Motivation #3 Turn Those Frowns Upside Down


Today I have refreshed a post from my archives as we revisit posts on motivation ~  see Motivation #1 and Motivation #2

We have all had those days, where children frown, have the sulks, shed tears, refuse, delay and procrastinate, whine and complain, throw temper-tantrums, or go so s.l.o.w.

Firstly, assess why a child is unhappy and unmotivated:

  1. Is their negativity regular or consistent?
  2. Is there a pattern of this behaviour?
  3. Does this occur with all subjects or just some?
  4. Is the child sick or tired?  
  5. Has my child some physical problem that makes the learning difficult? Eyesight? Hearing? Low muscle tone? Any allergies?
  6. Is my child too busy?
  7. Are we over-scheduled?  Too many activities outside home?
  8. What is my child’s preferred learning style?
  9. Is my teaching method/ curriculum suited to my child’s learning style?
  10. What motivates him/her?  
  11. Is the work level too difficult?
  12. Am I requiring too much too soon?
  13. Are there other underlying emotional problems that frustrate and anger my child?
  14. Has the home routine been disrupted? New baby? A move?
  15. Is there a loss of regular meal and sleep schedules?
  16. Has the child recently been taken out of public school?  Does he/she need un-schooling?
  17. What TV/ movies/ music/ peer friends / network group is my child involved in?
  18. What are sibling relationships and family relationships like?
  19. How much one-on-one time does my child have with parents?
  20. Are parents experiencing difficulties?  Financial?  Marital?  Children are very sensitive to even unspoken stresses in the home.

When I assess, I first pray.  Too often my own fears of inadequacy or uncertainty cloud my judgement.  When I pray and journal, the Lord encourages me.  He is my Hope.  His answers are often very simple.

When things are difficult at homeschool, I always talk to my husband.  He is not involved with much of the schooling/ curriculum/ methods/ principles, but he knows me.  He knows our children and he is the Head of our home.  We talk about the problems and possible solutions.  He and I assess together.  He is much more reluctant than I am to seek outside help, but if there are physical issues, we agree together to consult an expert.

Establish the underlying problem and then plan:

  1. Start the day with prayer.  Pray together.  Pray for each other.  Pray for strength to face any difficulty.
  2. Keep at least 4 days (preferably 1 week) to the BARE ESSENTIALS.  Do not go out!  Do not entertain. Stay at home.
  3. Re-introduce the basic routine.  Keep strict sleep times and healthy, happy meals times.
  4. Keep school lessons short and sweet.
  5. Start with the hardest subject first.
  6. Use a different approach – do the work with drama/ movement/ puppet show/ songs/ actions/ fun activities.
  7. Have a snack and tea break when desk work (3 R’s) is complete.
  8. Continue with one enjoyable discovery subject (geography/ science/ history) per day.  Do it with minimum stress. Use delight-directed studies.
  9. Finish school with a song as you pack away.  End the day happily.
  10. Have a fun afternoon picnic/ swim/ game/ craft or activity/ go on a nature walk.  No books or work.  Keep it simple and fun.  Let them have free play outdoors.
  11. Avoid all TV/ DVDs/ computer games for a week.  Play family games/ read aloud/ listen to classical music/audio books while doing a family collage/ project.
  12. Introduce any healthy dietary changes gently if there were bad eating habits.
  13. Introduce any therapy with a positive and gentle approach.
  14. Be available in the day.  No blogging! Put aside your own activities or plan that the children join you in yours.  (Garden/ cook/ fold laundry together.) 
  15. Make bedtime simple, affectionate and whisper encouraging words in your child’s ear.  End the day with gratitude together.  Journal together or privately.  Rejoice over every victory.  

