F-Words to Include in Homeschooling

In my previous post – F-Words to Avoid in Homeschooling, I shared my thoughts about some of the negative attitudes and approaches to homeschooling that I struggled with during my years of teaching my daughters from preschool to high school graduation.

This week, I would like to encourage some positive F-word attitudes and practices that will create a wonderful homeschooling experience for you and your children.

  • FAITH – It takes faith to believe that you can homeschool your children. It requires faith to work through the struggles, doubts and fears. I prayed often for each of my children. I needed God’s word and leading and wisdom in my approach. We prayed together each day, especially when the children were young.
  • FLEXIBLE – Being inflexible will always lead to unmet expectations, disappointments, stress and exhaustion. Life happens. Your family is unique and your plans will not always work out. Stay flexible and learn to find your rhythm. It is fairly easy to catch up if children were too tired or were sick. In the grand scheme of things, when real life is “interrupting” your plans, real learning and character formation happen when we learn to adjust and adapt.
  • FULL – Offer your children a “full” education. Include a wide range of subjects, projects, activities and approaches as well as the basics. I used daily themes to include all the “extra” subjects such as Fine Arts, art lessons, music appreciation, poetry, Shakespeare, Latin, Current Events, and Nature Study. Of course, I don’t advise over-full days! Beware of taking on too many extramural activities, too many sports trips and outings each week. Give your children free time at home to have hobbies, to play, to read, to be bored. These are the moments your children will discover their passions and interests.
Creative free time – my daughters sewing, making jewellery, doing arts and crafts – selling their products in markets and giving them as gifts.
  • FEAST – Your children’s education should be like a wonderful buffet table full of options, opportunities and choices. Offer your children different hands-on activities, give them an opportunity to dig in deep when a topic sparks a flame of interest. Follow them on these rabbit trails and encourage reading, videos and meeting real people in these areas of interest. May I say that this is an essential benefit of homeschooling? You’re not like a school teacher, limited to a specific number of days on a topic in the curriculum — you can tailor-make your child’s learning to meet their passions and interests.
My youngest daughter’s interest in calligraphy
  • FRESH – Keep things fresh by changing their learning environment for each new theme and topic. Display new posters, and have new library books open and on display. Hang mobiles and place objects of interest on the bookshelf. Regularly change your children’s own art and projects displays. Use different options for narrations instead of asking them to simply tell back what they learnt. I have over 100 narration ideas in this eBook that will equip you with fun, new and fresh ideas.
  1. FUNRemember to have fun! Play fun music, sing songs and move together. Regularly go outside and spend time together in nature, have picnics in the garden, on the trampoline, at the pool, under a tree. Read aloud in a tent, in a fort, even under a table. Dress up and play-act the story, do puppet shows, eat foods described in the story. Watch suitable movies relating to the read alouds or themes. Young children especially need short lessons interspersed with physical release activities and they love action songs. These are the moments that make a day feel good and, guess what, these are the moments that your children will never forget!
  • FAMILY – Remember that homeschool is a family journey. It is important that you include dad in the day. Encourage family participation — go on family outings, read aloud at the dinner table, include grandparents in show-and-tell and at graduations. Your family is unique in its vision and therefore your homeschooling will look and feel different to another family using an identical curriculum.
  • FAN – Be your child’s fan! Be their support, their encourager, their cheerleader. Be their facilitator and find ways to support and stimulate their interests and passions. Never underestimate the power of your positive input, even in their hobbies. Let them overhear your good reports. Build them up. Look for their positives and recognise their hard work as well as their achievements.
  • FLOW – Find your daily rhythm and flow. Adjust your schedule to suit your family’s most focussed and attentive times in the day. Avoid disruptions, distractions and interruptions for yourself = put your cellphone away! Keep your lessons short and sweet so that the work flows quickly and effectively. Then take your time with read alouds and projects. Also, note, some days will flow better than other days. In my many years of experience, I discovered that there are usually only 2 days in a week that flow effortlessly, but in those days, we covered more work and completed activities with joy and simplicity.
  • FINISH – There is much to be said for perseverance! Commit to finishing what you start in your homeschooling. Stay the course. Of course, there will be times when you want to give up, but there is such a blessing in holding on, keeping on going and making it through to the success at the end. You will need encouragement to turn frowns upside down. There will be many mornings where you will need prayer and faith to motivate yourself. You will need to address issues and encourage your children to press on, keep trying and give their very best. Finishing does not need to be dogmatic and fundamental, especially when your homeschooling does not fit and when relationships suffer because of the struggles. That is when you should stop and reassess and figure out the best way forward. There are times when it is important to put an unsuitable book or awkward curriculum aside that doesn’t gel. I am suggesting that in order to finish what you are committed to, you will need to be resolute about your family vision in order to see it come to fruition.

