Away and Return

Some of my readers asked where I have been as I have not posted any new posts in the last weeks …

I have been away.

My dad became ill in May, and again early July and following several days of hospitalization 2 weeks ago, he became paralyzed. The eventual diagnosis was spinal TB or extra-pulmonary tuberculosis.

At the moment he is still in ICU following a really long and complex spinal fusion.  Doctors hope that now that his spine is stabilized, the nerves will eventually recover.  It may require up to 18 months in rehab.

My mom is traumatized by the sudden dramatic events and she faces many huge decisions.  She will have to pack and sell, give away and donate their things and sell her house.  We visited the retirement complex she has reserved and trust for God’s perfect timing to move there.

My dad’s treatments and final recovery is uncertain. Medical aid will not cover the many months of rehab. He has lost his job as the company has had to replace him, and at his age, he probably will not be able to return when he recovers.

I took an 19-hour bus trip to be with my parents and support my mom.  We spent many days sorting out dad’s legal affairs and accounts.

We visited him in hospital.

We cried many times.

We prayed constantly.

My mom’s church, the ladies in her quilting group, her dog therapy group and many of her patients (she’s a physiotherapist) and family have rallied around mom and dad.

Although we live far away, I am in constant contact with her.

In the meantime, I have returned home to my family and our farm.  My eldest daughter approaches her  prelim exams in August and matric final exams in November.  I have committed to driving her to the exam center and supporting her in these last few important months of her schooling.

I will so appreciate your prayers.

Blessings,

Here are some sites you may wish to view if you have any questions regarding extra-pulmonary TB:

Thanks

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my daughter’s questionnaire.

She received the required number of responses to work with the data.

I hope that she will manage to collate all the numbers, create graphs, make comparisons and form some correlations in her study.  It should be really interesting …

As a thank you, I have included a free download ~

Titus2 young woman

Titus 2:4 poster for a young woman ~ Titus 2v4 Young Women

Blessings,

Beautiful Mama Blog Award

This blessing came my way …

Beautiful Mama Blog AwardMarie at My Mom Thoughts  shared this encouragement,

thank you so much!

She wrote ~

“To accept the award, please do the following things:

Click the above award image, save it and use it in your acceptance post.
List 3 things you love about motherhood.
Nominate other deserving mamas; you may choose as many as you like. (And let them know of the nomination)”

Normally I tend to keep family issues private on my blog, but please let me share a little more about my being a mom …

Right from the start of my marriage, I was a step-mom to 2 boys. It was not always “beautiful”.  When the boys lived with us for seasons, we were a blended family and I felt secure, but their coming & going has been the most challenging aspect of parenting.  Currently one son, 22-years old, lives and works with us on our farm.  The eldest, 25-years old, is planning to join us here too.  … coming and going …  and learning to love with my hands and heart wide open. 

I always wanted to be a mom and when I fell pregnant with our first child, I prayed for mentors, attended La Leche League meetings, read books.  I wanted to do motherhood well. I was a breastfeeding-baby-wearing-attached-parenting-co-sleeping kind of mom and it was natural to continue nurturing her and start homeschooling.

Four years later I had my second child.  We had an amazing home birth and I thought that I would parent her as I had before,  but everything seemed different.  She was different.  She loved to sleep on her own, in her cot, and thrived on structured routine. My parenting style with her changed dramatically.

And just two and half years later my youngest arrived, also with an intimate home birth.  She fitted into our lives so smoothly.  I could pop her in my sling and continue with the family.

I love seeing each child open up like a flower and discover themselves and life around them.  It is a privilege to homeschool them and spend our lives together.

I am so grateful to be a mom.

Here are 3 things I love about motherhood ~

  • Every age and every stage of the child is utterly unique and special.  It is sometimes so beautiful that I tell myself to soak it all in.  Sometimes it seems so hard, even ugly.  Grace to a child in transition and grace to a mom who doesn’t know how …
  • Every child is unique and one style does not fit all.  All my ideals and standards have been challenged.  Grace.  Grace to others, and self-grace to the ‘different’.
  • All truly great parenting is done on bended knee in prayer. Keep praying, looking to Him,the author and perfecter of our faith, the One who K.N.O.W.S. all.

Other amazing moms who inspire me are ~

Pop over to their blogs and websites and be encouraged and inspired.

Blessings and grace to all you beautiful mamas!

Thanks to You!

I love Word Press’ 2012 annual report.  They presented all their clients with a gorgeous stats report that really made me smile!

Somehow their “stats monkeys” compared visits to blogs with numbers of passengers on a Boeing 787, or visitors to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, or even how many climbers make it to the top of Mount Everest!