Some encouraging ideas about motivation:

  • Sit together with your children and ask them what they really like/
    .  Agree to do even the disliked subjects, but discuss how you can make it enjoyable.
  • Plan your timetable together.  Let them choose with you.  Although I plan the subjects and topics, we set up our timetable together.   If we need to do maths, spelling and writing for example, I let them decide which they do first.  I ask my kids which subject on which day; Geography/ Science/ History on Monday?  We then put our timetable up on the notice board.
  • Plan one fun activity in each day.  We love brain gym and physical ed games. Art and crafts, nature walks are all added to the schedule.  If there is a fun activity, they will aim to complete the work quickly so they can enjoy that afterwards.  
  • Create short lessons.  Make sure that lessons are not longer than 20 minutes.  Rather 2 minutes of perfect handwriting, than half an hour of sloppy worksheets.  The schedule is a guideline, not a task master, so it is fine if a year schedule takes 18 months, especially for young children!
  • Use whatever method of motivation you find helps your children to complete work independently.  Many moms swear by the workbox method.  Others enjoy ticking off a task list when they have completed work.  Star charts work for some children.   Whatever method you chose, aim to bring your children to the place where they chose intrinsically to do the work excellently, quickly and independently.  
  • Do difficult work in a new way.  Put aside workbooks and use other methods.  Play educational games.  Reinforce basics with fun drills.  Use songs to memorize.  Play with apparatus instead of paper and pen.  Go online and find some fascinating resources/ online game/ video.
  • Stick to the  time limits.  Keep the lesson short and sweet.  Some kids are motivated if there is a timer and they stop when the bell rings.  Put aside incomplete work without a fuss.  Avoid nagging, shouting and insisting.  Tomorrow just start where you left off.  
  • Keep one day of the week for informal studies/ nature studies/ music/ art or poetry.   Don’t do formal studies and writing at first.  Just whet their appetite and enjoy the experience.  Maybe informally discuss their experience.  Later, introduce notebook pages or add some technical aspects.  (I have lost one child to Charlotte Mason subjects because I was too formal and technical.  Now I approach these subjects gently and informally.)
  • Review your week and plan for the next week.  Keep just one step ahead and your confidence and joy will keep you focused and motivated.
  • Be prepared.  Set up the schoolroom the night before.  Put out a new activity or create a surprise.  Kids love this!  A simple encouraging note at their place will do wonders! You’ll also start the day with a twinkle in your eye!
  • If things don’t work out, plan a catch-up” week.  In one week you can catch up a whole term of a subject.  Have a “Music Monday” and dive in deep!  Do nature studies or science for a whole week.  If a subject was neglected,  consolidate and catch up in a week.  In fact, focusing on one subject for a week is very motivating!
  • Plan an outing.  Go on a field trip.  Even a simple outing to a part or botanical garden can refresh and motivate everyone!
  • Do school in a new place.  Move your desks, rearrange the space,  Have school in a park/ library/ botanical garden/ or under a tree.
  • Join another homeschool family and do a hands-on project or an activity together. 
  • Co-ops are great motivators!  One talented mom can give art or music lessons for the group and there will be no tears or tantrums with outsiders!
  • Visit an expert or master craftsman.  Learn a skill from an expert.  Archery/ metalwork/ stained glass artwork or pottery classes can inject wonderful motivation to homeschool. (Only add this once the basics are well established and done with enthusiasm – see 2 and 3 in planning above.)

While most these thoughts have worked for me, I appreciate that every child and   Smiley Facefamily is unique.

The joy and blessing of homeschool is that you can tailor-make your schooling.  Children learn best when they use their natural learning style and study the topics that interest them.  A child who learns with joy and delight will tackle more challenging subjects with confidence.

Nothing in life and especially in homeschool is carved in stone!  My ideals have changed over the years.  Methods and approaches I once frowned upon, I now use and they serve their purpose – my children are learning and school is fun for all of us!

I trust that I may have encouraged you.  What works for you to turn  your frowns upside down?  Please share in the comments

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Motivation Within #2 Revisited

Previously I revisited Motivation Within #1  where I looked at intrinsic motivation.  20150218_103715

In this post, dusted off and renewed from my archives, I want to include some very practical suggestions, ideas and strategies .

There are many approaches and methods.  Some may work with very young children, but do not necessarily work with middle school children, and parents need new approaches when motivating young adolescents and teens.

Right upfront, I want you to know that I am not writing from a position of strength or success.   I am no expert.  My children are not perfect examples.  We are growing, learning, repenting, forgiving, praying and starting again.

