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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What’s new in my “Teaching Print Step-by-Step” Ebook?

So many parents need help to teach their child to write. Over the years of homeschooling, I have had wonderful success using my laminated handwriting charts.

I have just completely updated my Teaching Print Handwriting Step-by-Step Ebook which is now a 16-page booklet. It includes new detailed instructions & examples on line placement for writing on lined notebook pages, starting & ending points for each letter, as well as new charts that include coloured numbered dots and arrow guidelines.

Here’s what you’ll find in this Teach Print Handwriting Ebook ~

  • Introduction to Teaching Print Handwriting Step-by-Step
  • Why laminated charts work
  • Step-by-Step Handwriting Lessons
  • Getting to know the lines and letter placement
  • How to start teaching print handwriting step-by-step
  • Examples of how to talk through each lower-case letter
  • Print lower case with start & end and arrows (a-o)
  • Print lower case with start & end and arrows (p-z)
  • Print lower case with arrows
  • Upper Case print chart with start & arrows A-N
  • Upper-case print chart with start & arrows O-Z & Numbers 1-9
  • Combined print upper-case and lower-case chart

Would you please support me and pop over to my Packages page to purchase the updated Teaching Print Handwriting Step-by-Step booklet.

If you wish to write a private email to me, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
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Keeping Record and Attendance

 

Many parents are new at homeschooling and are currently “doing school at home,” and a mom in a homeschooling Facebook group asked, 

“How do you keep attendance? Any ideas or helpful tips?”

Homeschooling is a life-education and children are learning every day, but for the sake of being accountable and keeping track, it is helpful to keep records. Some curriculum providers instruct parents to keep attendance records.  Other parents have had to comply with their child’s school’s regulations during the lockdown.  Many homeschool parents keep attendance record to meet the Department of Education’s requirements.

In my 22-years+ of homeschooling, I kept record purely as part of my own discipline as a former teacher, but I also kept records to be accountable to my husband and family.  I always wanted to have evidence of our schooling should there ever be any query or inspection.  This, thankfully,  has never been required.

Here are some record-keeping tips ~

  • Use a simple print-out of a monthly, block calendar to keep a record of attendance and subject topics ~ I jotted notes in daily blocks on issues, successes, and special or unusual activities.  I used coloured highlighters to block out holidays, days for weekly shopping trips etc.
  • Google Calendars are the most versatile and effective planning and attendance record-keeping tools I used in our homeschooling.
    Google Homeschool Calendar Jan2013

    Google Calendar with school holidays and themes and topics plotted

    • At the end of each school year, I plotted in all the official school holidays for the new year to keep in sync with friends that are not homeschooling or to take advantage of off-season rates for trips.
    • The average yearly schedule comes to about 50 weeks of homeschooling for the year.  This is a very flexible outline. We may take off schooling earlier than government school holidays or continue learning longer in some terms to keep up with our schedule.  My most important tip to any new homeschooler is to give yourselves more time and extend a one-year schedule to 18-months!  This year plan is not a schedule, but a guideline.
    • Created a Google calendar for each child if they are old enough to have their own Gmail account, but it is easy to keep the attendance records of each child all together on a family calendar.
  • Use Google calendar daily to record the days where we were out on appointments, travelling, when a child was sick, etc. and I recorded when we take off one day every week to travel to town for our shopping.
  • Sometimes, when a child “falls behind” for some reason, they continue schooling into a school holiday week.
  • Train your children to date all their work every time they start their daily work.
  • Parents should initial/sign and write the date when checking their children’s books or notes. This also forms a good record of work.
  • Another way of keeping a record is to print out your curriculum year planner and the index page of each child’s textbooks or the contents page of a book or the planner page of a lapbook and sign and date next to each chapter or item when your child completes the work.

You can find all my planning and organization pages here.  I hope that these tips help!  If you have other suggestions or questions, please comment below.

Blessings, Nadene

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Line Placement Hints for Handwriting

When your child first starts to write on lined notebook paper, it can be very confusing! Where to start?  Where to skip lines so that letters don’t crowd into each other?

We use laminated handwriting charts to teach print and then cursive letters, first working on lower-case and then going on to upper-case letters.  I have several Ebooks on my Packages page that will teach letter placement, as well as the starting and ending points for each letter.

Once your child can confidently trace over their laminated handwriting chart without making mistakes, he is ready to start Copywork.  Copywork is a wonderful way of practising handwriting in a very meaningful way.  Read all about Charlotte Mason.

Copywork is best done on lined notebook pages.

Here’s a good rule when teaching ~

ALWAYS START BIG AND WORK SMALLER!

When you start writing on lined notebook paper, first use broad lines.  You can find 17mm lined books at your stationery shop.  Then go on to normal feint & margin pages before using the narrow Irish lined paper.

Before starting, first, draw simple little hints in the margin to help know where the body line begins.

We used these 3 hints:

  1. Draw a simple “Cat” in the margin to allow 3 lines of regular notebook pages for the head, body and tail.
  2. It may be quicker to draw a “lollipop man” in the margin. The round shape is the “head” and the stick is the “body”.  The “legs” are where the cat’s tail would be.
  3. The fastest method is to make a clear dot in the body line. My kids would count “Skip-dot-skip-skip-dot-skip-skip-dot…” to quickly place a dot marker on every 2nd alternate line all the way down their margin before beginning their copywork.

With these hints, your child will soon easily know where to start their writing and be able to do beautiful copywork.

Please support me by ordering my Handwriting Tips and Teaching Print  & Cursive Handwriting Ebooks on my Packages page.

If you wish to write me a private email, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
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What’s new in my “Teaching Cursive Handwriting Step-by-Step” Ebook?

I have just completely updated my Teaching Cursive Handwriting Step-by-Step Ebook which is now a 17-page booklet. It includes new information such as Joining cursive upper-case to lower-case letters as well as detailed instructions & examples on line placement for writing on lined notebook pages, starting & ending points for each letter, as well as new charts that include guide-lines and letter placement hints.

Here’s the Table of Contents and some examples:

  • Introduction to Teaching Cursive Handwriting using a laminated chart
  • Why laminated charts work
  • Step-by-Step Handwriting Lessons
  • Getting to know the lines and letter placement
  • Teaching Lower-Case Cursive Letters
  • Line Placement Hints
  • Cursive Lower Case Chart with “cats”, coloured lines and start- & end-points
  • Some fun lower-case cursive handwriting exercises
  • Cursive Lower Case Chart
  • Teaching Cursive Upper-Case Letters
  • Some fun cursive upper-case handwriting exercises
  • Cursive Upper-Case Chart with “lollipop men” coloured lines and start- & end-points
  • Cursive Upper Case Chart
  • Cursive Combined Upper and Lower Case
  • Joining Cursive Upper-Case to Lower-Case Practice Pages A – I
  • Joining Cursive Upper-Case to Lower-Case Practice Pages J – R
  • Joining Cursive Upper-Case to Lower-Case Practice Pages S – Z

Would you please support me and pop over to my Packages page to purchase the updated Teaching Cursive Handwriting Step-by-Step booklet.

If you wish to write a private email to me, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
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How to Join Upper-Case to Lower-Case Cursive Letters

With parents finding themselves suddenly homeschooling during this pandemic, a mom emailed to ask me to help her as she was struggling to teach her son how to join cursive upper-case to lower-case letters.   To help her, I created a little  5-page download which is also available for free right here ~ Joining Upper Case & lower case Cursive letters

How to join an upper-case letter to a lower-case letter

Most upper-case letters will have their own ending line that simply overlaps as the starting line for the next letter.

Only a few upper-case letters will require “an extra” line to start the new lower case letter at their base such as with B C D F H I O P S T V W  I  have drawn this line which will be the overlapping starting line as a dotted line.

Practice Joining Cursive Letters Sheets

  • Laminate the following Joining Cursive Upper-Case to lower-case practice pages or place each page in a plastic page protector.
  • Demonstrate and talk about where to start, how to form and end each letter.
  • Then ask your child to trace over the letters with a whiteboard marker.
  • Once your child knows where to start, how to form and end all the letters in lower- & upper-case, your child can start doing simple copywork as handwriting practice using the chart as a reference.

This download provides practice pages using every letter of the alphabet.  Extended lines provide space to not only trace over the letters but also to copy and write out the joined letters on the coloured lines provided.

I have also included a detailed explanation of letters’ line placement as well as coloured dots for starting and ending points for each letter in this download.

I will post a detailed blog post on letter line placement in my upcoming post.

Please pop over to my Packages page to purchase the updated Teaching Cursive Handwriting Step-by-Step booklet.

If you wish to write a private email to me, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
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Featured on Top 110 Homeschool Blogs of 2020

I was wonderfully surprised to find my blog listed among the Top 110 Homeschool Blogs of 2020!
top homeschool blogs

RankedBlogs.com ranks their top blogs based on votes, Page Authority, Domain Authority, number of linking domains, and Twitter followers.

I would love others to find my homeschooling content and I would so appreciate it if you would vote for me. Please simply click either the image above or the image below to vote.

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.

While our lives here on the farm seem to continue as normal (we essentially live in our isolation on our remote farm), I am mindful that many lives have been drastically changed and that families face an unprecedented time of uncertainty and fear.

My prayers are for grace to each of you and your families, and that you stay healthy and safe, and that you are held intimately in the Lord’s everlasting love and care.

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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Letter 26 – True Skills

With two homeschool graduates now living independently, here’s another letter to my younger self reflecting on insights and thoughts of what important life lessons were required to complete our homeschooling journey ~

Letter 26 ~ True Skills

Dear younger Nadene,

In the beginning, when you began to homeschool your toddlers, it was all about exploration, discovery,  and learning about life.  You taught through play and read alouds, through experimentation and exploration.  But as soon as you bought a very expensive curriculum for each child, you became stressed, anxious, and hyper-focussed to “do it all right”.  You became “Mom-the-teacher” and you pushed, pressured, persuaded, pleaded and even punished your children to learn what “they were supposed to”.  You silly, fearful, stressed-out mom!

You pushed aside real-life for school-at-home.  Somehow, as your children entered junior and middle school, academics became the main focus and the measure of your and their success.  Remember homeschool is  “Learning Not SchoolIt is so easy to get bogged down with the curriculum, it’s schedule, your children’s academics and teaching school subjects.  And in its place, these things are important, but always look at the bigger picture.  What do your children really need to master by the time they graduate?

A real & whole education has very little to do with information — hello — everyone has Google at their fingertips!  Education is not merely schoolwork or subjects found in curriculums.  Of course, the importance of education is irrefutable.  But as your teenagers prepare to leave home (and heads-up — your middle daughter will launch out at 17!),  you will realize that there are many other essential life skills.

Can they look after themselves?  Can they relate well to others well?  Do they cope with difficulties, navigate huge challenges, or make big decisions?  Have they learnt how to manage their time and their money?  Do they know how to apply for jobs, sign for leases, open accounts, fill in tax forms?  Are they healthy and managing their eating and cooking?   (See more specific life skills in the lists below this letter.)

As you watch your young adult children, you will joyfully witness that they have learnt amazing life skills as they were growing up.  They are strong and mature.  They are wonderful, supportive friends, and are committed and loyal to their communities.  They have loving, stable relationships with their partners.  They can cook amazing, nutritional meals on a shoestring budget.  They make and keep a beautiful, clean house, and are wonderfully hospitable.   They work hard in their respective jobs, managing job performance with professional attitudes.  They handle conflicts and difficulties in relationships with maturity and grace.  They manage their money, making ends meet and living within their means.  They have a living faith in the Lord and entrust themselves to His word and ways.

And as for the rest, you will watch with a joyful expectation as they learn what they need to as they go along, growing in experience and competence as they figure things out. 

Don’t lose sight of the big picture!  It is so much more than mastering algebra or chemistry equations or acing the exams.  Real-life stuff cannot always be tested in the classroom.  Life will test what they really learnt! 

And, by God’s grace and mercy and lovingkindness alone, you will see that you have done well.   

With compassionate love and grace from your older self,

Love, Nadene

If you Google, you will find many lists of life skills your children need to learn before they graduate.  Here’s a compilation of many life skills needed ~

Emotional intelligence =

  • Mental health
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Empathy
  • Coping with stress and failure
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem-solving

Communication & Relationships

  • Effective communication
  • Manners
  • Conflict resolution
  • Dating & Romantic Relationships
  • Marriage
  • Family & Raising kids
  • Professional Etiquette
  • Communication on the phone, SMS, texts & emails
  • How to Apply for a job

Financial literacy

  • Managing Money
  • Budgets
  • Savings & Investments
  • Credit Cards,  Hire purchase & Debt
  • Buying & Selling Car and Home
  • Taxes

Nutrition & Health

  • Understanding nutrition in food & its impact on health
  • Wholesome attitude to different eating plans & diets
  • Meal planning
  • Food budget
  • Cooking skills
  • Weight management
  • Self-care
  • Exercise
  • Supplements
  • First Aid & CPR
  • Family planning, Sex, STDs

Other

  • Time Management
  • Housekeeping
  • Management & Maintenance of home
  • Laundry
  • Survival Skills
  • DIY and Repair skills
  • Social Media
  • Addictions
  • Civics
  • Community
  • Politics

Some of these life skill lessons should start while your children are very young, while others are more important in high school. Some topics may not apply to your family or values, but most are vital skills your children need once they leave home.

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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Letter 25 – Change

Another letter to my younger self reflecting on insights and understanding gained in my 23+ years of homeschooling.  As I share my hindsight perspective, I trust this will also be an encouragement to you in your homeschooling journey. ~ Letter 25 ~ Change

Dear younger Nadene,

Change is the only consistent character of life, so embrace it and anticipate it.  You will change — as a parent, as a  homeschool teacher, and definitely as a person. 

Your homeschooling methods will change as you learn how children naturally learn.  Your homeschooling ideals will change.  Do you remember your motto, “Nothing is cast in stone“?  This mindset is helpful as you prepare for each new season in your homeschooling and in your life in general.  Your experiences, both the good and the bad, will motivate you to try new approaches and abandon or accept others.  Your final years of high school homeschooling will be very different from the hopes and dreams you had back in the beginning. You will change as your children grow up and change. 

The most powerful words of encouragement to you in those early days of new motherhood and long, sleepless nights with your first baby was, “This too shall pass.”  Your children will change!  In many ways, you longed for change with thoughts of … “If only my baby slept through the night … if only she could sit on her own … if only she was potty-trained … if only she wasn’t so fearful and clingy … ”    Yet you loved each age and stage.  Despite this, you were often insecure when your children changed because everything felt uncertain and different.  Having the right attitude to change in your children is liberating.  The Lord heard and answered your prayers for each challenge and each new unknown.  He is faithful!

Look at your young adult daughters now!  Wow, how much they have changed!  Your intense and fearful young daughter will emerge as a posed and beautifully assured young woman. Your painfully shy daughter who refused to answer the door or speak on the phone will actually become your most confident, brave and self-assured child. You butterfly child will settle into herself and become steadfast, deep and mature. 

When your children are young, view at any limitation and simply add the word, “yet” … “My child cannot read/write/ ride a bike on her own … yet.”  See how that little word adds hope?  Hold onto hope!

Looking back now, you will see that when you did not put a label on a child’s behaviour or place a box on a child’s personality, you gave them the freedom to become, to change, to alter and to grow into the amazing, awesome people that they are now. 

Accepting change is a form of grace.  Be gracious to yourself and those you love.  With the Lord, your life is full of promise and blessing.  Trust Him for each child and for every change and you will experience the deep and abiding peace He brings.  

With compassionate love and grace from your older self,

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:

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