Se7en More HomeSchool Questions…

I know I haven’t answered your homeschool questions forever and I always promise I will blog about it and never get to it. Well I am finally blogging about homeschooling, something dear to my heart and something I would blog a whole lot more about – but we have had babies on our mind around here and so the homeschooling questions have had to wait and wait…


Here is a list of the questions so that you can just jump down to the one you are after. And remember I am no expert, just a mom:

  1. When do you prepare for school and how long does it take?
  2. What do you do about unscheduled interruptions and changes in routine?
  3. What are the best workbooks for pre-schoolers?
  4. You use a Sonlight, an American Curriculum, how do you make it relevant to South Africa?
  5. How long will you Homeschool, what about finishing school and matric?
  6. What do you do about learning a Second Language?
  7. How do you schedule one on one time for school with all your kids?
  8. If you didn’t use Sonlight what would you use?

If I haven’t answered them sufficiently just keep pestering me until the answers just spontaneously leap out of me!!! They are in no particular order, just as they have arisen in my mailbox!

  1. When do you prepare for school and how long does it take?

    I wrote about our school preparation previously and this post generated a whole lot more questions than answers! Preparation has evolved over time to suit our needs. When I was schooling one or two kids in the very early grades I would pop their read-alouds in a trug, pop their weekly schedule on the fridge and we read our way through the week. As our kids got older and further up the grade chain I would spend time marking up their workbooks and read-alouds for the week ahead… it was always left to Sunday night. Sunday nights were long and Monday mornings grumpy…


    Now I sit alongside my kids on Friday morning… while they finish up their work for the week I mark their books up for the next week and make sure that everything is done and up to date before the weekend starts. I do keep a weekly list of the topics they are covering in my diary and grab a couple of printouts and goodies to pop into their journals.

    In a nutshell: I do not spend any evenings or any part of the weekend preparing for school. It all happens alongside the students while they are working on their school.

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  3. What do you do about unscheduled interruptions and changes in routine?

    I have spoken about external interruptions (doorbells and telephones) before but this question was more about internal interruptions: when your toddler won’t nap or you have little one’s on the loose while your grade 1 and grade 2 kids are trying to work. The thing with the early grades is that the students often need you there alongside them every step of the way – especially before they can read instructions. That being said, their schoolwork shouldn’t be taking hours and the joy of homeschooling is that you can be flexible. When I had one or two doing school I did their workbooks at the crack of dawn as soon as they woke up I sat with them for twenty minutes and covered everything, while other little people stirred and played in their pajamas – (remember home-schoolers are not dashing off to school!). Then we just did read-alouds through out the day. When they get to grade 3, my kids experience quite a jump in bookwork expectations. Then I let them stay up a little later once or twice a week – great privilege (!) – and half an hour of undivided attention keeps them on track.

  4. What are the best workbooks for pre-schoolers?

    Often my preschoolers want to do school, they want to be doing what their siblings are doing but lets face it they don’t really need workbooks. What I do is I make a school journal with them and gather printouts from around the web, that way I can follow their passions and make up a book of things they like… has great alphabet pages and activity sheets and any of the large book publishers will have a kids section with activities to download. Similarly for your childs favorite author… google activities and the name of the author. Really your four year old doesn’t need to be doing rows of letters – they have their whole lives to write. And I know your child is really advanced and needs to do workbooks, but trust me there are far more creative ways to engage your really advanced youngster than giving them workbooks to do – seriously this is hindsight speaking!


    That being said – I do have daughters and they love filling things in neatly! And there are some fabulous workbooks on the market: Anything by Usborne and their dot-to-dot booksare the only ones I can stomach! Otherwise Ladybird Activity Books are fun. If you are desperate just get some from the local book store – if your child thinks it looks fun then get them. Absolutely never get a young child to fill it in “correctly” or spend hours doing workbooks at all… they should be like any game – engaging until they need to play with something else.

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  6. You use a Sonlight, an American Curriculum, how do you make it relevant to South Africa?

    We love Sonlight, which is a curriculum written particularly with Americans who are living overseas in mind. I think the concern here is history… language arts, science and math are not going to change context wherever you learn them. I have friends who use Sonlight happily for the years that the curriculum covers world history, then they don’t want to buy the years that cover American history and so flounder about for a year or two and then return to Sonlight’s world history in the later grades. We stuck with Sonlight and learnt the American History – I knew my kids were learning a good “historical base” on which to pin South African History. Whenever we learnt about a great event in American History you can be sure it was easy to add a South African perspective. For example when we did American Settlers with Sonlight we looked at Settlers here, even though the curriculum is looking at an American event it is still part of a global era.


  7. How long will you Homeschool, what about finishing school and matric?

    In South Africa the final year of school is called matric and it is touted as the ultimate goal in education, without it “you can do absolutely nothing”. Now rather than getting distracted by ultimate goals in education. I will say that at this stage in our country the education system is changing so rapidly from year to year that all our own universities have their own entrance exams. Whatever school leavers certificate you have – you will have to write the entrance exams. It is possible to write matric by registering with your local department of education and you can find the information you need in the links in my post on South African Homeschool questions. That being said, a lot of our friends whose children are finishing school are discovering that as the world becomes more global, their children are doing their tertiary education overseas – in which case it may be more relevant that your children do a school leavers certificate relevant to where they will be studying: SAT’s or A-levels, whatever. It is not hard to find the relevant information – Google is your friend for this question. My oldest is just twelve and we have a few years to make a decision on this. But whatever they do I am confident that their education will be rounded enough that they can swat up the details for the relevant exams and be fine.