Today I wish to share some ideas I gathered from several sources:

Caolan Madden of shared “10 Ways to Motivate Your Child to Learnsays:

  1. Fill your child’s world with reading.
  2. Encourage him to express his opinion, talk about his feelings, and make choices.  Ask for his comments on decisions, and show that you value it.
  3. Show enthusiasm for your child’s interests and urge her to explore subjects that fascinate her.
  4. Provide him with play opportunities that support different kinds of learning styles — from listening and visual learning to sorting and sequencing. 
  5. Point out the new things you learn with enthusiasm. Discuss the different ways you find new information.
  6. Ask about what he’s learning in school, not about his grades or test scores. “Even if he doesn’t do well grade-wise compared to the other students, he might still be learning and improving.”
  7. Help your child organize her school papers and assignments so she feels in control of her work. If her task seems too daunting, she’ll spend more time worrying than learning.
  8. Celebrate achievements, no matter how small. Completing a book report calls for a special treat; finishing a book allows your child an hour of video games. You’ll offer positive reinforcement that will inspire him to keep learning and challenging himself.
  9. Focus on strengths, encouraging developing talents.
  10. Turn everyday events into learning opportunities.

At they write “How to teach your child about motivation“.  They suggest that children are motivated in different ways during each phase of a child’s development:


  • Very young children learn about motivation by watching and listening to us.
  • Thinking out loud can help kids know the “whys” behind things.
  • Listening to your child and reflecting back to them what they’ve said will help them become aware of what motivates them.

Grade K – 3rd graders

  • The need to be seen and heard is strong at this age.
  • Motivation stemming from fear can explain some negative behaviors.
  • Recognizing and encouraging your child’s natural bent and gifts can motivate them to succeed.

4th – 6th graders

  • Success at something of personal interest and meaning is motivating.
  • Listen to your child’s hopes and dreams without criticizing.
  • Activities that touch the mind, heart and spirit motivate repeat experiences.
  • Teach your child the power of their thoughts and words.

In an article Motivating Learning in Children, adapted from “Early Childhood Motivation from National Association of School Psychologists at, they suggest several strategies parents can use to help children remain more fully intrinsically motivated.  (I have added how Charlotte Mason’s  principles apply after each point)

  •  Provide an environment that allows children to freely explore and to see the effect of their actions.

A Charlotte Mason education nourishes a child by great literature and great thoughts.  Her pupils spent their afternoons  in nature and enjoying free play.  

  • Allow children ample time when working to allow for persistence.  Make sure that they can finish without interruption. Resist the natural urge to “help”.

Charlotte Mason stressed habits and character.  She wrote in Vol. 1, pg. 118 that, “Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming that habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.  It is necessary that the mother be always on the alert to nip in the bud the bad habit her children may be in the act of picking up from others.”  On dawdling she was most insistent that it is a “habit to be supplanted by the contrary habit,” and “once the habit is formed, it is very easy to keep it up.” (pg. 119)

  • Respond to children’s needs in a consistent, predictable manner, but allow them to be as independent as possible. All children need clearly defined limits. Playtime, however, need not be structured and organized. Let your kid be a kid!

Ms. Mason is famous for her advice where she said, “The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children …” (Vol. 1, pg. 136)  From birth, a baby thrives in a secure schedule.  Young preschoolers are happiest with play, rest and good nutrition, simple days and a happy bedtime routine.

  • Provide many opportunities for children and adults to explore together and interact directly. This lets you observe, model, and encourage your child.

Charlotte Mason advises parents to “personally know objects, or nature.” (Vol. 3, pg. 66) She advised that the parents enjoy discovery of nature together with their children.  Parents should read great books and discuss these thoughts and ideas together with their children.  Homeschool is the perfect environment for parents and children to learn and grow together.

  • Provide situations that give children an acceptable challenge.  Activities that are slightly difficult for the child will be more motivating and provide for stronger feelings of success when accomplished. This may take some trial and error at first.

Ms. Mason frowned on textbooks, abridged books, “twaddle” and simplified titbits of information.  She advocated (in Vol. 6, pg. 140) that “We cannot give a better training in right reasoning than by letting children work out the arguments in favour of this or that conclusion.”

