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Homeschool – Encouragement

Raised Together

This week, we have been sick. The entire family is sick. So we have been bingeing on watching David Attenbourgh and all the documentaries he has ever created. We recently just bought a blu-ray version of Blue Planet and Blue Planet II which has been amazing to see.

What strikes me the most is watching the mammals. All the apes, the cats, wolves and bears. When the mums have their babies, their babies are with them. When they grow up a little, they are still with their mum. When they are ‘teens’, they are still with their pack.

So why is it, that we are the most intelligent beings on this planet, and we are not raised together?

We are suppose to be this amazing being, that can achieve so much, yet we apparently have no clue on how to raise our children. We need to send them to specialists, everything needs to be checked by someone else, and we apparently do not have all the knowledge and skills to raise our children. We have to send them to others so that they can learn the basic skills to survive as a human being.

From the age of 3, children are sent to kindergartens. I sent my eldest to kindergarten, and there was many tears. He simply was not happy to go. He wanted to be by my side. But not trusting my parenting and not trusting my instincts, I believed what others said, and I walked away. (He’s now 7 and homeschooled… just so you know).

From the age of 5, children are sent to schools for 6-7 hours a day, 5 days a week where they are segregated into classes with children their age, which they must get along with. They must be able to listen, sit down, to get along, to express themselves, to read, to count, to be happy with all this.

But what happens when they don’t? If they don’t listen, if they don’t express themselves, if they won’t sit still, and what happens when they are simply not happy with all this? The teacher will tell the parent, that possibly, little Billy needs to see a specialist. Because he isn’t normal. He doesn’t fit.

And this goes on for the next 13 years of your child’s life. They are not with you, they are at school.

I personally use to think this way, that I didn’t have the knowledge or experience to raise my children. I needed to take them to all sorts of specialists to ensure that they fit into school and sometimes, I would see their spark dull a little… because they were just being kids.

But after a full year of homeschooling, stepping through life with them for an entire year together, I now know that all my children want, is me. And my goodness, how they shine when they are nurtured, when they are loved and raised together.

Our children have not only become confident in the way the speak to others, they have been able to discover what it is they love about life, what makes them tick. Incidentally, I know several adults who still don’t know what makes them tick. But the most beautiful thing about all this, is that there weren’t any specialists involved (except for our 3 year old who needed grommets put in his ears), all our social and mental issues were fixed because we homeschooled. The children felt safe, they felt loved, and they felt that they were listened to, honoured and respected.

Now, I understand their are children who truly do need specialists, and that ADHD, Autism and ODD are disorders that require attention. I understand this. But I also believe that their has been an epidemic of diagnosed cases with parents who worry about their children’s behaviour.

But it just does not agree with me or our family to send a young child off to someone else to teach and raise. And later in life, if my children choose to go to school, then so be it. But it will be their decision, and not based on what society says they should do, or who they should be.

The system cannot give them the cuddles they need when they just aren’t feeling all that together on any particular day. The school teaches them things, but it cannot show them what it is that makes them tick, and then allows them to delve into their interest for hours and hours on end.

I refuse to believe that we are the most intelligent beings created (or evolved, which ever you believe), yet we are also the being that does not trust its own ability to raise our own children. Animals have been raising their children naturally, and the little animals learn all that they need to survive in the world that they are given.

Why is it that we cannot do the same? Have we made the world so complicated that we can no longer parent our own children?

Well, I for one, am taking a stand. And saying that all my kids need to live a healthy, resilient and fruitful life, is love, togetherness and for them to know that the family is always on their side.

 

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Peer to Peer versus Family Influence

Today is such a great day. The Sun is finally out in dreary cloudy Melbourne, and my husband is home this week from work. We wanted to replicate ‘holiday mode’ even without the going away part, so have gone out for breakfast most days, gone out for dinner most days, and put housework aside to focus on family time. It is joyous… to say the least. Currently as I type this, I have a 3 year old who has chosen to take his nap on my lap.

