Letter 16 – Don’t Kill It!

Encouragement for new homeschoolers ~ reflecting on thoughts, attitudes, ideas and approaches I have considered as I have journeyed in my 19+ years of homeschooling …

Fullscreen capture 20160419 042356 PM.bmpDear Nadene,

Don’t kill homeschool by trying too hard!

Don’t jump in and try do the whole schedule!  Your kids will freak out and you will quickly burn out.  It is fine to start slow, progress gradually, focus on one new skill or subject each week. When starting homeschooling, take at least 3 months to build up your daily schedule.  It is fine to leave some subjects out completely and then gradually integrate them into the schedule later.   Looking back, nothing was really learnt in the stress of discovering how, what and when to “do absolutely everything” on the schedule!

It is essential that you slow down!  Spread out a 12 month schedule over 18 months to 2 years!  It will be the best approach for all the middle school years, allowing you and your kids time to enjoy all the scenic routes and ‘rabbit trails’  along the way.  Most importantly, your kids will love the relaxed schedule and do lots of hands-on activities that make homeschool such fun!

Don’t “do school” at home!  The lovely little timetable, the neat school books, the whiteboard and desk for each child is absolutely fine, but you can accomplish so much informally, organically and uniquely. Use these  physical aspects as a guideline or base, but allow for flexibility and individuality.

Find your family’s rhythm and flow.  Adjust your approach to suit each child’s learning style, each subject’s requirements, and your personal teaching/ facilitating style.  Once again, remember you are tailor-making your child’s learning experience.  You are not reproducing “the system for the masses” at home!

Don’t make everything a lesson. Oh boy, Nadene, hear me here … your kids shut down when you start explaining e.v.e.r.y. t.h.i.n.g!  They hear that “mom-the-teacher-voice” and groan. You can ask a few questions, answer their questions, but don’t teach all the time. 

Remember this when reading aloud, don’t stop to explain this or that, ask pesky questions and interrupt the natural learning experience.   Listen to Charlotte Mason’s advice and “keep out of the way” and allow the child to “engage with the author” and the concepts on their own.

Let nature study just be a nature ‘experience‘.  Your teens will refuse to “do nature study” because your earlier nature study lessons were too formal and regimented. 

Likewise, with Fine Arts, fill the room with classical music and just shut up and encourage everyone to simply enjoy the music.  Forget about reading the composer biographies, discussing musical technical terms and just let the music flow.   Simply enjoy the time and musical experience together. 

Relax.  Breathe.  Your children WILL LEARN!   You need to trust this natural ability.  Foster and encourage their delight to learn.  facilitate their needs, fertilize their minds and hearts with excellent literature and great books.  Expose them to great ideas and discoveries, fine arts and nature.  Encourage them to connect new ideas to what they already know.

They will not fall through the gaps.  They will catch up.  They will become great self-learners.  They will grow up balanced and sound.  They will be amazing!

Above all, trust the Lord and teach from a place of faith and rest.  Keep your heart trusting and surrendered.  This will be the Lord’s greatest blessing to you in your homeschooling journey.

With hindsight blessings,


I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Please would you share yours in the comments.

In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:

Practical Tip – Mini Office

mini office

Here’s a practical tip – Use a Mini Office

What is a mini office?

A mini office is a set of important facts and pictures, reference charts, lists, handy facts and conversion charts pasted and laminated in a file folder for a child’s easy reference.

Why use a mini office?

For homeschoolers, a mini office replaces the conventional school wall charts as well as provide quick references needed for daily work.   Parents should tailor-make their child’s mini office according to their current work requirements.  For example the mini office can include Maths charts, Geography information, handwriting charts, sight vocabulary lists, Social Study facts and charts.

What is in a Maths mini office?

senior mini-officeMaths mini offices change to reflect the skills and information for each stage.  A junior mini office may include numbers, number lines,  names of shapes and colors.  Middle schooler maths mini office may include multiplication charts, addition charts, names of geometric shapes, clocks with time conversions, while high schoolers may include maths formulas, order of operations, percentages, fractions and decimal conversion charts, and so on.

Please click here to download your mini offices.