May these F-words encourage and motivate you in your homeschooling journey. Please encourage others and share your experiences with us in the comments.

Blessings, Nadene

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F-Words to Avoid in Homeschooling

I was a professional school teacher who then homeschooled my daughters for over 23 years. Many of my school teacher attitudes and approaches did not work for us in our homeschooling. In those early years, I had many fears and flaws and I had to learn a new and better way. May this list of 10 F-word of these flaws encourage you to avoid these pitfalls.

  1. FEAR – Most moms are afraid. They fear not doing the “right” thing or not knowing what to do. New homeschool moms are terrified. I was. I remember that sick, cold feeling of fear in the pit of my stomach when I ordered my first, expensive, bells-and-whistles curriculum, and I desperately hoped that I had made the right choices. I was afraid that my children would fall behind if I didn’t keep to the schedule. (Hint – They do not fall behind!) Fear nagged at me and dragged my heart down. I was afraid of what my family thought of us, of how my children didn’t do things like they “were supposed” to … just so many fears. May I suggest that homeschooling requires faith?
  2. FORCE – You cannot force a child to learn. No nagging, badgering, or pleading will help. Either the child is not ready, the work is not at their level, or the approach does not fit. Adapt, adjust or amend your approach.
  3. FAST – Don’t rush. When homeschool feels like a continual FRENZY or you are FRAZZLED, slow down. It is not necessary to stick to the exact schedule. Remember that learning is like a travel itinerary. Learn to trust your family’s pace, take time to pause for scenic detours and or to rest. I shared my best homeschool schedule advice = take more time!
  4. FORMAL – Homeschooling is NOT the same as school-at-home. You can learn without textbooks or a teacher teaching, or children sitting at desks in a classroom. While discipline subjects such as handwriting, spelling and maths should be done with children sitting at a table, rather relax and sit together and use living books to learn most of the other subjects. Ease into a daily rhythm rather than a strict formal classroom schedule. Cuddle together and read-alouds on the couch, read poetry under a tree, or work on projects in the kitchen or while lying on the carpet.
  5. FACTS – Don’t focus entirely on only learning facts. Charlotte Mason encourages the child to develop a relationship with the subject matter and the author who share their experiences in living books. The focus of a wholehearted education is not on simply memorizing facts but accurately recalling the details described, the emotions connected to these experiences and the child’s relationship to them.
  6. FIXED mindset versus growth mindset. A fixed mindset is limiting, whereas a growth mindset is a freedom, especially in dealing with struggles and difficulties. A fixed mindset performs to achieve success and wants to prove intelligence or talent. A fixed mindset compares itself with others, is threatened by others’ successes and avoids challenges that may lead to failure. Fixed mindset moms often compare themselves and their children to others, feel threatened, feel anxious and are usually desperately striving. When one has a growth mindset, you are inspired by others’ successes, look for ways to improve and overcome challenges, and treat difficulties as opportunities to persist and improve. Encourage a growth mindset in yourself and your children.
  7. FLUCTUATE – Stability and consistency in education are important. Avoid constantly changing your approach, exchanging your curriculums, vacillating on your choices, or wavering on decisions. Of course, it is natural to doubt yourself when you are unsure or beginning something new. I recommend you ditch a book or curriculum that genuinely does not fit, but at some stage, settle down and make the best of the situation and persevere and figure things out. Disillusioned children and parents who keep changing things do not learn to persist and persevere, which leads to a weak character.
  8. FRET & FUSS – Mom, your job is to hold space for your child for deep, intentional learning and connection. Avoid nagging, interrupting, fretting and fussing. Give your children a calm, loving atmosphere where they can focus and learn. When your plans overwhelm you, spend some time and prepare yourself, your lessons and your homelife so that you are not scurrying around looking for lost books, stressing over what to cook or fussing over a child who is distracted.
  9. FLAT – Avoid dull, flat learning as this will quickly quench your child’s natural, in-built desire to learn and discover. Develop a rich, wide education for your children. Find fascinating books, watch interesting videos, listen to marvellous music, observe nature, look at amazing art. Take time and go on educational outings, go to museums, and meet interesting artisans and artists, farmers, builders and inventors. Provide your children with a full, flavourful education.
  10. FAIL – Fear of failure is crippling. Let me reassure you that you and your children will not fail. Avoid curriculums that require tests and exams, especially with young children. Your child does not require 12 years of exam-based curriculums as preparation to be able to write their school-leaving exams. They do not need quarterly tests and exams to ascertain whether they understand their work because homeschooling is often one-on-one and you will quickly see if your child can manage their work. My eldest daughter wrote her first formal, timed exam for her Prelims in her final school year. A few months of preparation at home using the previous years’ exam papers and a timer prepared her efficiently for her actual exams. When a child shows signs that they did not understand or master the work, gently re-do the lesson or find an alternative approach.

