Mommy Talks: Ginger Arboleda

Mommy Talks

Mommy Talks is a weekly feature of different moms. For this new season, I am featuring different work at home moms. Our guest for today is Ginger Arboleda.  I came to know Ginger through ManilaReviews.com and ManilaWorkshops.com

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Hi Ginger!  I am excited to have you as our guest today. Can you share more about yourself for our readers?

I’m Ginger. I’m a a work-at-home-married but will soon be a work-at-home-mom since I’m expecting my first baby, Zeeka, this coming March. My husband and I have been married for three years. We both are bloggers and our passion is really helping spread the word that each one should continuously strive for knowledge. We spread this advocacy through the things and daily endeavors that we do.

To tell you more about myself, I graduated MA in Communications Major in Integrated Marketing Communications from the University of Asia and the Pacific. I worked for advertising agencies in the past as an account executive. I have also had my chance to work under the family corporation as Managing Director for a Chinese food franchise. My longest work experience was in a corporate environment though as a banker.

I was taken in by one of the leading banks in the country as a Cash Solutions Manager (sales officer handling Corporate Clients). After two years, I was given the chance to head a team of product managers as a Team head for Corporate Product Banking. After a couple of years, I was again moved to the Retail Product Banking group to become a Product Development Manager.

I resigned from my corporate job last October 2012 to become a mompreneur. Currently, I am a full time blog-entrepreneur, freelance writer, mompreneur mentor and an events coordinator under the brand, Manila Workshops, which provides a venue for people to continuously learn and aspire for their professional or personal goals in life.

Why did you want to be a work at home mom? How did your journey start? How long have you been working at home? What sort of work do you do at home?

Ever since I was little, I knew that I was really meant for entrepreneurship. From selling headbands, to brownies to calling cards, etc., this love for business did not stop even while I was working. I always had to find a ‘sideline’ or ‘racket’ to do, and people knew that I was like that. I always wanted to come up with something inventive, something new.

In 2010, I had a miscarriage and some pregnancy complications. I thought I wasn’t going to have any children (I really love kids so I was depressed). But with God’s grace and through the intercession of St. Pio and St. Joseph, I was healed. In 2012, I learned that I was pregnant and I wanted to concentrate on this pregnancy. I had to let go of my corporate life last October 2012 since I wanted to prioritize my pregnancy and eventually, prioritize raising Zeeka.

From my home, I run a home based business called Manila Workshops. Manila Workshops is a brand that I built from my passion and skill of connecting people and my personal advocacy to promote continuous learning. It was established to provide a venue for people to continuously learn and aspire for their professional or personal goals in life (as I mentioned that I’m a firm believer of continuous education). We help speakers fulfill their dreams, as well, by taking care of the logistics of the workshops that they want to create, and sometimes, even going to the extent of helping them brand and market themselves.

Aside from the workshops, I’m also a professional blogger. I’ve been blogging since 2005 but I did it professionally since 2008. I also do occasional business/marketing mentoring (one-on-ones), which I plan to do more of this year. I also do occasional product styling and make-up.

What steps did you take to become a work at home mom?

I admit, it was hard for me to let go of the corporate life that I was used to. I am a workaholic. Ask anyone who has worked with me and they will tell you that I am not kidding. The first step that I went through was reflect. Seriously, this is what I did. It took me probably 6 months before I finally decided to resign. I’m an emotional person, so I really had to think about what I wanted for myself. It all boiled down to what was best for me, Ej and soon-to-be-born Zeeka.

The second step was I made a plan. Even if I knew my priorities, I was not about to jump into something that I did not analyze and create a plan for. This is another thing about me, I love creating plans and implementing them (from life plans, to business plans, to marketing plans :>). I made it a point to check my family’s budget — how huge or measly of an amount we were letting go because of my resignation, how much did I have to build from my Work-at-home ventures, etc. I created a plan after all that analyzing. After I got to figure out all of these, the third step was to take the big leap — I then resigned and went into all those WAHM ventures.

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Ginger with hubby EJ

What are the struggles you face being a work at home mom? How do you overcome them?

