Rocks & Stones Experience

We enjoyed our month of Rock Outdoor Hour Challenges and my own Stones and Rocks discipleship week.

Rocks & StonesAlthough we have been outdoors most days, and have quite an impressive new rock and stone collection on our table, we have not approached our time scientifically.  I enjoy my child’s natural delight and detailed observations, but we did not research, compare, investigate, analyze, or even note our findings.

It was more a simple pleasure.  

And Charlotte Mason would approve.  She encourages us to give our children regular opportunities to get in touch with God’s creation and to allow these experiences to form a source of delight that will last throughout their lifetime.

So, with this as my long-term approach, I am confident that a scientific approach may develop in time.

(May I encourage young moms not to do what I did when I started homeschool? In my early days with my eldest child, I over-emphasized our nature study sessions and made it too intense, too heavy.  I was very ‘results’ orientated.  This approach stunted my child’s natural delight and she eventually pulled out of our outdoor hour times.)

Right now, our nature study is planned as a natural nature experience!

How have you enjoyed your nature study times?  What works for your children?  Have you any tips for new moms? Please share in the comments.


This post was submitted to the Outdoor Hour Challenge carnival.


This is how my homeschooling with Miss.L10 the past 3 weeks went ~

Since my burn accident on 3 October evening, I homeschooled from my bed for several weeks.  My littlest homeschooler had a wonderful time!  It has possibly been her happiest homeschooling times.

Now that my injury has healed enough so that I can get up and take it slow, she reluctantly homeschools at the table.

Same content, but intimacy has made all the difference!

For young children especially, I would try find any curriculum that allowed me to ~

  • share my Lord and my faith
  • snuggle together with books and read, read, read!
  • spend time off the schedule to investigate anything interesting along the way
  • join my child in discovery and delight
  • take notice and nurture a love of nature
  • enjoy arts, music and poetry
  • create with our hands
  • expand our minds
  • nurture our hearts

It is important to teach the basic disciplines – reading, language and arithmetic, but just follow Ruth Beechick’s 3 little books and you’ll do fine! And if you follow Charlotte Mason’s methods, your lessons should be short, precise and sweet.

As for a core curriculum, it is like an itinerary ~

Just like a travel agent who creates an itinerary for someone’s overseas trip, an “out-the-box” curriculum is a detailed educational plan for your homeschooling.  The publisher may be highly qualified, be an expert in their field and may be very experienced, but you are the master expert of your child.

Regardless of what curriculum you purchase ~

Chose what works for each child (suits their learning style)

Chose an appropriate pace and time-frame (not too slow, nor rushed)

Leave out stuff that just doesn’t “click” with your child (forcing the matter just makes it worse)

Just as you would on a suggested itinerary, stay longer where you find something special,

and skip on over to the next destination when you are done.

You can change the order of things.

You can leave stuff undone or take longer to finish.

Personalize the journey!

You have my permission! [smiles]

Above all, cultivate an intimate relationship with your children.

If your curriculum stresses you or your child (tears, tantrums, depression and avoidance are classic signs of this),

if it rushes you and removes peaceful intimacy,

or if it makes you feel like you or your children are failing,

CLOSE THE FILE and put it away.

Go on a nature walk, have a picnic under a tree and read an amazing classic book to your children, listen to music that inspires, talk about current interests, and you will accomplish more in every way than any curriculum!

This post was written and submitted for the upcoming South African Carnival of Homeschooling (SACH Carnival)

Blessings and intimacy in your relationships.

Freedom Homeschooling Brings?

Would these be good reasons to homeschool?

  • provide intimate learning relationship between children & parents
  • nurture a child’s love to learn

    a unique hollow log “garden” with wild flowers, moss and mushrooms that my 12-year-old created one afternoon

  • maintain a “one-life” unity of life & learning
  • encourage spiritual discipleship
  • nurture character mentorship
  • do school in pajamas, or comfy clothes
  • start school as early or as late as suits you and your family
  • do short official school lessons – sometimes 5 to 10 minutes!
  • finish all school work after just a few hours of work
  • lazily read under a tree or snuggled up on a couch instead of filling in workbooks
  • focus on arts, creativity and “non-essential” subjects
  • progress in maths, spelling and writing at their own pace
  • it is tailor-made for each child
  • meets the dynamic needs of the children as they develop
  • live free of peer-pressure, bullying and labelling
  • allow children to be unique and different
  • express unusual and unpopular thoughts and views
  • focus on life skills, family business, hobbies, and entrepreneurial activities rather than grades and standards
  • reduce stress – no need to drive through pre-school traffic
  • save on costs – no school fees, fund-raisers, uniforms, long stationary lists

    nurturing a baby wild hare rescued in the fields

  • eat healthy food instead of school lunches
  • house-cleaning, cooking, baking, gardening, chores and routine is all part of school
  • encourage a new creative flair and foster a passion or interest
  • provide the opportunities for entrepreneurship and young businesses
  • provide and nurture relationships with all ages, all types of people
  • become missions-orientated
  • connect with community and the needy
  • get involved with church, ministry or charity

Yes!  All these and more!

I see most of these homeschooling choices as the freedom that homeschooling brings.

When the kids are small, it makes perfect sense to homeschool. And it is fun, free-style and fabulous!

Over the past few years we have had to change our homeschool emphasis as we navigate the High School years.  There are now time and subject requirements.  Learning takes longer, and lessons are more academic.  My high school children have to learn how to study for and write exams.

My role changed from the mom-learning-alongside in discovery and delight, to the tutor-mom.

I now focus on specific subjects with my high school children, teaching maths, or geography or subjects that are more academic.

Generally my high schoolers manage their learning and work quite independently.  I sometimes feel nostalgic. I long for those warm, intimate learning days.

So enjoy the early years!

Take your time!

Look for tadpoles and watch butterflies.

Read, read, read aloud.

Do art, singing and poetry.

Make the time for the fine arts.

Go on educational outings, take trips, plan those picnics.

Enjoy your homeschooling!

What freedoms do you enjoy most in your homeschooling? Feel free to share in the comments.


This post was written and submitted for the upcoming South African Carnival of Homeschooling’s topic ~ ‘Beyond Homeschooling

Read Books ~ When All Else Fails

Social Studies (Carla Bley album)

Living Books are the

golden threads” in our learning.

This past week I had an epiphany ~

good books have provided my children the most valuable education!

But, let me go back a little and explain …

Earlier this year my 12-year-old-now-nearly-13-teen floundered in my ‘wonderful’ Charlotte Mason education.  I wrote about our stresses and struggles and how I felt like such a failure.

Your kind comments overwhelmed me.

I simply relieved my daughter from some CM subjects and she focussed purely on her academics. (She no longer actively takes part in many of the Fine Arts lessons, but I’m sure that she absorbs her younger sister’s music and art appreciation lessons, the poetry and the Shakespeare plays.)

Most of her Footprints Into the 21st Century curriculum is literature-based. She spends many hours simply reading good books.

But, still, I worried.  I was still unhappy to see her listlessly “going through the motions” instead of connecting with her subject, let alone savoring it! (And I’m not alone. Jimmie also shared of her daughter’s changed approach.)

Would she be ready for the standards and approaches used in our Delta correspondence high school curriculum next year?


Last week, when she completed her Maths textbook I went to a local academic book store to find a new Grade 8 textbook.

To my dismay, they only supplied textbooks for the current OBE education in the South African government schools.  (This system – Outcomes Based Education – has been an absolute failure … but let me not digress.)
After 20 minutes I chose the one which seemed the best.

When I got home and took my time looking through the book, I was appalled.

It was complete drivel. Total twaddle. Not one single mathematical concept explained. Not a single theory, principle, or equation in the book. Not a single example followed by an exercise.  How does anyone learn maths from this?

I would not keep the book and the store would not refund me.  I had to exchange it for any other book from the same publishers.  Despite their thick catalogue, and much more careful examination of the sample books on the bookstore’s shelves, I could not find anything worth exchanging.

Their Social Studies book dismayed me.

Not a single photograph or accurate map …  instead they had fuzzy pencil sketch copies of photos.

Not a single quote …  just ridiculous, over-simplified explanations of the period in history summed up in 3 paragraphs, followed by 3 questions &/or activities to be done with a friend or in a group OBE-style.

This is when it stuck me!

My children know much more about the historical events, the culture, lifestyle, and important people from their living books!

Even if my junior-high daughter just ticks off her schedule and completes her tasks, simply because she reads excellent books, she will have absorbed 1000 times more than a child who has read a textbook.

And I should have given more credit to the power of reading!

I’ve written that read alouds are the Homeschool Glue.

I have seen the power of reading an excellent book to ignite thoughts, inspire the imagination, develop vocabulary, motivate action, and define character.

At its most basic, if our children read living books, they will grow and learn!

This is why I love a Charlotte Mason-inspired-literature-based education.

How have living books taught your children? Any thoughts about textbooks? Share with us in the comments.


This post is part of the upcoming Charlotte Mason Carnival ~  “What we love most about a Charlotte Mason education“.  To join the carnival, visit Amy at Fisher Academy International this Tuesday, September 4.

Fun Ideas for Creative Homeschooling

Welcome to our 3rd SACH Carnival of 2012!

Join South African homeschool moms

as we share our



fun activities

in our homeschooling.

Taryn of Hayes Happenings shares a whole host of creative homeschooling activities, many of these shared with their homeschool group called the “Lunch Bunch”.  They have so much fun, don’t you wish you could join them too?

Here at Practical Pages I have written several posts of our fun and creative lessons!  Here are a few of my kid’s favorites:

Trixi from Trixi’s HomeEd Academy has found lapbooks have brought the joy of learning to her homeschooling days.  She shares some her creative posts:View album

Donette of The Journey wrote her post specially for the carnival and shared the fun and creative ideas for her children who are all under 6.

Thanks to all who shared in this carnival!

I’m sure you all have creative, fun activities that stand out as your homeschooling highlights.

Would you care to share them too?  Write a comment and leave a link to your post.


Introducing Nadene

This post is written for our latest SACH’s
(South Africa Carnival of Homeschooling) Carnival.
The topic is

“Interviewing You!”

Strangely, this is the second interview we had this past week.  Since our family business launched just 3 weeks ago, it has been like a flood gate opened and the calls, emails, inquiries and orders flow in daily.  We have had to change our answering machine’s message and have trained all the kids how to answer the phone “professionally”!
Landbou Weekblad, a national Afrikaans farmer’s magazine, sent a journalist to interview us and take photos for an article in their upcoming publication.  The journalist insisted on presenting our “personal story” and asked questions about how we came to live on our very remote farm and what led to our Lucerne Tree business.
He even took a rare family photo with all our kids!  Our eldest son was here on a visit at the time and is possibly the first complete family photo since 2010. (I confess that this photo we took and emailed to him because his photo was “embarrassing” to most of the family!)
So much for our family avoiding publicity!
Here then is my interview … with myself [giggle]

Brief Bio

  1. your and your spouse’s names – Nadene and Myles
  2. your children’s names and ages –Step-sons Myles (24) and Zahn (21), our daughters Tess (17), Kate (12) and Lara (9)
  3. how long you’ve been homeschooling for – about 13 years … ever since I had my kids … it has always been in my heart!
  4. whereabouts in South Africa you live – on top of a mountain in the Klein Karoo, Western Cape, an hour’s drive from George.

We homeschool because …

When my first child was born, I still held a permanent post at a public school and planned to return to teaching after my year’s leave.

