Practical Tip ~ Reset

A reset is a wonderful way of restoring rest in our lives. Our days are a rhythm of routines that form resets; waking and sleeping, eating and working. When homeschooling and raising young children, it is vital to reset throughout the day and especially, I find, the most important, at the end of the day.

Make it a habit to clean up and pack away at the end of each day. Involve everyone, even toddlers, as they pack away the toys, books and papers, clear tables and surfaces, tidy up and move furniture back into place. My young kids loved to sing Barney’s clean up song, “Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere ….” as they packed away their toys before bath time. This prepares a clean slate for the next day.

May I offer some practical advice to moms with young children ~

  1. Make it fun! Sing songs, play upbeat music, talk with an accent or silly voice instead of barking out instructions, Think of fun ways to toss soft toys into baskets, scoot small objects with a dustpan, find and pack items by colour, hide a special toy secretly and ask them to see if they can find it while tidying.
  2. Work together – Teams, partners, helpers makes the job easier. Assign an older child with a younger child.
  3. Simple predictable schedule – young children feel secure with routines and schedules and love repetition. Use what works again and again! Keep it simple. When your days are too full, too many outside the home activities, children become stressed and start to resist and refuse routines. Pare back your activities, stay home to reset for at least 3 days to re-establish basic routines.
  4. Use a timer – Set a timer for 5 minutes to 15 minutes to do a chore or clear a room or pack away things. There is so much momentum created when children know that there is very little time left … and then the reward!
  5. Use rewards – “Yes, you can go play outside — as soon as you pack all these blocks into the basket/ as soon as we have cleared the carpet/ as soon as you have put … away.” Food, snacks and drinks make lovely rewards. I would prepare some popcorn and a DVD for afternoon rewards. Free time, play time, outdoors time, playing with friends are all marvelous options other than screen time. Screen time is a very powerful reward tool if not over-used or abused.
  6. Do it all through the day – young toddlers create constant chaos. Clean and pack away as they move on to the next thing. This way you aren’t left with every room filled with scattered toys and stuff.
  7. Get physical – let your young child get rid of some energy by skipping rope, mini-trampoline or swinging. While they play, you can reset the room for the next activity.
  8. Let them choose – ask your child where they would like to start, “Do you want to clean the carpet or the table?” Giving your child options makes them feel that they can take charge.

Early morning quiet times is a crucial reset for me. I love to wake and spend time alone before the family wake up and the demands of the day begin. Sitting at a clear desk, with calm and quiet, I focus on my spiritual walk, journal, read the Word and pray. I would also spend time planning and writing out my to-do lists. Here’s a wonderful verse that spiritually resets my heart!

"Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

When homeschooling, I found that my children loved to come to their schoolroom that was all tidy and ready, rather than flounder through chaos, mess and muddles. I loved to surprise my kids with new lessons, new books, posters or art materials laid out ready for them. As a professional school teacher, I learnt that preparation was essential to good classroom discipline, and it is the same when homeschooling. A mom who is lost in mess and confusion, hunting for the CD or book, gives her children that time to play, chatter and even disappear before the lesson starts! After the last lesson, I would rather spend 15 minutes filing and packing away my papers, books and school prep in the late afternoon than arrive at my cluttered desk the next day and feel overwhelmed before I even started.

Meals form natural resets and homeschooling allows for these times to be family times. In our family, we would all help prepare the food and then eat together before the children that were responsible for certain chores cleared the table, washed the dishes and cleaned off work surfaces. Meal planning when I use our AGA or slow cooker meant that I prepared the main meal early in the day that would simmer away while I worked and taught.

Late afternoons before bath time was a big reset when my children were young. The children helped take washing off the line. fold laundry and pack clothing away. We often sorted and folded laundry while watching a DVD. Then bedrooms were tidied and they all went to bath. Bath time was a wonderful time to calm everyone down, preparing for evening and bedtime. After supper, we had read-aloud time, bedtime routines and one-on-one with the kids before we ended the day.

