Thursday, February 11, 2016

How To Score Well on TOEFL?

Have a child who needs to sit for TOEFL? 

How do they prepare for it?
Tuition? Books?

Well, what if they could practice TOEFL exam questions online? 

I found a website where your children can practice all the 4 sections in the TOEFL exam: Reading , Writing, Listening and Speaking.

Preparation course for the toefl

There is a FREE section but that only gives you limited questions.
They do have different subscription options: You can pay weekly, monthly or a one time fee for 4 months.

If you want you children to score high on the TOEFL, this is a study option you should seriously consider.
Having them learn from books alone won't help much because there is a SPEAKING and LISTENING section to the exam.

The more your children practice doing these TOEFL questions, the more familiar they become with the format and the more confident they will become.



Friday, November 13, 2015

Homeschooling The Non Traditional Way

  • What is the best education to give my children?
  • Which school should I send them to?
  • Government/Public school? Private school? International school? Chinese school?
  • Should I send them to school?
  • What about homeschooling? Homeschooling centre? Homeschool at home?
  • What syllabus should I follow? Do I need to follow a syllabus?
  • What about exams?

These are the questions I've asked myself. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

When did educating our children get so complicated?

I haven't talked much about homeschooling my daughter. She's now 14 and we started homeschooling last year.

I don't claim to know what I'm doing. It's like an experimental journey with her and circumstances keep changing. Anyway, below is MY reason for deciding to venture into homeschooling with her.


  • There were certain subjects in school she was not very enthusiastic about learning. I've learned that kids don't excel in things they don't like to do. You can force them to learn and tell them to endure but you'd kill their love for learning and creativity along the way.
  • I don't want my children to be in a system that don't allow their true potential to shine through. School is a "one size fits all" idea.
    Albert Einstein says it perfectly: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

  • I want to give her the freedom to learn things she will never learn in school. Once in school, she won't have time to do the things she like e.g. playing piano for fun, learning different languages, computer coding, reading books, playing badminton etc.... I don't want to criticize teachers but you have to admit that sometimes the homework they give is just a waste of time. I am not a fan of rote learning. I'd rather my kids play a puzzle or problem solving game on the computer than have them copy their exam paper on to their exercise book.

  • I hate the idea that kids are learning just to pass exams and stressing out to get As. Learning should be about gaining knowledge, feeding curiosity, nurturing creativity or gaining a skill.

  • You can learn almost anything online these days.

  • She is able to work independently. I just need to point her in the right direction, and she can learn on her own. I don't need to carry a cane around, threatening to bring down the house just to get her to study. 


Even with my many reasons to homeschool, I still have my fears. 
  • What if I don't do her homeschooling correctly and screw up her future, and she can't get into any university? But then, does she really need to go to uni? There are so many ways to earn a living right? Which leads to the question... "What does she want to do?" and "How do we get her there?"
  • There is safety in doing things the "traditional" way ie. follow a syllabus, sit for exam. But that's what I don't want in the first place... learning just to pass exams. It is scary to do things differently than what others are used to. It's like taking an unknown road hoping it leads to the right destination. 


Homeschooling my daughter is like playing with playdoh. We both discuss what we want to do and then we 'mold' the learning to reach the goal. 

Sounds straightforward but it is not, because our goals change as circumstances change. 

Initially we decided that she will sit for the Cambridge IGCSE when she's 16. That's what most international schools are doing anyway. I got her the KS3 books: English, Math, Science, Geography, History. 
  • We still need to know the right format in answering the exam questions. I'm not qualified in that area. Of course I could probably hire a qualified IGCSE tutor.
  • It is still the rigid way of studying to pass an exam.
  • Malaysian currency is dropping. The price to sit for 1 paper has gone up considerably. Before it was like about RM300++ for 1 subject. I was told it is now above RM1000? I'm not too sure about this so don't quote me just yet. 
So we decided that maybe IGCSE is NOT for us. Taking a step back and looking at how the world works these days, it seems that being specialized in a certain skill is much more valuable than having a general degree. 