Read the following mini office posts ~

Hope this handy, practical tip helps you in your homeschooling.

In Grace, Nadene




Letter 15 – On Track

I love to encourage new homeschoolers and today I continue the next in a series of letters I have written to myself, reflecting over the 19+ years of homeschooling… thoughts, attitudes, ideas and approaches that have changed and grown as I have travelled on this journey …

Dear Nadene,

Homeschool is about life and not the tick-the-box-schedule.  Your smooth homeschool days are a blessing, but life happens and  all your plans can fall apart very quickly!

How do you work with constant interruptions?  What do you do when there is a crisis?  What happens when a child or mom is sick?  How do you cope with the turmoil of a move?   

Remember this golden rule ~ “People before things“.

Firstly, have realistic expectations.  Young toddlers are disruptive.  They move quickly from one thing to the next and create chaos with surprising ease.  If you are homeschooling with a toddler, expect disruptions and interruptions and plan accordingly.

Secondly, create some ground rules regarding your schooling time.  Working in a family business will require a balancing act.  Answering telephones and responding to emails is a huge intrusion.  Get up early and tackle the inbox before the school day starts.  Answer text messages before school, and then put the cellphone on silent and set the landline to the answering machine.  When working from home,  discuss the times you are available and do most office work before and in the afternoons after school.  Politely let your family and friends know that you are working in the mornings and cannot “do tea” or chit-chat until after lunch. 

Habit training is vital to smooth flowing homeschool days.  Maintain a simple schedule, a predictable routine and a consistent approach. Gentle nighttime reminders help set up the day ahead. 

Find your family’s rhythm.  We tried for years to start at 8am, but failed.  Our busy mornings on the farm, as well as each child’s natural waking cycle means that we normally start at after 9:30ish.  I stressed about starting times for ages.  I have realised that young kids and toddlers are revving to go by 7am, while high schoolers work better later in the day and finish their work more independently.  Find what works for your family in this season and your kid’s age and stage.

Keep moving forward … just put one step in front of the next.  Don’t give up.  It is far harder to start from scratch than to keep doing a little every day.  By-and-by you can catch up and include more subjects and activities.

So, practically, how to keep on track?

  • Begin your homeschooling with as many kids on the same core as possible.  Having a separate core for each child is an enormous task and you will quickly feel overwhelmed and fall behind.  You will dread each day and easily burn out. 
  • Find simple, short, sweet lessons for the 3R’s for each child, but select one core for the History/ Social Study read alouds.
  • Start your day together with circle time and then guide the older kids to start some independent work while you focus on setting up an activity with your toddler.
  • Break for young kids with physical activities such as action songs, quick bean bag games, jump on the mini trampoline, skip, enjoy a healthy snack. 
  • When you have fallen off the tracks, and when all else fails, read aloud to your kids.
  • Don’t worry about delays, down-time and long interruptions unless your high schooler is writing their final exams.  When it comes to all young children, remember that THEY DON’T FALL BEHIND!  It is amazing, and I can’t quite explain it, but they carry on growing and learning. 
  • Read how I catch up ~ SPOT, SKIP or SPEED

Be encouraged … the Lord meets you with grace and mercy fresh each morning.  He is hope.  He will gently guide moms with their young.  He is never in a crisis, never too early or too late and will provide all the grace, strength and wisdom you need to stay on track.

With hindsight blessings,


I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Please would you share yours in the comments.

In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:

Mechanical Pencils

mechanical pencilHere’s a homeschool practical tip ~ Use a mechanical pencil

 Here are some benefits ~

  • The constant, fine point prevents smudgy, messy writing.
  • Mechanical pencils points never become dull and blunt,
    and doesn’t require constant sharpening with all the mess and wasted time.
  • Select a pencil with a soft, rubber grip for comfort.
  • Some pencil grips are 3-sided, ergonomic shape which is helpful in establishing the correct pencil grip.
  • A child who struggles with  very light hand pressure should use a soft 2B pencil lead.  This lead will allow a darker line even with light hand pressure.pentel eraser
  • A child who presses too hard should use a harder than normal HB pencil leads such as a H lead.   This lead forms a lighter grey line even when pressed quite hard.
  • Use a good eraser to avoid smudges when rubbing out mistakes.  We all enjoy the Pentel pen-shaped eraser.
  • Mechanical pencil leads last a long time.  Encourage your child not to drop any pencil as this breaks the lead.
  • Some artists use mechanical pencils for their sketches.  It is not just for school work.