Reset your house at night. Before I go to bed, I spend a few moments in the lounge and fluff up pillows, fold blankets and take any coffee mugs to the kitchen before switching out the lights. I loved to have my kitchen work surfaces cleared and cleaned off. Any dishes or mugs that didn’t make the evening dishwasher round, I would quickly rinse or, on a “bad” night, simply soak them in the sink. I would check the bathrooms and tidy up, hang up or straighten bath towels. Then I would go to bed feeling as if my home was in order. (I used to follow the Fly Lady routine for many years.)

An intimate evening reset is a wonderful habit. My children and I wrote special notes to each other. I love to spend time chatting with my hubby, giving thanks for the day, planning for the next day and the week, problem-solving, finding perspective, talking about finances, business, dreams, wishes, praying together, being intimate, is the most rewarding way to reset and end each day. There were seasons of keeping a gratitude diary.

Trust that your family has blessed times of resetting. In what ways do you reset your lives?  Please share with us in the comments below.

P.S. Here’s a very relevant related blog post that I wrote several years ago – Unrealistic Expectations

All In Grace, Nadene

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Strange Endings

Global pandemic aside, this year ended strangely. My homeschooling career officially ended last month when my youngest passed her final exams and completed her GED. We celebrated her finishing her final exams with pink champagne and a family meal, but the atmosphere was different and the whole experience was less joyful than I had envisioned.

My youngest endured an excruciatingly lonely final homeschool year with Covid lockdowns and a lack of company and visits with her friends. Being the last child in our home, she was already missing her siblings. With lockdown, her monthly trips to stay with her friends had all stopped. She desperately wanted her freedom and to be with the community of friends, and so the day after her final exam, she packed up her entire life, and the very next day she left to go and live in a small town in the Langkloof.

My shock was that it was all so sudden. I had experienced the sadness and loss of each child as they graduated and moved away from our isolated farm, and I knew of my youngest daughter’s plans, but I didn’t expect her to leave immediately. I had hoped for a few free days together with her to enjoy life without the stress of exams and homeschooling; an afternoon eating popcorn and watching our favorite movies, for swims and relaxing at the pool and general packing, sewing and preparing for her next phase. But, no. A day later she was gone, her room left completely bare. And just like that, it was over.

I am glad for her. I am so happy for her being with her loved ones, living in community, building into her next phase of her life. I am delighted that she is finished with school. I am so relieved that my homeschooling days are over and I can ease into the new season of my life.

I am not lonely, but I really miss my daughters. Their lives filled our hearts and our home. Their music was a beautiful, eclectic montage to our daily rhythms. I loved our conversations, their lively debates, their wacky sense of humors, their chatter and laughter. I loved their ideas and opinions on clothing, make-up, hairstyles, décor and style. I loved sitting looking at their Instagram feeds, laughing at funny Facebook memes, and watching YouTube videos with them. I loved times together with my daughter; drinking a mug of steaming tea on her bed as the afternoon sun faded into sunset, and then making meals and cooking up a storm together and enjoying delicious family meals at night. My life felt rich and full.

I knew this moment was coming and I had prepared for my “empty nest”, but what I didn’t prepare for was my daughter’s desperate need to get away. I didn’t reckon on her being angry with us, with having to endure a year of intense loneliness. I didn’t consider that she resented her homeschooling and my insistence that she finish. And we did insist. We gave her no options. And her resentment and withdrawal tainted our farewell.

I really understand her feelings, but I am not sorry that we insisted she finish and pass her course. I knew absolutely that her high school graduate certificate was essential in my job as her homeschool teacher and her mom. This was a non-negotiable decision we all agreed on because my stepsons did not complete their Matric years ago, and now, years later, they both regret it as they face roadblocks in their jobs and careers.

