31 May 2013

Special Friday

Today we made it official.

The world will not be blessed with any more little Browns. At least not from our loins. 

Faith and I accompanied Russ to Constantiaberg this morning for his appointment.
The nurses where enthralled to see her working away; they had so many questions. One nurse has a son at the Ambleside school in Hout Bay so is well acquainted with the Charlotte Mason approach. 

It was such a great experience - while the surgery was taking place I was explaining the concept of division to Faith and watching her grasp it so quickly was incredibly satisfying.

When Faith was at school, NumberSense (the dreaded workbook) was her worst nightmare. She hated it. For the first 4 days at home she would get teary each day as we sat together and worked it through. Now maths (and the numbersense workbook) is one of her favourite activities AND she works independently until new concepts need explaining

She also finished her fingerless gloves today - she is incredibly proud of her work and so she should be - they are gorgeous.

In less than stellar news, I have developed plantar fasciitis which is rather unpleasant. AFter 3 months of ignoring the searing pain every morning I decided to google my symptoms....the naysayers reckon this is one of those recurring things but they said that about my ITB aswell....

After a couple of hours of research (google and youtube I love you) I have a great plan of action that will see me proactively treating this - I will not stop running. Period. More calf stretching (esp as i run in zero drop shoes) and some icing to ease inflammation. Am optimistic!

Now off to shop for supplies as we baton the hatches for the stormy weekend ahead!

30 May 2013

Settling in to a New Normal

We are definitely finding our groove. It is becoming increasingly difficult to send my other kids (particularly my elder daughter) to school each day. We are learning so much at home without even trying; it does seem only natural to have all of us involved in this process together.

Highlights this week:

Lulu's insta-maths (bonds/tables) is greatly improved. While they were good when she came home I didn't like the fact that it took her a few seconds to find the answers. I am weird like that, mental maths must be INSTANT - almost like a reflex. With the help of

xtramath.org  and the awesome tables games on multiplication.com we have perfected mental maths; but we drill every day - and it is a highlight!

Language continues to go well and am fortunate she thrives on the creative process of the English language.  Sentence construction including prepositions, verbs, adjectives, nouns aswell as homophones, synonyms - we covered it all this week. We will be doing consolidation next week in the form of book reviews, blogposts and other creative compositions.

We have covered our Anne Frank material (books, BBC mini series and YouTube) and will be putting together our project over the next few days - my plan is to simply have Lulu write the story as she remembers it unfolding; not to focus on tiny details but more on creative writing.

Next week we will be adding typing skills to our daily routine - this is such a fun and quirky introduction to typing for kids!


I watch this video this evening - Seth Godin is someone I find highly inspirational. I would highly recommend watching this if you have ever wondered exactly WHY we do school they way we do?

Be prepared to be challenged in your thinking!

29 May 2013

Midweek Thoughts

Monday seems a long time ago. I almost need to go to Facebook to read my statuses so I can remember what happened back then!

Faith has resumed piano lessons - I was amazed (as was her lovely teacher) how much she remembered from her early lessons around a year ago. I was also so pleased to see her enthusiasm return - whereas in the past learning piano was a noose around her neck.

I had to laugh the other evening. I invited my dear husband downstairs (away from his desk) to come and have a quiet cuppa with me. We even snuck into my studio and left the kids in the lounge. Well....within seconds the three of them were on us like white on rice - laughable really. Instead of getting annoyed I had to smile and be thankful that they still enjoy hanging with the parentals - long may it last.

Little characters
I received my Konos Volume 1 curriculum on Monday - I managed to get a second hand one for a song. It came with dvds outlining the methodology (watched in the bath of course!)

 I was blown away and am so thrilled to have uncovered this gem. I have been exposed to Konos before as many of my friends use it but I never fully grasped the power of this curriculum. It's a lifestyle of living that speaks to my core and re-awakened in me aspirations I had for my family many years ago that had become dormant.

My morning went slightly pear today as I hopped in the car at 0750 to take kids to school. Click click.
Dead battery. Argh. Annoying because the battery is less than a year old!

Much excitement in the ranks though as they have been wanting to walk to school for ages and the opportunity had yet to arise. Today was the day.

It was super fun although marginally stressful as my kids are total hackers and not used to major traffic and we have a doozy intersection to navigate. Even in a car it can be stressful, on foot it had us all in hysterics and many of the drivers were very entertained and amused.

Faith was particularly affronted when I said that people were not accustomed to seeing 'whiteys' walking on large public roads to school.

'Thats so rude Mom. You don't have to rub it in that we are white. 
You can just say white not whiteys!"

Er, okay.

This one was posed

This one was not posed.

Happy to report the car is up and idling again so this afternoon I shall NOT be walking my kids to soccer or tap practice (yes, they wanted me to do that!)

27 May 2013

Sunday Snapshots

Woke up in the wee hours to a pretty spectacular lightning show. With no curtains in our bedroom it is always pretty awe-inspiring as our bedroom turns into a natural {quiet} nightclub.

Charly was less than impressed and literally tried to climb into my skin - thunder and lightning do not a happy dog make.

It was not easy to get our bones out of bed due to the fact that no warm bath/shower was available to get us motivated to start the day. Hopefully our geyser will be replaced tomorrow or else Mad Mel is going on the rampage.

As you can see from these pics there was much lazing around in my bed for many hours.

The girls playing Campus Life on the iPads - they do so much together nowadays.

Beating out a tune all of his own

Strumming away - I think he will be ready for lessons soon. Thankfully I can teach him the basics.

We had the whole family around for lunch to celebrate the kids birthdays - with all 3 in a month it is much easier (and kinder) for everyone to make one day than 3 separate occasions. It is always mildy chaotic but heartwarming to have my siblings, parents and nieces in my home. I even managed to whip up a pretty mean chicken/veg soup in minutes before everyone arrived.

I also finally learnt how to use the KRUPS coffee machine my mom gave me over a year ago, thanks to my boat, Mr Kupa Coffee Man! Now that I understand the mechanics of the machine I can spend time my honing my barista skills.

Around 5pm I left my family to escape to my mom for a long HOT bath (geyser still out) and what a luxury it was. Small things we take for granted. Around 6pm Russ and the kids arrived for baths/showers - by 730pm we were all home {clean!} and in bed with our respective books - perfect ending to a wonderful day.

24 May 2013

Waking up Miz

I woke up miserable on Friday. I don't know why.

Let me share the text message I sent to my mom when she casually asked me

'How goes it today?'  at 1045

"Bah humbug, school stops shortly. And we each gonna go read our books for the rest of the morning.
Am in a baaaaaaad mood. Not nice. :(
Doesnt help that the dog is annoying me and that the house earth leakage is tripping 100 time a day or that the kitchen drawer is stuck and my garage door is broken. 
And Russell keeps stealing my 2 prongs plugs and losing the landline."

Ja. Sucky attitude and frankly I could not shake it. It was utterly revolting.

The afternoon crept up on me; Levi had a party and the girls were at art. All I wanted to do for the 2hrs was lie on the couch and eat and watch tv in silence.

So I put on my running shoes and ran my fastest 10k ever.

Then I smiled. A lot.

Until I arrived home only to find our {almost} new geyser is on the fritz so no hot shower for me....that kinda messed me up so I decided to take my grumpy ass to bed at 6pm and refrain from inflicting it on anyone else!

22 May 2013

Highlights in an Ordinary Day

Wednesday. Just another day.

  • I invited my neighbour (the one who was burgled a month ago) over for coffee. I REALLY like her; she is my age with a Gr 4 daughter and is super funny, quirky and creative. She does freelance design for magazines. I only booked out an hour in my diary to be safe..you know...in case it was awkward but HELL NO, we need more time for our next visit! 

  • I also pottered up the road to another neighbourr; I helped set up a US iTunes account so she can download all kinds of wonderful free apps for her daughter. I love little impromptu gaps in my day where I can to see people and hang out guilt-free. 

(yes, all the while Faith was being educated in my absence so settle down people)

  • Faith's grade 4 math and language curriculum arrived yesterday - looks 'totes amazeballs' and we are going to have many hours of fun with it. 

  • While Faith went to tap I grabbed the opportunity to go for a quick 6k run. It sucked eggs. Running at 3pm just does not work for me. It was bordering on miserable really but still glad I did it. Sometimes it is just about the discipline. 

  • Faith ended up at x-ray after tap. Two weeks ago she hurt her big toe badly - a dislocation I am sure . We have been taping it and using anti-inflams and have stopped ALL dancing (tap, modern, ballet) but yesterday she was ready to try tap. Hells-bells she was in pain so I decided (for her peace of mind) to rule out any fracture / infection.

Bottom line is that only time and rest will heal this toe. Dancing for her (5x a week) is like running for me. She is beyond gutted, grumpy and upset that this injury is holding her back. 

Interesting times. A real opportunity for growth and beginning to understand how to forge through disappointment and unexpected obstacles.

And for those you really cared....my new boots!!! Love 'em dearly.

21 May 2013

Faith Turns 9

Our sparkly fiery fairy is 9!

After an all-nighter with Levi presenting a totally unexpected awful croup attack I was feeling rather fragile at the dawn of Faiths birthday this morning.

Lava lamp for her dad was a big hit!

There was so much anticipation around her and I spending time together; I was somewhat nervous about her reaction to finding her brother ill in my bed....

Pressies in Mom's bed (note the nebuliser in action!)
She was so gracious and very concerned by his barking cough. We quickly decided today would be a 'home day' with all the kids staying put and  pottering at home. Rachel is knee-deep in revision and we decided she could stay home too. Levi bounced back quickly and  greatly improved by mid-morning.

Showing off her harem pants!

Faith was just stoked to have all her siblings home on her birthday and declared today her best birthday ever!
Dads little gal

Breaking in the art journal

  • She worked in her new leather art journal. 
  • She played with Charly
  • She helped Rachel learn to knit and they spent hours making things for their animals.
  • They watched Home Alone 4 and some Brady Bunch.
  • Toasted cheese sarmies for lunch.
  • 3 Hour sleeps for Levi and I in the afteroon while she and Rach did puzzles and drew.
  • Dinner at the Spur with all the trimmings and sparkles.
  • Finally home to round out the evening with an episode of Modern Family
Lumo girl in her new dance gear

These 3 really do dig each other 
Happy evening at Spur
Am so enjoying my people these days - even in my frazzled, sleep deprived and somewhat anxious state (am not good when Levi is chesty).

19 May 2013

Unusual Sunday

Today was unusual in a few ways.

1. I went to a church meeting.

2. I actually enjoyed it and did not wish I was elsewhere.

The church thang centred around the theme of WORK;  the subheadings being the fact that work is difficult, good and satisfying. The application of this in all areas of life is a natural progression from exercise to study to marriage. Hop over here and take a listen (seriously, have I ever done this?!) if you feel so inclined. CHANGE the way you approach your life.

3. I went for lunch with Flowrs sans family 

I dont generally do individual stuff on Sundays - it is pretty standard that we hang as a family or do family type outings. The problem now is that Flowrs works almost full time as do I! We both miss those carefree days of running in the mountains, indulging our creative spirits and debriefing over good coffee. We have both moved on in different areas and excited about where we are going BUT we are also determined to find time to stay connected and download all that is happening in our worlds....even if it means Sunday lunches occasionally!

4. I bought new boots.

Yes, I did! Flowrs and I wondered on it to Truworths and both fell in love with the same boots and both bought them without a second thought! One of these days they will have to feature in a **WIWT post! Flowrs and I share some strong commonalities in our dress sense although we both wear out clothes very individually - I fell in love with the top she was wearing aswell as her bag so am hoping to find them soon too. Luckily my gracious friend is flattered rather than annoyed by me assimilating her style.

**What I Wore Today

18 May 2013

Open House

Today was one of those magical days. When chaos reigns in its own happy bubble and I am able to calmly just absorb the splendour that is childhood.

These two entertained us non-stop! 
My favourite moment was watching the boys practise various moves on the skate ramp while the girls idly chatted on the couch in the sun. I was ever so tempted to photograph the moment but thought better of it.

This was taken before the rest of the girls joined the couch
The wii was definitely a brilliant buy 
I had 15 kids over today for about 4 hours. Most of them Rachels classmates but all them friends to all my kids. These little people have been in my orbit for 6yrs now and have watched both Levi and Faith grow up and they treat them so kindly.

Some chill while others....
play tag rugby!

The house was full of laughter, hijinx and much merriment. The trampoline, the skate ramp, the wii, the ipad and the spectacular weather made sure everyone found something to do that lit their fire.

These boys had moooooves!

I really dont want Rachel to leave this class. I want her to see it out until the end of Grade 7. I am trusting that sanity (and Gods plan) will prevail and she will (happily) choose to stay in school.

17 May 2013

Reactions of my other kids

Pamie poses an interesting question. How do my other children respond to me homeschooling their sister?

Background: Lulu is in Gr 3 - currently homeschooled for the grand total of 1 week. ;-) Hooligan is in Gr 1 and Honey is in Gr 6 - both currently in regular school.

My IDEAL world looks like this:

All my kids at home with me. Learning together as a unit.

REALITY looks like this:

Hooligan loves school. He is an active, social and busy little boy. Staying at home with his mom and sisters is not something he is keen on doing At All. I also harbour my own fears of teaching a child so young - I feel insecure about instilling the basics of reading, writing and maths. I am willing to re-look this when he reaches intermediate phase if it is something he would like to do.

Honey loves school although she is feeling sidelined right now. She would like to join Lulu and I. I would LOVE this but I do feel that she will ultimately be unhappy. She will miss her friends. She will miss the buzz, excitement and the whole school experience. I tread a fine line with her as it could appear that I favour her younger sister and exclude her. I do have a plan in place to remedy this.

At 1pm today I plan to go and see her ***teacher. I plan to take her out of school for approximately a month next term. We will see how she  {and I} copes and if she feels she is ready to 'give it all up' we will consider bringing her home for Gr 7.

The thought of having all three kids at home with me every day is overwhelming to say the least.

Taking baby-steps is how I am going to get to my destination. The goal is clear, the path undetermined as yet.

*** edited to add: spoke to teacher, fully supports my plan to the extent that she will supply me with all content required to school from home as I see fit. I am extremely fortunate that our school is completely supportive and encourages informal education, in fact, partners with many of us.

Creative Explorations

I went out last night. Much to the shock and horror of my sproggles.

'Mom, where are you going?'

'You mean, out out? Like out the house? But it's dark?'

'Are you coming back?' (???)

'Where ARE you going? When will you be back? Why cant you do this in the day?'

I am not quite sure if I should be alarmed or amused at their reactions. Suffice to say I did go out - to an art class run by a good friend of mine. Her enthusiasm spills over and she managed to get me to agree to trying out a silkscreening class. 

Terrifying really. Especially as my design is horrifically complicated and I now realise just how tricky it is going to be to execute but anyyyyyyway - it is all good.

A rough design with proposed colourway of silver, emerald and violet
But am going to swop the emerald and silver around.

I really enjoyed doing something new. Something I had never done before. Creative, messy and free.

Preparing the screen - the shellac taking FOREVER to put down.

I have no real idea what I am going to do with the print but probably cushions for my bed. Maybe I will be fonder of them if they are handmade by me. Am not a fan of cushions - I find them intensely annoying as they always look a mess in my house because REAL {messy} PEOPLE live here.

16 May 2013

Creating space

First off :

Charly slept through the night! Hoooooray! This means, of course, she was awake at 530am but I can handle that...it will get better from here. The house-training continues but we are making progress.

It was kind of lovely to be able to lounge around in bed for a FULL hour with my man, drinking tea and chatting before waking the kids up and getting on with the day. Definite up sides to this 'work from home' deal.

I have learnt (quite quickly I think) that I CAN share space and I DON'T have to have time alone every day! Funny how we tell ourselves things that simply are not true? 

This morning I  created a 2 hour space for myself to go for a run with a friend and then to meet another friend for a coffee. I am under no illusion that neglecting running and time with friends will ruin me so I am prioritising pockets of time for myself as necessary. Success in this new lifestyle ultimately depends on knowing my weaknesses and managing them wisely.

This 'gap time' entailed prepping Faith on her work schedule - Maths and English. I made sure she had enough to keep her busy from 830-930.  She is completely self-motivated and able to work independently.

At 945 -1045 she had a Home Ec lesson scheduled - her teacher comes to our home every second Thursday to work with her. This term she is learning to knit and is happily working away right now on a 'Polly Pocket' blanket for her sister. The next project is fingerless gloves and ultimately we hope to have legwarmers for ballet by July!

I arrived home after a beautiful run along the beach and my 'friendship tank' full. Found these two lovely ladies chatting up a storm and knitting away.

Good times. :-)

15 May 2013

Finding our Groove

Our days have naturally begun to evolve.

Despite popular opinion we felt no need to take an 'unschooling' season. We have easily adapted into a pattern of work that suits us.

Our basic schedule looks like this at the moment:

1. Eye exercises (10mins)

2. Mathematics (up to 30mins sometimes longer)

3. English can take many forms : read aloud, self reading, comprehension, copy work, poetry  or grammar / language worksheets.

We have touched on other sciences this week which have included:

History - Reading Modern Day Hero series (Anne Frank) and discussing the Holocaust.

Geography - using our world map to locate all the countries involved in WW2

Science - introduction to electricity, building a circuit, conductors and understanding how traffic lights work. 

We have looked at basic capacity measures while baking as well as estimations.

What have I learnt this week?

Watching her reading about Anne Frank has show me how much she loves to learn about people - their experiences, achievements, challenges and circumstances. With this knowledge I will begin to look at history/geography and science through the eyes of people who lived in the eras we plan to study.

I have also seen the capacity for retaining information is directly proportional to their interest in the subject.

Birthday Season

Next week is Faiths birthday which marks the beginning of the madness for the next month which sees Rachel and Levi also celebrating their birthdays.

Levi will have a party this year. The girls will not. I am so over the party scene I could bust a gut. Three in a month every year is just ridiculous.

That is NOT to say we will not celebrate - the girls will obviously be able to have a couple of kids over for a movie/pizza or something exceptionally low-key but there will be no invitations and razz-matazz this year.

Next year Rachel turns 13 and Faith will be 10. There will be celebrations for sure.

I chatted with Rach this morning about what she would like for her birthday and was rather stunned at the response.....

'Nothing mom. I have everything I need.'

Pardon? What?

Her friends all have cellphones so I was almost expecting a conversation around a blackberry but she insisted she DOES NOT want a cellphone.

Her take on cellphones?

'they are annoying because people message you all the time and the responsibility of keeping it safe, charged and on is not worth it'.

She certainly still has the ability to leave me speechless.

14 May 2013

The Irony is Not Lost on Me

“If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, then this is the best season of your life.” - Wu-Men

Simplicity comes in the strangest forms.

Anyone who has read me for any length of time will know that simplicity is what I long for in every area of my life. I am guessing I am not alone in this.

In a world full of noise, clutter and a 'culture of MORE' - simplicity seems as mythical as the pot of gold at the rainbow's end.

In the last few days I have found the shedding of my many roles to be utterly exhilharating. I have chosen to focus solely on schooling Faith and have unhitched from many other activities that took much of my time and mental acuity.

There is no longer any expectation on me.

People know I am now a (*) homeschooler. 

I do not have time to be involved in every activity and committee and and and.


(*)  Call me crazy but I prefer to be called an informal educator. ;-) 

13 May 2013

Thoughts on Day 1

Today was a blank canvas. We were ready to just fill it in in a way that was comfortable to us.

I thought it would be fun to document our very first day. This type of post is too personal for my other blog but I do want to keep a record of this journey.

Both Faith and I have a tendency toward Type A behaviours and I wanted to make sure we pace ourselves carefully.

The first thing she did while I cleaned up the kitchen was her eye exercises. This is going to be a great way to start each day...in the past eye exercises where always a drama and so difficult to fit into a hectic day.

She usually has a headache for a while after these are done. She was able to play with Charly for a few minutes until the headache had abated.

We went straight into maths, working in her NumberSense workbook from school. Once that had been done we did drills, math rockets, math flowers etc - just reinforcing bonds and tables.

We then headed to the library to get out books. We will be introducing electricity this week in our quest to uncover the mystery of traffic lights and how they work. ;-)

Valyland Hardware Store gave us copper wire and DC bulbs so we will build circuits tomorrow. Our other errands included the pharmacy where she had to go the assistant and list what we needed. From there we went to buy sewing stuff and she found the bits, tallied the costs and handled the sale.

Everywhere we go, from the library to the hardware to the dog parlour - people are so receptive and practically cheers us on in our decision to learn outside the school building! The lovely lady at the dog parlour has asked Faith to come spend an hour from time to time with her as 'life skills' project.

When she (Faith) is ready the owner has offered her a job shadow opportunity to learn how a business runs and to even work with the animals! I was just blown away.

We finished our day by reading from our Modern Heroes series (Anne Frank) and she managed to find all the countries invaded by Hitler on our wall map. She also mapped out the Allies and the baddies. ;-)

Read aloud time - these books are the bomb!

And now, while I wade my way through a mountain of admin she is chilling with the pup and watching an espisode of The Middle....sssshhhh, dont tell her sibs she got to watch tv at lunchtime!

11 May 2013

Busy Saturday

Weekend playdates are simply not in our frame. We don't do them. This Saturday, however, I decided to let the kids all invite mates over. I realised our weeks are SO busy that none of them get to engage with their mates outside of school.

The result was surprising. It was a wonderful time for all of us. We were each able to get on with whatever we pleased. The grown-ups pottered and did bits around the house.

The preteens walked the dog, surfed the net, baked a cake and played Cluedo.

The tweens set up treasure hunts and drew and just hung out.

The boytjies played soccer, practised slingshot skills, trampolined and played gogos for ages.

This is definitely going to be a more regular occurence - no rush, no agenda and just time on our hands for each person to indulge in some of their favourite activities.

Each doing whatever they please

Getting trickier to photographer the preteens but this is a goodie

I was able to set up our workspace for school and order her books
The afternoon saw a good friend of mine come through with her two precious little poppets. It was so lovely to watch Rachel engage with the little ones - she made sure they were safe and had suitable toys within reach. I am extremely proud of the way she rises to this responsibility when young children visit our home.

She was particularly taken with this little poppet and I think the feeling was entirely mutual!

Happy times at Cafe Roux

Raine and I were well able to relax for the most part and enjoy each others company while the girls were taken care of although I was still aghast at how hands-on this age it for the young moms! It is AMAZING how quickly you forget - pretty exhausting!

Car waving never ceases to appeal

A busy happy day for everyone!

10 May 2013

Whirlwind Week

This has been one of the craziest weeks I have had in a very long time. This morning I am literally sitting at home, still in my pyjamas, just pottering around to try and take a moment to just be. 

Last night I stole an hour and lay in the bath watching TED TV - I love listening to these quick, inspiring and often life-changing talks. The wealth of wisdom, creativity and ingenuity online makes for a great way to unwind without watching garbage.

In other randomness - I found these leggings for the girls. I think they are uber-cute! Rach is having a bit of a hard time at the thought of her nemesia aka Faith getting to stay HOME instead of going to school. Yes, she understands all the reasons. Yes, she understands why I wont school her now but its really really hard on her. 

Initially she was horrified at the thought of being schooled informally. That was only for weirdos and learning impaired kids....but as the week as unfolded she has learnt and seen so much more than has always been presented as traditional 'homeschool'. It really isnt for the backyardigans after all. Her time may come, we shall wait and see. It is not now.

This little poppet was a nightmare this morning. I don't know exactly how she is processing her last day but MAN she was grumpy this morning. 
Ratty and snappy and freaking out that she was going to be late and and and. My eyes were on stalks! She is always a stress-bunny in the mornings but today is was on supercharge...I totally thought she would be chilled.

Do you know she flipped because I hadn't signed her homework book? 
I am, like, whaaaaat? Its really not that important anymore Faith? 
(in my head, not out loud cos she may have eaten me alive)

I signed the homework book. I signed the reader form. And I packed in the cupcakes and she packed in all the notes for her peers. And then she cried a little. Not because she was sad. Because Levi was looking at her funny.

09 May 2013

Choosing a Curriculum


This was  by far my biggest concern when I began thinking about informal education.

How do I know what to teach my child?

Do I have to buy a full package from one supplier to ensure I get all the stuff?

Can I use bits from different places?

How do I make sure I dont leave out big gaps of importance?

Is one curriculum geared for specific learner types?

Can I use an international curriculum or should I look at a South African based one?


Bear in mind I only START schooling on Monday so I am by NO MEANS an expert on choosing a curriculum! In fact I still cant answer some of those questions conclusively. All I am doing is simply sharing my experience and decision- making to date. 

The first thing I did was GOOGLE GOOGLE GOOGLE and then GOOGLE some more. Of course you knew that, right?! And I joined the facebook page for Western Cape Homeschoolers.  ;-)

I then met with not one, not two, not three but FOUR seasoned homeschoolers. Not strangers but close friends with whom I have a deep, meaningful honest relationships. People who know me, know Lulu and understand our strengths and weaknesses.

They showed me how they are schooling their kids (ranging in age from 8-18) and how they use resources from everywhere - bits of formal curriculums, books from Readers Warehouse, books off Kindle and of course, endless resources online!

For Lulu, in Grade 3 right now, it boils down to this. Keep on top of Maths and Language. And read. Read. Read. And then read some more. 

For Maths I have a stock of workbooks I bought from Readers Warehouse that are set in line with the National Curriculum - complete with test schedules. I am also using KONOS Math-U-See Curriculum available from Oikus.

For English I have a range of workbooks, again from Readers Warehouse aswell as a comprehensive grammar workbook with set lessons and worksheets up to Grade 4. (borrowed from a friend) In addition to this I have ordered the Grade 4 LLATL resources, also from KONOS.

For Afrikaans I have yet to find suitable resources but I know where to look - for now I am well able to school her myself by creating lesson plans around topical issues as they have been doing in class.

The online offerings I will be using most often right now are :

I have narrowed it down to these for now but the offerings online are endless. I also have a large stock of iPad apps that will definitely be employed to bring about some variety and mobile learning - I will share these in another post.

08 May 2013

It's Not Always As It Seems

About five months ago Russell moved heaven and earth to get 3 Bieber tickets for us to take Levi to see this remarkable lad. The euphoria was contagious and the counting of months, weeks and days began.

Tonight was the night. But we are not there.

Yesterday I just had a real sense of unease. I did not want to go.  Aside from that I felt Levi had outgrown his interest in Justin Bieber even though he still occasionally enjoys his music. I went to Russell and told him I simply did not want to go.

He looked at me blankly and asked why. I could not really give him one answer and I had to just say - ' 'well, I don't have a good feeling in my gut. I just dont want to go. Period.'

He was not amused. Or impressed. Non-commital is the word I would use.

Undeterred I went to Levi to test the waters.

I called him outside and he skipped along while reminding me it was only One More Sleep until the show. My stomach cartwheeled but I forged ahead.

'Buddy, do you REALLY still want to go see Bieber?'

(immediately suspicious) 'WHY you asking me Mom?'

'Well, times have changed since we bought the tickets and you do seem to have moved on a bit, you know? There are other things that are much more important to you now, dont you think?'


'Like sport? How about if we swerve Bieber and give you some CASH (the magic word right now) in your hand and take you to Sportsmans Warehouse? We can then go out for dinner - the girls can still go sleep at Gran so it will still just be us and you?'

(his eyes lit up like little sparklers and his gummy grin melted my heart)

'YESSSSSS! That is so much better. (pauses thoughtfully) How MUCH cash Mom?'

Um, will R300 work for you?

(trippling around like a little bokkie) 'Yes!' (fist pump into the air)

'Deal! Lets go tell Dad!'

We sold the tickets at full price within five minutes.

This evening we did as planned.  For his cash he came home with a basketball, a slingshot, 4 cones for soccer dribbles, a Stormers cap and a mouth guard! Steers burgers for supper and couch time with Dad watching Home Alone.

My heart is full. And I learnt that sometimes the 'perceived' dreams of our kids have little more to do with the fact that it may mean Time Alone with Their Parents.

07 May 2013

Seasons of Change

The year so far has seen some really big changes in our lives:

1. My kids all in the same school for the first time ever.

2. Russell changing careers and now working from home.

3. Rachel entering the teens and Faith the tweens.

4. My mid life milestone and those ramifications.

But the latest development has been the swiftest and most radical change to date.

Bringing Faith home, to school her,is by far the most monumental decision I think I have ever made in the short space of her young life.

Faith is an unusual child but quite capable of mainstream schooling. She is highly focussed, extremely academic and loves to learn. She is ambitious and structured and there is no reason to take her out of formal education except for the fact that I do believe I can do it better at home and with far less stress on us both.

Right now, the class environment she is in is simply not the most condusive to happy learning. There are various factors that lead me to believe she is bored, unstimulated and frustrated. To bring her home is an obvious OBVIOUS choice.

Of course, even though this has been quick, you must know it has been seriously ruminating in my mind for about 8 months, however its been hidden in my heart for close to 10 years.

I do believe that there are better ways to educate our kids than by doing what we have been doing for hundreds of years. I have seen real changes in education and the way kids learn but not enough to make me stand behind the Institution of Formal Schooling without question.

The most popular question to date (apart from the WHY?) is how do I know that what I am teaching them is the 'right thing' to teach them.

Hello? Who do you think sets the curriculum for your kids education? Why do you think 'that person' is more competent than you are to decide what your kids should learn? 

Just chew on that for a little while.

I did NOT take Faith out of school :

because she is not coping academically. Fact, she is a good 6 months ahead of her peers.

because she has troubled social relationships. Fact, she is a very popular member of her class.

because I want to school her with my beliefs. Fact, she is in a wonderful Christ-centred school.

because I want to only teach her what she wants to learn. Fact, she will be learning far more than she is currently, across a wider range of subjects.

because I don't want to get up in winter. Fact, I still have the other two in regular school.

What I do NOT know right now:

How long I will homeschool her.

If I will bring her siblings home eventually too.

How the next 6 months will look.

What I DO know right now:

Amazing people have fallen into my life

Incredible resources have fallen into my lap

My family is supportive and excited for us

Friends are supportive of us

I am not one of the 'norm' homeschool types and am prepared to draw outside the lines and possibly rattle some cages in the future.

Faith will go to school for her last 'official' day on Friday. And next week our journey begins. And what would a new journey be without a blog to chronicle it hey?

I will have a public blog FIVE TRIBE GO HOME which will follow our trials and errors, ups and down and all the exciting bits in between. Maybe I will see you there? ;-)