Navigating postgraduate years

Here’s another “Getting Real” post ~  My eldest daughter graduated high school at the end of 2013.  Motherhood and homeschooling shifted gears and I entered into a completely different phase with a postgraduate young adult.  Somehow, navigating these years are far more difficult than I imagined.

If you follow the system, this is how educating your children usually looks ~

Schooling +12 years = graduate = college/ university = a diploma or degree = good job = successful life. 

Right?  In fact, I hear more moms who are considering homeschooling their preschooler or really young primary-aged children ask about homeschool graduation qualification requirements than how to enjoy the first few years of homeschooling.  The system rules their thinking.

I seemed to really have my act together when I was homeschooling my three young daughters.  As a qualified school teacher, no one doubted my ability or our vision for our family, but things changed drastically once my eldest graduated and we did not insist on her going to university to study further.

In fact, we have repeatedly been criticized by family and close friends for not providing her with the opportunities to achieve her God-given purpose.  I have endured days of long ‘conversations’ where granny and oupa and aunties have laid into us.  I received a heavily disappointed email with 7 attachments on “Finding your God-given purpose” from my dad.

But here’s the thing, our eldest daughter didn’t want to study further.  And I have learnt that forcing any education on a child doesn’t stick!  It vanishes like mist before the sun.  Our daughter didn’t want a chosen “safe” career or long-term commitment to a job or internship.  She didn’t want to do short courses. We thought, “Why invest heaps of money on courses or take out study loans or go into debt when someone is not keen?  It doesn’t make any sense.”

Our daughter didn’t want a chosen “safe” career or long-term commitment to a job or internship.  She didn’t want to do short courses. We thought, “Why invest heaps of money on courses or take out study loans or go into debt when someone is not keen?  It doesn’t make any sense.”

So, we allowed our eldest daughter to have a gap year … or two …  She has acquired major life skills; she’s attended a month of life-coaching and experienced some serious challenges.  She has been serious in her involvement with people and she is committed to deep and meaningful relationships in the small town where she has made her home.

During these years she assisted two of her friends with their home births.  She has learnt to cook large family meals on a very tight budget, from scratch, without electricity.  She’s learnt to run a home.

She and her best friend began entrepreneurship ventures when they were just 15 years old. They have been creative, hard-working and their skills have been tried and tested over the past several years.  They have stocked and run two shops.  She and her sister created a unique clothing range which they collaborated, created and ran online and at markets.  She has been committed to several short-term jobs, one where she gained valuable experience doing administration for a company. She has served others faithfully.  She has grown enormously spiritually.

Most importantly, I realized that she is community-driven.  She hated the idea of moving to a large town and living and working on her own.  I have to think that because we live so far from town, on such a remote farm, that we don’t have the same circumstances that most folks have of gently easing a new school graduate into jobs and towards independent living.

When we consider our eldest daughter, we realize that she is living out her life with her own, well-thought-out choices.  Our role is to help her in her startup ventures, assist her to begin businesses or start new jobs, and to encourage her when she faces disappointments and frustrations.  Our role is to champion her.  It is not what the system reflects, but what her heart longs for and how it leads her.  We seem to be navigating her post-school years without a map.

We are so proud of our daughter, and the amazing young woman that she has become!

The best way to parent a graduate is to be available, relational, supportive and encouraging so that we have a place of influence.    And to pray much …

In contrast, it is so easy to follow a homeschool schedule or curriculum.  You know exactly what is expected, what to use and how to get there.  The day is set out neatly.  You can tick the boxes and feel the accomplishments at the end of the day like a warm glow.  But this graduate phase … these open-ended days, filled with uncertain choices, unpredictable outcomes, and sometimes frightening opportunities scares us and it terrifies our newly graduate children.

Life after school is scary, folks.

So, enjoy your young children, your neat homeschool timetables and plans, your simple choices, your children’s innocent hopes and dreams.  And start praying now for those post-graduate years.

What advice do you have for other parents facing their children’s graduate years?  Please share your views in the comments below.