I teach handwriting with laminated charts and whiteboard marker.  Once my child knows her letter formation, she goes on to do daily copywork.  Children should write in pencil until they are very confident in cursive before moving on to pens.   Gel pens are wonderfully smooth and flows easily, and older children love to use glitter pens.

Read more details in my post Handwriting Tips #2.

When you tailor-make your homeschooling, you make choices to suit your child’s age, stage and ability.  Chosing a mechanical pencil is practical and helpful.

In Grace, Nadene


Letter 14 – Send Homeschooler To School?

After over 19 years of homeschooling I have reflected on a few things … and this is what I would write to the new homeschooling me.  Here’s the next letter my series  ~

Dear Nadene,

While you may begin with every intention of homeschooling to the end, you will often think about sending your homeschoolers to school instead! Although others may think that you had it all figured out …  you will “get real” and confess that you often wanted to give up.

When you start homeschooling, your eldest child will have enjoyed 3 happy years in a lovely, private, Christian primary school, and now is suddenly at home with you and her sisters trying to figure out the new approach.  She is strong-willed with you, but compliant with others, and her sulks, moods, and bad attitude, as well as your stress, fear and anxiety make the whole thing difficult … impossible … just “wrong”. 

It seems better to send her back to school instead of facing daily battles of will and endless discipline issues.   And your high expectations, naive ideals and narrow, purist approach makes things very unpleasant.  But let me assure you that these rough beginnings are normal when you take a child out of school and start homeschooling.  They need a period of “de-schooling” … about 1 month for every year of school  … and you need to take it really slowly, and gradually ease her into your full homeschool curriculum.

Thinking about sending your homeschooled child to school  will be a regular pit-stop for each child during their turbulent teen years, when your teens need more interaction than you can readily give them because you live so far away from town.  You will not feel guilty for considering this because you can blame several things for this shift ~ geography and sociology. 

You think that it will help them to go to boarding school, as so many farmers in your district do, rather than homeschool through these tough years.  As you consider this option, your heart will ache at the idea of missing being with them and you will fear the peer influences and peer pressure.  In end, you and your hubby will calculate that you will not be able to afford the 4 trips per week to fetch and take her to school so far away, as well as paying for the  double costs of school and boarding fees.  Homeschooling is cheaper by far, but it is also much richer in the subjects, approach and methods used than those in school. 

More importantly, your homeschooling is not so much about the content as it is about developing character.  These are the vital years of discipleship, relationship and mentorship.  Homeschooling allows you the full liberty to focus on this.

Homeschooling teens requires more trips for social and entrepreneur opportunities.   Pray to find like-valued families for your teens to visit and stay over during school breaks.  These visits will breathe fresh life in your teen’s life and they will come home more positive and creative.

Your youngest child is a very social little person who may seem terribly lonely at home when her older sisters are busy and away.  You may consider sending her to boarding school, but she is simply unhappy at the thought of living far from home, and she will rather find things to do at home than “be sent away”. 

Sending any child to school at any point is not “wrong” unless it is due to fear and failure.  Parenting is ‘infected’ with guilt, so it is very important that this choice be made for the right reasons … for growth and for opportunities.  Countless homeschooled children have transitioned back into school.  Most have done so because the child (often a teen) requested it and it has been good

We have kept this option open for our children.  And as I have often declared, our homeschooling is “not cast in stone“.

With hindsight blessings,


I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Please would you share yours in the comments.

In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:

Sketch Tuesday ~ Freezer

This week’s theme in Sketch Tuesday is ~  Sketch Something From the Freezer

Here’s my sketch ~

Freezer 001

How do you purposefully participate in the weekly art activity?

If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box. and confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Each week Barb will email the slideshow and the next topic of theme.

See you at the next slideshow!



