Letter 5 – Let Be

Here’s the next letter my series ~ “Letter To Mewhere I share the letters I wrote to myself, encouraging myself (and, hopefully other new homeschoolers)  with what I wish I had known when I started out on our homeschooling journey ~ Art Sketch Tuesday Purple 002

Dear Nadene,

 Do not be afraid to focus on one child and let the others “be” for a season when needed.

At first, you will be determined to teach each child using a full program and it will be e.x.h.a.u.s.t.i.n.g.  Remember, that your toddler does NOT need formal schooling

At first you will find the best rhythm for your day is to start with a Bible story and song, and to end with a great read aloud with all the kids snuggled together on the couch.

During those middle school years, you will need to focus on one child for some subjects (like maths) while the others get along with something that they can do on their own.  e.g.: handwriting. copywork, maths drill practice sheets, practice spelling, play with activity bags, illustrate narrations …. 

Sometimes the older child will do more work on their own while you focus on the little ones. Invest in a round table and sit between the most “needy” children.  Keep trying until you find the right combination, rhythm and flow.

And remember that wonderful decision to teach all the kids on one core curriculum?  Well, you will only be able to aim for some and not all of their abilities.  One year your middle child will “float” a little while you push the eldest to improve her skills and still teach the youngest her phonics and early reading.  The next year you will aim the pace and interest according to your middle child while your eldest does most her schooling independently.  You’ll miss some of that intimacy, but it will be the right fit for your children in this season.

During most of the last 3 years  of your eldest child’s high school, you will host her  in dedicated tutor sessions after lunch while the others rest or play outside.  For your eldest’s final exam preparation season and exam sessions in a nearby town, your younger kids will literally “fall off the radar screen”  for a few weeks.  Just go ahead and plan a  hands-on project, or craft activity to keep them meaningfully busy, or declare a “school holiday” for those few crazy weeks.  It will all turn out okay!

Importantly, remember to follow your child’s readiness and spark.  Hold off subjects and methods that produce meltdowns or look for alternatives.  Maybe they are just not ready!  Wait a few months and try again.  Leave the books or program for another year and see if it works then. 

And if your teenager abandons certain subjects and even ditches a curriculum you all battle with, and she doesn’t do a single exam or test for a whole year, you’ll be amazed to discover that she didn’t actually “fall behind” or loose her touch, but will have matured and grown through her reading and basic maths and flowing in her creative hobbies and entrepreneur ventures.  Unschooling apparently works. Let your child “become” rather than force her to finish a year in your cookie-cutter approach.

Lastly, remember that what worked for one child will not necessarily work for another!  One child loves a strict schedule and tick off the boxes, another prefers an immersion approach where she spends most her time on one subject until it is done before starting another and she’ll mess up that neat schedule completely, but she’ll complete all the work in the end.  One child needs mom present and available, while another wants to work on her own. 

Your homeschooling will work out if you are flexible and trust the Lord to lead and shape you as the teacher, and your children as wonderful, whole people.

Blessings from your older, hopefully wiser self,

Nadene

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Please would you share yours in the comments.

In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:

Sketch Tuesday ~ Handle

We have participated in Sketch Tuesday for most of our homeschooling years and it remains a fresh, exciting and creative part of our weekly routine!  This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is ~ Something with a handle

Here’s my sketch ~

Sketch Tuesday Handle 001

If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box. and confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Each week Barb will email the slideshow and the next topic of theme.

See you at the next slideshow!

Blessings,

 

Letter 4 – Toddlers

Here’s the next letter my series ~ “Letter To Mewhere I share the letters I wrote to myself, encouraging myself (and, hopefully other new homeschoolers)  with what I wish I had known when I started out on our homeschooling journey ~

 Dear Nadene,

So you’re starting homeschool with your toddlers.  You do not need to “do formal school” with your littles.  Forget the boxed curriculums, those expensive educational toys and the dedicated time and place for learning.  It IS NOT NECESSARY!  Life and learning go hand-in hand.  Sorting laundry, plumping pillows, washing veggies, and any and every activity you are busy with are all part of the lessons learnt at this stage.

P1040645Play!  Go outside.  Explore!  A sand box and some water are your toddler’s best toys!  Let her get dirty, play in puddles, smear mud, eat some worms … it is good, old-fashioned, messy fun!  Blow bubbles, chase butterflies and sniff all the flowers. Kick balls and throw bean bags.  Have fun!

Sing songs.  Sing them over and over again.  Do hand actions!  Dance and move.  Play musical instruments; like those you make with some seeds in bottles, two sticks to beat together, a few bells on some string. Buy a few good CDs and play them during the day and in the car.  This is the season when the “wheels of the bus go round and round ….”

P1100408Read to your toddler.  A good Mother Goose or Classic Children’s Story book with lovely illustrations is all you need.  Read with funny expressions!  You’ll make the story come alive!  Read every day.  Read at night at bedtime.  Read alouds are the most powerful learning tool you will ever, ever need!  Your children will amaze you with an ever-increasing vocabulary, creative imagination and incredible general knowledge! Sit with your child on your lap and cuddle together. This is going to become her and your most cherished memory of homeschooling!  And DON”T STOP!   Read aloud to your teens!  They will still love it!

Encourage narrations after the story … “tell me the story in your own words”  or “what happened to the mouse?”  or draw a picture of the story.  Use a large blank jotter and write your child’s dictated narration under or near their illustration.  It will be her precious book of creative learning.

Playing with playdoughTeach basic skills with fun games.  Select one or two short activities per day — roll and cut play dough, sort colors and shapes, pour rice, beans or water through funnels and into jugs, paste magazine pictures or wool or cotton wool onto card, peg with clothes pegs, press stubby pins in holes, cut paper with safety scissors, draw with cubby crayons, finger paint, lace with reels, thread large beads … the lists are endless.  Just one or two activities per day!  That’s all.  Prepare for repetition.  Kids love to repeat an activity over and over. It is their way of mastery.  Go with them until they have had enough and then move on to something new.

Make Ziplock activity bags for your toddlers if you are teaching older kiddies.  They will save your sanity when you need to focus on your older children!  Use some of the ideas above, as well as countless others you’ll find on Pinterest and Google.  Spend an hour or two once a month and create new sets.   Swap them with your friends or make them for each other.  Teach you toddler to play quietly and then pack all the pieces back in the bag before going on to another activity.  These are also great for church and waiting rooms!

Avoid over scheduling your toddler!  She only needs some swim safety lessons, but don’t fill her days with endless extra lessons.  She does not need horse riding, kinder musik, group play dates, ballet, ball skills sessions that require you to pack up and bundle everyone in the car and stress to arrive in time … only to arrive home late with tired, ratty kids and still have supper to prepare … Your toddler will not fall behind.  You are not neglecting her if you don’t fall into this modern-day trend.

Follow your child’s readiness.  Take note of things she enjoys and facilitate her love to learn gently. You may lead her to something further, but don’t rush her.   And if she is not ready for something, just quietly put it aside and try again a few months later.

Prepare your child ahead of events so she can cope with change or new things.  Give 5 minute “heads up” before the game or activity ends so that she can move on without tantrums.  Explain your expectations clearly and simply, for example:  “When we are in the shop we are not buying any (….) (sweets or drinks) at the till.  Here is your sippy cup and teddy to hold while we shop.”  Remind her again as you put your toddler in the trolley.  Be kind and gentle but firm. 

And how to avoid birthday party meltdowns?  Use the golden ratio = child’s age : number of friends + 1, so, if your child is turning 2, then she can cope with 3 friends.    Arrange to have healthy party foods or snacks with your friends and agree not give away sweets as party favors. 

Lastly, Nadene, this will all be over in such a short time!  Love every moment of every age and stage.  All too soon they will grow up and move on with their lives.  Homeschooling your children is the most precious gift!

Blessings from your older, hopefully wiser self,

Nadene

PS.  I did get a little teary posting photos of my youngest daughter, Lara, then 5 years old, who is now a tall, slender 13-year-young lady … sigh … and recall those precious young years.

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Please would you share yours in the /comments.

Previous posts in this series:

Smash This Nature Journal

Brand new downloads ~

Welcome to adventure outdoors journaling ideas!  Nothing stiff,  stuffy and serious here!  Be warned ~ you and your Nature Journal may get dirty or wet, but you should have some real creative fun!

I have created 2 Smash This Nature Journals which you’ll find on my Packages Page.

Cover Smash Nature Journal 1Cover Smash Nature Journal 2

Here’s how it works ~

  • Take this journal with you every time you go on a nature walk.
  • You can complete any activity, in any order.
  • Be original! Use your own ideas or adapt any here to suit your situation.
  • Photograph some of your destructive results and collect them in here to show off!
  • Have fun!

My  wonderful homeschooling friend Willemien Kruger of Homeschooling Curriculum Guide sent me photos of her boys enjoying their “Smash Nature Journals“!

Here’s her feedback,

“Both my boys enjoyed doing the Smash Nature Journals at times.  It was scheduled as something to be done when they feel like it, so some days they did a lot of pages and some days none.  Of course the boys enjoyed the really smashing activities more than the coloring or writing, and some activities really helped them to think outside the box!  A cool idea for younger kids to explore nature and art!”

