Letter 21 – Time

Back in 2016, I wrote a series of Letters to “my younger self” reflecting on  thoughts, attitudes, ideas and approaches in my 20+ years of homeschooling, which I hope will be an encouragement to you in your homeschooling journey.  So, picking up from where I left off, here’s Letter 21 ~ Time

Dear younger Nadene,Image result for grandfather clock

Homeschooling allows you to be free to follow the time-frame needed for your family.  Take more time when you feel stressed and frazzled.  Take some time alone to pray and journal.  Write those things down that frustrate and bewilder you.  The Lord is near to all those who call on Him and He has a gentle and very intimate listening ear.

Give yourself time to figure things out. You are not “supposed” to know how-to, what-to, and when-to do everything all the time.  Take a moment and just breathe in belly deep and slowly exhale and begin to ask the Lord and yourself some good questions. 

  • Ask the Lord to show you what is important right now, in this season.  He is faithful and will always gently remind you that it is always “People before Things“, it is always about relationships and not stuff!  Focus there first. 
  • Ask who needs the most love right now ~ that is your ministry! What does that person need right now to feel most loved and understood? When we relate to that precious person in grace and love, seeing their fears and failures through the Lord’s eyes of compassion, we become His hands, His heart, and His hope.  
  • Ask the Lord what that individual needs to learn and how to teach it … and this is not necessarily education, but rather character and faith, and pray specifically for those areas of the person’s life.  Often the Lord gives me one or two words to focus on such as “Trustworthiness” or “Truth” or “Transparency”.

Each child’s age and stage constantly changes, and with this growing and shifting, you need to adapt your approach and expectations.  When a child no longer fits the expectations you have, take a moment to reconsider who they are and what they need now, at this stage of their lives.  Relax and back off if you feel you are pressing them too hard, or remind and be consistent in those areas that need to be established. 

Remember that it is better to stop “school” to work on good habits, the right attitude and godly character, than to relent or ignore real issues to focus on school work.  Life is the lesson!  Don’t back off from quietly insisting on a positive response, or kind behaviour towards siblings, or obedience to important instructions.  Time spent here is worth every minute!  It may seem really hard when your days are constantly “interrupted” by behavioural issues. but it is not easier to send them to school for someone professional to ‘sort out’.  This is your child and you are their perfect parent, and this is your responsibility and your privilege. 

Take time to figure out how.  Ask for help if you need it.  Work as a team with your hubby.  He has a very different approach and if your work together in unity, you will accomplish much!  You are created for dependence and don’t need to do this alone.  Trust the Lord.  He has purposed you for this ministry and He will provide for everything that is needed to accomplish it.

You can do this!

With gracious love, Nadene

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:

 Blessings, Nadene
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Difficult is now easy

This time of year is often a time of reflection …

… looking back and evaluating,

… looking forward and planning.

In a recent Art of Simple post, Katie wrote  When Everything Seems Difficult   and made this incredible statement ~

“Don’t judge yourself by what’s still difficult. Judge by what’s now easy.”

Wow …

I don’t know about you, but in my homeschooling (and in life) I found myself often judging myself when I didn’t know how to tackle a certain problem,  when I seemed unable to help my kids, and I even judged my ability as a teacher when my children struggled. I judged my parenting abilities when my children battled with issues.

But, if I had just marvelled at what now seemed easy,  observed that we had mastered certain skills, or looked at how we learnt how to pace ourselves instead of struggling to keep up with someone else’s schedule, or found what learning methods and approaches worked, those successes would most certainly been encouraging.

When you are deep in the trenches, perhaps with newborn baby, or potty-training a busy toddler while struggling to continue teaching kindergartener or junior primary children, you may well feel overwhelmed.  Everything seems like a struggle.

But look back at how far you and your kids have come.

Look to see how many skills they have mastered.

Look to see that those habits you worked with so much effort to establish with such intensity, now seems completely natural, and be encouraged.

So as you evaluate your year, may I encourage you to look through the lens of this question ~ “What seems easy now that was difficult a while ago?”

If you want to do a character evaluation for each child, here is a free download for you ~ Character Report.pdf .  I shared how we enjoyed this evaluation process in my post Report and Evaluation Pages because if the child is old enough, he/she can evaluate themselves with a 1-4 scoring system.  This post also includes a Homeschool Assessment form I used to summarize the schoolwork, books, materials and skills covered and describe my children’s strengths, weaknesses and joys and highlights of the year.

We are all learning and growing, moving forward, gaining momentum, finding our way.  In whatever area of your life or your family’s life, give credit to this positive growth and be encouraged!

Peace and Blessings, Nadene

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“Behind”- But Not

Almost every homeschool family experiences delays or disturbances that put homeschooling on hold or cause plans to seemingly fall apart somewhere along the journey.  I want to encourage you that in the great scheme of things, you are never truly behind, but exactly where you are meant to be in your life.

