Navigating postgraduate years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, we allowed our eldest daughter to have a gap year … or two …  She has acquired major life skills ~

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

During these years she assisted two of her friends with their home births.  She has learnt to cook large family meals on a very tight budget, from scratch, without electricity.  She’s learnt to run a home.  She’s attended a month of life-coaching.  She has been serious in her involvement with people and she is committed to deep and meaningful relationships in the small town where she has made her home.

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

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

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

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

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

Life after school is scary, folks.

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

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

With much grace, Nadene

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Sacred Eating Bible Reading Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have created a free download for you which includes ~

Free Download ~ Sacred Eating God’s Word

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

Blessings and much grace, Nadene

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Homeschool Beginnings Part IV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings, Nadene

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Homeschool Beginnings Part III

Continuing my personal story of my unlikely journey into homeschooling.

(If you’ve missed the first two posts, you can pop over to read about our baby’s serious illness just days after her birth – Part I and the sad prognosis –Part II.)

We were referred to a Baby Therapy Centre which housed all the therapists and treatments required to treat and help babies with brain injuries, and so began three years of therapy sessions, remedial splints, and ongoing consultations and reports.

Early on we recognized weakness and spasm on our baby’s right side. The doctors and specialists referred to her diagnosis as “Right Hemi” or right-side hemiplegia, but it was only after one year before I heard them use the term “CP” and was dismayed to hear she actually had Cerebral Palsy. I don’t know why, but the label seemed so harsh, so cruel. I think we all have fear and prejudice towards the “different”. I couldn’t imagine how my baby would grow up and become independent with her disability.

Let me say that the only label or report I really needed was the Lord’s.  Every medical report and doctor’s consultation filled me with dread and fear and pushed me into anxiety and hyper-vigilance.  Instead, the Lord spoke to me in His gentle love and care, and He filled my heart with hope and peace.  He helped me focus on “one thing” at a time.  He encouraged me to live in the “now” moments with my child and not worry about the future.  I wish I could say that this was my permanent state of heart, but it was the only way I could cope as we went through many valleys, peaks, and plateaus.

Using the new orthopedic thumb splint

By now I realized that I followed an “Attached Parenting” style.  I attributed this mainly due to my breastfeeding years and the amazing mentoring and excellent parenting books I read in the La Leche League library.  I wore my baby in a sling and chose to nurture and respond to her every need with care and love.  

After three years, the Baby Therapy Center referred us to private occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and speech therapists, as our child was no longer considered a baby.  We continued regular therapy over the following nine years.

Our daughter was a bright, chatty, young toddler. She was beautiful, vivacious, intelligent, creative, fun, strong-willed, sensitive, loyal and spiritual. I loved my days with her!

My child continued to meet her milestones and, praise the Lord, showed no signs of learning or speech delays.  We attended a toddler’s play group and we enjoyed monthly play dates with our antenatal moms’ group.  Homeschooling was a very vague option, but I felt that my child would cope in mainstream schooling, so I didn’t look into that aspect at all.  Little did I know how gently the Lord would lead me into that role.

To be continued in Part IV.

Blessings, Nadene

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Homeschool Beginnings Part II

Continuing my story of my unlikely journey into homeschooling from Part I …

Following our newborn baby’s diagnosis of meningitis and a brain bleed, we went into deep shock. It was the only time I saw my husband actually sob.

I spent eleven days in the hospital with my baby, now in the children’s ward, where there were five other meningitis cases, caring for my tiny, sick, newborn baby and trying desperately to learn to breastfeed.

Hospital life is interrupted, clinical, medical and full of fear.  Not the nurturing, calm and private bonding post birth experience I had dreamed for and that my hormones absolutely craved!  I almost gave up breastfeeding because my drugged and sick baby couldn’t latch properly.  I had cracked nipples and a bad case of milk fever, but a La Leche League consultant came and talked me through all my difficulties and supported my decision to keep trying to feed my baby despite all the obstacles. I am so grateful for her help as we went on to breastfeed for two years.

We were referred to pediatric specialists who told us of all the possible damage the brain bleed and meningitis could cause. The news was dreadful. The pediatric neuro-specialist referred to her diagnosis as right-side hemiplegia or right-side paralysis.   There were fears of possible learning and speech problems.  I was gutted.

My hubby and I immediately found ourselves in separate camps trying to cope with this news; he was quiet, withdrawn and in denial, and I began a frantic search for options, help, therapy, support, and interventions.  I think that I was determined to help my child and nothing was going to be too difficult.  I resigned from my teaching position and so I began my new role of stay-at-home-mom-on-a-mission!

