New to Homeschooling?

With the Covid-19 pandemic, many families have been doing school-at-home.  And with lifestyle changes, many families are now deciding to homeschool their children rather than send them back to school.  So there are many parents just starting out and most feel very insecure.  May I encourage you not to rush, but to spend a little more time looking at your options with a little wider perspective?

I wrote a post Starting but overwhelmed by choice and I would love to remind parents ~

“Take a deep breath …. let it out slowly … and relax.  This process is like planning a wonderful overseas journey with your entire family, and your planning may take weeks or months to refine and finalize before you leap on to the plane and take off!

Here are a few extracts ~

  • Pray and wait on the Lord to show you what His vision is for you, your family and your child.
  • Visit other homeschooling families to see what they are using.
  • Read good homeschooling books.
  • Research the Internet to look at different approaches, learning and teaching styles, costs, times and schedules
  • Follow your heart and be led by peace. 
  • Consider your own teaching and parenting styles.
  • Please don’t buy expensive “bells-and-whistles” boxed curriculum for each child.  Find something simple that all your kids can enjoy together and ease into your formal schooling gently.
  • This is a journey and will change and evolve.  Nothing is cast in stone.

In another post Starting School Those First Days I shared these tips ~

  • Just start slowly.
  • Don’t try to do the complete schedule or every subject.
  • Go gently and ease into your schooling.

And lastly, in a post Routine versus Schedule, I shared the difference between schedule  versus routine ~

schedule tells you what to do and when to do it.  It is usually filled with times, lists, blocks, and boxes to tick off.

routine is a pattern by which you live. It gives structure and order to your day, but it doesn’t dictate exactly when things should be done. It allows you to find a flow that works for you on the day you happen to be living.

  1. Decide what is really important for you and your family.
  2. Find the time-flow for your family.  Are you early risers or slow-mornings kind of people? Build your rhythm around what you will more naturally manage.
  3. Identify your important daily events which form pillars such as chores, meals, exercise, sport, family time.
  4. Create habits and build them around important daily events mentioned above.
  5. Be flexible. If your routine isn’t clicking and something feels off, adapt or change it.
  6. Offer options and extras such as different Themes for each day.
  7. Add freedom and create space for your children to explore their gifts, passions, interests and talents.

This journey is going to be amazing!  Even if you have a “flat tire” or “delayed flight” along the way, relax, it is going to be the most wonderful adventure!

Sending you warm and reassuring hugs and my prayers for the Lord’s peace and grace to you in this new season of your lives!

 Blessings, Nadene
  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

What’s new in my “Teaching Print Step-by-Step” Ebook?

So many parents need help to teach their child to write. Over the years of homeschooling, I have had wonderful success using my laminated handwriting charts.

I have just completely updated my Teaching Print Handwriting Step-by-Step Ebook which is now a 16-page booklet. It includes new detailed instructions & examples on line placement for writing on lined notebook pages, starting & ending points for each letter, as well as new charts that include coloured numbered dots and arrow guidelines.

Here’s what you’ll find in this Teach Print Handwriting Ebook ~

  • Introduction to Teaching Print Handwriting Step-by-Step
  • Why laminated charts work
  • Step-by-Step Handwriting Lessons
  • Getting to know the lines and letter placement
  • How to start teaching print handwriting step-by-step
  • Examples of how to talk through each lower-case letter
  • Print lower case with start & end and arrows (a-o)
  • Print lower case with start & end and arrows (p-z)
  • Print lower case with arrows
  • Upper Case print chart with start & arrows A-N
  • Upper-case print chart with start & arrows O-Z & Numbers 1-9
  • Combined print upper-case and lower-case chart

Would you please support me and pop over to my Packages page to purchase the updated Teaching Print Handwriting Step-by-Step booklet.

If you wish to write a private email to me, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

Keeping Record and Attendance

 

Many parents are new at homeschooling and are currently “doing school at home,” and a mom in a homeschooling Facebook group asked, 

“How do you keep attendance? Any ideas or helpful tips?”

Homeschooling is a life-education and children are learning every day, but for the sake of being accountable and keeping track, it is helpful to keep records. Some curriculum providers instruct parents to keep attendance records.  Other parents have had to comply with their child’s school’s regulations during the lockdown.  Many homeschool parents keep attendance record to meet the Department of Education’s requirements.