Life — and homeschool — is a journey and not lesson plans, schedules, timetables  and deadlines.  Sure, there are homeschool goals and graduations, and for those you need a strategy and specific plans, but especially for young children, they will always be learning, growing, developing and maturing, and they will seldom truly fall behind even when homeschooling does not happen.

7 years ago Jimmie Quick at wrote a post Homeschool—Help! I’m Behind!  Jimmie’s counsel is that homeschool is not school at home.   She says,

You are the teacher, mom. You can make the decisions about what, when, and how to teach your children. So you can’t truly be behind.  Yes, you made a plan. You were diligent to organize your lessons and make goals for the term or the year. But life interrupted. Don’t accept the guilt or panic. Instead, get productive.  RE-plan for where you are NOW.  Don’t even try to “catch-up.” Just keep working forward.

And in her post she linked to Lani Carey of The HomeSchool Flame‘s post “Getting Behind?”  where Lani wisely says,

You are not behind!! Who told you that? You might not have gotten as far in the curriculum book as you would have liked, but so what! Is your child learning? If so, then you are not behind. Behind is when the kids are going backwards, which some of our moms with LD children are struggling with. But even then, you are not on a time-table, so you can keep going over the same material again and again if that’s what the child needs and not worry about “getting finished”. 

We need to just enjoy the ride! 

Jimmie also linked to my post “How to recover from Disturbed Schooling
where I recommend to Spot, Skip or Speed when school is disturbed by life’s problems.

  • SpotStick to one important subject for the whole day and catch up everything; read, discuss, watch videos, do the lapbook and notebook pages, complete a fun hands-on activity.
  • SkipSkip the core subjects (History, Geography, Science) and only do the seat work/ basic discipline subjects or skip all the seat work and only do only core subjects till you have caught up on your schedule.
  • Speed = To make all the basic lessons short and sweet put a timer on and stop when the bell goes.  Let them orally narrate or do a quick finger puppet narration instead of lengthy written narrations.

So this post was written 7 years ago!  And now, as a homeschool veteran mom with 2 homeschool graduates, I absolutely believe now what I shared then.

I have learnt to allow my children much more freedom.  I can see the bigger picture and realize that I am no longer the one in control, but the one who comes alongside each child to facilitate their learning experiences.  Homeschooling is much more “in the moment” and much more intimate.  For each child, there are goals, specific plans and a general outcome, but I no longer fret about finishing things according to someone’s schedule.  If there are disruptions, I have learnt to take a moment and figure our way forward again.

If you are distressed and discouraged by “falling behind” may I encourage you to spend some quiet moments with the Lord and pray for His peace and for His strategy.  Ask Him to show you what really matters, what is important in His plans for your family and each child’s life right now.  With these thoughts, focus on what you can start with and begin fresh from there.

Paul says in Phil. 3:13 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.”  The Message translation – “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward-to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

So, simply do the very next thing — push onward, forward, upward toward the goal.  

Blessings, Nadene
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Test your homeschool style

Most new homeschool moms choose a homeschool curriculum based on their children’s learning style, but forget that they are a vital part of the homeschool approach, vision and energy.  Your homeschool style is how you naturally approach homeschooling.

There are 6 main homeschool styles:

  1. Traditional
  2. Classical
  3. Charlotte Mason
  4. Unit Studies
  5. Unschooling
  6. Eclectic

If you choose a style that doesn’t suit you, you may find yourself becoming anxious, stressed, fearful, negative, bored, confused, scattered, or even burnt-out!   When parents follow a homeschool style that is a good fit with their unique attitudes, values, vision and passion, homeschooling becomes an exciting journey with their children.

For example – a mom who loves the idea of project-based learning, but hates a messy house will begin to quench the natural flow of hands-on activities.  A mom who wants her children to learn “naturally” will become utterly frustrated by a curriculum that is highly scheduled with tests, workbooks and exams.  A Unschooling approach may make a mom nervous about not covering all the subjects  and skills she feels need to be covered daily.  Many moms that do not want to be involved in teaching every lesson and prefer independent-type lessons may become exhausted by an approach that requires intensive parent-led involvement.

Parents often choose out of fear!  Some choose a school-at-home-approach with the aim of keeping in line with traditional schooling in case homeschooling “fails” and their child has to return to school.  These parents hardly ever discover the joys of following a homeschooling style that is filled with excitement, involvement, vision  and enthusiasm.  Many new moms chose a detailed, scheduled curriculum designed by professionals because they feel unsure as their child’s educator, but learn through time, that they can build their own curriculum designed for their family that fits perfectly.