Narrations are a challenging skill required in a Charlotte Mason education.  In Vol. 3, pg. 191-192, she said, “From their earliest days they should get the habit of reading literature which they should take hold of for themselves, much or little, in their own way.”

  • Give children opportunities to evaluate their own accomplishments. Rather than stating that you think they have done a good job, ask them what they think of their work. You’ll never go wrong by asking the question, “What do YOU think?”

Charlotte Mason said that, “No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required of him as a matter of course.” (Vol 1, pg. 159)

  • Do not use excessive rewards. They tend to undermine children’s ability to value themselves. Praise and rewards should be based upon children’s effort and persistence, rather than on the actual accomplishment.

Some closing thoughts on motivation:

  • Be prepared – pray and plan before you start the day.
  • Be firm and consistent – stick to the schedule and form good habits.
  • Focus on short, clear goals – everyone must know what is required and how to get there.
  • Use hands-on approach for young children – change tactics and methods for interest and variety of skills.
  • Have fun learning together – cuddle while you read, smile and laugh while you learn, talk, discuss, listen to each other.  Share with dad.
  • Be flexible – stop when before things get ugly.  Go on when things really sparkle!
  • Focus on successes – remind them (and yourself) of what you have accomplished.
  • Every day is a new beginning!  Start afresh.  Change approach or try again.

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Motivation Within #1 Revisited

Charlotte Mason

Image via Wikipedia

Revisiting my archives ~

Charlotte Mason introduced a now famous motto,

“I am, I can, I ought, I will.”

Notice – every phrase starts with “I”.

Intrinsic motivation is found and sustained within the person.

Internal motivation does not need incentives from others.

When education is “an atmosphere, a discipline, a life,” Charlotte Mason points us to a higher form of education;

not just a learning process,

not related to classrooms, studies or methods,

not stars charts, percentages, grades and results,

but an attitude of learning

assisted by a character devoted to education as a part of the individual’s life.

Charlotte Mason called upon parents and teachers to inspire their children.

Star charts, sweets, stickers, grades, gifts and rewards are all lovely, but these are external motivation. Children enjoy these rewards because adults recognize and approve of them, and this kills their own love of learning and discovery.

These activities are “extrinsically motivated“.  The reward comes from outside the child and it has to be provided by someone, and has to be continually given for the child to stay motivated.

While it works, and for some children, has exceptional results and is enjoyable, it does not bring about the character traits I am trying to instill in my children; namely to bring them to desire to do their best and meet the highest for themselves.

I read an excellent article Motivating Learning in Childrenadapted from “Early Childhood Motivation from National Association of School Psychologists at

“Young children learn from everything they do. They are naturally curious; they want to explore and discover. If their explorations bring pleasure or success, they will want to learn more. During these early years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, adventurous learners throughout their lives.”

“Since intrinsically motivated activity is more rewarding in and of itself, children learn more from this sort of activity, and they retain that learning better. Intrinsically motivated children are more involved in their own learning and development. In other words, a child is more likely to learn and retain information when he is intrinsically motivated – when he believes he is pleasing himself.”

They go on to describe behavioural characteristics that show a high level of motivation in a child.  (And beneath each point I have added how Charlotte Mason’s principles encourage a high level of motivation.)

  • Persistence –  A highly motivated child has the ability to stay with a task for a reasonably long time.

Ms. Mason advocated fairly short lessons.  She encouraged children to complete their work perfectly, with excellence.  She believed in discipline and developing good habits.

  • Choice of challenge – Children who experience success in meeting one challenge will become motivated, welcoming another.

Ms. Mason’s education was built upon “Living Books”, exposing children to great ideas communicated by great minds, allowing the child to make relationships of these ideas.  She wanted minds to nourished upon great ideas. She did not want the educators writing ‘twaddle’ and simplify books for children.

  • Dependency on adults – Children with strong intrinsic motivation do not need an adult constantly watching and helping with activities.

Ms. Mason insisted that the educator moved out of the way.  “Teaching must not be obtrusive.  Avoid lectures. Don’t get between the child and great minds.”  (Vol. 3, p. 66)  She did not want teachers to explain too much, nor give grades, or rewards.

