Offer a Learning Buffet

We all have unique learning styles.  Recognizing that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, it is important, especially when homeschooling your children, that you tailor-make your child’s learning experience.  

Homeschool mom, please ditch the bland, boring, uniform “school lunch plate” teaching style and look for ways to lay out a tempting, tantalizing learning buffet — offer your children a delightful range of choices so that they can express their learning with delight and motivation!

 

As you plan, think ~

“What different ways can  my child approach this? ”  OR

“How can I present different options for my child to best express their learning?”

There are 3 basic learning styles ~

  • Visual (Looking) ~ prefers images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information,  uses illustrations, maps, graphs, diagrams, graphics, uses colored highlighters to mark notes, enjoys reading posters and charts, infographics, flow charts, mind maps, watches educational videos
  • Auditory (Hearing) ~ learns through listening, needs to hear or speak, listen or create recordings, listens to audio books, listens to explanations, needs quiet surroundings, use headphones or earphones to block out noise, may prefer music in background, talks about the work as he is learning
  • Kinesthetic (Doing) learns best when physically active, uses his body and sense of touch to learn, like sports and exercise, likes to move while thinking, uses hand gestures and body language to communicate, fidgets, should sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair,  acts out explanations, enjoys physical construction, handcrafts, origami, Lego,and handcrafts

But there are several other unique learning preferences such as Intrapersonal (Solitary), Interpersonal (Social), Linguistic (Language), Musical (Song & Music), Mathematical (Logical), Naturalistic (Nature), which I will share in detail in another post.

 

Essentially, you need to know your child’s learning style in order to present options that they will enjoy.  

I recently looked at some of the online quizzes to help you find your and your child’s learning identity ~

Instead of insisting on exactly how you think a child should present their work, rather offer a variety of options, and allow the child to makes their own choices, so that their attitude and approach to their work is creative, motivated and unique.  

Think of preparing a buffet meal instead of a set menu!

Recently I created a Narration Ideas Booklet with over 100 narration ideas and templates.  Most of these options are birthed out of the understanding of different learning styles.  This booklet is available on my Packages Page and will help you offer a vast range of learning opportunities.

I hope that this post inspires you to explore your child’s learning identity so that you can facilitate and present them with options that best suit their learning style.

Blessings, Nadene

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3 things NOT to do when planning

“Help me!  I always over-plan, over-buy and become overwhelmed when planning my new year!  What should I do?”Reader's Question logo

In answering this  reader’s question, I remembered my early years and the terrible stress, anxiety and fear that consumed me when planning a new year.  After years of homeschooling and finding what works for us , here is my simple encouragement ~

Don’t over do it.

  • You don’t need to cover every . single . subject . for . each . child.  
  • Combine your kids for all the Bible, Core studies, Read Alouds and Fine Arts wherever possible.
  • Start with a good Maths, Spelling & Dictation, and a Reading/ Phonics program for each child.  Then add a family centered Core.
  • Gently add all the extra subjects such as Fine Arts and Nature Walks once your kids manage the basics.

Don’t spend money on curriculum or supplies you are not sure you will use.

  • Don’t buy under pressure that you “should” or “must” do programs, or  purchase programs all the other moms are using.
  • Put those orders on a wish list and let them wait there a while until you have peace and rest in your heart.
  • Find FREE downloads instead.  You can download stacks of my Free Pages to cover Handwriting, Copywork, Nature Study, Biographies and a full Famous Artist & Musician studies.
  • There are so many free Lapbooks and Unit Studies out there, but, again, don’t download and print out too much!  See #1.

Don’t make a rigid schedule.

  • When I tried to follow an over-full schedule, I felt overwhelmed, especially when we “fell behind”.  
  • Create a wide margin of time to explore, discover, follow other tangents and pause and reflect on the subject matter.
  • Give your children options.  They don’t have to everything!
  • View the schedule as your guide and not your strict task master.
  • Follow the 4-Day Week schedule and give yourselves one “free” day for fun and Fine Arts.
  • STRETCH out  the curriculum over 18 months instead of 12 months.  It really doesn’t matter what “grade” your child is following each year so long as they are working on their level and working consistently.