With much grace, Nadene

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Sacred Eating Bible Reading Plan

Sacred Eating describes a meaningful, deep, contemplative way of reading God’s Word.

Several years ago I wrote about how I usually follow a Bible reading program and systematically read through the entire Bible every year.  But for some time I had missed the revelation and intimacy of my more detailed, slower Bible studies.   I was hungry for more growth, for deeper insight and God’s personal revelation while I read.

I want the Word to be my daily bread that fully nourishes me, feeds me, makes me grow, and changes me.  I want the Lord to teach me how to really read His Word so that I grow, change, become more like Him.  And so, instead of reading long passages, I began a season of reading and meditating on just one or two verses …

A creative Bible note on one verse … I compared different versions to extract as much meaning as I could …

Reading (the Word), as it were, puts the solid food into our mouths, meditation chews it and breaks it down, prayer obtains the flavour of it and contemplation is the very sweetness which makes us glad and refreshes us.” ~Guigo

So here’s how to read the Word as sacredly as the bread of life.  When you read the Word you

  • Linger over the Word, reading deliberately, slowly, savouring and re-reading the words.  We chew the words over, understanding their meaning as a living message.
  • Listen to what the Lord is saying, as if spoken to us personally, listening to the still small voice of God that speaks to us personally, uniquely, and intimately. We meditate on this Word, letting His Word becomes one with our being.
  • Lift voices to pray, asking Him to forgive us where we fail to fulfil His Word, to fill us with His Spirit and make His word real and alive in us.  We sing songs of praise, thank Him, worship Him,  and respond personally to Him, asking Him to help us trust and obey his words.
  • Live out the Word as a lifestyle as His Spirit leads us.  We apply these words in our daily living, practically, obediently, faithfully, reverently.  In this way, the Word in the Bible becomes flesh in us.

What simplicity.  It is easy enough for a young child to learn and practice.

I have created a free download for you which includes ~

Free Download ~ Sacred Eating God’s Word

May the Lord faithfully lead you deeper in, onwards and upwards.

Blessings and much grace, Nadene

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Time for creative mom

In response to my post Sketching Again, a reader recently asked,

“How much time do we as moms need each day to be creative? “

I suppose it depends on your family life and demands on your time, and whether you enjoy creative activities.  Enjoyment is a powerful motivation.

If I can carve just 20 minutes of creative sketch time for myself, I feel so grateful and rewarded. This is not every day, and it is not always possible when life and stressful situations are more important, but it is something I find easy to pick up and do when there is a lull or gap in my days.  Right now, with just one teen to assist in her homeschooling, I have a lot more free time than I had while juggling three young kids all on different cores so I can find time to be creative!

We need to grow and be creative ourselves in order to give continually to others.

For some folk that “creative / me time” may be physical, such as going for a brisk walk or run, doing a quick workout, or taking a nice hot bath with soft music playing. Others need to be alone, maybe to read a book or listen to a podcast.   Some love to garden, sew, knit, quilt, or sketch.

When the children are young, then it is best to sketch or craft with them. Within a few weeks of doing sketches or nature journal prompts, the kids feel more confident and know what to do and can pretty much work without your help, giving you that time to do the activity along with them.

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Doing art together with my children. You’ll see my art page at the bottom of the picture.

We enjoyed Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays, a whole day for our Music and Art Appreciation lessons and some poetry or Shakespeare.  Our Fridays were always so relaxing and enjoyable, so different from our normal school schedule, that we all looked forward to this time together.  It was also very informal.  We simply listened to a classical music piece while observing an artist’s work and often did some art ourselves.

Sketch Tuesdays always were a wonderful opportunity to draw and sketch something really simple.  Because we had a whole week to complete the sketch, there never was any pressure.  And despite there being no feedback or critique given, the children learnt so much about their art and skills simply by viewing the slideshow and experimenting with new and different art mediums.  We sometimes copied other famous artist’s style in some of our Sketch Tuesday sketches, discovering the artist’s true talent and ability.  Again, it is fairly simple to pull out some paper and sketch and paint right alongside your children.

