A Child’s Introduction to the World

Whiles Kezia is home watching Nature’s Great Events, Azkarah is at Science club.  Her Mondays have filled up – Science, from 9:30am-11:30am at Discovery Science then Drama, from 1pm-2pm.  Aside from the few Science experiments that Azkarah watched Kezia carry out with assistance from daddy and/or mummy, this is her first proper exposure to Science.  Discovery Science offers hands-on Science to the Home-ed community in Sheffield in 5-6 week block sessions, giving children a chance to experience Science live, as opposed to mere or only book knowledge.  As Azkarah is a visual learner for the most part, I felt that these sessions would be of interest and benefit to her, and I was right.  She’s loving them.  I’ll devote a post to her science sessions and upload photos of her ‘projects’.

After Drama, Azkarah usually hangs out with her friends at a library local to the venue where Drama takes place or goes over to a friend’s home for the rest of the afternoon.

My title post, ‘A Child’s Introduction to the World‘, is the title of a Geography book that Azkarah and I are going through, with Kezia occasionally joining us.  I think my title post is quite applicable to home-education.  Home-educated children tend to be more in tune with the world surrounding them than most system-schooled kids. By being exposed to an education that is diverse and ever changing, our children are constantly learning, constantly trying out new things, engaging in diverse activities and growing in ways that never cease to amaze me.

In ‘A Child’s Introduction to the World’, we’ve learnt about our universe, earth, the planets, latitude and longitude, and will continue to learn more new things in the days, weeks ahead.  And, to make our read-aloud moments more precious and enjoyable I found some really cool videos on YouTube for us to watch, which made learning such otherwise tough topics more fun especially for Azkarah and for me too, who found Geography a dry, boring subject at school but that may have been down to how it was presented and the teacher who taught it.  I’m glad to revisit this subject again in a way that is way more appealing than from my school days.

 

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Being Flexible

Being Flexible

It’s Monday morning….the first day of another home-school week. As I type away, my oldest is watching Nature’s Great Events.  After working on her Maths this morning and completing an entire chapter, Kezia expressed reluctance in going on to the next subject – Grammar followed by Poetry and Art.  My girl asked if she could take a break from Grammar for a week.  A week?!?!  I thought perhaps a day or two but a week?!  This becomes a test for me when there is a change to our routine.  Yes, I honestly admit that I’m not quite at the point of being flexible enough to make what I consider too many adjustments to what I think is already a flexible routine. Haha!  I realise that there is still too much of ‘school’ or the ‘system of school’ in my being, which every now and then rears up its head in protest to even more changes to our already flexible routine but then my inner rumblings and mumblings are stopped with the reminder that learning isn’t about always sitting down and studiously reading through a chapter on a particular topic.  I look at my daughter’s face and see a yearning within her, a yearning prompted by nostalgic feelings, to return to a time when watching nature documentaries was once her favourite pastime and passion, and I have a moment to decide on my response to this longing:  foster this very rare moment of my daughter’s initiative to revisit a favourite pastime and learn afresh in the process or stick to my routine of what I like our Mondays to look like.  A test.  A moment to make or break.

I choose the organic option.  I say, “What nature programme would you like to watch?”  She runs upstairs to her bedroom and returns with DVD sets of David Attenborough, whiles I log unto my Amazon account and browse nature documentaries.  I find quite a few of interest for our family documentary night for a later date and suggest a couple for viewing this morning but Kezia has set her heart on Nature’s Great Events.   I acquiesce and let my daughter choose what she wants to watch. She’s happy and having been flexible, I’m content 😉  Really, I am, believe me.  This is the joy of home-educating.  A constant reminder that it’s not just about getting ‘work’ done but about the joy of learning, by whichever means.

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Just Between Us

The highlight of my day today is ‘just between us‘.  I’ll explain in a bit but first today was one of those normal, life gets-in-the-way busy days of doing one thing to the next and when I look back on the day, I wonder how I had the energy to do all that I did without crashing at any time considering the fact that I had a night of interrupted sleep, which meant less sleep last night.