So, with all these strange feelings and thoughts whirling through my head, I scrubbed my daughter’s echoing bedroom walls and deep cleaned her empty cupboards. I smiled when I discovered little pencil messages scribbled on the walls, sighed sadly when I found a tiny ballerina charm lost in a dusty cupboard corner and I wept as I sat on her naked bed smelling her perfume from the very last spurt of an abandoned empty perfume bottle, and I miss her deeply.

And I wonder if Covid hadn’t totally derailed this year, if we could have ended this better …

Right now I am scraping and painting out her bedroom and converting it into an adult guestroom. I feel like Kevin Costner in the iconic movie Field of Dreams hearing, “Built it and he will come …” that as I transform my daughter’s bedroom into a glorious guestroom, she will come visit again … when Covid no longer turns our lives into this strange, disconnected world.

And you may be wondering, “What about Practical Pages?” As a now-newly-retired homeschool teacher, I feel very strongly to continue to write and post in my blog and be involved with you as you homeschool your families. My heart is full of encouragement and inspirations and motivation for you, along with practical tips and pages to download. In my role as granny supporting my daughter and daughter-in-law, I hope to add homeschool activities and ideas for toddlers and add new or translated Afrikaans homeschooling material, so there will hopefully be some new educational downloads coming in the new year.

Please feel free to comment on this strange year and your hopes for 2021.

Thank you for all your love and support over the years. I wish you and your family health and happiness, grace and peace for the festive season and fresh hope for 2021.

Blessings, Nadene

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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

 

 

Homeschool Hopelessness

No one warned me that I would experience periods of real hopelessness in our homeschooling journey.

These feelings were not so much because of a child’s slowness in grasping phonics, or mastering multiplication tables or coping with writing and spelling (although those struggles are real and difficult to cope with at the time), but I suffered from a deeper, insidious anxiety of not measuring up to the ideals and images of what I imagined of my parenting and homeschooling.

My struggle was that my children did not reflect what I thought they would be if I “did it right”.

I had visions of my children happily homesteading, singing songs, crafting and learning like the girls in the “Little House on the Prairies“.  I thought we would all be praying, singing, being kind to others … that kind of Christian-thing. The gratitude, the persevering, the teachable, the compliant child-thing. And I thought it would all develop into young adult expressions of that image.  But our children did not embrace or demonstrate that vision.

Actually my children started out a lot like that, back in the beginning of our homeschooling journey, so it was not that we couldn’t do it.  It just didn’t carry on into my children’s teen years. That is when things changed.  They changed.  They took charge, and it was really scary for me!

My children are amazing, unique individuals, and they were way stronger than me. No matter how hard I persevered, persuaded, cajoled, pleaded, reasoned, lectured, they did things their way. They made choices and insisted and persisted.  I watched my dreams fade away.  And, looking back now, it was a good thing.  My children were not supposed to turn out the way I intended, but the way the Lord purposed.

They abandoned, subjects,  ignored Charlotte Mason’s methods, made decisions for the all “wrong” reasons (in my mind).  Instead of continuing with Charlotte Mason principles, my high school children opted for textbooks. Instead of narrations, they chose tedious workbook lessons and stressful exams. Instead of a rich cultural Fine Arts, they chose dry bones “compulsory” subjects. Instead of delight-directed – they opted for minimum requirements.  One child became the master-procrastinator!  She managed to complete everything by the skin of her teeth and it was a nightmare trying to work with her.

I sat watching each of them move further and further away from my ideals, and morph into “let’s get it done the easiest and fastest way possible” and I became sadder, more and more hopeless.  As each teenager entered into this phase, I lost perspective and became really sad and depressed.

Both my graduate daughters chose not to study further.  They did not want specific careers.  They opted for part-time work and entrepreneurial experience.  From the outside, it looked like my husband and I had “lost the plot” and we came under prolonged, severe criticism from both our parents close family.  I felt judged and a failure.   I wondered If I had instead sent them to public high schools and forced them to follow the norm of ‘Matric followed by university studies’, then we would have done it the “right way” and we would have “succeeded”.

