Working Independently Yet Responsibly

A reader recently asked ~

“Do you have any ideas when dealing with boys?  My son (11) to be a different learner, wanting to be more independent and do things on his own, which I am fine with and would like to encourage, however he keeps putting everything off and doesn’t want to be told when to learn….”

Your son’s desire to work independently often occurs when children, both boys and girls, move into their tweens and teen years.  The trick is to find the balance between independence  and accountability.  

I believe that independence is given through trust that is earned by repeated responsible behaviour, and so my teen children gained more independence when they regularly worked up to standard.  

I have written several posts on High School and independence here and here, and the tips and advice that I share below applies to high school ages, but you can apply most these points to your independent learner, whatever his age.  Here’s what I found works for us ~

  • Collaborate and decide together what subjects/ topics/ themes/ courses/ or programs your child wishes to cover.  When you provide delight-directed subjects, he will definitely be more motivated.  He may still have to cover other compulsory subjects to meet your country/ state’s education requirements, but if the majority of his homeschooling focuses on his interests and passions, he should co-operate with you.
  • Plan and schedule his subjects and determine his goals and deadlines. Create a basic timetable and a year plan.  Once you schedule his chapters/ lessons/ and topics over each month, this will form your basic year plan.   You can plan your child’s work on  Google Calendar or Homeschool Tracker or in a Spiral Notebook.
    Google Calendar
  • Keep track and record his work. Provide your child his own checklist so he can keep track of his own work.  I use my year plan for my record of work and created space to write comments, marks and dates.
  • Allow your child freedom to choose what and where he wants to work, providing he achieves a certain standard of work.  (Lying on the floor or bed to work is fine for some subjects, but is not effective for written work.) Teens often want to work in their own rooms.  Privacy is important, but, again, they need to demonstrate their responsibility in order to earn your trust.
  • Be flexible yet consistent.  Independent learners should work at their most efficient times (maybe later in the mornings or in the afternoons), but they should work regularly.
  • Set the standards and encourage your teen to raise their standard to meet the requirements for high school.
  • Be firm about how their work is presented or how detailed their notes should be.  Phase this in as they start their new work.  Encourage them to improve as they master the basics.
  • Very Important — Schedule regular accountability sessions with your independent learner.  Start with daily meetings before schooling starts, to discuss the schedule and his assignments.  Sign-off his check lists and discuss and evaluate his assignments at the end of the day.  Once he has accomplished his assigned tasks correctly and independently, you can meet to sign off his work once a week. These accountability sessions should be friendly, but focused meetings.   They are essential to building trust in relationship so that he can work more and more independently.  For example, if a child skips work or produces inferior work, re-schedule the assignment for him to do/ redo.  It is good to sit side-by-side and talk about the work, rather than simply tick pages with a red pen.  Quite often these discussions are an excellent opportunity to evaluate your child’s understanding, their focus or ability.  I make notes in my record of work when we meet.   Please read Heather Woodie of Blog, She Wrote post Fostering Collaboration With Morning Meeting Time.
  • Mom, you need to be consistent.  Keep an eye on your child’s progress.  Don’t skip meetings or forget to have daily or weekly meetings, because, before you notice, your child may fall behind or skip work altogether!  I “dropped the ball”  when I lost track of our middle daughters’ progress in her first year when she worked independently.  If I skip weekly meetings, some tasks fall below the standard.  Children need regular checkups with the necessary encouragement or suggestions to upgrade and improve in their work.
  • Never stick to something that simply doesn’t work!  You can adjust the course as you go along.  Find alternatives such as a study group/  a tutor or an online course where there is conflict between you and your child.
  • Tailor-make your homeschooling to include a variety of subjects such as life skills and entrepreneur options.
  • Ensure that your independent learner avoids obvious distractions such as cell phones, social media notifications, computer games etc.  My hubby insisted that our children put their cellphones in our bedroom at night until after 2pm the next afternoon, so that they had undisturbed sleep and homeschool without temptations of constant online distractions.
  • Above all, maintain a heart-to-heart relationship with your child.  Remain interested and involved in your child’s interests, passions and friends.  Even though they seem to “push us away” in their desire to become independent, they still want and need us in their lives.  Listen to their music, watch their games and videos.  Read aloud to them, laugh with them, pray with them.  Despite your changing role, this is still the most wonderful, intimate way to educate your child!