I’ve heard a lot of WAHMs say that they struggle with time management. Mine is quite different. The biggest struggle for me is meeting the expectations that I have set for myself. I usually have a goal in mind on what to achieve — be it for the my family, for work or for myself. In a WAHM’s life, these three worlds cannot be separated from each other. You cannot say that you’ll set standards only for yourself and let your husband deal with the family and you’ll just try to attain it. Also, there is no “boss” to set the targets for you for your “work”. You are the boss.

As easy as it may sound that you can actually set any goal for yourself (even make it really attainable if you want), I found it hard to do so. I would set high standards, then I would stress myself out, to the point of exhaustion. Have I overcome this? It’s an ongoing battle. Sometimes, it get the better of me. Oftentimes though, I try to relax and just accept the situation.

Was your expectations met? Why?

Right now, I actually feel lucky to have been given the chance to be a WAHM. I never would want to trade it for a full time job anymore. I love having time for my family and myself. I love my work as a WAHM. I love meeting different people; People that I know I wouldn’t have met if I stayed on with my job.

What advice can you give to those who want to take this journey?

Before making the decision to become a WAHM, think about it many times over. Make a plan. Ask people for advice. I have learned that the best people to talk to are people who don’t have any vested interest on you choosing either way. Sleep on it and pray. 🙂

To check out my portfolio and to get to know me more, please visit: http://gingerarboleda.com/

Please visit my blogs, too! These are MommyGinger.com, ManilaReviews.com and ManilaFitness.com. Follow me at @mommyginj (Twitter). Check out our workshops at ManilaWorkshops.com 🙂

Ej and Ginger

Update: Ginger has already given birth to baby Zeeka! 🙂 See her latest posts about Baby Zeeka at MommyGinger.com

Mommy Talks – Marge Aberásturi

Mommy Talks

Mommy Talks is a weekly feature of different moms. For this new season, I am featuring different work at home moms. Our guest for today is Marge Aberásturi of The Happy WAHM.  I met her through the Manila Work at Home Moms FB group.

Hi Marge! Thank you for allowing me to feature you today at Mommy Talks. Can you tell us more about yourself?

I’m a happily married mom of three, also known as The Happy WAHM.  I always say that our children are God’s gifts to us, and indeed, they are, as only in 2010, after having given birth to all three of them, did we learn that I was not supposed to bear children to maturity.  That belatedly explained why all my three pregnancies and subsequent deliveries were complicated.  My first baby was in breach presentation, the second was premature at 8 months and the youngest was born 2 days short of 7 months.  And in all pregnancies, I was bedridden.

I’m a self-professed workaholic.  Or at least, used to be.  I worked fresh from college in a variety of disciplines, including show business as a production assistant, before I landed a position with a telecommunications company where I rose from the ranks in my 12 years of stay.  There’s a funny story there that will tell you how persevering I am.

I applied for the position of credit and collection staff without any idea what the position entails.  I applied because that was the only vacancy for their office in Mindoro, and my mother wanted me to go home to the province.  So during the interview, when asked how I would contribute to the company, I just told the Treasury Manager, with all honesty and a have-pity-on-me-and-I-won’t-ever-make-you-regret-you-hired-me face, that I had no idea what I was getting into, but I was going to learn fast, and I was going to learn good.

So I got hired, with a little help from a piece of paper that says I have a degree in Accountancy, and I received my first promotion the following year.  Before I know it, it was time for me to say goodbye, at the time that I was a Regional Manager.

Why did you want to be a work at home mom? How did your journey start? How long have you been working at home? What sort of work do you do at home?

I have never envisioned myself to be a WAHM.  I was going to be Vice President for Credit Management.  Well, that was my goal.  But then my last pregnancy brought us to a myriad of complications and all the –logists that you can think of were suddenly in my payroll attending to our son and doing everything they could to save him.  So when my [former] boss called me to tell me the good news that I was getting promoted to head office after my maternity leave, I knew it was time to let go.

While the baby was still at the hospital, I kept myself busy looking for ways that I could still earn from home.  I was into crafts, but it’s both capital and labor intensive.  I wanted something that would not require too much capitalization, as hospital bills were still a concern.  Medical transcription was really hot that time, so I enrolled in a medical transcription course to get certification, and all my days of maternity leave were spent on the stairs in front of the NICU studying medical terminologies, listening to sample audios and got my ears trained on speech and accent nuances.  The course not only prepared me for a new career, but it made me knowledgeable of our son’s condition.  Taking a medical transcription course was like having a crash course in medicine.  I took special interest on the Pulmonology, Cardiology and Neurology Modules.  And so each time the neonatologist would talk to us and tell us that she had to make some tests, we were making informed decisions and not merely relying on what she was telling us.  I finished the 6-month course in 3 months.

