This is how my homeschooling with Miss.L10 the past 3 weeks went ~

Since my burn accident on 3 October evening, I homeschooled from my bed for several weeks.  My littlest homeschooler had a wonderful time!  It has possibly been her happiest homeschooling times.

Now that my injury has healed enough so that I can get up and take it slow, she reluctantly homeschools at the table.

Same content, but intimacy has made all the difference!

For young children especially, I would try find any curriculum that allowed me to ~

  • share my Lord and my faith
  • snuggle together with books and read, read, read!
  • spend time off the schedule to investigate anything interesting along the way
  • join my child in discovery and delight
  • take notice and nurture a love of nature
  • enjoy arts, music and poetry
  • create with our hands
  • expand our minds
  • nurture our hearts

It is important to teach the basic disciplines – reading, language and arithmetic, but just follow Ruth Beechick’s 3 little books and you’ll do fine! And if you follow Charlotte Mason’s methods, your lessons should be short, precise and sweet.

As for a core curriculum, it is like an itinerary ~

Just like a travel agent who creates an itinerary for someone’s overseas trip, an “out-the-box” curriculum is a detailed educational plan for your homeschooling.  The publisher may be highly qualified, be an expert in their field and may be very experienced, but you are the master expert of your child.

Regardless of what curriculum you purchase ~

Chose what works for each child (suits their learning style)

Chose an appropriate pace and time-frame (not too slow, nor rushed)

Leave out stuff that just doesn’t “click” with your child (forcing the matter just makes it worse)

Just as you would on a suggested itinerary, stay longer where you find something special,

and skip on over to the next destination when you are done.

You can change the order of things.

You can leave stuff undone or take longer to finish.

Personalize the journey!

You have my permission! [smiles]

Above all, cultivate an intimate relationship with your children.

If your curriculum stresses you or your child (tears, tantrums, depression and avoidance are classic signs of this),

if it rushes you and removes peaceful intimacy,

or if it makes you feel like you or your children are failing,

CLOSE THE FILE and put it away.

Go on a nature walk, have a picnic under a tree and read an amazing classic book to your children, listen to music that inspires, talk about current interests, and you will accomplish more in every way than any curriculum!

This post was written and submitted for the upcoming South African Carnival of Homeschooling (SACH Carnival)

Blessings and intimacy in your relationships.

Freedom Homeschooling Brings?

Would these be good reasons to homeschool?

  • provide intimate learning relationship between children & parents
  • nurture a child’s love to learn

    a unique hollow log “garden” with wild flowers, moss and mushrooms that my 12-year-old created one afternoon

  • maintain a “one-life” unity of life & learning
  • encourage spiritual discipleship
  • nurture character mentorship
  • do school in pajamas, or comfy clothes
  • start school as early or as late as suits you and your family
  • do short official school lessons – sometimes 5 to 10 minutes!
  • finish all school work after just a few hours of work
  • lazily read under a tree or snuggled up on a couch instead of filling in workbooks
  • focus on arts, creativity and “non-essential” subjects
  • progress in maths, spelling and writing at their own pace
  • it is tailor-made for each child
  • meets the dynamic needs of the children as they develop
  • live free of peer-pressure, bullying and labelling
  • allow children to be unique and different
  • express unusual and unpopular thoughts and views
  • focus on life skills, family business, hobbies, and entrepreneurial activities rather than grades and standards
  • reduce stress – no need to drive through pre-school traffic
  • save on costs – no school fees, fund-raisers, uniforms, long stationary lists

    nurturing a baby wild hare rescued in the fields

  • eat healthy food instead of school lunches
  • house-cleaning, cooking, baking, gardening, chores and routine is all part of school
  • encourage a new creative flair and foster a passion or interest
  • provide the opportunities for entrepreneurship and young businesses
  • provide and nurture relationships with all ages, all types of people
  • become missions-orientated
  • connect with community and the needy
  • get involved with church, ministry or charity

Yes!  All these and more!

I see most of these homeschooling choices as the freedom that homeschooling brings.

When the kids are small, it makes perfect sense to homeschool. And it is fun, free-style and fabulous!

Over the past few years we have had to change our homeschool emphasis as we navigate the High School years.  There are now time and subject requirements.  Learning takes longer, and lessons are more academic.  My high school children have to learn how to study for and write exams.

My role changed from the mom-learning-alongside in discovery and delight, to the tutor-mom.

I now focus on specific subjects with my high school children, teaching maths, or geography or subjects that are more academic.

Generally my high schoolers manage their learning and work quite independently.  I sometimes feel nostalgic. I long for those warm, intimate learning days.

So enjoy the early years!

Take your time!

Look for tadpoles and watch butterflies.

Read, read, read aloud.

Do art, singing and poetry.

Make the time for the fine arts.

Go on educational outings, take trips, plan those picnics.

Enjoy your homeschooling!

What freedoms do you enjoy most in your homeschooling? Feel free to share in the comments.


This post was written and submitted for the upcoming South African Carnival of Homeschooling’s topic ~ ‘Beyond Homeschooling

3D Models into Art

“Busy hands while I read aloud”

This is a wonderful recipe to success in a literature-based curriculum like Sonlight.

My kids have modeled in clay, made prints, colored-in, painted, woven wool, built a Lego ziggurat, tied knots and built paper models.

In Footprints on our Land, we recently studied the French Huguenots and their influence on the culture, architecture, agriculture, language and religion in the Cape.

I had some postcard paper models of Cape houses from my old teaching-days.  I made color photo-copies (to save my originals) and gave them to Miss.L10 to cut and glue while I read aloud.

She enjoyed the intricate cutting and scoring,

glueing and forming …

The water-mill was quite tricky!

Once she had finished “playing” with the little paper people around her houses, we put the models up on the window sill on display.

This week we finished off the read aloud.  While I read the last few chapters, we solved the “where do we store the 3D models?” problem with an artistic application ~

  • cut the models apart
  • use the front, the sides and the back to create 3 houses from 1 model
  • paste them on a blank page
  • draw, color and paint the background and the details
  • and we have wonderful, detailed, colorful pages for in our notebook file!

This way we achieved ~

  1. creative and busy hands while I read aloud
  2. storage for a 3-dimensional object in our notebook file
  3. creative problem-solving = make the models fit into a 2-dimensional design (she had to cut the roof in different angles to look “true”, she made a door where there was only a window, she wanted both sides of the water mill and created a full water flow through several buildings!)

How do you store your children’s 3D models?  What busy-hands activities have been the most successful/ creative?  Please share in the comments.


Read Books ~ When All Else Fails

Social Studies (Carla Bley album)

Living Books are the

golden threads” in our learning.

This past week I had an epiphany ~

good books have provided my children the most valuable education!

But, let me go back a little and explain …

Earlier this year my 12-year-old-now-nearly-13-teen floundered in my ‘wonderful’ Charlotte Mason education.  I wrote about our stresses and struggles and how I felt like such a failure.

Your kind comments overwhelmed me.

I simply relieved my daughter from some CM subjects and she focussed purely on her academics. (She no longer actively takes part in many of the Fine Arts lessons, but I’m sure that she absorbs her younger sister’s music and art appreciation lessons, the poetry and the Shakespeare plays.)

Most of her Footprints Into the 21st Century curriculum is literature-based. She spends many hours simply reading good books.

But, still, I worried.  I was still unhappy to see her listlessly “going through the motions” instead of connecting with her subject, let alone savoring it! (And I’m not alone. Jimmie also shared of her daughter’s changed approach.)

Would she be ready for the standards and approaches used in our Delta correspondence high school curriculum next year?


Last week, when she completed her Maths textbook I went to a local academic book store to find a new Grade 8 textbook.

To my dismay, they only supplied textbooks for the current OBE education in the South African government schools.  (This system – Outcomes Based Education – has been an absolute failure … but let me not digress.)
After 20 minutes I chose the one which seemed the best.

When I got home and took my time looking through the book, I was appalled.

It was complete drivel. Total twaddle. Not one single mathematical concept explained. Not a single theory, principle, or equation in the book. Not a single example followed by an exercise.  How does anyone learn maths from this?

I would not keep the book and the store would not refund me.  I had to exchange it for any other book from the same publishers.  Despite their thick catalogue, and much more careful examination of the sample books on the bookstore’s shelves, I could not find anything worth exchanging.

Their Social Studies book dismayed me.

Not a single photograph or accurate map …  instead they had fuzzy pencil sketch copies of photos.

Not a single quote …  just ridiculous, over-simplified explanations of the period in history summed up in 3 paragraphs, followed by 3 questions &/or activities to be done with a friend or in a group OBE-style.

This is when it stuck me!

My children know much more about the historical events, the culture, lifestyle, and important people from their living books!

Even if my junior-high daughter just ticks off her schedule and completes her tasks, simply because she reads excellent books, she will have absorbed 1000 times more than a child who has read a textbook.

And I should have given more credit to the power of reading!

I’ve written that read alouds are the Homeschool Glue.

I have seen the power of reading an excellent book to ignite thoughts, inspire the imagination, develop vocabulary, motivate action, and define character.

At its most basic, if our children read living books, they will grow and learn!

This is why I love a Charlotte Mason-inspired-literature-based education.

How have living books taught your children? Any thoughts about textbooks? Share with us in the comments.


This post is part of the upcoming Charlotte Mason Carnival ~  “What we love most about a Charlotte Mason education“.  To join the carnival, visit Amy at Fisher Academy International this Tuesday, September 4.

Hands-on Knots

Young children love hands-on activities!

I am re-using our Footprints on our Land curriculum with my 9-year old.

This is a fabulous,


discover-history-through living-books,

read-aloud-cuddled-together-on-a-couch curriculum.

Every here and there in our stories, we delve off to investigate interesting topics.

Today we learnt,

along with the hero of our story,

a young stowaway,

how to do sailor knots.

With the help of my hubby who was once in the navy, oupa, a seasoned and experienced fisherman, and some printouts from the internet, we sat learning and tying knots.

We used a nylon rope to practice first because the knots were big and clear.  Then we practiced the knots with stiff sisal rope. And finally, made samples for our notebook page using wool.

We discussed how the knots could be best used in our everyday lives.

It was fun and practical!

Have you taught your children any fun/ practical hands-on skills?  Feel free to share with us in the comments.


Foreign Language the CM Way

A foreign language is best learnt by

using it

Here in South Africa we teach our children our second language ~


The language spread of Afrikaans in the world ...

Afrikaans in the world (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To teach a foreign language, these approaches work well:

  • Let your child play with/ talk to/ listen to other children who only speak Afrikaans.
  • Talk Afrikaans (or whatever chosen foreign language) one whole day a week (or better – even more often) at home for everything.
  • Read aloud easy-to-understand-books in Afrikaans and explain & discuss vocabulary and let the child use those words in sentences.
  • Play Afrikaans audio stories, dramas, or plays or watch Afrikaans educational television shows or listen to Afrikaans radio stations.  Talk about it afterwards in Afrikaans of course!
  • Build vocabulary in themes and do oral lessons with loads of repetition.  Use fun methods like finger puppets, interviews, plays and drama.
  • Use workbooks, textbooks, grammar & spelling lessons.
  • Check out Learning the Afrikaans Language Squidoo lens with stacks of suggested software, videos and links

Charlotte Mason’s approach to teaching a foreign language was ~

  1. Oral – learn the words orally.  Preferably by an authentic speaker – a French-speaking person teaching French.  Alternatively use an audio program.  Start when young.  Name things around them. Build up vocabulary.
  2. Read & write in the language – Miss. Mason expected children between 9 and 14 years to speak and understand French and be able to read an easy French book.  She suggested a child translate a little passage, re-read it in the foreign language and then narrate it.  Read from a book and the child narrates it in the foreign language.  Older children learnt lists of 40 phrases every 60 school days.
  3. Grammar for older children, with spelling and essay writing.

We all usually understand much more of a new language than we can speak, and we are shy of making mistakes.

I am not as bilingual as I want to be, but I am working on it daily.  I speak Afrikaans much more on the phone and with clients in our Lucerne Tree Farm business.  But I still don’t enjoy reading Afrikaans newspapers and magazines as much as I do with English reading as it is hard work!

Perhaps I should apply Miss. Mason’s methods to my language studies and take out some Afrikaans books from the library and read aloud, look up, write down and translate new words, and then write a narration of the passage I read.

Ultimately we all need this motivation to learn a new language – to use it for effective communication.

What methods/ approaches do you use that works well for your children?  Please share in the comments.Please visit and share with us at the CM blog carnival! We'd love to have you!


This post was submitted to the upcoming CM Carnival.

Learning Through Living Books

Books on mathematics and natural science in Se...

Take a good story,

fill it with fascinating characters,

surround these in historical and geographic details,

place it in detailed natural surroundings

add the hero’s moral crisis and growth,

submerge this in rich vocabulary,

and you have

an unforgettable

living book!

Over the 14 years or so of homeschooling I have discovered the easiest, richest education is through living books.

With living books as our core, we read and enjoy the content and characters, and branch off on any and many interesting studies as we go along.

Jimmie summed up this in a nugget,

“Just give me the books. We can read them, narrate them, notebook them, and choose our own topics for in-depth tangents.”

I am happily re-using my South African History curriculum “Footprints On Our Land” with my youngest.  Although she floated along on our first Footprints journey, she was only a young 5-year-old then, and missed much of the detail and content. 

