27 September 2008

September holiday

The first week of our September holiday is over. Despite bad weather we've been having a lovely time. We left for my parents home in PE on Monday. We spent a good week there. The children always enjoy being at Granny and Grandad. We also saw alot of my sister and her children, who we have not seen much of over the past few years. Wow, how they have grown up. Joel especially had a great time with his boy cousins, who, though they are older really entertained him so well. Thanks guys!

On Friday we returned home, and then this morning we went out for the day to my cousins farm. James had to photograph a wedding, so Tracy and Amy came with us. It was a chilly day, but we managed to look at most parts of the farm, that I have not seen in a while. Of course the children enjoyed then animals. We went to feed the pigs and hens.

Shelley was a little wary of the 200 odd mixed herd of cattle though! Emma enjoyed collecting eggs. the girls enjoyed holding the baby chicks, and i held my first one ever too. there were two new day old calves, so sweet.

Joel was pretty hands off the whole animal thing, but had lots of thought provoking questions. We've got to do some research into how many stomachs a cow has on Monday! He was exceptionally thrilled at his amazing find- cow teeth. These are now sitting on my bathroom shelf, awaiting a good scrub. (No, not with any of our toothbrushes) Yuck!

My cousins have two teenage children. Their daughter made some beautiful cupcakes for us all, which the children helped her decorate. Their son kindly pushed all the little people about in a miniture tractor and a small old fashioned car. Two homemade "broom brooms" also made wonderful toys. The children had such a fantastic time in the beautiful garden, and also climbed trees. It was a pity that the day had to end. But fortunately there is still another week of holiday, a visit to another cousin, a party and lots more relaxing. Yeah!

21 September 2008

Weaver birds and pretty girls

We've been studying Animal builders in our Weaver curriculum. They suggested Weaver birds, and we were so fortunate to see a male Weaver bird constructing a nest in amongst some dry reeds in a nearby veld. We watched for as long as Shelley could keep still, it was very interesting. It is amazing that this little creature will spend so much time creating something that may well be ripped apart or rejected by it's mate. What a self-less act.

We also drove around our town and spotted all the the castle like buildings we could find. I forgot my camera- there is a fantastic example of one just down the road. I love it when the children can see what they learning outside of a book!

Here is a picture of little madam the other day at church. It was so cute- the girls wanted to go dressed up in dresses and hats, with their little handbags.
I tried to snap Emma too, but she wouldn't oblige.

20 September 2008

My new blog about homeschooling in South Africa

Well we're on our third term holiday. This past term has gone well, and it seems we'll be able to take the Fourth term gently. I can really do with a more relaxed pace. So, we'll focus more on our Weaver Volume 1 as we're reaching our academic goals just fine.

Getting into the volumes has been harder than I'd expected. Sometimes it feels as though I am missing something. See, I'm still learning to WEAVE it all together.

The children enjoy our hands on activities. We made a volcanoe on Friday- that was fun. I am learning that less book knowledge and more hands on is good. I tend to gather a whole pack of books on our themes- forgetting that in Grade 1/2 it is not neccesary to cover topics completely- in any case with Weaver we'll hit the topic again sometime or with the supplement. Next term I plan to have a whole lot more fun, and to stress less.

In amidst the chaos of raising three children and homeschooling, I have started another blog, Homeschooling-in-South-Africa. I want to help homeschoolers in South Africa, and I hope the blog does that. I really want to bless other families who want to homeschool, but who are frustrated by lack of resources and information. It will be a slow process but something I want to do.

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11 September 2008

Turning 7

Joel turned seven years old yesterday.

I went over some of our photos from the past few years. Just look how he has grown.

Happy Birthday Joel. Thank you for being such a blessing to our family. May you always stay true to the Lord.

08 September 2008

Donkey Cart

I wanted to show those of you who are not familiar with it, the mode of transport used for goods, by the large majority of the population in our town. Small loads are pushed in wheelbarrows, but larger loads require a donkey cart, such as this one.

A cart can be hired for about R80 for an "in town" job. That's about $10. These beasts of burden do not always lead an easy life. Annually the community raises funds for the care of these donkeys with a Donkey Carnival.

These carts are permissible on all our roads, even the main street. They slow down traffic, but it is an acceptable part of our town life. Another common site is untethered donkeys, cattle and occasionally goats grazing on the verges in town or in the suburbs. Those of us without fences often have our garden plants nibbled at or trodden on by a hungry cow.

Naturally the children love it, on all our car rides about town they see who can spot an animal. Back at home its: " Hey Mom, there's a cow in David's garden, he's chasing it with a broom, come quick" Luckily we have a fence- so my plants are safe!

Medieval Banquet

We were Invited to a Medieval Banquet on Saturday night, in aid of a friends sons' seventh birthday. It was rather sudden, so a bit of a rush, but great fun. We created some costumes and the effect was good. I was surprised how Joel keen was to dress up. He took his wooden shield and sword and wore long johns with a long T-shirt and belt over the top. To Emma, dress up means wings and fairy costumes so it was a bit disappointing for her. There were three families and each family organised a bit of entertainment. Shelley loved this part and shrieked and clapped for each act.

The children and I did a ribbon dance to a Medieval tune I downloaded off the Internet. We attached ribbons to longs sticks and moved them around. I had wanted to do a Maypole dance, but that was bit more complicated with three little ones. At the last moment the birthday boy joined in, impromptu style. Too cute!

The family that invited us really did it all beautifully. They hung up big shields with heraldry, and draped long curtains. We didn't use plates- each of us had a chunk of bread for a plate. And then there were all sorts of yummy goodies. there were tin cups, goblets and pitchers. It was an evening with a difference for sure!

I was so impressed with the other children who participated, all homeschooled children. They were so confident and natural. So lovely to see.

This week we're gearing up for Joel's birthday, starting with his homeschool group party tomorrow.

02 September 2008

Homeschool Curriculum

All my American friends are getting into the swing of a new year, so I thought it would be a good time to list what we're using for homeschool now.

We started using some of Christian Light Education items in May, and we were impressed, so since then we've ordered their LA, Reading and Math. The curriculum is set out like this: most subjects for a year, (which is termed a level not a grade), consist of a set of ten workbooks called Light units.

The main CLE website, http://www.clp.org/index.shtml is not great, in terms of online samples to view. To view online samples, there is a CLE Yahoo Group, called Christian Light Families: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/christianlightfamilies/
If you're in Australia, you could try Christian Light Education Australia Yahoo group: http://au.groups.yahoo.com/group/ChristianLightEducation/

Unlike a typical workbook curriculum, there is a Teacher guide too. This is what makes it different. The teacher guide has other teaching ideas too, and explains everything so well, but it is not overloaded for a busy homeschool Mom. I find that if I glance through my lessons the night before I can easily manage.

The activities in the workbooks are varied and interesting. Though not filled with colorful cartoony pictures, they are pleasant and every now and then a little puzzle or challenge keeps the students interest. As the student gets to higher levels they can complete some material on their own. Already there are sections that Joel is able to do alone. This works well for multilevel teaching. After I have taught, he gets on, and I attend to the girls.

I have really been impressed with the quality of the curriculum, especially for the price. I've used other workbook curriculum, but they are not as complete, and usually were boringly repetitive, and not challenging enough.

CLE also offer an umbrella school type program, called Homeschool Plus which we've joined. The annual fee is worth the peace of mind to me. I have a personal academic counselor whom I can contact with any questions, problems. We get credits for what we've done and our Weaver was accepted for a credit.

Then, of course, we're sticking with our wonderful Weaver Curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications. We finished off Interlock, and have now started Volume 1. Weaver continues to be a blessing to our family. It covers Bible, and in fact all the Science, Health, History, Geography and much more is based on the current Bible lesson. It is a hands on unit study type curriculum, perfect for multilevel teaching. The file has different objectives for each Grade, so it's really neat.

Part of the Weaver Homeschool experience for me is the Weaver Yahoo groups. I receive much support and encouragement from this wonderful group of ladies (and a few Dad's), who are scattered around the globe.

We've also added the Weaver Wisdom Words Language Arts curriculum. Though I feel the CLE is wonderful, I enjoy the emphasis placed on self expression and creative writing in WW. It is not a must, but we do a bit of it each week. Something special happens when you a child a blank piece of paper.

For Emma, we're using Weaver 123 Read phonics program. We're still reviewing letters so I won't be pushing this. Then we use the Rod and Staff ABC series for some preschool readiness.

Then, on each day, I've added a different "elective", so we're covering Recorder lessons, Xhosa lesson,Nature journaling, Physical Education, Art, Baking and computer time.

I set up a little schedule, and Joel is enjoying being able to "see" what is expected of him each day. On Tuesday we attend our local homeschool support group.

It's been good to finally settle into a bit of routine, but every day is different here.

Happy homeschooling!

01 September 2008

Motherhood is a humbling experience

Well, as usual, I've put the feather in my cap too soon. Weaning is not going well at all. Shelley has caught a cold and is not a happy little girl.

So miserable she is, and requiring a lot of distraction. I thought last week required energy, well this is exhausting!

Is motherhood not such a humbling experience? Just when we think we're so on track, something new comes along. It helps me to remember that these things are also here to mould and make me as a follower of Christ. How do I react to all these things that come across my path of mothering? Do I ask the Lord for His help and guidance, or do I attempt to "handle them" in my own strength?

I'd have to admit that often, I try "go it alone". How foolish! I have so much help available to me, just for the asking. Does God care about nursing, discipline, bad manners, character issues and piles of dirty laundry? Well, I know that He made me, loves me, and wants more of me. All of me. He wants me to cast my care upon Him, and so that includes the burdens of mothering.

But, it's the same with the happy moments. Often, when I look at my children, and feel proud of them, (and my parenting), I am reminded by the Spirit that these children were made by the Lord, and are His. And any good thing in them is due to the work of the Spirit and the Lord in their life.

I'm just a tool in His Hand. I hope that I will learn to surrender more to Him, and give up more of me, as I lean on Him.