My first project as a WAHM was as a transcriptionist in a production company.  There was a queue of audio files and every morning I would download a file, then work on it as time would permit.  At that time, I was feeding my son through a dropper!  He was so tiny that even a preemie nipple would not fit in his mouth.  And he had no sucking reflex.  So feeding time was really a whole day affair.

After a year, I started to teach myself new skills.  I was audacious enough to buy myself a domain and build my own site, without any technical background, and without any idea what I would put there. I went on Skype interviews where majority of my answers to prospective clients’ questions would be:  I can learn that!

But of course, my confidence was backed by the tenacity of a bull to make things work, and maybe a good head between my shoulders.  I studied, experimented, researched, and studied some more. 

I have since grown to be a well-rounded VA, doing tasks as mundane as converting Word documents to PDF with clickable links, to tasks as daunting as project management.  In the 7 years that I have been a VA, I’ve only had 3 major clients, and about a dozen of project-based ones, whom I have maintained communications with through the years.  Every now and then, they would just email me to have some work done for them, or refer someone who needs something done.  

In 2010, four years into my WAHM journey, I found the client that would shape me as a VA. I was interviewed over Skype for over an hour, and the following day I was given 20 pages of system sheet, with instructions not to print, and to delete the soft copy from my PC after I have memorized everything there.  The system sheet is every VA’s bible.  It defines all the work you have to do. 

I am now at a point in my career where this one particular client just gives me his goals, and it is up to me to present him the tasks that will see his goals through.  There are days that suppliers would email him, and his reply would be: Marge knows more about that than I do, so talk to her.  Or something happens to one of his sites, and he would just email me with:  Fix it. No instructions on how.  Just “Fix it.”  So that’s what I do.  I run my client’s business like it is my own.  And I don’t have to bother him with the details. 

Just very recently, I decided to spread my wings a bit wider and got into a partnership with another seasoned VA.  Together, we offer VA Coaching as a service to help out newbie WAHMs get into the mainstream.

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What were the steps you took to become a work at home mom?

We prayed.  The preparation was a family affair.  My husband and I discussed the pros and cons of me leaving the corporate world and staying with the kids.  To this day, we still have the Excel file that saw us through our decision-making process.  The considerations were mainly financial, but we really put everything in that Excel sheet.  The concern was me getting a promotion to head office, and the new baby needed to be monitored by either parent at all times.  We listed all our options in separate worksheets:  Me taking the position, we all move to Manila.  Me taking the position, my husband would resign.  Me resigning, I need an income stream.  Then in all those worksheets were rows and columns of numbers.  How much is our aggregate income?  How much is our monthly expense?  How much can we save if I stay home?  What are the expenses that we will have to cut?  Down to the details of cans of milk and packs of diapers.  Based on the numbers, we decided that we’d survive with me at home, but I still need to have an income.

After identifying the target income for me, we moved to deciding on what I would do when I was no longer employed.  It was easy to decide that it should be internet-based.  But what?  At that time, we already have a PC and internet connection.  So I spent hours on researching what were the services that I could offer, and we decided on transcription for the time being, and we were going to ask family and friends to refer me as an online assistant.

What are the struggles you face being a work at home mom? How do you overcome them?’

The schedule can be insane sometimes.  We have no helper at home.  When the nanny we had at the time that our youngest was born got sick, we decided not to replace her anymore.  She was like family, and we knew we could no longer find someone like her, so when diabetes rendered her incapacitated to work (she went blind), we just let go of the idea of replacing her.

We also homeschool our younger kids.  I have our 9-year old and 7-year old kids with me at all times.  So the schedule actually goes around homeschool and home office.  The housechores take a backseat.  Cleaning is like one room a day.  I do the laundry while either uploading or downloading videos.  My husband cooks.  We cook in big batches over the weekend, and put them in the fridge for reheating over the week.  The kids get to learn some life skills, too. Together, we made a list of chores they can do around the house.  The kids fold their own clothes, clean their own room and keep their study area tidy.    