Seeing that my daughter has no ambition on becoming a doctor, lawyer, engineer (or whatever profession that requires going though the "traditional" education route), we can maybe skip high school exams like IGCSE, GED, or SPM. She's into computer coding, web design and that sort of stuff. So, our goal now is for her to be certified in those areas. There's opportunity there for her to find work online too to build up her portfolio. 
Another skill for her to master is English writing. If she can write well, she has many different work options too. 

At first I wasn't sure if this is the way to go but a recent conversation with my US based cousin who interviews candidates for the company he works with assured me I'm on the right track. He says nobody wants to hire a graduate that needs to be trained. They always look for people who already know how to do the job, meaning hiring people who already have the necessary skills. Interestingly, the last thing they see is where you graduated from. So you could say that a certificate in Linux, AWS or any other IT course would carry more weight than your graduation scroll from "XX" university. 
Well, that's the message I got anyway. 

So, homeschool for now is taking online courses such as from UDEMY and also other foundation studies such as math, English, science, occasional geography n history.  

Start learning on Udemy today!

Black Friday $10 300x250

There are so may factors to consider when it comes to our children's education. What works for one family may not work for another. 
#1 Factor - Consider the child. Will he/she enjoy homeschooling? What is he/she comfortable with? My eldest opted for homeschool but my 2nd son would rather stay in school. 

#2 Factor - Work backwards. Meaning start with career choices, then see what your child will need to do to get there? At a young age kids may not know what they want to do in the future. So it would make sense to play safe at first and plan to sit for the common exams. Once they have an inkling what they would like to venture in, you can "modify and adjust" your education plan. 

I'm sure you can come up with many more factors. There are many different options, it's just a matter of which one you DARE to take.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Free Digital Scrapbook Page

This week's free digital scrapbook page at MyMemories is so cute. Just need to add your photos. Design all done for you. I already downloaded my copy.
Hope you like it too.

Click here to claim your copy.

This particular one only available until 11 Oct 2015. After that they will offer a different freebie. But you can use the same link as above to access it.

digital scrapbook page

p.s. I find MyMemories suite very easy to use. I use it not only for digital scrapbooking but also for making posters, handouts and quote graphics. Check it out.

p.s.s. To get a nice discount when you purchase the software, use this special code I have for you: STMMMS86598

Thursday, October 01, 2015

7 Cheap and Fun Ideas For The Family

Kids need entertainment. Unfortunately, some family entertainment can be expensive. In this time when the economy is suffering and parents are struggling to keep financially afloat, expensive entertainment is out of the question. Thank goodness there are still some cheap but fun ideas for your kids to enjoy. It doesn't matter if your kids are young or already in their teens, here are some ideas to keep your kids busy:

6 Cheap and Fun Ideas For The Family


Games are some of the best sources of fun for the whole family. Board games are an excellent example. If you’ve got any board games lying around, get them out and give them a whirl. Games like these encourage interaction between family members and help with bonding, which we often find ourselves doing too little of these days.

Apart from board games, other alternatives include card games (cards are readily available and cheap to get hold of. If you don’t know any good card games, it’s also easy to find the rules for some on the internet) and activities like charades. Family games are great for children of all ages – even teenagers will often take part (with a bit of resistance to begin with!)

The Settlers of Catan

Ideal Mexican Train Game


For younger kids, something fun to do is building indoor camps. Get some clothes pegs, some strings, and some bed sheets and you can help your kids build their own bedroom camp. Once built, kids will often play in these for hours. Many kids also love to sleep over in their own home-built camp.


This is a classic, but it’s a great option because arts and crafts can be really cheap. Why not go on a walk with your kids and get them to collect interesting sticks, stones, shells, feathers etc. Once home, you can get them to string them together to form hanging ornaments, or use them to decorate home-made picture frames and so on.


Another classic, ball games are great when the weather is good. Balls are cheap, and generally provide a lot of entertainment, as well as giving kids (including teenagers) a chance to blow off steam, use up energy and get some exercise all at once.


Let your kids invite a few friends over for the day. It’s true that sometimes a group of kids can end up causing a riot, but generally things don’t get out of hand and your kids will always have a lot of fun with a few friends around. The more friends there are, the more easily they come up with their own (usually free) entertainment. It’s a winning solution. And, if you really want to make the most of the opportunity, why not let your kids plan a feast and have their friends each bring something along to eat?


