Anticipate the Empty Nest

The sand in my youngest’s daughter’s homeschool hourglass is swiftly running through the hole as she is busy preparing for her final year of homeschooling and I know that my years as a homeschool mom are fast coming to an end.  I pray that we will end it properly, for her, but more importantly, well for me.

Because she has studied independently for several years now, she freed me up to start to follow my own interests, hobbies and work while I am still available in the study with her while she works.

Steven Lambert wrote in Life After Homeschool on Five In A Row Facebook page,

These days are long, but the years are short. The homeschool years go by so quickly. Empty nesting is a challenge for EVERY mother. 

As each child leaves, they take with them their special and unique personalities and life in the home shifts and changes.   I hope that I will transition into my new season of child-free-home motherhood without the distress that I experienced when my older two daughters graduated and moved out and started their own lives.

When they both left home straight after their respective graduations, I recognized that much of my identity and purpose was wrapped up in my role as their homeschool mom and I floundered emotionally for a while.

But if I had paid attention, the shift into not being “needed” or “wanted” had started much earlier.  In episodes where my first teenager pushed away from me and my “help”, my idealistic motherhood ideals and expectations were shattered.  I  lost perspective and I cried before the Lord and eventually surrendered my ideals and began to trust Him for an upgrade in my relationship with my daughters.  I learnt to remain open and available in grace toward them.  I began to focus on their teenage loves, passions, interests and hobbies, and to champion and support them in their early entrepreneur endeavours. This subtle shift made it possible for my graduate daughters to move out into their independence without a huge wrench in my heart.  It felt right and natural, and I have always believed that to be a successful mother, I must work myself out of my job as a mom.

High school moms, may I encourage you to prepare your exit strategy as time and opportunities begin to present themselves in these final homeschool years.  Are there dreams you never took time to pursue? Did you love to paint? Sew? Write? Do you have a skill or passion? Take a class.  Share what you have learnt with others. Teach a class.  Mentor younger moms stuck deep in their trenches.  Be a Titus 2 woman.  Keep on learning, discovering, growing.

More importantly, work on your marriage and your relationship with your husband.  When I poured myself into my early years of homeschooling, I gave most of my energy to my young kids rather than into my marriage. My life pretty much revolved around my kids.  Now that the children are older and more independent, I started to rediscover and revitalize my relationship with my hubby and find renewed purpose and intimacy, especially as we both transition into the next phase and season of our lives.

It helps to shift one’s perspective, to anticipate the new open, free and quiet days as a wonderful blank canvas for new opportunities!  I may have an empty and quiet nest someday soon, but my days can be full of interests and activities that fulfil me and allow me to live out my gifting and passions in a new way.

My hope is the joy of ending well — to launch our last child into independent adulthood, freely— instead of mourning the stage of parenthood that is ending.  That is my prayer as I prepare my exit from my many years of homeschooling.

You can read another good article on having an exit strategy here.

Blessings to each of you in whatever transition you may find yourself, Nadene.

Rewards of Following Rabbit Trails

Recently I asked my 17-year-old daughter, now in her final year of homeschooling, what fun things she loved and remembered most in her homeschooling and this is what she said ~

“I loved learning to count in Japanese!” and she proceeded to count out loud in Japanese!

I was stunned!  This memorable little lesson was learnt while watching a  3-minute YouTube song we found “by chance” in an online search over 12 years ago.  My children loved this hip-hip counting song and it stuck with my daughter all this time.

But more importantly, her reply emphasized again how important it is to plan a wide margin of time to allow the freedom to follow “rabbit trails” or to allow your family to “take the scenic tours” in your themes and topics.

Back then, I was re-using our Sonlight World History core and I had discovered the joy of allowing the schedule to suggest and guide us, and not necessarily feel that I had to stick to their time-frame.  If I can remember correctly, their schedule allocated a mere 2 weeks to the Japan study, but we spent over a month covering all the aspects we found on our delight-directed studies.