I hope that this encouragement helps settle those nerves and make your planning seem simpler and easier.

Blessings as you plan, Nadene

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First days back 2 school

Many moms around the world worry about the first days of school.  Homeschool moms worry about starting homeschool too.  And new homeschool moms worry even more.

May I offer some gentle advice?

  • Just start slowly.
  • Don’t try do the complete schedule.
  • Ease into your schooling.
  • Go gently.

Just remember that the professional teachers spend much of their first weeks of school doing orientation; they hand out new books, explain note-taking, give an overview.  They don’t jump straight in with the full program.

Here’s some tips that I still use after all these years ~

Set up your school area the night before (I like to do this as a surprise for the kids!)

  • Put tables, stationary and books/workboxes/or files in order.
  • Write a welcome note on the whiteboard or prayerfully write to each child and place a personal note on each child’s place.
  • Arrange the CD and music player ready with your song or praise and worship for circle time.
  • Get into a simple “Early to bed & early to rise” routine.  Chat and pray with each child before bedtime.

On your first day ~

  • Wake half an hour earlier than the family, make yourself a cup of tea, have your quiet time and pray.  Commit your plans to the Lord and surrender all to Him.
  • Gently wake the kids and get them into their morning routine and chores.  (I like to have a “test-run” a day before school and start the school morning routine a day earlier than the actual day.)
  • Have a simple but nutritious breakfast, or go ahead and make it something special!
  • At the agreed starting time, start school.
  • I like to start each year in a circle or on the couches.  Start with a chat about the year, the themes, some planned highlights and goals.  Let the kids talk about what they expect, what they are afraid of, what they look forward to.
  • Then pray about all these things.
  • Sing and learn a memory verse for the week.  Make it fun!  Chose something really simple and easy.
  • Now chose what you will do the first week.  Either just do some basics3Rs (Maths, Reading and Handwriting) or just do your Core (History, Literature study)for the first week.  Tell them that next week you’ll add the rest of the subjects, but this week they must just do their very best with the easy schedule.  (They may beg you to do it all!  If they seem relaxed and the work done was excellent, then, by all means, do your full plan.)  If things are really awful and stressed, just cuddle and read a story together.
  • Include a lovely tea break with some healthy snacks.
  • Plan some fast fun & games for in between lessons if children get fidgety.

Create precious memories from these moments ~

  • Take some “First Day” photos of each child.
  • Prepare a special breakfast.
  • Ask Dad to give a “Welcome To School” speech. (My hubby is our homeschool “Principal”!)
  • Give each child a small gift – some stationary/ stickers/ new hair accessories for their first day.

I trust this encourages you.

Blessings as you prepare and plunge back in, Nadene

Cultivate Curiosity

Have you ever watched a toddler play?  They are naturally curious, engaged, and motivated to explore.  But what happens when we push them, persuade them, or pressure them to learn things?  Quite often we quench this natural, inbuilt learning model.

Sadly, most young moms feel that they have to buy expensive programs, educational toys and books and DVDs to keep their children motivated and learning.  Moms, you can relax.  Your child will learn so much if you give them opportunities to explore, discover, and encourage them to learn in their own way.

Provide them with some simple elements and they will be happy for hours ~ let them play outside in nature, play with sand and water, offer them things to pour with or carry, play with playdough, keep a container filled with bottles, empty tubes, etc.  Give them a large sheet to make tents or forts.  And read to them every day.

When your young child learns, they love to repeat, and repeat and repeat the activity.  Once they have mastered that skill or activity, they will move on.  If they are not interested, they will move on.  Follow their lead.

Ask them questions and let them discover … what happens when you put this in the water?  Which objects will float?  How can we pour this into that?  Which object will fit on top?  Hint ~ don’t be a teacher!  Simply behave as a curious and eager participant.