I recommend you tailor-make your child’s learning and make child-led choices in projects, activities and subject choices. Grace and gentleness provides mercy that produces natural growth.

Please share your experiences with us. Feel free to write to me with any questions. Fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page, and I will do my best to advise and encourage you.

Grace and mercy to you and your family this year.

Blessings, Nadene

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Ending The Year Well

This year is fast rushing to a close … Christmas goodies are already filling the shops and December summer holidays seem just around the corner.

It is also the time of the year when we conclude and congratulate ourselves for the work we have covered during our school year.

As I revisit this post from my archives, may I offer some ideas to finish your year well?

We don’t always actually “finish” the curriculum each year because we stretch our curriculum over 2 years.  When we declare official school work closed for the year, it is good to find closure and create some fun activities to enjoy during their holidays.

Here are some of our end-of-year activities:
(not in any particular order … just some of the many ideas that sprang to mind …)

  • Finish any year-long hands-on projects.
  • Go on outings or field trips.
  • Catch up and finish any read alouds.
  • Do all outstanding Science experiments.
  • Prepare an exhibition of their work and invite family or close friends to see their work.  Children love to explain what they did or present their projects and art work!
  • Join other homeschool families or co-ops for an end-of-year party or activity.
  • Hold a ‘graduation’ party.  Young children, even teens, love to receive a certificate!  Sonlight builds this aspect into their curriculums.
  • We love to make Christmas gifts.
  • Listen to the year’s music highlights on a special playlist.
  • Watch a historical movie covering the time of your studies.
  • Create and act out a play or puppet show for a real audience.
4-20150123_065037-1

Some administrative activities:

  • My youngest loves to hang mobiles!
  • Prepare their new notebook files and stationary.
  • Refresh the Theme of the Day poster.
  • File away the year’s work and store art and craft projects.
  • Review and look through the whole year’s work.  I ask my children to comment, select, highlight and rejoice over work they have done and accomplished.  I ask these basic questions:
    1. What was your favourite activity/ theme/ or topic?  Why?
    2. Show me your top 5 favourite books – read alouds or readers.
    3. What did you least enjoy?  Why?
  • I spend these weeks planning, printing and preparing the children’s school work for the new year.  (It is an exciting time , yet slightly scary time for me.  Every. Year.  Even after  +18 years of homeschooling, I’m not always sure what will work, how long it will take and if we will enjoy it.)

