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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Sooo, yesterday we ‘missed’ two lessons – Character Study and Nature Study.  No big deal, right?  I mean, after all, we’re not running an educational race, we’ve no deadlines to meet, no boxes to tick, no catching up to do so if we miss a lesson it shouldn’t matter, should it?  Well, it did matter.  It mattered A LOT to Kezia.  Now that I’ve made a ‘schedule’ of sorts, which is really merely to act as an overview of all the lessons we need to cover and to help me know what I’m doing and need to teach, Kezia is more interested in what she’s learning and wants to know what we’re doing each day.  So, of course, noticing that we missed two lessons yesterday, she suggested we get into those lessons first, before tackling the lessons that were scheduled for today.  I tried to explain to her that it wasn’t absolutely necessary that we do them first thing this morning, but I could tell that she was really keen to read the next chapter in the Character book, A Child’s Book of Character Building, Book 1.  I acquiesced and we read about the next character trait, Creative, and read some portions from the Bible that showed how creative our God is, which is clearly seen in His creation of the universe and of all the living creatures, including man.

We then covered Lesson 4 from 106 Days of Creation Studies.  Lessons 4 to 8 cover in detail what God created on day one.  I must insert here that this Nature Study book we’re using, on the one hand, presents to the young student clearly that this earth, and indeed the entire universe, was created by God and it’s wonderful to get into the verses, not only from Genesis but also from other portions of the Bible; on the other hand, this is a scientific study of all the elements that came into being through God’s creation.   So, the lessons now go deeper.  In lesson one we were given an overview of God’s creation but from lesson 4 onwards, we’re embarking on a journey of studying in-depth all the various aspects of God’s creation.  So, today’s lesson covered the matter of  ‘Light’.  There were some verses to read and we talked about the different kinds of lights and I gave some examples of light – for instance, I lit a candle, switched on a torch (flash) light.  What I love about this nature book, and indeed most of the books we’re using, is that it instils in the learner a love and appreciation not just for nature but for the God and Creator of nature, and the goal is not that the learner would be in awe of the elements but that s/he would be in awe of the One who created and brought into being all the elements, all the living organisms, etc.

After that enlightening lesson we carried on with the rest of the  lessons for today, with Kezia ensuring that we did everything including a piano lesson!  Attagirl!

*For non-English readers, ‘Attagirl‘ comes from the expression “that’s a good girl” and is an informal expression of encouragement or admiration to a girl.

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So, here’s what our weekly routine looks like [see below].  Since this is not a schedule, I get to tweak it and make allowances for what life throws our way, so for instance, we missed out on a lesson on Character Study as well as a Nature Study lesson today because half-way through our morning it began to snow.  Since our home-schooling corner is at the living room window Kezia was rather distracted watching the snow falling (and what a sight that was – really pretty), and Azkarah was begging to go out so I allowed the girls some outside time in the snow.  You can do that with a routine but with a schedule, oh no, forget the snow and get to work! 😉   Although it snowed heavily for about 30 to 45 minutes it wasn’t enough snow to leave a thick layer on the ground but enough for the girls to make snowballs.  They had fun, and that’s what really matters, isn’t it?  Tomorrow is another day for learning.

Daily Routine

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Yet Another Day

Our morning started with a home-visit from Cathy, Tirzh’s Early Years Development Worker, who usually visits on a fortnightly basis and, who spends about 30 minutes each visit to introduce toys to Tirzah that aid in her development in areas such as hand-eye coordination, hand-to-hand coordination, communication and listening skills, etc.

Although initially believing today to be Saturday and coming downstairs in her pyjamas 😉 , Kezia started on some Maths while Cathy spent time with Tirzah.  Today, I allowed Azkarah some video time and she watched a few episodes of the Berenstain Bears.  After Cathy’s departure, and after Kezia had completed her Maths lesson, we read through 2 pages from her English Grammar book, First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 1.  Following that, we reviewed the first chapter of the book Hidden Pearls: Great Hymns of Faith and their Inspiring Untold Stories that we had already covered in October last year.  In the first chapter we were introduced to Elizabeth Rundle Charles (1828 – 1896), who wrote the hymn Come and Rejoice with Me not long after her conversion to Christ.  This time Kezia didn’t want us to read through the hymn but to sing along with the accompanying CD, which we did.  That was a sweet and enjoyable moment!

We ended our formal lessons for the day, and indeed for the week, with a History lesson on the Ancient Egyptians reading a chapter from Oxford First Ancient History.