Original PP Facebook Page Closing

At the end of this coming week, my original Practical Pages business page with be deactivated. (They cannot merge the two similar pages due to changes in Facebook policy.)

Facebook Practical PagesPlease, pretty please 1,300+ followers, would you please pop over and click to follow the new page … I’d love you to easily receive all my posts, notifications and follow interesting threads and conversations  on my new Practical Pages Facebook. 

Click and like now so that you do not miss out.

Blessings, Nadene

Letter 13 – Dare to be Different

Here’s the next letter my series ~ “Letter To Mereminding myself, and, hopefully encouraging other new homeschoolers,  with what I wish I had known when I started out on our homeschooling journey ~

Dear Nadene,

Do not be afraid to be different.  IMG-20141023-WA0000

Don’t follow the cookie-cutter approach and force yourself or your kids into a mould.   Homeschooling is about finding your true fit.  It is about a tailor-made approach and content. 

So even your bought curriculum doesn’t determine how you should teach or the pace at which your children should learn.  When you or your child become stressed and anxious, just stop, breathe and realign your goals and expectations with the Lord. 

Don’t compare yourself, your kids or your journey with others.  It doesn’t matter if your homeschooling or your children are different to everyone else.  Ignore those piercing questions and keep your eyes on what the Lord has shown you and you will maintain His grace to continue.  When someone’s comment or advice makes you feel ill and ashamed, it is not from Him.   Quietly withdraw and affirm yourself in His promises.

I believe that grace ‘to be’ and ‘to change’ is extremely important.  Even as babies, I never boxed my kids in with statements.   I would say, “So pink is your favourite color at the moment …”  or “You really don’t like broccoli today …”  so that they knew they could change their minds and find alternatives. 

Allow your children the freedom to dress up when they are small.  Encourage them to express themselves, to have opinions and insights.  Ask them what they think and feel and reflect it back to them so that they know you have seen and heard them.  This is vital and will cultivate the greatest gift a parent can give a child – the strong sense of who they are.  

Homeschoolers often ‘get’ this, whilst public-schooled kids strive to remain acceptable and become clones of the popular.  It is sadly why others (non-homeschoolers) call  homeschoolers “weird”.  

And all it is really  … is different. 


And we all are, aren’t we?

Recently a shop teller asked me why my daughters dress “differently”. She said that she noticed that my girls all dress so creatively and uniquely. Even their hairstyles and handbags are different. I told her that my daughters do not go to regular school. They are homeschooled. She said that public-school kids looked like each other … all the same.  Now, my girls are not weird. They just look … like themselves … beautiful!

I took years to ‘find myself’.   Even as an adult, I wasted years anxiously trying to be acceptable … I called myself a nerd … and generally felt like a failure.  I’m so grateful that my children have such a strong sense of themselves, their style, their gifting, their friendships and their values. 

Above all, point your children to the Lord and encourage them to keep seeing themselves through His eyes.  Urge them to please Him by being who they were created to be.  Encourage them to find their calling and use their gifts for Him.  He loves them to eternity and back!

Dare to be different!  Live your lives to the full and have grace for yourself and others.

With hindsight blessings,


I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Please would you share yours in the comments.

In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:

Sketch Tuesday ~ Something From Outside

This week’s theme in Sketch Tuesday is ~  Sketch Something from Outside

Here’s my sketch ~

Outside` 001Hopefully this week Kate and Lara will also find some time for Sketch Tuesday.  How do you purposefully participate in the weekly art activity?

If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box. and confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Each week Barb will email the slideshow and the next topic of theme.

See you at the next slideshow!



New Practical Pages Facebook Page

I’m a slow starter when it comes to Facebook …

Facebook Practical Pages

I started a business Practical Pages Facebook page a year or so before I started my own personal Facebook page.  Since then, Facebook have made changes and I now need to deactivate my original Practical Pages Facebook page (FB does not allow me to merge the 2 pages) in order to focus on the new Practical Pages FB page.

Please, pretty please 1,300+ followers, would you please pop over and click to follow the new page … I’d love you to easily receive all my posts, notifications and conversations!

Blessings, Nadene