More on Mother Culture

Mother Culture is part  of Charlotte Mason philosophy despite her never referring to the term itself.  Any one following a Charlotte Mason education should know Karen Andreola, her books and her beautiful blog “Moments with Mother Culture“.  Karen believes so strongly in  Mother Culture that she trademarked it as a concept.

She defines Mother Culture ~

Mother Culture is, simply put, an act of the mother in which she continues her own education throughout her mothering years. Its purpose seems to be to prevent burnout.  When the mother keeps growing, then she continually has something to offer to her children and household. “

Mother Culture encourages a mother to allow herself a bit of recreation, refresh herself by exploring her own interests, and to find a little time for herself especially when so many others depend on her.

From my experience I know that mothers with young children may feel that this is just too difficult!  So much time and energy is spent on coping with the myriad of demands her young family constantly call on her for, that there is barely time enough to have a leisurely shower, let alone learn and grow as an individual.  But there will come a time when this season deep in the toddler trenches ends and you’ll find space around you expanding with new opportunity to grow and develop yourself and expand your own learning.

May I encourage you to try add small but meaningful ways towards growth and discovery, towards adding the little touches that make your heart and home happythink of 5 minutes for your 5 sensessight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. 

Pick one skill you desire to learn and set aside a few minutes a day to learn this. This can easily be done after the children go to bed, but always include them in your growth of the skill, so they are seeing your example of education being for life.

  • Spend some time alone early in the morning before the kids wake up for quite prayer, Bible reading and journaling.   Why not brew yourself a lovely cup of hot coffee or tea and sip it slowly savouring the aroma and taste as you meditate and read.
  • Then simply add the next little touch such as lighting some lovely oils in a diffuser which fills your room with healing aromas, calms the nerves, inspires the heart and clears the head.
  • Play some classical music on your playlist as gentle music in the background.
  • Perhaps a beautiful hymn might inspire you, so why not learn a new hymn each month?  Play worship songs as you tidy, pack away or get the room ready.  Perhaps you could learn to play a musical instrument?
  • Display a beautiful artwork on an easel or propped up on a shelf for everyone to see and admire.  Once a week find another work of the same artist and hang it up to enjoy.
  • Pick flowers or pot some new pot plants and fill your rooms with touches and scents of nature.
  • Learn a new handicraft such as knitting, crocheting, embroidery, spinning or weaving.  These activities are a wonderful way of being quietly creative, keeping busy hands while still being able to listen to your children or watch them as they play.
  • This is also a wonderful opportunity to listen to an audio book or interesting podcast.
  • Why not take up a foreign language.  There are wonderful smartphone apps to make this quick and easy with just 10 minutes a day you could learn enough to inspire basic conversations which may well add to realising dreams of an overseas trip one day!
  • And while talking about learning a new skill, take time to plan your meals for the week.  This will help you remember to take out the meat to defrost and plan one new delicious, nutritious recipe for each week.  Try something new for the kids to bake or to prepare and cook with you, or find slow cooker recipes that take almost no time at all to place in the crock pot to simmer till dinner time.  Meal planning is essential to prevent that 5 o’clock panic which paralysed me when I didn’t know what to make for dinner!
  • And get physical — A brisk walk each day will help, or a short yoga session early in the morning, perhaps some gentle rebounding while the kettle is boiling or the washing machine runs the final spin?  A fit mom feels capable and strong enough to meet the physical demands on her during the day.  Exercise helps build up your immunity and helps ease anxiety, stress and sluggishness.

Brandy of After Thoughts wrote a lovely post On Mother Culture where she encourages mothers to devote time daily to Mother Culture.  She recommends that mothers read their own books daily and she says ~

What I’ve learned is that there is a time for reading a lot, and a time for reading a little, and though we should never stop learning and growing, it takes wisdom to know how much is appropriate.

Dollie of Joy In The Home shares on Mother Culture The What Why and How says that nature studies is a perfect example as a place for cultivating Mother Culture.  With a true Charlotte Mason education, when a child found something in nature, they would ask the mother what it was and the mother would have an answer for its name and something interesting to share about it. When mothers enjoy their own time in nature, observing, journaling, building up their own knowledge, they not only to provide any answer their child may have, but to develop their own lifestyle of interest and wonder. Read my post where I shared the joys of keeping my own nature journal.

Linda Johnson of Charlotte Mason help.com quotes in her post Mother Culture : What it is and What it is not

We mothers need to continue filling our minds with ideas that challenge and inspire us and this should be done primarily through the habit of reading. Otherwise, when our children grow older and take in more complex ideas and grapple with life’s challenging issues, we will not be able to offer them our valuable wisdom and insight. 