As I sat praying, I realized that I had laid an excellent foundation in their primary school years.  We established outstanding basic skills.  I had instilled a love for reading, for good literature, for Fine Arts and we had a lifestyle of both productivity and creativity.  We have a deeply spiritual home where we share the reality of the Lord’s word and work in our lives.

All was not lost.

I turned my eyes to the Lord and trusted Him to work out those promises He gave us for each of our children.

After my eldest daughter got married earlier this year, she flourished as an amazing young woman who loves her husband.  She happily creates and keeps her home beautiful, and she cooks healthy, wonderful meals on a tiny budget.  She is a deeply committed member of a small, but tightly connected community and she and her hubby practice hospitality in ways that really bless others.

My 18-year-old graduate daughter currently works as a freelance graphic artist. She is developing her skills as a photographer and amazed us all by becoming a singer and musician, performing among the emerging musicians in the Garden Route.  There was no clue that she would choose to sing publicly.  She was so shy as a child that she wept and just couldn’t give me speeches or prepared reading, not even for me, all alone in our homeschool study.  And she never took a single formal music or singing lesson!

Last week, as I sat among a crowd of over 370 people at the Live Event in the George Botanical Gardens, and I just marveled at her courage and her talent, her vulnerability.  She shares her own songs with the world.  I didn’t see that coming!

May I encourage you, just as I encourage myself, to keep hoping and praying and trusting in the Lord for your children, especially when they take charge as they grow up.  He is faithful and He has a vision and purpose for each person.  He is able to “make all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes”.

Don’t allow periods of hopelessness and despair cause you to give up.  Have grace towards yourself for being out of your depth and have grace towards your children for working out who they are becoming.  It is Grace for grace.

 Blessings, Nadene
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Celebrating our daughter’s wedding

The past few weeks we have all been busy preparing and then celebrating our eldest daughter Tess and her beloved Ryk’s wedding.

Tess had always dreamed of having a forest wedding with both the ceremony and the reception in a forest clearing and under trees along the river, but it rained … and rained … and rained.  Rain fell all Friday evening and all Saturday.   In Africa, and in our ongoing extreme drought, rain is a mercy and a blessing, but for Tess, it meant that all her long-cherished wedding dreams had to be surrendered.

Her best friend Hannah planned, prepared and worked on all the decor and wedding arrangements.  Her team (her hubby, brothers and sister) agreed to set up the reception in the barn but to wait until the last-minute on Saturday morning to see if the weather would clear for the ceremony to still take place in the forest.  But, no, the rain continued to gently fall and so the men brought all the soaked benches into the reception hall and we had to quickly transform the dance floor area into a forest!  

In the months and weeks before her wedding, Tess made all her bridesmaids’ dresses in muslin which she and her sister Lara then hand-dyed in varying forest greens.

I made her wedding dress.  What a privilege to create a dress that she designed and loved!  Kate created the beautiful flower wreaths for the bridesmaids. Hannah made all the bunting, banners, did all the flower arrangements and penned the table seating cards.  Her husband and brother hand-carved apricot wood into candlesticks which were given as party favours to all their guests.  The team created flower wreaths for signage to the hall, made the intricate arrangements that fitted under the glass domes.  Everywhere we looked were the beautiful hand-made gifts as a demonstration of their love to Tess and Ryk’s on their wedding day.

It was a beautiful wedding!

Here’s the poem I wrote a few days afterwards ~

Forest Wedding Poem (for Ryk & Tess)

The wedding day dawns as gentle rains fall from the sky,
And the disappointed young bride, in her room, begins to cry,
Wet benches outside are now taken into the hall,
A created forest transformation requires frantic work from us all.