Working from home is actually a lifestyle.  We adapt to the nuances of life.  We adjust our schedules accordingly.  I’ve stopped stressing over some mess.  Sometimes I have to meet with [local] clients and since we don’t have a helper, I just take the kids along.  The kids are well-adjusted to my WAHM status, so they get excited when they get to be part of that. The trips even become part of their homeschool activities.

Now that you have been a WAHM for quite awhile, were your expectations met? Why?

A resounding yes!  Surpassed, actually.  All we really wanted was for me to be able to augment our income while taking care of the children.  But we not only survived the financial challenges, we have been able to invest, too.  We are now part owners of a Science High School in our place, all from my WAHMing.

What advice can you give to those who want to take this journey? 

Find your happiness.  Not everybody can be happy working from home.  And it is important that you are happy with what you are doing to make it work.  So when you do your skills assessment, make sure you stop to consider if what you are about to do will make you happy.  Don’t be a WAHM just because it’s the trend, or because you can earn dollars.  Pray about it.   

Involve your family.  They have to understand that you also have a schedule to keep.  There may be days that you have a deadline to beat, so someone has to take charge of bathing the kids or preparing the food.  Or you may have to take a client call and you need some quiet in the house, so the kids will have to move to the bedroom for a few minutes or play with Daddy outside.  My home office is just a table in a corner of our tiny living room, but the kids refer to that as Mommy’s Office.  They do not take anything from it, not even a small piece of paper, without asking for permission.  They respect my space and the time that I spend in that space.

Invest.  On software.  On equipment.  On tools.  But most importantly, invest on learning.  Learn from others.  Attend workshops.  Be willing to be coached. Find out what works from those who have been down that road.  Having a support will make the journey a lot easier, and therefore, more enjoyable.    

Thank you so much Marge for sharing your journey with us. Your story is very inspiring! 

You can follow Marge at her following sites:

The Happy WAHM – The happy journey of a homeschooling, work-at-home mom.
Marge Aberásturi  – Her personal biz site
VASupportPro – A business portal with her partner, Jennyfer Tan
Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/VASupportPro
Twitter – TheHappyWAHM

 

Mommy Talks – Renz Alcantara

Mommy Talks

For its new season, Mommy Talks is featuring different work at home moms. Our guest for today is Renz Alcantara. I met her through the Manila Work at Home Moms FB group.

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Hi Renz!  Can you share a little bit about yourself? 

I’m a mother of a pretty little girl, Peaches and wife to my love, Troy.

Saying that I love to read is an understatement. Last January, I was able to finish 16 books. I have this insatiable craving for knowledge, imagination and emotions that one can only get from reading.

My family and I love traveling. It’s a blessing that my husband’s family business is a travel agency and we are always traveling somewhere several times a year.

My personal advocacy is to be kind to Mother Earth. I support no plastic rules and proper garbage disposal. My biggest step I think is setting an example to my little girl.

Why did you want to be a work at home mom? How did your journey start? How long have you been working at home? What sort of work do you do at home?

I am a work at home Mother since 2008 and I think it was the best career decision I ever made. I think I am really meant to be one. I decided to become a WAHM when my daughter was born. We didn’t have anyone close to us that could stay and take care of our daughter while my husband and I work, so I roamed the Internet and accepted odd online jobs until I landed my first big client through a referral. I was given the opportunity to learn all the skills required to become a well rounded Search Engine Optimization specialist. I learned computer languages and computer programs that I never learned from school. I became involved with online businesses and learned to manage and grow them. Soon, my clientele was growing.

What steps did you take to become a work at home mom?

My first step was letting the world know I am looking for an online job. I told my friends offline and online that I was in the lookout for a work at home job. While doing this, I was building my portfolio by making sure I write well on my blog or in any articles I wrote.

When I started working at home, I was using our old desktop which was totally battered and spent. When my income grew, I was able to upgrade to a faster computer. That I think was the major step I did. Always upgrade and make sure you are equipped with a fast Internet connection since that is your bread and butter.

Being a WAHM worked so well for me because I started to learn how to leverage. I hired a stay out helper who can watch over my daughter and do the cooking and housework while I concentrate on my clients.

 What are the struggles you face being a work at home mom? How do you overcome them?

