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

Posts tagged ‘Oikos’


Some days are better than others, and today is one of those days. We’ve steadily plodded along each day since visiting Oikos, relaxedly and consistently completing assignments in a set amount of time or leaving them until the next day. With the new approach of NOT drawing out work until it’s done, but doing what can be done in a set amount of time then moving on, we’re all learning better time management, Yours Truly included. A huge bonus is that we’re getting through the “school” part of the day in a lot less time, making it a lot more fun for all of us. But an unexpected bonus is that the girls are finishing their work faster. They feel a sense of achievement and are really enjoying home education more than ever, which is great considering the fact that they’re actually fitting in more than when we were sticking at it until we finished a thing.

I feel a lot more relaxed about home education and work in general, since I have more time for both, and my time management has improved (and continues to do so). Having staff helps, too.

Today we reaped a new fruit of our new approach: a love of Maths in DD#1. (On a side note, I think I need better nicknames for the girls. On a blog I read recently, the author called her daughters Sunshine and Sweetness, which I loved. Suggestions welcome.) Anyhoo, we have always battled with the maths side of “school”, with groans and tummy aches abounding. I started DD#1 on the Level 2 maths from MEP Maths, since I wanted to make sure the ground work was thoroughly laid. It has proven to be a wise move as there really were a lot of fundamentals missing. We’ve taken it slowly, not doing Maths every day, and not always completing a sheet in one sitting. Since we started taking our new, efficient approach, however, we have found that we do in fact finish a sheet at a sitting, and if we don’t, we don’t stress. Today we were working on sums, representing the answers in different ways. Eg: 40 + 50 = 90 | 90 = 50 + 40 etc. Suddenly a light went on behind DD#1’s eyes and she said, “so the = means that, for instance, 4+5 IS THE SAME AS 9?” – she gets it! Equals means IS. So DD#2 = cute. DD#1 = tomboy. Etc. She was so thrilled and raced through the rest of her worksheet – without mistakes! Clever girl. She even tackled a pretty tough question with aplomb, and without help, figuring out the rule before I did (and I had the answer sheet).

The lack of passion for Maths until today has been the combined result of a perceived lack of talent, and the fact that it takes long to do. Now that it is quick and she knows she’s good at it, she loves it again, just like she did as a little girl. I’m thrilled! And I feel that we’ve made a very significant breakthrough, one of the ones on my list of god reasons to home educate. Check.


Science this week.

"Waterfall" - M.C. Escher

"Waterfall" - M.C. Escher

Well, we’re still working through Trust. Today we were concentrating on optical illusions (which we also touched on in the “Eyesight” section of Attentiveness). We studied the works of Escher and Salvador Dali, which are so mind boggling and fascinating. I love being able to share these great works of art with the girls, and I love having access to the Internet, which makes it so easy to achieve this sharing of knowledge.

We also created a thaumatrope. Ever heard of one? It’s pretty interesting, and at first it completely failed (as my science experiments tend to do), which was disappointing. However, once again the Internet came to the rescue. I found this website, which gave us an explanation of thaumatropes that we could understand, some simple experiments, and a shorty video tutorial.

We also found this website, with a list of animated GIFs, which perform the same illusion as the hard copy thaumatropes we made, but with fewer human errors. 🙂 . Random Motion was very useful in its definition and experiments, which even I managed eventually.

Thaumatrope demonstration

Thaumatrope demonstration

Thaumatrope: n.

The thaumatrope was invented in the 1820s and it proved the phenomena of persistence of vision. The word “thaumatrope” has Greek roots. “Thauma” means magic in Greek and “trope” refers to something that turns. The thaumatrope is somewhat magical because it creates illusions dependent on persistence of vision.

And finally, DH came home and did his Daddy-trick, in which he just looks at a science-y thing and it works. So all of our thaumatropes worked and the girls had a good idea of how easily the eyes can be deceived. A good day for science and discernment, methinks.

Times of Refreshing.

Acts 3:19b “… the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

Yesterday afternoon, DH, both DDs and I headed out to Karkloof, just past Howick, to spend some time with the Oikos team. I must admit that I was not in the best frame of mind as we headed up there. For one thing, I was pretty sure I was on the wrong track with my approach to home school education (thanks, Greg). I imagined that there was a LOT more planning to be done, and with my already crowded schedule I couldn’t imagine how I’d fit in more work. As I may have mentioned previously, I’ve been frustrated by the  feeling of aloneness on this journey, and I foresaw an embarrassing impasse at best.

What a pleasant surprise it was, and how lovely to have been so very wrong.

Sonja, Greg, Pam and Dave were kind, gentle, welcoming and encouraging. They gave us guidelines for every aspect of our home educating journey, from casting the vision for the family, to divvying up the work, to managing the practical aspects of day-to-day family life.

We came away feeling encouraged, refreshed and refocused. And hopefully we can now create a way forward for our family that actually works. I’ll keep you posted!



http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [ser-uhn-dip-i-tee]  Show IPA


1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck: the serendipity of getting the first job she applied for.
Today we started our Konos curriculum properly. I may have mentioned that we’re starting with the character trait Orderliness because, frankly, we need to.  We’re all still getting the hang of how this curriculum works so it’s a bit like feeling our way through, but I think it went pretty well.
The study unit starts with a bit of (age appropriate) research into Zerubbabel building the temple (in Ezra), then contrasts building styles through the ages. Since the girls are young, it was done at a pretty high level with not a massive amount of depth. Even so, I was interested to see how their questions and DH’s input resulted in a nearly-two-hour lesson.
After that we had an unexpected jaunt to the Museum of Natural Science, which was open this time :). This is where the serendipity comes in: we managed to get up close to a whole range of building styles spanning at least ten decades. We saw domed roofs and peaked roofs and flat roofs. And we watched the window washers rapelling off the sides of a glass-sided building – just like I’d described in the lesson. It was really fantastic.
This week I’ll get them to do a report on the Museum, and post that here. Keep watching!

Home school: week 13

I can’t believe we’ve already been doing this for 13 weeks! The time has whizzed by and I certainly don’t think we’ve covered 13 weeks worth of “school”. Of course we’ve done a lot of other, equally important things (at least to my mind). For instance, we’ve overcome the dread of learning the girls seemed to have (especially DD#1). We’ve established a kind-of-a routine and created a space for school. Both girls have made massive strides in reading and overcome barriers in maths. We’ve learned more about each other and more about having a deep and meaningful relationship with God. And we’ve all learned how to chillax.

So that’s progress, right? And a huge step forward was choosing – and getting – our Konos curriculum from Oikos. This will form the backbone for all our learning in the months and years ahead, and marks a significant turning point in our journey. Besides, when schools close in 3.5 weeks time, we don’t. So maybe we’ve only done 5 weeks’ worth of school, but while everyone else takes 4 or 5 weeks off, we’ll probably only take 1 or 2. And because our other work slows down at this time of year, we’ll be able to make up a lot of ground. Hopefully.

This week, however, has not been a good week for school. In fact, it started last week, when our one and only car burst into flames and burnt to the ground. That’s not a figure of speech. We found ourselves literally stranded and deeply distracted for the remainder of the week. Thank God our prayers were answered by my dear and amazing in-laws, who gave us their spare car – the second time they’ve done this! Still, losing a car so dramatically, 60km from home is never fun. Thank God no one was hurt.

This week started with a flurry of work followed by the most hectic migraine I can remember having – complete with two days semi-conscious in bed and even a spell of throwing up! (Sorry to share). I really don’t think it’s ever been that bad before. Now, of course, I am four days behind in my work, and school has taken a serious knock. I’m feeling seriously frantic about how in the world I will ever catch it up, so if you’re reading this, please keep me in your prayers.

But when we do get back to school, it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re doing the unit called Orderliness and it involves (among other things) building a family tree and constructing buildings from various materials. As an auxiliary to this unit, we’re reading Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, which ends with a plan for making our own Japanese Dolls’ House. This is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I first read the book when I was about 11 years old, so I am REALLY looking forward to reaching the end.


We have a winner!

There’s a thing I have believed about education since I was about 11 years old. I remember it clearly. I was in Std 3, in history. We were learning about The Great Trek, and the teacher was explaining to us that in those days they didn’t have school and text books and teachers and classrooms. They couldn’t very well stop for school every day as they crossed the berg, could they? The Bible was their textbook, and from it they learned English, Dutch, maths, geography, history and science. They learned everything they needed from one book. Well, I should say One Book, really. It struck me that this had been true the world over, and that schools only really started around the Industrial Revolution. Of course there were institutions for education around the world. But for the most part, kids were too busy helping their parents run whatever business kept their family alive to bother much with schools and formal education. They learned by doing.

And they learned a lot.

So ever since then the thought has been growing in my mind and heart that the best education takes place in the real world, through the facilitation of parents who adore their children and want the very best for them. And I must confess (though you’ll know this if you know me), sending my children to school broke my heart. Every day, for over 7 years, I hated to do it. So why did I? Because I told myself I needed to grow up. Everyone does it. It’s normal and natural and right, and it needs to be done.

Well, rubbish.

If I’ve learned anything over the past two years in particular and throughout my life in general, it’s to follow my gut. My instincts are often right.

So even though I’ve been very sure about home school, I haven’t had peace about a curriculum. However, yesterday that changed. We went to a home school curriculum open day, and spent nearly an hour with a couple who developed a curriculum called Oikos. I had heard of it before through another good friend, but the name didn’t appeal to me and, frankly, the website put me right off. So I didn’t even consider it.

However, after listening to the couple describe their thoughts behind the system, and then reading through the well-documented material, I’m completely hooked. Essentially, Oikos uses the Bible and character traits as the foundation for learning, and everything flows out of that. It’s exactly what I believe about learning, so we’re going for it.

The thing is that Oikos does not slot back into mainstream school easily. So we’ve had to decide that this is it, we’re not going back from this, which has taken some prayer and thought. But I know it’s right and I have peace about it, which is the main thing.

Now I need to work out what I can afford and what I absolutely must have to get started. Wish me luck!

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