This past week has been the best week in a very long time, in terms of being focussed and actually covering a lot of ground in all the different subjects.  It has been enjoyable and highly rewarding.  All thanks goes to the Lord for making it possible for me to have this structured time with Kezia, and indeed with all three girls.  Tirzah has been most accommodating and as she has been sleeping through the night that may account for her pleasant disposition most of the week 😉

With all that we have done this week, I can happily say that I do not wish to create a schedule (or lesson plan, for want of a better word) after all; rather, I plan to jot down all the lessons covered this week, and then use that as a guideline of what subject matter to cover from now on.  What we want in our household is a healthy routine of doing stuff, not a schedule that causes us anxiety when we don’t adhere to some part or all of it.

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Still More Learning

After Tirzah’s Occupational Therapist’s home visit this morning, Kezia and I forged ahead in our wonderful world of learning.  We continued with Lesson Two from 106 Days of Creation Studies, then read a selection of poems from a Poetry book by various poets such as Christina Rosetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, and others.  Kezia was delighted with the poems and didn’t want to stop reading:) . Following poetry, we studied the first artist in the book, 13 Artists Children Should KnowLeonardo Da Vinci.  Two of his famous paintings were presented to us – Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.  Leanardo Da Vinci was a genius, who had a thirst for learning.  He was knowledgeable in many subjects such as Mathematics, Anatomy, Botany, Physics, Engineering, etc.  He believed that painting was a science, the highest science.  We learned that he was left-handed and all his writings were mirror written (Mirror writing is formed by writing in the direction that is the reverse of the natural way for a given language, such that the result is the mirror image of normal writing: it appears normal when it is reflected in a mirror.  SourceWikipedia).  He was definitely a fascinating person.

The last two lessons we covered were English Grammar and Geography.  In Geography, Kezia is learning to memorise the countries of Africa.  We’re focussing on the northern countries.  She had 15 minutes to study the map, then when her time was up she had to write down on a blank map as many countries as she could remember.  With this approach it is far easier for the child to remember [the countries] rather than learning [them] by rote.  Visual learning helps imprint words in a person’s mind quicker than mindless repetition.  She enjoyed her lesson, and it was a test for me too, because to be honest I don’t know where countries are in Africa, so I get to learn alongside my child. Isn’t that marvellous?

Whiles Kezia worked on her English Grammar workbook, I read to Azkarah.  She selected a book from the Berenstain Bears series, The Golden Rule [The books feature a family of anthropomorphic bears who generally learn a moral or safety-related lesson in the course of each story].

After lunch, Mark took Azkarah to her trampoline lesson, and whiles Tirzah took a nap, Kezia had a long-overdue piano lesson, which she’d been looking forward to.  She’s been practising on her own every day without any prompting from me.  She’s even began composing her own tunes.

Later on in the evening, we all bundled into the car and drove to Ponds Forge for Kezia’s diving lessons.  It was fun watching her!

Today has been another day of memorable moments, and a lot of ground covered with regards to learning.  We are slowly settling into a routine, and this is really helping the two older girls, especially Kezia, to have some focus and to know and understand that our mornings are primarily for learning in a somewhat structured manner.

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In A Nutshell

Little by little, moment by moment, day by day everything is slowly shifting into place and fitting together.  Today much ground was covered, and again, I am thankful to the Lord for His ever present care, guidance and wisdom.  What would I do without Him?

I was a bit slow getting ready for my day so Kezia started her lessons without me. Way to go, girl!  😉 She continued working on her Maths lessons.  She has covered so much in just 3 days – totally amazing!!  After nine pages of Maths, we proceeded on to a Grammar lesson, and then I pulled out the book, The Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine, which comes with a CD.  This book is a fun and exciting musical journey for children to learn about the different musical eras (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern) and their composers.  Today’s reading covered the Baroque period, and we read about two composers within that period – Vivaldi and Bach.  Did you know that Bach didn’t become famous until almost a hundred years after his death?  Did you also know that Bach had 21 children, which accounted for his lack of fame, as musicians and composers in those days had to travel if they wanted to be known?  He obviously had his hands full and missed out on travelling! 😉  Alongside to our reading, we also listened to half of a musical piece by each composer.  What a way to be introduced to the compositions of Vivaldi and Bach?  Kezia enjoyed that very much.