But at 9 days old, my new little baby was stricken by meningitis and all those plans changed.  The illness changed her, me.  I learned that her brain was injured and her right side was affected.  My commitment to her recovery and treatment was foremost in my heart and mind.

I had always been one of ‘those’ moms ~ attached parenting, breast-feeding, sling-wearing, natural-eating … and homeschooling fitted in with my passion and vision.  So I homeschooled her with 2 other moms.  We learnt so much and loved our times together.  Read the post I wrote in honour of these precious friends and our journey into homeschooling.

Five Favourites! The things I most like to …

  1. see…  my hubby walking toward the house for tea with us, the majestic mountains and panoramic views from my windows, my children playing outside, my chickens pecking happily, the house fresh and clean after we’ve cleaned it, our sheep dogs running the sheep towards the kraal with such energy and excitement, a bunch of flowers in a vase that one of my daughters placed to bring joy, my son bounding out to work with vision and purpose …
  2. hear … my girls singing, their giggles, music, Blue Cranes calling as they fly, Cape Weavers in full song in our trees, rains on the roof in the dry season, frothy milk as it jets into the milk pail, ewes responding to little lambs calling …
  3. smell … fresh-baked bread first thing in the morning, lavender, roses and my gardenia bush in bloom, chocolate cake, fresh-cut lawns, soups and stews simmering in my AGA stove, molasses and ground corn in our cow’s feed, shampoo and soap on my youngest daughter’s skin when I kiss her goodnight …
  4. taste … chocolate, coffee, carrots fresh-pulled from my garden, fresh fruit, our crystal-clear mountain water, food from our veggie patch, home-made butter with Himalayan salt, honey and cayenne pepper tea first thing in the morning …
  5. touch … my hubby’s hugs, my kid’s kisses, cuddles and snuggles, satin, silk, swims in the dam on a hot summer day, cool breezes in our Karoo heat, hot showers and my electric blanket in winter

 This year I hope to … 

Grow … be more Christ-like

Live in grace … especially towards my older daughters

Find balance … in our work, schooling, fun and fellowship

You are welcome to comment or ask more questions in the comments.


Our Journey into Homeschooling

The Queen of Hearts, from a 1901 edition of Mo...

Image via Wikipedia

In a way, describing how we started down the road into homeschooling is really a dedication post to my very special friends.

Because that’s how it all started.

3 moms at church, each with teeny toddlers, met together for tea and discovered we all had like-hearts.

Perhaps we all shared a desire for attached parenting.  We wanted to nurture our children, share in their formation years and inspire in them a love to learn.

After a few play-dates, tea dates and chats, and a few outings … our homeschooling was birthed.

I can clearly remember our pre-school planning time, we sat in a think tank and discovered how wonderfully the Lord led us.  We used a Bible Alphabet Colouring book as our base and spent several weeks on A for Angels doing angel stories, angel songs, angel crafts, angel food, even angel games!

We realized we each had something special and unique to bring to our group.  We realized our children enjoyed repetition more than we ever planned for! I think that, after a whole year, we only got to H for Hearts!

We grew into homeschooling as our children grew up.  Some new babies arrived.  Some more moms joined.  Some moms moved.  Some children went to real school.  Some came back to homeschool … and back to school.  I even homeschooled alone for a season.

When we started junior primary schooling, I visited a serious homeschool mom to view her methods and curriculum.  I remember being scared, thinking, “How can I do this?”  I know that I didn’t buy her curriculum.  I also thought this was an awesome decision.

But my homeschooling became more than just a heart-choice.  We bought a farm near a small rural town with no English schools, moved away, and so it was settled, we would have to homeschool.  But I was glad.  This left no room for doubts.  I had to follow my heart which was set on homeschooling anyway.

That was a tough year.

The Knave of Hearts, from a 1901 edition of Mo...

Image via Wikipedia

No friends nearby.

No church group with moms and tots.

No other English-speaking families.

And definitely no other homeschoolers.

And it was my first year teaching all 3 children, each on their own core.

In a word. Stressful.