Otherwise, simply do something creative and personally rewarding in the afternoons while the family are doing their own thing.  I often find a half hour after lunch before I need to take down washing or start preparing dinner.  Weekends are also a good time to sketch, paint, garden, sew or do some sort of creative hobby.

If you have lots of children, or little babies or busy toddlers, then you may be deep in the trenches, and creative time for yourself might be impossible for this season, but, remember, that this season will pass, and you will be able to have your body and space back!

Blessings to you as you carve out small Mother Culture moments for yourself each week.

In Grace, Nadene

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Living Books Teach!

Many new homeschool parents think a Charlotte Mason’s approach to education seems too simple!  

Read a good book aloud.

Talk about what you have read.

Lesson learned.

This is a Charlotte Mason principle in a nutshell – Read from a living book, give a narration, and you have a wonderful, wholesome education.  Read my posts – Loving Living Books  and Learning through Living Books

So why do new homeschool parents still believe that they have to buy expensive, bell-and-whistles curriculums for their young kids?

They are afraid they won’t teach everything, or that their child won’t learn everything the should, or that they aren’t qualified.   But in truth, no professional curriculum guarantees complete success.  There will always be information gaps, but if you have taught your child to listen attentively while you read aloud to them, they will learn!

How does a baby learn?  From listening and speaking.  And so it is with a literature-based education. You really, really don’t need expensive teaching materials.  If you use literature as a powerful natural method, your children will learn.

While you read to your child from a good book, they listen to the words and learn and develop a wide, rich and mature vocabulary.  They listen to the story unfolding and learn how to structure sentences and develop a flow of connecting ideas, essential for writing skills.  They learn different styles of writing.  They learn how to create interest, describe observations in detail and will learn an amazing amount of information.

Telling back is very simple, yet complex, but it genuinely replaces the need for tests, quizzes or exams.  As you listen to your child narrate or read his narration, you will know immediately what your child knows and understands.

If your child is old enough, his written narrations will form his notes and provide ample evidence of his understanding, all the way to high school and beyond!  They will also develop the most amazing creative writing skills.

My older two daughters graduated from homeschool without ever taking a creative writing course, but they are both incredibly good writers because of the marvellous books that they read. Read the full post “Teach Creative Writing without Lessons“.

Sure, you may need a few workbooks for some subjects like Maths, but for almost every other subject, good books will serve for information, inspiration and motivation.

When your children all chorus, “Please read another chapter,” after you have finished the reading, you will experience the joy of the most wonderful, natural way of learning!

Trust Charlotte Mason’s method.  It truly works!  Please feel free to share your living books learning experiences in the comments.

Blessings, Nadene

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Practical Tip – Leaf Rubbings

Quick practical tip for nature journals!

A leaf rubbing is a wonderful way to capture the leaf edges and veins, but also allows one to create an instant background to a journal page.

It also allows you to create an instant copy of the leaf in the journal instead of waiting weeks to press and dry a sample.

You can also colour the shape around the leaf such as you can see in the third picture below.  This time you will place the leaf on top of the page and colour over it and out onto the page.  This will leave a blank-shaped leaf with a coloured surrounding.

How to make a coloured leaf rubbing ~

  • Place the leaf under a page or paper.
  • You can work directly on your nature journal page, but I would encourage you to experiment and test your technique on a scrap piece of paper first.
  • Use a soft crayon or soft coloured pencil.
  • The pencil should be used lying slightly sideways and not with the very tip of the pencil.
  • Lightly colour over the leaf with a light, even pressure so that the details show through the crayon.
  • If you press too hard you will create such a dark colour that the details of the rubbing won’t show.  Also, you may actually flatten the surfaces that should be revealed when rubbed.
  • Keep your page in the exact same position until the leaf is complete.  Any movement can distort the shape of the object you are shading.
  • You can shade other colours over the one you have used to create more realistic or creative results.

