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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Getting Real ~ Tantrums

I started Practical Pages with the aim of  encouraging moms,  and although I love to share what works here on Practical Pages, I admit that I often showcase the best sharable moments. Of course, I am not supermom and things are often less than perfect!

In another Getting Real post I will widen my exposure lens and share some of the real  nitty-gritty realities of our homeschooling lives ~ Tantrums

Hurt Boy

First, let’s look at a definition ~

tantrum  ~ˈtantrəm/ noun

  • an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young child.
  • synonyms: fit of temper, fit of rage, fit of pique, fit, outburst, flare-up, blow-up, pet, paroxysm, frenzy, bad mood, mood, huff, scene

Looking at the synonyms, I have seen my children and I found myself doing quite a few of those actions in times of frustration in our homeschooling, especially in our first year!  Children in school learn quickly how to hide their feelings, whereas at home, children feel free to express their emotions and vent their feelings.

Part of the problem was me and my idealistic expectations and perfectionist approach that I used when I first started homeschooling.  Add a high-need, or sensitive or strong-willed children to the mix and there was a guarantee of outbursts of anger, tears, sulks, flare-ups and meltdowns.

I caused tension with my demanding approach.  I could have spared us many meltdowns if I had been more sensitive, calmer, more spontaneous, more fun.  I was a pain in the neck, uber-serious, stressed-out mom trying to get everything done and to do it “right”.

Looking back, I am glad that I learnt to add more time to our schedule by stretching out a one-year curriculum over 18 months to 2 years .  This margin of time created a sense of safety and certainty that I didn’t have when I was chasing to keep up to a demanding prescribed schedule which I had allowed to be my task master instead of my guide.  Also, I had to learn what worked for us in our home and not constantly strive for perfection I saw reflected in the homeschooling books I read and the homeschool blogs I followed back then.

Some days simply started with a person in a bad mood, or with feelings anxiety or fear. Avoiding tantrums can feel like walking on egg shells.  No one person in the family should have so much power over the rest of the members, but it is not easy to figure how to manage that person’s inability to control their emotions.  That is where homeschooling is more about character formation and habit-training than about learning one’s  multiplication tables or spelling.  It was days like this that I quickly changed our routine and started with a read aloud, or a song or a fun “Simon Says” game to diffuse the tension and release the anxiety.

Sometimes a difficult subject, a challenging task or school activity was the cause of feelings of fear and anger.  It helped to switch the timetable around and do something fun and easy first before tackling a tough subject.  Sometimes, it felt better to start with the challenge and get it done and out-of-the-way.  Sometimes we simply left it out until we felt ready to face it with a more positive attitude.

A child feeling ill, family members experiencing poor sleep, bad diet choices, or overwhelming schedules or too many expectations are so draining that children just don’t have the capacity to control their feelings.  In times like this, I recommend moms stay home a few days, keep things simple, create a calm and predictable mealtime and bedtime routine and nurture relationships with their children, spend some cuddle-time together reading a good book aloud, go on nature walks, or listen to classical music, or bake, or whatever nurtures your family. Our Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays was the result of most these choices.

One of our best methods of clearing the air after a tantrum or meltdown, was an apology.  We used a “whiteboard” image and asked if we could quickly erase the horrible experience and start again.  Fresh starts are such an expression of grace.  Rather than live in the shame and guilt of a tantrum, offer yourself or your child the opportunity to try again, to start with a clean slate, to be their best in the new moment.

In sharing my imperfections, I extend grace to you in yours.  Grace to every mom.  Grace to every child.  Grace to you in the real and imperfect life you are living right now.

Please feel free to share your experiences, questions or offer any advice in the comments.

Blessings and grace in these real moments,

Nadene

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Getting Real ~ Too little done

Here’s another “Getting Real” post  ~ Too Little Done

These “Getting Real” posts series provide a more balanced perspective against the many successes and  “what works” posts that I showcase, but I acknowledge that I am definitely not a supermom and our homeschooling was often less than perfect!

Girl Singing & Holding Chorus BookToo little or nothing done

All new homeschool parents worry about gaps and falling behind.  Please don’t panic!  Even school teachers fall behind.  Even professional tutors don’t cover everything.  More importantly — homeschool is NOT about learning information!  Facts can be learnt anywhere, any time — Google is at our fingertips!

We have some huge gaps in our homeschooling! Some subjects were never actually taught or done.  My children never did any physical education lessons or joined sports clubs.  (I think that they would probably not done any sport if they were at public schools either.)  I did put my foot down regarding the basics, though. We completed all the important school subjects, and I am sure that my children received a good education.

During primary school, we covered full curriculums, completed almost every topic and activity and then some.  I created a weekly schedule that covered daily themes so that we included everything including Shakespeare, poetry, Science experiments and so on.

