The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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What We Are Reading Right Now: The Chapter Book Edition…

August 28th, 2016 · No Comments

Some weekend reading for you all… A couple of our kids are in the chapter book reader stage of reading, they all still love reading easy chapter books and there are so many great and creative books in that category that I don’t rush them to move on. This possibly the hardest stage of reading for parents as their kids step out into reading on their own and suddenly the shear volume that they get through means that you can no longer veto every book they read and you have to have taught your children some discernment.


This is the season of endless series and even the plodding readers tend to get into a series and then read themselves through them. I can’t love all the series they choose to read and I mostly don’t read these to them at all, except just to start them off. In fact, I tend to leave them to it at this stage and let them wind their way through to the next series. I have to say I am just happy they are reading, building fluency and launching their reading career. An amongst all the endless series there are sone genuine gems, this is a level of book that is not to be missed out on, there is a lot of new material produced at this level, and a lot of it is well worth discovering.

Se7en + 1 of the Latest Chapter Books

Alfie Onion written by Vivian French and illustrated by Marta Kissi: This is really a great book for gaining confidence for an emerging chapter book reader. It is a fairytale, filled with lurking trolls, ogres and forests, not to mention every one has a funny “vegetable” related names. Alfie is on a journey, really his brother
Magnifico Onion is on an adventure, and Alfie is there to carry the luggage. It turns out that Magnifico, who has hero status because he is the seventh son of a seventh son, is not quite the great adventurer that he thought he was and he has to rely on Alfie to save the day. Alfie is definitely the underdog, and has the special ability that he can talk to animals. This is pure fun… and of course everyone lives happily forever after. You can discover Vivian French over here and Marta Kissi over here.

The 52 Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton: This is part of a series… and if you haven’t read The TreeHouse Series then we highly recommend them… higher than highly!!! In fact these would be my absolute go to book gift for kids, boys especially (my girls read them but my boys loved them) who are a little bit nervous to dive into chapter books. These books are literally inhaled in our house, lovely fat chapter books, illustration rich and the story of the combined author/illustrator’s magnificent treehouse. The author/illustrator team live in this incredible treehouse and every book in the series adds another crazy thirteen stories to the treehouse… in this one there are genuine snakes and ladders, and a ninja snail training academy, as well as a high-tech detective agency. These books are slapstick, they are silly, they are hilarious and packed with good clean fun. They are great for building confidence in beginner readers… everybody wants to say they have read a fabulous fat book. Our reviews of The 13 Story Treehouse and The 26 Story Treehouse and The 39 Story Treehouse and their very own website over here.

The Parent Problem by Anna Wilson: This is the story of Skye Green, a twelve year old girl who has always wanted to write a book and to this end she keeps a diary, that she hopes someone discovers and publishes someday. Pages of her journal are interspersed throughout the book… and you get a real insight into her life because of it. She has an extremely annoying younger brother called Harris… and then her mother launches onto the scene in a bright and glitzy outfit that goes against all fashion sense… Skye describes her life as mortifying. While Skye is mortified by her mother’s antics, and doubly mortified that the hulky teenage son from next door comes over to babysit her and her brother… her mother isn’t actually at dance class, she is goAnd then new neighbours move in… and more mortification occurs… it is out-loud-laughing funny… there are lots of peaces to the puzzle about and it all comes together at the very end. You can read Anna Wilson’s Blog over here.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo: Kate Di Camillo, we love… and Raymie Nightingale is a walk down memory lane for her… so we love it too. This is the story of a ten year old girl called Raymie, whose father has run off with the dental hygienist and her quest is to get him back. Her “well thought out” plan is to enter a talent pageant, The Little Miss Central Florida Tire Competition, and win… and then her father will notice her in the paper and come back to her… But on entering she gets far more than she bargained for, and here in lies the story, true friendship can be found in unexpected places. Her two friends are complete opposites, between stubborn Beverly Tapinski and dramatic Louisiana Elefante, they all have to learn a lot more than twirling batons. They have have to learn to depend on each other and be there for each other through thick and thin. This is a poignant funny read that like all Kate Dicamillo’s books will appeal to far more than just those who see themselves as the main character. (Spoiler alert) When you read the second to back page, there is a list of things that happened in Kate DiCamillo’s life that were very similar to Rymie’s… that list and possibly that she never could twirl a baton, are the keys to why so many people will love this book… it makes everything relatable.

Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess by Meg Cabot: Hood #6 absolutely loving this series and has slowly worked her way through them. In the first book in this series, Olivia finds it hard to believe that she is an actual princess, when in fact she always thought she was just a regular school girl with a regular life. In the second book, Olivia is invited to join the extended family as they prepare for an elaborate family wedding and every thing starts to go terribly wrong. The question is, can Olivia save the day? Meg Cabot is popular for a reason, her books are excellent reads and the Middle School Princess is right up there with all the others.

Funny Stories for 7 and 8 Year olds selected by Helen Paiba: These books are collected short stories by the “best of the rest” children’s writers and would make great gifts… the only problem with them is that they have an age on them… which means that my nine year old, who would enjoy them… won’t touch them. Authors like Magdaret Mahy, Michael Bond and Dick King Smith, Anne Fine, P.L.Travers, Judy Blume and many more. The stories are indeed funny and a really worthy selection of tales to be told, but I used them as fillers for a quick read, when we found ourselves between books.

Fairy Dust, Fairy Treasure and Fairy Dreams by Gwyneth Rees: This is light chapter reading, very definitely for girls who like fairy stories. In each book there is a girl going through a difficult time. In Fairy Dust, Rosies parents split up and she moves to an island in Scotland and the new elderly neighbour says, “Watch out for the fairies. And then Rosie starts to discover fairies everywhere. In Fairy Treasure, Connie is sent to stay with her boring aunt and uncle for the summer… her uncle suggests that if she is bored, maybe she should go down to the lake to look for fairies and Connie thinks he is a little bit mad. And then she meets a book fairy, she is a little distressed because she doesn’t love books at all, and so the story winds on. In Fairy Dreams, Evie is sent to stay with her Grandma, her Grandma is very ill. Evie discovers that fairies live at the bottom of her bed and rather than the bottom of the garden. These books are fairly easy reads that my girls enjoyed because they are stories about real children just like them, and the fact that there were fairies who helped each of the girls with their troubles meant they enjoyed the stories better.

Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa for the copies of these books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to create it and the opinions expressed are as usual, our own.

→ No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en Tips for Gardening for Butterflies…

August 25th, 2016 · 6 Comments

The season is changing. There is a definite sense that things are warming up and we know that there is still a lot of wintery spells still to come… and there are caterpillars everywhere… furry, colourful, spikey,… dozens of caterpillars.


Anyway we have been hoping to spot butterflies… some of us are very optimistic about all this… we have been reading this book about how to attract butterflies into our garden…

Gardening for Butterflies by Steve Woodall and Lindsay Gray published by Struik Nature:

There are so many gems of wisdom in this book, it is packed with all sorts of things that you can do in your garden to attract butterflies into it, and I am sure that along with the butterflies a whole host of other interesting visitors will be stopping by and calling your garden home. This is a good thing, greening little patches of the environment, one by one… can only improve our natural habitats and the biodiversity around our homes. The book covers different biomes of gardens in South Africa and different types of gardens… and suggests very specific types of plants you can use to make your garden more attractive to butterflies. There is a chapter on the life cycle of butterflies and their feeding habits and then it goes on to list almost a hundred butterflies… a page spread for each of them, with clear and detailed photographs each life stage and packed with suggestions that would make your garden more attractive to them. It is a fascinating read and my kids have been pouring over it. I feel a new enthusiasm for garden projects over the next little while as we learnt that there are quite a few things that we can do to make our garden more hospitable to butterflies, easy and doable projects.


Se7en Simple Steps to Improving Your Garden for Butterflies

  1. Create wide open spaces.
  2. Butterflies are attracted to nectar plants.
  3. Fill your garden with a variety of textures, and layers.
  4. Rocks with morning sun, they like to warm up on them.
  5. They like muddy patches.
  6. Your garden needs areas that have been left to go wild.
  7. Areas that provide shelter.
  8. Feature plants for the butterflies to perch on.


Pocket Guide: Butterflies of South Africa bu Steve Woodall published by Struik Nature:

Meanwhile my team of butterfly enthusiasts have been working their way through the Pocket Guide… It’s a great guide that is small and light and fits in their backpacks no problem. It is has a section on tips for identifying the butterflies: size, shape, colour, markings, behaviour and distribution… not to mention how the pupas look and similar species… what months of the year you will find them. More than 250 butterflies are on display in this book. So much information has been put into this book, but it is carefully displayed and very easy to use, even for junior users who are looking to improve their nature notebooks.