My daughter also enjoyed smashing her journal!  There is something wonderfully liberating being instructed to tear, crumple, stain, wet and mess in a nature journal.  In the past I over-stressed the nature sessions with expectations for neat, labeled, researched, colored journal pages.  This new approach brought a flurry of activity and excitement to our nature walk.

Pop over to my Packages Page to order your downloads.  And when your children have completed their pages, please email them to me to share here on the blog!

Blessings, Nadene

Sketch Tuesday ~ Vegetable

Create every day“, I wrote on a little chalk board in our study/ craft room last year.  Like Barb says in her latest post, I believe that moms gain so much from participating in some form of creative activity every day.  Whether it be time spent listening to or playing music, gardening, sewing, sketching, painting, handiwork or crafts.  Karen Andreola calls it “Mother Culture“.   She quotes,

“Mothers should cultivate their souls so that in turn they may cultivate the souls of their children.”

Sketch Tuesday prompts me to create at least once a week. It is soul food which nourishes and blesses me as a busy homeschool mom.

This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is ~ Vegetable

Here’s my sketch ~

20160129_070423-1If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box and confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Each week Barb will email the slideshow and the next topic of theme.

See you at the next slideshow!

Blessings,

 

Letter 3 – Unique Individuals

Here’s the next letter my series ~ “Letter To Mewhere I share the letter I wrote to myself, encouraging myself (and, hopefully other new homeschoolers)  with what I wish I had known when I started out on our homeschooling journey ~

Dear Nadene,

P1060150Your homeschooling ideals may start out looking like your version of “Little House on the Prairie” … Your three neat young girls; all polite, kind, sweet and obedient.  They may dress the same.  Your young children will play dress up with bonnets and aprons.  They will play make-believe and act out their read alouds.  They will willingly help with chores, milk cows and bake bread,  They will love their nature study walks, journalling and singing hymns.  You will enjoy this precious, innocent season for a short time.

They will not continue for long. Your girls will abandon most of this in their teens.  They will throw away their Alice bands and try their own hair styles.  Their fashion sense may shock you.  Your one child may even try to look Gothic!  They may refuse to do some of the Christian activities, some of the Charlotte Mason subjects.  You will be dismayed!   You will go through a deep valley of stresses and struggles.  You may feel that all your values have been lost and ignored.  You will cry many bitter tears of fears and failures.  

But you see, homeschooling allows children to be unique individuals and will equip them to express themselves.  They are simply testing everything to be sure for themselves.  Young teen age daughters will distance themselves from you as mom to find the woman they are becoming.  It is a crazy process.  Some day there will be moods and darkness, another day it will be sweet childhood and sunshine.

But they still believe. There is no cookie cutter approach. Don’t take it personally.  Allow them to figure it all out.  Give them some choice and freedom and do not condemn them.  They do not need laws, but grace.  Obviously, maintain your course and include them in deciding how and what to do for homeschooling.  Become collaborative and facilitate their growing independence.Beautiful girlhood Ideals

You will be amazed, but your eldest daughter will comment and encourage and discipline her teen sisters with the very words you spoke to her through her troubled teens.  Those values and character traits have been instilled.

Keep your relationship loving and open.  Maintain heart-to-heart closeness as your greatest priority and privilege.

Above all, trust the Lord to show you what He wants for them.  Trust Him to keep them from falling and present them to the Father with exceeding joy.

Blessings,

Nadene

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Please would you share yours in the comments.

Previous posts in this series:

Sketch Tuesday ~ Sweet

We have participated in Sketch Tuesday for most of our homeschooling years and it remains a fresh, exciting and creative part of our weekly routine!  This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is ~ Sweet

Here’s my sketch ~

Sweet

If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box. and confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Each week Barb will email the slideshow and the next topic of theme.

See you at the next slideshow!

Blessings,

 

Letter 2 – Ideals and Compromise

Last week I started a new series ~ “Letter To Me“.  As I  reflected over my past 19 years of homeschooling, I wrote a letter to myself sharing what  wish I had known when I started our homeschooling journey ~ Here’s this week’s letter ~

Dear Nadene,

When you start homeschooling you will be very idealistic, very determined and very scared.  You will begin months before and read stacks of books, make choices and form a narrow perspective of how to successfully educate and grow your children.  Your ideals, principles and disciplines will be tested and tried, and many will change. 

When you start homeschooling, there will be very few other homeschool families, and you will wonder why some flounder and fail and can’t figure out how to homeschool successfully.  You will look at some unschooling families with doubt and scorn. 