In my 22-years+ of homeschooling, I kept record purely as part of my own discipline as a former teacher, but I also kept records to be accountable to my husband and family.  I always wanted to have evidence of our schooling should there ever be any query or inspection.  This, thankfully,  has never been required.

Here are some record-keeping tips ~

  • Use a simple print-out of a monthly, block calendar to keep a record of attendance and subject topics ~ I jotted notes in daily blocks on issues, successes, and special or unusual activities.  I used coloured highlighters to block out holidays, days for weekly shopping trips etc.
  • Google Calendars are the most versatile and effective planning and attendance record-keeping tools I used in our homeschooling.
    Google Homeschool Calendar Jan2013

    Google Calendar with school holidays and themes and topics plotted

    • At the end of each school year, I plotted in all the official school holidays for the new year to keep in sync with friends that are not homeschooling or to take advantage of off-season rates for trips.
    • The average yearly schedule comes to about 50 weeks of homeschooling for the year.  This is a very flexible outline. We may take off schooling earlier than government school holidays or continue learning longer in some terms to keep up with our schedule.  My most important tip to any new homeschooler is to give yourselves more time and extend a one-year schedule to 18-months!  This year plan is not a schedule, but a guideline.
    • Created a Google calendar for each child if they are old enough to have their own Gmail account, but it is easy to keep the attendance records of each child all together on a family calendar.
  • Use Google calendar daily to record the days where we were out on appointments, travelling, when a child was sick, etc. and I recorded when we take off one day every week to travel to town for our shopping.
  • Sometimes, when a child “falls behind” for some reason, they continue schooling into a school holiday week.
  • Train your children to date all their work every time they start their daily work.
  • Parents should initial/sign and write the date when checking their children’s books or notes. This also forms a good record of work.
  • Another way of keeping a record is to print out your curriculum year planner and the index page of each child’s textbooks or the contents page of a book or the planner page of a lapbook and sign and date next to each chapter or item when your child completes the work.

You can find all my planning and organization pages here.  I hope that these tips help!  If you have other suggestions or questions, please comment below.

Blessings, Nadene

Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email

Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

Line Placement Hints for Handwriting

When your child first starts to write on lined notebook paper, it can be very confusing! Where to start?  Where to skip lines so that letters don’t crowd into each other?

We use laminated handwriting charts to teach print and then cursive letters, first working on lower-case and then going on to upper-case letters.  I have several Ebooks on my Packages page that will teach letter placement, as well as the starting and ending points for each letter.

Once your child can confidently trace over their laminated handwriting chart without making mistakes, he is ready to start Copywork.  Copywork is a wonderful way of practising handwriting in a very meaningful way.  Read all about Charlotte Mason.

Copywork is best done on lined notebook pages.

Here’s a good rule when teaching ~

ALWAYS START BIG AND WORK SMALLER!

When you start writing on lined notebook paper, first use broad lines.  You can find 17mm lined books at your stationery shop.  Then go on to normal feint & margin pages before using the narrow Irish lined paper.

Before starting, first, draw simple little hints in the margin to help know where the body line begins.

We used these 3 hints:

  1. Draw a simple “Cat” in the margin to allow 3 lines of regular notebook pages for the head, body and tail.
  2. It may be quicker to draw a “lollipop man” in the margin. The round shape is the “head” and the stick is the “body”.  The “legs” are where the cat’s tail would be.
  3. The fastest method is to make a clear dot in the body line. My kids would count “Skip-dot-skip-skip-dot-skip-skip-dot…” to quickly place a dot marker on every 2nd alternate line all the way down their margin before beginning their copywork.

With these hints, your child will soon easily know where to start their writing and be able to do beautiful copywork.

Please support me by ordering my Handwriting Tips and Teaching Print  & Cursive Handwriting Ebooks on my Packages page.

If you wish to write me a private email, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

What’s new in my “Teaching Cursive Handwriting Step-by-Step” Ebook?

I have just completely updated my Teaching Cursive Handwriting Step-by-Step Ebook which is now a 17-page booklet. It includes new information such as Joining cursive upper-case to lower-case letters as well as detailed instructions & examples on line placement for writing on lined notebook pages, starting & ending points for each letter, as well as new charts that include guide-lines and letter placement hints.

