Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘home education’

When in doubt: do!

Yesterday I spoke about the juggling act involved in working and home schooling at the same time. Part of what started me on this line of research was that I keep having this nagging feeling that I’m doing something wrong, or doing the wrong things.

I think I now have it figured out*:

  • I doubt my path when I should trust and persevere
  • I think a bumpy ride means a bad choice when it just means “getting started”
  • I haven’t specialised
  • I expect to have “normal” working hours/breaks etc

If I take the view that it’ll take 5 years to build what I need, and those five years will be hard and focused and awesome, and we’ll all be OKAY at the end of it, I can focus and excel.

This article addresses this topic, and is a brilliant resource for parents who work AND home educate their children.

when in doubt - do


The Reluctant Learner

One of my favourite blogs is Simple Homeschool. What I love about the content on this site, is that it reminds me what this journey is all about when I get so bogged down in the minutiae – the overwhelming little details that can so easily make me feel inadequate. A failure. Simple Homeschool often reminds me that, at the end of the day, my goal is to raise resilient, capable young ladies who can think for themselves, look after themselves, and learn whatever it is they need to have the best possible version of their lives.

Everything else is just fluff.

This is why we’ll typically spend a lot less time studying the unique variations on the coastline of Micronesia, or the specific eruption patterns of the average volcano, and a lot more time studying the nature of man: what makes us who we are, why we act the way we do, how to understand and accept others with compassion, and how to improve ourselves where we can.

Having said that, I do love learning. I am fascinated by every aspect of life, and I want to impart that fascination to my girls. I wish they could be as inspired to pore over the atlas as I was as a kid. I wish they’d devour pages and pages of the dictionary in a sitting, and go to bed with an encyclopaedia under their pillows for a bedtime story. That’s what I did. Surely they should be just like me? Isn’t that the point?!

Of course not.

And the simple (yet astounding) truth of our journey is that, in so many cases, they really couldn’t give a jot or tittle about education of any kind (unless you count hours of stable work on Star Stables, or conquering kingdoms in Age of Empires ‘educational’. (And to be clear: I now do :))). They are reluctant learners. Or, they were.

When I read Simple Homeschool’s article on teaching a reluctant learner, I suddenly realised just how far we’d come.

When we started home education, I was convinced that my genius children simply needed the right motivation, and they’d soon have a truly encyclopaedic knowledge of every fact known to man and recorded in the last 5000 years.

*Cue the gales of laughter around the globe*

With the years, and with the tears and fights and frustrations, I have learnt to distil what really matters in home education – and life – and to pursue that vigorously and wholeheartedly. We spend far more time on Bible studies, personality profiles and in-depth philosophy debates than most 8-11 years olds probably do. And we’re all having a lot more fun. We’ve evolved a very simple and potently effective approach to Maths, Literature and History (most of which involves Khan Academy and Crash Course). And the rest of our learning takes place in really life, as we discuss what we believe matters, and then attempt to live it in our flawed, human way.

We have stopped focusing on academics and started focusing on living, instead. The surprising, beautiful result is that my once reluctant learners now love to learn. They each rush to be first to do Maths, they’re writing mini-essays with ease and pleasure, and when I read 15th Century history to them, they beg for more. My head is finally proving what my heart has always known: with the right focus, and the correct priorities, the details take care of themselves.

What about you? How have you motivated your reluctant learners? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Fair’s Fair?

Work hard and be kind - that is allWarning: if you believe in completely fair, just and unbiased parenting, this post probably isn’t for you!

“School” this year has gotten off to a great start. (It’s in inverted commas, because I am convinced that learning is life, and life is learning – especially for children. “School” is a weird place we send kids to teach them to hate learning.) We have structured times of input, and unstructured times of exploration and discovery. The girls don’t always focus on the things I wish they would, but we’re getting a relatively balanced overview of the various facets of the world we inhabit. And we’re not bashing heads at all. (So far ;)).

What has made the difference?

The biggest lesson I learnt last year as far as education goes, was to dispose of limits. The way my mind works, this is not going to be a lesson that I “get” all at once. In fact, based on anecdotal evidence, this will probably continue to be the lesson of my life. But I am learning to let go of artificially imposed structures that limit and stunt our growth.

I’ve been placing expectations on Goldilocks that exceed what she can (or will) deliver, and imposing limits on Red Riding Hood that stunt he growth more than she needs or wants. No more.

Perhaps it would have been easier if they’d been born the other way around, with the academically inclined child first. That way, no one would think it strange when she mastered Grade 7 Math before her sister. Especially since she is only 8. But that is not our lot, and my task is to embrace and enjoy and enhance it, rather than trying to squash into the tiny, poky, poorly constructed box of my own preconceived notions.

So I don’t follow a strict curriculum of topics to have covered (and mastered) by certain times. I trust that a continual exposure to the joy of learning and personal growth, with strategic “formal” intervention points every day (such as Khan Academy, Crash Course and living books), will broaden their minds, feed their souls, ignite their imaginations and pretty much cover the bases. I hope I’m right!

That’s all, folks. A little reflection on my lessons and the impact they’re having on our lives. How have limits and expectations impacted your life, your love of learning? And how do they affect the way you teach your kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Apologia Science

When we started home educating our darling daughters, one of many contributing factors that helped us to make the decision was the fact that evolution is taught as fact in schools. In fact, we battle to find ANY kind of material to use for science lessons, be it online, in the library, or in many of the available home education curricula that doesn’t assume evolution is truth.

We want our children to be taught the Truth about the earth, how it was created, and how it works, and it’s frustrating not being able to find supporting materials. While Papa Bear and I have learnt and studied a lot of this stuff ourselves, without having it written down somewhere reliable, we don’t always cover all the bases in our teaching.

That’s why we were so thrilled with the curriculum available from Oikos Family Ministries, which includes the Apologia Science books. We haven’t used them yet, but from the research we’ve done and reviews we’ve read, they look absolutely fabulous. I can’t wait to get a set and start working through them with my girls.

So, just imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered today that there’s a competition online at the moment to WIN some of these books! How fantastic and wonderfully timed!

If you want to win (please don’t – I want to win!!) just click here and follow the instructions. I’d say “good luck” but you’d know I didn’t mean it since I really am that selfish, but have a look at the rest of the blog and the Apologia review anyway, it’s really a good resource.

Oh okay, Good Luck. I mean it.

Lesson #16: If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I have been struggling with my workload and time management. I felt resentful that I had to do so much of the housework, the home education, and earn a living on top of that. My beleaguered soul cried out, over and over, “It’s too much! I can’t do it!” I started to notice, more and more, that the refrain was changing to, “I shouldn’t have to do it.”

Angry and bitter, I poured my heart out to the Lord. I apologised for my attitude and asked Him to change it. I explained the predicament and promised that I would do as He told me, since I was already learning that feeling like doing something often follows actually doing something in faith.

I was led to two key passages. The first one is in Titus 2:3-5, where women are encouraged to be “keepers at home.” I prayed about this and understood that the Lord has a clear role for me in my house. It is my job to keep things health, clean and in order. What’s more, I love to do it and feel fulfilled when I do. I do need to train my children to keep their own spaces neat and tidy (that’s part of my job as their mother, educator and mentor), and I can lovingly encourage Papa Bear to do the same. But ultimately, it really is my job and I need to “do it all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31

The second passage which keeps coming to mind is Proverbs 31. We all know the story of a virtuous woman – so hard to find. She does her husband good and not evil all the days of his life. His heart safely trusts in her. I have been such a failure in these areas and I confessed that to God. My continual prayer is that He will bring this passage to mind before I cross the line and sin against my man, and so far He has. Not that I’ve always heeded His gentle admonitions …

The other thing about this virtuous woman is that she has a number of enterprises on the go. She buys and sells cloth and land. She plants and harvests. She makes clothes. She sells the goods she’s made and she gives generously to the poor. She works late and rises early. She makes sure her staff have work to do, and that her family have food and clothing. Because of her industry, her husband is well respected and confident to appear in public, in a role of importance. He knows he will never be ashamed by his wife’s actions, words or tales. In fact, he blesses her and teaches his children to do the same.

