Home Therapy

Child playingRecently having tea with a friend our conversation automatically turned to our children. On this specific day were where talking about how individually each child develops and how as a society we have begun to mark and check off their milestones as a content billboard to see that all is well. The irony is that they are in-fact who they are regardless of who we want or hope them to be.

We do however all want the best for each and every one of our children and the reality is that to keep up in this fast paced lifestyle we lead we do sometimes have to give them a nudge to help them keep up with the pack. This is something we all see and acknowledge but what happens when the resources – time and finance  – don’t stretch far enough? Is there still hope for our children who are struggling?

I do believe that there is and that you as their Mom or Dad play a vital role in assisting your child in reaching their full potential. Most of the common difficulties young children face at school are those of settling into sitting still and paying attention as well as fine motor difficulties. There are also a number of children who battle with their speech, which in turn hinders their ability to learn to read. Though interestingly I have often found that as a child learns to read this does in fact improve their speech.

However the point here is that if your child is facing these difficulties and you are unable to offer them the support they need there are many things that can be done by you at home to help improve their overall schooling experience.

At shcool IIILet’s look at the child battling to concentrate – again and again I see that children have never been taught the skill of paying attention. We live in such an instant, fast moving world that their thoughts skip and breeze from one topic to the next. As parents we can play a vital role in developing this skill simply by adjusting and tweaking a few of our expectations. Make a rule that you will only speak once and if they don’t listen there will be a consequence such as 10 minutes off any television show for every time you need to repeat yourself. Stop and look at each other in the eyes when you talk to one another. Ask them on the way home from a day out to recall fine details such as what the best joke was that they heard that afternoon or what the name of the ice-cream shop was. Read to them. By this I do not mean Disney books instead read the original Winnie-the-Pooh, Tom Sawyer or Anne of Green Gables. If you don’t have the books download the librivox app onto your phone and you can listen to all books in the public domain for free. This is especially fun if you have other activities such as house hold chores or art work you are wanting the children to do whilst you are all listening. After your stories ask your child to recount their favourite scene or the most surprising part of the story. Expect your children to remember many different things from poetry to reciting your shopping list. Slowly day by day train their mind to slow down, focus on the task at hand and to do it well.

The child suffering from fine motor difficulties is probably one of the easier ones to assist – simply because there are so many ideas online to aid you. This often involves the children needing to work on their finger activities and small hand-eye movements. So daily work together on a project involving their hands. You could play with playdough, knead bread, thread necklaces, do art, write letter to friends and family, sing songs using hand actions and so the endless list continues.

Working on a child’s speech is not always the easiest task to be done at home but it is something that one can attempt. I would suggest meeting with a speech therapist to obtain some idea where the difficulties lie and give you some guidelines on how to begin assisting your child.

So many people are in the same boat today – all desperately wanting to help their children but often not knowing how to possibly afford it. The truth is that your child’s teachers and the therapist are on your child’s side too – so team up. Maybe you can meet once a term to put together a program or plan that is worked on at home. Don’t loose hope, any input is better than nothing and honestly above all they will just love and thrive in that extra time you are going to spend with them.

Madgwick Life May – June 2015

I can’t believe how the year is running past and that our little Riley is now 5 months old! She is such a delight to us all. She just smiles and smiles – sometimes so much that she starts to cry!

This last month has been a busy yet fun one. In prep for our pending Kruger trip we have been learning about SA history – a great deal of which I had never been taught or knew about so I think I have been left more educated than the children and quite shattered by our heritage! Non the less a dear friend offered to make our girls these Voortrekker bonnets.  They have been a great hit and were even worn to church and the shops a few times.

A great feat this month has been Lily-Grace and Nate both finally becoming competent on their bikes. This has made riding to soccer and ballet so much more fun and a great deal less stressful for me. I think it’s finally time for me to dust off my bike now too so that I can ride with them.