Facilitate their curiosity with new experiences and this will lead to their learning, and be there with them to watch them explore and learn.  E.g.: Spray a blob of shaving cream low enough for them to reach on a large window and let them play!  Put a blob of shaving cream on a plastic table and let them discover how they can make marks, patterns or simply enjoy a sensory experience.  (Although it seems messy, shaving cream wipes off with a damp cloth and smells lovely!)  Let them play with rice in a little paddle pool (so that the mess is relatively contained) and let them fill bowls, bottles, pour into funnels, through cardboard rolls, spoon into cups etc.

What kills a child’s natural curiosity?  A young child’s curiosity withers away with competition, comparison to others, constantly needing or receiving praise and approval, punishment or shame, testing or a sense of a fixed/ right result.  Avoid groups or schools where this is disguised as “motivation”.

Socialization  for young children is important, but does not mean that your preschooler must join a group.  Meet once a week with one like-valued family with children the same ages and this more than enough for your child.  Once a month arrange to go out on a picnic,  or outings to the zoo or petting parks,  or take a ride on a bus, or meet at the local library, or watch puppet shows, etc.  Remember the golden socialization ratio  for young children = their age plus one = your three-year-old can only really cope with 4 friends at a party or group, so don’t overwhelm your young child with too many friends, play dates or groups.

Moms these days are under so much pressure for their child to perform.  Please, don’t do too many other classes (such as music, play ball,  horse riding, gymnastics, ballet, etc.  Please, these are all fine, but not all at once, and not all for a young child ).   I don’t know about you, but my stress levels shoot through the roof when I need to get everyone into the car and arrive somewhere on time everyday!  I would recommend your preschooler takes swimming lessons, but don’t fill your week with endless trips to classes and activities.   When you have several children, watch out for conflicting schedules, or where the whole family are endlessly bundled in and out of cars for one child’s activities.  You should not feel like a taxi driver everyday!

A good rule to guide your junior primary child in joining extra-curricula activities is to choose one sport and one cultural activity for that season.  Some activities are year-long, such as ballet, so then allow one more activity that is compatible with your existing schedule.  Ensure you have at least 1 free day where you can stay home, take your time, be leisurely and relaxed in your schedule.  This freedom encourages curiosity.

When starting your preschool homeschooling, please don’t feel that you need to be formal, strict, and precise in your approach.  Apart from reading aloud together every day, simply create variety in your weekly schedule which may include some of these activities:

  • Learn and sing nursery rhymes and Bible songs
  • make music
  • play and climb
  • time in nature
  • make-believe games and dressing up
  • learning meaningful life skills such as washing up, sorting washing, setting the table, feeding the cat/dog, dusting and polishing furniture, emptying dustbins,
  • reading aloud from well-illustrated Children’s Bible and classical children’s stories
  • Provide short little lessons where they can sort, group, thread, stack, cut & paste, count, learn their alphabet through phonics, etc.

I hope that these ideas encourage you to relax, trust and enjoy your young child’s natural curiosity.

(Photos of my granddaughter Emma on her first birthday, and with her dad on her second birthday)

Blessings, Nadene

No Tests

Poster of things tests can’t measure - white with colored pencilsA common question homeschool parents are asked is, “Do your children do tests or exams?”

And my answer is always, “No.”   Well, not until their graduation year, when exam results are a requirement for acceptance into most tertiary institutions.

Testing is NOT needed in homeschooling because parents are almost always one-on-one with their child and can quickly see what their child knows and understands.  Especially when using a Charlotte Mason approach, narrations are an excellent method of listening to or reading what a child remembers and understands on a specific chapter or topic.  And for most seat work subjects like Maths, Spelling and Reading, you are right there with your child and can go back to re-establish a concept or correct a mistake.

Standardized tests are for public school parents, or for teachers of large classes, to measure each child’s basic knowledge or skills, or worse still, for schools to brag about their institutions’ achievements!  With this kind of pressure, many teachers actually “teach the exam” rather than aim to educate the child.

Information and facts can always be learnt, at any time.   Google helps all of us find information in a jiffy, so why waste precious time forcing a child to memorize facts?  Narrations are personal, which is the aim of our homeschooling, isn’t it?