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We would like to thank Struik Nature and Penguin Random House for the books, that they provided for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions expressed are as usual entirely our own.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · Se7en at School

Learning About Western Leopard Toads in the Silvermine Valley…

August 24th, 2016 · No Comments

We recently reviewed The Young Explorers Frog App… I am so glad we did, because when the opportunity arose for some of us to go away for the weekend and learn about local frogs and toads we were good and ready to learn a lot more… We didn’t have to go very far to find out more about our local amphibians, it turns out we live in the perfect neighbourhood for them.


Silvermine River Valley


I have to say we drive past this corner of Cape Town so often, and I have always said – wouldn’t it be lovely to stay there… so a bit of a dream come true to stay in this old homestead built over a hundred years ago.


We are very familiar with this neighbourhood, it is somewhere we have done a lot of hiking and exploring, there is so much to see around here.


Camp Life


Of course the weekend we were there… was the weekend of one of Cape Town’s wild and crazy winter storms, which means that whenever the sun shone we all dashed outdoors. One thing about Cape Town is though the storms can be really wild, there is always a a break and the sun comes out to tease us, before the storm continues. Some folk were so excited to be away for the weekend, they didn’t even wait for the little windows in the clouds when the sun to came out.


Gotta say it has been a while since I stood in a long queue for meals…


And even longer since I slept in a dorm… fun times!!!


The Frogs


I was with a group of kids, who were there to learn about frogs and it turned out to be perfect weather for frogs… lots of frogs. And what a variety of frogs …


Night Hikes


And probably the wildest stormy Saturday night we have had all year we headed out on a night hike to meet the endangered Western Leopard Toad… the rain absolutely poured down and the wind howled around us, and I was very glad that my smaller kids were home safe and sound and in bed… because it really was a wild storm. But what an adventure… and then the rain stopped and there we were in the silence on the dunes with the moonlight shining down on us… all pretty magical. Memories are made of this.


The Western Leopard Toad


The purpose of the night hike was to find and rescue the Western Leopard Toads that cross busy roads and learn more about the work the Western Leopard Toad Volunteers do. All I can say is volunteering is not for the fainthearted, and these folks have quite a job on their hands, especially since toads enjoy wet and wintry weather. For a very small time window each year these toads cross major roads in our area, as they migrate to and fro from their typical habitat to their breeding grounds and then back again. The volunteers are there to protect the toads, get them across the roads safely and keep a count of the number and size of the toads they spot. This is real live citizen science in action.


These toads are endangered and desperately need help to cross the busy roads that connect the urban areas of Cape Town… you have salute the folk that head out each night to protect these little guys. You can find out more about the Western Leapoard Toad Volunteers here.


The Dunes


The morning after the mighty storm we were able to catch an hour or two for a walk on the sand dunes… Honestly it is hard to believe that you are in the middle of a city when you are here…



Previous Silvermine Hikes

→ No CommentsTags: Outings

Se7en Journeys to Australia, Oceania and the Polar Regions With the Read the World Book Club…

August 22nd, 2016 · 4 Comments

This is the final week of our Read the World Book Club Series. This week we are journeying to Australia and the Arctic and the Antarctic… along with The Simple Homeschool Folk and #Giveyourchildtheworld.


Welcome to Australia, Oceania and the Polar Regions


A while ago we wrote a series on Traveling to Australia… Here is our Great Australian Adventure…


It wouldn’t be Australia without Pavlova…


And sometimes you just have to make Laminations…


It’s always a good time to create a didgeridoo…


And a platypus party…


Traveling in Antarctica


Se7en Travel Tips for Visiting the Antarctic…


Travels in the Southern Ocean…


A Visit to Marion Island in the Southern Ocean…


Life on a Research Vessel…

Our Favourite Books from Australia, Oceania and the Polar Regions

Actual Factual Books

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill: This book is on the top of our wishlist, it has had rave reviews and I am dying to spot it. The story is illustrated with pencil crayon drawings and tells of Shackleton’s journey, I have a feeling that this is a book that will inspire adventure and wonder…

D is for Down Under by Devin Scillian: This is an Australian alphabet book… celebrating all things Australian in rhythm rhyme… a long poetical accolade. Lots of facts and great illustrations.