Remember that homeschooling is a long journey, and just as travellers love to show their photos and review their trips, an end-of-year program is a wonderful way to rejoice in all the accomplishments and ease into the new year with enthusiasm and motivation.

Blessings in your homeschooling journey!

May you find much grace and rest in this festive season, Nadene

Faith mingled with Failure

  • Are you a Christian parent homeschooling your children with an emphasis on developing their faith?
  • Are you teaching your young children about Jesus with a confident hope and expectation that they will come to faith?
  • Are you a Christian parent with a teen that has chosen to resist, refuse, rebel against your Christian values?
  • Are any of your children in a place of compromise, delaying to make their decision to follow Christ?
  • Have you parented as a Christian full of faith, but serve a prodigal child, teen or young adult?
  • Do you need encouragement to parent and homeschool the Gospel message in your home into a faith-reality?

Join Wendy and Shirley of Footprints On Our Land, and Linda and myself, four veteran homeschool moms, encouraging you to homeschool with confidence in our next livestream ~ www.quicket.co.za/events/147771-christian-homeschooling

If you missed this webinar, please email Wendy Young at gaviny@mweb.co.za to obtain the details to pay for the link to the recording.

We are all moms who have precious messages carved into the clay of our lives; our parenting has been sown in tears, watered with repentance, lifted to the Lord for mercy, offered in surrender and expressed with sorrow and joy mixed together.  And the comfort we received, we now would love to share to comfort others.

If you are a Christian parent and you see homeschooling as an extension of your parenting, then this livestream is for you. We are taking an atypical approach by sharing the real side of parenting children who struggle with their sin natures and how we can shepherd them to the Cross where they can make their choice.

Book your ticket at Quicket, and if you cannot make it on the night, you will still get access to the recording.

Blessings and grace, Nadene

The Power of a Reset

Everyone has their bad days and everyone feels overwhelmed at times. It could be frustration with too much mess, too much noise, demands, difficulties, moods, sibling issues, struggles with skills, uncertainty, interruptions, urgent problems, breakdowns, bad weather, power outages, falling behind schedule, distractions … but there is a wonderful way to save the day — Press your RESET! I wrote about it before – Practical Tip – Reset

How to reset?

  1. Pause – call a break. Take a deep breath.
  2. Switch – to another subject or start a new activity.
  3. Move – do something fun! Move, dance, jump on the mini-trampoline, run around the garden, skip.
  4. Regroup ~ food, touch, talk, laugh, music

Here some ways to reset the moment:

In our home, when someone was in tears, or my voice was rising in frustration, I may have said, “Kids, we need a moment to reset and try again. Can we all take a moment and …”