“Each mother must settle this for herself. She must weigh things in the balance. She must see which is the most important–the time spent in luxuriously gloating over the charms of her fascinating baby, or what she may do with that time to keep herself ‘growing’ for the sake of that baby ‘some day,’ when it will want her even more than it does now.” 

She describes her warm, close relationship with her adult daughters as a result of her investing in herself by “stimulating my mind so that I would have something of value to say to them when they came to me with difficult questions.”  Her discipleship in her parent-child relationship was built on her Bible readings and wisdom gained from reading great literature .  “This makes for a beautiful, life-long relationship and it prevents me from homeschool burnout. “

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I can thoroughly endorse her statements because I have also found the wonderful joy of close and meaningful relationships with my adult daughters.  This has come as a result of the deep investment of years of sharing, growing and learning alongside my adult daughters as well as lives lived together filling our home with singing, laughter, movies, chats and times of tears.  Our shared passion for music, arts, homemaking and deep spiritual lives has bonded us in wonderful ways that Mother Culture inspired in our Charlotte Mason homeschool journey.

As I enter my final homeschool year with my youngest daughter I can see the value of Mother Culture in keeping me vibrant, alive and excited for the new that is ahead.  No empty nest syndrome here – just precious time to grow and deepen my walk with the Lord, my husband and with others as I live out my calling and purpose.

Let me finish here with this quote from Linda ~

But, if we would do our best for our children, grow we must; and on our power of growth surely depends, not only our future happiness, but our future usefulness.
Keep on growing and learning, moms.  Actively add things to brighten and enrich your home and household.  Be the shining example of a fulfilled and interested person who knows and loves where she is and what she is busy with in each season of her life.
Much love, grace and Mother Culture to you.
Blessings, Nadene
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Sight Words booklets packed with ideas

Updating archives ~ Get your FREE Sight Words sampler Ebook and purchase a complete 30-page Sight Words Ebook

Teaching sight words is a very important and helpful tool to make reading easier for young students from pre-K to Grade 3.

Sight words = often also called high frequency sight words, are commonly used words that young children are encouraged to memorize as a whole by sight, so that they can automatically recognize these words in print without having to use any strategies to decode. (Definition – Wikipedia)

Sight words often cover almost half the reading material on a page.  By memorizing sight words, a child can quickly recognise and recall these words and does not need to decode or break up or sound out every letter of each word, thus simplifying his reading process.
What sight word lists to teach?

There are 3 main sight word lists ~

  1. Dolch Sight Words
  2. Fry’s 1000 Sight Words list using more modern words.
  3. Most frequently used words First 100-200 most commonly used words charts  or First 100 high frequency word lists

Whatever lists you choose to teach your child, you should introduce one or two words  each day, gradually adding new words while repeating and practicing the taught words until your child has learnt the entire list. Very quickly your child will build a wonderful, rich store of instantly recognized words which he can quickly read, thus building his reading ability.

How to teach sight words?

A general rule = Always say the whole word, then spell it out and then say it again, underlining the whole word with the first 2 fingers from left to right. 

There are several additional valuable techniques to teach sight words. You can view these lessons on http://www.sightwords.com/sight-words/lessons/

  1. See and Say
  2. Spell and read
  3. Arm Tap
  4. Air Writing 
  5. Table Writing
  6. Quick correction 

Download your FREE sampler  ~ Sight Words Sampler including the Dolche lists with words in sentences and the Dice & Spinner templates

Sight word games to play

The best way to practice is to have fun! Once the words have been taught, the child must practice those words daily.  Many of these games involve physical exercise which, in turn, strengthens core and fine motor muscles and reinforces directions and spatial awareness.  My complete 30-page Sight Words EBook has all the games, ideas, activities, templates and posters for you to have fun teaching and learning sight words with your children.

As in all teaching, you should customize your child’s lists to suit their levels of maturity and ability.  When they are ready, they will quickly learn new words and enjoy the learning process.

Click over to my Packages page to order the full 30-page Sight Words Ebook which includes ~

  • How to teach sight words lessons with detailed examples.
  • 18 Creative Spelling games (one or two players & physical activities
  • 24 Spelling ideas with unique activities &fun ideas
  • Dolch sight word lists with flashcards & words in sentences
  • Fry’s 100 Sight Words
  • 100 Frequently used sight word lists
  • Spinner and dice templates for games and activities
  • Board game and Bingo template
  • Links to websites and YouTube videos

Please support me by ordering this wonderful booklet on my Packages Page.

References ~ You will find lots of other lists, flashcards, games and downloads on the web ~

 Blessings, Nadene
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Add variety for sparkle

Image result for bright sparkEveryone loves and needs variety – from the foods we eat, to learning and homeschool,  to our normal day-to-day routines.  But when schedules seem to work well, it is easy to keep using the same approach and we may find ourselves eventually getting stuck in a rut.

Even when everyone is working well and making steady progress, homeschooling while in a rut may feel boring, dull and lifeless.  When this happens, Charlotte Mason’s approach allows for variety and interest.

Here are some ideas to add some sparkle to you homeschool days.  Simply mix things up a bit each term. You don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel, but try not to be locked in to the same subjects at the same times on the same days year after year.

  • Daily themes 2015Swap different days for composer/music study, art/picture study or nature study.  I used Theme Days for our week which worked so well to help us fit all the extras into our routine.
  • Listen to or read aloud a new Shakespeare play or poet.
  • Start a new book or audio book and perhaps include a new genre such as comedy (Roald Dahl) or a mystery story.
  • Work through some exciting Science experiment books.
  • Add in a new lapbook for your Core reader or main theme.
  • Look for an interesting hands-on activity for your theme or Core book.
  • Go on a weekly park day with friends one term.
  • Start a new exercise regimen or outdoor family activity.
  • Begin the day differently or end it with a splash of something fun!  A fun action song works fabulously for younger kids!
  • Buy new art supplies and materials and enjoy new creative fun.
  • Download or stream new classical music and explore music genres.  My kids absolutely loved mom and dad’s “trip down memory lane” listening to famous songs and music from our generation!
  • Create a puppet show or make a quick finger puppet show.  You can download our Esther play and Nativity play which gave us weeks of fun and creativity!
  • Watch historical DVD or movies related to your Core study.
  • View appropriate YouTube videos.  Always preview and create your own playlist for your family.
  • Have your homeschool in a different room for the day.  Go to the library or museum instead, or have an outdoor day if the weather permits.
  • Play a “back-to-front day” and have fun inventing an upside down day!  The kids will absolutely love the spontaneous fun!
  • Buy each child a new nature journal or art sketchbook and start with new prompts.
  • Sketch Tuesday was a wonderful “break” from any tough, boring day.

So when things seem dull or lifeless or you just need a change to liven things up, add some variety and keep things fresh.  Add a sparkle to your homeschool days!

What worked for you?  Please share with us in the comments below.

Blessings, Nadene
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Updated Book of Centuries to 2029

Book of CenturiesRecently a mom wrote to me requesting that I add a few more pages to my free Book of Centuries download. I was shocked to realize that we end this decade this year!  My, how time flies!

Charlotte Mason  encouraged her students to  enter records, illustrate and write brief notes and mark dates of famous people, events, wars, eras, inventions and significant breakthroughs in their Book of Centuries once a week as they study.

Book of CenturiesI wrote about my joy of using a Book of Century as a mother’s record of work and I still love browsing through my BOC and delight in the scope and richness of the education we have journeyed through these 19+ years.

Pop over to my blog posts – Practical Tip Book of Centuries for mom and kids and Mom’s Book of Centuries Record of Work

Here are some links and free Book Of Centuries downloads:

 Blessings, Nadene
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Letter 21 – Time

Back in 2016, I wrote a series of Letters to “my younger self” reflecting on  thoughts, attitudes, ideas and approaches in my 20+ years of homeschooling, which I hope will be an encouragement to you in your homeschooling journey.  So, picking up from where I left off, here’s Letter 21 ~ Time

Dear younger Nadene,Image result for grandfather clock

Homeschooling allows you to be free to follow the time-frame needed for your family.  Take more time when you feel stressed and frazzled.  Take some time alone to pray and journal.  Write those things down that frustrate and bewilder you.  The Lord is near to all those who call on Him and He has a gentle and very intimate listening ear.

Give yourself time to figure things out. You are not “supposed” to know how-to, what-to, and when-to do everything all the time.  Take a moment and just breathe in belly deep and slowly exhale and begin to ask the Lord and yourself some good questions. 

  • Ask the Lord to show you what is important right now, in this season.  He is faithful and will always gently remind you that it is always “People before Things“, it is always about relationships and not stuff!  Focus there first. 
  • Ask who needs the most love right now ~ that is your ministry! What does that person need right now to feel most loved and understood? When we relate to that precious person in grace and love, seeing their fears and failures through the Lord’s eyes of compassion, we become His hands, His heart, and His hope.  
  • Ask the Lord what that individual needs to learn and how to teach it … and this is not necessarily education, but rather character and faith, and pray specifically for those areas of the person’s life.  Often the Lord gives me one or two words to focus on such as “Trustworthiness” or “Truth” or “Transparency”.

