College Entrance Tests: How To Prepare Your Kid for Possible Setbacks

It has began. The results of college entrance tests for schoolyear 2010-11 are being published beginning this month. De La Salle University’s (DLSU) college entrance test results started everything off by being the first to release their results last January 2. Over the next few months, high school seniors in different schools around the country will experience extreme highs and/or lows as each university publishes its admission results.

As a parent of two older children (in college now), I have rejoiced and likewise, been saddened as well as they got their exam results. I am just grateful that in the end, they did get into the school of their choice. Now, it’s the turn of our third child to go through the stress of waiting it out. Again, I sit it out with him, knowing he is sometimes stressed at the thought of whether he will make it or not. Once again, I ask myself: How can I support my child if the results do not turn out favorable for him?

I’m sure this thought has also crossed your mind if you are in the same situation I am in.

There is a philosophy that I have always tried to remember and adopt in disappointing situations:

When things do not go the way we want it to, it is not a sign of failure.

It is just God’s way of closing the door so that our eyes, which had been focused solely on that door, will veer away and see that He has opened a window.

We cannot shield our children from everything bad. We can’t stop them from bruising themselves. We can’t prevent mishaps. We cannot prevent their hearts from breaking due to rejection from friends or from a broken heart. And we surely cannot prevent them from a possible rejection by the school they most wished to go to.

So what can we do if our kids are not accepted by the school of their choice? Here are some things we can do:

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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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Celebrate International Left-Handers’ Day 2009 Today (August 13)!

Lefthanders in their Right Minds

Left-handers (popularly called Lefties) comprise only about 7-10% of the world’s population.

Up until the last generation, left-handed children were forced to switch to the right hand by most parents. It’s only now that lefties are acknowledged for their uniqueness and creativity.

Based on studies, here are some interesting trivia about left-handed people:

– Some famous Lefty personalities are US President Barack H. Obama, Henry L. Ford, Mark Twain, Jimi Hendrix, Michelangelo, and our very own Rafael “Paeng’’ Nepomucen and Emmanuel “Manny’’ Pacquiao.

– Men are slightly more likely to be left-handed than women.

– When NASA began searching for imaginative, reliable, multi-talented people for the moon, 1 in 4 Apollo astronauts turned out to be left-handed (a figure 250% greater than statistical probability).

– Left-handers reach puberty 4-5 months later than right-handed people.

– Lefties tend to draw figures that face the RIGHT.

– Probably because they use the right side of the brain more, lefties appear to be better in the music and arts scene.

– According to neurologists, lefties adjust more readily to seeing underwater.

– Left-handers seem to excel in sports such as tennis, baseball, swimming and fencing.

– The probabilities of producing a lefty are as follows: 1 in 10 if both parents are right-handed; 2 in 10 if one parent is left-handed; 1 in 4 if both parents are left-handed.

– 4 of the 5 original designers of the Macintosh computer were left-handed.

– Lefties account for a large percentage of those in remedial reading classes.

In my family, three of my kids were born Lefties. Our second daughter, C2, was born left-handed but since I did not know any better then, I taught her to use her right hand so she would not have difficulty in a right-handed world. However, our 2 succeeding children, both boys, also turned out to be Lefties. And to this day, I wonder about this because while we have other lefties in the family (my sister and some in-laws), both me and my hubby are right-handed.

We are fortunate that in the boys’ school, they took pains to accommodate lefties by providing desks with left-sided arm rests. It’s not so bad anymore now that they are in high school because the desks are tables with ample room for you whether you are right- or left-handed. But at home, I still have to contend with bumping elbows with M2 at the dinner table.

In 1990, the Left-Handers Club was established and on Aug. 13, 1992, they launched International Left-Handers’ Day. According to their website:

This event is now celebrated worldwide, and in the U.K. alone there were over 20 regional events to mark the day in 2001- including left-v-right sports matches, a left-handed tea party, pubs using left-handed corkscrews where patrons drank and played pub games with the left hand only, and nationwide “Lefty Zones” where left-handers creativity, adaptability and sporting prowess were celebrated, whilst right-handers were encouraged to try out everyday left-handed objects to see just how awkward it can feel using the wrong equipment!