For 12 years I have wanted to haven an awesome sandpit for the children and finally it is completed. Well we have had it for a while but the children kept filling it with water to make a pool during summer but it finally has sand in it! What an amazing asset this has been.  I wondered the other night busy how dark it would need to get before the girls realised that they should in fact come in. Well they never even seemed to notice until the bats were out and it was getting really cold!

A few Saturdays ago I was working on the balcony when suddenly all was quiet and I saw the little guys lying on the lawn, with their umbrellas reading and I realised that for the first time since September last year we had finally finished moving and building and that we can now just be! Being more relaxed at home I have asked Kadin to take in the other 3 children as his music students.  They working through the piano wizard programme and he is sing a great job. He has also begun giving some violin lessons. I still stand in awe at his musical ability and easily he understands and can teach it all.

The Children have also finally all really settled in our new home. A highlight has been having rabbits, pigeons and chickens to play with and love.


 And Maisy! Well she keeps us on our toes from morning till night there just is never a dull moment when this 2yr old going on 7 is in the room – or should I say especially when she’s off quietly somewhere out of sight! Lily-Grace has also become our in house hairdresser and Amber-Mai loves all the extra attention she is given having her hair styled!

 This month seems to have flown by and yet it has been the first time in a long time that we have finally felt really settled and have really enjoyed just being.

 

 

School Alive

So it was said all those 10 years ago that if you homeschool using living books, read about heroes and give then freedom to play that you will see what they learn filtration info their lives.  Well I will say we have had discussions about topics and sometimes seen a game reflect something they have learned. But never have they become absolutely engrossed – without our input. Then last month we decided that for the boy’s birthdays, next month , we would fulfil their life long dream of going to Kruger National Park.  Well, oh my, suddenly the children are leading all our learning. For handwriting is a South African poem, geography maps of the park and historical places and for history we have been learning about the history of South Africa. We have all sat enthralled as we have read about so much history we were unaware of.  Our hearts have been stretched, pulled, ached and rejoiced. We have climbed mountains, hunted, fought wars and pulled wagons with people long forgotten. It has truly been an amazing term with the children leading and asking for more and more. This reached a climax this week when we asked a friend to sew the girls some bonnets for the dress up box. Oh what fun these have been! The boys soon caught the fever and last night we were greeted at the dinner table by a group of “voortrekers.”

The children instructed us that we had to have baked potatoes and meat for supper – so that we could be like the voortrekkers and we had milk tart for pudding. This was followed by a play that they had created that told the whole story of Dingaan and the Voortrekkers.  Out of a few dress up clothes and a simple meal such a fun, memorable evening emerged

Being Mom – at Home

1am this morning was not what I expected 1am to look like. It began with Amber-Mai crying and before long she began throwing up – again, and again and again – every 15 min or half hour for the rest of the night. During which time Nate joined her in their midnight adventure. Dozing in and out of broken sleep I was dreading the first rays of dawn…

The day did however unfold in the most gentle way. Em rushed off to write an exam and Kadin had to go to a 2 hour violin rehearsal, Amber-Mai fell asleep and Nate lay relaxing on the couch.

Nate not up to doing anything today.

Poor girl – not even a clean sheet left for her to sleep on.

So suddenly I, Mom of 6, found myself alone with the twins. Interestingly they had decided to pretend they were going to school for the day and were needing a snack for their lunch boxes. So we grabbed the moment and the 3 of us quickly cooked up a storm! What a special time it was cooking alongside these special girls – with no interruptions! We made the most delicious fudge-choc biscuits and they designed their own colourful treats.

While we measured and mixed I managed to squeeze in an impromptu “lesson” on how to work out half and quarter cups. They were fascinated that 2 halves really filled the 1 cup and that 2 quarters made a half etc… We then mixed only red, yellow and blue dough before I had to rush out to fetch Kadin and they were left to create orange, purple and green dough. Hmm, suppose that counts for art 😉

The twins then had the most delightful picnic outside in the fresh spring sun – with their “school” lunch boxes – while I dashed around sorting lunch and other children needing me again.