Azkarah had a fun-busy day today.  Sports Club was back on after a few weeks off, and Azkarah enjoyed getting back into Sports with her fellow home-ed friends.  After Sports Club, she had an hour and a half play-date with a friend of hers, whose mum I give piano lessons to.  She and her friend hadn’t seen each other for a quite a few weeks, so they were really happy to get some time together this afternoon.

Owing to my unavailability this morning, my oldest, on the other hand, knuckled down to some independent work starting off with Conquer Maths, then Geography followed by a German lesson via a Skykpe video call with a teacher from italki.  She has 2 German native speakers with whom she has ongoing Skype video calls.  She then went on to do her Creative Writing Gamed Academy class.

Following my piano lesson and the play-date, I rushed off to keep an appointment with my personal trainer at our local gym.  There I endured an hour of pure torture!  Well, no, it wasn’t really torture.  It was a workout, as my PT was quick to remind me, a W-O-R-K-O-U-T.  He asked me what the point of training was if not to strengthen and build up one’s muscles.  Good question 😉  It was good, all good…well…erm..except for the treadmill where the torture really did happen….for 20 solid minutes.  But, I digress…I’m supposed to be sharing about our learning journey not about the joys and pains of life at the gym.

Just Between Us
My oldest is going through puberty and all that comes with it.  You would think that having gone through puberty myself I would understand my daughter’s highs and lows, and feel a strong sense of kinship with her but to be honest, I think I can honestly admit that I’m clueless most, if not all, of the time.  Pathetically sad, right?  Well, maybe.
It’s always been my dream and wish that I would have a close and intimate relationship with my girls, and that there wouldn’t be any distance between us.

However, to have an intimate relationship [with anyone] (a) takes time, (b) needs to be nurtured, (c) requires a level of trust, honesty and openness without which there really is no foundation for a relationship.
In my desire to have an intimate and close relationship with my oldest, in addition to the points above, I overlooked one very important thing:  PUBERTY.  Yep!  For those of us for whom puberty and all that it entails is a distant memory in the far off past, it can be quite challenging understanding what exactly our kids are going through, especially in this day and age where they are exposed to too many ‘things’ too young, too early and don’t quite yet have the emotional and mental maturity to deal with everything that comes their way.  They feel misunderstood, not listened to, isolated, insecure, embarrassed, ashamed, etc.
I’ve felt a distance between my daughter and me for some months now and haven’t quite known how to bridge the gap between us.  I am conscious that she has a need but I often misread her needs and am prone to “give a long sermon” rather than to simply listen to her, really listen to what she says to me….well, when she uses words….because some of the time she speaks through her eyes but I never quite did learn the art of eye-reading 😉

So, in sudden desperation, towards the end of last year, I was inspired to inspire my daughter to write me a letter as a way to communicate with me, as she seemed to find it difficult to open up to me face-to-face.  I explained to her how in the beginning of her dad’s and my relationship with each other, we had communicated a lot by email and our hearts really were knit together in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened had we been face to face.  I, personally, find it easier to communicate by letter/email than face-to-face, as I’m more able to express my feelings in a more thorough way.
My daughter took my suggestion on board and indicated that a letter would be forthcoming before the end of the year, and when there was no sign of it, I tried (so hard, I really did) not to prod or push or drop hints in a questioning manner about when to expect her letter.  I’m afraid I did fail on those counts!

Anyhow, last week I happened upon a book on Amazon whiles doing a search for a different themed book altogether, and the idea of the book appealed to me very much, as it was along the lines of letter-writing.  The title of the book really grabbed my attention so much so that I ordered it – Just Between Us: A No-Stress, No Rules Journal for Girls and Their Moms – written by a mother-daughter team.
The book arrived today and just before sitting down to share this post, Kezia and I read through the introductory word from both the daughter, who was in Grade 8 (Year 9) at the time of the writing and publishing of the book,  and from the mother – 2 perspectives on the reason for the journal, and how after about 5 years of journaling the relationship between mother and daughter has strengthened in its intimacy and communication.
I was choked up with emotion as I read out loud the introductory word, and felt that this was finally the answer to prayer as well as an answer to my deepest heart’s desire to really get to know my daughter, to understand her, to be there for her, to make time to connect with her and so much more.

The journal is laid out in a way that enables both mother and daughter to begin their journey of building a relationship that is based on trust and honesty, and that is nurtured with time.
There are some printed suggestions – questions for both mother and daughter to answer, or statements to make, there are blank pages for both mother and daughter to write about whatever they each feel compelled to write about.

I believe this begins a journey of mother-daughter exploration, one that both Kezia and I are excited about.  May the Lord truly bless this journey!

P.S.  Kezia’s letter to me was delivered to my bed last night, and I read it just before falling asleep.  Talk about timely!

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New Beginnings!

It’s a new year, with new beginnings!  Yes, it has been ages since I last blogged and as much as I am tempted to moan about that fact and have a whinge on here, I’m not going to give in to that temptation.  Life always gets in the way of one’s best intentions.  The most important thing is to keep running the race (of life, of home-schooling, etc) and not to look back with regrets, not think about all the things that could have been done and weren’t done at such and such a time.  Just as there are the seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn (Fall) and Winter, so also there are the seasons of life.  Life has its cycles.  The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible sums up very well about there being a time for different things and this is a good reminder to me, that there is a time for everything, and as much as I would have loved to have blogged these past 2 years, it just wasn’t possible but I can blog today.  I can share about my day today, and not allow myself to have regrets about my inability to blog in the past.

So, today was our first day back to a somewhat structured routine.  Last year, and specifically last term was a full on term for my oldest, who was enrolled in several online classes on CurrClick.com, making for more independent study and leaving me free to pursue other interests.  But, in the midst of what was becoming a busy lifestyle there was always that longing to be more involved with my kids’ learning but I honestly didn’t know how to juggle everything in a way that allowed me to be involved with their learning, so currclick and other online resources took over and took my place, and home-ed activities happily occupied my middle daughter’s time as well as several play-dates, and as much as my girls have enjoyed their online classes and extra/home-ed curricular, all these other things really couldn’t and can’t take the place of an involved parent, not to mention the fact that my oldest daughter was feeling overwhelmed with the amount of studying and assignments involved with her online studying.

So, this term the decision has been to free up my mornings, and to be available to learn alongside my girls as well as to facilitate their learning, and for my other commitments (like going to the gym, working on my online business, housework) to be met outside of those times.  And today started off to a good start.
Kezia and I sat down to get back into our study of Poetry.  We’re using a wonderful book by Gervase Phinn titled ‘Teaching Poetry in the Primary Classroom’, and have been working our way through this book for a little over a year now.  But, we both got distracted when Kezia was reviewing all the poems she’s written in the last year, and as she shared with me a more recent one she’d written on cats, she longingly expressed how she wished she could learn how to draw a cat properly because all her recent attempts have fallen short of her own expectations.  She then went on to say how she would love to study English Language with Art at university so then I replied that she could start taking online classes geared towards advanced students and recommended Coursera, so we browsed their online catalogue to see what we could find.  Our searches veered off more towards “Art Drawings”, “Art Skills”, “Learning to draw”, etc but nothing came up that matched her interest.  I then suggested we do a search on Khan Academy.  By this time, it was clear that what Kezia was really interested in was on how to draw a cat.  But despite several searches on Khan Academy we couldn’t find how to draw a cat 🙂 or anything else for that matter, so finally I suggested good old and reliable YouTube.  Ping!  We hit the jackpot!  A simple search of “How to draw a cat” brought up several results, and we picked this one: How To Draw a Cat, and our home-schooling took an unexpected and impromptu turn.  I told Kezia to get her sketch pad, and follow the tutorial.  She was surprised at my suggestion as she thought we had to be getting into Poetry study, and that for me is the joy of home-educating without a fixed schedule.  I followed and facilitated my child’s learning this morning, and she had a fun time drawing a cat, although being such a perfectionist, she wasn’t impressed with her drawing whiles the rest of her family ooohed and aaahed at her it.  After about 40-50 minutes (with interruptions – the video is 34 minutes long), Kezia was done with her pencil drawing of a cat….voila!