So, why not try this in your next nature journal entry?

Blessings, Nadene

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Current Affairs Calendar Maps Symbols & Flags

Current affairs (noun) Definition: Events of political or social interest and importance happening in the world at the present time.

Natural disaster(noun) Definition: An event such as a flood, earthquake, or hurricane that causes great damage or loss of life.

Event (noun)  Definition: A thing that happens or takes place, especially one of importance

News of the recent devastating hurricanes,  earthquakes, wildfires and floods that wreak havoc on our world fill our news feed and reports every day.  There are threats, attacks and wars loom.  People riot and protest and terrorists cause death and destruction.  New presidents and world leaders are elected. Heroes save lives and humanitarian aid rescues those in distress. This is current affairs

It is good to keep a record of current affairs, natural disasters and other major events happening around the world.  By regularly taking note of current affairs, your children will significantly enrich their general knowledge.  By placing world news, extreme weather disturbances, disasters and major events onto a map your children will form meaningful connections to their Geography, History and Social Studies lessons. 

Simply use my maps, flags and blank calendar page download (found on my Packages Page), or clip news articles to a bulletin board or onto a map each week.

I have completely updated my Current Affairs download for you.  (You can find a free Current Affairs sampler on my post – Notice Board Current Affairs .)

This brand new 20-page Package download includes ~

  • world maps
  • political maps for each continent with countries identified
  • thumbnail-sized flags for every country,
  • symbols for natural and man-made disasters to use on maps
  • colour-codes to highlight different events on the calendar
  • blank calendar pages to use to record significant events each month.
  • Filled-in current affairs calendar from January to September 2017 which I  compiled using Wikipedia.  These events have hyperlinks so that you can simply click the link to read the full articles.
  • The calendar is not dated, so it is a perpetual calendar download which you can print out each year as needed.

You can use the symbols and colour codes to mark these events on your world map or on the calendar.  Add country’s flags if you wish.  Cut out and paste newspaper clippings to add to your current affairs boards.  This is a quick, 10-minute lesson once a week.  We posted our current affairs pages on a clipboard on our Notice Board for quick and easy reference.

While this current affairs topic list is aimed at senior primary school to high school children, you can modify what events you cover to suit your children’s ages and interests.  Please note: Terrorist activity can be very disturbing for children.  Use your discretion when covering wars and political affairs.

Here’s an example of the calendar pages filled in with information gathered from Wikipedia.

Here are some good current affairs websites ~

You can purchase this download on my Packages Page Thank you so much for your support!  

Blessings, Nadene

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Recent Sketches

Recently I shared that I had started Sketching Again.  I decided to keep my Mom’s Nature Journal and sketchbook out on my desk as a visual reminder, and I try to spend about 20 minutes daily sketching and painting in time squeezed between folding laundry and preparing dinner.

I am using the Doodlewashed September “Simple Pleasures” prompts and here are my latest sketches ~

I was particularly happy how my first watercolour portrait came out, but I am not including the second portrait I did of my other daughter because it was so completely off that it would be a huge injustice to her if I posted it.  Portraits are really tricky!

I enjoyed creating all the details in “Popping bubble wrap” and felt good about the painting of the hands in “Rock., Paper, Scissors”.  The other paintings felt a bit “meh”, but I enjoyed the process and feel that I am learning as I go along.

It is important to just keep painting, experimenting, changing the approach or the medium.  If you are in a slump, just play.  Do abstracts.  Don’t worry about the end-results.  Just have fun!

For those who are keen to try sketching daily, why not join the rest of the world (really!) with Inktober  31 Days 31 Drawings.

I encourage you, moms, to also make the time to sit and sketch weekly.   Join your children in the weekly Sketch Tuesday topic, or sit and create an entry in your Mom’s nature journal page.  It is wonderful to give yourself time to sit and be creative.

Blessings, Nadene

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Homeschool Beginnings Part IV

This post concludes the series of Homeschool Beginnings. (You can catch up any of the missed posts here – Part I, Part II and Part III.)