In an article 30+ Important Things That Tests Can’t Measure says,

“Tests can’t predict who will “succeed” in life, regardless of your definition of success. Tests can’t tell a child how or even what he needs to improve.’

She lists some of these things tests can’t measure ~

  • compassion or generosity
  • imagination or creativity 
  • a child’s logic skills
  • faith, trust, hope, reliability, or depth of character
  • friendship or self-worth
  • curiosity, effort, determination or resilience
  • a child’s potential and diligence

In an article , “Kids Don’t Fail, Schools Fail Kids: Sir Ken Robinson on the ‘Learning Revolution’ she quotes Ken Robinson, (famous for his TED talk on the topic of whether schools kill students’ creativity),

“The government has essentially pushed for more and more nationwide testing in order to 1) standardize everything, and 2) try and improve education “through an intense process of competition.”   He believes that the problem with standardized testing is that it “does not prepare kids to achieve.” 

Ken Robinson’s own definition of education’s purpose ~ “To enable students to understand the world around them and the talents within them so that they can become.”

He encourages “personalized learning” without relying heavily on technology.

“But what’s most important,” he concluded, “is that every student deserves to be treated like the miracle that they are—with personalized, individualized education that addresses that “world within.””

Parents know their children.  Homeschooling should be individual, tailor-made, delight-directed.  Its pace and focus should be based on the individual’s ability and interest, not focused on tests, scores and exam results.

So, please hear me …  especially parents of kindergarten, junior, middle and even junior high school, please do not buy curriculums that require regimented testing.  You will kill your child’s creativity and natural love to learn.  You will instil fear and anxiety into your homeschooling, both for you and your child.

Your child can learn how to learn for exams, how to write exams and how to succeed in exams in a relatively short time; within 6 months to a year.  At the most, you may need to move towards tests and exams for their final 3 years of senior high school.  And that is stress enough!  With my 17-year old writing her final high school exams, I see her fear and anxiety.  I feel dread’s icy grip in my stomach.

As Marie says, “Children everywhere deserve to know this:  YOU ARE NOT YOUR TEST SCORE.  You are so much more.”

Blessings, Nadene

Do a little at a time

Don’t try do it all!  It is impossible and it shouldn’t be your goal.  Throughout our homeschooling journey, we have usually taken a few hours each day and only do a 4-day week, and yet we have managed to have a rich, deep and wide education all the way through to graduation.  

Keep your basic lessons short and sweet.  (I’m talking about the 3 R’s ~ Phonics, Handwriting and Maths.)  No lesson should take longer than 20 minutes for primary school children.

Once you master the basics of your curriculum, just aim to do a little bit extra.  I even added “after lunch” so that it was perceived as an extra.  (My children often fitted in this lesson before lunch so that they could enjoy a “free afternoon”.)

My theme of the day saved me from feeling that the complete schedule was too much.

Daily themes 2015

Instead , by allocating one “extra” subject per day, it felt like just a little add-on for that day. With this approach, we enjoyed a wide, varied and rich curriculum.

Don’t underestimate the power of short, informal lessons.  It is amazing just how much children learn and absorb in frequent, enjoyable exposure to all the extra subjects such as Poetry, Nature Walks, Science, Geography and Fine Arts.

It can all be done, most the time. Just do a little at a time.

Blessings, Nadene

Changes I wish I could make

Thinking back over more than 20 years of homeschooling with my daughters, these are some changes I wish I could have made sooner ~

  1. Take off the teacher’s hat.

Def.: have your teacher’s hat on

to be acting as you do when you are working as a teacher, lawyer etc., which may be different from the way you act in other situations.

ea55a13213221ebd3de36dfd7a9c4003Your professional skill as a teacher does not actually help you in those early years of homeschooling,  In fact that “school-at-home” approach kills your young children’s natural built-in joy and delight to learn.  Learn to learn alongside your kiddies and aim to be their facilitator instead.  Let them lead the way and make many more choices!

