Anxiety Anguish and Anger

If your homeschooling thoughts predominantly feature feelings of anxiety, anguish and anger, then something in your framework requires a realignment.

These emotions are normal, especially when starting something new, or while going through a transition or when things don’t work out as planned.  But if your daily thoughts about a child’s homeschooling sicken you, or tighten your stomach into knots, or make you wish there was another way … a way out, then I want to encourage you this morning.

There is another way.

Fear is almost always at the root of feelings of anger.

Fear of judgement …

fear of failure …

fear of rejection …

Deep stuff.

Identifying my worst fears is a way of starting to rewrite my story with another ending.  My hope comes from the Lord and He knows my every weakness and still loves me utterly.  He is never afraid.  On the contrary, He is victorious, rejoicing and hopeful.  He sees me and my child/ children through eyes of radiant expectation.  I need to see myself and my life through His eyes and gain a new perspective. 

Be still and pray and listen to His still, small voice.  His words of life and love will drown out the screams of fear and fill you with hope.  Write down these promises.  Whisper them aloud, post them on your noticeboard, write them on your walls.

Ask for help.  Mother-to-mother support is very helpful.  Write to others on homeschool forums and follow similar threads of advice.  In my first years of homeschooling, I found such wonderful relief and practical advice on Sonlight’s parent forum. There is always another way to approach the problem, and often others struggle through similar issues and have found a way that works for them.

If the moms in your church or co-op make you feel insecure and afraid, then they are not the support you need.  If your family’s comments and seeming judgemental views cause you to feel like a failure, then they are not your support.  May I suggest that you avoid them.  Withdraw graciously from the co-op for a season and attend only meetings that encourage and build you up.  Visit the one mom in the group who has grace and wisdom to share with you.

In the meantime ~

  • Simplify your approach – If things are really bad, stop homeschooling for a day or 2, even a week, or leave out subjects that cause all the tension.  Avoid unnecessary out-of-the-house trips/ sports/ meetings/or functions and focus on simplifying your family’s routine and security.  Establish good mealtimes, bedtimes and daily chores.  Daily habits provide the rhythm for your family lifestyle and provide the necessary security.
  • Do what works – Read aloud, nature walks, listen to classical music, outdoor play and indoor adventures, do fun science experiments, put on puppet shows, dress up, cook, bake, craft, sketch, build with Lego, ride bicycles, jump rope, build a fort, live in a tent in the backyard … be creative and think out of the box, do anything that your family loves to do together.  Bring back the fun and creativity.
  • Keep hoping and praying – Fear is the enemy’s strategy.  Ignore his insidious whispers of accusation.  Hold fast onto the Lord’s words of encouragement and hope.  Find an intercessor who will pray regularly for you and your family.  Praise stills the avenger.  Sing, worship, play hymns, rejoice in Him.

His perfect love casts out all fear.

Walking with you in grace and much love, Nadene

(Images of some of my Bible notes written during difficult months last year.)

Sketch Tuesday ~ Building

Here’s my pen sketch  for this week’s Sketch Tuesday

 

 

 

We are busy building a new braai (barbecue, for non-South Africans,) and I sat outside sketching and observing our concrete mixer carefully while my potatoes baked in the oven.  No pencil lines first, just drawing in the shapes and lines.  It was only when I had completed the sketch and started filling in the details, shadows and contours, that I noticed the base stand and wheels were not quite aligned. Although it bothered me at first, I felt that the machine still looked “right” and I happily added the finishing touches before going inside to take my meal out for lunch.

One doesn’t need great wads of time to sketch.  The minutes waiting for food to cook was all I needed and I felt fully restored after my 15 minutes or so of sketching.  My kids take their sketch books everywhere and sketch at restaurants while waiting for their meal to arrive, or while waiting for their dad to pick them up.  It is my youngest daughter’s best activity to fill in the blank moments of her day.  Keep your sketch book and drawing supplies at hand and just go ahead and do it when you next have a moment to spare!

If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box.  Confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Sketch and then email your children’s art.  Each week Barb will host a slideshow and share the new topic.

See you at the next slideshow!

Blessings, Nadene

Mom’s Nature Journal Signs of Autumn

This past week I noticed our grapevine leaves had started to turn pale green, browns and fall off.  I sketched  some autumn grapevine leaves for my weekly mom’s nature journal.

I played around with my watercolor pencils, mixing, blending and coloring different blocks  of autumn colours along the left side of my page.  I painted my leaf with watercolor paints. I also made a leaf rubbing and blended watercolor pencils over the brown paper which I tore and pasted along the right side of my 2-page layout.

Taking time each week to draw, sketch or paint in my nature journal is such an enjoyable moment of “Mother Culture” and it is an ongoing  exploration and place of interest and growth.