Nate looking for something to do sat reading a whole reader and listened to Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery – before he fell asleep too. The day was spent juggling medicine, dry toast, meals and snacks for my healthy kids, saving cookies from the hot oven, rushing to extra-murals, checking temps and yet the day was one of the most peaceful we have encountered in ages. We did so many things we never get around to doing – the boy even played a board game together this afternoon.

Maybe it was because all else – outside the home – had to fade away and I was forced to focused purely on the immediate needs of my family.

Let’s Vote

Today was a special day here in South Africa – it was time to once again vote for the people we see fit to lead our nation.

20 years ago we stood before a land mark decision for South Africa to become a nation in which all are recognised, acknowledged and valued. The past 20 years have faced many challenges. There have been many amazing advances forward but still many disappointments and disillusionment have filled many, many lives. So today as we look upon yet once again a restless nation we all fell hopefully empowered to yet once again help make a difference in this beautiful land.

Our children have not missed the hype and excitement building up around them. Time spent in the car, at breakfast and dinner have been bristling with discussions about different parties, what makes a good president, how one votes and how having a seat in parliament works. Today we were able to take our children with us to vote, they were allowed to stand in the hall and watch how it all came together. Their excitement has been so tangible all day. So yes this vote of ours today may mark a change in South Africa’s history or it may not. It did however begin a shift my children’s minds and hearts toward their love for our land, their future right to vote, their voice in the country, their place as adult citizens and how they too have a responsibility to make a difference in the future of this amazing country.

This could not have been summed better than just after we voted Nate comes to us and says, “When I”m an adult I won’t be voting – because people will be voting for me!”

Nate’s own political party’s badge – Rainbow Nation Freedom

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Cedar Wood

At the beginning of 2013 God led us to begin a homeschool facilitation centre. This has been a most awesome privilege and adventure to embark upon!

We started out with my 4 and just 2 others last year and are now up to 12 children. The vision God has planted into our hearts is to open a learning environment that is an extension of our home. A place that breaths God, a place where individually, excellence, diligence, creativity and a high standard of academics are valued.

Each child is on their own individual program – which makes for interesting mornings, but as they are at their own level for each subject, engaging in work they are excelling in, at a pace and presented in a way that is personally unique to them they are all so motivated.

Each child has a tablet, connected to the wifi, which they use throughout the day to access their reading or maths, science or history. They are required to to do daily research and then narrate about what they have discovered.

Cedar Wood is based upon a Charlotte Mason philosophy and we use a great deal of the Sonlight curriculum – especially for the history and geography. Neil runs awesome weekly science lessons that the kids can’t wait for and many Fridays are spent attending various outings or herb club (run by Peter’s Gate a farm in the midlands that grows herbs and produces herb products.)

Each child is issued with a planner of their day’s work and what they need to achieve during the day. What they don’t complete in the morning they do at home. We don’t have a break time – they simply get to eat when their work is done.

I have stood in awe of how responsible each child is for their work – even our youngest 4 year old diligently takes responsibility for her own learning! The children manage their time and their own work program. It is so interesting to watch the level of excellence and work ethic they place on themselves.

Yes there are squabbles and irritations and attitudes that need to be tweaked but just as in a family these are dealt with promptly and given natural consequences and choices they usually come right quickly.

I think the biggest reflection that this is something good that we have stumbled upon is that the number of parents who have called me to say that within 5 weeks of their children joining Cedar Wood their confidence has skyrocketed. This was never something Cedar Wood aimed to do and yet as the children have grown in responsibility and freedom to be who they were made to be this has been a natural progression.

So as we step boldly into 2014 we hope to soon have many more children learning in this sort of environment.

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Embracing Story Writing

As a writer and literacy lover I can’t help believing it’s fundamental for my children to be able to express themselves excellently though the written word. For the last 6 years we have used Sonlight as our homeschool curriculum and have loved their way of encouraging children to write and express themselves.

I was however thinking the other day how often a child will say they went to the “beach or park” and then launch into a story about what occurred there but never actually stop to create the scene. I really wanted to have a visual way to encourage the children to think more about the setting and use expressive words to describe it.

So here was the simple plan – an art lesson…. Each child was given an A4 page and using bright crayons they has to draw their favourite place. The trick being that they could add scenery but no people or animals – as those were characters not scenery. Some got this right others not but it was a great first try. We then laminated these pages. Once this was done I pulled out some stickers I had bought. They could each choose about 4 stickers to be the characters in their story. They could then move the stickers around to help them create the story.

This part became so exciting that we forgot all about spending a good amount of time describing the setting but I was so pleased with the stories they created that on another day we’ll do the activity again and spend time describing the scenery BEFORE I give out the stickers.

These pages have been used again and again at home to play with. They have even been taken on car trips. Think this is one idea I’m going to ensure I remember to do again soon!

 

What to Be or Not to Be

Recently I sat at the hairdresser chatting to the 20 odd year old owner of the salon. Our conversation led to education – hmm, surprise, surprise 😉 – she was soon telling me how she hated every day of school and by grade 10 she was failing ever subject. At this point she walked out of the school system and straight into hairdressing school – something she had wanted to do from the age of 5.

Within no time she way flying and getting A’s. She soon qualified and today she owns a salon and is about to open her second salon, whilst her peers are just leaving university and beginning to pay off their studies.

She then proceeded to tell me how a teacher from her previous school had popped past the salon recently and asked her to please take some time to meet with a girl who was just not coping at school. They wanted this girl to meet with the one who the school viewed as their biggest failure and that things can turn out alright. Hmmm, compliment or insult we are still debating this….

This got me thinking – yet once again- about our definition of success. Is it only being accepted into the university of your choice so that you may gain a qualification that usually requires you to spend the majority of your adult life working for someone else. Looking back I can’t help but also follow this thought with – what if when you are 30 you no longer want to do what you chose to qualify as when you were a mere 18 years old? Yet this is all you are qualified to do. Is this when you stop living life to the full and start counting the days till your retirement?

Please understand me there are many reasons to go to university, if this is what a child is created to do and become. However not all children are created for this path. Becoming a hairdresser, plumber, photographer, dancer, mother, author, actor or blogger are no less than a doctor, lawyer or teacher.

I honestly believe God has placed within everyone of us a way to make a living. As parents it’s our responsibility to help our children spark their dreams. Know what they are passionate about. They need to know who they are, where their giftings lie and to then have the confidence to follow their dreams to the end. They need to know we believe in them and all they were created to be.

Taking a brief glimpse at history we see again and again people who are seen by the experts as being failures and inadequate and yet people who had confidence in who they were and where their giftings lay they outshone all those around.

So take courage today. Stand up for your child and who they were created to be. Help them find their dreams and let them build upon these so that they are able to live their lives to the full!

(picture above from facebook)

 

A Walk By Faith

The last few months have been a time of deep,inward reflection. A time of re-evaluating our dreams, desires, wants and life path.

Some History: Having taught in remedial classes until our son was born 10 yrs ago I was not ready to leave my career for anything. Yet when our son turned 3 months old and I had to return to work my heart was broken. Something deep inside me snapped – something I didn’t know was even there, was now directing every step of our lives… With that I resigned and the real adventure was about to begin. As a stay at home mom of one baby I was busy – but also craved company and “brain food.” With these desires firmly intact I happened to stumble upon homeschooling, Sonlight and Wendy Young – co-author of the South African curriculum Footprints. As I delved further into this new realm of understanding blinkers began to fall from my eyes a whole new world of thought and understanding of education and child rearing was being revealed. As I befriended Charlotte Mason – 19th Century Educationist – my entire world view began to heave and shift. My reality sat upon very unstable ground. The next ten years were spent busy readjusting my thought patterns, soaking up this new understanding and realigning my life to a life of child led education, filled with living books, project based education that drew from a child’s desire to want to know.

To the present:

I have stood in awe as my one son’s love for birds taught him to read and recognise all the countries of the world whilst our second son’s love to sport has taught him the exact same information. This was not regulated to lessons or a curriculum it just poured naturally from them. Calculations of birds distance flown or the number of goals scored in this match or that and the average speed of a bird or the average number of goals scored by a player see numerous sums being calculated daily. Yes living books and a curriculum such as Sonlight fuels the fire and helps drive the boat – but that in itself – opposed to a teacher driven model of marks, punishment and rewards was all new to me.

So here we sit 10 years on…. Very comfortable in our daily routine, life could quite happily continue in this vein for another 18 years. But Mom’s becoming restless, a silent whisper settles upon her heart. “I didn’t train you for nothing… now’s your time.” A whisper that will not be stilled or leave…. The nudge begins, the ideas grow, the pull in epic, it will leave no peace until it’s faced. Finally the time arrives. The time to choose to listen or choose to run. But where will one run too? Is Tarshish far enough? Would the voice not follow there too? Maybe it’s time to simply stop and listen – so we did… After months of prayer and deliberation we feel a deep calling within the heart of our family to start a learning centre – a place for children to be assisted within their homeschool journey. For each family this may look different. Some may come for a few hours a week, others every morning, whilst others may just be to guide the folks. Our deepest heart cry is for the many children literally dying in the system and owning to parents commitments they simply have no alternative. It’s our hope that this learning centre will provide them with time to complete their maths and language whilst giving them opportunities to follow their interests, passions, and learn from their heart – whether it be birds or rugby…. So today we take a the first steps into this unknown territory as we embark upon this crazy walk by faith…. Only God knows what it’ll look like and who He’ll bring but for now all we can say is: We are willing – let the adventure begin!

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Soul of Education

Extra curricular activities are always an interesting topic to discuss. As what exactly are they, how do they fit into our lives and days and why exactly are we doing them? Thoughts such as these often come spinning around my head late at night.

When we first began our homeschool journey and I was fresh out of the classroom these activities were viewed in my mind as something extra, something to add on after we had done “school”, something that was viewed as a luxury and as an added bonus – if time and money allowed. Yes, as all of life comes down to money, that is still a realistic constraint – however my attitude and views have somewhat altered over the past 10 years!

As I have spent more and more time researching Charlotte Mason, listening to Ken Robinson and partaking in other Learning Revolution discussions my understanding on what education truly is has changed. I see more and more the need for an education to fully embrace the mind, body and soul. In the past I viewed the extra curricular as something extra whereas it’s now become a part of what we do. A part of the child’s education, something as essential as maths or language.

Obviously it would sound fantastic if every child could partake in every activity that caught their attention however this is not practical or necessarily a good thing. As parents we need to wisely know our children and what suits them and when. We see these “extra curricular activities” as a personal extension of who each of our children truly are. It’s our hope that these experiences will capture their souls and their love for something that will carry them a lifetime. Our 10 year old son has always been passionate about birding, he writes a birding blog and has a birding website. We try to see that he’s able to volunteer at the Bird of Prey Sanctuary – as often as we can make the 45 minute trek there. This has not only allowed him to connect with the birds themselves but with many amazing people. Many of who maybe colleagues of his one day if he follows through with his dream to study ornithology. This “extra curricular activity” should therefore be viewed as fundamental as his writing lessons as it’s networking and connecting his passion with his future.