But, after just 2 years, there were 9 other local homeschooling families that got together, went on outings, socialized and encouraged each other.  (And yes, we were still the only English family.)

Then we sold our farm and spent a year on the road looking for a new farm.  All our homeschool stuff fitted into a small travel bag.  We all used 1 core curriculum and had an amazing 18 months in intimate, simple homeschooling.

Now we live and homeschool on a very remote mountain farm, even further from friends and church groups.

Our friends drive once a year to spend a school holiday with us.  We travel to visit them.  Our eldest children, now 16 and 17 years old, are still good friends.

And those amazing moms are still my dearest, most special friends!

Here’s my heart-felt thanks to you ~ travelling even just part of the homeschooling journey together has made all the difference in the world!


This post is part of the South African Carnival of Homeschool Blogs.  To join the carnival or visit past carnivals visit the SACHS Blogs page.  We hope you enjoy browsing!


Geography Fun for Carnival #6

It’s time for our 6th SACH carnival

and it’s my first time to host a carnival!

SACH is the South African Carnival of Homeschooling Blogs and we warmly invite other South African bloggers who’d like to join in the next carnival to click the link at the bottom  🙂

To readers from around the globe, welcome, and come and see what South African homeschoolers do for ~

Geography Fun!

Singing their way through their Geography Fun, Taryn of Hayes Happenings writes about Geography Songs. She says,

“It’sCH06 about the Sonlight Curriculum’s Geography Songs CD that has my kids learning all the countries of the world.  Places I’d never even heard of before!  Even my almost 3-year old sings “Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica too!” in the appropriate accent.  Precious memories made while learning together!”

  • We’ve also used this Sonlight CD to learn all the countries of the world in our homeschooling, and I smiled and remembered how much fun it was!

At Trixi’s HomeEd Academy, Trixi posts Geography Fun which is packed full of  wonderful links to great geography sites.  She says,

“Due to my 3rd grader’s intense dislike to textbooks & worksheets, I have had to do quite a bit of research into finding material that wouldn’t be met with protest and this post has some of the best I’ve found so far.”

  • I’ve bookmarked her post to come back and go through all her recommendations.  If you are new to Trixi’s blog, pour yourself some tea and make some time to go through her sidebar.  It is a treasure trove of links and ideas.

Linnie posted Learning Geography while having Fun at her blog Back To Ancient Ways. She says,

“Some time ago CJ discovered the online equivalent of the board game RISK –  Conquer club!  Conquer Club currently have One hundred and eighty-seven plus maps to choose from.  These maps includes world maps, continent maps, countries and even neighborhoods. Thus it was no surprise that CJ obtained a wide common knowledge on the geography of the world, while playing Conquer Club. What a fun way to learn geography.”

  • Her post is very detailed and filled with screen shots of the online game and her son’s personal experiences.

Digging through my Geography posts at Practical Pages I found~  Fun with Maps!

“I gave the girls a large 9 page world map which they had to assemble.  Your Child gives many print out options – print out sizes so large that it will print on up to 64 pages!”

Then we played “Twister” calling out places with right or left hands and feet!

  • Pop over to to the post to read the rest of our fun map activities and websites.
The best fun we’ve had in Geography has been~  Treasure Hunt and Letterboxing!
“Letterboxing is a recognized international activity where participants use clues which describe directions and landmarks to find a hidden treasure box. (Read more here.) Once the box is found, the participants imprint their own personal rubber stamp in the log book, write in the date with their “trail name” and then use the stamp in the box to stamp a record their “find” in their own personal log book.”

We made our own treasure box with log book, pencil, stamp pad and rubber stamp

“Now the girls played Letterboxing!  They crawled under and over things, turned left and right, counted paces, moved forwards or backwards until they found the treasure box.  They made their stamps in the log books and loved every minute of this lesson!”

  • Pop over to the post to read how we prepared and played this fun Geography activity.
Just recently I discovered this free Geography game download:

Seterra 3.0.

