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, June 30, 2012

Chillax & Celebrate

And here we've reached the halfway mark of another year and the end of our first week of school holiday.
2012_0629_190132I was quite impressed with Misha this week. He was home alone with me all week & not once did he request a friend to play with. After all this time home educating he's finally managing to entertain himself & has become less dependant on friends to keep him busy. Instead he helped me bake muffins & entertained himself with games inside as well as outside. On Wednesday he helped me bake pancakes. Thursday morning he ate up Daddy's pancakes & insisted to make new ones before dad got home. However by Thursday evening he was missing his Ouboet & couldn't wait for Friday when Jesse was due to arrive back home. 2012_0629_190310Then on Friday he insisted on surprising Ouboet with some pancakes which he made with very little assistance & then he crowned himself the "pancake masterchef".
2012_0630_152718 Last Saturday our eldest turned 15 & with him having been on holiday with a friend, today became the chosen opportunity for his birthday party. We set out to the Northgate Ice Arena for an early afternoon start at 12pm... Although very noisy & cold the kids seemed to have had loads of fun. By 5pm all the adults were quite happy that they were all done & ready to head home.
Of course Misha opted to go home with a friend for a sleepover & Jesse brought his bestest buddies home for some more fun & gaming...
Having wrapped up Jesse's birthday, now it is time again to plan for the next one our list. Clive will be 42 next Sunday, so that doesn't really leave all that much time in the planning department which besides cooking & baking do not rank very high on my gifts & talents lists... At least the next birthday is only in September, leaving ample time to sort out arrangements... but for now I'll head to bed & allow myself to dream up some ideas for Sunday...

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 2012 SACHS Blog ~ Extra Curricular Activities

Hi everyone it's time for the June South African Carnival of Homeschooling blog. This month our theme is Extra Curricular activities and moms from all over South Africa will be sharing their experiences.

Extracurricular activities are activities performed by students that fall outside the realm of the normal curriculum of school or university education and they exist at all levels of education. Activities that often involve some time & commitment outside of the regular school day, such as band and choir, are also considered extracurricular activities.

For us these activities include Chess, Music, Junior Engineering for Africa (JEFA) and Tutur/Co-op for Technology.

Misha still goes to his old school twice a week on Monday & Wednesday for an hour of chess. On Thursdays, Jesse has Technology with a tutor and the same tutor teaches Misha art & drums. After his art & drum lessons, Misha attends a Technology co-op for 8-12 year olds in Constantia Kloof. On Fridays they both attend Junior Engineering classes in Northriding for 1 & half hours. Jesse will be taking part in the Robotics competition in July.

The boys have also done some earth science courses with Barry Byrant from Education Support which they quite enjoyed.

  1. Volcanoes Day 1 (12 March) & Day 2 (26 March)
  2. Earth Quakes & Working with Clay (11 June)

Last month Misha checked out the Honey Badger Club at the Johannesburg Zoo. He loved it so much that I’ve signed him up to attend there once a month as from next month as well.

My boys are not very keen on sports and the highlight of our month, is the monthly ice skating at Northgate Ice Arena. Except for once this year due to sickness, my boys won’t miss this for anything.

Culture Swapper

We’ve also tried some Geography with a twist this year by joining the World Wide Culture Swap. “What is Worldwide Culture Swap?” you may ask. It is various groups of people from across the world sharing gifts & information in order to learn more about each other’s country & culture. This adds a new incentive and great excitement to learning geography when parcels are sent and received.

This year I made it a priority to add numerous field trips in order to rekindle the boys’ love for learning & still have quite a few more planned for the rest of this year.

Field trips attended & planned:

  1. Sound & Light Experiments @ Tan’ Malie se Winkel (23 March)
  2. eTV Tour (24 May)
  3. Weather Training Centre @ Irene (31 May)
  4. Sci Bono Science Museum (3 July)
  5. The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre – deWildt (4 July)
  6. Nature Treasure Hunt @ Kloofendal Nature Reserve (12 July)
  7. Maropeng (7 August)
  8. Planetarium Day (3 September)
  9. Cheese Farm & Spring Picnic (4 September)
  10. Horses & Conservancy (2 October)
  11. Scorpions – nocturnal walk @ Kloofendal Nature Reserve (6 October)
  12. Babboon Rehabilitation (5 November)
  13. Santarama Miniland (3 December)

We’ve had some hectic weeks so far but it has quietened down a bit. Next week we have 2 field trips again, but thereafter it may stay at 1 per month. Will see how it goes and what other opportunities present themselves.

The Horse Camp at Mookrans Equus is another long awaited event not to be missed. This year it’s scheduled from 26th August to 1st September.

All in all I think our new approach with de-schooling this year is slowly paying off. Jesse reckons he’s ready for some real learning again and has been signed up with Alpha Omega Academy to ease back into learning with English, Maths, Science, Health & Physical Education using the PC based Switched on Schoolhouse material. Misha will continue with unschooling for now until around 6th/7th grade when we’ll look into formal curriculum again. I pray that by then, the damage caused by private school will have been all repaired & he will be able to reach his full potential.