After lunch, Kezia practised her typing skills at www.bbc.co.uk/typing   It’s a fun and interactive site for children to learn typing.  Before going off to play, Kezia and Azkarah watched two 10-minute videos from the Knowitall website – knowitall.org.  The videos present children with interesting facts.  They’re what I would call a video diary of science and technology.  Today they watched how a tennis ball is made and the journey of rubbish (trash) from a home to the dump.

That was our day of learning in a nutshell, but remember learning never ends – our children are always learning except when they are asleep although I believe they’re learning even then ‘cos the things they dream about makes you wonder sometimes! 😉

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Another Enjoyable Day of Learning

It’s wonderful when we give the Lord the opportunity and the way to plan and arrange our lives.  He really takes care of everything and everyone, if we would but let Him.

Today (Tuesday, 8 January), we covered more ground – Kezia started off her morning with 45 minutes of Maths (I set the timer to go off).  She simply plodded on – no grumblings, no complaining as to why she had to work on Grade 1 Maths and not Grade 3 – with a cheerful countenance. Following Maths, she continued in her book, Theory Made Easy for Little Children, Level 1, without me even prompting her.  Whiles she worked independently, Azkarah and I covered part of Lesson Two from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons .  Today Azkarah was not as keen and interested in learning her letters and although I was firm about us going through the first part of the second lesson,  I didn’t insist too much as my goal is not to get Azkarah to read but to instill and develop in her a love for learning for everything be it reading, exploring, discovering, etc.  So, I read her a book instead – My First Animal Questions and Answers (I bought this at TK Maxx for £3.99 but it’s selling on Amazon for £12.74 – that’s a whopping difference!).  We read about dogs.  I learned something too! 😉  There are many dogs – Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Alsatian, Huskies (the strongest dogs, that can withstand the cold), Sausage Dog (this dog really looks like a sausage), to name a few.  We learned that dogs are generally loyal animals and express their happiness through barking, jumping and licking.  We humans sweat when we’re hot; did you know dogs pant when they’re hot?  Azkarah was content to sit on my lap and listen to me read.  I read for about 20 minutes and then she was free to do whatever fancied her.

The last lesson Kezia and I covered today was Lesson 1 from 106 Days of Creation Studies. I love this book!  Why is it called ‘106 Days of Creation Studies‘?  Well, the author, a homeschooling mom herself, has gone into detail to show that God’s creation is not merely as we know it (His creation of light & darkness, day & night, stars, plants, birds, animals, human beings) but covers every scientific matter in the universe.  Lessons 1-3 give us an overview of creation, then from Lesson 4 onwards the author goes into more detail so, for instance, Lesson 4 covers Light, Lessons 5 and 6 cover Shadows, Lesson 7 covers Reflections and Refractions, Lesson 8 is on Colour, and so on and so forth.  We don’t only read about God’s creation, but also learn to appreciate and develop a love for nature as well as learn the science behind God’s creation.  There are recommended books to get and videos to watch as well as experiments to carry out.

This was today’s lesson:  Read together Genesis 1. Stop after each day’s description and have the children draw what God made. They may draw on seven different sheets of paper to represent the seven days, or draw seven circles on one paper (one for each day), or whatever. Have children narrate the days of Creation by explaining their drawings.  Instead of drawing on seven sheets of paper, Kezia drew in a a notebook with blank pages.  We took turns to read a paragraph each from Genesis 1, and after each day of creation we would pause so that she could draw about that day’s creation.  We started a few minutes before lunch, and after lunch she went right back to it.  She is indeed a model student.  I enjoy teaching her and she enjoys being taught.  I can only thank the Lord.  I continue to trust Him for our daily homeschooling moments, and until I put together a schedule (which I may never do) I’m asking Him what lessons to cover with Kezia [and Azkarah] every day.

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A Wonderful Start

What a wonderful start to our first day back in our cozy home-school corner!  I kept committing the day into the Lord’s hands, asking Him to create an environment that would be conducive to my girls’ learning.  He is so faithful!  Everything in our life really matters to Him (1 Peter 5:7).  “Thank You, Lord Jesus.”

I haven’t been able to put together a ‘schedule’ – an overview of subjects to cover during the week – but despite this, we were able to cover quite a bit today, and I’m left feeling so positive, happy and inwardly supplied by the Lord.  Kezia began with some Maths from the Math Mammoth curriculum, starting at Grade 1 level although she’s really in 3rd Grade. This is due to the fact that all the Maths I’ve taught Kezia over the years has been presented in fragmented bits (as I didn’t have a complete Math curriculum to follow), and so I would rather she start at the very beginning and lay a good and solid foundation that she can build upon as she progresses further along in her lessons.