Here’s the Table of Contents and some examples:

  • Introduction to Teaching Cursive Handwriting using a laminated chart
  • Why laminated charts work
  • Step-by-Step Handwriting Lessons
  • Getting to know the lines and letter placement
  • Teaching Lower-Case Cursive Letters
  • Line Placement Hints
  • Cursive Lower Case Chart with “cats”, coloured lines and start- & end-points
  • Some fun lower-case cursive handwriting exercises
  • Cursive Lower Case Chart
  • Teaching Cursive Upper-Case Letters
  • Some fun cursive upper-case handwriting exercises
  • Cursive Upper-Case Chart with “lollipop men” coloured lines and start- & end-points
  • Cursive Upper Case Chart
  • Cursive Combined Upper and Lower Case
  • Joining Cursive Upper-Case to Lower-Case Practice Pages A – I
  • Joining Cursive Upper-Case to Lower-Case Practice Pages J – R
  • Joining Cursive Upper-Case to Lower-Case Practice Pages S – Z

Would you please support me and pop over to my Packages page to purchase the updated Teaching Cursive Handwriting Step-by-Step booklet.

If you wish to write a private email to me, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

How to Join Upper-Case to Lower-Case Cursive Letters

With parents finding themselves suddenly homeschooling during this pandemic, a mom emailed to ask me to help her as she was struggling to teach her son how to join cursive upper-case to lower-case letters.   To help her, I created a little  5-page download which is also available for free right here ~ Joining Upper Case & lower case Cursive letters

How to join an upper-case letter to a lower-case letter

Most upper-case letters will have their own ending line that simply overlaps as the starting line for the next letter.

Only a few upper-case letters will require “an extra” line to start the new lower case letter at their base such as with B C D F H I O P S T V W  I  have drawn this line which will be the overlapping starting line as a dotted line.

Practice Joining Cursive Letters Sheets

  • Laminate the following Joining Cursive Upper-Case to lower-case practice pages or place each page in a plastic page protector.
  • Demonstrate and talk about where to start, how to form and end each letter.
  • Then ask your child to trace over the letters with a whiteboard marker.
  • Once your child knows where to start, how to form and end all the letters in lower- & upper-case, your child can start doing simple copywork as handwriting practice using the chart as a reference.

This download provides practice pages using every letter of the alphabet.  Extended lines provide space to not only trace over the letters but also to copy and write out the joined letters on the coloured lines provided.

I have also included a detailed explanation of letters’ line placement as well as coloured dots for starting and ending points for each letter in this download.

I will post a detailed blog post on letter line placement in my upcoming post.

Please pop over to my Packages page to purchase the updated Teaching Cursive Handwriting Step-by-Step booklet.

If you wish to write a private email to me, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

Revisiting “Little House” and dress-up

During this global pandemic and our current nation-wide Covid-19 lockdown, we have enjoyed having our son, his wife and our gorgeous two little granddaughters come live with us on the farm.

Emma (5) and Kara (3)  have enjoyed spending time playing with me and I have found myself reliving my early homeschool and parenting days as we played with my daughter’s old toys and dress-up clothes that we took out of storage.

Currently, we are also enjoying watching the “Little House on the Prairies”  DVD series.  These stories are beautifully portrayed and moms and dads are also encouraged by the wonderful values and skills taught by Charles and Caroline Wilder to their children.

My daughter Lara when she was 6 years old

My little grandies, Emma and Kara love wearing their bonnets and calico aprons that I sewed for my three daughters over 15 years ago.  These simple dress-up clothes have served my children for years and they were adapted to suit many themes and eras in the stories I read aloud.

All my girls needed to act out scenes from stories in our living books were a long skirt, an apron and a bonnet.  They have happily played and re-enacted scenes from the Little House books as well as Anne of Green Gables, Little Princess, What Katie Did,  The Secret GardenPollyannaand Jane Austen stories!  I even made my younger daughter boned corsets for their dressing up.

I have shared several posts on encouraging your children’s freedom to play ~

Here are some of my Little House blog posts ~

Give your children something innocent and inspiring to focus on and act out.  They need the freedom to play and be creative.  Read aloud to them and then give them the time to be free to play.

Here’s wishing you and your family safe and happy moments in this unprecedented time.

Blessings, Nadene

Featured on Top 110 Homeschool Blogs of 2020

I was wonderfully surprised to find my blog listed among the Top 110 Homeschool Blogs of 2020!
top homeschool blogs

RankedBlogs.com ranks their top blogs based on votes, Page Authority, Domain Authority, number of linking domains, and Twitter followers.