Now for some great contributions from other moms on how they supplement their kids’ learning with extra murals:

  1. "Unofficial Extra-Curricular Activities" by Elize van der Merwe at  Bearakademie has this to say: “At first I thought, oh my… only one extra-curricular activity, but then I remembered the Masters are pre-schoolers, they participate in a lot of things that are seen as extra-curricular, but is termed "unofficial" – as they don’t necessarily do it as part of a group, or a group of their own peers. So here are our unofficial-official list of extra-curricular activities...”
  2. Taryn Hayes from Hayes Happenings shares in her post All About Extra Murals how they supplement their much loved literature-based curriculum with various extra curricular activities and outings.
  3. Jolene van Niekerk from MonstersEd submitted 3 posts about field trips they’ve attended as part of their extra curricular activities.
    • Reef Steemers ~ “We had the opportunity to go on a steam train depo tour at Reef Steamers.  We also got to go on a short ride on one of the trains.  It was an awesome experience.”
    • Douglasdale Dairy ~ “We had the opportunity to go to Douglasdale Dairy to learn about the milk bottling process.  We also go to go on a tour of the dairy.”
    • Rhino Lion Nature Reserve ~ “We took our conservationist boys to the Rhino Lion Nature Reserve.  Since Noo is such an avid wild animal lover (thanks to my parents owning and living on a game farm) this was right up his alley.”
  4. Joanne Madgwick from Castle for Keeps has a family of 7 that lives in the rolling hills of KZN in South Africa. They value family and love creating their home to be a place that not only nurtures their children but provides a place for them to grow and be individually built into a Castle that will last for eternity. They blog about parenting, education, homeschooling, training, crafts, outings, special days and celebrations among other aspects. Castle For Keeps also provides me with a platform from which I can share with others the articles I write for the Witness Newspaper on Education and Parenting - all of which are daily laying stone upon stone to create our Castle Keeps. She shares her view on extra curricular activities in her post entitled The Soul of Education.
  5. In her post, Assagay Coffee Farm, Bronwyn Marcus from Three Marcus Boys shares how they joined a few homeschoolers in Pinetown KZN on a tour of the coffee farm and tasting of the coffee.
  6. Melanie Grant from Mel’s Mouthful on Mothering has these pages to share
    • “I have to be intentional in my approach to physical activity.  I am not a natural physically active person, it takes lots and lots of effort to get this lazy body moving, but like I have said before - you need to be who you say you are, and what you tell your children to be.  So if I expect them to be physical then I need to be too.  So my first priority,  when it comes to extra curricular activities is - sport, movement, exercise! And this is how we do it: Homeschooling and Extra-Curricular Activities: Sport
    • “Extra curricular activities play a vital role in bringing balance to our children.  After I have ensured that the children have lots and lots of sporting and physical activities to do, I can then focus on taking my children out into a learning environment.  Learning comes alive when there is an authentic interaction with the subject and this is where our extra curricular activities for enrichment play an important role.  I want my children to love learning.  I want them to find joy in discovering and adventuring and questioning. Sometimes they do a little too much but they are thriving in this environment.  It's all about maintaining a lifestyle of learning.  Sometimes we take notes, sometimes we do report backs, sometimes we just have fun. We never do the same thing in the same way.  But if you ask them questions about what they have learnt you will be amazed at what they remember and their experiences.”
    • “Creativity is not one of my strengths but I love artistic expression in different forms.  The more varied, the better.  I don't just want my children to be limited to arts and crafts, though they do that too, but I want them to experience the joy of creating whether its from a piece of wood, beads, paper or wood.  The sky is the limit.  And so where there is an opportunity for creative expression, we do it.” Homeschooling and Extra Curricular Activities in Creativity
    • I believe that though one's life as a Christian cannot be compartmentalised, it's important to ensure that my children participate in extra curricular activities that are spiritual in nature - that feed their soul, remind them of who they are in God and develop good healthy relationships with the church.  I want to encourage them to enjoy fellowship, the gathering of the saints and being part of a body - at a young age.  We study the word and pray every day with our children but if we relied only our input into their lives, they would be limited in their growth.  This gives them many opportunities to grow, to be challenged, to  learn and to have fellowship. Homeschooling and Extra Curricular Activities:  Spiritual

Now if reading all these posts has left you feeling inadequate or overwhelmed please read Melanie Grant’s additional post entitled The Lowdown on Extra Mural Activities in order to bring some balance to all these articles.

For us newbies it is very important to remember these feelings result from our lack of knowledge & that these seasoned homeshool moms were also once newbies like us and through years of experience have found what works for their families. Finding that balance, takes time, sometimes through trial & error. However, their willingness to share their experiences with us will enable us to gain knowledge faster in order to eventually find that balance for our families. We shouldn’t compare ourselves with these families, instead learn from them through reading the posts in order to find ideas of what’s available to try and then set out to sift through those ideas to find those that will work for our individual families.

Thank you to all these lovely ladies for sharing their lives with us. May you go from strength to strength & be blessed in all that you do. I trust you will enjoy visiting these posts as much as I did.


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 June 2012 ~ Extra Curricular Activities

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

School’s Closed!!!

School ClosedFinally, it seems the last few months of de-schooling are starting to pay off. We’ve mainly focused on pc, iPad & Android based activities as well as loads of field trips. I’m starting to see sparks of interest into learning with both boys. Even Jesse figured he’ll be up to doing some real school work again after the holidays.

We spent the whole day last Wednesday planning Jesse’s subjects  for the next 4 years until high school graduation. Alpha Omega AcademyOn Thursday we finally enrolled him with Alpha Omega Academy. overview-sos-boxHe will be easing back into school work with English, Maths, Science, Health & Physical Education using the PC based Switched on Schoolhouse material. Thankfully AOA offers a 6 month payment plan, so we needn’t pay the full year’s fees once off.

We dropped him at Scott’s on Thursday night for his one week holiday in the Drakensberg. Of course we would miss him for his first birthday away from home on Saturday, but are happy to know that he’s had a great day anyway.

