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My 5 favourite blogs…

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I LOVE blogs! They’re just so much more personal than a website. It’s a real person you’re interacting with. There’s a face behind the veil of internet and code…

I’ve been reading various blogs for many years, but in recent years I find that I tend to gravitate more towards homeschooling, natural living and homemaking blogs.

Here are a few of my absolute favourites!

Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

This amazing lady speaks to my heart in such a profound way. From the way they live (frugally and gratefully) to her gentle insight when it comes to housekeeping, all of her writing just really resonates with me on a personal level. She’s also a Christian that homeschools.

A Virtuous Woman

One of my greatest goals in life is to become the “Proverbs 31 woman” the Bible speaks of. This site is a great help in the right direction 😉

A Charlotte Mason Home

This lady shares some awesome CM “how-to’s” on things like Nature Study and Habit Training (something I’ve been meaning to delve deeper into)

Moments With Mother Culture

This is Karen’s blog (the author of “The Charlotte Mason Companion”, a ‘must read’ book for every single person seriously looking at a CM education. I especially love the Handicrafts she shares!

Practical Pages

This woman draws like an angel! Her Nature Studies and other drawings are especially inspirational!

Wellness Mama

This has been my go-to for most of the natural things I make (toothpaste, deodorant, lotions, home remedies, magnesium oil, etc.) for AGES!

I hope I have helped you discover a handy new blog or 2!

What are your favourite blogs?

 

 

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Toddler Nature Study

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Gogga loves taking Nature Walks. Many a time she just takes her big sister’s hand, and off they go. When they come back, it’s usually with pockets full of wonderful nature finds. Special sticks, rocks, beautiful flowers, little shells of dead insects, maybe a lizard skin or two. Then gogga tells me all about everything: where they found it, what it is and how excited she is about it! Well, all of this is obviously not in full sentences, only babbling with a proper word here and there. She is only turning 2 in a month! But I get the gist of it. My kid is really in tune with nature. She loves it. She enjoys it. She FEELS it.

How do I do it?

I don’t… I enable her to explore. I take her outside. I guide her to interesting things. I show her how and where to look. I teach her to listen to the birds and the wind. To taste the raindrops and to feel the soft leaves on her cheeks. To dig in the dirt and smell the wet ground after a storm. To touch the rough trunk of a tree, smooth leaves and to carefully feel the thorns on the aloe plants.

And then I let her go. She does her own thing. I’m there, in the background to make sure she’s safe. I look and listen when she shows me things. But I don’t entertain her. I don’t set up activities for her. She does that all on her own.

She packs, arranges and sorts rocks. She builds mud cakes with twigs, little pebbles, and flowers. She examines bird skeletons she finds in the garden and she figured out a while ago a feather will gently float down when thrown into the air. She copies the sounds and movements of the animals around her (cats, dogs, birds and ducks) and has become much more aware of the world she lives in. On her own.

Because children don’t need or want a teacher. They have a natural love of learning. They only want a companion to join them on the journey! Be that companion to your child…

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Homeschooling and housekeeping

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Some people tell me I look like I have it all together.

Believe me, I don’t!

I’m VERY far from perfect!

We live as naturally as possible, make things at home, homeschool, cloth diaper, and do extended breastfeeding. I don’t have a helper as I strongly believe in doing things myself.

And, I promise you, my house is never spotless, but it’s pretty presentable at the moment.

Yes, there are toys all over the floor. The floors were mopped yesterday, and they have a few bunny-shaped mud marks (yep, we have a pet rabbit), the walls look ‘gently distressed’ (you know, pen marks and mud streaks 😉 ) and my couch has a yoghurt stain on it.

But my table is clean. My bathroom is clean. My kitchen counters and stove are clean. I woke up to an empty sink this morning.

It’s not about being perfect.

The small things matter.

There is a huge difference between dirty and untidy. My house in untidy at times. I have kids. It’s  not a museum. It’s normal for things to be ‘out of place’.

My house, however, is not dirty. I try and mop every day. I sweep every day. I need to vacuum more often, though (I’m human, okay!)

The point is: it has to be hygienic.

So, how does one keep a clean house?

I have two secrets to keeping my house clean with a pretty busy life: de-cluttering (living a more minimalistic lifestyle) and routines.

I do a purge every few months. Things tend to find their way into our house over time if I’m not diligent about keeping them out. Things like paper scraps, toilet roll crafts, glitter (ugggggh!) and other bits and bobs.  I take some time every once in a while to pitch all the junk, donate what we don’t love or need anymore and clean and tidy what we decide to keep. This makes cleaning a lot easier: more open counter space=less time cleaning it!

We also love our routines. We follow a morning and afternoon routine (not military-style! More of a rhythm or habit, like our homeschool 😉 ) This helps things to flow more smoothly within the house, reducing stress for everyone in the house!

I also try and stick to a weekly cleaning routine (inspired by Flylady) that helps me actually get to everything (how else am I going to remember to clean the oven??)

Another perk of having a clean, albeit untidy house, is the quick clean-up if we get unexpected guests! Just shove everything into the toy box and you’re done!

These things help me keep my house presentable and my sanity intact.

How do keep your house clean while homeschooling?

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How classical music could make your toddler smarter…

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I read a very interesting article in a book last week about toddlers and the amazing effects classical music has on them.

I mean, I know classical music is wonderful. We’ve been doing composer study for over a year now. We’ve already covered Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, and Antonin Dvorak, to name a few. Our favourite composition is ‘Hungarian Dance’ by Brahms. I used to gallop around the kitchen table with a squealing and giggling Gogga on my hip whenever it played, so she has very fond memories of it.

Our favourite composition is ‘Hungarian Dance’ by Brahms. I used to gallop around the kitchen table with a squealing and giggling Gogga on my hip whenever it played! So she has very fond memories of it.

Classical music is also my personal favourite type of music, so it’s not weird for it to be playing in my house.

Thing is, I never truly realised how GOOD it is for a toddler’s development!

Turns out, Charlotte Mason was wise beyond her years (as always) when she advocated composer studies, and to let the little ones observe what the big kids are learning instead of giving them only ‘dumbed down’ activities ‘suited to their age’…

Research has shown that Classical music to young kids improves their concentration and self-discipline, general listening- and social skills and sets them up to enjoy a far wider range of music when they are older.

Research has also shown that spatial skills (like building puzzles) improve for an hour after listening to classical music. This is called the “Mozart Effect”. It also showed, more remarkably, that brain function improved by around 30% when the child learned how to play an instrument! So, musical training further strengthens the spatial pathways in the brain.

Classical music is different from other types of music because of its complexity. This excited the brain more and causes it to work harder at making sense of what it’s hearing.

When you bring this back to the topic at hand, toddlers, that basically means (in theory) that by exposing your toddler to classical music from a young age, you’re helping them become better thinkers later in life. It’s also been shown that children have an easier time learning to play instruments that they’ve been exposed to before through classical music.

So, if you want your toddler to have fun, and maybe even improve their brain function, play them some classical music!

A few suggestions to start off with are:

Beethoven: Symphony #5

Pachelbel: Canon in D

Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Bach: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire

Brahms: Piano Concerto #1

Mendelssohn: Symphony #4

Beethoven: Fur Elise

Mozart: Violin Concerto #3

Tchaikovsky: Waltz of the Flowers

Schubert: Trout Quintet

 

*For a Classical Music Lesson List, go HERE

For some amazing ideas on movements to incorporate with the music, go HERE

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How to raise an Entrepreneur

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We care about our children and only want the best for them. We want our kids to have the best education and the best life. We’ve been conditioned to think that a traditional education and college/university will result in a stable 9-5 job, which makes for a happy life.

What we forget to take into account is the high unemployment rate(a university education doesn’t guarantee a job anymore) and the fact that the workplace environment is changing. Most people can’t afford to retire before age 60 anymore, so they end up working themselves to death for minimum wage.

That’s not living. That’s surviving. And we want something better for our children.

More and more youngsters are going the creative, freelance, entrepreneurial route.

That’s where the money is. And the freedom, and the potential for growth. And the future… Not only for our kids, but future generations.

We live in a time where retrenchments, minimum pay for maximum work hours and non-existent incentives are the norm. People don’t get paid what they’re worth anymore, and jobs are scarce, so if you complain, you get fired. There is always someone next in line that’s quite willing to work for your minimum pay…

Our kids can change this. They can stop the cycle of poverty. They can do this in their communities by contributing to local causes and job creation. By being hope-dealers.