Many parents use multiple approaches.  Your homeschooling may shift and change as your children mature and as your experiences redefines what works.  This is normal, so don’t feel guilty about not being a purist!  Find what works for you and each child and  aim to become their facilitator and inspiration while remaining energized, passionate and involved.

By taking a simple quiz, you can discern your dominant homeschool style and these results can help you tweak your approach to be more of what you want. A quiz helps to analyze what is working and what isn’t, to think about your values and goals and if your approach is facilitating that or working against it.

So grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and click a quiz and get started ~

Has taking these types of quizzes helped you in your homeschooling?  Please share with the readers in the comments below.

Blessings, Nadene
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Making Adjustments

Encouraging new homeschool moms, and moms starting a new curriculum ~ You may need to adjust or adapt your homeschool approach, content, schedule and expectations.

Sometimes, a little tweak will provide the necessary space and grace to accomplish the work without undue stress and frustration.  When you or your child  experience some of these negative emotions on a daily basis,  you may need to make some more serious adjustments.

Here are a few Charlotte Mason-inspired suggestions ~

Size
P1070277One of the simplest ways to tweak the content is to select its size.  For example:

  • Narrations = decide how much you will read before asking for a narration.  Start with a paragraph before moving on to a full chapter.
  • Adjust the length of copywork = give shorter selections, especially for a young child who is still learning to master his handwriting.
  • Adjust dictation passages = adjust the size of the passage to fit your child’s reading fluency or adjust the size of the phrases you dictate for her to write.  Adjust the length as the child’s confidence strengthens.
  • Any other lesson or activity = select the amount work that the child does to suit their ability; tick off the maths problems or draw a line under the work needed for that day.

Highlight

Assist your young or struggling child by writing out the key words or important ideas from the passage.  As your child matures and manages to remember the content and details of the chapter, he will make these notes himself and eventually rely on mental memory rather than notes to recall his narrations.  An effective spotlight will allow the student to think for himself and make his own personal relations, and not be ‘spoon-fed’.

  • Create a word bank with key words on a board, or create a short list to spotlight the key ideas of the passage.  This list provides reminders for the child’s narration.
  • Use textmapping to help your child remember their ideas.  Here the child highlights the most important ideas, in different colours, to help note key concepts.
  • Number the correct sequence to help keep events in the correct order = or use these sequential clues = “First, this happened. Then …  After that, such-and-such happened … Finally…”  This helps a child remember the story sequence.
  • Gently encourage your child to write an opening sentence and then the concluding sentence. Work on developing 3 sentences that form a paragraph.  Before long he will be doing more and more of his own written narrations.
  • Spotlight specific topics  in subject = a specific focus in nature study.
  • Spotlight specific techniques used in handicrafts or art instruction.

Substitute

2013-06-17 21.37.09Adjust the content of your curriculum with through substitutions.  Here, the library may provide your best options:

  • Substitute a different book for your student. It should be a well-written living book, one that contains worthy thoughts well put and inspiring tales well told.  Find a story that “clicks” with your child.
  • Grade up or down as needed.
  • Personalize mental math by substituting names of people or objects in your child’s life according to  their personal interests.
  • Substitute the pictures you use for picture study.  Feel free to substitute a different work by the same artist.  You want your child to connect with the artist and his works.  I often provide 6 examples and allow my child to choose the 4 we will study each week for that month.
  • Find an alternative activity that your child enjoys instead of the prescribed narration – there are so many options and alternatives!  Purchase my Narration Ideas booklet with over 100 ideas and options instead of just writing!

Speed
My golden rule = Add more time!  Adjust the speed at which you move through the lessons especially with skill-based subjects  such as math or language arts skills like reading, writing, and grammar.

  • Don’t move on to the next concept until your child has a comfortable grasp of the current one.
  • So much of math and language arts builds step by step: the next concept that will be introduced depends on mastery of the current concept. So don’t get in a hurry.
  • Charlotte believed strongly that math and language arts lessons must proceed at each child’s speed, regardless of what grade level he might be:

“In grammar (English and foreign) and in mathematics there must be no gaps. Children must go on from where they left off, but they will be handicapped in the future unless they can do the work set for this Form” (PNEU Programmes 90–94, May—July 1921 through December 1922).

  • Adjust the curriculum to go at your child’s pace. It is more important that your child understands the concept than that you check off the lesson as done.  
  • Add other exercises from alternative books or games to practice more on certain skills or activities.

Here are several posts I have written on this topic over the years ~

Hopefully the examples shared above will give you some ideas of how you can adjust the size, spotlight key concepts, make personalized substitutions, or adjust the speed of the content as you use Charlotte’s wonderful methods with your student.

Blessings, Nadene
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Homeschool Hopelessness

No one warned me that I would experience periods of real hopelessness in our homeschooling journey.