  • Fresh Air
    • It is amazing how quickly we can regain our perspective when we go outdoors.
    • Get outside.
    • Go for a walk.
    • Let the children play, skip, run.
    • A nature walk is a wonderful outdoor activity.
    • Even a cup of tea sitting on the porch or on the back steps to the garden is more refreshing.
  • Fun activity
    • Play Scrabble, or Bananagrams
    • add variety to school subjects
    • YouTube videos on the topic are a wonderful moment of relief and reset.
  • Sing – Geography songs, Bible songs, Action songs, rap and pop songs (that are suitable)
  • Music – An upbeat song or soundtrack changes everyone’s mood. We have “clean house” soundtracks. Nowadays it is so easy with Spotify, but back in the day when my kids were teens, they made compilation CDs to play while we cleaned house.
  • Clean up & pack away – Physically clear the space to reset the next activity and let it be fun, positive saying, “Yes! Of course, we can do art/ …. Let’s quickly pack away all the books and papers while I mix the paint.” Often, while my young kids played outside or ate a snack, I scooped the toys into the drawers or baskets and cleared the floor for the next activity. Most moms feel better when the clutter is under control, so stop for a reset when you start to feel overwhelmed.
  • Change rooms or places
    • Do a lesson outdoors, read aloud under the tree or do narrations in a sunny spot.
    • Some kids feel better lying down, cuddled up, in soft lighting, in cool air.
    • A different venue often resets attitudes and moods.
  • Routines – Meal times, bath time, bedtime are all regular rhythms in our day. Focus on the next routine and build better habits and prompts. Keep things simple and avoid too many extra-mural activities.
  • Timer – It is amazing how much we can do in 10 minutes! Set a timer and encourage everyone to do their best for that time. Often, when the problem is too big, it is best to break it into smaller, more manageable tasks. Charlotte Mason encouraged short, sweet lessons. Use an app on your phones and computers to visually and audibly time activities.
  • Regroup – Build loving relationships with the 5 love languages =
    • Spend some quality time together listening & talking
    • Do an act of service for a family member
    • Make some simple but thoughtful gift for each other.
    • Make a favourite meal, bake a treat, celebrate the moment with a special table setting, candles, flowers and music.
    • Reaffirm with words of affection and encouragement and specific praise.
    • Physical affection, tickle or wrestle your children, cuddle them, even those cool and aloof teens!
    • Tell jokes and remember silly moments and laugh together.

“I think it is extremely important in building a foundation for your homeschool and relationship with your child. We are all sinners and there are just going to be bad days full of short tempers, bad attitudes, and frustration. Instead of throwing up our hands and quitting – choose to teach your kids how to resolve conflict, how to listen, and how to communicate with love!”

Lauren ~ The Simple Homeschooler

As a wife, mother and woman of confidence, reset your days and nights with healthy activities that start and end your days. To begin, focus on ending well and set up the next day before you go to bed. Reset your home with a tidy lounge, a clean kitchen, a prepared school plan and study area, a menu plan will make the new day flow with simplicity and ease. Nothing is worse than starting the new day already overwhelmed with mess and clutter from the day before!

Reset your attitude with prayer, gratitude and journaling, stretching. Ask the Lord for grace and wisdom, strength and courage, faith and forgiveness. Pray blessings over the people, the problem and the purpose. Ask for a simple strategy and a way of understanding, a shifted perspective, a simple word of truth. Journal and find your help in the ways that the Lord gives you.

Check if you have unrealistic expectations. Make allowances for age & stage issues, immaturity, illness, fatigue, changes, crisis, etc. Remember that most of this is small and temporary and all this will eventually fade and pass. Avoid having a fatalistic mindset and please don’t make big decisions in this mode.

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

Please comment and share how you reset your days.

Blessings and much grace, Nadene

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3 Things To Keep In Mind

Recently Wendy and Shirley shared on their Footprints Instagram page 3 things to keep in mind if you are concerned about your child’s learning progress ~

These are the questions from concerned parents that often come up ~

• How do I know that my child is not behind?
• What if my curriculum has gaps?
• My (mom/aunt/husband) says my children should be (reading/doing division etc.) by now?

Here are Wendy & Shirley’s 3 things to keep in mind:

1. Comparing your homeschooling with the school system is counter-productive. You are not in that system.
2. You are giving your children a customized education.
3. You are neither behind nor ahead because you are not on the same path!

@footprintsonourland

I would like to share my encouragement to parents who may also be asking these questions —

  1. The school system versus homeschool:

Homeschooling offers parents the freedom to follow each child’s pace and interest which no school system can effectively do. For the average child in school, this may not seem to matter, but any gifted or struggling child will probably “fall through the cracks” of the system.

In most schools, classes are large and the student-to-teacher ratios are about 1:37 for primary schools. Very few classes offer any differentiation or remedial help, and so all learners are expected to meet the same results with the “cookie-cutter” approach. Children who struggle or who are bored often are labelled and this can be damaging to their self image.

