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Make a Plan! To be honest homeschool/parenting blogs can be intimidating as much as they are inspirational. It is very easy to make homeschooling look easy, and idyllic. But the reality in your own home is more chaotic, exhausting and disheartening- comparisons are not encouraging. Well, today was one of those days you want to hide in a cupboard! I do wonder if any productive learning happened- although The Girl did seem to make some progress with the dreaded (often tear inducing...
How to encourage learning through the summer?... Here in Scotland summer holiday’s tend to be around 6 weeks. Some think that is too long not to be learning. I have fond memories of the long summer break. And as a homeschooler I find the summer break refreshing, as well as needed to prepare for the year ahead! However, I also think it beneficial that young minds still do some work! The challenge is to provide learning opportunities that do not feel like “school”. Here are a...
Why are Jigsaw Puzzles Important for Preschoolers... I always remember reading “Puzzles, Puzzles, Puzzles,” in an articles about teaching preschoolers. We have all heard that jigsaws are good educational toys for young children, but why? Jigsaw puzzles are great for reading readiness. Children who are good at puzzles are generally quicker at reading. This is because of the brain skills developed by doing puzzles. These skills involve spatial recognition, spatial co-ordination, and matching. When a child learns to read he must firstly decipher the letters, letters...
Autumn Craft Fun We are most definitely in the throws of autumn, and is there any season that calls us to the forest more that autumn? As the leaves flutter from the trees and the last of the migrating geese can be heard it’s time to put on the wellies and get out into the woods! Here are the autumn inspired activities we have been up to lately! Get Into the Wood Walk in the wood and collect leaves, nuts, twigs etc...
Maternal Spirituality Amidst the Chaos... I am one of those Christian’s who can be very set in their spirituality. I like to have my quiet time at a set time, with no distractions, Bible laid out, silence! And for me this has meant morning quiet times have been out of the question. I tried to get up before the children, no matter how quiet I was, at least one, then all, seemed to have a radar for when mummy was about. To spare the...
Primary 1/Kindergarten Remembrance Day Worksheet... Primary 1/Kindergarten Remembrance Day Worksheet: A short reading and filing in the blanks sheet to use for Poppy Day. I have added a coloring sheet to it that I found on Colouring.ws P1/Kindergarten rememberence day sheet Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Book List for Boys

Although the list has boys in mind, my daughter would also say these are pretty good reads. When choosing books to read to my children I like to find ones which are well written- no twaddle as Charlotte Mason would put it. I also like to choose books which encourage honour and noble character. A lot of modern fiction reflects the dishonour and lack of respect so common in society today. This list has many books we have read as family read alouds as well as books the children have read themselves. A book list with boys in mind (that girls will love too) The Crown and Covenant trilogy by Douglas Bond The trilogy: Duncan’s War, Kings’s Arrow and Rebels’s Keep. These books follow the M’Kethe family through the period in Scotland’s history where Christian covenanters were persecuted mercilessly. The books are wonderfully written, with lots of adventure. The godly, devout family have to navigate commitment to Christ, and respecting authority- when that authority is wicked. Bond teaches through these books that the Christian life is not black and white, that following Christ can have a high price. I particularly enjoyed the characterisation, and the honour that the children had for their godly parents. Noah frequently would ask for “one more chapter”, and would be visibly excited by the action in the books. I would warn however, Bond is graphic in how he describes the torture and violence of these times. In the second of the books the main character has to save his “sister’s virtue” against raping pillaging highlanders. Noah did not understand what this meant, and I explained that the bad men were wanting to attacked the girl, and she couldn’t defend herself against them. The final book also has some bad language, I edited this as I read aloud. However, it is one of the best series we have read. We are just beginning a second trilogy by Bond, this time set in pre-revolutionary America. The Narnia Books by C.S. Lewis This is such an obvious choice. They really are so good. All the children love these stories. We have been reading through the series of them this year. Little House on the Prarie By Laura Inglis Wilder These stories may not at first glance be “boy” books, by the life of the Inglis’ family is not some pretty, easy happy-go-lucking one. Their life was hard. Pa is a great role model for boys. When I started to read these to the boys, at first they were not keen, thinking they were girl’s books. But very...