These events have contributed more than anything else to the general awareness of the difficulties and frustrations left-handers experience in everyday life, and have successfully led to improved product design and greater consideration of our needs by the right-handed majority – although there is still a long way to go!!

Today, I greet all Left-Handers, including my lefty kids and blog readers. You are unique and in a class all your own. You have your own place in this world and can make a great contribution with your creativity and artistic talents.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL LEFT-HANDERS’ DAY!!!

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Technology: A Tool for Schools in the Wake of A(H1N1)

Many mothers like me here in the Philippines are growing more and more worried by the day as the number of people becoming sick with the A(H1N1) virus increases. Classes have just began in our part of the world and in the first week, some students were found positive resulting in classes being suspended and moved by about 10 days.

In the university where my girls go to school, there were initially 3 high school cases but another case was confirmed yesterday. So far, the school where my boys study has been virus-free but as more and more schools confirm cases of their students getting sick, I worry.

However, I have suggestions for school administrators and teachers especially in schools that are well-equipped to use technology and the internet. You can have a back-up plan to ensure that in the event you will be forced to suspend classes, your students do not lose too many days out of school. This will require a paradigm shift in the way you conduct classes but it can work.

You can shift to the web.

Of course, many of these moves may require coordination with DECS but just think of the possibilities:

1. Email addresses and mobile numbers serve as point-to-point contact – Many schools, as part of information sheets during enrollment, ask for the email addresses and mobile numbers of parents & students. Take this to the next level. Use your database of email addresses of all your students/teachers/administrators/parents and create mailing lists now. One mailing list for faculty, another for parents, another for students (by level). This will be one of your ways to disseminate information.

2. School websites are not just for information; they can be transformed into online classrooms. – A few days ago, the boys’ school held parent orientations. I did not go. I was feeling under the weather and chose to stay away from crowds. But I heard that the orientations did not last long. The class advisers went through powerpoint presentations to introduce the line-up of teachers as well as answer a few questions from the attending parents.

Now this got me thinking. If that was all it took during orientations, why could we not have put this same information up on the website of the school, giving access to parents via some form of security code?

I remember the inauguration of Pres. Barack Obama. CNN created a Facebook page linked to its website. Any Facebook users who subscribed to the page could literally jump into a chatroom as the inauguration was going on and add his/her comments to the global community. Bring that down to a school community.

Could we  create a smaller version of a chatroom so that parents could do conferencing with the school administrators/faculty as they are viewing a presentation?

Could Powerpoint presentations be simply uploaded to the website for parents to access?

Could the teachers have made podcasts/videos of what they wanted to say to parents as well?

Can lessons be broadcast via podcasts or YouTube?

3. Think ONLINE QUIZZES!!! – Yes, there will be issues like: Do we really know if it is the student answering the quiz or not since he is not visible to the teacher? But maybe with proper sanctions in place for those found cheating, or with appropriate security codes/log-in requirements, students can take quizzes online. Cheap webcams can be required so that a student would be visible via webcam to his teacher while taking an exam. Grading would be a cinch too since the correct answers can be keyed into a program that does instantaneous checking of papers.

4. Collaborative tools make team-based projects easy online.Google Docs is one example of a collaborative tool. Word documents, spreadsheets and presentations can be created and shared online. Team members can all view the same document, make changes, chat online about it and essentially, collaborate. No need for face-to-face interaction.

5. Use Mobile broadcasting for important announcements – Many schools in Metro Manila utilize this tool already. Parents/students/faculty subscribe to the service and important announcements from the school are pushed via SMS to the subscribers. While mobile broadcasting nowadays is in the form of school cancellations, event announcements and the like, this can be used also to alert parents and students to check the school website for newly posted classroom activities.

This internet mode of schooling is, of course, a temporary measure and can be utilized only in extreme cases when the school is forced to suspend classes for long stretches. But if the DECS accepts this as an alternate mode of schooling, cases like the A(H1N1) pandemic need not interrupt school days drastically.

At the moment, I also realize that it is the private schools that would have the advantage in implementing this over public schools due to their access to technology and computers but we can start from here.

Leave a comment if you have other ideas as to how classes can be conducted online to reduce the interruptions.

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Tales of Busy Bee Me

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes

It’s that time of the year when taxes fall due.

Since my Dad passed away in 2001, I have taken the cudgels for settling the yearly real estate taxes for some of his properties, including one belonging to my uncle (his younger brother). We normally pay the entire year’s taxes in order to avail of the discounts. What was supposed to have been the usual round of tax payments turned out a bit different this year. I was told at the Pasig Municipal Hall that I now had to go all the way to Antipolo to pay the taxes. So tomorrow, the last day of March, I head out for Antipolo to do my citizen’s duty.

In a few weeks more, income taxes fall due. Even now, hubby is busy attending to his clients’ financial statements and audits. I do not need an alarm clock to wake me up. By 8:30 or thereabouts every morning, his mobile starts ringing or the telephone in our bedroom does. And sometimes, it is the client wanting to fax the financial statements for his review. I am steeling myself for the amount that will need to be paid in addition to what has already been withheld. Crunch time…

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When It Rains, It Pours (literally!)

It was another one of those Murphy’s Law stuff.

Hubby had purchased roof tiles to replace our old, galvanized iron roof. The carpenters were waiting for a truly dry spell to start and a few weeks back, they thought it was a good time as any to do so. On the first day they set out to tear open the galvanized sheets, the skies began getting dark. They spread a tarp over the exposed roof part but not well enough. That night, the rains fell really hard, water slid to the part of the tarp that had a hole, ran into the open roof area, and before we knew it, it was raining INSIDE our bedroom!

Thankfully, the downpour was on a part of the room that did not have much furniture so we had time to move stuff out of the way before they got real wet. The leaks came about an inch close to my side of the bed and missed me — just barely! Some wooden parts of our bedroom ceiling warped terribly and had to be changed. I still see other parts beginning to warp and guess these will need to be replaced too. *sigh*

The blessing in all this though was that the water came to our side of the room. Had it gone the OTHER way, there would have been a lot more damage because in that room were the computers. M1’s iMac and our brand new printer/scanner would have suffered the greatest water damage.

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School’s Out!

All the kids are home most days. It’s summertime!

But with so much time on their hands, you get the intermittent “I am bored, Mom!” comment.

Years ago, I would get stressed finding things or trips to entertain them. After a while, I gave up and told them I was not their entertainer and they had to find things to do. Summer sports or arts programs were the in thing then so I enrolled them in swimming, cooking, chess and whatever they fancied. Now that they’re a lot older, they thankfully leave me alone most days as they play computer or video games amongst themselves.

However, with M1 entering his last year in high school, one of the things we had to do very quickly was find a good review center for him to prepare more for the coming college entrance tests. I took him to review centers close to home and though he initially was reluctant to review at all (one of his good friends kept saying he did not need to — a view I took exception to), he finally agreed to enrolling in one review center. It turned out to be the same review center the 2 girls went to before. I knew the Directress of the review center and actually liked them for their low student-to-teacher ratio as well as their 95+% record for gaining entrance into the top 3 schools (UP, ADMU and DLSU).

Realizing however that summer is the only time I can truly bond for longer periods with my kids, I have taken them to blogger events that cropped up in the past weeks since they are all bloggers anyways. And I am planning some educational and fun trips around the metropolis also for them in the next few weeks. They are growing up so fast that I feel I need to do these things with them now before they totally outgrow me!

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