Candid Conversations

Never underestimate the values you instill in your children while homeschooling!  You’ll see things emerge as they mature.20140606_095626

At the dinner table, we were chatting about types of conversations,  our discussion went on to compare public school teens versus homeschooled teens and my 16-year-old related these conversations ~

Public schooled teenagers more often than not talk about their peers,
“Did you see her new  …?” “Did hear about his ….?” “Have your heard about them…?”
Whereas one homeschooled teen chatting to another,
“Have you seen this artist …?” “Did you read about ….?”  “Have you heard this musician?”

Now, I know that this is a generalization.  My teens defend their opinions by telling me that they find many teen social occasions frustrating.  They dislike the mean school gossip, they question accepted values of the “in” crowd, they get bored with continual superficial chatter.  Somehow, after the introductions, they are drawn to meaningful discussions and sincere conversations.

They are not weird, unsocialized homeschoolers.  They are completely normal.  They listen to contemporary music, watch the same kinds of movies, dress fashionably ,,, yet they are unique, independent individuals.  Somehow, homeschooling allows for this freedom.

Isn’t this one blessing of homeschooling?  How do your children relate to others? Please share in the comments.

In grace, Nadene

Shared Art Sets

Here’s this weeks’ practical tip ~

art setsWe are a creative family and do a lot of art!  Our art supplies are available on our bookshelf for anyone to use at any time.

I believe in quality over quantity, yet I often bought the large art sets so that we could enjoy the full range of colors.  There’s nothing more thrilling than having several shades of each color to chose from!  So, rather than supply each child with their own basics, I spend the same value of money for 3 children and splurged it on the biggest set we could afford.

If you train your children how to correctly use, clean and store art supplies from the start, they will enjoy years of creative pleasure!  In over 19+ years of homeschool, I have had to periodically replace paint brushes, felt-tipped markers and acrylic paints, but our colored pencils, chalk and oil pastels and our watercolors are still going strong!   A very worthwhile investment!

Once a year, for birthdays, we purchase specific creative supplies for each daughter.  These they use and enjoy for their own pleasure.  We have watched them develop their creativity to produce beautiful gifts, or make and sell their products or develop their hobbies.

Read my posts about buying big art sets and organizing art supplies.

Hope this practical tip helps you in your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene

One-Page Calendar Chart

Here’s this weeks’ practical tip ~

calendar & weather chartKindergarteners and junior primary children enjoy the daily ritual of learning the days of the week, names of the months, weather symbols, seasonstemperature, etc. during calendar time.

chart with all the discs

Instead of fiddling  with several bags or envelopes of the little names and symbols to attach to the chart, I created a one-page chart with rotating discs and slide viewer to quickly change the daily calendar.

It saves time that everything is all on the chart, ready for each day’s calendar time.

chart from behind

No need for searching through boxes, sorting through little symbols, numbers or pictures.  No need for sticky stuff.  Nothing gets lost.

You can download my free Junior Calendar Mini Office with Days, Months, Season & Weather Chart under my Free Pages tab ~ scroll down for  Mini Office free pages.

Read how to make and assemble the calendar chart here.

Hope this practical tip helps you in your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene

Letter 20 – Trust God

P1180270Encouragement for new homeschoolers ~ reflecting on thoughts, attitudes, ideas and approaches I have considered as I have journeyed in my 19+ years of homeschooling …  here’s my last letter in this series.

Dear Nadene,

Start with prayer and commit your family and your lives to your homeschooling journey.  Commit your values, choices and decisions to the Lord.  Ask Him for your family’s homeschool vision.  He is faithful to show you what is important and essential.  When you have His “yes” to your life, it is easier to follow Him and not be swayed and dismayed by what others are doing.

Trust the Lord to grow you as your children’s  facilitator and guide rather than teacher.  Allow Him to unravel all your ideals and pre-conceived notions, and mould you into the mom, mentor and disciple-er you need to be for each child.  Forget your about your teacher’s diploma and degree and follow His lead as you learn to journey in your homeschooling.