Each child’s age and stage constantly changes, and with this growing and shifting, you need to adapt your approach and expectations.  When a child no longer fits the expectations you have, take a moment to reconsider who they are and what they need now, at this stage of their lives.  Relax and back off if you feel you are pressing them too hard, or remind and be consistent in those areas that need to be established. 

Remember that it is better to stop “school” to work on good habits, the right attitude and godly character, than to relent or ignore real issues to focus on school work.  Life is the lesson!  Don’t back off from quietly insisting on a positive response, or kind behaviour towards siblings, or obedience to important instructions.  Time spent here is worth every minute!  It may seem really hard when your days are constantly “interrupted” by behavioural issues. but it is not easier to send them to school for someone professional to ‘sort out’.  This is your child and you are their perfect parent, and this is your responsibility and your privilege. 

Take time to figure out how.  Ask for help if you need it.  Work as a team with your hubby.  He has a very different approach and if your work together in unity, you will accomplish much!  You are created for dependence and don’t need to do this alone.  Trust the Lord.  He has purposed you for this ministry and He will provide for everything that is needed to accomplish it.

You can do this!

With gracious love, 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:

 Blessings, Nadene
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Flags for Current Affairs

Recently I refreshed and updated my Current Affairs download with several maps, perpetual calendar pages, symbols and little flags for every country of the world.   You can purchase this 10-page download on my Packages page.

While searching for good quality, labeled, thumbnail-sized flags I found TeacherVision.com – Flags Around World

Also, while browsing I found some FREE pages of flags to download and colour-in –

  • Crayola.com – Nations Coloring Pages  Really lovely colour-by-number instructions, map and interesting facts about each country on page.
  • Super Coloring.com – Flags Of The World  Nice crisp outline image with a coloured thumbnail flag at the bottom of the page.  Includes some important facts about each country or international flag.
  • CRW Flags.com – Flags  Full-page outline with name only.

Hope these pages bring fun and interest to your Geography, Social Studies, World History or Unity Study topics!

In Grace, Nadene

Difficult is now easy

This time of year is often a time of reflection …

… looking back and evaluating,

… looking forward and planning.

In a recent Art of Simple post, Katie wrote  When Everything Seems Difficult   and made this incredible statement ~

“Don’t judge yourself by what’s still difficult. Judge by what’s now easy.”

Wow …

I don’t know about you, but in my homeschooling (and in life) I found myself often judging myself when I didn’t know how to tackle a certain problem,  when I seemed unable to help my kids, and I even judged my ability as a teacher when my children struggled. I judged my parenting abilities when my children battled with issues.

But, if I had just marvelled at what now seemed easy,  observed that we had mastered certain skills, or looked at how we learnt how to pace ourselves instead of struggling to keep up with someone else’s schedule, or found what learning methods and approaches worked, those successes would most certainly been encouraging.

When you are deep in the trenches, perhaps with newborn baby, or potty-training a busy toddler while struggling to continue teaching kindergartener or junior primary children, you may well feel overwhelmed.  Everything seems like a struggle.

But look back at how far you and your kids have come.

Look to see how many skills they have mastered.

Look to see that those habits you worked with so much effort to establish with such intensity, now seems completely natural, and be encouraged.

So as you evaluate your year, may I encourage you to look through the lens of this question ~ “What seems easy now that was difficult a while ago?”

If you want to do a character evaluation for each child, here is a free download for you ~ Character Report.pdf .  I shared how we enjoyed this evaluation process in my post Report and Evaluation Pages because if the child is old enough, he/she can evaluate themselves with a 1-4 scoring system.  This post also includes a Homeschool Assessment form I used to summarize the schoolwork, books, materials and skills covered and describe my children’s strengths, weaknesses and joys and highlights of the year.

We are all learning and growing, moving forward, gaining momentum, finding our way.  In whatever area of your life or your family’s life, give credit to this positive growth and be encouraged!

Peace and Blessings, Nadene

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25 Smartphone Homeschool Apps

In my early homeschooling days before smart phones existed, I carried a basket full of books, CD’s with CD player, an Atlas and reference books next to me when we studied.  But once I bought my smartphone I reduced the pile of books to mostly just our read alouds.

In 2015 I included a smartphone as one of my 3 Ingredients I would select for homeschooling.  As techno-savy mom, I have added many more homeschool apps for planning, specific subjects and especially for references.  Here are some I used with our middle school and high school children.

  1. Kindle – with current Ebooks, downloaded novels, and any pdf files
  2. Bible – I use You Version, and enjoy the different Bible versions and reading plans and Bible studies.  Sometimes we follow good Bible plans for teens and family devotions.
  3. Dictionary and Thesaurus (download the offline versions)
  4. Google Translate for 2nd language studies
  5. Duolingo or Babbel for 2nd language practice
  6. Wikipedia our go-to favorite!
  7. YouTube subscriptions, playlists or general looking up
  8. World Atlas especially with flags for Current Affairs and Geography
  9. Google Sky Map for Astrology studies
  10. Google calendar for all my planning
  11. Just plain old Google to look up anything
  12. Music playlists containing our Hymns, Geography Songs, as well as current classic musician’s music
  13. Radio streaming app such as Spotify with our favorite genres and artists while we do handicrafts and art
  14. Timer for Maths drills, arrows games, and revision
  15. Audio Recorder to record oral narrations
  16. Audible for audio books.  (I download the book for my daughter so that she can listen to her story offline)
  17. Camera to capture nature finds
  18. Bird, Tree and Plant reference apps for Nature Study
  19. Photo editor for art and drawing reference, as well as for sharing art with other family members
  20. Podcast app with my favourite homeschool posts such as TEDtalks  for Kids and Family
  21. News for our Current Affairs (note – I preview before I share)
  22. Khan Academy especially for high school Maths and Physical Science
  23. Online games for Phonics and Spelling such as Spell City, Starfall, The Spelling Bee,
  24. Shopping list app for mom’s weekly shopping. Add a menu planner and a recipe app and you’ll be completely sorted for all your meals
  25. Dropbox which enables everyone to safely store and access documents across different computers.

There are dozens of phone apps for toddlers and kindergarten, but I prefer to encourage real-life interaction and limit screens for young kids.  It is really addictive!  Also, be aware of “fluff” or “candy floss” apps which are simply fun and not really educational.  Nothing replaces time for real play and exploration and time to be creative.

As technology sometimes fails, always save and make physical pencil-on-paper plans, records and notes. I always start here and then look online for educational support.

For families with limited WiFi, opt for offline versions and select and download specific information for subjects. We made the decision to only use free online educational games and not pay for subscriptions even though many were excellent.

What others are sharing:

What other smartphone apps do you use for homeschool?  Please share in the comments below.

 Blessings, Nadene
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Maths Pyramids for Mental Maths Practice

Recently updated! Mental Maths practice is fun especially when you do your addition and subtraction up and down pyramids!  

How do these pyramids work?

  1. Add the 2 numbers next to each other in a row and write the answer in the circle above those 2 numbers.
  2. Add all neighboring numbers in every row.
  3. Fill in the answers until the row above is full.
  4. Now add those numbers until you fill all the rows and reach the top of the pyramid.
  5. Where the numbers start at the top, subtract the number below it to find the missing ‘neighboring’ number.

Note:

  • Some pyramids work from the bottom up – addition , while others work from the top down – subtraction. One pyramid involves several addition or subtraction sums per pyramid = lots of practice!
  • Each sheet has several pyramids = loads of practice.
  • There are 2 pages for each level = plenty of practice.
  • And we all know that Maths practice = mastery.
  • The next level has higher number values or more numbers in each row.
  • Place each sheet in a plastic protector and let your children use a dry wipe pen.

Here is your FREE 9-page download ~ Maths Pyramids Worksheets and the answers ~ Maths Pyramid Answer Sheets (updated Oct18) 

Visit my Free Maths  for more Maths pages such as Maths Rockets Butterflies, Flowers, In & Out for loads of fun practice!  Enjoy 🙂

Blessings, Nadene

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Free Never-ending Card Butterfly Lifecycle

A butterfly life-cycle is continual, and is often represented in circular fashion, so it makes perfect sense to create a never-ending card to display the connected stages.

Here’s video to demonstrate how the never-ending card works ~

(Please excuse the poor quality of printouts of all these examples, but this was my trial version 😉 )

Although the never-ending card seems very complicated, it is essentially made from  2 base cards glued together at the top and bottom corners. The cuts and folds on these base cards allow the card to open horizontally or vertically providing 4 different page templates.  Cut and paste all the images for each layout on to the base cards. Viola!  The never-ending card is ready!

I have created a free download of the never-ending card of the butterfly lifecycle for your nature study lessons.

The download contains the instructions, how to connect the 2 base cards, the templates and the images for each layout in both black & white or full color formats.

Never-ending cards are great for kinesthetic learners because the images and notes pasted on the card provide excellent narration and revision prompts.  This activity is ideal for busy hands!

Click here for your free download ~ Never-ending card butterfly lifecycle

Blessings, Nadene
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