These feelings were not so much because of a child’s slowness in grasping phonics, or mastering multiplication tables or coping with writing and spelling (although those struggles are real and difficult to cope with at the time), but I suffered from a deeper, insidious anxiety of not measuring up to the ideals and images of what I imagined of my parenting and homeschooling.

My struggle was that my children did not reflect what I thought they would be if I “did it right”.

I had visions of my children happily homesteading, singing songs, crafting and learning like the girls in the “Little House on the Prairies“.  I thought we would all be praying, singing, being kind to others … that kind of Christian-thing. The gratitude, the persevering, the teachable, the compliant child-thing. And I thought it would all develop into young adult expressions of that image.  But our children did not embrace or demonstrate that vision.

Actually my children started out a lot like that, back in the beginning of our homeschooling journey, so it was not that we couldn’t do it.  It just didn’t carry on into my children’s teen years. That is when things changed.  They changed.  They took charge, and it was really scary for me!

My children are amazing, unique individuals, and they were way stronger than me. No matter how hard I persevered, persuaded, cajoled, pleaded, reasoned, lectured, they did things their way. They made choices and insisted and persisted.  I watched my dreams fade away.  And, looking back now, it was a good thing.  My children were not supposed to turn out the way I intended, but the way the Lord purposed.

They abandoned, subjects,  ignored Charlotte Mason’s methods, made decisions for the all “wrong” reasons (in my mind).  Instead of continuing with Charlotte Mason principles, my high school children opted for textbooks. Instead of narrations, they chose tedious workbook lessons and stressful exams. Instead of a rich cultural Fine Arts, they chose dry bones “compulsory” subjects. Instead of delight-directed – they opted for minimum requirements.  One child became the master-procrastinator!  She managed to complete everything by the skin of her teeth and it was a nightmare trying to work with her.

I sat watching each of them move further and further away from my ideals, and morph into “let’s get it done the easiest and fastest way possible” and I became sadder, more and more hopeless.  As each teenager entered into this phase, I lost perspective and became really sad and depressed.

Both my graduate daughters chose not to study further.  They did not want specific careers.  They opted for part-time work and entrepreneurial experience.  From the outside, it looked like my husband and I had “lost the plot” and we came under prolonged, severe criticism from both our parents close family.  I felt judged and a failure.   I wondered If I had instead sent them to public high schools and forced them to follow the norm of ‘Matric followed by university studies’, then we would have done it the “right way” and we would have “succeeded”.

As I sat praying, I realized that I had laid an excellent foundation in their primary school years.  We established outstanding basic skills.  I had instilled a love for reading, for good literature, for Fine Arts and we had a lifestyle of both productivity and creativity.  We have a deeply spiritual home where we share the reality of the Lord’s word and work in our lives.

All was not lost.

I turned my eyes to the Lord and trusted Him to work out those promises He gave us for each of our children.

After my eldest daughter got married earlier this year, she flourished as an amazing young woman who loves her husband.  She happily creates and keeps her home beautiful, and she cooks healthy, wonderful meals on a tiny budget.  She is a deeply committed member of a small, but tightly connected community and she and her hubby practice hospitality in ways that really bless others.

My 18-year-old graduate daughter currently works as a freelance graphic artist. She is developing her skills as a photographer and amazed us all by becoming a singer and musician, performing among the emerging musicians in the Garden Route.  There was no clue that she would choose to sing publicly.  She was so shy as a child that she wept and just couldn’t give me speeches or prepared reading, not even for me, all alone in our homeschool study.  And she never took a single formal music or singing lesson!

Last week, as I sat among a crowd of over 370 people at the Live Event in the George Botanical Gardens, and I just marveled at her courage and her talent, her vulnerability.  She shares her own songs with the world.  I didn’t see that coming!

May I encourage you, just as I encourage myself, to keep hoping and praying and trusting in the Lord for your children, especially when they take charge as they grow up.  He is faithful and He has a vision and purpose for each person.  He is able to “make all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes”.

Don’t allow periods of hopelessness and despair cause you to give up.  Have grace towards yourself for being out of your depth and have grace towards your children for working out who they are becoming.  It is Grace for grace.

 Blessings, Nadene
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Getting Real ~ Tantrums

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

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

Hurt Boy

First, let’s look at a definition ~

tantrum  ~ˈtantrəm/ noun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings and grace in these real moments,

Nadene

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Getting Real ~ Too little done

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

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

Girl Singing & Holding Chorus BookToo little or nothing done

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings and grace in these real moments,

Nadene

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Getting Real ~ Disappointments

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

Here’s another “Getting Real” topic ~ Disappointments

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

So let’s talk about unmet homeschool expectations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings and grace in these real moments,

Nadene

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Getting Real ~ Doubts

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

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

Girl and Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings and grace in these real moments,

Nadene

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