My eldest child pushed through on everything. She insisted She completed all her courses, did every assignment and learnt and passed all her exams.  But as my children hit high school, they vetoed most my ‘extra’ Charlotte Mason subjects such as Hymn study, Nature Study and nature walks.  Bible study lessons failed to move their hearts and my teens told me I was ‘cheesy’ when I did any devotions or Bible lessons, so I stopped those.

Despite my most diligent attempts and enthusiastic efforts, my high school children glossed over some subjects and one of my kids simply never finished or even read many of her high school set-work books.  We even abandoned some courses.  I felt as if my homeschool vision was falling apart.  But it was just different.

It was important for my husband and I to set firm boundaries and clear expectations.  We insisted on them completing a full high school course with a university exemption.  I always encouraged that my children do their very best, but when it comes to high school, children need to figure out what they want to study, what career interests they wanted to follow.  For each child, that is a unique journey,

Homeschool is about relationships, discovery, and a lifestyle of learning.   Character, life skills and good habits are  more important than learning dry facts or mastering algebra.  Essentially, once our children have learnt their 3 R’s, they can continue learning for themselves all their lives.

So when you see that you are losing ground, slow down and catch up.  It is not a race.  Focus on subjects that have fallen behind for a  few days or a week or two, and you’ll be amazed how quickly your children can catch up.

Sending you huge hugs when you feel things are falling apart.  Please feel free to share your experiences or advice in the comments.

Blessings and grace in these real moments,

Nadene

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Getting Real ~ Disappointments

Much of what I share here on Practical Pages showcases “what works”, but I acknowledge that I am definitely not a supermom and our homeschooling was often less than perfect!

Here’s another “Getting Real” topic ~ Disappointments

Young Girl Sitting & ReadingUnmet expectations often lead to disappointments.  Repeated disappointments can in turn lead to depression, despair and hopelessness.

So let’s talk about unmet homeschool expectations.

Most new homeschool parents trust that the curriculum they purchased will be a “good fit”.  Many homeschool parents have an ideal of their children sitting and learning happily every day.  Many parents hope that they will have well-grounded, well-rounded and well-mannered children who will reflect the all benefits of homeschooling, but this is often not the case.

There are many failures, flops, and fears.   Expensive curriculums don’t suit a child’s learning style.  Some subjects are unpleasant. Some lessons are too difficult.

You can read my post on “Unmet Expectations”  where I shared how I found myself “floundering under the weight of my lofty ideals and unrealistic homeschooling expectations” in my first years of homeschooling.

I remember my deep disappointment when my young teenage daughters refused to do most of the Charlotte Mason subjects such as Hymn study, Composer study and Nature Study when they started high school.  Here’s an excerpt describing my  disappointment ~

“You see, I wanted that cozy picture of my girls all singing hymns, sketching birds and butterflies and sweetly reciting poems.  I hoped they would all know at least 31 scriptures and could recite quotes from living books.  Charlotte Mason is so much deeper and wider than subjects and principles, so why is it such a struggle in my home?”

I had encouraged my children regarding their choices and attitudes.  I had tried to inspire them and pushed and persuaded them, but many times I watched as they refused, or failed.  Despite my best efforts, when I tried to force a child to do something they do not want to do, it did not lead to success.  In my worst moments, I judged myself and felt judged by others for these disappointment.  I have experienced seasons of depression and even despair at these times.

Children may delay, procrastinate or refuse to do their work.  Children who struggle a lot become disillusioned  because they feel that they have not achieved what their parents expect from them.  This disillusionment creates a block to learning.  Before they even try, they feel “I can’t”.

This homeschool journey often includes failures and disappointments.  We are given moment-by-moment choices, and many times we make choices out of fear and not because we have faith.

May I encourage you to turn to the Lord in times of disappointment.  Ask Him to show you the situation through His eyes.  Trust Him to help you find another way.  Pray for grace to accept situations you cannot change.  Pray for the grace to surrender and the wisdom to learn.

Sending you huge hugs as you face your disappointments.  Please feel free to share your experiences or advice in the comments.

Blessings and grace in these real moments,

Nadene

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Getting Real ~ Doubts

Although I love to share what works here on Practical Pages, I acknowledge that I am definitely not a supermom and our homeschooling is often less than perfect! I have shared many of these posts in my “Getting Real” series.

Here’s another “Getting Real” moments in our homeschooling ~ Terrible doubts

Girl and Mother

We all suffer from self-doubts, but as homeschooling moms, an unhappy child, a child struggling with learning or with fears within themselves, where we feel powerless to help — these thoughts and feelings fill a parent with thoughts of doubt and anxiety.  You’ve heard the sister concepts — doubts & fears.  They often go hand-in-hand.

This is a terrible ‘sickness’ which can drain all the joy from our role as teacher and mom, and can negatively impact all our relationships.