I have a lot to do but I am in no way as accomplished or enterprising as this lady. And my attitude to it all stinks. I was behaving like a spoiled child, and I realised that we have the assurance from God that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Cor. 10:13

The things I have to do at the moment are all things that I really do have to do. It’s not a matter of poor time management or an unfair allocation of roles and responsibilities. This verse (above) means, in essence, that if I have to do it, then I can do it, because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13

Realising this truth (on a daily basis) has encouraged me enormously. I have come to see each challenge as an opportunity … but more on that later.

Our God, the Artist

Yesterday was a Konos-n-Art day. Because I have SO much to do, and because I have been blessed with standard 24-hour days rather than the requisite 48 that would make it possible to achieve all I have to do, I have split the school day over two days. This means that on one day we do Maths & English, and on the next day we do Art & Konos, which includes Science, History, Geography and Biology. We do Bible every day, of course.

It may seem as though this is not enough school, and I certainly believed that would be the case. But the results of Goldilocks’ recent exams speak for themselves. 91.5% for English. 63% for Grade 4 Maths, and we’re only doing Grade 2 Maths in school! And 69% for the the rest in a combined exam. In this case, the exam covered work we haven’t done yet, and didn’t cover some things that we have done. So I think we’re okay.

But back to my story: yesterday was an Art day and a Konos day. Because we have just started studying birds in Konos, and because we are discovering the shapes in objects in Art, I thought it would be a good idea to draw a bird for Art. And because we had just studied camouflage as well, I chose an Ostrich (Tony Hart, of course). It’s South African, and it has fairly good camouflage. We drew the birds, then used watercolours to paint them (according to their ACTUAL colours), and camouflage them to the background. (Painting is SO teherapeutic!)

The Parable (and the point of this post)

While we were painting, Goldilocks said, “Mom, don’t you think life is like painting?”

Not sure where this was headed, I sagely nodded and said, “tell me more.”

And here’s the parable she relayed:

“God is the Artist. The Holy Spirit is the Water, and we are the paints. Without the Water, the paint is dry and doesn’t really make any colour at all. With a little bit of Water, a picture starts coming, but it only really looks like anything with a lot of Water, and a gentle stroke from the Artist. The more Water you use the better the picture, and if you use a lot of Water, you just get a hint of the colour, and a very realistic picture because of the gentle shading the Water creates.”

Isn’t that a beautiful picture of our relationship with God, the Painter of our Masterpiece?

Provisionally proud

A friend of ours (the mother of Goldilocks’ BFF) decided to home school her daughter this year, too. Their curriculum sticks very closely to government schools, and twice a year they write exams to see how the students are progressing. This kind lady thought I might be interested to see how Goldilocks was doing on our curriculum, as opposed t so-called regular schooling. She copied the exams and gave them to me, and we have been going through them together.

Today Goldilocks finished the first exam: English. I don’t know what the implications are of the fact that it took about twice as long to complete as the time allowed. They do make an allowance for that but since Goldilocks isn’t in their system, we don’t really understand how it works. However, my primary goal right now academically is that she be able to finish the work at all. And she did!

In fact, based on my very strict marking, she achieved 91.5%! I am provisionally super proud. I say provisionally, because I will find out how it’s supposed to work and all of that, and may need to adjust the marks accordingly. But what pleases me (and should probably worry me, too), is how vindicated I feel. It’s working! Yay! We’re right to home educate. What a wonderful blessing. Even though I know it’s what I should be doing, it’s also a relief to know that we’re on track, so-to-speak.

Here is the essay that made up the last part of the paper. This counts for 20 marks, and because of the spelling (what spelling?) and grammar, I have only awarded five marks. But I love it so much and will treasure it forever.

My Parents

My Parents, by Goldilocks – age 9&3/4
My mom is supportive, loving and kind. She’s also beautiful and snuggly and smart. My dad is clever, strong, caring, angry and cuddly. He is also handsome, hairy and quizitive.

10 July 2012.

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