Ferns and ivy tied up to hang daintily on strings
And pillars are covered with green foresty things.
Food placed on platters, tables decorated with fairy lights,
The hall, now complete, looks like a forest delight.

While the groomsmen sweep away fallen leaves lying everywhere.
Kate gently applies Tess’ makeup and does up her hair,
Bridesmaids put on their long dresses dyed in forest greens,
Arrange their hair with flower wreaths, looking like fairy queens.

The beautiful wedding gown is pulled on and buttoned closed,
As bridesmaids follow the photographer into the wet forest to pose.
The Mother of the bride sees that all is done and everyone is ready,
She hugs the father and he holds her steady.

Guests, now all seated inside, whisper as they wait,
Bridesmaids & young ring bearers gather as the bride is slightly late.
Then the guitar, the drum and tambourine start the song,
As the beautiful bridesmaids enter, singing as they walk along.

Carrying lanterns and banners with blessings that they bring,
They walk down the aisle gracefully and sing.
Holding on to her father’s arm and her exquisite flower bouquet,
Tess, the radiant bride slowly comes in and makes her way.

Ryk, watching Tess approach, wipes away some tears from his eyes.
Grandparents and some others, in awe and joy also cry.
Embracing the groom and then kissing the bride,
The father gives away his daughter and steps aside.

Jakkie shares the message of Jesus, our Saviour who changes everything,
Then Ryk and Tess whisper their vows and exchange their rings.
Now, here they come, the joyful bride and groom step out of the hall,
As the delighted guests cheer and clap and confetti is thrown by all.

While the bride and groom and family pose and smile,
Guests enjoy sangria and savoury eats and mingle a while.
Inside the hall, the little fairy lights shimmer and all the candles glow,
While delicious lamb on the spit cooks till tender, turning slow.

Ryk and Tess then enter & dance to “Piece by Piece” in romantic embrace,
Smiles of delight shine on every watching face.
Champagne corks explode and speeches and toasts declared,
Grace is sung and the wonderful food is served and shared.

The evening is filled with songs, dances, chatter and laughter,
A perfect beginning to Ryk and Tess’ “Happily Ever After”.

(by Nadene)

Here’s the link to the video of the bridesmaids singing as they enter before the bride.

In the wink of an eye, my darling little girl is married and all grown up.  It all goes by so fast!

Blessings, Nadene

When your plans overwhelm

I am a planner.  I love “To Do ” lists, checklists, little boxes, and ticking things off a list.  I often place information in tables in documents.

When it comes to homeschool planning, I love creating the bird’s-eye view and then breaking it down into monthly plans.  (You can find all my free planner and organizer pages here.)

But here’s the snag … my kids don’t like my plans and they absolutely hate my checklists!

A few years ago my youngest child had a total meltdown when I showed her an overview of the work for her new school year. My high school kid freaked out when I showed her the year plan and the book lists at the beginning of her final year.

Okay – so they are not global or detailed thinkers. They are more free, creative, and spontaneous folk, and my detailed plans frustrate, frighten and freeze them.   I just need to show them the week, or even just the day ahead.

I have learnt to compromise. I need to plan for me first and then adjust the plans that I share with them. I often have to customize the day’s schedule so that they have a good idea of my expectations, and allow for their own choices and approach.  Even young children love to feel that they have some control by choosing what they prefer to do first, next or last.  Teenagers should be given this freedom of choice and learn to accept the consequences of their choices.

My children think and work at a different pace to me. When things are not essential, I have learnt to let them work at their own pace. Chores that I need to be done, should be done on time, but the rest they can do so long as it is done before I go to bed.
I am still learning not to drive my children crazy.

Right now, our daughter is getting married at the end of this month, and guess what? I started a 6-page checklist!  It even overwhelmed me and I became so stressed that I stopped. But, foolish mom that I was, I pressed on, continued, finished it and, what’s even worse, I presented it to my precious daughter-bride-to-be.  Her reaction was instant STRESS and anger.  My detailed plans did not help.  Frustration closed all communication channels and so I went into the shower to have a good cry.  You would think that I had learnt how to approach things with my children by now. I was filled with such sorrow and shame.