Not For Parents Australia: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know by Lonely Planet: What can I say, Lonely Planet books for kids are such fun… Pages and pages of engaging illustrations and fascinating factoids. I am sure there are many parents that really enjoy these just as much as their kids do!!!

This is Australia by Miroslav Sasek: Let’s be honest, you just can’t travel the world without Sasek books. Beautiful illustrations and heaps of stuff to learn all in a presentable story.

Se7en + 1 Picture Books

Summertime by Franz Berliner and illustrated by Ingrid Vang Nyman: This is one of my favourite childhood books the I have hung onto for years… it is the story of Nuka and Naja, they are eskimo children that live in a distant land cross the blue sea in the Land of the People. The children wonder if people around the world are like them or if they are completely different. The magic of this story is that it tells you of the life of the eskimo children in rich detail… you can see inside their igloo, you can see the toys they play with… they go on a journey the piece of ice they are on breaks off and they are adrift on the ocean, surrounded by all the wondrous animals of the Arctic circle. They survive and eat fish and birds eggs… one day some men in kayaks spot them and rescue them and take them home to their family. Just a beautiful story that I felt I could climb into as a child.

Diary of Wombat by Jackie French: If you haven’t discovered Jackie French and her delightful wombats then you are seriously missing out… Funny, funny, funny… even the youngest child will be amused by the antics of the mischief between these pages. The wombat that desperately wants just a little more love and attention, with the very special ability to dig holes…

Edward the Emu and Edwina the Emu by Sheena Knowls: More fun and hilarity from Australia… who knew Emus could be so funny. Stories written in rhythm and rhyme… Edward decides that his life as an Emu is terribly dull and so tries to be several different animals, all to no avail… he eventually decides that being an Emu is actually his favourite. Meanwhile Edwina lays ten eggs and leaves Ed to sit on them while she goes off on an job hunt. She is truly optimistic to start with, but slowly but surely discovers that perhaps she should be home and helping with raising their family. These books are pure fun.

Where’s Stripey by Wendy Binks: Another Emu story, Crikey is left to look after thirty eggs and then thirty chicks, while his exhausted wife heads off for a rest. Crikey does his best, but he loses one… and he heads off and asks a number of Australian animals where his chick is. It ends well… and there is a double page spread with a few amazing facts about Emus.

The Platypus Series by Chris Riddell: Pure picture book fun for little people, by one of our absolute favourites, Chris Riddell. These books are stories about a platypus and his sweet Australian animal friends and the antics they get up to.

Possum Magic by Mem Fox: You cannot talk about Australian stories without mentioning the fantastic Mem Fox. This is a story for young foodies, when Grandma Poss makes Hush invisible, she can’t remember how to reverse the process so they travel Australia trying all sorts of flavours and delights, trying to find the one taste sensation that will make the difference. Lots of tasty fun.

Are we there yet? by Alison Lester: This is the story of Grace and her family as they do a road trip around Australia. This is a great story to use to learn about Australia as you take the trip with the family…

Chapter Books

Alone on a Wide Wide Sea by Michael Morpurgo: This is a Michael Morpugo, so beautiful and you are sure to cry. After WWII a number of orphans were shipped, from Britain to Australia… to start a new life. They left everything behind and they had no chance of maintaining any ties with the past. This is the story of Arthur Hobhouse, one of the orphans, and his survival through unspeakable hardships. Miraculously he does survive, and grows up to be a master ship builder. He builds a solo yacht for his daughter Allie, who returns to England to look for Arthur’s long lost sister. A fictional story, based on facts… and there are a number of features in this book that make it an absolute winner… the maps, the boat designs, the email correspondence that reads like a diary between Allie and Arthur… nice little touches that add to the authenticity of the book.

Red Sand Blue Sky by Cathy Applegate: Amy, a city girl from Melbourne, went to stay with her aunt in the middle of the Outback. She and an Aboriginal girl, Lana, strike up a friendship. Together they discover that someone is stealing from an Aboriginal heritage site… they set out to discover who and why… this is quite an adventure for children who are confident with chapter book reading.

Previous Posts in this Series

Se7en Are Off on a Book Voyage

Se7en Journeys to Africa with the Read the World Book Club…

Interview on Growing up in South Africa on Simple Homeschool…

Se7en Welcomes the Read the World book Club to Sunny South Africa…

Se7en Journeys to Europe with the Read the World Book Club…

Se7en Journeys to North America With the Read Aloud Book Club…

Se7en Journeys to the Middle East With the Read the World Book Club…

Se7en Journeys to Central and South America with the Read the World Book Club…


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→ 4 CommentsTags: Geography · Se7en at School

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun #327

August 20th, 2016 · 2 Comments

A entire week of sunshine… we made the very best of it… And I am having a weekend in a state of collapse, to recover, as one does!!!


Otherwise I have had literally dozens of emails in my inbox about homeschooling in the Western Cape recently, I really can’t get to them all… so here is my post with the answers you need: Homeschooling in the Western Cape, Especially the South Peninsula… If you are looking for details on homeschooling in South Africa in General I can’t recommend these two books enough… these books are relevant wherever you are, but very specifically answer your questions about the legalities of homeschooling in South Africa… Do you need to register or not, do you have to use a specific curriculum or not, how do you get a matric certificate and so on… I reviewed the Primary School One here…. and Interview the Author here…

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. I just love Poppytalk’s fun notebooks… I can think of a million uses for these, and you just need a printer… pop in your own coloured paper to get the colourful covers.
  2. The Magical Just So Festival is on this weekend in the UK… and you have to love Zing Zing Tree’s Beautiful Feather Bird Mask for the event.
  3. HandMade Charlotte rocked this week with a Giant Globe Piñata… followed by the cutest eco-green house…
  4. There is pure blogging gold in this older post from the Problogger: 7 Tips for Busy Bloggers on Finding Time to Blog…
  5. Meet Me At Mikes… is writing a new series: Pip’s School for Slumpy Creatives… Part 1 and Part 2…
  6. Can I move house now… Would you look at this Quaint Vintage Camper Trailer on Poppytalk.
  7. And The Great Parental Freak Out by Kevin De Young…

A Blast From the Past:

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Did You Know?

And here are a couple of things that got the absolute like from me this past week… (I wasn’t paid to say any of it… just genuine honest opinions that are all mine!!!).


Specsavers Right to Good Sight

This is a “public service statement…” for friends with kids between 6 and 12, did you know that Specsavers has free eye tests for kids in this age group… just had our guys eyes tested this week and their service was exceptional… just saying that you might want to check out your local Specsavers. (I wasn’t paid to say this at all… just thought you guys would like to know about it!!!).

Printables from Ideas Magazine

And since there was an HP printer in the house… did you know that you can buy all sorts of lovely printables from Ideas Magazine. Gotta love Ideas magazine… there is so much to love and so many pretty things to cut out and keep for projects and journals… who knew you could get all these goodies, print them out… for the win!!!

Tim Chase And Online Learning

If you have a middle to high school age student, then I highly recommend this free online course for them… Digital Learning: A course for becoming confident with modern online tools. Announcing a FREE seven-week online class. Our kids have done this, it had given them the tools and skills to go much further than they could have done on their own. It is a fun way to learn, students are expected to work hard and meet their deadlines and it is a fabulous way for them to learn a lot of online and work skills in a safe environement. The students work hard, and meet their their deadlines and the progress is impressive. Our kids have really learnt enormous amounts from it… our reluctant to be online ever kid learnt more than enough to work comfortably in an online classroom and our IT loving kid got just as much out of it… working to their strengths… You can take a look at the site and student assignments over here.

Digital Learning is Impact Virtual Learning’s most popular class–great as a stand-alone for your homeschooling teen or as a prerequisite for the Impact Virtual Learning electives. Digital Learning has received terrific responses from parents and students. You can see some of the reviews at The course features website creation, digital citizenship, and working with embed codes and design tools. You’ll love the teacher feedback, and your homeschooler will love the peer-interaction. Registrations are now being processed at

And a GiveAway Winner

All the entries…


Carefully chosen by a small person…

Jo Comment #9: Aug 9, 2016 at 10:37 am This would be lovely for my sons and daughter. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway. I always expect that we will run into your family one day (I was once on a flight with your husband but thought it would be odd to ask for an autograph) as you seem to be at the same places we go to!

Congratulations Jo, expect an email from us shortly, so that we can get your prize to you speedily!!!

That’s us… Hope you are all had a fabulous weekend!!!

→ 2 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en Sanity Savers for HomeSchoolers and A Surprising Truth…

August 19th, 2016 · 10 Comments

It seems like just yesterday folks were finishing up there school years and getting ready for a break, and already, back to school posts are launching and folks are thinking about planning their new school year. Should their kids do more extra murals? Should they fit in an extra math program this year? Could they possibly add an extra reading session to their afternoon rest? The long list of the more we hope to do, in our minds quickly becomes the long list of the more we should do, and in our overwhelmed actions becomes the long terrifying list of things we just never do. This past year I tripped on a surprising truth and we got more school done that ever before… no I didn’t rename all our playing school, but I did focus on creating long stretches of free time daily.

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Every year I like to focus on just one thing… all our school gets done as usual, but one year I focused on reading skills, another year I focused on math games. This past year I focused on free time. I know my kids learn best when they pursue their passions, if they don’t know their passions, they still learn best and move forward without me hovering over them. It turns out they all have things that drive them and the things they would rather be doing if they weren’t doing school… it may be building forts, it may be LEGO, it may be running as fast as they can, it maybe brandishing sticks or making petal salad… whatever it is, I wanted my guys to have enough free time to get really good at what it is they wanted to pursue. Turns out, and here is my surprising truth: by removing lingering school time and creating stretches of free time, that the time we spent doing school was much more focused and we did a whole lot more school than I expected and we did it a whole lot more efficiently.

Se7en Sanity Savers for Homeschooling Moms

  1. Free Up Time for Actual Rest: Don’t save time just so that you can fit more things in. We are always searching for ways to make things go faster, let the big kids make lunch because then you can do a little more with the little ones… let the little ones sleep later, because then you can get a bit more preparation done. The key is that when you do things more efficiently it isn’t so that you can put more stuff into your already busy day… it is to create a pause for breath. That isn’t laziness, it is a need for a rest. I am a firm believer in naps… preferably not nodding off while I try and read to my kids… but before that, a full on committed collapse on the bed, and in this wintry season, with a blanket. My kids don’t nap, trust me, but they do have an hour of quiet reading after lunch, and I look forward to it.
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  3. Seize the Day not Squeeze the Day: When we are plotting and planning, and I speak for myself, homeschool moms can go a little crazy… dreaming of all the things we are going to do. A new year doesn’t actually mean that our days are now twice as long. Trust me things become a lot less exciting really quickly when we force ourselves through them. Take audible books, they are great and finally came into their own in our home last school year, but don’t use audible to try and squeeze in double the amount of read-a-louds. Sometimes our kids can just take a bath, or go for a quick drive without listening to a classic, it doesn’t all have to be educational. I started putting audible books on while I cooked dinner and everyone who joins me in the kitchen, and a few more have started joining me in the kitchen, have really enjoyed it. But it certainly isn’t school time.
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  5. Learn What Motivates Them: I cannot make my children learn anything… I can say this is tricky lets work on it together… but essentially they have to do the work and my job is to provide the environment that is conducive to learning. There will come a time when your children leave home and they have to work… I know you think it is never, but it is way sooner than you can imagine… If your kids can’t motivate themselves through the difficult stuff then you need to teach them how to do that. In school then their teacher would have ways to motivate their students, ask a few teacher friends how they motivate their students, you might be surprised at their skills. I know we get so caught up in switching programs because they aren’t working or trying something new, sometimes our students just need to know: It isn’t so much about whether they can do the work they don’t want to do… to get where they want to be, it is more about if they can do the difficult stuff then the things they want to do will be so much easier.
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  7. Stop Idolising ALL the other Homeschoolers: Other homeschoolers do amazing things, other homeschoolers go on fantastic outings, other homeschoolers have the most incredible naturejournals… If your kids have access to some paper and a pencil, then if nature note booking is their thing, then they will actively pursue it and you will not be able to hold them back… ever. And in essence, if your child doesn’t want to draw a beautiful sea-shell or make a water colour of a feather… chances are that that child won’t be pursing a career as a nature notebooker, they may however be very good at tying knots or carving sticks… it isn’t nature notebooking we should be pursuing so much as creativity. And I can guarantee you that a few afternoons with nothing mapped out for them, will bring out the creativity on your scholars.
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  9. Stay Focused on Your Goals: Don’t get distracted by all the homeschooling bling. All through the year new things cross our paths, I see wonderful new things to learn about and fabulous new resources to try. I usually dive in and say: look guys I have this fantastic new thing we are going to begin… we are all excited for about two weeks and then we fizzle. This past year I saved a list of new things that popped up as we went along, and now I have a list of good things to try in our next school year… all good and ready to go.
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  11. Good Enough is Great: Don’t steal their joy in the name of perfection. I always say school time is school time and be done… but I will often take the person that needs a little extra help and help them catch up in the afternoon… Well this year I didn’t. Free time was free time. I have one or two very slow plodders… there is no rushing them. I always try to help them get up to speed, but (I know slow learning mother person here) this is why we homeschool, they can learn at their own speed. The truth is, these children need to play just as much as their speedier schoolmates, if not more than the others… and I can’t do the work for my kids they have to do it. So I have 2 scholars that did 3/4 of a year of school and spent the rest of the year accumulating amazing building/planning/creating skills. I reckon 75% of the work done and a collection of new life skills is really a good year by any standard.
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  13. It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect To Be Excellent: Why did someone ever say that if it is worth doing something then it is worth doing well, and then to make it worse, why did we interpret that to mean it has to be perfect. Yes, science club and a few friends over to do science experiments is fun, but your kids can also spend an afternoon playing with magnets, yes poetry and home baked scones is wonderful, WONDERFUL, but you can also read a poem or two while everyone eats their breakfast. Just because there are millions of learning opportunities out there doesn’t mean you have to take them all. Go back to the reason you began homeschooling and with those fresh eyes look again at the opportunities that pass you by and then choose the ones that meet your learning criteria and forget the rest… your child doesn’t need to be exposed to every learning opportunity in order to discover their passion. You may never listen to opera and your child could still be an opera singer, you may never build a deck and your child might become a carpenter. Of course expose your children to a variety of things… but neither you nor your children have to do all of those things.

The thing is when homeschool moms gather together it is usually to lament on the woes of their journey, this child isn’t learning enough and that child never finishes timeously, and they haven’t even started their science experiments for the year. They haven’t looked at a globe in forever and not even glanced at language arts in the past two years… the thing is at the beginning of your homeschool journey the stretch ahead literally looks like an insurmountable mountain. Daunting to say the least. At some stage homeschooling moms, and I speak for myself here, tend to forget they are on a journey and try to carry the entire mountain, may I suggest that you put that mountain down and start to just slowly climb it again. You may well rediscover a spring in your step when you aren’t actually weighed down buy an entire mountain.


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The Week That Was… #217

August 17th, 2016 · 8 Comments

A Week that Was Post… on what we have been up to the last couple of weeks… We have had a few wild and crazy storms and plenty of beautiful sunshiny days… and not nearly enough rain… hopefully there is plenty of more rain to come – even though I can’t believe I am actually writing that!!!


It is the best time of year to catch the sunrise… no one here is an early riser after all.


Shew the crazy wild storms have stirred up the sea…


Did I ever mention the one that doesn’t feel the cold… this is the middle of winter folks…


And the whale that I didn’t get to photograph….


There was of course hiking and lots of it… and tired legs…


Play, play, play… our kids have hardly been indoors for weeks…


Pancakes for the win…


And every one is loving mini-personalized-omlettes…


The snack of choice…


And we are now making butter all the time…


And cooking in the wilds…


Braai-Broodjies for the win…


and I was made breakfast for the first time ever… pretty professional!!!


Audiobooks and colouring for the win…


The garden is filled with sugarbirds… if you find a quiet spot and just watch them you will discover a magical show…


These holidays have been all about the pirates…


And when you find a net on the beach during a beach cleanup, then you have your own built in rigging.


And treasures…


There has also been a fair amount of decluttering… just a little corner of space every single day…


Artwork of the Week


So much arting has been going on… epic creations have emerged amidst piles of colourful papers and markers and pencils and glue-sticks.


Game of the Week…


This is clearly the age of games… we have been playing and playing games… card games, board games, strategy games… games, games games!!!


So Many Books of the Week…


So much reading…


Someone is obsessed with this book right now…








Not to mention… that is my baby rowing away on his own. How did that happen? I have no words…


Hope you are all having a brilliant week!!!

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