2.  Not everything needs to educational! 

Every outing doesn’t have to be a homeschool lesson. It’s okay to let life happen without a lesson plan, a notebooking page, or oral narration.  Stop focusing on end results and enjoy life’s journey together.  You will kill nature study, hymn, art and music appreciation if you make it a formal lesson.  Your teens will refuse to go into any museum!  Just trust that a regular yet informal approach will yield enormous results.

4-mother-and-child-in-a-boat-mothers-children-mary-cassatt-360x3603.  Avoid the tears!

When lessons produce tears, meltdowns, even tantrums, leave it alone.  Stop and put it aside or try something different. Tears often have a root of fear.  Find ways to reassure your child and encourage them to try a different way.  Make allowances for tired or sick or stressed children (or mom) and take the pressure off.   Just read aloud, go on a nature walk (but do not make it a formal lesson, see #2) or create art together.  Determine if your child is just not ready and try again in a few months time.  Unschool or deschool if your child has just come out of the school system and fears or hates school.  Offer a variety of opportunities to find their spark and gently encourage them to explore what interests them.

4. Be affectionate.

If your children are super sensitive, insecure or uncertain, give them more cuddles.  Even when you feel like you are wasting time and getting nothing done, just keep hugging.  Cuddle together when you read to them.  Sing together, skip together, get down in the dirt together, lie under the tree together.  (My youngest daughter often told people her favourite part of homeschooling was that she got lots of cuddles.)   Schools and systems don’t allow this physical affection at all.  Even your distant, independent teen needs hugs, or back rubs and time alone with you.  Aim to create a loving environment for your children to grow up and blossom in.

5. Relax and trust.

Just relax.  Your children will turn out great.  Enjoy each moment. Lean into their homeschooling experience without holding your breath, waiting for something to go wrong or trying hard to “do everything right”.  Let me repeat ~ your kids are all going to turn out great. Not just okay, but great.  Breathe … release those fears.  Trust.  Despite your best and worst efforts, they will be great!

mary_cassatt_mrs_cassatt_reading_to_grandchildren_postcard-r2e5db6cb5603484b8186d407360f7508_vgbaq_8byvr_324When we know better, we do better. 

I always tell my children and myself that we can always try again and start over.  When one of us has hit a wall or struggled or things don’t work out, I tell them that we can wipe out the day, like a whiteboard, and try afresh the next day.

The Lord makes all things new.  With this hope, forgive yourself, let it go and choose to do it differently.

What do you wish you had done differently?  What do you wish you could change?   Please share with us in the comments.

In Grace, Nadene

Images of one of my favourite impressionist artists — Mary Cassat

Head Hands Heart for teens

head-heart-hands-conceptLooking for balance while homeschooling your teen through high school?
A balanced view would be to find subjects, skills and activities that inspire, feed and grow your child in Head, Hands and Heart

“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”  

-Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

We should look for ways that encourage our teens to grow in every area instead of simply focusing on academics.  But since academics are what most parents consider most important, let’s start here ~ Head.

Here are some questions you and your teen should consider:

  • What does your state/ country require for highschool graduation?
  • What further study/ career does your teen intend to follow after school?
  • What are their aptitudes?  (Do online tests to find out.)
  • What curriculums/ courses/ credits are available for your teen?
  • What are their learning styles?
  • Do they prefer online studies/ tutors/ peer study groups/ working alone?

Once you have answered most of these questions, you will then need to fine-tune your teen’s high school course, and select the subjects, course material and accreditation methods that best meet your child’s preferences, as well as your state’s/ country’s requirements.

May I suggest that school academics should not overshadow your homeschooling approach.  Please leave large margins around your teen’s schedule and give them space, options and encouragement to also follow their own interests and passions, such as investigating other career options, to read a wide variety of books, or delve into interest-led subjects besides those the state or country may emphasise.  Aim to provide living books that feed their mind and soul, in Charlotte Mason style, instead of sticking to “safe”, but dry, fact-based textbooks.