We snuggle together and read, atlas at hand, and talk and narrate about the culture, lifestyle, history, geography and natural science that we discover through the story.

Now and then we branch off to study something in-depth (like we did recently with the moon cycle) or sit at the table to write narrations on notebook pages or in lapbooks.

My daughter loves the read alouds.  It is her favorite part of her school day. And, remarkably, she learns so much this way.  It may seem informal, but it is foundational.

You do not need a fancy curriculum, detailed schedules, flashcards, posters and all the bells and whistles!  You can select several age-appropriate literature books for your children and base your studies around these.

For moms with very young children, you could simply use a richly illustrated children’s treasury of classic stories and read … read … read aloud every day.

Living books will ignite the flame of interest and a love to learn in your children’s hearts and minds.

Please feel free to share your living books learning experiences in the comments.


Fun with Oreo Moons

Double Stuf Oreos, by Nabisco.

It is always good to have some kind of fun activity to help teach or reinforce new concepts.

Our current South African History story relates how the Khoikhoi natives measured time with the moon.  Typically, as in our all literature studies, we branched off the story and we studied the moon phases.

I found a fun Oreo moon phase worksheet and we …





our Oreos

and made

our own moon phases chart.


Now, in testimony of my health-eating choices, my 9-year-old had NEVER eaten Oreos before!  But for the sake of fun I decided that this would definitely add something special to the lesson.

It was a really delicious, new learning experience!

Here are some web links to similar Oreo Moon studies:

In my years of homeschooling I realize that hand-on activities, creative and fun projects, art & crafts, outdoor lessons and co-op/ group outings are essential to a young child’s love for learning.

With 2 of my children in high school it seems that we don’t enjoy as many fun moments homeschooling.  Somehow the seriousness of studies and schedules make greater demands on our time and liberty.

Do the creative-hand-on-fun activities with your young kids.

Deviate from the schedule.

Deny the time constraints.

Delve out of the program.

Do delight-directed unit studies.

Do have fun!

What fun activities did you and your children love best?  Please share some and link to your posts in the comments below.


Our Journey into Homeschooling

The Queen of Hearts, from a 1901 edition of Mo...

Image via Wikipedia

In a way, describing how we started down the road into homeschooling is really a dedication post to my very special friends.

Because that’s how it all started.

3 moms at church, each with teeny toddlers, met together for tea and discovered we all had like-hearts.

Perhaps we all shared a desire for attached parenting.  We wanted to nurture our children, share in their formation years and inspire in them a love to learn.

After a few play-dates, tea dates and chats, and a few outings … our homeschooling was birthed.

I can clearly remember our pre-school planning time, we sat in a think tank and discovered how wonderfully the Lord led us.  We used a Bible Alphabet Colouring book as our base and spent several weeks on A for Angels doing angel stories, angel songs, angel crafts, angel food, even angel games!

We realized we each had something special and unique to bring to our group.  We realized our children enjoyed repetition more than we ever planned for! I think that, after a whole year, we only got to H for Hearts!

We grew into homeschooling as our children grew up.  Some new babies arrived.  Some more moms joined.  Some moms moved.  Some children went to real school.  Some came back to homeschool … and back to school.  I even homeschooled alone for a season.

When we started junior primary schooling, I visited a serious homeschool mom to view her methods and curriculum.  I remember being scared, thinking, “How can I do this?”  I know that I didn’t buy her curriculum.  I also thought this was an awesome decision.

But my homeschooling became more than just a heart-choice.  We bought a farm near a small rural town with no English schools, moved away, and so it was settled, we would have to homeschool.  But I was glad.  This left no room for doubts.  I had to follow my heart which was set on homeschooling anyway.

That was a tough year.

The Knave of Hearts, from a 1901 edition of Mo...

Image via Wikipedia

No friends nearby.

No church group with moms and tots.

No other English-speaking families.

And definitely no other homeschoolers.

And it was my first year teaching all 3 children, each on their own core.

In a word. Stressful.

But, after just 2 years, there were 9 other local homeschooling families that got together, went on outings, socialized and encouraged each other.  (And yes, we were still the only English family.)

Then we sold our farm and spent a year on the road looking for a new farm.  All our homeschool stuff fitted into a small travel bag.  We all used 1 core curriculum and had an amazing 18 months in intimate, simple homeschooling.

Now we live and homeschool on a very remote mountain farm, even further from friends and church groups.

Our friends drive once a year to spend a school holiday with us.  We travel to visit them.  Our eldest children, now 16 and 17 years old, are still good friends.

And those amazing moms are still my dearest, most special friends!