Not only did my daughters learn to count in Japanese, but they enjoyed their free time and dressed up in kimonos, complete with make-up and hair accessories, and acted out stories.  They cooked and ate Japanese foods using chopsticks and our Chinese dinner service,  and they practised a tea ceremony.  We all learnt origami and my daughters still make origami in their creative projects to this day.  We tried our hand at ikebana (flower arranging), made fans, wrote haiku poetry and so on.

May I encourage any mom who is battling with a child or children don’t want to learn or participate, to get creative and look for other ways to find your fit.  Not only will your reluctant child rarely learn anything when she is nagged, urged, bribed, cajoled, or even punished, (and, yes, I did all this in my first few years of homeschooling when I was ignorant and idealistic), but this negative energy and relational conflict will rub off onto everything else.  If your children show signs of boredom or flat-out refusal, don’t force the issue.  If the lesson doesn’t work, then mom, please, for the sake of your sanity and your child’s happiness and their learning joys, look for something similar that might work.

Try a different approach.  Look for a video or song or hands-on activity instead of plodding on through a book and tailor-make their learning experience.  Remind yourself that homeschooling is actually like offering a learning buffet and you should allow your children to decide what and when they want to eat something.

I have learnt never to underestimate the value of those wonderful, almost magical rabbit-hole learning moments.  Sometimes, these happy discoveries may forge a lifelong fascination and enthusiasm for learning.  They are the whole reason we homeschool and it may be the one thing that they will remember for a lifetime!  I know that this is what works!

Blessings as you give yourselves extra time to follow those rabbit trails, Nadene

All the photos featured are the origami gifts that my daughters have made.

Mom’s Rhythm & Theme For Each Day

Many of you may know Emily P Freeman and her wonderful podcast “The Next Right Thing“.  I have loved listening to her gentle, wise counsel she shares in her weekly short 15 minute podcasts.  This March I bought her book also called The Next Right Thing, and along with my pre-order of her book, I received free access to her online course Discern & Decide where I learnt to apply many of her concepts she shares in her podcasts.  Today I want to share on how her Design a Rhythm of Work – Theme Days  made such a simple, but wonderfully freeing difference to my work each day.

In a very similar way, we have used Themes of the Day since 2012 in order to cover all the subjects that provide the richness of a Charlotte Mason education.  Here are some examples of  our themes which I refreshed each year.

Daily themes 2015

This simple daily focus reminded us to spend time on the specific subject of the day, usually before lunch, and this helped us fit in all the extras.   Here are our updated Themes for 2016 ~

I don’t know why I never thought to apply this approach to my own work days.  It is such a simple adaption which provides enormous focus and freedom.  As Emily shares,

“Designing a rhythm of life is something anyone in any season of life can do. It’s simple and life-giving and creates a beautiful and flexible framework for decision making.”

She encourages us  to look to topics rather than the tasks to allocate different theme days and says, “Theme days are not about completion, they are about focus.”

In my personal rhythm planning, I  prayed for the Lord’s guidance and wisdom, for His “yeses” in my life.  Then listed my main topics and tasks (my basic job descriptions or responsibilities) and I allocated one or two per day in the way that felt most compatible with our lifestyle, and, voila! I had my Rhythm of Work planned.   Most of these main themes are allocated for afternoons or after my daily farming activities (I hand-milk our cow Milly and I make cheeses every second day) as well as specific household chores or regular tasks which happen daily anyway.

For me this is what it looks like ~ Mondays are for laundry and the week’s planning, Tuesdays are for Lucerne Tree Farm business‘ marketing, bookkeeping and blog content, Wednesday for Practical Pages homeschool content and development,  Thursdays for town trips & appointments, Fridays to clean house & water plants, Saturdays for gardening and cleaning the chicken coop & ironing (if I don’t plan this I keep putting it off) and Sundays as a day of rest.

Because we live an hour away from our nearest town and because we don’t travel to town for shopping the same day each week, we have all learnt to be flexible and find our flow around this variable and simply shift a day’s theme.  We have always kept a 4-day homeschool schedule and we have completed all our work in this time-frame.  Having one “free” day is really very grace-giving and life-giving.