I remember I got frustrated when my day didn’t go well as planned. I was slow to accept that being a WAHM means you should be ready for unexpected “events” like the kid decided it was time for a tantrum while you’re in a middle of a meeting, or your helper decided to leave without notice. I remember my day gets so crazy because I can’t think well when the house is in disarray, which is always the case if you have a toddler.

Was your expectations met? Why?

Yes. I have learned so much in my years of being a WAHM. I feel very blessed for having been given the chance to be one. I love that I am always present in every school activity, every occasion and every single milestone that my child is taking.

I love the idea of making things happen even if I’m just in my home wearing pajamas.

What advice can you give to those who want to take this journey?

Think really hard if it’s for you. Being a WAHM means being able to sit for hours on end in front of your computer with your “virtual” officemates as your company.

If you decide you want to be a WAHM or try to become one, learn a specialized skill. Hone your craft and keep getting better. Then of course, know your worth- do not accept low paying offer just because.

Lastly, go out into the online world and let everyone know what you can offer.

You can find me at www.pinaymommyadreamer.com and just recently, my husband and I launched www.vaprostaff.com which aims to provide work for every Filipino Moms and Dads who want to work from home.

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Mommy Talks – Martine de Luna

Mommy Talks

For its new season, Mommy Talks is featuring different work at home moms. Our guest for today is an inspiration to me – Ms Martine de Luna.

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Hi Martine! Please share briefly about yourself.

Thanks for having me, Chris! Hi, I’m Martine de Luna. I’m the wife of Ton, the mom of Vito (3 years old), and I am a work at home mom. I’m also the owner and author of DaintyMom.com, a lifestyle blog for moms.

I’m an editor and copywriter by profession. I work for an creative media agency and publishing house, both on a flexible, work-at-home arrangement.

I am the director of the WAHMderful Life Workshops, a suite of workshops for women who want to make a living while making a home. This is a collaboration between me and Manila Workshops, and we are constantly offering out-of-the-box, informative workshops for women.

On an occasional basis, I offer creative writing classes, mentoring for bloggers, and consulting for businesses who want to create their own websites and blogs.

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 Why did you want to be a work at home mom? How did your journey start? How long have you been working at home? What sort of work do you do at home?

I started to think about working from home when I was pregnant. At the time, I was a teacher at a small private school, teaching English and language arts. I was also the supervisor of a homeschool support group, and a mentor to several homeschooled kids and teens. On the side, I was doing freelance writing for websites and blogs, which provided me with some sort of supplemental income.

I felt the tug to work from home even stronger, when my son was born. My primary intention for wanting to work from home was so that I could be hands-on, and also so I could breastfeed him exclusively. (He didn’t take well to bottle feeding, even though I would express milk.) When my son was six months old, I left my job at the school. I was hired by a U.S. based creative web media company, which enabled me to have a steady income while working from home. I was also eventually hired by Shepherd’s Voice Publications, a local publishing company, as a creative consultant for a new magazine, of which I am now the editor.

I’ve been working from home for three years now.

What steps did you take to become a work at home mom?

As I explained earlier, I was doing freelance writing on the side. I’d write for websites and blogs, for clients that I found from Internet job listings. I enjoyed online writing and earning something on the side. Eventually, I was able to find employers who were willing to hire me for my creative writing services and editing skills. This enabled me to negotiate work-at-home arrangements with them. The U.S. company and the publishing company that I work for have agreed to my flexi-time schedule, which means I can pretty much plan my days the way I want to, as long as I’m effective in my deliverables for the companies I work for.

What are the struggles you face being a work at home mom? How do you overcome them?

In the beginning, I really struggled with time management. I wasn’t effective at balancing work and family time, to the point that I was spending most of my time chained to my laptop! It defeated the purpose of why I wanted to become a work at home mom.

Thankfully, I began consultation and coaching sessions with another work-at-home mom, Holly Hana, of theworkathomewoman.com. She really put things into perspective for me, and helped me to map out my work-at-home lifestyle. She even helped me plan the branding and expansion of my blog, Dainty Mom, which has helped me launch another successful side business, the WAHMderful Life Workshops for work-at-home moms, a collaboration between me and ManilaWorkshops.com

Were your expectations met? Why?