These moments are important to me. They silently build something within me that actually makes me happy, content and complete. Recently I wrote a piece regarding mental illness in our children and society and the possible links to pressure from mainstream schools. I have just read a book that adds another idea to the mix of what might be missing from our lives.

Currently, I am reading an out of print book called, “The Collapse of Parenting” by Leonard Sax. It was published some 10 years ago, but in my humble opinion, should be essential reading to all parents in modern society. Sax speaks of the dangers of today not just being social media, junk food or medication/drugs, but very much to do with two factors:

  1. The parent no longer being the authoritative lead in the home, but the child;

and

  1. The shift from family influenced children, to peer to peer influenced children.

The first is something we can see very readily. Parents don’t feel the sense of control they once use to. There seems to be so many things that a child can be attracted to these days, that it does seem so much harder these days to raise children.

When I was a child, there were 5 channels, and you only had two channels in the morning showing cartoons you actually wanted to see, and that ended at 9am. Go outside. Do something else. Now, there are several channels, DVD options, some channels showing round the clock cartoons, iPads, youtube… kids can have what they want, when they want it… right now.

Sax speaks about the 1950s where you were given no choice as to what was given to you at dinner, you ate it or starved. There are no snacks in between, so you knew the times to eat, and it was your choice to not eat the meals given. Today, kids can’t go without a snack in a 40 minute car ride.

Toys are abundant. We are drowning in junk because we can’t find it in ourselves to say no, I mean, its only a $9 toy… just give it to him, he’s been good today. I remember waiting for birthdays and treasuring every toy because I would not get another. And I have to admit, I’m one of those parents who does give my kid that $5 toy once a week at the shops because I just need to get the grocery shopping done!

But even this is something we can control. If we put up rules in our home to ensure some sort of normality of control, we might pull it off. No snacks after 2pm as dinner is at 5:30pm. No sugary drinks at all. No toys unless its your birthday or Christmas (I’m going to try this one! Wish me luck!) This point is somewhat in our control.

I believe the second point is far less out of our control.

(Now typing with one hand as son has decided to move onto my side! Excuse the mess too, on the floors, I can’t move right now!)

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Sax speaks of times gone by, where the family would be the child’s main area of influence. The father would influence the sons to help with the family business. They would always look up to their father, even once they have mastered the trade, as the wise expert and holder of all knowledge. Grandfathers would have more knowledge and thus, the influence was kept within the family.

Sax also says that in the 1950s, a survey to teenage schools students at the time asked them this question, “There is a party that you want to attend, and your friends are attending, however, your parents disapprove of the friends going. Would you go?” A resounding 97% said no, that they would adhere to their parent’s wishes.

Sax personally performed a similar survey in 2006, asking the teenage school students this question, “There is a social media site that your friends are on, but your parents do not want you to go on it. Would you still go on it?” 86% (check this Belinda) said that they would, and for those that answered no, Sax believed that they were being sarcastic due to the amounts of laughter that followed the answer ‘no’.

Now, some of you reading might say, “But this is just where society has gone. Our kids need to learn to live in this society, in this world.” “This is socialisation, our kids need to know how to decide for themselves what is right in this world.”

The dangers of this type of influence, however, are this. When the family is the influencer of the child, they are being influenced with expert knowledge, with a life lived full of mistakes as well as a well-fed life, but most of all, the influence is mostly given out from unconditional love to the child. A child in this type of influence would know boundaries, would feel supported and would know that the knowledge given to them was essential for the betterment of the next generation.

Peer to peer is something different. When a child enters into peer to peer influence, the influence that child goes into the hands of another similar less mature mind. The child will seek approval from anyone who has influence over them, and when it comes to peers, sometimes, they will not align to your family values.

What makes a teenage girl scream and shout because her mother won’t let her go to a party? Why is it acceptable for that teenage girl to scream and shout at her mother? What makes someone so upset at being banned from a social media site that their friends are on? Why would it be acceptable to yell and scream at the people who are primarily taking care of you, and have been, your whole life?

When the influence shifts from parent/family, to peer, a child no longer regards their parents commands, feelings, advice or wishes for them as important. A child looks only to satisfy their peers, and this, as Sax points out, can be so utterly dangerous for our children.

I’m not just talking about the bad influences, drugs, smoking, drinking and sex. I’m talking about not wanting to excel in a subject you’re good at, for fear of being not as cool. I’m talking about not wanting to admit that you went to see a movie with your parents, and actually had a great time. I’m talking about suddenly not caring what your parents think of you, and caring immensely about what your friends, society and the outside world thinks of you.

Today, I see a broken world, full of nursing homes with beautiful parents who have no one to take care of them, because we have somehow gotten to a stage where it’s just too hard. When I look to my past, my grand mother was 97 when she passed away, spending only the last 3 months in a hospital and every moment from when she was 70, living with her eldest son and his family. I love that. Don’t get me wrong, there are other circumstances that lead to our elderly being in caring homes, please don’t read this the wrong way. My point is just the vast amount of nursing homes we seem to have and how society doesn’t seem to support multi generational living.

Today, it is somewhat expected that when a teenager turns 14, that they will separate from you and ‘turn’, so to speak. But history has shown us generations of children growing up, respecting their fathers, grandparents, mothers and so on, for all the hard work they do, and how much they loved their children.

If you home-school, you are keeping your family close. You will of course, have a wide circle of friends, but your child will sense that their family is the main influence in their lives. I have some some wonderful families keep their family’s influence over the children even with school. I absolutely commend these families and wish they would write a book. But as society values the young, as we push our children from one activity/school/after school activity to another, as we focus more on academics rather than family fun times and warmth with in the family… we will continue to lose these children.

If our children do not get the fun times, warm love and happy days from us, they will get it from their peers. And this is when the influence changes.

So thank you to all you wonderful people, homeschooling your children, and creating a better society as we bring the focus of our children’s influence back to love, acceptance and boundaries.

I have to stop typing now as my one hand and my neck are very sore!!!!!

When the ‘why’ changes…

When I first started thinking about homeschooling, I felt it was a way for my Mr. 6 to thrive. When you have a little boy who just wants to be at home, and loves his family so much, he seems to function at 70% when he’s not being entirely engaged, you know in your motherly heart that there is just something more you can do for him.

I first started homeschooling because I honestly felt he was brilliant. All parents think their kids are brilliant. That’s why kids turn out brilliant when they’re adults. Because they are just simply brilliant, amazing, creative, wonderful, magnificent and perfect in their element. They really are. I now know that of many kids, but at the time of thinking about homeschooling about 3 years ago, I felt he was simply brilliant.

But homeschooling has completely changed for us from the initial reasons why we started. We started so that Mr. 6, Miss 4 and Mr. 2 could flourish in what ever area of learning that they wanted to undertake. They would have the time and resources, full supported, to explore whatever it is that they needed and wanted to learn about. We also needed a slower pace in life where we could learn about each other, learn about our world, and most importantly, slow down life to listen to God’s voice.

However, things have changed. Homeschooling for our little Lee Academy has changed to being a time to connect, do things together and learn from each other. It has been a school where respect, love and all those things that come with love are developed. Things like compromise, like creativity (to keep siblings happy), like enjoying each other’s company and learning about snails and mushrooms together. And whilst you may say that every family has the opportunity to do this regardless of going to school or not, simply, our family was not doing this when two of our children were at kinder in different year levels.

And yes, I absolutely agree that academics, learning how to read and being guided by an adult to learn and be exposed to new teachings is crucial and critical for a child to learn about their world. This premise has not altered.

But the wonder of the homeschool space is how much time our 3 have to just simply play, talk and be present with each other. And suddenly the mental health of my children, their healthy relationships and their self esteem, is far more important than any academic achievement goal that I initially had for them. Mr. 6 use to be shy and nervous, and remarkably is now no longer. Confident, full of life and full of esteem, he has a life about him that is sometimes unrecognisable.

I am of the belief that if confidence, happiness, and inner self esteem is present, then their natural curiosity and abilities will spur them on in the direction they need to go, academic or otherwise.

For the family, happiness, peace and love isn’t just a goal, it is the way of their daily life.

For those of you who are still just thinking about homeschooling, or just pondering on whether it is for you, just remember that once you’re there, and you are in it, your reasons to homeschool may indeed change… because, like me, you might just fall in love with the results it brings to your family, your life and your world. Results may not necessarily be A+ and High Achievement, but your world may change so that you will realise that it does not necessarily matter, as long as they are happy and know who they are, and want to be. 

Mother’s Guilt – The Homeschool Edition

As a homeschooler, this life consumes you sometimes. I find myself even when I am alone, unable to let go and constantly thinking to myself what else can I do to make this educational journey as fulfilling and bright as possible. Then there is the self-doubt of whether you are doing enough, are you doing something wrong, can you be better. I’m not sure about you, but homeschooling has somewhat elevated my mother guilt about 10 times over where it was this time last year.

Today, I was very hard on Mr. 6. And in hindsight, I did not want to be. He diligently wrote out a beautiful writing piece on Peter Rabbit.

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His writing for a 6 year old is actually pretty good. He is starting to read as we progress through the 100 Magic words.

But today, as we started to do our Maths, he sighed and said these words that meant more to my inner-judgemental spirit than it was really intended. He said, “Oh maths, not again.”

And to him, it simply meant this. “I don’t like math. Mum says I’m good at it, I just don’t like it.”

To me, I heard this. “My mummy doesn’t make maths fun. I don’t like it because mummy hasn’t made it fun for me.”

See, I can actually think quite clearly now about it, but at the time, I’m not quite sure what came over me.

I did not yell at him. I just implored him to try and see it from my point of view. I then uttered these words that made me think that a lot of this effort I have put into his education was mis-focused and all of a sudden, did not align to my mission statement that I had set in December.

“I’m doing my best. Can’t you see that? I’m sorry that you don’t like maths. I’ll do better.”

I immediately stopped myself when I uttered those words, because all of a sudden, I realised I had lost focus, and that this homeschooling route somehow veered off course and became about how much we could achieve.

The guilt became so much, I was exhausted and at 7pm, I went to sleep, only to wake at 12am… which is why I’m on my blog!

I lost the reason why I initially did all this.

The summarised mission is this:
For Mr. 6, Miss 4 and Mr. 2 to be free to discover themselves. To connect as a family. To have fun, build happy memories and to not be restricted to the standardising of kids based on what year they are born. For our kids to find learning fun, and always be engaged in what they are doing. Being engaged. 

Mr. 6 loves Science and History. This week we learnt about genetics and how he got some traits from mum and some from dad. We made playdoh and we did the baking soda/vinegar thing again; that never gets old.  We also continue our studies in history, and Mr. 6 loves greek mythology like it’s Avengers. (Pictured below reading Usborne’s Illustrated Greek Myths) He loves drawing and making books. He loves sumos and since he cannot be one (being as skinny as a rake), he’s settling for the next best thing… Kendo classes. Great thing is, is that he is doing these classes with dad, so both him and his father get to spend one on one time together every week, hitting each other with sticks.

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Ultimately, we need to stop being so hard on ourselves, and also on our homeschooled kids. They are amazing beings, all children are. And as parents, we make choices to better their lives. But the internal judgement has got to stop, to ensure that the parenting is actually about the betterment of them, and not to make ourselves feel better. 

Sometimes as homeschoolers, we lose focus. Sometimes as parents and people, we lose focus. For the sake of my kids, I will freely admit that I am not perfect, and do make mistakes. But for the sake of my kids, I will always be open to change to ensure that they can be happy, resilient and connected kids. 

When I speak to mums about homeschooling, no mum has ever said, “Oh I wouldn’t want to do that.” Every mum says, “Oh that’s wonderful. I just couldn’t do that.” We are our own harshest critics, even before we have thought about it or attempted it. But sometimes what I hear is, “Oh that’s wonderful. I just couldn’t handle the guilt. I don’t think I’m good enough.”

And to all you mums about to try something new, maybe it’s homeschooling, maybe it’s going back to work, or maybe it’s doing Kendo with your 6 year old… just remember… You are good enough for you beautiful children, whom God gave you and trusted you to take care of.  So take care of yourself, and your kids, and stop being so hard on yourself.

 

Too focused on academia

Lately, I think I have frustrated my very intelligent Mr. 5.

Because he is so bright, smart and has amazing insight into the world, I can’t help myself but try and stretch him more and more.

We had positives this week.
Our next door neighbour has a telescope that weighs more than I do. It has to be taken apart into pieces so you can transport it, and it requires a high degree of patience to learn how to use it. Our neighbour invited our entire family (and a super excited Alexander) over to see a couple of planets. Well, Alexander was there from 6:30pm to 11pm just waiting eagerly to see anything our neighbour had to show him. (He stayed with dad, I went home and went to bed with the other two kids.) He saw Saturn, Jupiter, the Sombrero Galaxy, a few Nebulas, and got a great view of the surface of the moon. He was on cloud nine and it renewed his want and love to be a rocket man.

He also showed great love for his sister (now Miss 4) on her birthday, and is always loving to Mr. nearly 2. He is starting to help independently clean the house and pick up toys, shoes, clothes (HALLELUJAH!).

But we had a negative yesterday and today. 
We sat down to do the sit down element of our homeschooling, namely, math.
Now, generally, Mr. 5 loves maths. He loves it because he’s good at it. So I upped it a little and instead of the usual times tables that he already knows by heart (1, 2, 10 and 11) due to their easy-to-remember principles, I gave him 3 and 5 and 9 this week.

Oops.

He tried and failed 2 times. And that was enough for him to give up. I couldn’t understand what I was witnessing. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, I just don’t like it when I get it wrong. I like it when I get it right all the time. I tried to explain to him that for you to improve, you are always going to have to get things wrong. But you keep trying and don’t give up, and you’ll get there.

But that didn’t work.

I had realised that this week, I pushed too hard. And this week is now called a stalled week. We’re going to stop the schooling this week, and just focus on cooking, craft, gardening and helping each other get the house ready for Miss 4’s birthday party this weekend. (Some would say that this is what you should do all of the time when you homeschool. I guess I feel that I need to be accountable to what they are doing and learning.)

But I forgot to do something so special, so crucial and it was the reason why I homeschooled.

If I homeschooled because I wanted my children to be smarter than everyone else, then I have already failed. If I am homeschooling because I believed that my children would be better off academically, and that they would be able to do this with less stress than their peers, then I have failed.

My reasons for homeschooling are these:

  • To have the time to develop a closer relationship with God.
  • To have the space to develop and grow with siblings.
  • To know who they are and love who they are.
  • To spend more precious time with my children, and allow them to know how much I love them.
  • To ensure they know the community and how they can contribute.

This is my mission statement. And I forgot it this week. I just wanted him to reach his best and fullest potential, that I changed my focus and forgot why I was doing this in the first place.

I am not homeschooling to prove anything. I doubt anyone homeschools to show how smart and perfect their children are.  If you felt your kids were so bright and perfect, why not send them to school and show the world? Homeschooling is not at all perfect and somedays are like an experiment.

I am homeschooling because their relationship with God, us, family, community and themselves is the most important aspects of their lives.

It doesn’t matter how smart they are, how sporting they are, how knowledgable they are (even though they are obviously incorporated into homeschooling). It matters that they know who they are, how to make themselves happy and how they can make the community a better place. And what I believe makes people most happy, is having valuable and meaningful relationships with those around them.

Lets pray that I can always remember this focus and not forget it… again.

Good days and the “Did I make the right decision?” days…

There are some days as a new homeschool mum that you question whether what you’re doing the right thing. Then there are days like this, when you know it was the right thing to do.

The Good
We usually start our days at 6am when all three kids climb into our bed. We stay there praying, hugging and playing until about 8am. It’s a great way to start the day on cold mornings.

Mr. 5 then decides to start his worksheets before breakfast. God colouring, Bible verse memorisation, writing, maths and times tables done before breakfast. He sits there for an hour on his own. (Did you need any help darling? No? Okay…) After breakfast he sits on my lap and we cuddle, reading 65 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths.

We then eventually get out of our pyjamas and dress to go to a homeschool coop (a group of families who homeschool and get together so their children can socialise). We brought a soccer ball and saw all the boys (including Mr. 5) play soccer. They snack on fruit, fruit and more fruit. (How do three kids eat an entire cantelope, bunch of grapes, two punnet of strawberries, a whole homemade apple pie and 3 bananas!)

Afterwards the coop, we go to a large football field and run around, testing to see how fast we can run. Mr. 5 can get across the diameter of the field in 32 seconds. Personal best. Miss 3, 84 seconds. She was being a fairy princess who apparently do not run. They fly.

We then come home and read history. This week, it’s Ancient Egyptian history. Mr. 5 and daddy read about Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. Delving deeper, Mr. 5 wants to know all about the Egyptians. So that’s where we’re at. Today it was about the Nile, Upper and Lower Egyptians and how they became one. He wants to write hieroglyphics. Mummy has to learn how to spell hieroglyphics (did I get it right?).

We then water the plants, which turns into a huge water fight where all the children take off their clothes. Mr.5 teaches Mr. nearly 2 to pee on the lemon tree. They play in the mud, they dunk Miss 3’s dolls into mud, find millipedes (a family of them, eek!), and pick flowers for mummy (aww).

After the bath they desperately needed, Mr. 5 practices the piano for 15 mins and learns a new song. Achievement. Then the kids watch daddy cook dinner.

As bed time approaches, we skip reading time here as the kids are literally falling asleep at the dinner table. They go to bed at 6:30pm, and we hold Mr. 5 and Miss 3 in their beds until they fall asleep. These times are by far, the best part of my day; seeing my older children drifting off to sleep, knowing that they are loved and feel safe in the comfort of our arms.

More important than any Academic achievement or checklist, is that our children feel grounded, connected to each other, their families, but also to their community. Mr. 5 has sometimes been afraid to approach new people. Today, I saw him run up to new friends, and initiate a soccer game. It it still strange to see the transition from when he was shy, to who he is now.

I am so very proud of our children. No matter what, I always am.

And why do I write about these days? (Get ready for the rant that has no full stops)

The Bad
Because I need to read them when I have a day like this. When the day doesn’t start with hugs but tantrums and bad dreams, when Mr. 5 wants to do the work but feels like he might fail so doesn’t want to try, when Miss 3 is being a three-ager, when Mr. nearly 2 wants to be held all day so you can’t do basic things, mess and food is everywhere and the house is trashed, and dinner is not even thought of until the Mr. 1 and Miss 3 are asleep on the floor at 5pm… these homeschool days when nothing is achieved, they are a reality. They do happen. It isn’t always perfect. These are the days when you think, if I had sent Mr. 5 to school, he would at least have been taught something. These are the days when Mr. 5 helps you with housework, helps you clean Mr. 1’s nappy or the excrement on the floor (he is such a good boy), runs around finding tissues for you, and you realise that you haven’t read him anything, the days when you drive a lot, completing errands, and the guilt sets in. And it sets in so deep that sometimes, you can’t sleep. This is when the negativity of some people’s words about “You need to send him to school” cuts so deep, and hurts so much. Because you start to doubt if you can do this at all. Can you really give them your absolute best.

The Beauty
But you wake, to the loving hugs of a lovely little boy, who constantly whispers into your ear as you wake, “I love you mummy… all I want is you.” And you wake and realise that all your children are with you, holding you (one on top of you), just loving you…

And you realise what’s more important than education, more important than systems and what the world has to offer.

It’s them. And you would do anything for them. Because no one loves them more than you do. And this is why someone’s decision to homeschool, or not to homeschool, to send to public school or sacrifice every dollar for private school… should not be judged. We all love our children. We all have our reasons. But one thing is for sure. We love them more than anything else in this world.

 

 

 

 

What “learning” looks like in our house…

Okay children! Time to go outside and play in the garden!
In our house, this means it’s time to turn the hose on, and play in the mud…

There is something so freeing when you see kids released into the backyard, and given free reign over a designated mud patch. Turn the hose on low, and see how they just love mixing the dirt with water, and discovering different textures and thicknesses.

Nothing makes my children more excited than the freedom to make a mess… and the feel of mess.  I just love the laughter, squeals and excitement that occurs when they have fun in the mud.

I don’t know how you would write this kind of learning on paper.
I don’t think you can even quantify what exactly they are learning. It’s unlike maths or reading when you can see a direct quantitative result of the teaching.

However, should you need any reason to put it down on paper, here it is.

Textures and Consistencies 
Our children are learning how to create models out of mud. This requires you to mix the mud to a certain level. Too runny then you need to add more mud. Too hard and you need to add more water. Then try and put it together with little hands. Sounds simple, but I encourage any adult to try it one day. This stuff isn’t sand or clay. And it’s messy. Fun messy, but messy.

Time at play
The longest uninterrupted play time in the mud has been 5 hours. The attention span on one activity is simply amazing, and the freedom to keep doing it until they are done gives them the confidence to be in charge of their own play.

Toilet training Mr. 2
He’s nappy-less. Use your imagination. He’s in the garden. (In case you are concerned, he has never ever done a No. 2 in the mud patch.)

Teamwork
Our children have to navigate each other’s wishes in order for the fun to continue. In this environment, there are never any tantrums, outbursts or acts of selfishness. All the children are happy to bask in the abundance of freedom and mud. They naturally work together without adult instruction, to get to their goal. I find it freeing and beautifully satisfying. I’m not sure how it works, I am just observing something beautiful.

Learning about Nature
We discover lots of bugs and worms, lots of different types of roots and leaves. Lots of secondary discovery happens after when we try to find what the bugs are. (Today’s discovery was a bug that was shaped like a leaf. I had to convince Miss 3 that we need to respect the bug and not put it in a box where it will most likely die. Another lesson.)

 

Their love for each other
So this isn’t something that is normally quantified on school report cards. But something extremely important to me is family unity. What I notice when my children share in these moments of happiness, freedom and teamwork, is that they get along better. They hug more, they talk to each other with more respect, they involve each other and they help each other.

There is something so beautiful forming within the muddy puddles of our homeschool, and it has nothing to do with how smart our children are.  It has everything to do with the beautiful flower being grown in the hearts of our children, that is the love they have for each other. 

 

 

That “but what about socialisation” post…

As a homeschooling mum, the number one concern I receive from other parents is, “How will they learn how to socialise with other people?” For some reason, when you hear homeschooling, you might think of four walls with only mum and the child, 5 days a week.

But homeschoolers like to reply by saying, “Why do they call it homeschooling if you’re never at home?” Unlike school which has children in schools for 6-7 hours a day (with their friends and teachers), homeschooling isn’t the same. We may spend about 1-2 hours a day on solid work ,3 hours if you include the reading element (more for more mature children I assume). But the other 10 hours of the active day (not including sleep of course)… lets investigate that.

Recently we have had the pleasure of school holidays. “But you’re a homeschooler, surely it doesn’t affect you.”  Well it does.

Normally, homeschoolers dislike school holidays because all the special places (museums, public pools, zoos, etc) are crowded and it is actually the time we spend more time at home. But school holidays are great for one thing… there are plenty of people who want to catch up with you. Our school holiday calendar was packed solid 2 weeks before school holidays began. Popular kids obviously.

So these school holidays, and especially this week, we caught up with people every single day. It actually surprised me how much socialising happened here.

We immersed ourselves in a group of homeschooling families. There were about 10-15 families that got together, and loads of children from different backgrounds, beliefs and ages. We saw our extended families; 6 cousins, aunties and uncles, overseas visitors and visited nursing homes. We met with swimming mates and friends we met randomly at various places that we somehow clicked with. We met with old friends that we have seen ever since our kids were sleeping newborns. We also caught up with adults who did not have children, and I witnessed how relaxed my children were socialising with them. We caught up with friends that went to kindergarten with our two eldest. We socialised with many friends from our local church.

Were there any difficult times? Yes. There were times when our shy child would have to approach a bunch of children and ask to play. And there were times when a disagreement would occur and they would have to work it out themselves.

But there are also beautiful times. There are times where the older children would help the younger children (unrelated children), including feeding them food and helping them climb equipment. There would be times when teamwork would naturally occur to satisfy a common goal. And the most important of all was seeing our children play, feeling confident about themselves and their relationships with their friends.

How long did these kids play for? The shortest time was 2 hours. The longest time was 8 hours. 8 hours of continuous, uninterrupted socialisation.  It is beautiful, and I just love seeing my children so free, happy, confident and fulfilled.

As school holidays end and our so called pool of friends lessens, I am inspired by the friendships my children have formed in this journey thus far, and the choices they are making of the friends who make them feel happiness inside.

Yes, it is a lot of more effort on the parent’s part to ensure that their homeschool child receives the adequate socialisation. Importantly, it is really important to ensure that the children are socialised with peers of their age group, as well as all sorts of different age groups. It is also important that they socialise with a diverse group of friends.

But the most important thing for me, is that they are happy.

The value of hard work

I really dislike the word ‘hard‘ in hard work.  From the outset, it plagues the notion of working hard with difficulty, almost -immediate procrastination and misery.

I have sometimes struggled with the notion myself, and I’ve never wanted to call myself lazy, but sometimes, if there is an easier option, I might just take it. Unfortunately, important life lessons aren’t going to be taught if we always choose the easier option.

Someone once said that Success comes from Talent yes, but Hard Work is what makes it happen.

Mr. 5 is (in my humble opinion) brilliant when it comes to Maths. He can do addition without counting all the way up to his 20s, he can subtract, and he is starting to memorise the patterns of times tables. Maths is easy for him. The concepts just come to him. Show him once or twice, and he’s got it. He likes it.

Mr. 5 however, use to struggle with phonics. And yes, I understand he is 5. Not 8.

But he tells me he wants to learn how to read… so he can pick up a book called ‘Captain Underpants’ and read it himself. So he has the motive… But he has realised that it is actually not easy.

He tells me its hard.

And I empathise, and agree. But here it is. If you work hard and push through, each day will get easier. And once you have it, if you keep at it, and work hard, you will master it. 

We have said to him, sometimes in life, you have to do the things you don’t want to.

Mr. 5 admires daddy going to work everyday with a smile, even though sometimes he doesn’t want to. It’s difficult being out the door at 6.30am and back home by 6.30pm. It’s difficult being away from the family for so long and sometimes not seeing them because you work late. But why does he do it? He does it because he works hard, and because he loves us. He works so we have food, shelter, and security. He does it because he loves you.

Hard work is necessary in achieving goals. Goals are set, and you go for them. Sometimes they are easy. But most of the time, if the goal is important enough, it will require hard work. 

So lets aim for those Captain Underpants books!

 

And just to finish off, here we have Mr. 1 (nearly 2) loving the vacuuming. This has nothing to do with the post, I just thought you might enjoy how cute he is.

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