Seterra 3.0 screenshot. Click to enlarge!
“Seterra is a fun geography program with 88 different exercises. Learn about countries, capitals, flags and cities all over the world! Examples of exercises: countries in Europe; American states; American state capitals; French cities; cities in Mexico; countries in Asia, etc, etc… Seterra runs in English, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish or Swedish. Each exercise has a high score list to keep track of your progress. A colorful and addictive way to learn geography!”
  • This is a simple, quick download and the game is always available for quick quizzes – even when the internet is offline!
  • Although the games are simple and without “all the bells and whistles”, it is a very effective learning tool.
  • I enjoyed this program with my 9-year-old.  She and I soon wanted to better our times and scores identifying countries.
  • Afterwards I spent about an hour matching flags to countries … boy, I didn’t realize how many there were and how similar they are!  Challenging, but fun!
I hope you enjoy reading all these fun Geography posts.


When there are so many links and sites listed in posts, you could create a Geography folder on your internet bookmarks and save all the links as you come to them.  Then you can visit these later if you don’t have enough time to “follow rabbit trails” right now!

This post is part of the South African Carnival of Homeschool Blogs.  To join the carnival or visit past carnivals visit the SACHS Blogs page.  We hope you enjoy browsing!

School Outings ~ What I Miss Most

 Girls find garnets in the gravel at Kimberley Big Hole

For several years now we lived too far away (not to mention our horrendous mountain roads) from cities, towns and friends to join homeschool outings –

and I miss it much more than my kids do!

  • I miss the planning and preparation of an outing that fits all our schedules and topics of  interest.
  • I miss meeting friends at a car park, chatting to moms while we wait for the rest to arrive.
  • I miss watching the kids playing before we can even introduce the new family that has joined the group.
  • I miss the hugs, encouragement and support of other moms who have rushed household chores, packed picnic baskets and scurried to put the baby things in the bag for the day, to get the to venue on time.
  • I miss the buzz of excitement of the little ones as we enter the museum or place of interest.
  • I miss the tour guide telling the kids stuff that we read about and watching the children’s faces light up with, “I know that!
  • I miss the joy of my child’s feeling of success when she answers a guide’s questions with confidence.
  • I miss the group activities, the teams, the joint efforts in some or other exercise.
  • I miss seeing, with wonder and joy, older teenagers (especially the guys) playing and helping the toddlers and young kids, when I know that it would not be “cool” among their government school peers.
  • I miss sharing healthy and delicious snacks and tea and coffee afterwards.
  • I miss hearing the successes and failures of other homeschool families and being part of such a wonderful support system.
  • I miss my children’s excited news and joy of friends who have the same life values.
  • I miss the confirmation of our homeschooling choices seen at work in other families.
  • And of course I miss the art museums, the professional tour guides, seeing real artifacts and proof of reality seen up close and personal.

For moms with young children I urge you to join other groups, or form your own, and make time each month for an outing!  If possible, choose a schedule that gives you 1 day each week for outings and get-together.  (Sonlight offers a choice between a 4-day or a 5-day week schedules.  We often used our 5th ‘free’ day for library, visits, shopping and outings.)

These outings are wonderful experiences and make memories that may last for ever!

I  think we stocked up on our family’s outings because we spent over a year on the road and traveled around South Africa while we did Footprints on the Land curriculum.

May you enjoy your homeschool groups and outings!


This post is part of the upcoming South African Carnival of Homeschooling.

A New Carnival for South African Homeschoolers!

I was delighted to read about this upcoming, brand new carnival!

Hosted by Taryn at Hayes Happenings, she invites South African home schoolers a chance to share their experiences within the blogging community by joining the SA Home Schooling Blog Carnival.

If you’d like to submit your post, race over to her blog for details, because the first carnival is tomorrow, Thursday 23rd June!

Ooooh! I’m excited to meet new bloggers and enjoy the rich diversity and experience of  their blogs!