  8. What do you do about learning a Second Language?

    I think the reasons for learning a second or third language are really a motivation to work on this. Another language extends our thinking skills and gives us another framework within which to problem solve. Apart from that it is necessary in order to communicate with different people and cultures.


    In South Africa we have a number of national languages and it is compulsory to learn a second language here. At this stage I haven’t really looked beyond learning lots of vocab for a number of languages. We have found Rosetta Stone from Sonlight fun, we have looked at French and Italian. Hood#1 has a year or two of Latin, also from Sonlight under his belt.


    As for learning a second “South African” language I know you can find more information on the South African Homeschooling pages. We have an excellent Xhosa program that I got years ago, before we even had kids, and as for Afrikaans my kids grab an Afrikaans book or two in the library and I just read it to them and they learn a couple of new words as well as getting the rhythm and feel for the language.

  9. How do you schedule one on one time for school with all your kids?

    Keep in mind that homeschooling is not school at home and is a lot more flexible than folk anticipate. They do not sit around the table from 8 till 11 and then from 11:15 till two! A lot of their school is discussion, and we talk about it all day long – “What did you read about in History?” and then we talk about it – I never stand up in front of their table and say “Today we will learn about “Whatever.”

    I have read about mom’s that schedule a time-slot with each kid every day, but I have found being flexible and available works better for us. Because I mark up their books when I prepare for the school week I have a good idea when they are going to need help. While they are working I am usually in the same room as them. They ask me whatever they need to ask me whenever they need to. If I am busy with someone else they can go onto the next thing while they are waiting.


    The little guys certainly in K and grade 1 need a fair bit of help, especially with reading directions and I am never far from them while they are working. They hardly need me to sit beside them while they draw a picture of what we read in science, but for things that require my 100% attention like learning to read, it is only for a very short period of time – fifteen minutes per day tops and it is easy enough to find fifteen minutes to spend with them each day.

    As a double check that they have understood and mastered whatever they need to know as they finish their workbooks for the day I go through their pile of books with them to check that everything is done properly and finished.

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  11. If you didn’t use Sonlight what would you use? This is my poetic license the “se7en + 1th” question: And since the whole world knows I totally love Sonlight and I have to say is this question for real!!! And seriously if there was no Sonlight in the world I would go on vacation for the rest of our school careers!

Anyway if you have more questions please ask away and hopefully I won’t take weeks and weeks to get back to you!!!

I popped this post onto the Works For Me Wednesday Site – go and have a look there for all sorts of tips on absolutely anything.

14 Replies to “Se7en More HomeSchool Questions…”

  1. Totally off topic but I do have a question. Can you do a post on surviving pregnancy and keeping things chuffing along? On my mind at the moment as first trimester with number 5 is prooving a bit of a challenge. I keep falling asleep during read aloud time and am having to get quite creative! Difficult when your brain feels like a bucket of mud.

  2. Hi J, No problem – I love baby posts and always think everyone has heard it all already!!! Give me a week or two… Meanwhile your kids will get used to your lower ebb!!! I can assure you that I have slept through nearly every reader my kids have read to me and from the depths of sleep I have heard very strange read-a-louds emerge from my mouth!!! My kids know as soon as I go klunk they can tip toe out the room… they also know that they better get back snippy-snappy when I wake up!!! Hang in there and take care of yourself!!!

  3. Another question for you: we have had a year of upheaval with traveling and limbo and such (not to mention being 6 mo pregnant with no 4). We are steadily trudging along through the Sonlight weeks; reality being the year will finish before our weeks will. What do suggest about falling behind? Finish math and read alouds? (Readers have all been read months ago). Catch up or cut the losses?

  4. Hi. So glad you addressed these questions. My kids are only 8 & 10 now so as you put it I told my husband that there is a long time for ‘matric’ and I am going to let the Lord take care of it. Some SA unis already acept SATs anyway.

    I have however one pertinent question. I read somewhere that your kids did 2 LAs during Core 1 & 2. How did you schedule it. Did you just do two lessons a day?

    Thanks and enjoy your baby and your lovely kids…

  5. Hi J, Goodness you are homeschooling and so flexible and so never behind!!! Take a break where you need one and carry on when you are ready. Pregnancy is the ultimate energy killer so accept it and wait! Trust me if you take a little longer now it will make absolutely no difference in ten years time. I would just take a trip to the library, stock up on readers and plod it out at your own pace… who cares wether you start or finish your school year on 31 December!!! Its your school, do what works for you!!! Hang in there – pregnancy is hard but the rewards are great!!!

  6. Hi S, Glad you found it helpful!!! I usually double up the lessons core 1 on Monday and Tuesday, and core 2 on Wednesday and Thursday… and save the fun optional stuff for Fridays. Have a good day!

  7. Hay Luke – I think I may be too biased to work in the marketing department!!! Glad you found time to read a 912th feed! Have a good day!!!

  8. Hi B, So glad you liked them – why pay for activity books when there is a whole world for free on the web!!! I popped over and had a peep at your sweet boys – too cute!!! Take care!

  9. THANK YOU for the reminder. I am homeschooling my oldest son (1st grade). He is not a fan of reading/writing. Sometimes I forget that 15 awesome minutes on a subject is sooo much better than 45 struggling minutes. It helps to be reminded that we can work at OUR pace not anyone elses. Thanks so much!

  10. Hi HLA, Don’t I know how one can get totally focussed on doing the assignment till it is finished rather than the lesson till it is learnt!! I had to have a whole lot of kids do school before I mastered this!!! Have a great weekend!

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