  • Emotion – Children who are clearly motivated will have a positive display of emotion. They are satisfied with their work and show more enjoyment in the activity.

A Charlotte Mason education provided children with short, happy lessons, and afternoons free for leisure.  Her education included great music and art, a love and appreciation for poetry and nature.  She encouraged the development of good habits.  Through narrations the child expressed his thoughts and ideas.  She said schoolwork should, “convey to the child such initial ideas of interest in his various studies as to make the pursuit of knowledge on those lines and object in life and a delight to him.” (Vol. 2, p. 247)

We need to differentiate between motivation through incentives or by inspiration.

We need to prayerfully ask the Lord to show us how we can inspire our children to say, “I am, I can, I ought, I will”

There is so much more!  Next post, I would like to discuss strategies to intrinsically motivate our children.

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Travel Art Set

Since I love sketching regularly, I wanted a nice, simple watercolor art travel set.Collages4

Using a Bible Cover, I made inserts to hold my water brushes, pens, pencils and normal brushes, and another to hold my set of watercolor pencils.

I have seen dozens of Altoids tin water sets and homemade sets on Pinterest.  Someone suggested using a cheap cosmetic set.  Here’s a little tutorial of how I used a little eye-shadow set one of my daughters no longer wanted.

Min watercolor set

  1. Clean the cosmetic holder well.
  2. Fill  with 9 watercolors. (I had to select from my set of 12 watercolors.)20150803_203436
  3. Use a toothpick to swirl the paints and fill the corners.
  4. Leave open to dry overnight.
  5. Cut a piece of highly absorbent cloth or sponge to fit in the brush space .20150805_104440
  6. Because the lid has little convex (wish it was concave) spaces (which works well to mix small amounts of paints) I added an extra mixing tray with a piece of plastic lid duct-taped to the box.  An elastic band holds it tucked under when stored.

Brush, pen and pencil holders

  1. I recycled old flexi-plastic cutting boards I had previously used cut to fit into the side fold of the Bible cover.
  2. Trace around the plastic on some black fabric.  Cut 2 for each holder.
  3. Laying the pens, pencils and brushes on the fabric, mark the spacing with a white tailors’ pencil.
  4. To sew the elastic with custom spacing,  measure each pen or brush under the elastic to fit snug before sewing the second side down.  Continue measuring each pen and brush to the end.20150805_104504
  5. To create an elastic net pocket to hold a sharpener, eraser and small sponge cloth, use a piece of netting slightly wider than the fabric width and pleat the bottom.  Cut the top elastic a few centimeters shorter than the fabric width to hold the pocket snug.  Sew the elastic onto the netting.  Sew a few catch stitches to hold the elastic to the seam allowance on each side.
  6. To join the water pencil holder together with the brush and pen holder,  use a narrow strip of velcro.  Sew this along the one side of the each of the backing fabric.20150805_104529
  7. With right sides facing together, sew the 2 fabrics around, leaving the top open to insert the plastic.
  8. Clip the corners.  Turn the fabric right sides out and push all the seams and corners firmly.  Insert the plastic, turn the top raw edges in and top stitch closed.

It works wonderfully!  It makes being spontaneously creative so much better!  Have you got your art set ready on hand?

With blessings,

Leaf Shape Activities

For our Apologia “Exploring Creation with Botany” course I created these leaf shape pages for several activities ~

Homeschool leaf


  • Sort into groups according to shape
  • Sort by descriptions found in the book


  • Discuss the Latin or scientific names 20150722_112059
  • Make fun and practical associations with these names

Play “Memory”

  • Place all the cards leaf up & name face down on the table.
  • Turn over and call the name of the leaf out and place with the name back face down. (This is the learning stage.)
  • Call out the name first and then turn the card over to check.
  • If correct, keep the card and try another.
  • Player with the most cards at the end wins!

Display 20150722_120223

  • Make a paper leaf bunting
    simply sew all the cards with a long line of stitching using a sewing machine.


    (my daughter practicing on blank paper first)

  • Create a mobile and hang all the same groups of leaves from a large leaf shape or name using wire and fish gut.
  • Paste leaves in groups in a collage or mosaic or poster.