I have found that now I seem to have much more time for business development and blog content because I have a “whole day” for that theme.  As a result, I have managed to post more regularly and have seen some growth in readership and followers in both my homeschool blog and our business.  I feel much more focused when writing blog content because there are regular flow and continuity.  I find that I can delve deeper into each topic because it is the focus of my day.

This “work before play” approach and the simplicity of my daily rhythms provides wonderful peace and contentment and I love the simplicity of knowing what to focus on each day. And strangely enough, I also seem to have more time for my own interests and I have enjoyed a lot more daily art and art journaling.

Have you found the rhythm of your days?  Why not give this approach a try?  It may well be a method that helps you develop  a creative, fulfilling, life-giving work that can make a difference to yourself, your family as well as your homeschooling … even the world!

Blessings, Nadene

Lapbook planning tips

My children loved doing lapbooks and  we quickly figured out some practical tips to prevent overwhelm and to maximise our studies with other activities.  Here are some of my tried-&-tested practical lapbook planning tips ~

Often when printing out and cutting out the lapbook minibooks for your new lapbook , you will have heaps of booklets, papers, cutouts which may cause you and your children to feel overwhelmed. 

Print out the table of contents or index with every download and file this with the lapbook instructions.  If your lapbook printout doesn’t have an index, draw up a list of each minibook theme, or the topics or chapters covered in each minibook of the lapbook study along with a short description of each activity.  You can download my free lapbook planner below.

Whether you download a lapbook or make one for yourself, it helps to print out the lapbook planner or index page so that you have a birds’ eye view of your core topics, sub-topics, minibooks, relevant websites, videos, songs, recipes, hands-on activities and any other downloads as well as the time you plan for each minibook or topic.  Here  is  the  index  I used for my planning my Ancient Egypt Lapbook.  (You  can freely download  the Ancient Egypt Lapbook)

Here is my Pearl Harbour lapbook organiser  which outlined additional websites and sources used:

For more complex subject such as World Wars, it helps to draw up basic vertical timeline and mark the dates for all the most important events.  This helps to follow the course of events chronologically as well as plan the lapbook layout.

We always pasted all the minibooks into the lapbook before we started so that we did not waste time searching through a packet of minibooks to find the relevant one for the day.  You can read all about this in my post Time-saving tips for doing lapbooks. I must add here that my children often pasted their minibooks where they felt it best fitted and not strictly according to the suggested layout and it never was a problem.

We duct-taped along the spine of the lapbook and punched holes in the duct tape so that they were on hand in our files or ring binders.  (Read how we assemble and duct tape our Aesop lapbooks here.)

We stored each child’s completed lapbooks together in a file folder as seen in the photo below.  (Read all about how we stored our lapbooks and notebook pages here.)

Here is my lapbook planner page  free download (available in .docs or  .pdf versions) to use for your planning ~ Lapbook Planner or Organiser (MS Word.docs) or  Lapbook Planner or Organiser (pdf)

My children loved doing hands-on activities so I always extended our planned lapbook time to provide a wide margin for the spontaneous learning activities or additional enrichment.

Please do not ever rush to finish anything!  Take your time and aim to include the “extra” additional studies and hands-on activities!  These will bring your lapbook study to life!

Blessings, Nadene

Kinesthetic Learners Activity Posters

In my last post  Kids that Wiggle 30+ Tips, I created a set of posters which I would love to share with you ~

You can use these posters as reminders for yourself when planning lessons and looking for different options, or display them in your schoolroom so that your children can select an activity they would prefer.  I have included the all my ideas and suggested tips and strategies from my post in this download.

Here is your free download ~ Kinesthetic Learners Activity Posters

 Blessings, Nadene
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Kids that Wiggle 30+ Tips

Homeschooling is perfect place for wrigglers and movers to learn! Somehow we have learnt that in the so-called “perfect education world” young children should sit still, rapturously attentive, quietly absorbing, and only responding “normally” as expected,  but guess what, most young kids just can’t sit still, keep quiet for long or respond only in the way that they “should”.

As a first-time mom I remember feeling a sinking, cold self-consciousness when my young 2-year-old daughter, stood and danced around instead of sitting and beating her little wooden sticks on drums exactly as suggested during a toddlers workshop.  But a wonderful wise mother shared her wisdom and she gently reminded me to let my child express herself, be herself and enjoy the learning experience. I needed this encouragement, because, in my idealism and ignorance, I thought my child was not learning the way she should.

Moving on a many years later, when I started to homeschool my youngest daughter, I realised that I had a “wriggler” who just couldn’t sit quietly while she listened and learnt.  So instead of frustrating her, I allowed her to hang upside down when she listened to read alouds. I gave her space to move and act out the nursery rhymes in order to remember the words.  If she wiggled and squiggled on her seat when she faced some sort of challenge, I encouraged her to rather go jump on the mini trampoline for a minute to bounce the jittery  anxiety out of her system.  She needed to move and stand on her chair to recite her poems, and she had to act out her memory verses.  She whispered and talked to herself while she worked on her studies.  She was learning!  She just had to move in order to do so.

Educationalists call the wiggly-need-to-move-in-order-to-learn-kids kinesthetic learners. But essentially all young children need to move their bodies to learn. That is why action songs are so popular with toddlers and young children This is why young kids need concrete things to use and play with as they learn.

Make provision for your young child’s wiggles!

Here are 30+ practical tips and activities ~

Classroom strategies ~

  1. Keep your lessons short and sweet — Thank you Charlotte Mason!   Young children have about a 10-minute attention span.  Lessons that are any longer may cause their wiggles and frustration to build up.
  2. Give them permission and redirect their energy towards specific physical activities such as  jumping or skipping with a rope, but use a timer or just one song before they quickly return to their seat to work.
  3. Alternate seat-work lessons with physical lessons. e.g.: Stand and clap and actions for Bible song — sit for Bible story.  Jump and skip-count on the mini trampoline — then sit to do Maths lesson.  Arrow bean bag game on the mat — then Handwriting lesson.  Quick hopscotch — then Spelling or Phonics lesson.  Tea time and gross motor activities outside — then cuddle on the couch for read aloud.  Do a hands-on activity while listening to a long chapter read aloud.   This variety will also prevent boredom and meltdowns.
  4. Place a mini trampoline in the school room and encourage quick bouncing just before fine motor work such as handwriting, or difficult mental work such as maths or spelling. Let them jump and call out their skip counting as a fun maths drill, or spell out loud as they jump. Just 30 seconds on a timer and them back to the seat to start the next activity.
  5. Use a gym ball instead of a chair for seat work. Make sure that it is the correct height – that they can sit with their feet flat and knees bent at 90 degrees and that their elbow can be placed flat on the table at 90 degrees. The ball stimulates core and balance muscles and allows constant movement and regulation. Obviously don’t allow wild rocking. You can place the ball inside a small hoop to prevent the ball rolling away when they stand up.
  6. Provide a balance pillow for your child’s seat.  You can also use this for balance games on the floor.  A balance pillow also stimulates the core muscles and tiny movements for balance.
  7. Use a rubber flexaband (exercise band) as a foot rest on their seat (scroll down to see the example photo on my Handwriting page). This is great if the chair is slightly too high for them to place both feet on the floor. They can stabilise their core and still enjoy the sway, bounce or resistance of the band under their feet.
  8. Place a foam rubber mat on the play area floor for other physical games such as sit ups.
  9. Use bean bags for tossing, throwing, balancing, placing in directions with the arrow chart.
  10. Sing action songs that encourage clapping and actions.
  11. Use a timer on a phone or desktop computer to regulate seat work or the quick, fun activities.
  12. Provide a bottle of water to sip during learning.  Many kids need to sip water to calm and help them focus when learning new or difficult work.