Each of our children may choose 2 (though sometimes it becomes 3) activities that they may partake in off our property. As all our children have an affinity for music, and I don’t, taking music lessons is a non-negotiable (which they love the idea of.) As our eldest is attends regular school and her time is tight she’s decided to find pieces off the Internet and teach herself using the online lessons she has found.The younger 3 attend musikgarten, which gives them an amazing grounding in music, and our 10 year old son has violin lessons.

Interestingly he has always wanted to play the violin and so he began lessons at the age of 6. His teacher came to our home every second week for 2 hours. During this time our boy not only played the violin but was submerged into listening to it, watching DVDs on it and above all learning to love his instrument. This year however he’s begun to talk about studying music after school and for this reason we’ve changed music teachers. The new teacher, known to have her students play beautifully, requires a much higher level of playing, as well as her students to be fully commited. Surprisingly he has absolutly taken to this and is loving the challenge.

Besides their music the boys also attend Lego lessons which have been fantastic for this mom who has absolutely no interest what-so-ever in anything that has to do with pulleys, levers, buildings and conveyor belts. By attending these lessons with a mom who’s as passionate about these, as I am about writing, has been a real blessing for the boys as they have grown and learned so much under her enthusiastic instruction.

Besides music the twins and our 15 year old do praise dance – an hour of fun dancing where they learn to worship God through their dance. The twins have been attending rhythmic gymnastics but I feel this season has reached an end for now. As hard as it is, as parents we sometimes have to make hard calls. They still really want to go but I see burn out knocking at our door as well as little foxes entering our home. For other children this is not a problem but the sweets at the end of the lesson have become an issue in the hearts of my gilrs and it’s my responsibility to guard their hearts.  Being so young the girls have begun to assosiate dancing with being rewarded for performing and now they won’t dance at home without me supplying them with a handful of treats. They are losing the love for simply dancing and are instead being drawn to the reward. Charlotte Mason warns up of this and now I’m seeing the true fruit of “what you draw a child with, is what you draw your child to.” This added to the fact that we’ve realised that gymnastics is a very individual sport, meaning that in effect our girls would be pitted against one another, we’ve decided to give it a break and that they may return, when they are older and one of them specifically wants to take this up as their “thing.”

Our 15 year old has recently taken up ballet. As her plate is full at school and she still has home responsibilities we have decided for her to attend the adult dance class that happen in the evening. There are no shows or exams but just fun ballet lessons. She’s really enjoying this approach and it allows her to decide if it is something she’d like to take more seriously later, whilst allowing her to catch up with her peer group.

We have also found certain areas that we are passionate and interested in assisted greatly by outside input. Our eldest son has just joined Cubs where he is learning so many vial skills that we simply don’t have the time to get around to.

But I’d say the greatest “trick” we’ve learned is to host or do as many extra curricular activities from our home as possible. Having studied drama and my husband being a microbiologist we host drama lessons and a science club from our home. This is great as our children are able to have lessons for free and we actually do them because others are paying to come! From the drama lessons we discovered one teenage boy has amazing soccer skills, so after drama he coaches soccer, in our garden, for half an hour. We have also said that the money we make by running these extra murals from home is the amount we’ll set aside for the children to use for other activities they want to take part in.

Having 5 children does limit one’s ability to get to everything they would love to partake in and often the lessons cost more than they child is benefiting form the activity. We do therefore use the Internet a great deal to. We have found free drum, art and piano lessons and then we also buy DVDs that have lessons. My twins favourite being one with ballet on it.

As mommy to 5 very different children I have learned one thing that remains the same – extra curricular activities need to not only entertain a child because they enjoy it but to rather be firstly something I cannot teach them and secondly something that suits them and grows them personally into all the were created to be. As our children learn and embrace new skills, these activities are the part of our curriculum that develops our child’s body as well as their soul. This happens as they are connected to beauty and are able to partake in the creative world around them.

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This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers (SACH Bloggers) where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more.  You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page. We hope you enjoy the carnival as much as we have!

SA Home Schooling Blog Carnival June 2012 ~ Extra Curricular Activities

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