I set a timer for 30 minutes and told her to stop when it went off, to take a short break (5 minutes) and then we would go on to do something else.  Well, Kezia was on a ball – after the timer went off, she said she’d like to continue working on her Maths problems, so I set the timer for a further 30 minutes.  After an hour of Maths, I decided it would be best to move on to something else, so we did some spelling and a short lesson on her English grammar book. After a short break, we covered a chapter on Faith in the book, A Child’s Book of Character Building, Book 1.   We broke up for lunch and then after lunch, Kezia worked on her Piano Theory Book, Theory Made Easy for Little Children, Levels 1.

Whiles Kezia worked independently on her Maths problems I sat with Azkarah, and together, whiles I pointed at the letters, we sang the ‘ABC’ song.  We then covered the first lesson from the book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  The first lesson begins with learning the phonetic sounds for ‘M’ and ‘S’, and ends with the child being encouraged to learn and practice writing ‘M’ and ‘S’ with some supervision.  I then read Azkarah a book on shapes, which she enjoyed.

With Kezia and Azkarah busy and occupied, Tirzah contentedly played on the living room floor, and didn’t require much attention.  “Thank You, Lord!”

Let’s see how the rest of our days, weeks and months pan out.  I continue to look to the Lord for His guidance, strength, joy, and for His oversight of our home-schooling adventure.

Buenas noches!  Guten Nacht!  Goodnight! 😉

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Swim Gala

Today (6 January) was an immensely busy day!  We left home early to make our way to Ponds Forge, an international swimming [and diving] pool here in Sheffield, where Kezia was to participate in a Swim Gala. Mark had registered her to participate in the girls’ (9 year olds) backstroke and front crawl competition.  The Gala was scheduled to begin at 10 am, and we arrived in time for Kezia to join her local swimming group, and get changed and ready to participate.  Mark had volunteered to be a time-keeper so he headed down to pool-side to receive instructions on what to do.   I paid viewing entry for myself, and Azkarah and Tirzah, and we positioned ourselves at the glass balcony overlooking the whole pool.  The entire event lasted about 3 hours.  The goal of the event is to spot young, talented swimmers who are then recruited to the local swim clubs (squads), which train their swimmers to compete in national and international swimming events.  This was Kezia’s first ever Gala, and she came in 16th out of 26 in the backstroke swim competition.  We, unfortunately, don’t know her position for the front crawl competition.  We think she did well, and hope to enrol her in the next Gala, which will take place during the summer break.

Since we were all together at the swimming pool, we decided to go for a family swim (something we haven’t done in a very long time).  Ponds Forge has a really cool and fun family pool with waves, and a pool that goes round in a circle, and has its own current so one really doesn’t have to exert much energy in swimming; all one has to do is recline on one of the many floats provided and let the current push one along.  We all loved it!  There is also a super, long slide (2 of them that wind down next to each other), which Kezia persuaded me to go on with her – I screeched all the way down until I landed with a splash into the pool 🙂 – I felt like one of those bobsleds, you know like in the family movie Cool Runnings, that bounce from side to side what with the momentum of the speed!  To one side of the main family pool, is a smaller pool with different kinds of fountains and a small slide for under 4 year olds, where Tirzah had a LOT of fun.  She kept throwing herself down then standing up and throwing herself back down again, and again, and again 🙂  She really had fun.

After dinner tonight, Mark and Azkarah went out into the garden to hunt for slugs. Yep, slug hunting – not the nicest of professions but a necessary profession.  Our tiny garden is infested with slugs, and in the past we have ruthlessly exterminated them with salt, but that is a horrible way to get rid of slugs (if you’ve never heard of this method you can read up on it on google – I’ll not go into detail) even if we do detest them.  Besides, we couldn’t use that method with Azkarah around, as she considers them (and sails) to be beautiful [“Look, mummy, isn’t it (referring to slug or snail) beeeaauuuttiiiful?”]. Eek!  Anyhow, Mark asked Azkarah to accompany him outdoors to hunt for these creatures of the night, and together with their headlights on they went out with small, plastic disposable cups to find, pick up (with small pincers) and dispose of our unwanted garden tenants!  Once their cups were almost full, both Mark and Azkarah headed out to the small park close by and emptied the contents of their cups on to the grassy slopes.  To Azkarah, “daddy kindly released the slugs to freedom.”  No point telling her they might well be prey for any lurking predators!

It’s late and I need to go to bed…  Tomorrow is another day!


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