Use manipulatives for Maths, Phonics, Handwriting & Spelling~

  1. Use Maths wheels and Maths counting, shape and block apparatus to learn Maths concepts, practice drill work and solve Maths problems,
  2. Make flashcards, sliding strips or folding flap books for phonics and spelling.
  3. Use sandpaper for young children to trace over letters when learning to write.
  4. Use hula hoops, ropes and balls to create huge letter shapes on the floor.
  5. Use puzzle pieces, cutouts, felt board shapes & letters, white boards, magnetic letters or Scrabble tiles for spelling and phonics.

Plan Hands-on Activities ~

  1. Do hands-on activities while listening to read alouds or learning their lessons.
  2. Let them build models, make 3D models or maps.
  3. Create dioramas.
  4. Draw and colour in and then turn these illustrations into finger puppets.
  5. Use Legos or bakers clay to create objects related to the theme.
  6. Go on field trips and educational outings wherever possible.
  7. Let young children play with playdough or Lego  while listening to stories or lessons.
  8. Print and paste a coloured picture related to the story or theme onto some cardstock and cut this into puzzle shapes.  Let your child build puzzles while listening to read alouds.
  9. Do Science experiments and provide equipment and strategies for your child to lead their own investigations.
  10. Provide a nature study kit & journal and encourage daily time for exploration outdoors in nature.
  11. Use a globe and atlas when studying Social Studies and Geography.  Let your children pin and mark a large map on display.
  12. Use dress-up clothes and encourage your child to act out stories, plays and poems in Social Studies or Literature.  A basket with some long skirts and bonnets, aprons, hats, cloaks and waistcoats provides endless options and  most young children love to act!
  13. Video record your child and play the movie back so that they can enjoy their re-enactments and plays.
  14. Read and download or order my 100+ Narration ideas booklet.  This Ebook contains stacks of different activities that would suit kinesthetic learners!

Outdoor Gross Motor Activities~

  1. Stimulate vestibular activities (the brain’s ability to track spatial  movement) and encourage your child lie and swing in a hammock or sit on a swing.  Encourage both the  forward and back and sideways movements as well as hanging upside down or on their tummies.
  2. Play some physical games in between lessons which require lots of physical effort such as wheelbarrows — where mom hold their feet and the child walks on their hands across the room.
  3. Throw and catch and roll and kick balls.  Add a variety of different types of balls for these games such as large beach balls, soft squishy balls or bouncy balls.
  4. Teach them to skip and let them skip and call out maths counting or rhyming skipping songs.
  5. Draw chalk hopscotch or chalk ladders on your patio floor for obstacle courses or hopping and balance games.
  6. Do some brain gym exercises especially actions that cross the mid-line.
  7. Ensure regular play time using a jungle gym and include monkey rings, ropes, slides and ladders.  Encourage lots of gross motor activities every day.

Homeschool is the perfect place to allow your child the freedom your child needs to move in order to learn and to work off their natural energy and excitement.

Don’t worry that  it may seem that your child may never learn to sit still. As they mature, your child will gradually learn to self-regulate and control themselves more and more.  In fact, these days, many modern offices have standing desks, walking treadmills and open plan spaces for movement so that employees are encouraged to move more while working!

However, if you believe that your child has real concentration and/or behavioural issues, I highly recommend that you consider taking your child to an occupational therapist for an evaluation.  They often suggest fun exercises and play strategies to use at home and school.  If your child requires sessions with the OT,  just remember that the therapy sessions are not forever.  In almost all cases, as your child improves they will no longer need ongoing therapy.

Mom, you are your child’s best advocate and facilitator.  Your job is to find what works for your child and to encourage them to learn in the way that suits them best.   Be encouraged when your child is different!  This “different child” is exactly what the Lord planned as His best instrument to shape and change you.  He wants you to learn to love what is, to love unconditionally and to love without needing to change the other.  This is a work of grace.

So, breathe in and out slowly and deeply, and then trust the Lord to show you what your child needs right now and ask Him to show you how to support and encourage your wriggly child!

And don’t forget to have fun!  Your child certainly is having fun!

Blessings and much grace, Nadene

Here are some more ideas on the web ~

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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