Join Barb’s  Outdoor Mom Journal using her prompts each month.  Share  your journal with us on your own blog or on her blog in a comment.

  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

What inspires you in your nature journalling?

In Grace, Nadene

Changes I wish I could make

Thinking back over more than 20 years of homeschooling with my daughters, these are some changes I wish I could have made sooner ~

  1. Take off the teacher’s hat.

Def.: have your teacher’s hat on

to be acting as you do when you are working as a teacher, lawyer etc., which may be different from the way you act in other situations.

ea55a13213221ebd3de36dfd7a9c4003Your professional skill as a teacher does not actually help you in those early years of homeschooling,  In fact that “school-at-home” approach kills your young children’s natural built-in joy and delight to learn.  Learn to learn alongside your kiddies and aim to be their facilitator instead.  Let them lead the way and make many more choices!

2.  Not everything needs to educational! 

Every outing doesn’t have to be a homeschool lesson. It’s okay to let life happen without a lesson plan, a notebooking page, or oral narration.  Stop focusing on end results and enjoy life’s journey together.  You will kill nature study, hymn, art and music appreciation if you make it a formal lesson.  Your teens will refuse to go into any museum!  Just trust that a regular yet informal approach will yield enormous results.

4-mother-and-child-in-a-boat-mothers-children-mary-cassatt-360x3603.  Avoid the tears!

When lessons produce tears, meltdowns, even tantrums, leave it alone.  Stop and put it aside or try something different. Tears often have a root of fear.  Find ways to reassure your child and encourage them to try a different way.  Make allowances for tired or sick or stressed children (or mom) and take the pressure off.   Just read aloud, go on a nature walk (but do not make it a formal lesson, see #2) or create art together.  Determine if your child is just not ready and try again in a few months time.  Unschool or deschool if your child has just come out of the school system and fears or hates school.  Offer a variety of opportunities to find their spark and gently encourage them to explore what interests them.

4. Be affectionate.

If your children are super sensitive, insecure or uncertain, give them more cuddles.  Even when you feel like you are wasting time and getting nothing done, just keep hugging.  Cuddle together when you read to them.  Sing together, skip together, get down in the dirt together, lie under the tree together.  (My youngest daughter often told people her favourite part of homeschooling was that she got lots of cuddles.)   Schools and systems don’t allow this physical affection at all.  Even your distant, independent teen needs hugs, or back rubs and time alone with you.  Aim to create a loving environment for your children to grow up and blossom in.

5. Relax and trust.

Just relax.  Your children will turn out great.  Enjoy each moment. Lean into their homeschooling experience without holding your breath, waiting for something to go wrong or trying hard to “do everything right”.  Let me repeat ~ your kids are all going to turn out great. Not just okay, but great.  Breathe … release those fears.  Trust.  Despite your best and worst efforts, they will be great!

mary_cassatt_mrs_cassatt_reading_to_grandchildren_postcard-r2e5db6cb5603484b8186d407360f7508_vgbaq_8byvr_324When we know better, we do better. 

I always tell my children and myself that we can always try again and start over.  When one of us has hit a wall or struggled or things don’t work out, I tell them that we can wipe out the day, like a whiteboard, and try afresh the next day.

The Lord makes all things new.  With this hope, forgive yourself, let it go and choose to do it differently.

What do you wish you had done differently?  What do you wish you could change?   Please share with us in the comments.

In Grace, Nadene

Images of one of my favourite impressionist artists — Mary Cassat

Sketch Tuesday ~ Mason Jar

Here’s my sketch  for this week’s Sketch Tuesday

If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box.  Confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Sketch and then email your children’s art.  Each week Barb will host a slideshow and share the new topic.

See you at the next slideshow!

Blessings, Nadene

Sketch Tuesday ~ Paws

Here’s my sketch  for this week’s Sketch Tuesday

20170227_162831Once again, my granddaughter Emma is the subject of my sketch and she is quite scared of our one fat cat who bites her when she tries to cuddle her.  She keeps saying, “Meow-meow byt!” (Afrikaans for bites)

I used my watercolour pencils for this sketch.  They are quick and easy to use.

If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box.  Confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Sketch and then email your children’s art.  Each week Barb will host a slideshow and share the new topic.

See you at the next slideshow!

Blessings, Nadene

Head Hands Heart for teens

head-heart-hands-conceptLooking for balance while homeschooling your teen through high school?
A balanced view would be to find subjects, skills and activities that inspire, feed and grow your child in Head, Hands and Heart

“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”  

-Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

We should look for ways that encourage our teens to grow in every area instead of simply focusing on academics.  But since academics are what most parents consider most important, let’s start here ~ Head.