Now, let’s discuss Hands ~ 

We should aim  to educate our teens in lifestyle and life skills.  All teens should manage to work with their hands, make things, create art, fix and repair things, work safely and effectively with tools and equipment.  Give them opportunities to learn and master life skills from simple chores, to running a household.  Teach them how to do their own washing, ironing, plan and cook meals, as well as baking, sewing, mending, also cover basic car mechanics, etc.  Teach them how to use power tools such as drills, saws, etc.  Include your teens in DIY projects.  Include charities and missions or service to others in some of these hands-on skills, such as mowing lawns, washing windows or servicing cars for neighbours, single moms or the elderly.   Many teens can earn extra pocket-money with these skills.  And who knows, they may even build an entrepreneur business out of this skill-set!

Allow them creatively experiment with arts and crafts, use new mediums, use different materials, copy masters.  Encourage your children to build things, from Lego robotics, to building a treehouse for a sibling.  Again, offer your teen a variety of opportunities to grow and develop themselves outside of “head-stuff” in books, tests and exam results.

Lastly, let’s talk about Hearts ~

Homeschooling your teen is a ministry to their whole person; body, soul and spirit.  Many schools and parents focus heavily on “thinking” and “doing”, but don’t concentrate on who the teenager is “becoming.”  Engage in your teen’s heart.  Build their faith, encourage their prayer life, secure their knowledge of their basic doctrines and allow them to discover and develop their unique calling, gifting and ministry in life.  Again, provide a margin of time in their schedule to attend youth groups,go on church camps, outings, join ministries, support missionaries, go on outreaches, be involved in worship teams, lead children’s groups, and so on, if possible.  Encourage your teen to watch faith-building movies and read inspiring books.  Inspire a relationship with them that allows you to hear their spiritual views, thoughts and hopes.

Homeschooling allows you to tailor-make your child’s education, and I suggest that you and your teen collaborate when planning their high school journey.  And after early years of delight-directed, happy homeschooling, don’t choose a path that is dull, dry or dead just to “graduate”.  Aim for balance.

What aspects do you recommend?  How do you manage to include a balanced, wholesome approach to your highschool homeschooling?  Please share with us in the comments.

In Grace, Nadene

Unrealistic Expectations

2014-02-18-05-10-37I don’t know about you, but my kids cried a lot in my first year of homeschooling, mostly due to unnecessary stress that I caused .   I also found myself floundering under the weight of my lofty ideals and unrealistic homeschooling expectations.

Today I want to encourage new homeschool moms how to plan and prepare so that you don’t burn out, feel discouraged or think that homeschooling doesn’t work for your family.

Plan Big

By all means, plan your homeschooling with lofty goals, aims and high hopes.  Then pray, and break it down and hone in on just one area at a time.

Introduce new routines, skills, subjects or approaches slowlyGradually encourage your children to learn and master these before adding another.

Practical Preparation

I love being practical!  (You get my blog name, right?)  I have found that if I express  my expectations the night before, my children do better the next day.  This is especially important if there is some level of anxiety about the coming activity or event.  Children can visualize themselves and plan how they will respond and react.

Here are very normal, everyday suggestions that can help elevate your homeschooling routine and prepare your family, especially after a break, illness or life interruptions:

  • Explain clearly how the next day will unfold and what will happen and how you want your child to respond.  Answer any questions and discern if your child needs to talk about their fears or anxieties.  Reassure your child with gentle encouragement.
  • Set up a specific routine for your day the night before.
  • Ease into good meal times, bedtimes and daily habits so that your days flow more smoothly.
  • Lay out breakfast and the school area ready for the new day.  Nothing throws good plans out like early morning chaos and confusion.
  • Avoid your cell phone, social media, answering phone calls or accepting interruptions.  These kill smooth, flowing, productive  homeschooling.
  • Use a timer.  Keep lessons and chores short and sweet.
  • Use music.  Nothing sets the tone of the activity quite like music.  Use soft, sweet background music for quiet times and activities that require concentration, and music with a beat for action and fast activities.