To become an entrepreneur, however, a person needs to be a free thinker. They need to be able to not only ‘think outside the box’ but to re-invent the box! They need to be able to manage their time effectively, know how to work independently, keep themselves accountable, have a wide range of skills and be resourceful. They should also not have a ‘conformation’ mindset of doing everything the way it’s always been done without question.

Hmmmm…. Who do you know that fits these criteria? Homeschoolers, of course!

We tend to teach our homeschooled kids to ask questions.

We encourage them to discover and pursue their dreams.

We encourage them to complete tasks promptly and to a high standard, and we then allow them free time to rest and play.

They learn that hard work equates a reward.

The learn how to do proper research from a young age: be it on Google (Wiki doesn’t count 😉 ) or at the physical library.

They learn how to budget, change a tyre, climb trees and identify various trees and insects. They learn to cook healthy meals and bake birthday cakes. They learn to befriend children f different ages, backgrounds and capabilities. They learn to appreciate the beauty in everyday things and to notice subtle changes in the world around them. They question things that happen in the country’s economy and politics.

They learn to think for themselves.

And in a generation of conformists, we NEED these children to turn our beautiful country’s future around.

And with our help, they can do exactly that.

Because where there is hope and knowledge, anything is possible!

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What to take on a nature walk

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We love going on nature walks! Sometimes its just me and the kiddos, other times its as a homeschooling group.

Nothing beats the thrill of discovering something new or something the kids read about in their science book. They love testing out theories, drawing as they walk and discussing the intricacies of human life while we walk. The birds chattering in the trees, the cool shade, the swishing of the wind through the grass: all is like music to the soul.

This time spent in nature helps us to break away from technology, the rush of city life and the mad pace we’re used to. It brings us back to a more pure state of being, a place where we can just BE. It replenishes our stores, charges our batteries and makes us more prepared to deal with the everyday obstacles we all face.

We love going to the local Bishop Bird Sanctuary for our nature walks. It has a wide range of birds, along with a selection of reptiles and smaller mammals. It even has a few bucks, which is awesome!

Whenever we go on nature walks, we take a few basic essentials with. Those are:

  1. A notebook
  2. A pen or pencil
  3. A backpack to put everything in
  4. A smaller bag to put smaller nature finds in
  5. A plastic bag to throw the trash in that the litterbugs left behind
  6. A water bottle
  7. Snacks
  8. Optional: a compass, magnifying glass and field guides and pepper spray when walking in a dangerous area.

What would you add to the list?

Where do you usually go for nature walks?

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Top 10 things to do when you really don’t want to ‘do school’

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We all have THOSE days. When you simply can’t be bothered to do even one sum. You feel run down and tired. Or you just need a break. Or te kids are in a bad mental space.

We all need a break at times. But we don’t want the kids to do NOTHING (the guilt would kill us!)

So, what can you do with the kids on those ‘no schoolwork but they have to do SOMETHING’ days?

Here are my top 10 suggestions!

  1. Youtube Documentaries(on anything educational, really. Plonk them in front of the TV/PC and enjoy a few hours of downtime! Have them narrate after)
  2. Arts and Crafts Day(They have to clean up their mess. It teaches them responsibility)
  3. Building Forts or Obstacle Courses (a lovely way to get rid of some excess energy!)
  4. Outing Day (go to a museum, the Zoo or a local Art Gallery)
  5. Library Day (perfect for older kids. Just take them to the library, curl up in a chair and read for the day)
  6. Paint furniture(take an ugly table, chair or another big piece of furniture outside and have the kids revamp it!)
  7. Nature Day(take a picnic blanket and food outside and let te kids explore the wonders of nature while you read!
  8. Water play (perfect for summer. Take blocks of ice, various jugs and beakers, salt and a piece of plastic to sit on. Ave te kids experiment with different ways of melting the ice. You could even freeze toys or nature finds into te block of ice)
  9. A Day of Make-Believe(Let the kids make a store and ‘sell’ their toys to siblings or their teddies, have a fashion show, let them be the chef for the day. Anything that gets their creative juices flowing!)
  10. Do some good (volunteer, do small acts of kindness for the people in your community, write a letter to a granny, make a small gift or card for loved one)

A day off ‘school work’ shouldn’t necessarily mean a day without learning! Learning should be fun!

 

I hope you found a few helpful ideas!

What do you usually do with the kids on ‘no school’ days?