School Holiday FunNeedless to say, with Jesse gone this week it’s just Misha & I at home & there’s just no way he’ll be willing to do any schoolwork with Ouboet gone so we’ll be taking a break too. Misha’s laptop has come back in season & he’s been playing games on it quite a bit. I’ve been catching up on some backlog admin, but now need to start planning for Jesse’s 15th birthday party at the Northgate Ice Arena on Saturday. I still have today & tomorrow to figure it all out & by Friday I need to get to the shops & get the necessary snacks & juice.

Jesse will be home from his holiday by Friday evening & then we’ll be full house once again for the first time in about a month. I have yet to decide whether we’ll extend our holiday for the full length of the School Holidays, but for now we’re enjoying our break however long in may end up being.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Build Up Those Brains With Proper Nutrition!

By Ruth Ng

“I’m hungry, Mom!” What we give our children in response to their call makes all the difference in their learning. A child’s brain is under construction from conception right up until he is in his mid-twenties. Many nutrients are needed in order to continue developing this incredible masterpiece: the human brain. The brain is a hungry fellow, the quickest organ to absorb nutrients from the bloodstream. Brain cells are not replaced like other body cells are; they must survive all of the person’s life. Brain cells, especially children’s, are vulnerable to toxins. “Chemically laden processed foods are prime sources of toxic stress on the brain.”1 The tools needed to build up the brain are best found in God’s natural foods.

Building Them Up

Antioxidants are vital for proper brain function. Vitamin C and vitamin E are examples of antioxidants. Some perhaps forgotten sources of vitamin C are guavas; cauliflower; red, yellow, and green peppers; hot chilli peppers; kiwi; cantaloupe; strawberries; grapefruit; fresh thyme and parsley; pummelos; and black currants. Vitamin E also is found in sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, apricots, and cooked taro root. Broccoli, tomatoes, berries, and garlic are excellent antioxidants.

Calcium is another nutrient that is very important for neuron development and connections. Potassium is also essential. Without potassium, cells may shrink and lose their fluid, causing a child to be jittery and making it hard for him to concentrate. Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, oranges, dairy products, and legumes are rich in potassium.

Oxygen availability to the brain determines how well the brain develops and functions. Not only does iron carry the oxygen in the blood, but it also transports oxygen within the cell and builds up neurotransmitters in the brain. Certain minerals, such as iron, are keystones in building the brain. Natural food sources of iron are found in meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Specific iron-rich foods are parsley, Brazil nuts, and apricots.

More Than Just a Meal

Eating a balanced breakfast may contribute to an improvement in behaviour and academic aptitude. “Eating a nutritious breakfast has been linked with desirable outcomes in memory and attentiveness.”2 To start off a day of learning, it is essential to eat breakfasts that are high in protein and fibre but moderate in carbohydrates. Starches and sugars may adversely affect behaviour since eating these carbohydrates may result in problems with blood sugar levels. Protein is an essential building block to put on the breakfast plate, and fibre helps cleanse the intestines of toxins. Fibre helps maintain an effective digestive system, and since all body systems are interrelated, digestive health affects brain health.

The breakfast menu is not complete without essential fatty acids. They may help with maintaining a good mood, an alert memory, and concentration skills. The tissue in the brain is rich in fatty acids, and the brain may not function normally if there is a deficiency in these nutrients.

Mr. H2O

There is a guy on the building team who is often forgotten. The brain is made up of a higher percentage of water than other organs; therefore, adequate supplies of fluid are crucial to brain development. For girls who have started menstruation, the upset of fluid balance may be an added risk. “Dehydration is a commonly missed problem linked to poor learning.”3 Soft drinks, juice, coffee, and tea often act as diuretics and may actually aggravate a dehydration problem. Water is the one to call on to do the job.

Danger Zones

In our busy lives, it is important to maintain regular mealtimes. Mealtime in a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere provides a good social opportunity. A stressful, rushed mealtime may interfere with the absorption of nutrients. And the last meal of the day is just as important as the first meal of the day. “Studies have shown that children who eat evening meals together with their family have a more balanced nutritional intake than those children who prepare food on their own and/or eat in front of the TV.”4

If a child has already snacked on candy, carbonated beverages, and sugary foods, the resultant loss of appetite may cause poor nutrition, because then the child does not want to eat the right foods.

Food intolerances and allergies could be another roadblock. Children are often intolerant to Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), prunes, sulphur, food preservatives, chemicals added to foods, food colourings, artificial flavourings, canned fish, caffeine, lactose, fruit juices, gluten, and aspartame. A true food allergy is a reaction of the immune system to a specific molecule; food intolerances are much more common. Naturopaths, nurses, doctors, and dieticians could help you with concerns about reactions to foods. They also might offer advice about the way food is grown and how that affects overall nutrition.

The foods we eat are often tainted with hormones, pesticides, and other dangerous additives. Choosing organic foods is well worth the effort and expense, since a child’s brain is extremely sensitive to pesticides. How foods are processed also affects their overall nutritional content. With whole-grain products, the food item has been made from all of the edible portions of the kernel. However, “refined grains have been taken apart and the bran and the germ removed. Only the starchy endosperm is used to mill the flour. To counteract this nutritional loss, some nutrients are added to the flour, and then this flour is called enriched flour. The original ingredients of magnesium, vitamin E, and fibre are not replaced.”5

The way we cook our food has nutritional consequences as well. Deep-fried foods can be very harmful to the brain. When oil or fat is heated up to high temperatures, harmful by-products are created. A child’s brain is much more susceptible to toxins in deep-fried foods than an adult’s brain, making it essential for children to avoid these foods. Overcooked foods can be just as bad. Water-soluble vitamins are the ones that disperse or dissolve in water. They are the B vitamins and vitamin C, which can be lost in the cooking process. They are destroyed by heat or leak out into the water we use to cook, and then they get thrown away.

Take a Dip

Getting children to eat fresh vegetables is often a challenge, so dress up those greens! Safflower seed oil or apple cider vinegar is great in homemade dressings. Add fresh lemon juice and fresh chopped herbs for more flavor.

Dips are another way to encourage the consumption of raw vegetables. Homemade hummus or other bean dips are often favourites. Additional dips can be made with tofu, yoghurt, or avocadoes.

Snack foods are often the culprits that can ruin a great nutrition plan, but there are healthy alternatives. Dates and nuts can be added to cereals and fruit salads, stuffed into cored apples, and mixed into whole-grain homemade breads, muffins, and cookies. Apples dipped in Manuka honey create a sweet snack. Smoothies are always fun, and the children may want to create their own combinations of rice milk, tofu, nuts, berries, fruits, and plain, unsweetened yoghurt. It is recommended not to heat flax seed oil, so using it in smoothies is a great way to reap the benefits of flax seed. We like to make up crazy names for our smoothies, names that reflect the mysterious colours or obscure ingredients.

Our Bread of Life

It seemed that my son got up one morning and stood shoulder to shoulder with me! But let us not be fooled by their towering frames and deepening voices. Just because you now are looking up at your son, it does not mean that he has finished growing. Every stage in a child’s growth is important, but it seems that the teen stage may get overlooked because teens are so tall and capable. “Adults often presume that teenagers can take care of themselves. Although teens need to take responsibility for their behaviour, they still need the guidance and nurturing of caring adults. There is a fine line between allowing adolescents to be responsible and neglecting their needs.”6

Get pre-teens and teens involved in shopping, meal planning, and cooking. As you teach good nutrition, you are not only building up their physical health, but you are also building healthy relationships and lifelong memories. As you spend time together preparing foods and eating, point them to the true Bread of Life. What sustains our children completely is the Lord Himself.

One or two healthy meals will not be enough to ensure your child’s well-being; instead, consistent, nutritious habits make the difference. Likewise, with spiritual food, life changes do not come from merely one or two good meals in the Word of God. A continual lifestyle of delighting in God’s Word will nurture a child. Thank the Lord for the wonderful young people in your home whom He is raising up for His glory. We are the workmanship of our Saviour. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Ruth Ng has homeschooled her children for twelve years. She resides in Ontario, Canada. Before homeschooling her children, she was a Registered Nurse. She loves to write, travel to Hong Kong, teach children, be with family and friends, and learn new insights from God’s Word. Together, she and her husband have a calling to reach out to orphans. Please visit



1. Dr. Michael R. Lyon, MD & Dr. G. Christine Laurell, PhD, Is Your Child’s Brain Starving? (Canada: Mind Publishing Inc., 2004), p. 23.

2. Sheila Tucker and Vera Dauffenbach, Nutrition and Diet Therapy for Nurses (Boston: Pearson, 2011), p. 313.

3. Eric Jensen, Teaching With the Brain in Mind (Virginia: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development; Illustrated Edition, 1998), p. 26.

4. Sheila Tucker and Vera Dauffenbach, Nutrition and Diet Therapy for Nurses (Boston: Pearson, 2011), p. 314.

5. Michele Grodner, Sara Long Roth, and Bonnie C. Walkingshaw, Nutritional Foundations and Clinical Applications of Nutrition: A Nursing Approach, 4th Edition (St. Louis: Mosby Inc., 2007), p. 81.

6. Ibid., p. 268.

7. Information on all charts was gathered from Is Your Child’s Brain Starving?

Copyright 2011, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jesse

Boy oh Boy, where did 15 years go since our first little bundle of joy was delivered. Today this little bundle is not so little anymore. In fact, today we have a handsome young man who’s towering above me & aims to catch up to dad very soon. Now he’s waiting for Misha to catch up too so he can officially call me “shorty”.2012_0505_171548a
Today we wish Jesse a very happy birthday. This being his first ever celebrating away from home, & it certainly won’t be his last. We trust he’s enjoying his holiday with his buddy in the Drakensberg & are looking forward to having him home soon.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Homeschool Tracker

Computer Based Record Keeping to Simplify Your Life!

Ok I admit, I am a bit of a control freak & the thought of the Education department possibly knocking at my door to check up on what we’ve been doing fuels my need to keep proper records of what we’ve been up to. That’s why I’ve been using the FREE version of Homeschool Tracker Basic to record all the activities for the boys this past year. I like the ability to print out reports & feel more at ease knowing that should anything ever happen to me, my boys will have a complete record of all they’ve done whilst being home educated. On it’s own the Basic version is more than enough to for basic homeschool tracking needs.

I’ve just upgraded to Homeschool Tracker Pro to check out it’s additional features. Since we’ll be going the SAT route I felt it appropriate to check out the transcription features. Needless to say, after using Homeschool Tracker Pro for a week & comparing it to the trial version of EduTrack, I think it is well worth the investment in getting the full program to record the rest of our Home Education activities until Graduation. Although EduTrack has a few features that are currently not available on Homeschool Tracker Pro, I prefer the look & feel of Homeschool Tracker Pro as well as the easy & user friendly interface & would highly recommend it for use by anyone who wishes to track their kid’s home education activities.

Homeschool Tracker

Homeschool Tracker is planning and organizing software designed to adapt to your particular homeschooling style in a simple yet sophisticated way. With Homeschool Tracker, lesson planning and record keeping won't consume a great part of your day. Many of the features were suggested by home educators just like you who wanted their work to be...well...flexible!

Homeschool Tracker Basic Features

  • Basic Edition Never Expires
  • Upgrade to PLUS at any time
  • Easy Setup
  • Track Attendance, Hours & Field Trips
  • Manage, Copy and Reschedule Assignments
  • Reading log
  • Track Resources
  • Generate Reports

Homeschool Tracker Pro Additional Features

  • Automatic Attendance tracking based on assignments completed
  • Add Holiday, Appointments & Chores
  • Print Daily/Weekly/Assignment agendas
  • Add schools attended, activities achievements as standardised test scores.
  • Set goals & record progress
  • Create Reusable Lesson Plans
  • Create Courses with Weighted Grading
  • Recording of Student & Teacher Journal facility
  • More detailed resource tracking
  • Memorisation tracking
  • Generate Report Cards and Transcripts

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Great Time to Be a Husband, Parent & a Dad

By Dan Liberto, President and Co-Founder of Generation With A Name, LLC

As I write this note, the paraphrased words of Mordecai in the fourth chapter of Esther ring clearly in my mind: “Who knows but that you have come to this royal position for such a time as this.”1 Seems initially like pretty lofty stuff. But as husbands, parents, and dads, are we not sitting in the same position, overseeing the family’s royal crest? Aren’t we called to lead our families to the knowledge of Christ? Do we not have the purpose of reflecting to our family and neighbours faith, hope, and most importantly the love of Christ? These are certainly royal objectives, because they are ordained by the King of kings, our Lord Jesus Christ. But do we treat them as royal objectives?

In our nation and in the world, we are experiencing difficult times. But when light is willingly turned off, then there is no option other than darkness. We have willingly, if not purposely, promoted this darkness by limiting the Light of Christ in our daily expression. This daily expression, which is akin to Jesus’ words to take up your cross daily,2 should begin in the home and radiate out from there.

As husbands we have a unique responsibility and calling specific to the wife of our youth.3 We are to guide, protect, and satisfy her emotional and spiritual needs. Marriage is quite possibly the most intense exhibition of the second greatest commandment there is, because it is a true covenant exemplifying the unity of the triune God. The marriage covenant, as exercised in a manner consistent with Ephesians 5, truly reflects a model of love and commitment to a world that has lost its way. Furthermore, we are compelled as Christian husbands to be considerate of our wives and treat them with respect.4 There is no better example to an ailing society than a successful marriage forged by sacrifice, commitment, and love for your spouse. Who knows but that we have come to this royal position for such a time as this, to respect and fulfil the commitment to our wedding vows and serve as a shining light to a culture of quickie divorces and prenuptial agreements. There should be no doubt in the eyes of my wife that I love her, just as there is no doubt in my eyes that Jesus Christ loves His Church.

As a parent, I am truly blessed. Jackie and I have three daughters: one adolescent, one quickly approaching adolescence, and one (6-year-old) who thinks she exceeds the older two in both knowledge and authority. Since they are all girls, the nest gets a little crowded at times with all the visiting hormones. Conversely, the owner’s manual for boys presents its own set of challenges. At any rate, children in general are a blessing from God.

As parents, Jackie and I are in agreement that we are first and foremost charged with the task of teaching the knowledge of God to the next generation, starting with our children.5 As parents, Jackie and I are heirs of the gracious gift of life.6 Also as parents, we stand steadfast between our children and a broken world that is aggressively making overtures for their hearts and minds.

Tedd Tripp, in his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart,7 states, “Each child in a Christian home will at some point examine the claims of the gospel and determine whether he will embrace its truth.” He goes on to point out that we as parents need to be available to help the children pursue answers to their questions with honest scrutiny. Who knows but that I have come to this royal position for such a time as this, to unite with Jackie and shine the Light of Christ in the hearts of our children by taking literally the words of the Apostle Peter to always be prepared to give an answer to the hope we share.8 This of course extends to our actions as well, given they are never far from the adoring eyes of our children. Who knows but that we have come to this royal position for such a time as this, to show true love and respect to our wives as an example to our children (the next generation9) of God’s ways. Who knows but that we have come to this royal position for such a time as this, to clothe ourselves in the armour of God10 and protect our children from being devoured by the devil, who prowls around like a roaring lion.11 Who knows but that we have come to this royal position for such a time as this, to spend time with our children nurturing their love for Christ, quenching their inquisitive thirst with Living Water12, and answering their many questions from a Christian worldview.

The book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker, M.D13 describes the heart of a young girl and her desire to have a relationship with her father, including actively showing your daughter that she is worth fighting for. Your daughter needs a hero, and your son needs to know that he measures up. The relationship between the daughter/son and the father is critical to show them how to focus on the Lord as their only source of hope. This is not done solely from the Paternal Pulpit. We as dads must mix in a healthy dose of humility and love. We should allow them to experience trials and the consequences that result from their choices, because it is in these challenges they will discover the true nature of God. It is in knowing God that they come to know themselves and their true worth in the eyes of God and in the eyes of their dad. But there should never be any doubt that you love them and will fight for them without hesitation and without end. As a dad, establishing a strong relationship with your daughters will facilitate her selection of a life mate who will nurture her emotionally and spiritually—just as she saw you nurture her mother.

Similarly, having a strong relationship with your son will pass down the endorsement that he is a man. This rite of passage will increase the chance that he will share your values and look to God to find his name, as John Eldredge states in his book Wild at Heart.14 He will choose a life of leadership similar to the blueprint you shared openly and freely with him as he grew in your love. Who knows but that we have come to this royal position for such a time as this—to turn off the TV, computer, and phone and to patiently talk with our children. Who knows but that we have come to this royal position for such a time as this, to lead our children through individual relationships to a commitment of faith in Jesus Christ. This commitment to Christ will equip our children to stand firm to the end and be saved as the world grows increasingly dark and the love of most grows cold.15 Who knows but that we have come to this royal position for such a time as this to provide a refuge that will keep our children strong, so they can learn to love their friends and enemies as they love themselves,16 because love covers a multitude of sins.17

Let us heed the call to refocus on the family as the core of society and to make it healthy once again by seeking the Lord earnestly through family prayer, praise, devotionals, and yes, even fasting. We are called to walk a path fraught with one battle after another as we swim against the cultural current. But if we persevere, God promises character and hope.18 What better objectives are there?

It truly is a great time to be a husband, parent, and dad. I thank the Lord for this royal appointment . . . at such a time as this.

Dan Liberto is President and co-founder of Generation With A Name, LLC, along with his lovely wife Jackie of nineteen years. Dan and Jackie have three daughters. Their ministry developed as a response to the secular attacks on children and the low rate of Biblical literacy in the Christian family. They sharpen the sword of the Spirit by emphasizing the promises of God through Biblical stories. Learn more about their ministry at


  1. Esther 4:14, KJV.
  2. Luke 9:23, KJV, Deny yourself and take up cross daily.
  3. Malachi 2:13–15, 1 Peter 3:7, KJV, Importance of the marriage covenant KJV.
  4. 1 Peter 3:7, KJV, Treat your wives with respect.
  5. Deuteronomy 4:9–10, Psalm 78:1–8.
  6. 1 Peter 3:7, “gracious gift of life,” NIV.
  7. Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Shepherd Press, 1995).
  8. 1 Peter 3:15, KJV, Profess Christ in all that you do.
  9. Psalm 78:1–7, KJV, Teach the next generation.
  10. Ephesians 6:10–17, KJV, The full armor of God.
  11. 1 Peter 5:8, KJV, Be vigilant.
  12. John 4:10, John 7:37–39, Jeremiah 2:13, Revelation 22:17, KJV, God is the source of Living Water.
  13. Meg Meeker, M.D., Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2006).
  14. John Eldridge, Wild at Heart (Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2001).
  15. Matthew 24:12–13, Stand firm till the end.
  16. Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8, KJV, Love your neighbour.
  17. 1 Peter 4:8, KJV, Love covers over a multitude of sins.
  18. Romans 5:3–4, KJV, Perseverance through suffering.

Copyright 2011, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Technology Group Recycling Presentations

After our last technology presentation get-together Misha finally decided that he too wanted to do a project for technology. Now that came as quite a surprize to me since he had absolutely no self-confidence when we started last year.

Today, he stepped up boldly & did his presentation. As an additional activity the kids received some reading material & had to answer a given question. He insisted on doing his own reading & gave his feedback to the group.

He has come a long way since we brought him home & is still making steady progress. Well done Sweetheart, I’m so proud of you!


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Monday, June 11, 2012

The Key to Education

By Diana Waring

When you think of the word education, what image pops into your mind? Do you see a desk, a stack of books, a chalkboard, a report card, recess? Perhaps your memories run more along the lines of a stern and forbidding teacher or the camaraderie of your school’s football games or the anguish of going blank during a test. Maybe you envision a library, a university campus, or a research lab. Whatever image your mind sees, if you never step back to consider the bigger question of what an education really is, you will probably create for your children a mini-version of your own school experience. I know I did. At least, that was the path I walked for the first three years of homeschooling. I was hoping it was better smells and bells, friendlier teachers and classmates, but in essence, it was simply a school at home.
Sooner or later, a good homeschooler will hear in her mind, “Is that all there is????” Is following a school’s approach the best possible way to learn? Does it create a hunger in the student for diving into more difficult books and more challenging subject matter? Does it encourage self-motivation or provide experience in independent study and pursuing topics of interest? Truthfully, the answer is, probably not. For many of us, education equals school, but as homeschoolers, we know there must be something better.
What, then, will make the difference? Where do we start in providing an excellent education for our homeschooled children, if we are not going to follow the model we know best—the most common approach, even among homeschoolers? I’m glad you asked!
Years ago, I heard a speaker say something important to this conversation, something so absolutely profound that it jolted me. Terry Small, a brilliant educator and lecturer, known warmly as the “Brain Guy,” presents seminars to governments, corporations, and educators around the world on the way the brain works and how this affects learning. What he shared that day, based on his observations and studies over the years, was that one of the best predictors of educational success was in having a positive relationship between student and teacher.
Curriculum3That knowledge could change our lives! We homeschoolers can potentially do this—have a great relationship with our students—much better than anyone else. If you could translate your love for your kids into educational success, wouldn’t that make it worthwhile to tweak—or even dramatically change—your approach?
Let me ask you about another memory. When you think back to your childhood, who was the adult with whom you had the closest relationship? Who was the person who made you feel loved and appreciated and secure and safe? Do you remember ever following that person around, asking him or her questions, listening to that individual, learning from him or her? And how much do you remember today about what he or she taught you? Probably a lot more than from the person who shamed or frightened you.
For me, I remember my grandmother. She taught me that feeding ducks was fun, roses were beautiful, and that the piano was precious. All of those little memories are tinged with a warmth in my heart, even fifty years later. If my loving grandmother had been the one to guide my day-to-day education, learning would have been far more meaningful, memorable, interesting, and relevant than the “twelve years without parole” that school felt like for me.
Now, compare those warm, relational childhood memories with your current experience in homeschooling. If you are anything like me (ouch!), you have probably been struggling to keep a smile on your face and anger out of your voice when you notice your 10-year-old decorating his math paper with peanut butter, your 15-year-old rolling her eyes at the literature book that came so highly recommended, or your 6-year-old doodling instead of decoding. Being relational does not mean becoming falsely angelic or faking a smile, but it does mean extending your emotions to your child instead of to the assignment. In real life, that would mean dialogue and interaction, like asking with real interest—not cynicism—whether his math paper is improved now; whether she sees any hope for the lit book; or whether the reading lesson would be easier after lunch.
How this desire to have warm relationships translates into educational reality with our flesh-and-blood kids is one of the most profound lessons a homeschool parent will ever learn. Children—unlike fairy tale fiction or high-tech robots—are unique individuals made in the image and likeness of God. They have strengths and weaknesses, quirks and talents, and they are constantly changing and growing up toward maturity. With the immense challenges this provides, we need to recognize that it takes time and experience to sort out how each of our children is wired to learn and how to best provide the environment for each one’s success. For both parents and students, it must include grace, laughter, honesty, and a willingness to be teachable.
In my twenty years of homeschooling, and the many years since, I have discovered that there are insightful Scriptures that apply and real-life experiences to share that will help. We will explore these through this column, with the goal of creating relationships where we honor, respect, trust, love, and enjoy one another. In that remarkable place of safety, freedom, and love, our beloved children will be set free to flourish in learning . . . and in life.
Diana Waring, author of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest, and History Revealed curriculum, discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.” Beginning in the 80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high school—providing the real-life opportunities to learn how kids learn. Mentored by educators whose focus was to honor Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, B. A. in French), Diana has been enthusiastically received by audiences on four continents.
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

I've entered "Our Journey into Home Education" in the Top 25 Homeschooling Moms for 2012 contest & need your votes! You can vote once every 24 hours.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pikitup Landfill Site & Depot Tour

Today we had another field trip to go with our Technology group recycling theme. We had the opportunity of visiting various Pikitup depots.

We met at the Robinson Deep Landfills Site and here we learnt that waste trucks are collecting waste from our homes return to deliver the waste at this site at a rate of 1,500 trucks per day. Johannesburg produces more than 1.4 million tons of waste for landfill every year. Every person in Johannesburg generates about 1.5kg  of waste per day.

Informal recyclers recover much of this material from dustbins and landfill sites. This is not ideal, firstly from the point of view of the health and safety of the recyclers. But also because the recyclable material is contaminated with other waste. After recyclable waste has been removed each layer of waste is covered by a layer of sand. Judging by the size of this landfill and with these volumes of waste it is hardly surprising that we need to rethink our wasting habits.

The gasses emitted by the waste are harmful for the ozone layer and thus it is currently channelled & burnt to save the ozone. However, we learnt that these gasses can be converted into electricity. Although renewable energy is more expensive than the electricity created from fossil fuels, negotiations are under way to supply City Power with this energy in the near future.

From here we went on to the Waterval Depot where they deal with Separation at Source. Here a team of Pikitup employees awaited us to teach us more about recycling & the importance thereof.

Recycling involves the separation of reusable waste products into special demarcated recyclable bags or containers supplied by Pikitup and various organisations. These used materials are then processed into new products to prevent reusable materials ending up in landfill sites. It also helps reduce the consumption of raw materials, reduce energy consumption also reduces air & water pollution.

We also learnt more about the Waterval Area Recycling pilot project. We also leant the importance of all residents of the country to contribute in order to save our environment.

How can we recycle at home?

  • Put normal household waste and food into black bins.
  • Put rinsed uncontaminated plastics, glass, tetra packs, polystyrene cartons & tins into clear bags.
  • Put paper, newspaper, magazines & cardboard into the special orange bags provided.
  • Make compost from garden waste & other organic waste such as vegetable peels & leftover fruit.
  • Take green waste to the nearest garden site.

We need to promote the 4 R’s of Recycling:

  • Rethink ~ Before you throw something away, think if there’s any way it can be reused. Can the item be used for alternative purpose or can it be given to a charity shop or children’s home? By rethinking the way we see waste we can:
    • see waste as a valuable resource
    • put valuable materials back into the manufacturing stream
    • save on raw materials
    • create job opportunities.
  • Reduce ~ If you don’t need it, don’t buy it and you’ll reduce the amount of waste you generate. By reducing & separating your waste you can:
    • reduce pollution
    • help save space in landfill sites
    • help save the environment
  • Reuse ~ When you buy something, choose a brand that has the least amount of packaging or the kind that can be reused, recycled or composted. Look for products that are earth-friendly. By reusing what we can, we help to:
    • protect natural resources
    • save money in households
    • cut down the volume of waste produced
    • encourage people to be creative with ideas to recycle waste
  • Recycle ~ Look for products that are made from recycled material. If there’s a demand for recycled plastic products more plastic will be recycled and less will end up in landfill or polluting the environment. Recycling saves resources because less virgin material will have to be mined or grown, it reduces the effects of global warming & also helps to protect the environment.

Pikitup ~ Keep on Recycling_Page_2What can be recycled?

  • Plastic
    • Plastic beverage bottles
    • Household plastic bottles (shampoo, cleaning chemicals, pool chemicals etc.)
    • Plastic shopping bags, black bags & shrink wrap
    • Buckets & crates
    • Polystyrene (disposible food containers like yoghurt, margarine, takeaways etc.)
  • Glass ~ glass bottles (including alcohol)
  • Cans ~ all cans & foil
  • Paper ~ white paper, coloured paper, newspaper, magazines, cardboard, tetra pack, etc.

Four Good reasons to recycle, taken from the Treevolution website:

  1. Every metric ton of paper recycled saves 17 trees and uses 40% less energy, and 50% less water. If all household paper/cardboard were recycled 750 000 cubic metres of landfill space would be saved a year, saving local authorities R60-million a year in collection and landfill costs. The energy saved from paper recycling in a year is sufficient to provide electricity to 512 homes for a year. (Source: Paper Recycling Association of SA)
  2. Glass is 100% recyclable but it does not biodegrade. The raw materials for glass – sand, soda and lime – all have to be dug from the earth and melted together at very high temperatures. Energy is saved by recycling. The energy saved from recycling just one bottle will power a 100-watt light bulb for almost an hour. Every ton of glass recycled also saves 1,2 tons of raw materials. (Source: The Glass Recycling Company)
  3. Cans are 100% recyclable. They are melted down to make new steel. This reduces the need to mine new iron ore and saves on the energy used to mine and process it. More than 36 000 tons of high-grade steel is recovered for re-smelting a year. (Source: Collect-a-can)
  4. A total of 562-million PET bottles were recovered for recycling in 2007 alone. This removed 19 000 tons of plastic from landfill, but that was only 24% of the PET bottles made that year. Recycling a ton of PET containers saves 7,4 cubic metres of landfill space. And 19 x 500ml PET bottles can be recycled into enough fibre filling for a standard pillow. (Source: Petco)

Added to that, did you know:

  • By recycling your daily newspaper every day forone year, you will save 7 trees.
  • 1kg of plastic uses 91% less energy than recycling 1kg of paper.
  • Glass can be recycled forever & never wears out.
  • One recycled aluminium can saves enough energy to run a TV for 3 hours?

The Fairlands Garden Refuse Site was yet another eye opener to the volumes of waste that we are responsible for, much of which is recyclable. . This site accepts all kinds of waste, including paper, plastics, glass, metal & e-waste. With a little bit of effort every citizen can contribute to making this mammoth task just a little bit easier.

Pikitup has 42 garden refuse transfer sites in the City of Johannesburg & provides containers for the disposal of light garden waste at these sites.

These garden sites are presently filled to capacity. Pikitup, the City of Joburg’s waste management entity, is working on a plan to minimise the pressure at these affected sites. While this process is underway, the company implores residents to speak to the garden site attendant on duty, who will direct them to an available garden site at which residents are able to deposit their garden waste.

These facilities were created as a service to residents to facilitate a dumping area for the disposal of light garden waste. People often refer to these sites as a dumping ground, but the reason why they are defined as refuse transfer sites is clearly evident in the fact that refuse is disposed of into containers & transferred to a disposal site or a composting site.

Garden refuse is transferred to the Panorama Composting Site where it is converted into compost which is then sold at cheaper rates to the public. We visited this site & the Pikitup Composting Process was explained.

Compost is a mixture of decayed plants & other organic matter used for enriching soil. Almost any organic material is suitable for a compost pile. It does however, need a proper ratio of carbon-rich materials, or ‘browns” & nitrogen-rich materials, or “greens”. This is something that can also be done at home to reduce the volumes of garden refuse being dumped at the garden sites.

We all want to live in a clean, hygienic, litter-free environment. Litter destroys the environment, our health and it reduces the general quality of our lives. it is up to us to do our part to eradicate it.

Download Treevolution’s Beginner’s Guide to Recycling now to get started to doing your share for our environment. We’ve been at it for a few months now & although it can be quite a schlep to get started, once you’re into the swing of things it’s quite easy & the general waste is reduced quite drastically.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Museum Africa & Moyo Market Theatre

2012_0605_085717Today we joined the Jedi Knights Homeschoolers for a  visit to Museum Africa formerly known as the Africana Museum, one of the most beautiful buildings where it lies right next door to the Market Theatre complex in Bree Street, Newtown, Johannesburg’s city centre’s western edge & is located opposite Mary Fitzgerald Square. This building was formerly the city’s fruit & vegetable market. It was originally built in 1913 and was then the largest building of its kind in the country with the railway which brought food into the city, running behind it.  The story of many migrant miners as well as others connected with Johannesburg are told through the Museum’s collections.

The museum houses various long-term exhibitions which include “Cartoons in Context” and “Ghandi’s Johannesburg; The birthplace of Satayagraha”. There are also various objects, pictures & documents depicting the boundaries of South African cultural groups.

The museum also houses various other museums which include the “Geology Museum”, the “Bensusan Museum of Photography” as well as the “Workers’ Museum.

  • The Bensusan Museum of Photography collects rare and valuable precision-made photographic equipment and pictures made using this equipment including wet-plate prints, stereoscopic views and digital images. This museum on it’s own can provide the serious photography fanatic hours of of fascinating viewing of photography equipment.
  • The Geology Museum collection consists of over 17000 rock and mineral samples from Southern Africa including many type samples and samples from the Tsumeb area of Namibia, the Witwatersrand reefs and Okiep area. This museum too can provide hours of viewing & would make an awesome field trip for those studying the theme of geology.
  • The Workers Museum tells the story of migrants who came to Johannesburg from across southern Africa, leaving behind their homes & families.

Personally I found there’s just way to much information here to do all the exhibits in one day. I would re-schedule a visit of certain areas at times when it fits in with the theme the kids are studying.

After our visit to the museum we also had an opportunity to tour the Market Theatre. We got to see the inside of the “Laager Theatre” as well as the “Main Theatre”. Since they were busy setting up in the “Barney Simon” theatre, we were only allowed a sneak peak though the entrance. The Market Theatre also houses the Market Theatre Laboratory for skills training. The Laboratory is a platform for young artists in this country, to meet, interact, engage and discuss issues affecting the arts industry and creative processes. The Lab hosts community theatre showcases nationally weekly. Groups in and around Gauteng can book showcases with the Lab office, while groups nationally can send a request to be visited by a fieldworker to showcase their new plays for the Lab.

A huge thank you to Danielle Johnson for arranging this great outing.