A Cat

We carried on with our Poetry, and learned about ‘Riddle Poems‘, and here are a couple out of 5 that Kezia created:

I come in different colours.
I help you use your computers and laptops.
Sometimes I need a tail and sometimes I do not.
Laptops do not always need me, but computers do.
What am I?

I sit on your tables.
I do not bathe.
I give your mouth many tastes.
I live in cool places.
And when left out too long
I send out overwhelming smells,
Attracting small critters to me.
What am I?

After Poetry, Kezia did some independent self-motivated studying and then rounded up her learning with her first week of session 3 of Creative Writing: A World of Imagination on Gamed Academy.  Gamed Academy is a fun way of learning for Minecraft lovers, and we were introduced to it the beginning of 2016.

With Azkarah, we took a more slow approach as she is getting over a bad bout of the flu, which she caught last week and which totally wiped her out.  She missed her Home-ed Science and Drama sessions today, but that’s ok.  She had a much needed lie-in.  Once she was up and awake, we covered a lesson from ‘First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind‘, Level 1, whiles Kezia worked on her ‘cat’ 😉 and I read aloud to her the first chapter from ‘A Child’s Introduction to the World‘.  This is a book I purchased a long while ago but never got into it with either of my girls but felt that today was the right time to begin our journey in this book.  It is so appropriate for Azkarah, as the chapters are all short and sweet with lots of pictures, and I look forward to our journey through this book.

It is late…I must head on to bed as tomorrow is yet another day with more servings waiting to be dished out.
I end with the portion about ‘A time for everything’ from Ecclesiastes as a reminder to myself and to you, that everything is as it should be, and to have no regrets but to take each day at a time at a pace that is comfortable to each of us.

There is no rush. Just be, breathe, live, love, laugh, be happy, overcome, dance, twirl, skip,…….

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, verses 1 – 8

1 For everything there is a season, And a time for every purpose under heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to seek, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away;

7 A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to be silent, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace.

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2013 US Trip – Part 2

Wisconsin Winter Family Time

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Getting ready for winter ‘cuzzies’ photo-shoot.

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Come on, cuzzies!

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Puzzle-time

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One more lick

 

 

 

 

 

Kezia’s 10th birthday celebration with her cousins. What a real treat that was for her!

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Say ‘cheese’.

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Hmmm…delicious cupcakes

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Thanks to Grandma for the beautiful, big and delicious cake!

 

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Happy

 

 

 

 

 

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Girl cousins

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Boy cousins

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Last night together 😦

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All together!

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Last day in Wisconsin.  A picture of Mark next to the outdoor thermometer showing just how cold it was!!

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Time to head back home to England. Tirzah leading the way 😉

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2013 US Trip – Part 1

Here are the promised pictures….krikey, sooo many months later.

We start off with a beautiful cuzzie group picture at Great-Granddad and Great-Grandmom Lietzau’s home.

The Cousins

Precious moments…

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4 generations

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Uncle, Kezia and Grand-dad

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Cousins

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Cousins H and Azkarah

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Saying good-bye to Michigan and about to embark on a 15-hour drive to Wisconsin.  Boy, was that one looong and tiring, but family-fun-filled drive – 3 cars, 21 people.

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Loading up and getting ready to leave.

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At Grandma’s and Grand-dad’s home:

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Looks small from the outside but spacious within

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Tree house on the property

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What a view from the house!