Dear mom, your child’s desire to work independently is actually your goal!  Our role as homeschool moms is to facilitate our children to become independent.  We need to prayerfully and graciously learn how to move out of center stage and stand in the wings of our emerging young adults’ lives.

Wishing you much wisdom and grace as you work through your son’s transition.

Blessings, Nadene

 

Best Homeschooling Decision #3 Free Day

Right from the start of our homeschooling journey we kept to a 4-day week.  Sonlight presented this as a planning option and it was the one thing that saved me from complete burn out in my first year of homeschooling.

I’m glad I realized that we could homeschool “only” four days instead of every day.

We often used our “free day ” for doing our weekly shopping,   There was nothing really educational about many of our free days, but it was the day available for outings, going to the library, meeting with friends, or playing in the park.   I scheduled at least one free day per month for some educational activity.

Let me be completely honest here … we took a day off for shopping every week because we lived so far from town, but, now and then we took another day off for homeschool outings and meetings.  That meant that sometimes we took 2 days off our week!  And do you know … we still didn’t fall terribly behind!  Somehow we  fitted in the week’s work in 3 days.

Our “free day” P1170201also became known as fabulous Fine Arts Fridays which was a delicious day of art, appreciation, art activities, listening to classical music, reading or listening to poetry,  and most importantly, relaxing together in the world of fine arts.

Free days were excellent for catching up on work we skipped or books we needed to catch up.  We also watched  related YouTube videos or historical movies on free days.

A free day is vital to ~

  • soothe stressed moms
  • unwind tense kids
  • fill your lives with a rich culture
  • give you time to catch up when life interrupts the schedule
  • offer a variety
  • present new opportunities and experiences
  • fit in all the extras that make homeschooling wonderful!

Plan free days in your schedule and enjoy your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene

Best Homeschooling Decision #2 Group Together

My worst year of homeschooling was my first year when I started teaching all three kids, each on their own cores. https://i0.wp.com/cdn.playbuzz.com/cdn/080b7af9-e3af-4297-915b-a233e2dc525b/e2529190-88ba-4505-8235-cc022e25a0bf.png

Why was it so hard?   I bought a separate curriculum for each child with all the bells and whistles!  I lacked confidence and homeschooling experience, and I thought this would be the best educational option for each child .  Even though I had taught in government schools for 10 years, I was afraid to teach my younger children.  I didn’t want to leave any gaps, miss anything each child may need, and I thought that the curriculum supplier would know what was best for my family.

Why was that a BAD decision?  The workload stressed out me completely.   I could barely keep up with each childs’ schedule.  I read aloud for hours every day.  My throat actually ached!  I was exhausted. It took me ages to find the rhythm and flow for our family.  As we progressed, I realized that the kids listen to each other’s read alouds.  When you use a literature-based curriculum as your core, it becomes a family journey.  Why not just read one read aloud for the whole family?

What would you suggest instead?  Group the kids together

Plan to teach similar-aged children on the one core using the same read alouds

How will each child learn from the same core?  Even though the read aloud or content may be the same, differentiate their activities for each topic.

How does differentiation work?  In other words you offer different options or activities ~ for example: the youngest child illustrates their narration, the middle schooler works on a dictated narration in minibooks or a lapbook, while the older child types their narrations on the computer and prints out their own notebook page.  OR  A young preschooler and middle schooler build Lego models, while an older child draws and labels a picture.  OR one child dramatizes the story and another writes a newspaper report.  OR they all can do the same activity, but just at their own level or ability.  You get the idea, right?  Because they are on their own level for Maths, Spelling, Writing and Reading learning, they will progress through their basics individually, but enjoy the same homeschool story journey.

