Reedley International School: Where Happy Students are Better Learners

For many years now, whenever I would pass Shaw Blvd (Kapitolyo area), I’d see this building that said Reedley International. It had always piqued my curiosity, with me wondering what kind of school it was. A couple of weeks ago, I got an invite from Carlo to visit Reedley, which by this time had transferred to the Libis area.

 

We were briefed by Jerome T. Castro, Reedley’s Headmaster, and Emil Ong, Director of School Development. Emil is the son of Nellie Aquino-Ong who founded Reedley.

Reedley started as a review center giving personalized teaching to students wanting to enter universities. The effectiveness of Nellie Ong’s tutoring prompted some parents to tell her that she should open up a school, which she eventually did. Reedley opened as an Upper School in 2000 with 80 students. A 250% growth rate in 2001, the opening of their Grade School and Middle School levels made them move to a larger building in Pasig and eventually to their present location. Now they cater to a current level of 500 students from 19 different nationalities.

 

 

My kids all went to traditional schools. In traditional schools, everyone is expected to go at the pace of the teachers who follow a lesson plan. Class sizes even in the Nursery levels are at around 30 and this could grow to almost 40 by the time they graduate high school. Some of my kids experienced bullying in school and I know that in many traditional schools, this has grown to large proportions. Teachers have their hands full teaching several sections with over 30 students each; it is really hard for a teacher to know a student closely enough to know his/her needs and personality. Luckily, the school where my boys go adopted a mentoring system to address this lack.

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Do Dogs Grieve Too?

Our family loves dogs.

Even when the kids were babies (and were suffering from asthma), we maintained dogs at home. Of course, we were careful not to let the dogs into the house and kept mostly dachschunds. But we’ve had other breeds at one time or another in the past: beagle, Labrador, Shih Tzu.

In 2002, we were blessed with 2 dachschund puppies: Yugi (male) and Yumi (female). My kids were into Japanese anime then so all our dogs were baptized with Japanese-sounding names.

Being hounds, Yugi and Yumi learned by instinct to chase (and kill) rats. They were our homegrown pest control weapons. But the champion rat eliminator was Yumi. She could smell them a mile away. I lose count of the number of rats (and even stray cats) that she has killed. She goes after them relentlessly, even if she has to sit beside a canal, hole or opening the whole night waiting for the (what must be an already petrified) rat to come out of hiding.

And yet with humans, Yumi was also a lady and the gentlest of dogs. She loved us so much and longed to be loved as well. When the kids approach her, she immediately rolls on her back, waiting to be touched and stroked. Yumi and Yugi, while blood siblings, became constant companions as they shared the sun portions of the garden every day and their sleep corner in the patio every night.

But last Sunday, we had an emergency. Yumi, perfectly healthy and normal one day, suddenly began defecating blood. And to top it all, my husband was out of town and our driver was on his weekend furlough. Thankfully, my brother lived just 10 minutes away by car. He willingly brought Yumi to the vet in Quezon City where she had to be confined. We thought all would go well from thereon.

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Educating and Parenting the Net and Next Generation

Yesterday, I attended the annual parent orientation at Xavier School. Unlike past years, there was something different about this year, I realized. I would be attending activities in this school for only one boy (my other boy already graduated high school and is facing a new life as a college freshie).

Ever since Fr. Johnny Go, S.J. took over the helm as School Director, I have seen vast improvements in terms of facilities, quality of faculty, curriculum, use of technology in academe and so many other aspects.  In a previous post, I described how the school turned virtual during Typhoon Ondoy when school was suspended for 10 days. While many schools lost school days, Xavier students continued to study and do assigned homework via the net.

At the orientation, I eagerly awaited Fr. Johnny’s presentation to the parents. His part is always something I look forward to. After all, when the School Director blogs, uses multimedia in his presentations, has a Facebook account and maintains his own YouTube channel, you can be sure his talk would be a very interesting one. I was not disappointed.

Fr. Johnny talked about how important it is for schools (and parents) to learn how to educate and parent this generation of tech-savvy kids.

He described the TV Generation I belong to (the age when baby boomers first encountered a television set and whose free time was spent in front of the boob tube watching episodes of popular shows). He also described the next younger set called Generation X (that age group between mid 30s to mid 40s that were schooled in classrooms where passive learning was the norm: teacher lectures and student “vomits back” what he absorbed during exams).

He next described the 2 generations that students belong to now: The Net Generation (kids from 13 yrs old and up) and the Next Generation (those below 12 years old). These two generations have absolutely no fear for technology; in fact they embrace it wholeheartedly. But with such wide access to information at the tips of their fingertips, schools face a new challenge in teaching them, something that Xavier is moving briskly into. Unlike the generations of parents where  a student WAITS for content before ASSIMILATING it, learning for 21st century kids must entail what Fr. Johnny calls the 5 “-ate’s”:

* LOCATE content (e.g., how to use search engines to find information)

* INTERROGATE the results (learning not to just accept search results as truth but to interrogate which is true, half-true, or false)

* CREATE and COMMUNICATE content

* COLLABORATE with others

At the same time, kids must learn 3 things that go along with ease of technology access and information:

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Today Marks the Start of Advent 2009

Today, November 29, 2009 is the 1st Sunday of Advent.