As a professional senior primary school teacher with 10 years of teaching experience, there were many years where we could not complete everything on our year plans. There are always gaps because you cannot teach “everything”. There is no perfect or complete curriculum that can provide exactly what every child in the class requires. Remember that children in a classroom are not all ready to learn all at the same time.

Teachers are constantly under pressure to perform and they stress to try catch up, push struggling children through, try to force learning, teach their students for tests and exams rather than to ignite a love to learn and stimulate a child’s natural curiosity. Teachers are compelled to do tests and exams to establish each child’s measured ability. They are expected to evaluate a child’s understanding based on these academic standards.

2. A customized tailor-made education:

The simplest homeschooling, where the parent is mindful of each child’s age, stage and ability, will offer a far more effective education, no matter what exact curriculum they follow, than any professional school teacher can give your child. You are able to tailor-make each child’s curriculum, perfectly suited to their learning style and interest. Parents do not need to tests or do exams because you are one-on-one with your child and can almost instantly assess your child’s progress and mastery.

For new homeschool parents I would recommend you follow a good, practical Maths program and use a suitable phonics program for each child. For the rest, Living books and child-lead interest research will provide rest of the subjects such as Bible study, History, Geography, Social Studies, Biology and Science.

3. You are on your own path:

Every family has its own unique flavour and ethos. Please don’t underestimate the power of reading aloud to your children. Spend quality time talking together about life, issues and experiences! Your children will enjoy a wide, rich and meaningful education.

I pray that you homeschool your children with peace of mind. May you rest in the knowledge that you are providing the best for your family, however unique it may appear.

Blessings, Nadene

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Been There Done That – Ask The Experts – Free Livestream

If you could have 3 homeschool mom’s who have homeschooled their joint 13 children “all the way” around for tea, what would you ask them?

What would you want to talk about, because we have “Been There. Done That“?

I’m no expert, but experience has taught me a lot, and over the years, my approach and attitude to homeschooling has changed as I have adapted to each child and season in their lives. Do you have these or similar questions?

  • How do I teach my child to read?
  • What does a Charlotte Mason education mean?
  • What are the best read aloud books?
  • How do I help a despondent child?
  • My teen needs help and direction, help!?
  • We just can’t get maths to stick!
  • When do I get time for me?
  • My kids squabble all the time, please give me tips!
  • How do I build an eclectic education style?
  • What are our school leaving options?

Well, here’s your chance! Join Shirley ErweeWendy Young and myself, Nadene Esterhuizen, on the 28th April at 7:30pm for an hour of Ask the Experts.

Booking is free at Quicket – https://www.quicket.co.za/…/137828-been-there-done-that-ask-the-experts#/

Looking forward to meeting you all there!
Blessings, Nadene

New to Homeschooling?

With the Covid-19 pandemic, many families have been doing school-at-home.  And with lifestyle changes, many families are now deciding to homeschool their children rather than send them back to school.  So there are many parents just starting out and most feel very insecure.  May I encourage you not to rush, but to spend a little more time looking at your options with a little wider perspective?

I wrote a post Starting but overwhelmed by choice and I would love to remind parents ~

“Take a deep breath …. let it out slowly … and relax.  This process is like planning a wonderful overseas journey with your entire family, and your planning may take weeks or months to refine and finalize before you leap on to the plane and take off!

Here are a few extracts ~

  • Pray and wait on the Lord to show you what His vision is for you, your family and your child.
  • Visit other homeschooling families to see what they are using.
  • Read good homeschooling books.
  • Research the Internet to look at different approaches, learning and teaching styles, costs, times and schedules
  • Follow your heart and be led by peace. 
  • Consider your own teaching and parenting styles.
  • Please don’t buy expensive “bells-and-whistles” boxed curriculum for each child.  Find something simple that all your kids can enjoy together and ease into your formal schooling gently.
  • This is a journey and will change and evolve.  Nothing is cast in stone.

In another post Starting School Those First Days I shared these tips ~

  • Just start slowly.
  • Don’t try to do the complete schedule or every subject.
  • Go gently and ease into your schooling.

And lastly, in a post Routine versus Schedule, I shared the difference between schedule  versus routine ~

schedule tells you what to do and when to do it.  It is usually filled with times, lists, blocks, and boxes to tick off.

routine is a pattern by which you live. It gives structure and order to your day, but it doesn’t dictate exactly when things should be done. It allows you to find a flow that works for you on the day you happen to be living.

  1. Decide what is really important for you and your family.
  2. Find the time-flow for your family.  Are you early risers or slow-mornings kind of people? Build your rhythm around what you will more naturally manage.
  3. Identify your important daily events which form pillars such as chores, meals, exercise, sport, family time.
  4. Create habits and build them around important daily events mentioned above.
  5. Be flexible. If your routine isn’t clicking and something feels off, adapt or change it.
  6. Offer options and extras such as different Themes for each day.
  7. Add freedom and create space for your children to explore their gifts, passions, interests and talents.

This journey is going to be amazing!  Even if you have a “flat tire” or “delayed flight” along the way, relax, it is going to be the most wonderful adventure!

Sending you warm and reassuring hugs and my prayers for the Lord’s peace and grace to you in this new season of your lives!

 Blessings, Nadene
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Revisiting “Little House” and dress-up

During this global pandemic and our current nation-wide Covid-19 lockdown, we have enjoyed having our son, his wife and our gorgeous two little granddaughters come live with us on the farm.

Emma (5) and Kara (3)  have enjoyed spending time playing with me and I have found myself reliving my early homeschool and parenting days as we played with my daughter’s old toys and dress-up clothes that we took out of storage.

Currently, we are also enjoying watching the “Little House on the Prairies”  DVD series.  These stories are beautifully portrayed and moms and dads are also encouraged by the wonderful values and skills taught by Charles and Caroline Wilder to their children.

My daughter Lara when she was 6 years old

My little grandies, Emma and Kara love wearing their bonnets and calico aprons that I sewed for my three daughters over 15 years ago.  These simple dress-up clothes have served my children for years and they were adapted to suit many themes and eras in the stories I read aloud.

All my girls needed to act out scenes from stories in our living books were a long skirt, an apron and a bonnet.  They have happily played and re-enacted scenes from the Little House books as well as Anne of Green Gables, Little Princess, What Katie Did,  The Secret GardenPollyannaand Jane Austen stories!  I even made my younger daughter boned corsets for their dressing up.

I have shared several posts on encouraging your children’s freedom to play ~

Here are some of my Little House blog posts ~

Give your children something innocent and inspiring to focus on and act out.  They need the freedom to play and be creative.  Read aloud to them and then give them the time to be free to play.

Here’s wishing you and your family safe and happy moments in this unprecedented time.

Blessings, Nadene

Letter 27 – Creativity

As I reflect on my more than 23 years of homeschooling, I believe that creativity is the most wonderful gift you can give your children!   Here is the next letter to my younger self — Letter 27 ~ Creativity

These new collages are from images of our many creative moments over the years.  Warning ~ This post is chock-a-block full of links to previous creativity related posts; proof of my emphasis on creativity!  I recommend you bookmark this letter to come back to read all the links.)

Dear younger Nadene,

Your children’s happiest moments in homeschooling revolved around your creative approach which included frequent hands-on activities.  Realizing this joy, I want to urge you to provide daily creative opportunities such as arts & crafts and doing regular hands-on activities such as lapbooks, making models and paper projects, and allocate time for lots of dramatization.  Figure out how to fit in hands-on activities into your schedule, and these activities will become your children’s favourite homeschool memories.  Your Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays will save you and your children from burnout and stress! Over these years you will produce many creative projects.

Your children will create cute finger puppets for narrations, cut and colour Lego-punched dioramas for poetry, make models of Laura Ingalls’ Little House, dress up to act out their History narrations, re-create famous paintings in 3D, create their own sets of paper dolls.  Amazing mobiles will adorn your schoolroom for different themes and study topics. Every year you and your children will make puppet shows such as the Nativity Play and Esther play for Purim and their art will cover the walls in your home.

Your young children love to be creative every moment of the day!  In their free time, they love to dress up and you will even sew them boned corsets! You will make them a rag doll family to replace their Barbie dolls, and your middle daughter will use her skilled fine motor skills to create her own Polly pocket in a soap dish!

Join Sketch Tuesday and do art every week. There are so many advantages to sketching weekly! This simple weekly Sketch Tuesday activity will produce an enormous skill set and build confidence! Not only will it be the most welcome time of enjoyment and respite in your week, but it will offer regular opportunities to try new mediums and styles and your children will excel in all their artistic activities.

Because you provide them with a creative space and creative materials, they will also make jewellery and beautiful gifts.  Your daughters love creating beautiful flower arrangements. They will create beautiful rustic decor for their brother’s weddings.  Your daughters will become experts at home decor.  You will teach them all to sew and knit and your teenage daughters will start their own beautiful pyjama clothing range called La Lune

Your eldest daughter Tess will become an incredibly talented seamstress at just 15-years old, sewing dresses for weddings and Matric farewell functions.  She and her best friend will put on and host several fashion shows. When your daughter graduates, she will work in the hospitality industry for a season.  She will marry and her home will be filled with beauty and loveliness.  When they move Sedgefield, she will renovate and restore the old family seaside home into a lovely Airbnb.  Her homemaking, cooking and creativity will spill into every area of her life.

When your middle daughter Kate graduates, she will continue to create her own unique styled art, create professional designs and logos, and develop her digital art.  She will hone her photographic skills and assist her boyfriend Mathew with photography at weddings.  She will assist him in developing his website, his marketing and social media. Kate loves food and she will enjoy cooking Masterchef-type food!  She will become a singer and musician, teaching herself to play musical instruments.

Your youngest daughter Lara will do art every day.  Her Instagram feed is full of art, art and more beautiful art!  Lara and her talented wood craftsman boyfriend will start their own collaborative online art business called Collection Shed.  Joshua will make beautiful custom frames for Lara’s paintings!

Your children’s creativity and handicrafts skills will become great assets.   They have so much creative talent that it spills over into entrepreneur and job opportunities. They will start businesses, sell products at markets and online, work for art and animation studios, sell art via social media. All of them will develop wonderful unique artistic styles and their regular creativity will generate wonderful rich art portfolios. Your family will be known for its creative flair!   

You, too, will find great joy in doing creative projects, regularly sketching, painting, sewing, knitting, gardening and doing decor and DIY projects.  As your homeschooling journey nears the end, your lifestyle and time will allow for much more art and creativity, so it is a good thing to take part in arts and crafts with your children while they are still young.  Maintain your creativity as a hobby lifestyle, or as Charlotte Mason describes it as “Mother Culture” and you will have a fulfilling and joyful transition post homeschooling.

And very importantly, don’t be afraid of your children’s occasional boredom.  This time is the essential ingredient that is necessary for them to discover and develop their creativity!  In this day and age of constant stimulation and distraction, quiet undistracted time is a gift for creativity.  

Keep a simple schedule and avoid rush, stress and over-committed extra-mural activities.  Plan for days at home, free afternoons and long, unrushed weekends. 

Creativity also requires grace to learn, to experiment and to make mistakes. Offer your children and yourself gentle encouragement and avoid any comparisons.  Compliment and display your children’s art and keep trying new materials and techniques. 

Here are some wonderful creativity quotes ~

  • “Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.”  Brene Brown
  • “Creativity is experimenting, growing, taking risks, making mistakes & having fun!” Mary Lou Cook
  • “Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse
  • “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein
  • “You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou
  • “To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.” Joseph Chilton Pearce

With fondest love from your older and creative self, Nadene

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Would you share yours in the comments below?

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

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