What Difference Meal Planning Has Made to Us

I’ve friends who meal plan, I have friends who having monthly meal plans. I always liked the idea of it. But for years I told myself that I would miss out on the deals if I planned our meals. My thinking was, that I would see what was on offer as I went round the shops and decide what we’d have for dinner that coming week based on that. The reality was I’d leave the shop with a trolly load and each night wonder what to have for dinner, then come up with something and realise I didn’t have the ingredients and needed to go to the shops. These frequent top up shop add up. Now I plan our meals these top up shops have come to an end. I usually spend the same amount on the main weekly shop as before, sometimes less, but with the top ups now under control we are making significant savings each week. I think what had stopped me for years was highly impressive meal charts written out for weeks ahead. The effort to do that put me off. Stress Free Meal Planning How I do my meal planning: I note in my diary what we will have each night. I then look at what ingredients we will need, and what other essentials we are due to run out of. I make a note of these in my diary, so I remember when going round the shop. It’s simple, and it takes 5 minutes before I go shopping. I can look through cookery books for some inspiration as I do it. If I see a great deal at the shops it is easy to swap something in the meal plan, but honestly this doesn’t happen often. Doing this has also reduced the amount of waste food we through away. I’m less likely to have vegetables that have gone bad in the fridge, because I’m only buying what we will need that week. I might one day sit down and type up a monthly plan, but then again I might not! Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Preparing for Christmas: Reading List

Over the years we have discovered many charming Christmas stories, and we try to add to our collection each year. Part of my preparations for Advent is compiling a list of books to share together over the coming nights. Here is a selection that we have come to love, and a couple we are to discover this year together. I have a range that is suitable for children of various ages. Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift We have used this Advent devotional for a couple of years now. Ann’s writing sparkles, and her style invokes a strong sense of Christmas. This devotional leads us through the Old Testament, and points the way to Bethlehem. I also use her adult devotional as well for my own quiet time. On that Christmas Night by Mary Joslin I love this retelling of the Christmas story. The illustrations are beautiful, and complement the text. Ituku’s Christmas Journey by Elena Pasquali We have had this story since Rebekah was a toddler. It tells the Christmas story through the eyes of a little eskimo boy journeying to see the new born baby Jesus. It follows in the tradition of Christmas stories like Babushka. Truly a delightful tale. Alfie’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes My boys love the Alfie books. And this tale of a traditional family Christmas is pure heart-warming joy. The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-na-ween by Ruth Sawyer This sad Christmas fairy tale set at the time of the Irish potato famine is unlike the other books listed. It follows the life of a poor abandoned orphan and how the little “gentle people” reward her, as her life of kindness and hardship, comes to an end. Starlight in Tourrone by Suzanne Butler This is a story we have yet to read, so I cannot make any comment on it so far 🙂 I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge I loved this story last year. It is a sheer joy. The text is wonderful. The story is one of hope and healing. The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden I have not read this but Rebekah enjoyed it. It is the tale of an orphan girl, and old woman, and a doll. I have been told that the boys will really enjoy it. The Bakers Dozen by Aaron Shepard This is another story we have been reading for a few Christmases now. It is a story of St Nicholas set in a Dutch colonial town in America. The illustrations in this story are also beautiful. The Gift of the Magi by...

What Our Homeschool Looks Like this Year

This year we have taken on a Charlotte Mason flavour to our home school. I have always looked on with admiration at the method, but never knew quite how to go about the method with children of multiple ages. One friend who I look up to as a Charlotte Mason devote told me that they introduced things bit by bit over the years, not trying to do everything at once. With this knowledge I have moved in that direction. We do not rigorously follow a Charlotte Mason curriculum but have taken little steps in that direction. Introducing Charlotte Mason for the boys I have used the book list found on Linda Fay’s excellent website Charlotte Mason help. I find her curriculum less daunting than the one found on Ambleside Online, although this is still an excellent resource and I use it frequently. For the boys I am starting them all, regardless of age, on the history books listed for Year 1. The reading list here, even for my nearly 10 year old has something for each boy to take something away from. We read the material and then do dictation based on the material read. This is adapted for the different boys. The younger boys use the year 1 material for general literature reading and poetry. Whereas for Noah I have used some of the material from the year 3 schedule. This seemed a good place for him to begin, however I do not use the history books for him here. He is also doing Apologia Science this year, he chose to study Astronomy, and he is enjoying it. The boys also do copy work year day, Noah from the Bible, and Jude from a free printable booklet off of Simply Charlotte Mason. For maths the two older boys are using Galore Park maths books, and Thomas who is just starting this year is doing the Maths Enhancement Program, this is a free curriculum devised by the University of Plymouth. I still do a little text book work for the boys. Thomas is doing the Jolly Phonics program, and Jude Jolly Grammar. Noah is using Galore Park Junior English books- I have not been brave enough to leave the text books totally behind. The younger boys are also doing Mystery Science, a free online science program. Starting Secondary “School” Rebekah who is now of an age for secondary school, has started using Omnibus books. These are a very comprehensive series of books which teach history and literature from source texts. The books are written from a classical perspective. She...

Treating Children as “Persons”

My big boy approached, head down, shoulders slumped, face downcast. What has happened? Has he fallen out with someone? Did he get himself in trouble? These questions run through my head. As he approaches I ask how his morning has been. “They treated me like a baby!” came the sullen reply. Oh! He had spent the morning taking part in the children’s ministry at a conference. I try to sooth the offence, pointing out that there are younger children there too. As the day goes on he expounds on what it means to be “treated like a baby”. The verb that best encapsulates this is “to patronise”. And it is all to common when we look at the things on offer for children. Language is dumbed down, those working with children are unnaturally excitable, praise is offered for the least little thing- it’s all so false. We live in a culture where there is an attitude that things have to be dumbed down to make them palatable to children. So many books in the kids section of the library or book store are filled with inane drivel. Children see through this. When we treat children as persons they rise to the challenge. Talking to children normally i.e. as people, listening to them with intent. Reading books that make them think. A good rule of thumb when picking a book: if you can’t stand reading it, don’t expect them to enjoy having it read to them. When I was lately reading more about Charlotte Mason’s educational ideas, one of her basic principals is that children are born persons. This idea resonated with me. It is something that I have come over the years to find true with all my children. Young children ask profound questions, they may not frame them in the sophisticated language of an adult, but they are truly profound. Their questions deal with very things of life, questions of eternity. Their questions clothe their hopes and fears. And we do well to treat them as precious. Lately I heard a prophet prophecy over a group of children, they were aged from babies right up. As this man of God spoke into these young lives it struck me that God knew the deepest thought of these children. He knew the fears of the youngest child, and to God these were precious and as relevant as any adults fears. God cares about children’s questions, hopes and fears. God does not regard them as less important, or as inferior because they do not come from the mind of a “grown-up”....

Having a Fun Summer Without Breaking the Bank

Even if you are not going on holiday, creating a summer holiday that will leave great memories and happy children can, quickly, become expensive. A trip to the cinema, an outing to the zoo, a day out at a theme park- these cost a lot of money. But, a great summer does not have to cost the earth to create. One outlay I have made was to purchase Historic Scotland membership. This gives us all free entry into all the Historic Scotland sites. And since many of them are within an easy drive we can have lots of days out, at a fraction of the cost that it would be to pay entry into each one individually. There are other organisations that have membership schemes that provide free entry into their properties. The National Trust is another favourite with many families. Family membership is also something relatives could give as a family Christmas present. Obvious places to go for outings is the beach, forests, botanical gardens, hillwalking and parks. These can be the sources of many adventures. Consider building a camp fire, toasting marshmallows and having an evening picnic. By inviting friends to join you, then their is the perfect recipe for fun and great memories. It goes without saying that you first make sure you light any fires in a place where they are permitted, and do so safely, especially if it has been very dry. Or what about a disposable BBQ on the beach? For wet days many museums and art galleries are free. You can also have a movie day, or a baking day. Also look out for special summer holiday deals on swimming pools. More and more local authorities are offering free child swimming over the holidays. Local councils often have free sports activities as well, it is worth phoning a few leisure centres to see if there is anything on offer. Many churches also offer holiday clubs for a week of the school holidays. All my children (besides Thomas, who has not yet been old enough) have loved attending a local church club. Throughout the years our family have had some wonderful happy days through the summer. The days which have left the best memories have been the free days. My children still talk about building a camp fire in a wood with friends; playing in a burn (small stream) in the hills, on a very hot day (yes, they do sometimes happen in Scotland); and an unplanned trip to a beach. We also save money by doing lots of picnics. Each child has...