Here are some questions you and your teen should consider:

  • What does your state/ country require for highschool graduation?
  • What further study/ career does your teen intend to follow after school?
  • What are their aptitudes?  (Do online tests to find out.)
  • What curriculums/ courses/ credits are available for your teen?
  • What are their learning styles?
  • Do they prefer online studies/ tutors/ peer study groups/ working alone?

Once you have answered most of these questions, you will then need to fine-tune your teen’s high school course, and select the subjects, course material and accreditation methods that best meet your child’s preferences, as well as your state’s/ country’s requirements.

May I suggest that school academics should not overshadow your homeschooling approach.  Please leave large margins around your teen’s schedule and give them space, options and encouragement to also follow their own interests and passions, such as investigating other career options, to read a wide variety of books, or delve into interest-led subjects besides those the state or country may emphasise.  Aim to provide living books that feed their mind and soul, in Charlotte Mason style, instead of sticking to “safe”, but dry, fact-based textbooks.

Now, let’s discuss Hands ~ 

We should aim  to educate our teens in lifestyle and life skills.  All teens should manage to work with their hands, make things, create art, fix and repair things, work safely and effectively with tools and equipment.  Give them opportunities to learn and master life skills from simple chores, to running a household.  Teach them how to do their own washing, ironing, plan and cook meals, as well as baking, sewing, mending, also cover basic car mechanics, etc.  Teach them how to use power tools such as drills, saws, etc.  Include your teens in DIY projects.  Include charities and missions or service to others in some of these hands-on skills, such as mowing lawns, washing windows or servicing cars for neighbours, single moms or the elderly.   Many teens can earn extra pocket-money with these skills.  And who knows, they may even build an entrepreneur business out of this skill-set!

Allow them creatively experiment with arts and crafts, use new mediums, use different materials, copy masters.  Encourage your children to build things, from Lego robotics, to building a treehouse for a sibling.  Again, offer your teen a variety of opportunities to grow and develop themselves outside of “head-stuff” in books, tests and exam results.

Lastly, let’s talk about Hearts ~

Homeschooling your teen is a ministry to their whole person; body, soul and spirit.  Many schools and parents focus heavily on “thinking” and “doing”, but don’t concentrate on who the teenager is “becoming.”  Engage in your teen’s heart.  Build their faith, encourage their prayer life, secure their knowledge of their basic doctrines and allow them to discover and develop their unique calling, gifting and ministry in life.  Again, provide a margin of time in their schedule to attend youth groups,go on church camps, outings, join ministries, support missionaries, go on outreaches, be involved in worship teams, lead children’s groups, and so on, if possible.  Encourage your teen to watch faith-building movies and read inspiring books.  Inspire a relationship with them that allows you to hear their spiritual views, thoughts and hopes.

Homeschooling allows you to tailor-make your child’s education, and I suggest that you and your teen collaborate when planning their high school journey.  And after early years of delight-directed, happy homeschooling, don’t choose a path that is dull, dry or dead just to “graduate”.  Aim for balance.

What aspects do you recommend?  How do you manage to include a balanced, wholesome approach to your highschool homeschooling?  Please share with us in the comments.

In Grace, Nadene

Mom’s Nature Journal Leaves

For my weekly nature journal time, I decided to focus on unusual leaves and I was inspired with these colorful plants ~

20170215_174012This week I took out my watercolor pencils.  With just my fine waterbrush and the watercolor pencils, I was able to create detailed, blended colors that suited my leaves perfectly.

20170224_162245Watercolor pencils have several wonderful advantages:

  • Fine pencil points allow for tiny, accurate details in your sketch.
  • You can blend pencil colors while dry on the paper, or you can blend perfectly using a blending pencil.
  • With water brush you can blend the colored areas on the paper just like watercolor paints.
  • You can wash over large areas with water once you lightly color over the area with pencils.
  • You can achieve a lovely transparency with watercolor pencils.
  • If you wet the pencil tip or draw over wet paper before drawing on it, you can achieve an intense, deep color.   A thick opaque look can be achieved by dipping the pencil tip in water and applying the color wet.
  • If you brush the tips of the watercolor pencils with a wet paintbrush, you can use your pencils just like a tiny paint pallet.  For bright bold colors, take the pigment directly from your pencil tip. Dip your brush in water and press to the tip of the pencil. This will give you undiluted pigment for strong colors.
  • You can make a paint pallet for your children:  Use sturdy cardstock and thickly color little blocks of each color.  You child needs a little water and a brush and can dab the colored block to lift off pigment to paint.
  • There is absolutely no mess or cleaning up.
  • These pencils last for ever!  Buy quality pencils and look after them and they will serve you for years!
  • Watercolor pencils are fabulous for outdoor painting.  They are easy to store and easy to handle.  I put an elastic band around them and hold the bunch of pencils in one hand and quickly dab the pencil tips with my waterbrush or grab the pencil I need to sketch or color my page.
  • Watercolor pencils dry quickly and can you can store them in a pencil bag straight away.