To be continued in Part III.

Blessings, Nadene

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Homeschool Beginnings Part 1

Many of my readers have followed me for several years, but don’t know how I started homeschooling, and some of you are fairly new to Practical Pages, and so I thought I would share my personal testimony of how I stumbled into homeschooling and the amazing journey that it took us on.  It’s a long story, but I will break it up into bite-sized pieces, so please come back each week for the next post in the series.

Homeschooling was not even on my radar.  Before I had my own children, I hardly knew anyone who homeschooled, and I probably thought those who did were strange.  I was devoted school teacher and glibly thought I would continue teaching again after taking a year’s maternity and paid leave, But the Lord had other plans.

My first daughter’s birth was a precipitous, premature, hospital delivery. She was tiny, needed to go under lights and so we stayed in the hospital for five days.  After just four days at home, she developed a very high fever and screamed all night. Early the next morning we were at a pediatric hospital.  The traumatic diagnosis following a spinal tap and brain scans was that our precious baby had meningitis and had a brain bleed.

Of course, I immediately resigned from my teacher’s position, right in those first few weeks following her illness, when I realized that I had a very important job helping my child.  And so began a very different journey of motherhood and parenting, and one that would lead me, very naturally, as it seems to me now, into homeschooling.

To be continued in Part II.

Blessings, Nadene

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Lost Inspiration

I love sketching and creating a weekly entry in my nature journal, but I haven’t touched my art supplies for over 2 months.  I wondered if I had lost my creative inspiration. How had that happened?

As I pondered the reason for my lack of art, these changes came to mind ….

Feeding our bull and weaned calves

We live on a remote mountain farm in a semi-arid area called the Klein Karoo, and have been in the grip of the worst drought in living memory. We have had to supplement feed our cattle completely since March this year and it is a labour-intensive affair. Our whole family have all pulled on our boots and climbed in the Landy to help my hubby every day and especially on the weekends when our worker takes his weekend off. It would seem natural that I would not sit happily sketching and painting in my free time, especially when there is hard, physical work to be done.

My herb and vegetable garden earlier this winter …

The drought affected my gardening and I could barely manage keep my veggie garden going through the winter. My pretty rose garden withered and died back. Full-grown trees died, and about 4 other trees blew over in a terrible wind storm. I was definitely not inspired on my nature walks when I went outside.

I recently decided to re-landscape the rose bed and I transplanted several rose bushes in a smaller cluster while they were in their winter dormancy.  I also transplanted several plants dying in other neglected garden areas to this focused garden bed. I hope to carefully water this smaller area and keep them alive.  I suppose I could have journalled these changes in my nature journal, but I was simply too tired.

Off to prune pomegranate trees

With our livestock farming under stress, we decided to make full use of a neighbouring farmer’s offer to prune his pomegranate orchards and use the cuttings to create our own pomegranate plants. We spent the last week pruning, cutting slips and planting over 5000 plants. Back-breaking and hand-cramping days.

At the end of April, my 17-year-old daughter graduated homeschool and she is transitioning through her options for the rest of this year.  This is a difficult phase to navigate.  On one hand, we recognize that she has been very isolated and protected, while on the other, she has worked very independently as a homeschooler.  Even so, we as parents have struggled to let her go even though we know that this is exactly what she needs and wants to do.  I suppose this phase has been tough for me emotionally.

We all go through seasons. This has been a physically hard and barren season, which has literally dried up my time and energy, which in turn, dried up my art and creativity.

Snow on our mountains!

Thankfully, just in this past week, miraculous rain and snow has fallen, and the drought seems to have almost broken. While it will take months for the fields and grass to recover, and we will still have to supplement feed our livestock, there is hope in the air and in our hearts.

It seems that my art and creativity are linked to regular watering of my spirit and soul. Perhaps my sketching and painting will bud and fruit sometime soon again ….

The Lord is faithful to keep us, even in dry and weary times.

What inspires your art and creativity?

Wishing you every blessing in whatever season you are in, Nadene

7 Things Not To Do For Your Teen

How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?  As devoted homeschool parents we often are very involved in our children’s lives, but as they mature, we should graciously back off and allow our teens to grow, learn and mature in every area of their lives.

“Parenting on Purpose” allows opportunity for our kids to develop the necessary life skills.  Some may view this as a lack of parenting, but research shows that “helicopter parenting” — over-involved, hyper-vigilant parenting —  is a one-way ticket to incompetent offspring,  While we don’t want our children to fail, we need to realize that adversity is a normal part of life and the only way to teach our children coping skills is to make them do and think for themselves.