Some kids will be more resilient to this idea than others, but many kids enjoy cooking once they get started. So why not try and teach your kids a bit about cooking? Make it fun for them in the process and they’ll love it. Pizzas are a great option as kids can decorate them any way they wish with the ingredients you’re using.

The Disney Princess Cookbook

Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book


Get that heart pumping and blood moving. It's no fun to exercise alone. Have your kids go for a jog or power walk around the neighborhood or at the nearest park. Don't want to go outdoors? You can simply search for a workout routine on Youtube and everyone just follow along.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

5 Reasons Why Your Children Should Play With Building Block Toys

 When it comes to toddlers and preschoolers, play is very important. We may think it is all just fun and games for them, but that is the best way they learn.

If you want to invest in good toys, add building block toys to your list. Children love them because it is not just fun but also challenging. However, other than just being an entertainment tool, building block toys offer several benefits for your kids.


1. Better Motor Skills 

Using building blocks requires your child to put them in a position so that they do not topple over. As a result, hand-eye coordination improves the more the child plays. The act of grasping the blocks itself serves as good practice for gripping objects, and strengthens the fingers and hands of the child.

2. Mental Stimulation

Your child learns to think logically when playing with building blocks. After a few tries at building something and watching the blocks topple over, your child will learn that the blocks have to be arranged and placed properly to prevent that from happening. An older child will also realize that a stronger base can be made if you arrange most of the blocks at the bottom. Logical thinking skills are crucial in a child’s intellectual development.

3. Math And Vocabulary Skills 

Studies have shown that the inclusion of building blocks in playtime helps develop language and mathematical skills among children. Language skills develop when the child learns the names of the colors, shapes and sizes of building blocks. Mathematical skills are sharpened when a child learns to add up or subtract the number of building blocks required to build a structure. As such, it’s easy to see why building blocks are a great preschool learning tool.

4. Improves Creativity

Children learn how to create different structures using building blocks, and this stimulates their creative mind. Thus building blocks offer a good base to encourage a child’s creative abilities and not just the logical.

5. Encourages Positive Social Interaction

Building blocks are the type of toys that a child can share with others. By encouraging them to play together they learn how to interact and cooperate. This is among the first forms of teamwork your child can engage in.

Do not underestimate the learning benefits that come with playing simple toys such as building blocks. 


1. Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag

2. Melissa & Doug 100-Piece Wood Blocks Set


1. Magna-Tiles® Clear Colors 100 Piece Set

2. Magformers Rainbow 30 Piece Set

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How To Make A Fererro Rocher Candy Bouquet

Have you ever received a candy bouquet? If you haven't, maybe you should consider giving one away. You can be sure, the person who receives a candy bouquet from you will be very, very delighted.
In the gift shops, and some floral shops, I see Fererro Rocher candy bouquets up for orders. This seems to be a favorite. Maybe because Fererro Rocher chocolates makes the gift more classy and elegant.

Well, you don't have to fork out an arm and a leg to buy a Fererro Rocher chocolate candy bouquet. Look at this video to discover how to make it yourself.

Do you know you can make money making candy bouquets? Yup, you can start a home business selling candy bouquets.
Want to know how?


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Back To School Help

It's back to school again!

Why did the fun times past so fast?
Just when you are getting used to the long holiday, it's time to reshuffle the routine. This is the time when budgets get tight and stress level rise.

How about some help in the following areas:
  • Establishing Fall Routines
  • Super Quick Breakfast Recipes
  • Ideas on how to Lower the Grocery Budget
  • Recipes to Stock the Freezer for Busy Sports Nights
  • Something Besides PB&J to Throw in the Lunch Box
  • Tips on Increasing your Energy as a Mom
  • A Year’s Worth of Snack Ideas
  • A Printable to Tame Technology Time?

Back To School Bundle

Check out this Back to School Resource Bundle featuring 12 resources to help you ease into the Back to School mayhem as a family. You can find it here: AUTHENTIC MOM'S BACK TO SCHOOL BUNDLE

All this for a low price of $10 for 12 resources.
Bad news! This is only available at that price until Aug. 25th 2015.

So quick! Don't let all this help pass you by. Get those stress levels down.

*In the spirit of full disclosure some of the links in this email may be affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation from some of the entities listed here for referrals.