Here’s my heart-felt thanks to you ~ travelling even just part of the homeschooling journey together has made all the difference in the world!


This post is part of the South African Carnival of Homeschool Blogs.  To join the carnival or visit past carnivals visit the SACHS Blogs page.  We hope you enjoy browsing!


Geography Fun for Carnival #6

It’s time for our 6th SACH carnival

and it’s my first time to host a carnival!

SACH is the South African Carnival of Homeschooling Blogs and we warmly invite other South African bloggers who’d like to join in the next carnival to click the link at the bottom  🙂

To readers from around the globe, welcome, and come and see what South African homeschoolers do for ~

Geography Fun!

Singing their way through their Geography Fun, Taryn of Hayes Happenings writes about Geography Songs. She says,

“It’sCH06 about the Sonlight Curriculum’s Geography Songs CD that has my kids learning all the countries of the world.  Places I’d never even heard of before!  Even my almost 3-year old sings “Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica too!” in the appropriate accent.  Precious memories made while learning together!”

  • We’ve also used this Sonlight CD to learn all the countries of the world in our homeschooling, and I smiled and remembered how much fun it was!

At Trixi’s HomeEd Academy, Trixi posts Geography Fun which is packed full of  wonderful links to great geography sites.  She says,

“Due to my 3rd grader’s intense dislike to textbooks & worksheets, I have had to do quite a bit of research into finding material that wouldn’t be met with protest and this post has some of the best I’ve found so far.”

  • I’ve bookmarked her post to come back and go through all her recommendations.  If you are new to Trixi’s blog, pour yourself some tea and make some time to go through her sidebar.  It is a treasure trove of links and ideas.

Linnie posted Learning Geography while having Fun at her blog Back To Ancient Ways. She says,

“Some time ago CJ discovered the online equivalent of the board game RISK –  Conquer club!  Conquer Club currently have One hundred and eighty-seven plus maps to choose from.  These maps includes world maps, continent maps, countries and even neighborhoods. Thus it was no surprise that CJ obtained a wide common knowledge on the geography of the world, while playing Conquer Club. What a fun way to learn geography.”

  • Her post is very detailed and filled with screen shots of the online game and her son’s personal experiences.

Digging through my Geography posts at Practical Pages I found~  Fun with Maps!

“I gave the girls a large 9 page world map which they had to assemble.  Your Child gives many print out options – print out sizes so large that it will print on up to 64 pages!”

Then we played “Twister” calling out places with right or left hands and feet!

  • Pop over to to the post to read the rest of our fun map activities and websites.
The best fun we’ve had in Geography has been~  Treasure Hunt and Letterboxing!
“Letterboxing is a recognized international activity where participants use clues which describe directions and landmarks to find a hidden treasure box. (Read more here.) Once the box is found, the participants imprint their own personal rubber stamp in the log book, write in the date with their “trail name” and then use the stamp in the box to stamp a record their “find” in their own personal log book.”

We made our own treasure box with log book, pencil, stamp pad and rubber stamp

“Now the girls played Letterboxing!  They crawled under and over things, turned left and right, counted paces, moved forwards or backwards until they found the treasure box.  They made their stamps in the log books and loved every minute of this lesson!”

  • Pop over to the post to read how we prepared and played this fun Geography activity.
Just recently I discovered this free Geography game download:

Seterra 3.0.

Seterra 3.0 screenshot. Click to enlarge!
“Seterra is a fun geography program with 88 different exercises. Learn about countries, capitals, flags and cities all over the world! Examples of exercises: countries in Europe; American states; American state capitals; French cities; cities in Mexico; countries in Asia, etc, etc… Seterra runs in English, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish or Swedish. Each exercise has a high score list to keep track of your progress. A colorful and addictive way to learn geography!”
  • This is a simple, quick download and the game is always available for quick quizzes – even when the internet is offline!
  • Although the games are simple and without “all the bells and whistles”, it is a very effective learning tool.
  • I enjoyed this program with my 9-year-old.  She and I soon wanted to better our times and scores identifying countries.
  • Afterwards I spent about an hour matching flags to countries … boy, I didn’t realize how many there were and how similar they are!  Challenging, but fun!
I hope you enjoy reading all these fun Geography posts.


When there are so many links and sites listed in posts, you could create a Geography folder on your internet bookmarks and save all the links as you come to them.  Then you can visit these later if you don’t have enough time to “follow rabbit trails” right now!

This post is part of the South African Carnival of Homeschool Blogs.  To join the carnival or visit past carnivals visit the SACHS Blogs page.  We hope you enjoy browsing!