I would say that I instinctively began homeschooling when I joined with two moms from our church group to meet once a week for a play date.  We met just to let our children play together, but we were all teachers (one mom was a high school Zulu and Maths teacher, the other mom was a music and choir teacher, and I was an English, Physical Education, and  Art teacher), and so things began to take shape.   Little did we even realize that we would start homeschooling!  

It began so gradually that we didn’t even think of “schooling” but rather playing while focusing on a theme and some fun learning activities.   We creatively brainstormed ideas while our kiddies played. We decided to work through the alphabet, and our play date included a Bible story, a song, a craft and a physical activity with the letter of the alphabet.

So we started with “A” is for Angels … and Apples … and Adam and Eve … We made paper plate angels, read about Jacob’s angels on a stairway to heaven and arranged angels from biggest to smallest … We climbed the jungle gym ladders, hopped and jumped on a ladder lying on the ground.  We ate apples, made apple pie, cooked stewed apples, etc. We sang angel songs and learned the word for apple in Afrikaans, Zulu, Hebrew, etc.   (You get the idea?)

Our kiddies wanted to do the same story and song every . single . week . and so we realized that repetition is natural and necessary.  We simply flowed with our children’s natural delight and interest and only added a new concept or skill to keep things growing and moving along once the previous learning moment had passed.  In a whole year, we only got to “G”!

We also went on outings and picnics, created plays, held parties, and enjoyed family get-togethers.  These early years of homeschooling continued as our families grew and until the oldest children were ready for Grade 1.

These were precious years and our friendships were deep and lasting.

And so, that is my story of how I journeyed into homeschooling.  Although I never imagined I would homeschool my kids, it was the Lord’s design and plan for our family all along.

How did your journey into homeschooling begin?  Please share your story with us in the comments below.

Blessings, Nadene

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Mom’s Nature Journal Parsley

Spring has arrived in the Klein Karoo, and I have been really busy gardening.  The garden shows signs daily that a new season is unfolding.  While planting out seedlings and pulling out spent winter vegetable plants, I noticed a few of my parsley plants had started to go to seed.  I cut them back and took the cuttings to dry over my AGA stove.

With one lush branch of parsley in hand, I sat down to create a new Mom’s nature journal entry ~

I decided to create a double-page spread and made the left page a more personal page with a leaf rubbing and my garden observations, while I used Wikipedia to create a more formal botanical parsley study on the right-side page.  I also researched the difference between chervil and parsley!  They are both from the same family with very similar leaf and flower shapes, but the seeds differ.  Now, I know!

You will also notice in the photos, that I have both my sketchbook and nature journal lying out on my desk. I hope that this will prompt me to spend a little time every day on a quick sketch or painting or nature journal entry.  It is true that I have just one teen to homeschool at this time, and because she is working very independently, I have more time at my desk to sketch and journal.  It is a wonderful season in my homeschooling journey.

Again I urge moms to join their kiddies with these simple nature journal moments.  It is wonderful to learn and create your own Mom’s nature journal.  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…

Blessings, Nadene

Special Offer For Nature Journal Fun

It is Spring here in South Africa, and the great outdoors and going on nature walks is wonderful this time of the year.  For some really fun, and sometimes messy nature journal prompts, I have 3 Smash Nature Journals available on my Packages page.

For the month of September, I would like to offer a buy 2 and get one FREE special offer!

Here’s what I wrote about my daughter’s experience with her Smash Nature Journal ~

My daughter really 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.

My homeschooling friend Willemien Kruger of Homeschooling Curriculum Guide shared her boy’s Smash this Nature Journal experience ~

“Both my boys enjoyed doing the Smash Nature Journals at times.  It was scheduled for 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!”

Pop over to look at samples and photos of these Smash Nature Journals.  Click to go to my Packages Page and order your buy 2 and get one FREE special offer!  And when your children have completed their pages, please email them to me to share here on the blog!

Wishing you lots of fun and excitement for your Nature Studies!

Blessings, Nadene