I believe I met my expectations as a WAHM. Wait, correction: My expectations CHANGED with WAHM-dom. I let go of the myths of work-life balance and “having it all,” and instead focused on creating a lifestyle that works for me and my family.

What advice can you give to those who want to take this journey?

1. Get support. It’s important to have a community when you’re a work at home mom — it’s essential! Working at home can be very isolating and lonely, and so finding a community of women that understands your needs for support and sisterhood is crucial. It’s because of this that I began the Manila WAHMs private Facebook group, because I wanted to connect with other work-at-home moms. Today, it’s helping many other WAHMs find meaningful connections. It’s even been instrumental to other WAHMs who’ve been looking for business partners!

2. Don’t be afraid to invest in training and knowledge. As a WAHM, I’ve never stopped learning. I’m always listening to some kind of business training, whether it’s a podcast or webinar; I’m always reading books and eBooks.

3. Get coaching; find a mentor: In addition to the learning, I’ve also bought training modules and coaching sessions from coaches and mentors in the blogging world. These have greatly helped me as a work at home mom in terms of direction, my life’s purpose.

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Please join me on my social media accounts!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Dainty.Mom
Twitter: Dainty_Mom
Instagram: dainty_mom
Pinterest: pinterest.com/martinedeluna

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If you’re a WAHM, you can request an invitation to my private Facebook group: Manila Work-at-Home Moms.

 

Mommy Talks – Dawn Stephanie Ong

Mommy Talks

Mommy Talks is featuring different homeschooling parents. Our guest for today is Dawn Stephanie Ong. I haven’t personally met her yet but would love to meet her someday soon! 🙂

 PLEASE SHARE A BRIEF INTRODUCTION ABOUT YOURSELF, YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR HOMESCHOOLING JOURNEY.

I’m Dawn Stephanie Shangkuan-Ong and I’m a radio broadcaster on 98.7 dzFE, The Master’s Touch. Even before we were married, my husband and I decided we would homeschool our children if God blessed us with them. When we heard about the concept of homeschooling, something just clicked in both of us. From the start, it wasn’t a struggle to decide to homeschool. We had always planned to send our kids to preschool first before starting our homeschooling journey, so I taught my daughter full-time after she finished two years of preschool. But, with my second child, I homeschooled him from scratch. Now, my daughter 8 year old daughter is flourishing in the fourth grade and my 5 year old son is in the pre-K level.

 WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO  HOMESCHOOL YOUR CHILDREN? 

The concept of homeschooling was very attractive to me when I first heard about it because I had been dissatisfied with my own primary & secondary education. I had had one year of elementary school in the States, and I remember thinking, “Why is school such backbreaking hard work in the Philippines?” Needless to say, I was reluctant to come back to our country after that one year in third grade. I also wondered why my classmates in Arizona were much more articulate than their counterparts here…even though they had little to no homework and only a smattering of quizzes throughout the school year.

At the public school I attended in Arizona, we went to class at 8:30 and were let out at 2:30. We had ample time for other pursuits. I could actually get in a decent amount of practice time on the piano. Once a week, above average students were sent to another school—one for gifted children—and there, we would solve problems in logic or make cut-out bird figures and create a mobile out of them. For the first time, I thought, “This is how school should be.” I sought to replicate that kind of experience with the school system in our country, and homeschooling was the answer.

IN THE YEARS THAT YOU HAVE HOMESCHOOLED YOUR CHILDREN, WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES THAT YOU SAW? 

In my five years of homeschooling, I can list down these as advantages:

1. It is cheaper to homeschool than to enrol your kids at private school. Some parents may disagree with me, but my experience has been that I don’t sacrifice quality in choosing curricula. Still, it has been cheaper to order books than to pay a private school to teach my kids. I use Sonlight—a literature-rich curriculum and something that isn’t considered cheap among curricula. The upside is that these ‘living books’ will form a substantial library in our home over the years. We don’t use textbooks often but real books.

2. Your children are much more relaxed and they have a robust love for learning that you seldom see in most school children. This is a normal phenomenon: In preschool and kindergarten, most, if not all, kids love going to school. But somewhere along the way, in first grade perhaps, the kid’s love for learning gradually ebbs away. There are articles about how schools kill creativity and the love of learning in children, and that was partly what had happened to me in high school. I also realized that, even if you graduate at the top of your class, you can still have serious learning gaps or holes in your knowledge. We didn’t go through Shakespeare and I did not have a firm grasp of world history. Part of the reason why I wanted to homeschool was to do things over for myself.