You can trust Him to lead your curriculum choices, the children’s grouping and the pace for each child.  You can trust Him to help you when a child struggles or is “stuck”.  You can trust Him when your teens reject or refuse to follow your guidelines and approach.  You can trust Him when your children are lonely, afraid or depressed.  You can trust Him when you are confused, uncertain or burnt out.

You can trust Him to lead you to the right people, websites, blogs and pages for the encouragement, guidance and free downloads you need. (Thank the Lord for others who struggle along the same journey and share their insights with compassion!)

You can trust Him to  lead your homeschool graduate in their adult life.  How much greater are their prayer needs now than those your prayed when they were junior primary kiddies, but you have found God to be faithful in all those answered prayers, so you can boldly trust Him now! 

He is your comforter, your healer, your guide.  The Lord will never forsake you and will never leave you.  His love and compassions are new every day!  You can trust Him to be there for each moment  of each day for every one.

Become child-like and audacious in your confident expectations of the Lord’s faithfulness and TRUST HIM!

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:

Laminated Charts

Here’s this weeks’ practical tip ~

laminated chartBuy yourself a laminater! 

It is an investment in your homeschooling, especially if your children are young.  It is one of my most valued homeschool items even though I use it only periodically.

  • Laminate any page (with or without cardstock) for long-lasting handling.
  • Laminate handwriting charts, flash cards, phonics cards, chore charts, mental maths drills that are used daily.
  • You and your child can use a whiteboard marker for quick, easy lessons, drills and reminders.
  • Very large posters  can be professionally laminated at a print/ office shop.  I did this with our Footprints Map.
  • These charts are essential ~

Of course, if you are frugal, you can use packaging tape and cover charts and pages carefully, but this doesn’t give the page the added sturdiness laminating provides.  I also often simply insert pages that we will use for a short time into a plastic page protector.

Hope this practical tip helps you in your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene


Letter 19 – Have Fun!

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

Dear Nadene,

Have fun!  Relax!  Don’t take your homeschooling so seriously! 

Really, it is only the final 3 years that require an earnest, academic commitment to prepare for those final exams.  It doesn’t take 12 years of serious book work, workbooks and study to graduate! 

So breathe.  Let go.  Relax.  Slow down.

You will prove over and over that it is best to stretch out a year plan to 18 months and MAKE time and CREATE margins of time for fun!

Plan fun for your kids!  Do messy stuff, bake and make stuff.  Dress up and act things out.  P1150685Plan outings, meet others at a park and do fun activities with others.  Go on nature walks and sniff flowers, catch butterflies and climb trees.  Follow your child’s spark of interest and enthusiasm and flame that flame. 

Don’t squash your child’s natural, built-in love to learn with extensive seat work, long lessons, and dull, difficult tasks.  Start your day with something sweet ~ a circle time of songs, Bible story and prayer.  Then go on to short, sweet 3R’s.  Add a few physical activities like skipping, bouncing, clap songs, or give a few minutes outside break before sitting together, all cosy and relaxed, to read aloud.  Then — FREE TIME!

Kids need time to be free, to create, to explore and to discover.  Encourage outside play wherever possible.  Provide new stimulus such as a ball, bubbles, sand box toys, water games, dress-up clothes or some rope. 

Plan fun for yourself!   You need the grace of  “Mother Culture” activities.  You need to enjoy the homeschooling journey with your family.   Remember, homeschooling is first about relationships and not information.  So go ahead and join your children!  Relax with them.  Draw and sketch and paint together.  Sing, walk and talk together without it being a lesson or a learning experience.  (Your kids HATE your “mom-the-teacher voice”!)  Leave your desk, your un-filled tick-the-box schedules and have fun.

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:

Good Work = Green Pen

Positive, specific praise is such a motivator.

When teaching handwriting I used to ask my kiddies to do their very best and, at the end of the handwriting session, to circle their best letter or word.  They always found the best, on their own , and I merely confirmed it.

green penHere’s an excellent article on Bright Side where they describe the effect of using a green pen to highlight the child’s best work, rather than use a red pen to mark their mistakes, and how this leads to a child’s happiness.

Focus on your child’s best.  Be specific.  Integrate this approach in all areas of schooling and parenting.  Positive comments such as, “You made your bed so neatly,” or “I love the way you packed away all your toys in their boxes,” or “Gosh, you washed these glasses so well!” will make your children (and this applies to others too) feel that their efforts are  noticed and appreciated.  They love it and it motivates them to keep doing their best.

This is especially important when a child struggles and is despondent.  Find just something positive and focus on that.

Blessings, Nadene

Chair Bags

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

chair bagsChair bags are common in junior primary school rooms, but make perfect, practical sense in the homeschool environment.

  • They hold a variety of things right at hand.
  • Children do not have to get up and look for something, preventing delays, distractions and dawdling and wasting time.
  • It easy for kids to pack away their things and clear the table at the end of their school time.    This helps where schooling is done at a kitchen or dining table where the space is needed for more than one activity.
  • Sew broad elastic tabs to tie chair bags that don’t fit over our curved dining chairs.  I found that the elastic tabs lasted longer than fabric tabs and fitted a variety of chair styles.
  • When we travelled for 18 months while homeschooling, we packed each child’s basic essentials in their chair bags, and simply took them out our school suitcase and hung them on whichever chairs we used in our new “home”, making transitions quick and effortless.
  • Each child had their own colored chair bag, making it easy to keep track of their own things.
  • Keeping things  in chair bags keeps things off the table and floor, creating more work space.

Some cons ~

  • Small items can get “lost” in the big pocket.  Make sure your chair bag has a smaller pocket.
  • Heavy chair bags can cause the chair to fall over backwards.  Keep the most essential items in the bag and hold larger, heavier items in a basket nearby.

Hope that this practical tip helps in your homeschooling.

Blessings, Nadene

Book Labels

book labelsHere’s a practical tip ~ Use colored book labels

When I was an English, History and Geography middle school teacher, I taught 4 classes of the same grade for each subject.   I placed colored electric tape to the base of the spine of each child’s book – a color for each grade and a 2nd color  for each subject.  This helped me keep track of each class and subject when I took their books in for marking.

When I started homeschooling, Sonlight sent me neon-bright book label stickers with my first purchases.   It was so handy to have the 3 cores’ books labeled in different colors.  I also added numbers to the readers’ labels according to the different levels so that we could work through them in sequence.

Colored labels make storing, finding and replacing books on the shelves a breeze!  Even my youngest easily searched the pink readers to find a book that she could manage to read.

Color coding works very well for young children.  We assigned a color for each child and they could easily find “their” things in the basket.

I love practical ideas — whatever works to keep homeschooling organized and flowing smoothly!  Trust that this practical tip helps you!

In Grace, Nadene


Letter 18 – Memories

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

Dear Nadene,

Make memories!  Homeschooling is a rich, rewarding journey which your family will remember forever.  P1080139

Make memories with hands-on activities.  When I asked my homeschool graduate what she remembered the most fondly of her homeschool days, she recalled the dressing up, acting out, cooking and baking, creating projects and building models.  

Famous art works and classic music selections bring back wonderful memories.  Just remember to approach these lessons informally and casually.  

Build in margins of extra time in your schedule to take time for tangents.  These are often the most rewarding moments in the school schedule … the unscheduled scenic stop along the way .  Go on field trips and outings.  Stretch out your schedule and extend your scheduled 1 year over 18 months.  This gentle pace will be so nurturing and enriching.

Take photos, encourage your children to illustrate and write journals and record the “best of …” at the end of each year. Your kids will love to re-read their report of their favourite books, themes and activities when they are older and it will seem all the more sweeter then.

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: