Monday, August 20, 2012

Homeschool Inspiration Today

I was recently caught up in a conversation with a young woman who at age 25 admitted that she didn't know what she wanted to do with her life. She couldn't hold down a job because she got bored easily and when I asked about study she exclaimed emphatically "I could NEVER got to University - it would be too hard!".

During the conversation I uncovered that the house she lived in had been bought for her by her parents at the tender age of 18 to supposedly encourage her to develop some independence. Her car had also been bought for her by her parents. Her mother came around once a week to clean for her and do her washing and she admitted that she never bothered to learn how to cook because she would often just go back home for meals.

After this conversation I realised what was holding this beautiful young girl back from finding not just a job, but a purpose for her life. She had never been taught how to do anything for herself.

Clearly her mother wanted to provide her daughter with everything she could ever want but in doing so deprived her of the very life skills she so desperately needed.

We need to teach our children how to think for themselves and prepare them for life!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Power Of Words

power of words teaching parents

I'm not the most patient of people. I have a short fuse. I'm easily frustrated.

So, what does God challenge me to do? Homeschool of course!
I always knew that this part of my temperament would be a struggle for me throughout my life. In fact, I actually remember hearing my first sermon by my school principal when I was four years old. It was about the power of the tongue and I remember him saying "Tara. Listen. This is the most important lesson you will ever learn".

Oh, was he right!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 18: 21

Just this week I was stressed out. Big time. My baby wasn't sleeping and I was getting around 3 hours of broken sleep a night. My husband travels for work so he wasn't around to help and I felt overwhelmed by all the things I had to do. I had friends popping out babies left right and center and wanted time to make them some meals as well as visit them and then there's a normal day, coffee dates, playdates etc...But although that may explain my behavior - it doesn't excuse it.

I lost it.

I got frustrated at everything. We went to begin our homeschooling day and we couldn't find the whiteboard markers for our morning boards.I got angry. I felt like this was setting the tone for the day. We looked for 10 minutes before I realised that they were nowhere. We started late. I made sure the kids knew I was annoyed at them for losing the markers.

We sat down for our devotion and my bible wasn't where I left it. Once again, I let them know I was frustrated that they moved my things. As I read the boys were wiggling all over the floor. I snapped at them twice and told them if they didn't stop moving I was going back to bed (I wished!).

DS6 didn't feel like maths that morning and was bouncing around on his chair. We couldn't find the glue to glue our handwriting sheets in our scrap books. My 2 year old knocked my coffee over.

The afternoon was even worse. Someone had spilt water all over the library books and hadn't told me and the boys were fighting...constantly.

I ranted. I raved. I yelled.

DS6 disappeared and I heard him sobbing his room. I went in to see if he was okay knowing that my behavior had eventually worn him down. I embraced him and he was hysterical. "Mummy, I'm so sorry I'm such a horrible little boy". My heart broke and before I knew it, I was sobbing too.

I'm pretty sure I hadn't used those exact words but it didn't matter. Whatever I had said and the way I had behaved made him feel like that. I knew I couldn't take back what had been done so I told him I was sorry and asked him to forgive me. I told him although his behavior was sometimes horrible - I NEVER thought HE was horrible. Ever. I told him I loved him and we cried together.

 So, there was this weeks wake-up call. Words (and tone) matter more than we realise.

All day I had ranted and raved and felt that it didn't matter because no one was listening anyway. It wasn't true. They heard every word and it had left an imprint in their fragile little beings.

Worst. Mum. Ever.

Homeschooling tests me. A lot. This is good as God is refining and shaping my character. I wish I was born with the "patience of a saint" but alas I know this is something I need to work on.

I have to keep saying to myself "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" because I can!

I also have to remind myself that "Love is is is patient..."....because it is.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Answering Questions With The Wonderwall

Photo from
My boys ask lots of questions.

Here's one from the weekend.

DS6: What are windscreens made out of?
MUM: A type of glass I think.
DS6: Who makes the glass?
MUM: Um, the people in the car factory.
DS6: What is glass made from?
MUM: mmmm.....great question. I'm not sure (meaning I have absolutely NO idea!).

I have to be honest and say I don't always know the answers to my kid's questions. I also sometimes raise my eyebrows at the seeming randomness of when these questions pop out. A question about the moon now? In the middle of piano practice? Really? How...

A friend of mine who is a great source of wisdom (and also a school teacher) suggested we create a "wonderwall" which can be anything from a blank piece of paper stuck on a wall to a fancy laminated poster. For us, we had one of those big chalkboard wall stickers which we turned into DS6's wonderwall.

So, what is a wonderwall?

It's a place for DS6 to write questions that we need to find out answers to.

I am constantly saying "That's a great question - but I don't know" but now I can say "I don't know - write it on the wonderwall and we will find out together!"

We allocate some time we call "individual inquiry" which is really just teacher speak for answering questions or following a topic that interests a child. DS6 directs what we do in the this time and often times it will be finding the answer to a question.

After our recent trip to Alice Springs and a look at Australian Aboriginal history his question for the wonderwall was: Why did the white people take the Aboriginal man (who we met) away from his mummy and daddy? I did know the answer to that one so we sat and I explained it the best way I could.

Some other questions we've looked at have been.

What are the olympic games?

What is God's plan for my life? 

Now, that was fun!

What are toys made out of and where are they made? 

Oh what a good question! I took a little detour here to explain about how many companies use child labour and unethical practices using very poor people in very poor countries. I horrified myself actually.

Thankfully, the boys didn't quite seem ready to grasp this concept and I realised I was probably taking the question a little too far and perhaps they weren't yet ready (at 6 & 4) to grasp how our Western greed and consumerism impacts some of the poorest people in the world.

The Wonderwall has been a fantastic addition to our homeschooling day and helps me feel that I'm not just brushing off the difficult questions but doing my best to help DS6 find the answers!

Car-schooling with Jonathon Park Audio Adventures

  I once asked a seasoned homeschooler how she managed to fit so many activities and events around 'schoolwork'. She told ...