The Dangers of Comparing Ourselves to Others

I stood grating parmesan cheese, for yet another dinner, my body aching with tiredness and my soul weary. The noise of children playing in the garden on a summer’s evening. As I prepared food I thought how I wanted someone else to do this for me, but how that was not going to happen. I thought how I didn’t want my tiredness to overflow into grumpiness towards the children over dinner. It’s easy at times like these, the times when the mundane drudgery of the everyday, when the relentlessness of daily life becomes overwhelming, to compare ourselves to other people. To think of that friend who appears to have it all together, to have an endless supply of energy. To compare ourselves to the women we know surrounded by support and help, who has scheduled days off, and “me time” on a regular basis. The problem with comparing ourselves to these women is firstly it does not help us, it adds to our grumpiness. It can also lead to bitterness, if we are not careful. Such thoughts do not change our circumstances, but they make the circumstances harder to cope with. Secondly, such women do not actually exist. We take someone we know and create a distorted image in our minds of what they are like, what their children are like, what their husbands are like, and what their circumstances are like. All of which, at best is a charactercher of reality; at worse a complete deception. The truth is every signal one of us have days where we cannot cope. And there are times where we do just need to grit our teeth until bed time. The devil wants us to believe the lie that that family are better, that that women is a better mother, that those children are more obedient, that their marriage is stronger….. the list goes on. But that’s what it is: a lie. Knowing Your Own Identity One remedy for this is to know our own identity. Keeping our vision fixed on what God has called us to do. God has called us to raise the children He has given us, with their unique personalities. He is in control of our marriage, our finances, and where we live. Therefore he will give us the grace to cope. It is like David trying to fight in Saul’s armour. He couldn’t do it. David was not Saul, he was David. David had to fight Goliath as David, only then could he win. We will not be the mothers our children need if we try to...

Summer Holiday 2016…Is Here :)

I always like to have some sort of plan for summer: last year we made a “sunshine list” (basically a bucket list written inside a sun, with activities to bring a little bit of sunshine into even a Scottish summer), and on other years we have done traditional bucket lists. This year after reading Sally Clarkson’s latest book “The Life-Giving Home” I was inspired to do a historical summer holiday. In “The Life-Giving Home” Sally and her daughter Sarah share how they would do historical road trips in the summer. Where they would chose a theme and visit historical sites linked to that theme, for example the Civil War. This would enable them as a family to immerse themselves in a particular time in history. Although we are not going to do a road-trip, we are going to choose a period of Scottish history and explore it by visiting locations linked to that period. This year we have been looking through Scottish history, so I thought it would be good to visit sites linked to Mary Queen of Scots. This was a period in Scotland’s history in which the country went through tremendous change: both religious and political. It can be a complicated period for a child to learn about. By visiting various sites the memories created will, hopefully, bring history to life. The idea is not so much rigorous academic study into a subject, but the development of our minds, the creation of memories, and the building of a heritage rooted in where they are from. We learn a lot about ourselves from studying history. To prepare for this I have drawn up a list of sites which have played a key role in the life of Mary Queen of Scots. Some of these we have visited before, so may not visit at this time- concentrating on new places. This has the added fun of two boat trips. The young Mary was kept on a small island on the Lake of Monteith, to protect her from the English who wished her to marry the young Edward VI. And another boat trip on Loch Leven to the site of the Queen’s imprisonment for a while. In doing the list I have found that we have enough sites to go to at least one per week over the summer holiday. In visiting our first castle, a ruin on the east side of Edinburgh, as well as learning what role the castle played in Mary Queen of Scots’ life, they also had a jolly good time. They had the joy of...
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