3-14 years old.

Role play is a fun, and a ‘playful’ activity for children and is also a key component of learning. It is such an effective learning tool as it encourages children to become active participants in their learning.  The KidZania Manila will be a hit for sure.

kidzania manila

Take a look at this KidZania in London:

Kidzania Tokyo Integrate Education and Entertainment

In KidZania Manila, children can role-play over 100 exciting careers, from pilots and doctors, engineers and bank tellers, to actors and artists. I wonder if there is a politician role playing or a mayor , perhaps? There will be an aviation academy, bank, fire station, hospital, television station, and a variety of other establishments that form the inner-working core of a real city.

kidzania airport

Inside the aviation academy, children can train to be a Cebu Pacific Pilot or flight attendant. With the help of Zupervisors, the pilots of KidZania can experience taking off and landing an aircraft using flight simulators. Kids earn in KidZos, the official KidZania currency , when they work at different establishments. They can choose to save or spend these KidZos during their visit. Oh, and adults are not allowed inside KidZania. I hope safety is ensured by the supervisors for concerned parents.

kidzania pilots
These are exciting times for kids as they explore myriad of roles so they can discover their talents and help create a better world.

kidzania with cebu pacific 1

present at gabay guro 2013

I felt the excitement as I looked around at the MOA Arena in Saturday’s biggest gathering of teachers. I had glanced through the list of celebrities and prizes that PLDT-Smart Foundation’s Gabay Guro prepared for this biggest tribute to teachers. Wow, this amazing production considered the diversity of the teachers’ age and interests. I call this tribute as paying forward to teachers who have shaped the minds of our children.

gabay guro 2013 tribute

As the Pambansang Awit played, I felt tears clouding my vision. Touched by the presence of our teachers , my heart burst with pride and love of country. At the same time, I couldn’t help thinking that the government should give more funds to the education sector.

gabay guro 2013 audience

The entertainers made sure to interact with the audience but it was just difficult to reach to the Upper box. There should have been a celebrity from the upper box going down to the ground level. I loved how the entertainers didn’t just stand there and gyrate to the music. Teachers either clapped or dance to the music. Who would not love the music? My favorite 70’s and 80’s music were being played.

marian rivera gabay guro 2013

Marian Rivera got to dance with the male teachers. These teachers could dance!

teachers at gabay guro 1

The teachers were just thrilled to see their favorite celebrities.

gabay guro 2013

Gifts showered as the show went on. Around 400 teachers received a gift pack from Sun Cellular that could even be used for a load business.

gabay guro gift packs

Though TV 5 artists Edu Manzano and Derek Ramsay were around, this Grand Gathering broke away from the so-called network-exclusivity “barrier”. Artists from ABS-CBN and GMA-7 were present– Ryzza Mae, Anne Curtis, Judy Ann Santos, Marian Rivera, Martin Nievera, Pops Fernandez and Rocco Nacino.

entertainment gaby guro 2013

teacher honored at gabay guro 2013

Edu Manzano, Judy Ann Santos, and Derek Ramsay honored the Gabay Guro scholar-turned-teacher Mr.Labantria

anne curtis

Anne Curtis with Richard Gomez present more prizes to the teachers such as iPad and laptops.

foton van at gabay guro

A teacher is now a proud owner of a Foton’s multi-purpose van while Annalyn A. Dizon of Bacoor National High School, Molino Main received the grand prize : a house and lot from Stateland Inc. Annalyn must be thrilled beyond words. I posted the photo in my instagram and that’s how I found out she was the winner.

teacher who own a house

I asked Annalyn to relate her experience when she found out she was picked as the winner. She wrote this in an email to me:

“When my number was announced we were walking outside the second lower box of the Arena. My co teachers were the ones who heard that and she said ” Anne di ba number mo yun sabi ko di ah ,ano ka ba number mo yun” . Then I ran inside and I heard that Edu Manzano started to count 1 – 10 and they will draw another winner . All the teachers from different schools helped me create noise so that the people in the stage wiil recognize us ..I kept on yelling “andito po ako ,andito po ako ako po ang nanalo” pati na din lahat ng mga tao sa paligid ko. Then Ms. Judy Ann Santos said ” come on down” . I was so happy tinakbo ko ang 2nd lower box pababa sa VIP ng arena na halos di ko na po naramdaman ang pagod ko sobrang panlalamig ng kamay at tensyon po ang naramdaman ko.

This blessing will give our family a new life ,a new beginning for all of us. God heard my silent prayer,our silent prayer ..My husband is working so hard in Dubai as a Sticker Applicator di alintana ang maliit na sahod ,init at matataas n building na pinagtatrabahuhan nya para sa mabigyan ng maayos na buhay ang aming tatlong anak ”

winner of gabay guro
Photo via Gabay Guro Facebook

Annalyn adds, “Ms. Noemi we are living in my in-laws apartment. Our place is in Aniban, Bacoor,Cavite na konting ulan ay bumabaha sa labas at pag super typhoon e hangang bewang sa loob po ng bahay. Mahirap na ok din na malapit ka sa pamilya pero mas masarap padin po ang magsolo sa sariling bahay. My husband always told me maghanap ka ng hulugang bahay na no down. Asiksuhin mo naman. Oo lang ako ng oo pero the truth is umiiwas po ako sa gastos. Di ko lang sinsabi sa kanya . Before I went in Gabay Guro gatherings nag text po uli siya sabi ng husband ko need ko ng feed back sa bahay na pinapahanap ko kahit mahirap pilitin natin kasi lumalaki na ang mga bata. Umoo lang po uli ako Ms. Noemi then after nun ako na ang pinalad na manalo po. Napaiyak po ako ng sobra dahil dun na magkakasarili kami ng bahay ng wala na po iisipin na gastos ,dream come true po itong blessing na ito sa aming pamilya po. God is really Good. I thanked God for blessing me more than I deserve.”

It is so heartwarming to hear her story. May God bless her new home.

As I left theMOA Arena, the teachers continued to take photos of each other, excited by just being together for this grand gathering.

There are more photos at