I would love others to find my homeschooling content and I would so appreciate it if you would vote for me. Please simply click either the image above or the image below to vote.

During this global pandemic and our current nation-wide Covid-19 lockdown, we have enjoyed having our son, his wife and our gorgeous two little granddaughters come live with us on the farm.

While our lives here on the farm seem to continue as normal (we essentially live in our isolation on our remote farm), I am mindful that many lives have been drastically changed and that families face an unprecedented time of uncertainty and fear.

My prayers are for grace to each of you and your families, and that you stay healthy and safe, and that you are held intimately in the Lord’s everlasting love and care.

Blessings, Nadene

 

 

Fun Activities For Kids At Home

Here are some creative and fun learning activities links from my blog for your children to enjoy at home as we move into unprecedented changes in our lives with self-isolation and lockdowns due to the global covid-19 outbreak.

May I offer a few practical suggestions with these at-home activities?

  • Look for items that your children would enjoy.
  • Plan for 1 activity per day.
  • Keep things informal.  Don’t try to do school at home!
  • Take your time.
  • Don’t rush through a list.
  • If something sparks joy and delight — stay there and look for other similar activities rather than moving on to the next thing on your list.
  • Repeat.  Especially young children love to repeat an enjoyable activity.  Don’t be afraid to print things out and do it again if your child loved it.
  • Photograph and video them doing their activities.
  • Display their finished work each week on a door or shelf “gallery”.
  • Share their activities with grandparents and social groups to stay connected.

So here we go ~

  1. Paper dolls and paper men from different historical eras to colour in and cut out.  Use these as puppets for narrations.
  2. Narrations are the child “telling back” what he heard in a read-aloud. Narrations are the cornerstone of a Charlotte Mason education.  Children must pay close attention while they listen to the story so that they can make it their own and express what they remember and understood as they narrate.   I have collected over 100 narration ideas for every learning style.  In this Ebook, you will find lists of suggested activities for audio, visual, kinesthetic and creative learners along with templates and printouts.  You can see examples of the templates and ideas in the original post.
  3. Letterboxing – a great “treasure hunting” geography game to practice in your house and garden. Letterboxing is an intriguing mix of treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring skills.
  4. Current Affairs is the study of social, political and important happenings in the world at the present time.  Use this Current Affairs download with calendar pages, maps, flags and symbols to chart the events around the world during the coronavirus crisis.
  5. Nature Study and enjoy the great outdoors with fun nature activities in three Smash Nature Journals.  Go to my  Packages page to order your Smash books.  If you order all 3 you get the third book free!
  6. 3D models such as the Little House in the Woods.
  7. Art appreciation activities of famous artworks and famous artists~
  8. Creative projects ~
  9. Bible activities ~
  10. Sight Words are frequently used words that your child should easily recognize in his reading.  In my Sight Words Ebook, you will have all the word lists, words in sentences, games and activity templates.spelling-templates-ideas.png (390×401)
  11. Handwriting practice with laminated charts and games. I have created a 20-page E-book is packed with practical tips and it includes helpful activities and fun pre-writing games to build up your child’s gross motor strength, develop fine motor control and develop their spatial awareness, correct posture and pencil grip for maximum control and minimum stress while learning to write.   Handwriting Tips Booklet $5.00 / ZAR5.00
  12. Hands-on activities ~ Here is a list of some of the many hands-on activities and posts on my blog ~

I hope that these posts and links and downloads inspire you in your homeschooling!

Wishing you all health, happiness and precious family times.

Blessings, Nadene

  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

Letter 27 – Creativity

As I reflect on my more than 23 years of homeschooling, I believe that creativity is the most wonderful gift you can give your children!   Here is the next letter to my younger self — Letter 27 ~ Creativity

These new collages are from images of our many creative moments over the years.  Warning ~ This post is chock-a-block full of links to previous creativity related posts; proof of my emphasis on creativity!  I recommend you bookmark this letter to come back to read all the links.)

Dear younger Nadene,

Your children’s happiest moments in homeschooling revolved around your creative approach which included frequent hands-on activities.  Realizing this joy, I want to urge you to provide daily creative opportunities such as arts & crafts and doing regular hands-on activities such as lapbooks, making models and paper projects, and allocate time for lots of dramatization.  Figure out how to fit in hands-on activities into your schedule, and these activities will become your children’s favourite homeschool memories.  Your Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays will save you and your children from burnout and stress! Over these years you will produce many creative projects.