What about the pace? Sometimes you may focus the core’s pace on the older child, covering more work daily,  or sometimes you may need to focus on the younger kids, slowly progressing at their rate and ability.  You will soon find your family’s flow and rhythm and pace for each season and your children’s ages and stages.

Of course, some years, grouping everyone together may not be possible.  Your children’s ages differences may be too big to combine them all on one Core, or each child may be on a completely different grade level.  Even so, if you use different cores, try cover the same themes; say World History or Middle Ages or Vikings, during the same time.  Despite my best efforts, one year, each child had to work on their own cores – a middle schooler, a junior high and a graduate level.  I focused most my attention on my highschool graduate that year and my youngest child “floated” more than I had wished.

When you teach several children on one core, you all enjoy the same story and participate in similar projects, do the same lapbooks or hands-on activities.   Your family enjoys outings and trips built around the same core.  It becomes a unified homeschooling journey.  This approach is less stressful for mom and really wonderful for the family.  Read about our family’s Footprints On Our Land journey.

Blessings, Nadene

Best Homeschooling Decision #1 More Time

Take. More. Time.  This is the best advice I would give any new homeschool mom.   Don’t rush through your homeschool curriculum!  You don’t have to stick to the schedule.  Use the schedule as your guideline, and add a wide margin of extra time to your schedule.

Extend any curriculum by 3 to 6 months.  Or simply add an extra week to each interesting topic or theme.  Give yourselves this time to include extra activities, outings, games, books, projects, lapbooks or experiences to your suggested program.  You are looking for your children’s spark of interest or delight and that is where you invest in extra time.  https://i1.wp.com/www.phtravelexpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Cebu-City-3-Day-Itinerary2.png

Imagine going on an overseas tour and rushing through because someone else planned the itinerary? It is awful to rush past a city or scenic stop or not have time to shop for bargains because the tour bus is leaving! You are your children’s tour director. Give them more time to explore and enjoy their experiences.

Imagine joining a banquet dinner and the Master of Ceremonies rushes everyone through their courses?  No time to chat and enjoy the food. No time to sip and savour the delicious tastes?  No time to marvel at new foods and combinations? No second helpings? You’d end up with indigestion, right?  So why do we do this to our young homeschooled children?

Just because an educational professional decided how long each chapter or lesson should take, does not mean that is your only option.

18 months. That’s my magic formula instead of 1 year.  We have always kept to a 4-day school week and yet we have never “fallen behind”.  I have never regretted extending a curriculum … ever.    I have used and re-used each curriculum enjoying a slow, enjoyable experience rather than rush and race to keep up with the schedule.

Don’t worry if some subjects slide slightly out of sync.  Simply take a week to catch up with any subject or reading that has fallen behind.

You are the tour director for your homeschool journey.  Tailor make their experience and enjoy every minute!

Blessings, Nadene

Do a little at a time

Don’t try do it all!  It is impossible and it shouldn’t be your goal.  Throughout our homeschooling journey, we have usually taken a few hours each day and only do a 4-day week, and yet we have managed to have a rich, deep and wide education all the way through to graduation.  

Keep your basic lessons short and sweet.  (I’m talking about the 3 R’s ~ Phonics, Handwriting and Maths.)  No lesson should take longer than 20 minutes for primary school children.

Once you master the basics of your curriculum, just aim to do a little bit extra.  I even added “after lunch” so that it was perceived as an extra.  (My children often fitted in this lesson before lunch so that they could enjoy a “free afternoon”.)

My theme of the day saved me from feeling that the complete schedule was too much.

Daily themes 2015

Instead , by allocating one “extra” subject per day, it felt like just a little add-on for that day. With this approach, we enjoyed a wide, varied and rich curriculum.

Don’t underestimate the power of short, informal lessons.  It is amazing just how much children learn and absorb in frequent, enjoyable exposure to all the extra subjects such as Poetry, Nature Walks, Science, Geography and Fine Arts.

It can all be done, most the time. Just do a little at a time.

Blessings, Nadene

Anxiety Anguish and Anger

If your homeschooling thoughts predominantly feature feelings of anxiety, anguish and anger, then something in your framework requires a realignment.

These emotions are normal, especially when starting something new, or while going through a transition or when things don’t work out as planned.  But if your daily thoughts about a child’s homeschooling sicken you, or tighten your stomach into knots, or make you wish there was another way … a way out, then I want to encourage you this morning.

There is another way.

Fear is almost always at the root of feelings of anger.

Fear of judgement …

fear of failure …

fear of rejection …

Deep stuff.

Identifying my worst fears is a way of starting to rewrite my story with another ending.  My hope comes from the Lord and He knows my every weakness and still loves me utterly.  He is never afraid.  On the contrary, He is victorious, rejoicing and hopeful.  He sees me and my child/ children through eyes of radiant expectation.  I need to see myself and my life through His eyes and gain a new perspective. 

Be still and pray and listen to His still, small voice.  His words of life and love will drown out the screams of fear and fill you with hope.  Write down these promises.  Whisper them aloud, post them on your noticeboard, write them on your walls.

Ask for help.  Mother-to-mother support is very helpful.  Write to others on homeschool forums and follow similar threads of advice.  In my first years of homeschooling, I found such wonderful relief and practical advice on Sonlight’s parent forum. There is always another way to approach the problem, and often others struggle through similar issues and have found a way that works for them.

If the moms in your church or co-op make you feel insecure and afraid, then they are not the support you need.  If your family’s comments and seeming judgemental views cause you to feel like a failure, then they are not your support.  May I suggest that you avoid them.  Withdraw graciously from the co-op for a season and attend only meetings that encourage and build you up.  Visit the one mom in the group who has grace and wisdom to share with you.

In the meantime ~

  • Simplify your approach – If things are really bad, stop homeschooling for a day or 2, even a week, or leave out subjects that cause all the tension.  Avoid unnecessary out-of-the-house trips/ sports/ meetings/or functions and focus on simplifying your family’s routine and security.  Establish good mealtimes, bedtimes and daily chores.  Daily habits provide the rhythm for your family lifestyle and provide the necessary security.
  • Do what works – Read aloud, nature walks, listen to classical music, outdoor play and indoor adventures, do fun science experiments, put on puppet shows, dress up, cook, bake, craft, sketch, build with Lego, ride bicycles, jump rope, build a fort, live in a tent in the backyard … be creative and think out of the box, do anything that your family loves to do together.  Bring back the fun and creativity.
  • Keep hoping and praying – Fear is the enemy’s strategy.  Ignore his insidious whispers of accusation.  Hold fast onto the Lord’s words of encouragement and hope.  Find an intercessor who will pray regularly for you and your family.  Praise stills the avenger.  Sing, worship, play hymns, rejoice in Him.

His perfect love casts out all fear.

Walking with you in grace and much love, Nadene

(Images of some of my Bible notes written during difficult months last year.)

Changes I wish I could make

Thinking back over more than 20 years of homeschooling with my daughters, these are some changes I wish I could have made sooner ~

  1. Take off the teacher’s hat.

Def.: have your teacher’s hat on

to be acting as you do when you are working as a teacher, lawyer etc., which may be different from the way you act in other situations.

ea55a13213221ebd3de36dfd7a9c4003Your professional skill as a teacher does not actually help you in those early years of homeschooling,  In fact that “school-at-home” approach kills your young children’s natural built-in joy and delight to learn.  Learn to learn alongside your kiddies and aim to be their facilitator instead.  Let them lead the way and make many more choices!

2.  Not everything needs to educational! 

Every outing doesn’t have to be a homeschool lesson. It’s okay to let life happen without a lesson plan, a notebooking page, or oral narration.  Stop focusing on end results and enjoy life’s journey together.  You will kill nature study, hymn, art and music appreciation if you make it a formal lesson.  Your teens will refuse to go into any museum!  Just trust that a regular yet informal approach will yield enormous results.

4-mother-and-child-in-a-boat-mothers-children-mary-cassatt-360x3603.  Avoid the tears!

When lessons produce tears, meltdowns, even tantrums, leave it alone.  Stop and put it aside or try something different. Tears often have a root of fear.  Find ways to reassure your child and encourage them to try a different way.  Make allowances for tired or sick or stressed children (or mom) and take the pressure off.   Just read aloud, go on a nature walk (but do not make it a formal lesson, see #2) or create art together.  Determine if your child is just not ready and try again in a few months time.  Unschool or deschool if your child has just come out of the school system and fears or hates school.  Offer a variety of opportunities to find their spark and gently encourage them to explore what interests them.

4. Be affectionate.

If your children are super sensitive, insecure or uncertain, give them more cuddles.  Even when you feel like you are wasting time and getting nothing done, just keep hugging.  Cuddle together when you read to them.  Sing together, skip together, get down in the dirt together, lie under the tree together.  (My youngest daughter often told people her favourite part of homeschooling was that she got lots of cuddles.)   Schools and systems don’t allow this physical affection at all.  Even your distant, independent teen needs hugs, or back rubs and time alone with you.  Aim to create a loving environment for your children to grow up and blossom in.

5. Relax and trust.

Just relax.  Your children will turn out great.  Enjoy each moment. Lean into their homeschooling experience without holding your breath, waiting for something to go wrong or trying hard to “do everything right”.  Let me repeat ~ your kids are all going to turn out great. Not just okay, but great.  Breathe … release those fears.  Trust.  Despite your best and worst efforts, they will be great!

mary_cassatt_mrs_cassatt_reading_to_grandchildren_postcard-r2e5db6cb5603484b8186d407360f7508_vgbaq_8byvr_324When we know better, we do better. 

I always tell my children and myself that we can always try again and start over.  When one of us has hit a wall or struggled or things don’t work out, I tell them that we can wipe out the day, like a whiteboard, and try afresh the next day.

The Lord makes all things new.  With this hope, forgive yourself, let it go and choose to do it differently.

What do you wish you had done differently?  What do you wish you could change?   Please share with us in the comments.

In Grace, Nadene

Images of one of my favourite impressionist artists — Mary Cassat

Rich Wide Education

Charlotte Mason advocated giving children a rich, wide curriculum.

Sewing and handicrafts in the afternoons

This generous curriculum can only realistically be covered by keeping lessons short.   I call it “short and sweet“, where these 10 to 20 minute lessons encourage a child to give her utmost attention, especially with subjects, such as maths, phonics, handwriting, spelling and grammar.

To keep the daily schedule enjoyable, alternate disciplinary lessons with Bible, poetry, history, fiction, art, folksong, outdoor nature study, chores and life skills like cooking.  This variety keeps a child’s minds bright and encourages enthusiastic and motivated participation.  Some children prefer to “get all the seat work done first” and then move onto the freedom of the rest of the subjects.  You may need to try each approach to find what works for your family.

It isn’t the number of subjects, but their duration that tires the mind.  What child wants to sit still and concentrate for long lessons?   Quick math drills every morning, practice spelling while jumping on a mini trampoline, or quick laminated chart handwriting practice, or play a quick round of the amazing arrow games, provides younger children the necessary stimulus and physical exercise, and a short review of the same facts before supper results in a better memory of facts and skills.

Memorizing Scripture (which is the living Word) or poetry (which opens the eyes of imagination) verse by verse takes just a few minutes every day. Scripture and poetry also provide deep and meaningful insights and enlarges the child’s heart and mind. They lessons are not dull, dry facts or tiresome workbooks, textbooks or worksheet lessons.

Daily themes 2015It is very easy to just “do the basics” and call it a day, but I found that the only way we could regularly cover all the diverse subjects was to use our “Theme of the Day“.  Allocate all these extra subjects across the weekly schedule, enabled us to maintain a full, rich, wide curriculum.

You don’t have to fear trying to “do it all”.  Just start with the basics, keep it short and sweet and do a little every day.  Ease into the rest of the schedule by adding one extra subject and you’ll be amazed how much your children will learn in a relatively easy, quick, daily schedule.  This way you will offer your children a banquet, but don’t rush them, while also avoiding “force feeding”.  A generous education is a homeschooler’s privilege and pleasure!

Blessings, Nadene

Unrealistic Expectations

2014-02-18-05-10-37I don’t know about you, but my kids cried a lot in my first year of homeschooling, mostly due to unnecessary stress that I caused .   I also found myself floundering under the weight of my lofty ideals and unrealistic homeschooling expectations.

Today I want to encourage new homeschool moms how to plan and prepare so that you don’t burn out, feel discouraged or think that homeschooling doesn’t work for your family.

Plan Big

By all means, plan your homeschooling with lofty goals, aims and high hopes.  Then pray, and break it down and hone in on just one area at a time.

Introduce new routines, skills, subjects or approaches slowlyGradually encourage your children to learn and master these before adding another.

Practical Preparation

I love being practical!  (You get my blog name, right?)  I have found that if I express  my expectations the night before, my children do better the next day.  This is especially important if there is some level of anxiety about the coming activity or event.  Children can visualize themselves and plan how they will respond and react.

Here are very normal, everyday suggestions that can help elevate your homeschooling routine and prepare your family, especially after a break, illness or life interruptions:

  • Explain clearly how the next day will unfold and what will happen and how you want your child to respond.  Answer any questions and discern if your child needs to talk about their fears or anxieties.  Reassure your child with gentle encouragement.
  • Set up a specific routine for your day the night before.
  • Ease into good meal times, bedtimes and daily habits so that your days flow more smoothly.
  • Lay out breakfast and the school area ready for the new day.  Nothing throws good plans out like early morning chaos and confusion.
  • Avoid your cell phone, social media, answering phone calls or accepting interruptions.  These kill smooth, flowing, productive  homeschooling.
  • Use a timer.  Keep lessons and chores short and sweet.
  • Use music.  Nothing sets the tone of the activity quite like music.  Use soft, sweet background music for quiet times and activities that require concentration, and music with a beat for action and fast activities.

Be Specific

  • Habit training is your best friend!  Train your children in their routines, chores and activities so that your days flow smoothly.
  • Explain the details of your expectation, e.g.:

In 5 minutes, when the timer rings, we are going to pack up your toys and get ready for bathtime.”

Set the timer and prepare for bathtime.   Then, when the bell rings, help your child clean up with a song (we loved Barney’s ‘Clean up’ song) and quickly move on to the bathroom.  Moms, you must be ready and available to execute the routine with your children until they can do this with a simple prompt. Your expectation should be gradual, but you are aiming to eventually give a one word prompt like “Bathtime” and set this in motion without explanations, repetitions, remonstrations or refusals.

This will work for school too.  “

“After breakfast and morning chores, I would like all of you …. on the couch for storytime/ … at the school room starting …./  …. dressed and ready for ….”

  • For schooling, explain the activity and then show them exactly how to do it.  This is vital for handwriting, maths, spelling and new skills.
  • Help and encourage then through each step.  Repeat and work on the same activity for several days before expecting your child to do it with more confidence and independence.  For some children this may take a long time, especially in some subjects.  Put your mind at ease and simply continuing tutoring and gently urging your child through their fears.  (I had to tutor my junior high schooler side-by-side through almost an entire year of maths, but when she started her next grade, she worked independently and only called for help when she needed it.)
  • At first each subject requires your hands-on, detailed approach, but gradually your child will learn and master the work or activity and only need your quiet presence next to him/her as they learn to work more independently.

Build up

I recommend you do not start your homeschooling expecting to do the whole package.  Ease into the full curriculum gradually adding one or two subjects each week over a month.

  • Grow your expectations gradually, e.g.: if you want your children to do their work independently, first start with a hand-in-hand approach and do it with them.  Then tell them that the next time they will do it on their own, but that you will be there with them.  Only when they are working correctly and with the correct attitude, can you back off and allow them to work independently.
  • Whenever your child hits the wall or has some block, go back to where they last mastered the work and try another approach or substitute another method.
  • If your child is fearful, stressed or uncertain, take a break from the written work and do something practical, concrete or hands-on.
  • If you or your kids keep failing to achieve the goals you had in mind, stop and ask whether your children are ready and mature enough for the expectation.  If not, ease off and start at the point where they can master the activity.

Attitude Adjustment

Real parenting and homeschooling work is in addressing your child’s attitude.  This is by far the most draining, difficult aspect, and will require grit and determination to stay on point, encouraging and admonishing their best attitude and response.

Many of my homeschool days seem “wasted” with character issues that we addressed.  Often parents feel that this is a burden too hard to bear, and they feel like a failure.  But it is ultimately is our responsibility.  It may seem easier to “send them to school” than to work on the underlying issues, but this is the most important reason we chose to homeschool!

Poor attitudes may only rear its ugly head in your child’s teen years, but always address attitudes while your children are still young.  Do not accept their bad moods, negative talk and sulks and tantrums.

State your expectations in the positive,

“Next time we do (whatever activity) … let us be really positive/ cheerful/ and do our best …  / or … Next time this work makes you feel really (name the emotion) …. call me and I will come and help you and we can work on it together … /  Tomorrow when we start … we are going to (be specific and positive)  …. “

Again, in my first year of homeschooling, I disciplined my children far too much and  I expected immediate changed hearts and attitudes, but found that this didn’t happen.  I quickly realised that I needed to pray for Godly wisdom, search for alternative approaches and find the underlying causes for negativity or rebellion.  Parenting is done on our knees, isn’t it?

Fresh Beginnings

You can always start again.  When we had epic meltdowns, or fail days, I would encourage myself and my kids that we would start again the next day.  More than once, we simply stopped our work and we cuddled together to read aloud from our favourite reader, or went on a nature walk or did some Fine Arts instead.  Most new days start with hope.

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

In Grace, Nadene

Shifts and Changes

Wishing you all a wonderful New Year, my dear readers, and praying much grace to each of you as you enter into all that this year holds for you and your family.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.tinybuddha.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Time-for-Change.jpg
It has been some time since I last posted homeschool news here at Practical Pages, and I really appreciate the kind, loving concern expressed by some of you.  We all well and trusting the Lord as we start 2017.  But there is a reason why I didn’t post much …

But about 6 months ago, I sensed some shifts and changes in our homeschooling.  And, in all honesty, I could not quite put into words what I was experiencing.   I found myself sitting alone in our homeschool study while my teens were doing their own schooling.   Somehow it felt so right and I humbly agreed to hand over more choices and decisions to my teens.

And it didn’t all work out perfectly. 

My confidence floundered as my 17-year-old approached the end of the year without completing any of her end of year exams as planned. She is using an online course and I could not assist her, nor figure out why she was not progressing as she should.  It even led to a crisis with my hubby who felt that I had “dropped the ball” in her education.  I shed many tears in frustration and a sense of failure.  Sigh.  Then I breathed deeply … prayed and trusted … and I hope that she will complete her course by May this year.

I sadly let go of reading aloud with my 14-year-old as she withdrew into her own space and pace.  I felt her resistance to my more hands-on approach and I had to form a new relationship where she could be accountable and I could regularly check her work and progress.

There has not much to show of all these shifts and changes on this blog … no pretty new free pages, no new free downloads nor wonderful words of encouragement …  and I have even pondered the future of Practical Pages.  Bear with me as I adjust my focus and find my new purpose and vision.

So as I enter into 2017, and as I gain some clarity and insight, I would like to share a series of high school homeschool encouragement that I need myself …

Until next time, bless you all.