For years now, our family has tried to follow the Christian tradition of lighting the Advent candles at home, together with some prayers and songs. Here is an old post, Season of Hope and a Family Tradition, that describes what we have tried to do since the kids were small.

Tonight, we lit the first purple candle. Two family members were not around: hubby and M1, who are both abroad. But nevertheless, we continued the tradition of waiting and hoping for the coming of the Christ Child who is the Savior of the world. Despite the gloom that hovers over this country in the wake of the Maguindanao massacre just a few days ago, we continue to hope for speedy resolution and justice.

O Come, Divine Messiah!

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Raising Healthy Kids Starts Early

As a mother of 4 kids, one of my major concerns is always how to keep my kids healthy and strong. There’s no underestimating the overused cliche “Health is Wealth“. It really is true!

It didn’t help that they all had frequent asthma episodes when they were very young. The nebulizer became a necessity and constant partner whenever we traveled. I was also spending a small fortune on medicines, doctors’ fees and ER visits.

No matter how careful one is about their health, children do get sick. And it is not a joke taking care of sick children. I remember staying up late when they had fever to monitor their temperature every 4 hours and if needed, give them a sponge bath if it went too high. No one else stayed with them in the hospital as I wanted to be there whenever they’d be given anything by mouth or intravenously. It was really hard to be a Florence Nightingale 24/7 those days.

I’m a firm believer that the first line of defense against illnesses is really how solid and robust your kids’ immunity foundation is. They may not be able to control external forces like exposure to sick people or contamination but their bodies stand a better chance of fighting these off when their internal defense system is strong. The earlier we start our kids on a healthy lifestyle, the better their chances of staying that way till their adulthood.

My kids don’t get sick that often anymore and that is a big relief. Here are a few things I learned along the way to keeping my kids healthy:

1. Breastfeeding – Although I used to work in the corporate world, every time I gave birth, I’d spend at least 3 months breastfeeding my kids. It meant some inconvenience. I’d report for work bringing a small ice chest packed with bottles & ice. I’d spend so much of mybreak time pumping breastmilk into the bottles so that they could be stored in the freezer or ref for those days when I was not at home. Given a choice, I would have breastfed longer than 3 months as I have read that children who breastfed longer turned out with a stronger immune system.

2. Complete vaccinations – This cannot be overemphasized. Vaccinations ensure they have the antibodies to fight off the viruses that are more deadly or damaging.

3. Healthy diet and lifestyle – I confess this is one of the harder things to implement. Some of my kids eat vegetables; the others don’t. I used to include junk food in my grocery shopping. I no longer do. Any junk food they want to eat comes out of their own pockets. Getting them to sleep early can be challenging too especially for my kids now that they are older. It seems the youth of today have this habit of sleeping way, way beyond midnight. Lack of sleep lowers their resistance and opens them to cough and colds.

4. Home sanitation –  A clean home, free from pests and allergens, and frequent disinfecting of surfaces can rid your home of things that could make your kids sick.

5. Good hygienic habits – Simple habits to teach the kids would minimize their getting sick like frequent hand washing especially after a trip to the comfort room.

5. Vitamins, vitamins, vitamins – I am choosy about the multivitamins I give them. The one they currently take has zinc which is known to boost immunity. Besides that, I also give them Vitamin C to fight the colds.

Learn more about boosting your child’s immunity foundation by visiting www.immunityfoundation.com. On this site you will have access to expert advice and great tips on keeping your kids’ immunity high.

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Kids: Teach Them Well Then Learn to Let Go

Our 4 kids are now either in their teens or in their early 20s. Our oldest boy is spending 6 weeks in Beijing with his schoolmates and teachers. Our oldest girl is on her last year in college and will soon be part of the workforce, either in the Philippines or abroad.

As I ponder on the years that have passed and the prospect of experiencing the “Empty Nest Syndrome” in a decade or even sooner, mixed emotions well up in me. I am happy that they are finding their own place in society and learning to reach deep down in themselves in order to cope with different situations. Another part of me is sad that the babies who were totally dependent on me in their early years are all now growing wings and learning to fly away.

About 4 years ago, this son of ours who is now in Beijing, left on a similar overseas program to Xiamen. First time abroad, first time in China. And he was only in the seventh grade. I remember feeling all anxious about how he would cope being away from us for 6 weeks. He had traveled in the past to the province to be with my in-laws, sometimes spending entire summers there. But he was always with family. That first trip abroad meant no family support. On his return, I saw changes, albeit slight, in our son’s persona. Yes, he had to cope with homesickness, and with weekly laundry chores, and with cultural adjustments. But in the end, he exuded more confidence in himself. When this Beijing program came along this year, he volunteered for it even without any word from us. It was totally his own decision. And he’s now there having a blast.

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