Nature Study Scavenger Hunt

  • Ask the child to find as many leaf shapes when out on nature walks.
  • Sort and place next to the leaf shape/ name it best fits.
  • Place in a folded paper with a label and press between board or in heavy books for a few weeks.
  • Paste in nature study journals and label or describe.
  • Use these leaves to group, describe and label the margins (the leaf edge) or venation.

Arts & Crafts 

  • Make leaf rubbings
  • Use leaf to make prints by painting the leaf and pressing it onto a page.
  • Make leaf collages
  • Use pressed leaves and iron between 2 sheets of wax wrap with wax sides facing.  Cut and hang as window decoration.

Free Downloads

With blessings,


Pushing Boulders

Most homeschool moms have had days where it seemed as if they wesisyphus-300x297.jpg (300×297)re pushing boulders up a mountain … and it was raining hard, and the ground was muddy … and there several slips, grazed knees, bruises and broken nails … am I right?

A child who cried, sulked, pouted, rolled eyes, delayed, procrastinated, yelled, threw tantrums or refused – that’s your big boulder!

The uphill, mud and rain is the teaching journey … which seems hard, even impossible.  The end is no where in sight.

And somehow, we are caught in the process of pushing, shoving, shouting, crying, throwing our own tantrums …  of wanting to give up … of burn-out, exhaustion, and self-doubt.

Moms, allow me to share some thoughts as I have faced this situation several times in my years of homeschooling ~

Put a rock under the boulder to stop it rolling down.

Step away from the ‘problem’, the child, the curriculum, tests and plans, and sit at the side and catch your breath.

Allow the Lord to come alongside and bind up your wounds and build you up with His promises.  He is faithful and gentle and ever-so-kind and loves us even when we think we have completely messed things up.  One moment with Him and His words of truth and life will show you the way.

Acknowledge that you took on a burden that you are not supposed to carry –  He is!  Repent of your best efforts and ask Him to take control.

Ask Him to show you how to proceed.

He will walk with us …  as we walk with our children.  Our role with our children is supposed to be supportive, encouraging.  When we experience personal strife and aggression, tears and fears, we have lost sight of our Saviour walking right there with us.  Call on Him and trust Him to be the ever-present help in times of trouble.

Find a new route.

Fresh starts are wonderful!

Often we all need a “do-over”.  I liken this to “wipe the whiteboard” and begin again as if the horrid moment never happened.  Moms need this just as much as the kids!

Start with a new approach, a different book, a new time schedule, even a new pen!

Give the subject that is causing so much difficulty a “time-out” and leave it for a week.  Do something relaxing, rich and rewarding together … like Fine Arts.

Look … the boulder has shrunk!l1719896595.jpg (300×196)

Most of my weeping under the tree with the Lord started in a stuttered prayer, confession,  and repentance, and the Lord wonderfully met me with simple whispered thought.

Even if nothing has changed, I find that my boulder has shrunk in size.

I think that is why mother-to-mother support is so helpful … just talking about it can be so helpful.

Find a wise, loyal mentor and share your problems and doubts with her.  Pray together with your husband, sister or best friend.

To quote my nearly 16-year-old who wisely told me recently,

“Mom, stop taking things so personally!  This is not about you.  We are going through our own stuff!”

If you have high schoolers, you may find a tutor’s or non-parent’s assistance very helpful, as they are not emotionally connected to some of the issues that get in the way of schooling.  Teens are complex, emotional, changing individuals who often are overwhelmed with their own lives.

Hoping that this post encourages you in your hard times.

With blessings,


How fun can make your child a better student

Recently I was directed to this wonderful infographic ~


They explain,

“Fun — it’s not just for, well, fun. Playing games can help boost a person’s development throughout their childhood.

Through playing games children learn a number of important skills, like turn-taking, empathy, problem solving, and being a good sport whether they win or lose. Scientific evidence supports a theory that play stimulates the cerebral cortex which is vital to learning and memory. “

Pop over to Early Childhood Education Degrees  to view the infographic “The Play’s The Thing: How Fun Can Make Your Child A Better Student“.