You will wonder how anyone can learn without a strict schedule, timetables, and lessons.  And you will strive and stress to “do it right” and it will eat at you at night.  Nadene, you will try teach all . the . time . until you realise that all that effort kills your children’s natural desire to learn.  You will push them and pressure them, even punish them, and wonder why it all feels so “wrong” when it is supposed to be so “right”. 

To your shame, your junior high child will not do any official tests, exams or formal curriculum for 2 years!  Even your husband will think that you have dropped the ball.  You will fail.  Your kids will fail to measure up.  Your ideals will be tested and failure will bring changes.  You will learn to adapt, abandon stuff, alter your approach, until you find your peace and your children unfold, relax and enjoy learning.  There will be days with nothing “to show”, but joy will fill all your hearts.  You will trust that your child will flourish when she is ready and she need not have any shame or distress in not being ready. 

Remember, you said right at the beginning, “Nothing is cast in stone“?  Well, it is true.  You will find yourself figuring it out, for each child, all the way, and it will not end up looking anything like you thought it would all those years ago.  But it is good. 

You will champion Charlotte Mason!  Her approach works!  You will be amazed at how simple her principles are, yet how challenging and ever just out of reach.  Every time you read her words, you will be encouraged to reach higher, go deeper. 

May I encourage you to embrace change and failure.  It is the way you will learn God’s grace.  Let Him dissolve all your glass castles full of your narrow ideals.  Lay them down and allow Him to lead you.  

When you are distressed and despondent, allow the Lord to restore your soul.  He will never leave or forsake you in this journey.  Trust Him and it will be good!

Blessings,

Nadene

Previous posts in this series:

 

Letter 1 – Learning Not School

After over 19 years of homeschooling I have reflected on a few things …  I would love to share what I have learnt and wish I knew when I started homeschooling ~

Join me in a new series ~ “Letter To Me

Dear Nadene,

Starting homeschool is going to feel like you are starting a school, but it will not be the way it ends.

You will have the dedicated school room, the desks, books, and files. But, eventually, your school room is simply the study and craft room, and school takes place everywhere.  You will still enjoy decorating your study and create a peaceful place to work and be creative. 

White tile with sponge and clipYou will never stand and teach at that white board you purchased!  Your kids will draw and practice spelling on it and it will be a good display board. You will use that nifty white tile whiteboard you made for each kiddie and it will do the job all the way to graduation!

You will buy a very expensive curriculum – no, actually three, one for each child – with all the bells and whistles, and feel secure in the knowledge that you will cover everything …  And it will KILL your love to teach!  It will be too much!  You will actually fall asleep while reading aloud because it is just exhausting!  You will try again the next year and promise to “make it work” and it will be just as stressful. But don’t worry!  You will save money!  Homeschooling will cost a fraction of the cost of good private schooling.  In the next few years you will re-use those purchased curriculums over and over and over again (yes, three times), and they will be worth every penny spent!  You will learn to stretch out a program to 18 months instead of following the schedule and you will love the extra margin of time for all the fun hands-on activities, crafts, projects and scenic stops along the way.

Finally, in your third year, you will teach all three kids on one new core curriculum. It will be compact enough to fit into a small suitcase, which will be important because you will all travel around South Africa for a year and a half.  During this time, you will finally find your own rhythm and peace , and forget about “school-at-home” but create a lifestyle of learning.  And you will learn not to judge a curriculum by its size, but by its content!

By your fourth year you will create your own curriculums.  They will be a perfect fit for each child because you will tailor-make them according to their learning styles and delight-directed interests.

You will begin school very strict about everyone’s timetables, demand neat work, excellence and results. In the end, you will keep it simple, give everyone more freedom and only diligence will be your focus.

You will fail … and it will still be okay.  Regardless of the days of distress and nights of silent tears, this is a journey of great joy! 

This is the great blessing in your life! You spend your life with your children, and will know them intimately and enjoy them.

Above all, you will learn to trust in the Lord.  He will never fail you if you keep trusting in Him.

Blessings,

Nadene

References to curriculums:

Sonlight A wonderful curriculum I used when I started my homeschooling.  Just type “Sonlight” in the search bar for all my other Sonlight posts.

Footprints on our Land   A South African literature-based homeschool curriculum

 

Sketch Tuesday ~ Postage Stamp

We have participated in Sketch Tuesday for most of our homeschooling years and it remains a fresh, exciting and creative part of our weekly routine!  This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is ~  Postage Stamp

Here’s my sketch ~

Postage Stamp 001

If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box. and confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Each week Barb will email the slideshow and the next topic of theme.

See you at the next slideshow!

Blessings,