Join Barb’s  Outdoor Mom Journal using her prompts each month.  Share  your journal with us on your own blog or on her blog in a comment.

  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

What inspires you in your nature journalling?

In Grace, Nadene

Sketch Tuesday ~ Bubbles

This week’s theme in Sketch Tuesday  is ~Bubbles

We were away for a long weekend and I returned home too late to submit my sketch for the slideshow.  Here it is anyway ~

20170224_1623120

I seem to have a theme in my recent sketches … my darling little granddaughter Emma.  I may actually focus on bringing her into each sketch for the month! 

Once again, I used gouache paints and loved the details I could produce with clear, bright layers over previous washes and colors!

If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box.  Confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Sketch and then email your children’s art.  Each week Barb will host a slideshow and share the new topic.

See you at the next slideshow!

Blessings, Nadene

 

7 Things Not To Do For Your Teen

How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?  As devoted homeschool parents we often are very involved in our children’s lives, but as they mature, we should graciously back off and allow our teens to grow, learn and mature in every area of their lives.

“Parenting on Purpose” allows opportunity for our kids to develop the necessary life skills.  Some may view this as a lack of parenting, but research shows that “helicopter parenting” — over-involved, hyper-vigilant parenting —  is a one-way ticket to incompetent offspring,  While we don’t want our children to fail, we need to realize that adversity is a normal part of life and the only way to teach our children coping skills is to make them do and think for themselves.

To quote Ann Landers,

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”

Here are some issues to avoid when parenting teens ~

  1. Do not speak for them.  Do not stand in for them in social situations, doctor’s consultations, interviews, bookings and introductions.  After blundering in this area and seeing my children cringe and roll their eyes when I butted in conversations, I made a decision to shut up and give my teens the space to speak for themselves.  They often amaze me with their eloquence.  My shy daughter still tries to avoid answering the telephone and greeting visitors, but she has become more confident.  Practice makes this life skill easier.
  2. Do not lie for them.  For over-protective parents, this may be a form of trying to soften the blows of life, but our teens need to connect with the consequences of their decisions, lack of diligence, mistakes or issues.  Our teens need to learn to be honest, admit their failings, and find ways to make right.  Often harsh consequences teach them far more than a weekend of lectures.
  3. 20161201_185333Do not manage their time.  Every teen should set their own alarms, wake up,  prepare and be on time without mom or dad cajoling, persuading, nagging or reminding.  Don’t rush around buying last-minute items, find lost clothes or projects or”helping” them reach their deadlines.  Teach your teens to make schedules, activate their own alarms and add reminders to their cellphones, or simply keep a calendar or notebook.  Our aim is to raise well-functioning adults here.
  4. Do not manage their budget & money.  No matter how little or how much pocket-money your teen receives, they need to learn how to save, budget, spend or share their own money.  If you constantly dish out money to your teen, you act as their personal ATM.  Now is the time to open a personal bank account for your teen and teach them how to spend and save wisely.  Don’t rescue them when they spend all their money or suddenly need more money.  Give them ideas or opportunities from young to work to earn extra pocket-money.  My kids tender for projects that need doing around the house to earn extra money.
  5. Do not fight their teacher/ “friend” battles.  When your teen has issues with teachers or friends, it may be wise to listen and ask questions which may lead them to figure out what to do about their unpleasant situation, but at this point, parents should not be personally involved in bringing about resolutions.  Let your teen figure things out for themselves.  My eldest daughter once told her dad, “I can navigate this situation better on my own.”  And she was right.
  6. 20161201_185345Do not take over incompleted work/ chores.  Do not rescue your teen when they forget their work, leave it behind, delay or procrastinate and run out of time with work or chores.  Again, allow the consequences to be the life lesson here.
  7. Stop filling out their paperwork.  Teens should learn how to complete forms or fill their own applications.  With a little advice, most teens should be able to complete all their own paperwork.  Practice this skill while they are still young.  Every teen should practice their own signature and write neatly and clearly.

My parenting goal is to raise competent and capable adults.  And to accomplish this, I am backing off in areas where my teens can stand on their own two feet.  So, despite my love and my desire to hover and help, I want to see my teens succeed in the real world.  This means that I may have to stand by as they navigate failure and real life stuff on their own.

So please don’t judge me if my kids seem a little unsure, make mistakes, or sometimes suffer the consequences … it’s all part of growing teens in independence.

And may I add here, that this is an area that calls for grace

… to yourself … to your children … and to others.  Grace to other moms who are trying to figure out just how much help is required .. or who don’t know how to step back …  Grace to young adults who are growing and learning.

In Grace, Nadene