You all came with me to Liechtenstein!  :)

Blog Report 2012And you all made this happen!

Blog Report 2012 2Thank you for your faithful friendship and love and support!

May 2013 be a wonderful year for all!

Blessings,

Miss.L’s Picasso art featured!

Out of the blue, I received an email from the University of Arizona requesting permission to use Miss.L10’s “Picasso Inspired Violin and Guitar” collage for their Sacred & Profane Arizona Choir & Symphonic Choir concert.

I was shocked and stunned, but of course, said, “Yes!”

Miss.L10 was delighted!

She was even more thrilled to receive copies of the poster and the program.

What an honor to have her art selected from the millions of children’s artworks published on the internet!

Thank you, Ingvi.

Blessings,

An Accident

Although I tend to share only a “peep” into our homeschooling here at Practical Pages, and do not expose all the personal details of our lives, I really appreciate your cyber-friendship and your love, encouragement and support and want to share a little of our (my) current reality ~

Last week Wednesday evening I was quite badly burnt.

There was an accident in my kitchen where a large bottle of methylated spirits my hubby was using caught alight.

My attempts to cover the flames on the floor with a blanket somehow caused some flaming meth to shoot out onto my leg and I now have 2nd and 3rd degree burns from around my ankle to just under my knee.

I am sitting, dressed and working from my bed and homeschool has moved to my bedroom.

My youngest was really happy to snuggle under the blankets and do her schoolwork with me.  My laptop is a wonderful tool, with all our hymns, audio books and pictures to view and discuss.  It is actually really quite snug and cosy.

Nature study has been from my bedroom window.

But yesterday was really rough.

It was my first wound care treatment.

I was quite unprepared for the pain and the trauma involved in removing the dressings.  Pain management is an ongoing problem.  And I have realized that this is a slow process to recovery.  Areas on my leg may require skin grafts.  Please pray.

Today there is no school.

I am so grateful that we homeschool.

That we can take time off,

take things slow,

leave out the unnecessary,

and focus on the important.

Life is teaching me right now.

And I seem to be a slow learner.

I still need to find out what these life lessons are all about.

Blessings and thank you for reading,

Winter Break

I’ve been away from my blog these last 2 weeks

because …

my laptop died on the operating table …(sad sigh)

we’re on our winter school break … (relieved sigh)

visitors have filled our house … (happy smiles!)

I had hoped to start my normal routine this coming week,

But

our heaviest winter cold front this season rolled in on Friday

and our rivers are flooded,

our farm roads are impassable.

My older daughters are still away visiting friends who are also flooded in …

so, I guess there is no “normal” this week either …

until I can drive out to fetch them.

Until then,

Be blessed,

Why would a school teacher homeschool?

Mary Boyer, the first teacher in Upper Arlingt...

Mary Boyer, the first teacher in Upper Arlington, held class in the basement of King Thompson’s home. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my readers recently wrote and asked me,

“Why would you, a qualified school teacher, homeschool your children?”

Here is some of my  response:

My teaching background and experience:

I am a teacher with 10 years public school teaching experience.  I earned my teaching diploma in Senior Primary Education and later completed my BA degree, majoring in English & Education.  I mostly taught English, History, Art, Bible Education, and Remedial Education.

My first teaching position was in a rural government school, and I served in the school’s boarding hostel as “mommy” to about 65-or-so girls, aged 6-years-old to 14-year-olds.  The social welfare placed many of these children in the boarding school.

My second teaching post was at an elite public school in the capital city.  This school was in the ambassadorial residential area and we had an international and highly educated parent body and an affluent school board.

I was especially inspired to provide key elements in my classes: 

  • differentiation ~ offer different ways for children to approach an activity, to make provision for different learning styles
  • remediation for weaker students
  • and extension for gifted students

My thoughts on public schooling (in no particular order):

  • Students who had involved parents did well and participated in more activities in school.
  • Students with available parents did more comprehensive projects, did the  most consistent homework and scored better in tests.
  • Students with supportive parents coped better with anxiety, pressure and loss in sport and cultural activities.
  • Children with “absent” parents (such as those children living in the boarding hostel, and those with full-time working parents)  struggled more with low self-esteem, anger, emotional immaturity, learning difficulties, failures, frustrations, poor peer relationships, withdrawal, hyper-activity, and discipline issues.
  • Children who needed remediation did best with one-on-one sessions and the school did not offer this.
  • Children with learning problems had low self-esteem issues and “labelled” themselves or were mocked and teased by their peers and they would even resist special lessons or help.
  • Gifted pupils often “slipped through the cracks” because there was little or no opportunity catering for their unique thinking and learning styles, their pace and approach.  They often exhibited similar behavior to learning-disabled students because they did not “fit in”.
  • Children established “cliques” and the shy, isolated child or those that did not “fit in” struggled with terrible self-esteem issues.
  • Teachers favored certain children over others and were sometimes as nasty as the children’s peer groups towards awkward children.
  • Teachers who were passionate about their students inspired them to achieve exceptional standards in scholastic, athletic, in leadership, as well as in their spiritual lives.

    English: Photography of a teacher writing on b...

    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So why did I start homeschooling my first child?

Tess , our eldest daughter , now 17 years old, was born a few weeks premature and at 9 days old became extremely ill with meningitis.  When the spinal tap was taken for lab tests, blood was found in her spinal fluid.  The MIR showed she also had bleeding on her brain.  We were alerted to the need for therapy.

She was diagnosed with right-hemiplegic and cerebral palsy.  We did weekly occupational and physio therapy until she was 11 years old.  By God’s grace she has achieved a full, functional, mainstream life.

Naturally, my plans to return to teaching after a year’s maternity leave were completely abandoned.  I became an “attached” parent; breast-feeding for 2 years, wearing my child in a sling, I was focused and passionate about her needs, interests and development.  Among the sphere of similar parents, I first became aware of homeschooling.

After a few years of kindergartener homeschooling with 2 other families, I placed Tess in a private Christian school for grade 1 to grade 3.

Despite the school’s strict Christian ethos and code and their stringent admissions policy, I was troubled about several issues.  The children were “just children“, prone to all the negative peer influences I had noticed in government public schools.  There was the same type of bullying, cliques, tensions, pride and performances, fears and anxieties, and there was a lack of individual differentiation.

Despite this, Tess thrived at school, but my heart was troubled.  I felt that the Lord wanted me to nurture and disciple my child’s spiritual life.  I was convicted of  “spiritual duplicity”; of the many hours each day of these “other” influences and pressures on my child.

Homeschooling as a family

At this time my husband bought a farm a few kilometers outside a small rural town.  There were no English schools and so we had to homeschooling our 3 children.

By the end of our 2nd year of homeschooling a group of new homeschool families from our district gathered at our farm each month .

Many parents from this group told me that they withdrew their children from school for the following reasons:

  • Parents made spiritual decisions to bring their child up in the fear of the Lord, according to His Word and principles.
  • Parents wanted to spend more time with their young children and nurture their natural desire to learn.
  • Families had met other homeschool families and wanted to bring about the change in their children’s characters that they so admired: loving, supportive, caring relationships, respect for one another, helpful and capable, responsible, involved in family business etc.
  • Their child could not cope academically in the school system.
  • Their child was unhappy socially, bullied or unaccepted.
  • The school could not provide for their child’s interests or learning style.
  • The school insisted on medication for hyperactivity and the parents did not agree with this approach.
  • Negative (and even unlawful) activities at school were a bad influence on their children.
  • Afrikaans families wanted to teach their children in English, or equip them with an international curriculum.
  • Families were considering emigration and wanted to prepare their children as explained in the reason above.
  • Parents were encouraged to homeschool because the trend had become more socially acceptable and well-represented.

Many times over the past 14 years of homeschooling I have declared that our homeschooling decision is NOT cast in stone.

As we navigated our choices for Tess’ high school and her completion certification, we have offered her alternatives ~ an opportunity to study at boarding school or attend college or follow other correspondence courses.  She has chosen to continue to homeschool to matriculation.

My youngest daughter has loved the nurturing and loving relationship of homeschool and tells others that she homeschools because she can “get the most cuddles this way” and she enjoys eating snacks while she learns.

She has struggled more than the others learning to read and has difficulty with her spelling.  I’m sure that if she were in a normal school she would have been labelled and she may have negatively compared herself with her peers.  However, with homeschooling, she has progressed at her own pace and has finally become an independent reader, despite it being so difficult for her.

We are able to cater for her unique learning style and provide a safe and nurturing environment for her to grow and mature.

As I mature and gain experience in my journey as a homeschool teacher, I have realized that I can relax more.  As Charlotte Mason suggests, I do not need to direct everything.

I believe that information can be learnt at any time and that there will always be ‘gaps’.   As my children learn to research, read and discover, record and express what they have learnt, they develop the most valuable assets.

We are present, connected and attentive to our children in all areas of their lives.

We can consistently nurture, encourage, disciple and discipline our children.

We are living one-life in His life.

We all consider our homeschooling as a privilege.

It is a joy to live and learn and grow together.

What has motivated your decisions to homeschool?  How have you grown and changed in this journey?  Feel free to share with us in the comments.

Blessings,