To quote Ann Landers,

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”

Here are some issues to avoid when parenting teens ~

  1. Do not speak for them.  Do not stand in for them in social situations, doctor’s consultations, interviews, bookings and introductions.  After blundering in this area and seeing my children cringe and roll their eyes when I butted in conversations, I made a decision to shut up and give my teens the space to speak for themselves.  They often amaze me with their eloquence.  My shy daughter still tries to avoid answering the telephone and greeting visitors, but she has become more confident.  Practice makes this life skill easier.
  2. Do not lie for them.  For over-protective parents, this may be a form of trying to soften the blows of life, but our teens need to connect with the consequences of their decisions, lack of diligence, mistakes or issues.  Our teens need to learn to be honest, admit their failings, and find ways to make right.  Often harsh consequences teach them far more than a weekend of lectures.
  3. 20161201_185333Do not manage their time.  Every teen should set their own alarms, wake up,  prepare and be on time without mom or dad cajoling, persuading, nagging or reminding.  Don’t rush around buying last-minute items, find lost clothes or projects or”helping” them reach their deadlines.  Teach your teens to make schedules, activate their own alarms and add reminders to their cellphones, or simply keep a calendar or notebook.  Our aim is to raise well-functioning adults here.
  4. Do not manage their budget & money.  No matter how little or how much pocket-money your teen receives, they need to learn how to save, budget, spend or share their own money.  If you constantly dish out money to your teen, you act as their personal ATM.  Now is the time to open a personal bank account for your teen and teach them how to spend and save wisely.  Don’t rescue them when they spend all their money or suddenly need more money.  Give them ideas or opportunities from young to work to earn extra pocket-money.  My kids tender for projects that need doing around the house to earn extra money.
  5. Do not fight their teacher/ “friend” battles.  When your teen has issues with teachers or friends, it may be wise to listen and ask questions which may lead them to figure out what to do about their unpleasant situation, but at this point, parents should not be personally involved in bringing about resolutions.  Let your teen figure things out for themselves.  My eldest daughter once told her dad, “I can navigate this situation better on my own.”  And she was right.
  6. 20161201_185345Do not take over incompleted work/ chores.  Do not rescue your teen when they forget their work, leave it behind, delay or procrastinate and run out of time with work or chores.  Again, allow the consequences to be the life lesson here.
  7. Stop filling out their paperwork.  Teens should learn how to complete forms or fill their own applications.  With a little advice, most teens should be able to complete all their own paperwork.  Practice this skill while they are still young.  Every teen should practice their own signature and write neatly and clearly.

My parenting goal is to raise competent and capable adults.  And to accomplish this, I am backing off in areas where my teens can stand on their own two feet.  So, despite my love and my desire to hover and help, I want to see my teens succeed in the real world.  This means that I may have to stand by as they navigate failure and real life stuff on their own.

So please don’t judge me if my kids seem a little unsure, make mistakes, or sometimes suffer the consequences … it’s all part of growing teens in independence.

And may I add here, that this is an area that calls for grace

… to yourself … to your children … and to others.  Grace to other moms who are trying to figure out just how much help is required .. or who don’t know how to step back …  Grace to young adults who are growing and learning.

In Grace, Nadene

Busy Bees Sewing

witsand-xmas-marketIt has been quiet over here at Practical Pages this past month because we have been busy sewing and I put our homeschooling on the back burner.  We were given a last-minute spot at the fabulous Witsand Christmas Market to sell our handmade items this December.  Not having much time to prepare, we plunged in full-time!

My product line is called Birdie Bags and I am trying to generate enough stock to last the full month of Dec into the New Year.  I am sewing bags, mostly quilted drawstring bags and pencil and other zip bags.  These bags fold open to become a basket-tray, making it an ideal travel bag.  birdie-bags1

 

 

birdie-bagsMy daughters created a pyjama range and my eldest sews the beautiful tops, while my middle daughter sews the shorts and pants.  They have a wonderful friendship and an amazing collaborative business.  They are setting up their Facebook page and Instagram pages and already have orders, but their Christmas market stock is a priority.  img-20161102-wa0007

So, as this school year draws to a close and South Africans plan for their long-awaited summer December break, I trust you are finding your end of year flow and rhythm.

Much grace, Nadene

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Have you liked my new Practical Pages Facebook Page yet?

Facebook Practical Pages coverSeveral months ago I started a new Practical Pages FB page because the original FB page could not be merged to my personal account.  Over the months since, only a couple hundred have joined me on my new page.

Would you please click and like the new page so that all my fresh posts automatically come up on your feed?

Blessings, Nadene