I came back and apologised.  I immediately resigned as the wedding planner.  We laughed at some of my ridiculous details on my checklist, and I put the file away.  Her best friend is an amazing wedding planner and is already helping her and us.  Her friend knows how to translate all the practical details into an approach that my creative, romantic, visionary daughter can visualize and process.  Weddings are stressful events to plan, people!  That’s why you have professionals who do this type of thing!

My daughter’s recent Kitchen Tea

We have celebrated her upcoming wedding hosting two kitchen teas.  The first kitchen tea (pictured above) was in the small town where she lives.  All her bridesmaids and close friends attended.  They prepared a beautiful venue and laid out a delicious spread, and we had fun with some kitchen tea activities as she unwrapped her gifts.  The other more recent kitchen tea was with family and friends in our nearest town.

Because I need to see things on paper, I will continue to work with the wedding plans to keep tab of things and I will act as my hubby’s PA and his admin help, keeping track of the budget and emails.  But I confess that I feel completely overwhelmed at times … especially sometimes when I lie awake at night …

We are in a slight lull right now, with most things booked, arranged and made, but in just 2 weeks, things will be revved up like crazy!  So, please excuse me from this little space while we are all busy, preparing, travelling and celebrating this incredible occasion!

Dear precious mom, learn from me and don’t overwhelm yourself or your kids with too many detailed plans.  Give yourself and your children the time and space to work in a way that allows them to use their best energy and focus.  Balance this grace with suitable, sensible training.   Teach them to prioritize,  set alarm clocks, be on time, and meet daily goals.  Allow for choices, alternatives, and options you may not have planned.  It will all work out fine in the end!

With every blessing, Nadene

 

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Christmas Greetings

My dear readers,

Here’s wishing you and your family

a wonder-filled

and Christ-centred Christmas

and a peaceful and restful festive season.

Sharing some of my Doodlewashed December Christmas sketches.

Until 2018, be blessed! Love, Nadene

Sad Tears

Getting Real ~

My sorrow suddenly crept up on me and it caught me off guard. Warm tears filled my eyes as I gently laid my hands on top of the piles of books in the still open boxes.  I pack the half-used highschool curriculum away, and I quietly realize that I feel sad.

These books are a wonderful curriculum and had I tried every which way to make it work, but my youngest daughter just did not connect with the package. The unread books simply became a boulder I felt I was pushing up a mountain.

“Have you read this week’s literature yet?” I would ask each week, knowing she had not.

We fell behind the already stretched out schedule and I finally admitted that it just would not work. We simply would not do the rest of the books.  It didn’t help if I read aloud to her.  The spark just wasn’t there.

It is not the unfinished course that bothered me. This happens, and I have learnt that when you force learning, it doesn’t stick. A child may have some short-term information, but, with no internal connections, it quickly fades.

I felt sad because there were treasures lying unopened in the box. Beautiful books, deep spiritual books, precious testimonies, amazing autobiographies, wonderful character-forming non-fiction books. I was sad for all these lost opportunities.

Perhaps, as I did in my early years of homeschooling, I could have pushed and insisted and maintained a stricter control over my daughter, but I did not. Maturity and two decades of homeschool experience have presented me with a different approach. One that recognises that I am simply a facilitator and encourager. My role as an educator is not to shove, push, pull, cajole, demand, insist, force, fret, or manipulate my child in her learning journey.

So, I acknowledge my feelings as I sit and cry for a little while. Then I wipe my eyes, neatly stack the books, pull the lid on and label the box. And it’s done. The era is over, that season is finished. I sigh and exhale the disappointment. I breathe deeply and accept what is and move on.

Sad tears as a part of letting go.

Blessings, Nadene
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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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