Timing myself!

Revisiting a post written several years ago …

Before we started our Lucerne Tree business, before I joined Facebook … before our having to discipline our teenage daughters’ computer and cell phone times …

I  wonder just how quickly the boundaries shift or “vanish”  …  and realize, again, that my habits set the tone for the family, and set an example for my children.

Just after we started our homeschooling, I re-evaluated my schedule. I realized that things were not in balance. I went to pray.  The Lord really convicted me about my time spent on my computer.

I realized that I spent hours at my laptop every day. I love to read, and research, create and write. I love to read new posts on my favourite blogs. I love to receive emails and write and encourage others.

Isn’t this my “ministry” while I live on a farm so remote and far from everyone?

But I spend too much time here everyday.

So, I committed my time to the Lord anew. I took my handy kitchen timer and placed it on my desk. I now limit my computer time to 1 hour for the day. For everything. Emails, posts, writing, reading, creating my own pages, whatever. When that bell rings, I must stop.

Shut down.

Walk away.


My hubby is glad. My children are very glad.

This is right. And I am so grateful that the Lord stirs my conscience and urges me to hear His soft voice. May my use of my time honor Him.


Summer Art ~ Mondrian

Barb’s Summer Art plans for this week’s Sketch Tuesday covers ~



His art is so utterly ‘simple’!  Simple black vertical and horizontal lines and red, blue and yellow blocks of color.

Even very young kids can do this!  Here is a very simple YouTube video lesson.


But if you read the evolution of Mondrian’s art, you’ll understand how his abstraction developed.


The Summer Art focus art piece “Broadway Boogie Woogie” is a very interesting artwork to discuss:


  • No black lines
  • Balance of white space
  • Lines of color interspersed with color
  • Does this look like an aerial image of Broadway?
  • Do the little blocks of color remind you of the neon lights of Broadway?

So, maybe because his art is so simple, so easy to copy, it is no wonder that designers use Mondrian’s art style in countless objects, clothes and architecture!

Maybe high schoolers could paint some sneakers, or a T-shirt, or design a piece of furniture, or decorate and fire ceramics in Mondrian-style?

Here’s our Mondrian art:

Mondrian 001

Mondrian 002

I encourage you to join you child and do a Mondrian-inspired art work today!


Adapt Alter or Add

No plan is perfect.  20140318_115016

And for many new homeschool moms, a packaged curriculum or program promises some certainty to your child’s education.  The sad reality is that these products often needs to be adapted, altered, added or abandoned to “fit” your child’s learning style and stage, or your teaching style and approach.

Please don’t feel condemned if your purchase doesn’t ‘work’.


  • You can still use your books or curriculum, but rather follow your child’s time schedule and pace rather than the prescribed schedule.
  • I have o.f.t.e.n urged parents to  make time for tangents  and spread a 1-year schedule over 18 months.  I have never regretted taking longer on a curriculum in all my years of homeschooling with all my children, as I shared with my re-using our Sonlight curriculum.
  • Use lapbooks or minibooks, but allow your children to use them in their own personal way.


  • Add hands-on activities wherever possible, especially for younger children.
  • Go on outings and field trips.
  • Visit masters and real artisans, factories and manufacturing companies.
  • For teens, find a student teacher or tutor, or friend or another parent to teach difficult subjects.


Yikes!  Really?

  • When your child refuses to learn, hates the lessons or the content, please, please don’t force them to continue.
  • Put the books away and maybe try again in 6 months.
  • I have very seldom made a disaster-purchase, but I have had to abandon a year-plan and reschedule work.
  • My teenagers refused to continue Charlotte Mason subjects, much to my dismay, and I let it go, but some years later, they returned to enjoy the very lessons I had been to forceful on.  I learnt to offer these lessons in a  really informal way.
  • Sadly, many moms have bookshelves filled with unused books and curriculums.  Wasted money and lots of guilt.  If you cannot use these abandoned books, try find a co-op or group and sell your 2nd hand materials.
  • May I quietly add that even as a professional school teacher, some lessons just never worked, and I abandoned them!

With all my encouragement and blessings,