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This is what I call snow 😉

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My snow-girl, Kezia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reflections on 2013

2013 was an eventful year in many respects and on many different levels – physical, spiritual, emotional and mental.  Due to Tirzah’s on-going sleep issues with several months of interrupted sleep, Mark and I inevitably began to suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation, which had a huge impact on our home-education with regards to having a set routine each day.  After months and months of little to no sleep, I withdrew into my own little world pursuing mind-numbing interests that didn’t require much effort or intellectual input and left the children to do pretty much whatever they wanted.  Well, not really but close enough!  Of course, the guilt set in but in spite of how I felt I discovered that the art of learning had not lost its hold on my children.  On the contrary, Kezia and Azkarah became immersed in subject matters with an educational flavour to them.  Kezia developed an interest in horses and with the books to hand and more that we purchased, both non-fictional and fictional, she learned more about horses than I  probably ever will.  She now knows about the different kinds of horses and especially about the types of horses used at horse-riding competitions.  All she has learned and continues to learn has been entirely out from her own interest in this subject matter and has had none of my input.  What do I know about horses?  Nothing, except that they have a mane and a long tail and come in different colours ;).  Kezia also spent  a lot of time creating, writing, directing and producing her own plays that she and her sister would act out, and occasionally with her friends who visited.  Despite minimal educational input from me over the course of the year, I was so encouraged to see my girls thriving in their self-motivated and self-directed learning.  This underscores for me the merits and benefits of home-education. It truly is a living and a lifestyle!

2013 ended with an extended trip to the US, a trip which proved to be healing and fulfilling for me on all levels – physical, spiritual, emotional and mental.  The children and I spent a total of 6 weeks in the US visiting and spending time with Mark’s family (parents and siblings with their spouses and children) with Mark joining us half-way through our trip, and with all of us returning together in the new year.  Kezia, Azkarah and Tirzah had a wonderful time getting reacquainted with their cousins, some of whom they hadn’t seen in 5 years, and others who had been born following our last US 2008 trip.  It was a wonderful time for both adults and children – a time of re-connecting, playing games, watching movies, fellowshipping, praying, being knit together, singing, eating and just hanging out.

Pictures to follow…

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Home-Ed Nature Walk

We went on a nature walk at Holmebrook Valley Country Park in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, with 3 other Christian Home-Ed families on Friday, September 20 and here are some of the pictures that our family took.  We weren’t able to identify all the plants and bushes, some with berries, that we came across along the trail.  All in all, it was an enjoyable and fun outing minus Tirzah’s meltdown episodes.  She didn’t want to walk; she wanted to be carried!  Mark came along (he doesn’t work Friday mornings) and it was great having him around to help with Tirzah.

Holmebrook Valley Country Park

 

arkHairy Caterpillar Juicy Blackberries On the trail with our home-ed family Perhaps Elderberry Plant Picking Blackberries Unknown Plant

There were lots of plants – bushes and trees – to discover and some we were able to figure out what they were with the help of a Nature Guide sheet and book, but others we were clueless what they were.  There were lots of blackberry bushes along the way, and there’s a picture of Azkarah berry picking and enjoying it too!

Then, we walked by the lake and the children enjoyed exploring the surrounding area, looking at the plants and saying hello to the ducks.

Running to the ducks Calm Lake

Holmebrook Valley Country Park

Holmebrook Valley Country Park

All in all, it was a fun morning which ended with tea and biscuits at the home of one of the home-edding families who live right next to Holmebrook Valley Country Park.

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Taking Little Baby Steps

It has been several months since I not only blogged but also did any structured lessons with Kezia.  After several months of very little sleep (due to the sleep problems of our youngest child, Tirzah, who has a rare chromosome disorder) which affected my functionality during the day, we are back on track taking little baby steps in our learning journey.

Today, Kezia and I managed to do a little more than we have done in a long, long while.  I enjoy getting into all the various educational resources we have to hand, and I have really missed our times together.  Today, we reviewed and covered a couple of chapters from First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 1.  We then read the first chapter on Meekness from Book 2 of A Child’s Book of Character Building followed by some Poetry and concluded with Kezia working her way through Math Mammoth.  I am thankful to the Lord for our little baby steps today, and I look forward to getting into more stuff with Kezia in the days to come.

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Still Here

It’s been ages and ages since I blogged.  Life with all its responsibilities and distractions really does get in the way of my best intentions to share our daily life with you.  Our life is one roller-coaster ride with never-ending tasks to do, places to go, people to visit, medical appointments to keep,  etc, etc, but in the midst of our busy life we’re still here – learning, growing, having fun, conversing, play-acting and everything else that takes place in a home-educating environment! 😉

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