Introducing Rifke

First Guest Post

I met Rifke many years ago, when she was very young and  her family arrived to stay with us for a week.  Six children and a crate of chickens emerged from their parent’s combi and so our family friendship began.

We renewed and deepened our friendship when we moved to the Western Cape to farm in the Klein Karoo just over 5 years ago.  This wonderful family lives an hour and a half from us and we are blessed to visit them.

We are like-valued in so many ways; Christians with strong family values, farmers (they are fully self-sufficient whereas we tend to be more commercial), and homeschoolers.  In many ways they confirmed and inspired our choices.  A true gift from the Lord.

Our children are best, best friends with their children.  We have watched them play, enjoy extended holidays together, smile as they mature and start businesses together, and as time has flown past, attended their weddings.

So, may I introduce Rifke, the eldest daughter of 7 children. A beautiful and talented young married lady, who has always had a passion for writing, who cooks and bakes the most exquisite cakes, is musical and sings like a lark, and has a deep and sincere desire to please the Lord.

She approached me to write guest post about homeschooling from a homeschool-graduate perspective, and we soon both realized that she has lots to share, so we will run a series.  I know you’ll be blessed to meet her and hear her heart. You can read more from her on her blog ~Through the Window.


“I guess that anyone meeting me for the first time would pick up something a little odd about me. Not a bad kind of odd, I hope. They would probably just notice that I dress differently – “creatively”, as I like to call it – and use some old-fashioned words.

A little way through our conversation they may discover that I was homeschooled, and that would reveal a lot to them. After that, they may or may not be surprised to learn that where I come from, we have solar electricity and no hot water. No reliably hot water, at least. We also grow vegetables and meat to supply ourselves, grind wheat from great big sacks bought at co-op stores to make our bread, and grow “mielies”, or corn, to grind and make into porridge for our breakfast.


My parents were among the first couples to start homeschooling in South Africa. I never went to school, except for two days a week in kindergarten. My older brother started with homeschooling after completing a year of pre-school, and none of my five younger siblings have ever set foot in a school (except for maybe once or twice in their lives, when they accompanied an adult on an errand).

When I was eight years old, my family left the city of Cape Town, where I was born, and re-settled in the remote valley of the Langkloof. There God provided my parents with a small holding, which they live on today.

I began studying for my schooling finals, my matric, when I was sixteen, and wrote it (alongside my older brother) when I was seventeen. These were the first exams we had ever written. We studied for them through a long-distance college, whose service wasn’t great, and wrote in an echoing, paint-chipped hall in a government school. To our delight, we both passed with exemption.

A year and a half later I joined a small media studio which had been set up recently by a friend, and there I started a friendship with a handsome young man named Scott. We became engaged, and then married, in record time.

Whenever I come across mothers who are homeschooling, but were educated themselves in “normal” schools, I stand in their shoes without actually having ever been there, and, I guess, my heart goes out to them. It’s a generalisation, but homeschooling mothers do not appear to understand how brave they are. Their failures seem to hover – lucid and self-accusatory –  before them daily. They seem to try so hard, without necessarily recognizing, and therefore enjoying, the full reward of their effort.

Three of my mother’s children are now finished with school. We are all under twenty-four, so we haven’t made what some would call a “success of our lives” yet. But what, really, is “a life”? What is your child’s life to you? Is it something that is still going to happen, or is it already happening? Is it a series of actions they will make, a series of successes or failures… or is it how they experience their years, moment by moment?

By choosing to homeschool, you have already shown that you not only put your child’s happiness and well-being above your own comfort, but also that you have the wisdom to perceive that not all is right with the mindsets, and ways of running things, that world presently finds itself in. You should be proud of yourself. It’s hard to swim upstream.

As someone who was homeschooled, I want to thank mothers like you. You have provided me with all my best friends, and my almost-too-good-to-be-true husband. You are giving the world first-class employees and colleagues. You are creating a generation that will set examples through their ability to learn, and change with the times; to be creative, and make things of beauty; to go against the flow. Mostly, you are creating people who will inspire others to be happy, through their own understanding of where the important things in life lie.

In my next guest post I will write a bit about how my parents schooled us, how I experienced the difference between homeschooled kids and those that go to “normal” schools, and what skills and academics have really mattered so far.”

Thank you, Rifke, for your rich and encouraging post! We all look forward to your next post!


23 thoughts on “Introducing Rifke

  1. Pingback: Rifke ~ Best & Worst Homeschool Moments | Practical Pages

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  3. Pingback: Rifke ~ Homeschool Experiences | Practical Pages

  4. Rifke I have just returned from town during which time the people in the bank were robbed, I bumped into some Christian friends who are very down because of where they are at right now and I spoke to someone who does not know where she will find clothes and food for her baby………. I was invited to read your article, and even though I am not in the catagory of homeschooling, I can leave this PC knowing that there is a lot of positive life to live and I am so grateful to be at the well spring! Thank you for who you are and may many mums and dads and their offspring be encouraged by your words. Nadya.


  5. Your comment: “What is your child’s life to you? Is it something that is still going to happen, or is it already happening? Is it a series of actions they will make, a series of successes or failures… or is it how they experience their years, moment by moment?”
    gave me food for thought. Thank you for your support and giving us newbie moms some perspective. Can’t wait to read your other quest posts.


  6. What wonderful encouragement. It brought tears to my eyes a few times! Your observations of homeschooling mothers are right on, something we wrestle with nearly every day. Thank you, Rifke, for your words, and Nadene for publishing them!


  7. Thanks for the great encouragement! Brought tears to my eyes. It makes such a difference to hear it from a past student’s point of view. Can’t wait for the next installment.


  8. Pingback: Is Homeschooling for you? | A+ Educational Solutions

  9. I’ve just read this while I have an indulgent computer time – my boys are watching a DVD and I usually feel guilty about TV time in the morning but 7yr old is recovering from nausea! Rifke’s comment “It’s a generalisation, but homeschooling mothers do not appear to understand how brave they are.” really just hit a chord. Thanks for saying that Rifke. I feel VERY blessed to be able to homeschool my boys – be with them all day, watch their achievements, cuddle in bed for stories on winter mornings, enjoy seeing them grow…. and believing that this is the best and “bravest” thing I could be doing is really cool!


  10. Oh thank you for writing this post. I was just mulling over something I think I read on Breakpoint by Eric Metaxis, about the “Millenial Kids”, and it made me realize that the floundering 18 to even 30’s age group are so spoiled, and have no idea what it takes to live as a person of wisdom, and become the grown adults who will be running the world when I’m older. I’m 52 now, so I see my nephews and they are not giving me a lot of hope, but your post gave me lots of it! I love the Lord Jesus, but I admit to worrying about the state of the world, and more so the situation in the US with a government that is growing way too large, and too powerful, and we are reaping what that provides for foolish people here. So, thank you and ALL of the other homeschooling moms and dads for what may just be a “remnant” in our future society!!


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