My first year of homeschooling was filled with uncertainties, anxieties and a desperate desire to make the right choices, to provide everything I felt my children needed and to “do it the right way”.  I was uncertain about my curriculum choices, fearful about how to present the lessons so that my children both loved them and learnt through them, and I was doubtful that I could teach my youngest child to read.  I won’t even describe the doubts I had about homeschooling my children through high school!

Due to these doubts and fears, our first year’s homeschool days were filled with my sense of urgency and desperation.  My striving and desire for perfection caused so much tension.  This often led to conflict with my strong-willed child.  These conflicts caused further self-doubt and damaged my self-esteem and confidence as a parent.  Oh boy, that first year was a disaster, emotionally.

Fear is often manifest in anger.  Whenever you are angry at a situation, stop to ask, “What am I most fearful of right now?” Turn that fear into a prayer and wait for the grace, strength and wisdom of the Lord to guide you through that situation.

Looking back over 22 years of homeschooling I can honestly see that GRACE is powerful!  Grace towards yourself — for not knowing, for being unsure, for being afraid.  Grace towards your child — for their struggles  and fears.  Grace for fresh beginnings.  Grace for new starts.  Grace to try new ways.  Grace to trust the Lord.  Grace to discover, explore and grow without definite expectations.

Homeschooling is a journey of discovery.  Homeschooling in grace may even look like you are “failing”.  But, I encourage you to extend grace to yourself and to others so that you can grow and develop.  It will work out.  You’ll be fine!  The Lord will not fail you!

Please feel free to share your experiences or advice in the comments.

Blessings and grace in these real moments,

Nadene

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Getting Real ~ Tears

I love to share what works here on Practical Pages, and I admit that I often only seem to showcase the best sharable moments, but of course, I am not supermom and things often are less than perfect!

Here’s another in the series of “Getting Real” posts ~ TearsCrying Child

Some children cry more than others.

Some school subjects produce more tears than others.

But as a school teacher I seldom had children cry in my classroom.  As a homeschool mom, especially in those early years, my children often burst into tears or sat silently weeping during school, and I cried buckets too!

Why?

I think it is because at home, we are emotionally connected and we feel safe enough to express our fears and be more vulnerable.  There are also relationships where children operate and manipulate with tears.  But that is another story.

Tears is often an overflow frustration and fears.  Difficult work, challenges, struggles, anger, resentment, and not knowing another way often trigger tears.  As homeschool moms, we need to create an environment where children are encouraged to express these feelings in words and we need to be able to reflect these emotions back to our children and help them figure out another approach.

My youngest child would burst into tears when she was overwhelmed by too much work.  She hated to see the year plan or the “bird’s-eye-view” of the curriculum.  She could only cope with the day’s timetable and perhaps the next few days.  I learnt to shield her from seeing the full picture, and help her break down her work into manageable bite-sized pieces.  Also, I learnt not to put pressure on the pace of the work, but to provide extra time in her schedule to allow her complete her work without stress.

My sensitive child cried simply because she felt her work wasn’t perfect enough.  This was in her own head, not due to pressures from my hubby or myself.  She hated making mistakes and would weep when her answers were incorrect.  We decided to let her use a whiteboard marker or pencil instead of pen so that she could easily erase mistakes.  We also gave her more time to do her work slowly and carefully and learnt not to rush her.  We told her that we were proud of her efforts and that we did not expect her work to be perfect.

My children cried in some of their art lessons!  As an art teacher, this was very upsetting for me, but I understood that they experienced frustration in their expectations and their lack of skills to achieve the results they hope for.  It helps to break the art project into more manageable bits and assist them working through the creative block or the skills needed.  Some lessons we modified completely, changed the medium, focused on the process rather than the outcome.

For my high school teen, Maths was an evil that caused her to shut down mentally and leak emotionally.  The only way I could help was to find the very simplest Maths course and hold her hand and literally do the entire course for and eventually with her before she finally managed to do the work on her own. It took a whole year to arrive at the final stage.

I also had some seasons of tears, simply because of the stress and frustration of trying to teach all three children and try to meet everyone’s needs and expectations.  I did not always cry in front on my children, but often with my hubby at night, when I described my or a child’s struggles and frustrations.  I  often felt like a failure and I just didn’t know how to approach our schooling differently, or help a child through their issues and crisis.  It really helped to talk with him or another sympathetic parent to find some clarity and hope.  I always found prayer to be a huge help.  I would search the Word and trust the Lord for wisdom and grace.

So, here’s huge hugs to those moms struggling with weeping children or who may be sitting in tears themselves.  You are not alone and I hope that you find the grace, wisdom and strength to dry off your tears and keep going.

Please note that I do not judge myself or them or others for the pains that come with struggles and growth.  I wish to share these “real” moments so that you do not feel alone or a failure if you experience similar struggles.  Please feel free to share your experiences or advice in the comments.

Blessings and grace in those real moments,

Nadene

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