Be Specific

  • Habit training is your best friend!  Train your children in their routines, chores and activities so that your days flow smoothly.
  • Explain the details of your expectation, e.g.:

In 5 minutes, when the timer rings, we are going to pack up your toys and get ready for bathtime.”

Set the timer and prepare for bathtime.   Then, when the bell rings, help your child clean up with a song (we loved Barney’s ‘Clean up’ song) and quickly move on to the bathroom.  Moms, you must be ready and available to execute the routine with your children until they can do this with a simple prompt. Your expectation should be gradual, but you are aiming to eventually give a one word prompt like “Bathtime” and set this in motion without explanations, repetitions, remonstrations or refusals.

This will work for school too.  “

“After breakfast and morning chores, I would like all of you …. on the couch for storytime/ … at the school room starting …./  …. dressed and ready for ….”

  • For schooling, explain the activity and then show them exactly how to do it.  This is vital for handwriting, maths, spelling and new skills.
  • Help and encourage then through each step.  Repeat and work on the same activity for several days before expecting your child to do it with more confidence and independence.  For some children this may take a long time, especially in some subjects.  Put your mind at ease and simply continuing tutoring and gently urging your child through their fears.  (I had to tutor my junior high schooler side-by-side through almost an entire year of maths, but when she started her next grade, she worked independently and only called for help when she needed it.)
  • At first each subject requires your hands-on, detailed approach, but gradually your child will learn and master the work or activity and only need your quiet presence next to him/her as they learn to work more independently.

Build up

I recommend you do not start your homeschooling expecting to do the whole package.  Ease into the full curriculum gradually adding one or two subjects each week over a month.

  • Grow your expectations gradually, e.g.: if you want your children to do their work independently, first start with a hand-in-hand approach and do it with them.  Then tell them that the next time they will do it on their own, but that you will be there with them.  Only when they are working correctly and with the correct attitude, can you back off and allow them to work independently.
  • Whenever your child hits the wall or has some block, go back to where they last mastered the work and try another approach or substitute another method.
  • If your child is fearful, stressed or uncertain, take a break from the written work and do something practical, concrete or hands-on.
  • If you or your kids keep failing to achieve the goals you had in mind, stop and ask whether your children are ready and mature enough for the expectation.  If not, ease off and start at the point where they can master the activity.

Attitude Adjustment

Real parenting and homeschooling work is in addressing your child’s attitude.  This is by far the most draining, difficult aspect, and will require grit and determination to stay on point, encouraging and admonishing their best attitude and response.

Many of my homeschool days seem “wasted” with character issues that we addressed.  Often parents feel that this is a burden too hard to bear, and they feel like a failure.  But it is ultimately is our responsibility.  It may seem easier to “send them to school” than to work on the underlying issues, but this is the most important reason we chose to homeschool!

Poor attitudes may only rear its ugly head in your child’s teen years, but always address attitudes while your children are still young.  Do not accept their bad moods, negative talk and sulks and tantrums.

State your expectations in the positive,

“Next time we do (whatever activity) … let us be really positive/ cheerful/ and do our best …  / or … Next time this work makes you feel really (name the emotion) …. call me and I will come and help you and we can work on it together … /  Tomorrow when we start … we are going to (be specific and positive)  …. “

Again, in my first year of homeschooling, I disciplined my children far too much and  I expected immediate changed hearts and attitudes, but found that this didn’t happen.  I quickly realised that I needed to pray for Godly wisdom, search for alternative approaches and find the underlying causes for negativity or rebellion.  Parenting is done on our knees, isn’t it?

Fresh Beginnings

You can always start again.  When we had epic meltdowns, or fail days, I would encourage myself and my kids that we would start again the next day.  More than once, we simply stopped our work and we cuddled together to read aloud from our favourite reader, or went on a nature walk or did some Fine Arts instead.  Most new days start with hope.

The Lord is so gracious and meets us with fresh mercy and grace each morning!  Begin again in hope.  Just start small, work slowly and keep moving towards your expectations.  Don’t give up!

In Grace, Nadene