Here are two anecdotes that show how my kids love learning. In the summer, when we take a break from homeschooling, my daughter’s biggest problem is boredom. She is so used to being intellectually and emotionally stimulated by all the rich books we read that she finds all that free time a bit daunting. I encourage her to take her favourite books from the school year; e.g., Charlotte’s Web, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Caddie Woodlawn; and read them again. The other day, I called my son Keith to begin our time of study. He was playing on my sister’s iPad, but when he heard me call for him, he just ran for the schoolroom! I wonder how many children still have that same bright enthusiasm when schoolwork looms in front of them.

3. You can see and guide your children’s character in a way you would never be able to in conventional school. When you’re a homeschooler, you’re with your kids day-in and day-out. Even if you run errands or go to the gym, that’s only a little amount of time you spend away from them. So you see every aspect of their personality—their attitudes, behaviour, character…a peculiar trait you would’ve missed if they were away from you from 7 ’til 4 every day. Sure, parents can keep tabs on their children in school; but in homeschool you can catch behaviour before it becomes a habit.

 HOW HAS HOMESCHOOLING AFFECTED YOUR LIFESTYLE? 

It hasn’t really affected our lifestyle because, from the start, we had decided to homeschool. The decisions we made, the way I structured my career, were all geared towards staying at home with them half the day. I work part-time and have my plans in the back burner ’til when my kids go off to college. But I would also say that homeschooling has affected our lifestyle in a positive way because (1) we don’t have to pay the exorbitant tuition fees private schools charge; and (2) my husband and I have time to go out on weekly dates, lead or attend Bible studies, and serve in church because we don’t have to stay in most nights to tutor our kids for the next day’s tests or assignments.

 HOW DOES A USUAL HOMESCHOOLING DAY GO? 

I am blessed because my daughter has been an independent learner since she was six. We stumbled upon this fact quite by accident. She was living with my parents for a few weeks, and I would go to their house and teach her every morning. On days when I was running late, she would go ahead and do her English assignments, watch her Math lesson on DVD, and do the exercises herself. It was a happy discovery because then I wouldn’t get hot under the collar teaching her Math. Nowadays, she’s studying English, Math, and Civics all by herself (I only check her work), and she has a Filipino tutor and a Chinese tutor. I’m in charge of all her read-alouds: Bible, History & Geography, Literature, and Science. Her dad is in charge of the hands-on work like science experiments and developmental activities. I made a grid for Paige that shows all the work she has to do in a week, and she checks them off when she’s finished. So, we don’t really have a “typical schoolday”.

With Keith, I read his Sonlight books at the pre-K level and do a page or two of Sing, Spell, Read & Write with him every day. He looks forward to our time of “ownschooling”, as he calls it.

 ANY TIPS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHER HOMESCHOOLING FAMILIES OR THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN HOMESCHOOLING THEIR KIDS?

Read up on the various approaches to homeschooling. I was fortunate because we chose a curriculum that used Living or “Great” Books instead of textbooks, and these could be used as a foundation for Classical Education. When we first chose Sonlight, we didn’t know that it was based on the Charlotte Mason method of teaching, or what a Classical Education was. But, as I read books on education, I realized that many of the things I did over the past five years were based on the right principles. Whew! What a relief.

Reading about child education is not just for homeschoolers. Parents who send their kids to conventional school should also do this. They should choose their child’s school based on what they believe a child’s education should be, not because they think that school will enable their kids to get into the best universities in the future. That should not be the only criterion for choosing a school. Many schools these days are rushing the process of learning by having kids memorize endless lists of facts without understanding, forcing kids to be ready for something just because there is a test, or letting kids start school earlier. In the world of home education, children are encouraged to play, to explore, and to learn without insisting that they sit at a desk for hours to do workbooks (something they may not be ready for). The bottom line is to cultivate a love of learning in your child and train up independent learners so that your children become lifelong learners. In today’s world, learners who know how to communicate articulately (verbally and in print), research well, and use technology confidently are those who will have a bright future ahead of them. We should keep that in mind whether we’re homeschooling or sending our kids off to conventional school.