Our Reasons for Home Education:

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Although he was achieving good results, he wasn't reaching his full potential because his love for learning had been destroyed & hence his grades were steadily declining.

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Completely failed by the system, he hated school, was always tired & homework time was a major frustration for both of us. He was severely frustrated & quickly heading to become yet another ADHD statistic.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take... but by the moments that take your breath away! May all your days be breathtaking in 2012 & may you be surrounded by true friends, loads of love & tons of happiness... Wishing you and your loved ones a very blessed & Happy New Year!!!
Just One Request
Dear Master for this coming year
Just one request I bring:
I do not pray for happiness,
Or any earthly thing—
I do not ask to understand
The way Thou leadest me,
But this I ask: Teach me to do
The thing that pleaseth Thee.
I want to know Thy guiding voice,
To walk with Thee each day.
Dear Master make me swift to hear
And ready to obey.
And thus the year I now begin
A happy year will be—
If I am seeking just to do
The thing that pleaseth Thee.
By: Chris Mostert

Thursday, December 22, 2011

~::~ Christmas Gifts for Everyone ~::~


Wishing all a Blessed Christmas, to you and  the family.

Spend this time with loved ones sharing All The good things God has done in your Life


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Friends of Kloofendal

Jesse’s been on holiday in Shelly Beach with an old school friend since the 30th November and was only due back on the 16th. This has left Misha home alone, but I’m surprised to say that he’s actually been quite content on his own, although he’s used this time to sleep in Ouboet’s room every night…

When the email came around last week for the Friends of Kloofendal Adventure activities I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to allow him some independent learning close to home. Up to now, he’s always had Jesse with on activities to keep an eye on him, but flying solo was a new learning curve for both of us…

Monday ~ Bush Survival

The guide, made the children aware what is needed to survive in the bush, is not just food, as water, shelter, warmth, navigation are all important factors in bush survival. The children were then sent off into the bush with guides to ensure that they find all the essentials to survival. Back in the amphitheatre the guide checked whether the various groups found their survival ingredients with which, with under experienced guidance, they were able to make a fire and cook bush food, which included meal worms and crickets. Did you know meal worms contain more protein than meat? I was told they tasted like seafood and found it very amusing that this cook refused to eat her own cooking, but then I don't think I would have either.

I gave him a camera to use for taking photos, but Misha had so much fun during the activities that he forgot to take photos, so most of these I took when I came to fetch them afterwards.

Kloofendal Nature Reserve ~ Bush Survival
Kloofendal Nature Reserve ~ Bush Survival
Tuesday ~ Goldmine Tour

I wanted to see the mine myself and asked Misha if he would mind me accompanying him on the tour. Of course, he was not very impressed because he reckoned I's said I'd let him fly solo from Monday to Thursday. I decided to join next time when both boys go on the adventure activities.

The guide took the children on a gold discovery experience, which included a visit into the Confidence Reef, the first goldmine on the Witwatersrand (= the beginning of Johannesburg). They tried out gold panning, which is quite a skill, but no gold was found. They learnt about the history of the miners, and the stamp mill, what this huge machine is used for, how it works and why it came from all the way England to South Africa.

Once again, Misha forgot to take photos until his friend reminded him about the camera, so we these are what we got...

Kloofendal Nature Reserve ~ Goldmine Tour

Kloofendal Nature Reserve ~ Goldmine Tour
Wednesday ~ Bundu Bash Adventure & Action Programme

Experienced guides accompanied the children on this adventure for active children with inquiring minds. They explored what is all happening in the nature around them, discovering signs of animals, learning about the wonderful uses of local plants, tasting, smelling, feeling, hearing the different sounds (birds, frogs, insects?), collecting various required items on the way to discuss at end of the walk, finding a treasure using simple map reading skills, exploring mine trenches and adits. The boys came out there quite dirty and obviously had loads of fun.

Fortunately the guide's camera battery was flat thus he used Misha's for photos and we got a few more than the previous days...

Kloofendal Nature Reserve ~ Bundu Bash Adventure
Kloofendal Nature Reserve ~ Bundu Bash Adventure

Unfortunately Thursday’s Rand Water Programme was cancelled due to too few bookings received so we went to the movies to see Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 (Chipwrecked) instead.

Misha had so much fun with these activities and said he’d be disappointed if he weren’t able to do them again, so I will definitely be looking into letting the boys take part into many more of these activities during the course of next year.



This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers (SACH Bloggers) where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more. You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page. We hope you enjoy the carnival as much as we have!

SA Home Schooling Blog Carnival #14


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Monday, December 12, 2011


After a very stressful year with the “school at home” approach through Le-Amen, I’ve been looking into unschooling for both my boys because the hate schoolwork with such intense passion. Fortunately Daddy has finally agreed to unschooling although just for a period until we’ve helped them restore their love for learning.

Here are some sites about unschooling worth checking out:

Friday, December 9, 2011

What we Achieved this Year

Since we finished our first year home educating last week, I’ve been asking myself what we actually achieved this year…
I must admit goal setting has never been one of my strong points. Generally I just take life in it’s stride, although I always managed to get things done…
Academically, however, I had their year all planned out. By the end of last year I had bought their “worksheet wasteland” curriculum and expected the schedules to run smooth sailing… but alas, my schedules were met with much resistance. By the end of the first term already they were getting annoyed with my insistence to get the worksheets done.  They wanted to wrestle and play instead of doing the boring bookwork.
During the second term I learnt about learning styles and realised that this approach wasn’t going to work for us and I was back on the internet searching for alternatives. I canned the schedules and decided instead to take one day at a time. I realised that for my own sanity as well as the boys I just had to find a better way to educate the kids.
Misha started with Le-Amen worksheets, changed to All-In-One programme, then we used Switched on Shoolhouse for Language Arts and Teaching Textbooks for Maths. Eventually we converted worksheets into lapbooks and finally we switched him over to Time 4 Learning. He has redone his whole Grade R foundation with Hettie and his gross and fine motor skills as well as midline crossing abilities are finally up to date. He has learnt to read and his overall confidence has improved a great deal. He’s discovered a love for art and has his future all planned out, wanting to become a Science and Art teacher.
Although I eased off on the bookwork with Jesse, he still had to do his assessments and write the Le-Amen exams. He did very well for a child that hated schoolwork so much. It took most of the year to get there, but he’s finally started to open up to me. All the “sit on mommy” time and wrestling have finally paid off. I’m getting to know him better and finally have a better idea how to approach the next year with him. The Technology lessons with the Tutor were a hit and he really seems to love the hands-on learning.
Thanks to HomeSchool Tracker Basic edition I was able to track all their activities and scores to give an accurate report on all they have achieved.
a1103-mini-star-well-doneIn spite of all the challenges, with curricula that didn’t work for them, both boys still managed to improve their grades substantially.
I was blown away after collecting the boys' reports today…
I have absolutely no idea how Le-Amen got to their scores but somehow, only Jesse's Afrikaans & Social Science results correspond with what I handed in and his 83% average has dropped to 70%.
Misha scored a whopping 86% average for all the assignments he has done, but their report classes him as an average student... Now how does this make sense?
Although the Le-Amen results don’t correspond with mine, at least they have promoted the boys to grades 4 & 9 respectively for next year. I don’t have the energy to put on a fight about it, so I'll just write this homeschool support center off to a very bad experience never to be used again... I will just ignore their reports and use our own instead.
Bringing them home, where they belong has been the best move ever. I just love having the boys around all the time. We’re enjoying our new found freedom and are not missing the daily trips rushing to and from school at all.
I, of course, failed miserably at being super organised (having been a secretary, PA & Office Administrator before becoming a housewife), have everything filled, up to date, know what’s happening where, complete tasks etc. Somehow time just didn’t seem to be on my side.
We did manage to get into a routine and even managed to get them doing some chores. Jesse’s become a master at making fudge and jelly. Even Misha’s been helping around the kitchen lately.
We managed to do many things together, from baking, to playing and of course we even managed to fit in more field trips than our whole family has had in all our schooling careers together. They loved the monthly ice skating trips and the horse camp in September was a major hit.
I’m most impressed with their personal progress though. All the sweat and tears this year were well worth it just looking at how much they’ve grown…
Misha is no longer a tired, stressed-out whiney child and the boys hardly ever fight any more. They play games together and get along so much better these days. Jesse also seems to be much more relaxed. He’s even started doing small maintenance jobs in and around the house. If he keeps it up, one day he may be able to teach Daddy a thing or two…
All in all, our whole family life style has changed for the better… I’m beginning to understand the way they learn and I have an idea of how to make “school” work for us next year… And of course we’ve saved about R20,000 on school fees, even with all the extra murals which included ice skating, Junior Engineering, Tutors as well as camping for both of themwell-done.
Misha’s starting to show interest in some forms of learning and I trust by the end of next year Jesse will be enjoying learning again too…

Well done boys, you did us proud!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Merry Christmas

It’s been a week since we finished & I’m still struggling to recover. I don’t know if it’s normal but I’m finding it hard to shut off from reading home education related emails, websites & books. I guess after a few days of scrap-therapy I might just feel different.

Jesse’s been off to the coast with a friend since last week & we’re missing him terribly. I miss the regular “Sit on Mommy” time sessions although this 14 year old is way to big to fit on my lap anymore. He has outgrown me by far and pretty soon I will probably also lose the weight advantage for all those fun wrestling matches…

I’m still finding it extremely hard to believe that it’s this time of the year again. Last year I vowed to do my Christmas shopping early so as not to have to brave the traffic in the centers during peak season, but alas I failed miserably at that… this year has passed me by so fast that I haven’t even had a chance to think about getting presents yet.

Somehow the Christmas fever seems to have bypassed me this year, or maybe it’ll still hit me later. We finally put the Christmas tree up this week because Misha wanted it up.


The closest I’ve managed to get to crafts or ideas thus far is this digi-scrap greeting card and since my brain is just too tired for creative writing at this stage, this will be a very short blog post just to thank you for all your valued contributions by means of comments & suggestions into our first year of home education.

In the interim we would like to wish you all a very blessed Christmas and all God’s richest blessings for 2010.

Yesterday is but a vision, and tomorrow is only a dream. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a dream of hope.


This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers (SACH Bloggers) where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more. You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page. We hope you enjoy the carnival as much as we have!

SA Home Schooling Blog Carnival #13

Monday, December 5, 2011

Creating a Lapbook About Horses

by Katie Kubesh

I know I’m supposed to be on holiday, but I’m catching up on email backlog and just discovered this one… I don’t know why I didn’t notice this article in my mail when it came through in September just before the boys went on their horse camp. It would have made a good unit study for the boys in preparation for their camp… I will definitely have to keep it in mind before they go on the next one.

UntitledIf you or your children have ever had the privilege of visiting a farm and riding a horse, you probably discovered how easy it is to fall in love with these magnificent creatures! Those dark eyes, soft coat, and long, flowing mane are hard to resist.

Did you know that horses are measured in units of hand length? A “hand” is equal to about 4 inches, and the average horse stands between 15 and 17 hands high. Speaking of hands, what better way to learn about these beautiful animals than with hands-on activities that are assembled together to create a horse lapbook!

You may already have heard that student learning improves when lessons incorporate hands-on activities. It’s true! Therefore, a lapbook would be a great way to teach children about horses and incorporate hands-on activities. Although creating a lapbook about horses may seem as daunting a task as riding the biggest, fastest horse on the farm, with a little research and equipped with some basic home office supplies, your student can learn about the horse and complete an attractive lapbook displaying everything he or she has learned.

Your student will need file folders, paper in a variety of colours, crayons, pencils, markers, or other writing tools. You can find many reproducible templates for mini books, pocket cards, and other booklets and graphics online. You can also make your own mini books by folding paper in various ways. Other items to use in your horse lapbook include clipart, stickers, scrapbook paper, die cuts, colouring pages, games, puzzles, drawings, and photos.

Key concepts will vary depending on the age/skill level of your student and on what you decide you want to learn about horses. Here are some ideas to choose from:

Scientific Classification

What is the horse’s classification? What other animals belong to the same family? Horses, donkeys, and zebras look alike because they are all in the same family. Encourage your student to compare these three types of animals, using a mini booklet or Venn diagram.


Find a picture of a horse and have your child label the anatomy. Important features include the back, belly, dock, eyes, fetlock (ankle), forelock, hock, hoof, knee, mane, muzzle, neck, nostril, shank, tail, and withers. Find out about the different facial markings and leg markings on horse breeds, and encourage your child to draw markings on a picture of a horse’s face and/or legs. Markings might include star, snip, stripe, or blaze.

When studying anatomy, this would be a great time to explore the purpose of horseshoes! Why do horses wear shoes and how are they put on? Have your child record his or her answers on a horseshoe-shaped booklet.


Horses need plenty of food and water. What do horses eat? Are horses considered omnivores, carnivores, or herbivores? Visit a local feed store to learn about the different types of feed available. It is important to feed domestic horses properly, including lots of good quality hay. Visit a local horse farm and ask the owner to explain the dangers of feeding a horse bad hay. Ask him how to tell the difference between good and bad hay.

Life Cycle

How long do horses live? What are some of the stages of a horse’s life cycle? On a yearly calendar, have your child record or count the gestation period for a horse (11 months).

Horse Senses

How do horses use their senses? Horses rely on all five senses, but four are especially sensitive. Encourage your child to learn how horses rely on their senses of hearing, sight, touch, and smell.

Horse Gaits

What are the different types of gaits? Pretend you are horses and try demonstrating each of the different gaits: walk, trot, canter, gallop.

Size and Age

How are horses measured? Compare the size of different breeds of horses and/or compare the size of horses to other animals in the Equidae family. Find out what the smallest breed of horse is and the largest. How is a horse’s age determined? Suggestion: Have your child write his or her answer to this question on a mini book with horse teeth on it!

Body Language

If you ever wonder what a horse is feeling, look at its face and ears! A horse’s body language is a good indicator of how the horse is feeling. Explore the different ways that horses communicate with each other and with humans. If possible, have your child observe a horse and record in a journal what he or she notices. Are the horse’s ears forward and flickering? Are the ears pinned back? Are its nostrils flared? Is one ear forward and one ear back? What do all these things mean?

Horse Breeds

What are the different breeds of horses? Have your child pick one (or more) of his favourites and write a brief report about that breed, including the average height and weight of the breed, common colour, where the breed originated, distinctive markings, and other interesting facts.

How Horses Are Useful

Horses are able to follow basic commands and have been very useful to man throughout history. Research at least five ways that horses have been useful to man. Visit a racetrack, recreational facility, or a farm where horses are used as part of the work team. Explore the etymology of the term horsepower to learn when, where, and how the term was first coined.

How to Care for a Horse

What do horses need to survive? Visit a local farm or veterinarian’s office to find out. Or do some research online and at the library to identify the basic needs of horses, including food, shelter, and veterinary care. Find out which basic pieces of equipment are needed to ride horses.

Identification Terms

A horse is a horse, but during your research you may come across a variety of terms that are used to identify a horse, depending on its age and gender. Encourage your student to become familiar with different terms used to identify horses, including these: foal, colt, stallion, gelding, filly, mare, dam, and sire.

Famous Horses

From racehorses to cartoon characters, horses have made a name for themselves throughout history. What are some of your favourite horse characters? Is your favourite horse a real horse or a fictional character? Famous horses your student may want to investigate include Black Beauty, Mr. Ed, Barbaro, Citation, Seabiscuit, Silver, and Trigger. Encourage your child to create his or her own imaginary horse character! Write a story about a horse, or create finger puppets to act out a horse-themed play.

Vocabulary Terms

As with any study, vocabulary is important! Find the definitions of relevant or new words as you go through the study. Some vocabulary terms you may want to include in your horse lapbook include these: breed, canter, colt, farrier, filly, foal, gait, gallop, gelding, herbivore, mare, reins, sire, stallion, thoroughbred, trot, walk.

Related Reading

Don’t forget to read some fun books about horses! Some horse-related books include these: Mrs. Mack by Patricia Polacco, H Is for Horse: An Equestrian Alphabet by Mike Ulmer, I Wonder Why Horses Wear Shoes by Jacki Gaff, The Kingfisher Illustrated Horse & Pony Encyclopedia by Sandy Ransford, and Horse Sense by Beth Gruber.

Completing Your Horse Lapbook

To complete your horse lapbook, simply fold the file folder(s) shutter style and attach the mini booklets and other graphics to the lapbook. Your completed horse lapbook has become a portfolio of your student’s study of the horse! Your horse lapbook is easy to store and will fit into a file cabinet, file folder, or magazine holder with ease. Pull the horse lapbook out again and again to review and reminisce about the great things you and your child learned about the magnificent horse!

Katie Kubesh is co-owner and writer/researcher for In the Hands of a Child. Recognizing that hands-on projects are essential to the learning experience, In the Hands of a Child has created project packs that go beyond the hands-on aspect. They have taken the preparation time out of the parent/teacher job description with complete, ready-to-assemble, lapbook-style units that are available in ebook, printed book, and CD formats. Please visit their website at

Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, Summer 2011.

Visit The Old Schoolhouse® at to view a full-length sample copy of the magazine especially for homeschoolers. Click the graphic of the moving computer monitor on the left. Email the Publisher at

Friday, December 2, 2011

We’re Finished

WoW, we have finally delivered our evaluations to Le-Amen on Tuesday afternoon and that officially marks the end of our first year of homeschooling. Little did we know that this "school at home" approach would make our journey such a hectic and stressful one for us.

Home education is not for the faint-hearted…

Honestly, I do regret using Le-Amen as our service provider as our experience with them has been rather disappointing. Their material for Misha was way too much "worksheet wasteland" orientated and boring to work with. He hated doing them, & I didn't enjoy marking them either. Needless to say, I’m still waiting for feedback on the missing activities in his environmental studies manual… After repeatedly querying this, I gave up and he was overjoyed when I finally discovered lapbooking and allowed him to cut the worksheets up for his lapbooks.
We eventually replaced all the worksheets with Smart Tutor, Switched on Schoolhouse Language Arts, Teaching Textbooks and many other alternative resources until we recently stumbled onto Time4Learning again. After all the chopping and changing, he still managed to do quite well for a child that was struggling through school years before.
2011_1019_082612(2)We also discovered his sudden interest in painting after taking him to a tutor to help with his “way beyond his age” art project for his Le-Amen portfolio. We were amazed at the end result and this term decided to let him continue art lessons with Edward.
He thoroughly enjoyed these lessons. From building the frame for the canvas, to painting this picture with Edward’s guidance. It turned out quite pretty. He enjoyed it so much that he’s been asking for more lessons this week.
Thanks to HomeSchool Tracker I was able to track everything the boys did. Misha averaged 86.11% covering Afrikaans, English, German, Art, Bible, Environmental Studies, Social Studies, Life Skills, Maths & Science.
Jesse’s books were not at all homeschool friendly. Pushing this textbook approach, just fuelled his intense hatred for schoolwork instead of help recover his love for learning. The textbooks were classroom orientated & the teachers manuals were aimed at professional teachers and not homeschool parents. When I questioned this I was told English and Maths were important and I shouldn’t worry about the others as they were “poer vakke”. How on earth is a child's supposed to be able to self-study with material that’s not appropriate for that purpose? I finally replaced most of his textbooks with alternatives and also got him Switched on Schoolhouse Science to try out.
He thoroughly enjoyed the technology lessons with Edward. This year he’s had in depth training on architectural drawings, built a miniature sample to accompany the drawings. He also started AutoCAD drawing lessons. As a technology project he’s busy building me a new washing line for the back stoep. This entailed measuring, drawing, planning material as as well as welding lessons.
Although he hated the bookwork, Jesse still managed to increase his average with 14+% from last year to 83.72% covering Afrikaans, English, German, Accounting, Bible, Social Studies, Life Skills, Maths Natural Science, Science & Technology. Now if this is what he’s capable of whilst hating what he’s doing, I can just imagine what he’ll achieve when he loves learning again.
However, apart from the “school” stress, we did also have loads of fun this year. We’ve done more field trips in one year than what Clive & I had in our combined school careers. I love having the boys home with me. We’ve grown so much closer as a family.
Fortunately I have discovered learning styles and how that affects their ability to retain what they've learnt and we still have some time to salvage the damage caused by the "system". For next year I’m planning loads of hands-on activities and fun instead of the traditional “school at home” approach.

Trixi's-HomeEd-Academy-000-LogoI have been inspired to write a home educating philosophy for our family… but this is as far as I got for now…

I must admit I haven't been this tired & stressed in ages. It's already taken me a few days to de-stress and I'm only now starting to feel slightly normal again. I've been in bed by 22h00 most nights this week and am still tired. Fortunately we have a few weeks’ break now and I trust next year will be better and less stressful as we explore educating the WAY THEY LEARN.
For now, I’m looking forward to a nice long break and I’m sure the boys are happy to be on holiday too…

Monday, November 28, 2011

Overwhelmed Update…

Here’s my update on my Overwhelmed post on Friday…
Sight Without Vision
I’ve been quite stressed lately  because we have to hand in results and evaluations to Le-Amen next week and getting Jesse to finish his bookwork is harder than dragging a donkey to the water. I've also been frustrated because I'm struggling to find material that will help him restore his love for learning. My big challenge is to fix what the system has so badly damaged. Although I have found some material that may work for Misha, I still have no idea how to go about it for Jesse.
I had a big fat fight with Jesse on Friday, because he just doesn’t want to complete the bookwork for our deadline this week & dad still insists it has to be done. Dad just doesn’t see their hurt the same way I do. He feels we “survived the system” in our days and so should the kids,  although in our days pressure at school wasn’t half as bad as now.
My long heart-to-heart with Jesse the previous week also made me realise I hadn’t noticed the extent of his hatred for school earlier thus made me feel guilty for not removing him from the system sooner. Of course Satan had a field day with making me feel that I had failed him for not seeing through his “seemingly coping” facade at school. Forcing the Le-Amen material just fuelled the fire more and made it all worse instead of releasing the stress as initially intended through home educating. I think the stress & frustration at not finding adequate material was getting a little too much. Feeling much better now though. We had another long heart-to-heart on Friday afternoon after I had cried my heart out & agreed although we cannot change the past we will now work together to find a solution for the future.
I suppose if I’d read the SACHS Blog Carnival # 11 – Philosophies of Homeschooling by Linnie Lues at Back to Ancient Ways, when it came out 2 weeks ago this last outburst could probably have been prevented. This was the first time since the Blog Carnivals started last year that I didn’t have time to read the posts & now I know why I was kept so busy that I didn’t get to it. She wrote: “Shirley at Under and English Sky wrote about the heart behind homeschooling, as God has convicted her, in A Vapour in the Wind, It's Simple... They Belong To Jesus... and Homeschooling for Homeschoolings sake? She has experienced the distraction of too many curriculum choices, too many tried and tested methods. Each one of them distracting her from the '”WHY” they home educate. She took a look into homeschooling that goes beyond method, curriculum or style, rather into their families heart, the true reason why they educate their children at home.”  This paragraph and the linked posts have been confirmation to me to follow my heart and that we were heading in the right direction. True to form, Satan will always try to oppose when we’re planning to do what we feel in our hearts God wants us to do, hence all the distractions for me to read these posts...
Fortunately, Dad has finally agreed to allow unschooling for Jesse until August/September next year when the new American school year starts in order to allow him some time find his interests and to deal with his intense hatred towards schoolwork. Jesse has agreed to then put in his best efforts for Gr. 9 – 12 through Alpha Omega Academy or whatever other hands-on material I God brings on our path by then.
So for now it will be Science (with all the necessary equipment needed to do the experiments), Technology, Barry’s Geography, Woodworking and whatever other hands-on-learning opportunities I can lay my hands on. And of course one of those sets we saw at the expo. We’ll be turning our little kitchen into the science lab where they can experiment and build to their hearts’ content. We’ll also take up the guitar lessons again and I may even get some other kids to join them to make it more fun.
Although I don’t have a set approach for next year, I am now resting in the knowledge that God is taking my boys at their own levels & I need to allow them the time to deschool, find their interests & allow God to do pave the way to restoring their love for learning.
In this House...
I have also been inspired to start formulating our philosophy for home education in the near future. I still have no idea how and when but first of all we will be removing “school” from our vocabulary and replacing it with education. I saw this photo on facebook this weekend and have decided to include it with our philosophy.
So here we go as we take a turn in our home educating journey... watch this space... we’re planning to have loads of FUN education next year... but first we’re looking forward to enjoying a well deserved holiday.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

Who would have ever thought I’d take up blogging at this stage of my life. As a student I always hated creative writing & could never pin my thoughts to paper. But these days blogging has become an integral part of my life. It has become my outlet when frustrated & bouncing board for ideas when confused. Because I have so often felt alone in this struggle with my, I decided to share these experiences so other new home schooling moms could benefit from the knowledge & resources I have found during my hours of research.
Although my husband’s known Desiré for many years and I have met her parents and sister many years ago, I only “met” her via hubby’s facebook when we started considering homeschooling last year because of Misha’s struggles at school. She sent the very first curriculum suggestions I checked out for our boys.
Since then her regular positive comments & suggestions on my blog & facebook posts have been a source of motivation to keep me going whenever I felt insecure & doubtful. For that I am truly grateful. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much for this nomination, Desiré.smiley-7
The word “Liebster” is a German word which means “dearest”. The Liebster Blog award is given to up and coming blogs with 200 or less followers.
The way this award works is to link back to the nominator, in this case that would be Desiré.
The next thing is to share 5 other inspiring blogs ~ all of whom have less than 200 followers. Leave a comment on their blogs and let them know that they are nominated for this cute award.
THEN... post the award on your blog and enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling of friendship shared over the miles!

My five nominees are:

      1. Karen’s Clan
      2. Under an English Sky
      3. Loving Learning
      4. Back to Ancient Ways
      5. Our Homeschool Escapades

Friday, November 25, 2011


imageRight now, I just want to go sit somewhere in a corner to cry my heart out.
Feelings of guilt, inadequacy, failure, stress & frustration have me a little overwhelmed today as we're having to finish exams & mark for evaluations to be handed in to Le-Amen on Tuesday. I wanted to can all of it months ago, but daddy insisted we finish the year with this "boring school at home" material we purchased for this year so he can get a report for 8th grade.
I still cannot help but wonder how I managed to miss my then school-loving, never-wanna-leave here 3rd grader change to totally hating school & anything resembling it in 7th grade. When did it all go so terribly wrong? Did he master the art of "suffering in silence" or was I just too caught up with the stress & frustrations of Misha's obvious school issues that I couldn't see his underlying issues?
I feel such a failure for not realising the extent of the damage school's done to him sooner. Of course I lost my temper today at his blatant refusal to complete the "bookwork" for our deadline next week & that's just adding fuel to the "guilt" fire. How am I going to teach the likes of English, Maths, Science, Social Studies, Accounting etc. to a child that HATES books to this extent.
I've already laid off much off the bookwork & requested him to do just the bare minimum. I've added pc, internet & iPad activities as well as loads of Discovery Channel & Natgeo Wild.
What more can I do to fix the damage caused by the system???


imagebig time!!!

I’m at whit's end. For now I’m just praying to get through the next few days and hope that the school holiday and our plan to allow time for de-schooling next year will help us all feel differently about education by August next year, when we plan to do Alpha Omega Academy with the Switched on Schoolhouse curriculum or what ever other hands-on curriculum I manage to find by then.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Heart & Soul Homeschool Mama

By Gena Suarez

I am sitting in a coffee shop today, working away like a busy bee. Lately I've had so many emails to respond to, I feel like a hamster on a wheel (the emails are never-ending). I need to create at times, too, not just stay buried in "send and receive" all day long. So I thought I'd put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write you a letter.
So . . . what to write? I need a prompt. For now, as I start my "magazine work" day, I've just come across a Facebook message sent to me privately by a homeschooler who had some questions about "balancing it all." She said she has four kids she's trying to homeschool and is wondering how I (with my six kids AND a magazine to run) am managing. How do I do it; how do I keep it all together?
That's Hilarious
After sliding out of my café-style, overstuffed chair laughing maniacally, I cleared my throat and started to type. And here I am. [Chuckle] This is funny. Me, balanced? Me, organized? I don't think so. I mean, I am blessed—Paul is home full-time with me. We both do the magazine and manage the staff and handle the travel and everything that comes with publishing a magazine of this size. But guess who is teaching Sani to read? (Paul) Guess who handles all the house errands and takes care of me? (Paul) Guess who is teaching Levi to drive, helping Paulie fix his motorcycle, and talking about quilting with Julia? (Paul—and yes, he quilts. LOL) Okay, so that aside, I still have a lot on my plate. There is the staff and all that comes with TOS, but there are also (far more importantly) my kids: their hearts, their relationships, their high school credits (only two of our kids are being homeschooled right now; two are graduated and two are babies).
So how do I do it all? Like I said, I don't.
We're Just Slobs . . .
I think I've come to realize after all these years that first and foremost, I want to be a "heart and soul homeschool mama." That's all that really matters. My house is a mess (stop by unannounced and I probably won't answer the door—my living room is a disaster). Take a look at my kitchen; normally you will be hard pressed to find the counters. My couch (what couch—where'd it go?) is overrun by clean laundry waiting (patiently and forever) to be folded and put away. Hey, at least it's clean! My bedroom door stays closed, because, well, never mind. I won't even go there because to describe the clothes behind closet doors, make-up spilled on the counters, and a toilet that looks a little . . . well . . . not as white as it used to, would just be embarrassing. Seriously. My house is pretty messy. For the most part it's really sanitary, though. I have an obsession with "cleaner wipes," as we call them. My kids are constantly wiping down furniture and doorknobs, tables, chairs, and the counters—when we can find them. I love to cook and wash my hands too many times. We're clean. We're just . . . slobs. Epic success!
I'm Not That Smart
So I am not a "house-cleaning super mama." I gave up that dream long ago, like four minutes after I said, "I do." Nor am I a "brainiac homeschool mama.” My kids have gaps, holes, and stops in their education. They did alright; the two who have graduated went on to do a few semesters at college and got straight A's in everything they took, even all the math (yuck). Well, Lukey got ONE B (history). Other than that, they are 4.0 college boys. So something went okay in the homeschooling, I guess. But yeah, there are holes. We didn't dissect a frog—ever. That is just sick and I am not going there. My house is gross enough as it is, and knowing us, someone would lose a liver in the clean laundry and we'd never find that frog. One of my friends ordered a cow's eyeball and it was delivered via MAIL (oh, my, gross). She rolled that puppy right onto her kitchen table and sliced and diced away with her kids. Then they stored the thing in her fridge. Okay. Well, then.
I am not a "brainiac homeschool mama"—sorry, just can't do it. First of all, I'm not a brain like my cow eyeball-wielding friend. I have another friend who is a homeschool mom who also happens to be our lawyer. Her child probably could have graduated when he was 13. She's a constant stream of brainpower, and she imparts it all to her lucky boy, who is almost as smart as she is by now. Crazy. I can't do it. I am simply not equipped. But we did the basics and had loads of conversations and put the time into a bazillion documentaries and traveled around on business, plus read books aloud when we could. We also did loads of reading comprehension. Epic success!
My Hair Is Whacked and I Can't Match My Clothes to Save My Life
I am not a "fashion-ado homeschool mama." I'm chubby! My hair gets brushed (and I am serious) two to three times a week at best. It's frizzy—why would I want to comb it out? Then it would be an afro that would touch the ceiling and put people in danger of being static-shocked. My babies would get lost in it. So keep it tight, leave it alone, slather it with gel if someone is coming over—good enough. I'm like a female version of Ronald McDonald and I am NOT the only person who's told myself that. So, fashion is not really me. I'm not beautiful like some of my homeschool friends who look so well put together. They have gorgeous manes that they probably comb out every day. Their shoes match. And their teeth are straight and white. Makeup? Can you believe some people wear it daily (more maniacal laughter—sorry)? Fashion Gena is just not in existence. Never has been. This homeschool mama cannot even match her necklace to her shoes (although I did try once). My hair is kinda clean and I wear deodorant. Epic success!
Field Trip? You Wanna Go WHERE?
I am not a "field trip homeschool mama." Okay, these mamas are great, but I cannot keep up with them! They have a field trip experience for every other day of the week. Their kids have been to the Grand Canyon (mine have not). Their kids have visited flight museums and experienced Jamestown and all the reenactment festivals for both sides of the Civil War (mine haven't). They can recite the Gettysburg Address and know all the historical/educational landmarks of Philadelphia (mine don't). Busy, busy learning by experiencing. They'd fly to every planet for a field trip if they could. And my hat is off to them! Look at the investment they are pouring into their children! Hands-on learning—can't beat it. Just wish I had time for such a thing (I think). Sounds exhausting and I'm tired even thinking about it. I am not a "field trip homeschool mama" like several of my better friends. But we travel when we can, visit faraway places in books, and get out here and there. Epic success!
What kind of mama am I? I don't have the corner on a clean and lovely home. I am not a brain who can pontificate over my children, pouring set-to-memory knowledge in their craniums (I don't have that much stuff memorized!). I am not that well put together—Mrs. Ronald, remember? (I stopped dyeing my hair red because the resemblance is then even more uncanny and it's disturbing.) And I am not constantly whisking my kids away to the Alps for P.E. or to the Golden Gate Bridge or Crater Lake for geography. I am a "heart and soul mama." I'm here for them when they need me; relationships are first and foremost, and I want them to know the Lord their God with all their heart and soul. I want to get to their hearts and have an impact on what happens with their souls. I want to bare my own heart, and I want us to build on that as our family continuously draws closer to each other and to the Lord.
It's the Lord who reaches the heart and soul, and He uses us moms in many ways to do it. By REGULARLY speaking to their hearts and guarding their souls, we are creating an atmosphere for flourishing growth. Is that a perfect picture? If comparing it to fine art, it may look very abstract or even Impressionistic in style (crazy swirls and wide brushstrokes) and sometimes quite messy, but keep walking (even if you're not as organized as you'd like to be), because it IS a form of fine art, divinely inspired and very much a part of His sovereign plan for our lives. He directs our steps if we follow Him. And He values your children even more than you do. He loves them. He loves you. Keep walking.
Here is a poem I wrote JUST for you!
I am a little chubby,
My house is never scrubby,
Still we eat good grubby,
And the kids make it to the tubby (once in a while).
My hair is sometimes brushed,
And often we feel rushed,
The babies have to be shushed (if we DO make it on the occasional field trip),
But our homeschool spirits are never crushed!
Always someone with a runny nose.
The dish pile in the sink needs a pressure hose.
Look at all my wrinkled clothes!
But the love in our house grows and grows.
My house is the black hole;
Forget the toilet bowl.
In the mornings I look like a troll,
But we have heart and soul!
Sing it with me!
We have heart and soul! [grin]
Did you like my poem? I made it up while listening to weird music the coffee shop is blaring. I think it served to inspire the quirkiness of the poem (if you can call it poetry—I tend to liken it to prattling babble). Anyway, so I was thinking about the lady who asked me how I "do it all" and I thought, "Hmmm, I wonder if a lot of others are feeling bummed that they don't ‘have it all together’ or that they're just not well put together enough as a homeschool mom?” Perish the thought! Here, make a list if you need to. You want to be organized and that's a good thing. Being orderly is right and necessary. But don't beat yourself up if you can't do everything you think should be happening. That's where your list comes in. Make three categories, maybe something like this one of mine, below. We're talking priorities here. What's the most important, then second most, and then wishful thinking (but may be possible by 2019 or something). Okay, so like I said, here's mine. Now you make your own.
Heart & Soul Homeschooling: My List!
A. Highest Priorities—Must Happens (And don't get me wrong—I fail here too.)
  • God's Word and prayer daily in me
  • God's Word and prayer daily in the kids
  • Love my husband—treat him right as head of home and family and make sure he knows he's better than Superman and Batman put together.
  • Relationship with the kids—are there clear channels of communication with each one? No barriers? If any walls up, break those down NOW.
  • Halt everything and do "Talk Time" with anyone following me around staring/frowning with that "need-to-talk" face.
  • Siblings loving each other (or at least I should be threatening that they'd better or else, heh heh)
  • Some kind of food (preferably nutrient-dense) for everyone at some point (preferably three times)
  • Schoolwork—is learning taking place even if at a slow and steady pace?
  • Kids clean and teeth brushed with happy faces at bedtime
  • House is sanitary enough in case health department stops in (they better not)
B. Pretty High Priority but Not Die-Hard
  • All school topics covered within reason
  • Exercise to point where heart rate is up and muscles are being toned
  • Tidy house, even the dishes all washed and couches exposed to daylight
  • Decent meals (3 times) with more than one item on plates
  • Read aloud with the kids, play games, maybe cook together, lengthy conversations throughout the day
  • Sweep something, maybe even mop a floor and wash the tubs
  • Friends who need help/counsel—be there
C. Would Be Nice (Dream On)
  • Take a trip to Greece to see ancient ruins and the Colosseum
  • Fix the house up
  • Clean my bedroom
  • Dress to actually match
  • Brush hair more than three times per week
  • Have a yard sale and get rid of all this JUNK
  • Roller skate
  • Just for fun, let's see if EVERYONE can wear shoes today (even me)
  • Create some sort of diet that makes sense (these things take time/planning)
  • Watch a great film or a play in a real theater with Paul and the kids
  • Go on a date with Paul and ditch the kids
So, yeah, I think I've droned on long enough, and I thank you for staying with me up till this point. I don't have much more to say. In fact, I have nothing left to say. You already know what you've been called to do, and you're walking securely with the One who loves you most. He has your family in His Palm and your kids are doing fine. Are they perfect? Of course not. Whose kids are? Are you always dressed to kill and ready to throw open the doors of your home to any friend who comes knockin'? Three hot meals on the table with nary the nagging word, day after day? Do you bestow upon your husband a perfect love, greeting him each day paradisiacally with fluttering doe eyes and a sparkling smile? Not really? Okay, good; you're normal. So, strive for betterment always (wherever you're at on the journey); work on your list, taking care of the priorities (heart and soul, my friend!); and keep walking. Your Heavenly Father will never leave you. Walk with Him.
Love and hope,
Your heart-and-soul friend,
Paul and Gena Suarez reside in Gray, Tennessee, where they homeschool(ed) their six children: Paul (21), Luke (19), Levi (17), Julia Rachel (14), Susanna Hope (3) and Chloe Abigail (18 months). They enjoy long country drives in the van while listening to books on CD, hanging out with good friends, and staying up late. By the grace of God, the Suarez family publishes The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC. Let Gena know what you thought of this article at her personal email address,
Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
Visit The Old Schoolhouse® to view a full-length sample copy of the magazine especially for homeschoolers. Click the graphic of the moving computer monitor on the left. Email the Publisher at

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you Wendy.
What a surprise it was to be nominated for this award!

Here are the rules for this award:

Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them.
Tell readers 7 things about yourself.
Pass this award to 15 newly discovered bloggers and let them know!

Here goes...7 things about me!

  1. I was born & bred in Bergisch Bladbach, Germany & immigrated to South Africa together with my family in 1975, when I was 5 years old.
  2. I love being married to my wonderful husband, Clive and after 19 years we’re still on honeymoon most of the time.
  3. I love being a home executive and mother to my two wonderful boys and don’t think I’d ever be able to adapt to a secular job again.
  4. I love my new “job” as educator for my boys and although I must admit at times it is daunting, I will do anything in my power to help them restore their love for learning and reach their potential.
  5. I’m a real night-owl and generally only get to bed around 1 or 2am.
  6. I’m a total digi-scrap addict and miss my regular “nightshifts” for scrapping which are now taken up by research and blogging in my pursuits of finding ways to help my sons. Although I miss my “scraptherapy” I don’t regret having to replace that time with equipping my self to help my boys.
  7. I’m very much an introvert and although I hated creative writing at school, I have now found an outlet through blogging and love sharing my experiences in the hope of assisting any other moms going through what I’ve just dealt with.

My 15 versatile bloggers are:

Please visit these blogs, I’ve enjoyed them all and I hope you will enjoy them too!