Your children will create cute finger puppets for narrations, cut and colour Lego-punched dioramas for poetry, make models of Laura Ingalls’ Little House, dress up to act out their History narrations, re-create famous paintings in 3D, create their own sets of paper dolls.  Amazing mobiles will adorn your schoolroom for different themes and study topics. Every year you and your children will make puppet shows such as the Nativity Play and Esther play for Purim and their art will cover the walls in your home.

Your young children love to be creative every moment of the day!  In their free time, they love to dress up and you will even sew them boned corsets! You will make them a rag doll family to replace their Barbie dolls, and your middle daughter will use her skilled fine motor skills to create her own Polly pocket in a soap dish!

Join Sketch Tuesday and do art every week. There are so many advantages to sketching weekly! This simple weekly Sketch Tuesday activity will produce an enormous skill set and build confidence! Not only will it be the most welcome time of enjoyment and respite in your week, but it will offer regular opportunities to try new mediums and styles and your children will excel in all their artistic activities.

Because you provide them with a creative space and creative materials, they will also make jewellery and beautiful gifts.  Your daughters love creating beautiful flower arrangements. They will create beautiful rustic decor for their brother’s weddings.  Your daughters will become experts at home decor.  You will teach them all to sew and knit and your teenage daughters will start their own beautiful pyjama clothing range called La Lune

Your eldest daughter Tess will become an incredibly talented seamstress at just 15-years old, sewing dresses for weddings and Matric farewell functions.  She and her best friend will put on and host several fashion shows. When your daughter graduates, she will work in the hospitality industry for a season.  She will marry and her home will be filled with beauty and loveliness.  When they move Sedgefield, she will renovate and restore the old family seaside home into a lovely Airbnb.  Her homemaking, cooking and creativity will spill into every area of her life.

When your middle daughter Kate graduates, she will continue to create her own unique styled art, create professional designs and logos, and develop her digital art.  She will hone her photographic skills and assist her boyfriend Mathew with photography at weddings.  She will assist him in developing his website, his marketing and social media. Kate loves food and she will enjoy cooking Masterchef-type food!  She will become a singer and musician, teaching herself to play musical instruments.

Your youngest daughter Lara will do art every day.  Her Instagram feed is full of art, art and more beautiful art!  Lara and her talented wood craftsman boyfriend will start their own collaborative online art business called Collection Shed.  Joshua will make beautiful custom frames for Lara’s paintings!

Your children’s creativity and handicrafts skills will become great assets.   They have so much creative talent that it spills over into entrepreneur and job opportunities. They will start businesses, sell products at markets and online, work for art and animation studios, sell art via social media. All of them will develop wonderful unique artistic styles and their regular creativity will generate wonderful rich art portfolios. Your family will be known for its creative flair!   

You, too, will find great joy in doing creative projects, regularly sketching, painting, sewing, knitting, gardening and doing decor and DIY projects.  As your homeschooling journey nears the end, your lifestyle and time will allow for much more art and creativity, so it is a good thing to take part in arts and crafts with your children while they are still young.  Maintain your creativity as a hobby lifestyle, or as Charlotte Mason describes it as “Mother Culture” and you will have a fulfilling and joyful transition post homeschooling.

And very importantly, don’t be afraid of your children’s occasional boredom.  This time is the essential ingredient that is necessary for them to discover and develop their creativity!  In this day and age of constant stimulation and distraction, quiet undistracted time is a gift for creativity.  

Keep a simple schedule and avoid rush, stress and over-committed extra-mural activities.  Plan for days at home, free afternoons and long, unrushed weekends. 

Creativity also requires grace to learn, to experiment and to make mistakes. Offer your children and yourself gentle encouragement and avoid any comparisons.  Compliment and display your children’s art and keep trying new materials and techniques. 

Here are some wonderful creativity quotes ~

  • “Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.”  Brene Brown
  • “Creativity is experimenting, growing, taking risks, making mistakes & having fun!” Mary Lou Cook
  • “Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse
  • “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein
  • “You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou
  • “To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.” Joseph Chilton Pearce

With fondest love from your older and creative self, Nadene

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Would you share yours in the comments below?

In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:

Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook

%d bloggers like this: