Through a toddler’s eyes (a poem)

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Take a moment, Mommy

Take my hand and be still…

Stoop down to my level-

Take a breath, and fill

Your mind with awe and wonder.

 

Look at heaven, reflected

In a dragonfly’s wing.

Listen to the rustle

Of an ancient oak’s breath,

And the friendly birds

As they joyfully sing.

 

Come on, Mommy, it’s okay,

The work can wait-

My little heart can’t.

Right now I need a mate

To sit down quietly with me,

To drink in creation…

 

Sometimes all of this

Gets a little too much…

Then I might shout,

Kick things and make a fuss.

Then, please, just hold me,

And help me quiet the internal ruckus.

 

Then, up, Mommy! Did you see the ladybird?! There!

Let’s follow it! Quickly, before it’s gone!

Let’s listen to the birdsong,

before it, too, is gone.

For I am only little for a little while,

So while you still are able, sit down and smile!

 

 

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Posted in Homeschooling, Uncategorized

Homeschooling Toddlers- Curriculum (Part 2)

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In my previous post I might’ve come across as a ‘do-gooder’ and perfect mom, always just giving the toddler wholesome, educational goodies to keep her busy while sitting right by her to give her all the attention her blessed little heart deserves. Truth is, that very rarely happens. This is real life, y’all. Like really, who has time to be perfect?

 
So, when I’m not feeding her nutritious brain-fodder, I allow twaddle. Yep, I said it. I confessed. I do…

 
A few of the non-CMy things I include in the toddler ‘curriculum’ (normally coz I’m busy with the tween or just really neeeeeeed a mommy time-out, are:

 
*Educational Apps on the tablet (French, shapes, colours, and yes, some mindless twaddle for good measure)
*I love taking her to the library, even if it is just for her to ‘read’ while I page through a magazine I would never spend my own money on, but that has pretty pictures of houses and crafts and stuff…
*I let her watch her shows. Winnie the Pooh and Jake and the Neverland Pirates are big hits. Oh, and Tinkerbell.
*I let her play outside: on the Jungle Gym, climbing trees, riding her bike, playing with the ball, playing hide-and-seek with her sister and swimming under supervision. She also loves gardening (read: digging up my wilted gardening-attempts.) I’ve given the kiddies their own part of the garden to dig around in. This eventually turned into a natural sandpit. They love it!
*Playdough. Hours of fun! You can find the recipe on the blog. (You’re welcome 😉 )
Looking after the animals. The toddler loves making animal houses with the tween, painting them (houses, not the pets 😉 ), giving them (the pets) treats and petting them. Takes a lot of work off my hands too! Yay for child labour! (Jokes, people. I love my kids to bits…)

 

So, how do you keep your little ones busy when you need a time-out?

Posted in Homeschooling, Uncategorized

Non-toxic Playdough- The Recipe

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I’ve been making this lovely recipe for my kiddos for many years, and it’s pretty much fool-proof! Once you get a ‘feel’ for the dough, and you add in just enough water, you’re set! It’s a great help for kinaesthetic learners (like myself and the tween!) and keeps little minds alert and hands busy. It’s also great for toddlers. We even use it to do math!

This is the basic recipe. You can add textural elements in, sea shells, or natural food colour (I like turmeric, beetroot, coffee and cacao!)

{This also makes a great gift!}

 

Non-Toxic Playdough Recipe

2.5 Cups Flour
½ Cup Salt
3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil
1 – 1 ½ Cups Boiling Water

 

Mix all the ingredients together with a spoon till it comes together. Let it cool for a minute or two, then use your hands to knead the playdough until the consistency is right.
Keeps well at room temperature in an airtight container.

Posted in Homeschooling, Personal Developement, Uncategorized

Homeschooling Toddlers- Curriculum (Part 1)

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I get asked quite frequently what curriculum we use for the toddler. The short answer: none.

 
We prescribe (mostly) to the Charlotte Mason school of thought on this matter. If you have a look over here on Ambleside Online, you’ll see what Charlotte says about ‘school’ before six.

 
A Charlotte Mason education might seem like it sets extremely high educational standards, and it does, but this does NOT mean a child learns everything in one go. These skills are an accumulation of things over a long period of time. A kind of positive snowball effect.

(For more AO FAQs, check out this page)

 
Kids before six should learn through play and exploration. Not worksheets and neat boxes set out with activities and ‘connect the dots’ and teachers ‘helping’ them complete artworks to stick on the fridge (and that all look exactly the same as every other child’s)

 
No offence meant to parents of kiddies in kindergarten.

 
It just isn’t the route for us.

 
We teach the toddler a love of learning and exploring, and then leave her to make her own connections. We don’t use a set curriculum. Life is her school. Excuse the cliché’ 😉
But seriously- the world is her classroom Nature is chock and block full of amazing things to see, touch, taste and explore. Birds, leaves, fluffies, snails, rocks, seeds, clouds. Things to climb and flowers to smell.

 
Charlotte believed that a child should be exposed to a rich feast when it comes to educational material (books and music, for example) and life experiences/adventures. That they should grow hungry for the accumulation of knowledge. That they should come to truly, deeply love learning. That they should make their own connections. That every single day and experience is a learning opportunity.

 
I’m just a (very blessed) bystander. Here to help, guide and protect where necessary. To enforce boundaries to keep her safe. But most of the time just an awed passenger, being pulled along to explore the journey of toddlerhood with her!

 
Our little ones teach us to look at the world with amazement.

 
Who cares if your toddler can’t count till 10 and name 5 shapes and colours? Mine can count till 5, name all the farm animals (her current obsession), name 7 colours and shapes, and sing in French. The rest will come when the time is right. Your kid can’t do that? Well, so what? He might be able to do math, or draw awesome pictures, or climb the highest tree.

 
Don’t measure your child against others.

 

Just present the feast, let them pick what they like and watch them grow!

Posted in Homeschooling, Personal Developement, Uncategorized

What is a GED?

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Basically, it’s a United States school-leaving certificate. Like an American (instead of South African) matric.

This means that it’s accepted worldwide, as well as in SA.
(You can check out this Facebook group for a list of SA Universities that accept the GED. You might be surprised!)

We are keeping our options open but we are preparing our daughter to eventually write Cambridge or the GED. She might go into higher grade Science (then we’ll opt for Cambridge) or full-time MMA and maybe Aromatherapy and volunteering with endangered animals (then we’ll have her do a GED)

 

The GED only has 4 subjects:
*English (Reading/Comprehension and Writing/Essay)
*Science (Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Space)
*Math (Basics and some lower grade Algebra)
*Social Sciences (Geography, History, Civics and Government- basically general knowledge)

 

A few other perks:
*ONLY 4 tests. Book English, write and pass the test, bam, done. Next subjects. Super easy.
*Cheapest of the options at $60 per test ($60×4=$240 total)
*Study in your own way. As long as you know the basics, you can take the information in however you choose. Videos/Documentaries, YouTube, the Library, your Grandma telling you about WW2, whatever works for you! No set curriculum.
*It’s an easy way to get that ‘piece of paper’ that proves you finished school.
*Time freedom. You can write the tests as soon as you turn 16, pass and move onto bigger and better things.
*You’re never too old. You can get your matric at age 45, without jumping through all kinds of hoops!

(Find some more info on the official GED site)

 

Have you ever considered doing a GED? Why/why not?

Posted in Homeschooling, Personal Developement, Uncategorized

The Homeschooler’s Uniform

why we choose to useEvery institution has a uniform. Something they wear that sets them apart from the rest. That ‘brands’ them. That allows others from their tribe to recognize them.

Nurses, schools, specific sport or social clubs, even specific cliques like goths or ‘soccer moms’ have a uniform of some sort.

So, what do homeschoolers wear?

What is their uniform? What sets them apart?

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Well, the kids are normally easily recognized because they are either dressed in their pajamas in broad daylight, or various combinations of dress-up clothes (think batman outfit with a tiara and a cape!). They might, at times, even look ‘pretty normal’. Then you look for the subtle hints: cutex, long or coloured hair, jewelry and and a faint whiff of ‘free spirit’ underneath.

The mom uniform is normally a comfy top and leggings. Or jeans. But comfort is key here. And the mom bun. We all know the mom bun. It’s kinda like a cross between a ponytail and a proper bun, made because it’s the most practical and fastest to do (definitely not because it’s the prettiest!). Oh, and we also normally have a half-naked toddler on the hip. With various tinges of paint, clay, colouered marker and coffee professionally layered all over the outfit!
(Super cool ready-made mom uniforms coming soon! Keep an eye on the Facebook page 😉 )

We know each other. In a packed shop, the kids will sniff each other out and become best friends in minutes. The moms will knowingly smile at each other, exchange numbers, meet for co-op and become best of friends.

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That is how the tribe grows. How we find each other.

 

We recognize the uniform!

 

Do you have a uniform? What is it?

Posted in Homeschooling, Personal Developement, Uncategorized

Why & How we started Homeschooling {+ a giveaway!}

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When I started homeschooling I was soooo scared!
This was especially weird since I had already owned a Cottage School for the past 6 years! So, in theory, homeschooling my own kids should be a walk in the park!
But it wasn’t…
I felt I needed to prove myself. I needed to prove to my amazing husband that we are making the right decision. That it’s financially feasible. That our kids won’t turn into unsocialized weirdos. That we will actually do ‘school work’ in the day and not just loaf around. That the kids will make and keep friends.

 

I felt I needed to justify our decision to friends and family.

To myself. To my kids.

To the looming, faceless ‘them’ out to judge and condemn my little setup!

 
Oh, I was scared.
And uncertain.
I doubted everything.

What curriculum should we use? How should we set up the day? Are we doing enough ‘school’? Are the kids learning and retaining enough? Should we do tests? Should we start a social group? Is it okay to just throw ‘school’ out the window (metaphorically speaking!) when the kids are sick or it’s a beautiful day for a nature walk or we are just in the mood for a documentary?

 
My eldest was in mainstream school at the time. She had done very well in Grade R and Grade 1, but in Grade 2 her marks stated slipping.

“Your child is hyperactive.” “Your child needs medication.” ”She’s not focusing.”
We took her for tests. We tried sending earmuffs to school (she never wore them). We asked if we can send an iPod. The answer was “no”.

Then we got the final report card with the worst marks yet, and got a note with it saying that we should only come to parent’s evening if our child was in danger of failing (she wasn’t, but I’m a super involved parent, so had been to every single one to make sure we were doing everything we could!).

 
I told my husband that enough was enough.

 
We are taking her out of school and homeschooling.

 
I was brave.
I told him: “If I can’t get her marks up in one term, we can put her back into a ‘proper’ school”. Wow!

 
She ended up re-capping everything she did not know, and is now a year ahead grade-wise.

 
My child is not stupid, slow or in need of medication.
She simply needed a break.
To be given a chance.

 
To be given the opportunity to excel and prove what a gem she could be once polished!

 
Are you in the same boat? Do you also want to homeschool, but are unsure about where to start?

Well, you’re in luck! I’m giving away two spots on the HBGS (Homeschooling Basics: Getting Started) Workshop! Say whaaaaaat?! Yes! TWO SPOTS! Enter here: Rafflecopter

 

Posted in Home, Homeschooling, Personal Developement, Uncategorized

Life Lessons Winnie the Pooh taught me…

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My kids have become obsessed with Winnie the Pooh lately!

 

The toddler sings the songs, and says (in her best British accent!) “Pooh Beah” whenever she wants to watch it! “Lumpy Wheeeen” is also a well-known refrain in the Myburgh house.

 
I’m generally not a huge fan of mindless twaddle, and I must admit that the wrong pronunciation bothered me at first… “Lumpy” and “heffalump” for elephant, “unspookables” for ghosts, etc. BUT I’ve come to realize that the stories are doing more good than harm. They’re not twaddle!

 
The toddler has started counting because of them.

 

 

The tween is less grumpy and sulky because she doesn’t want to be like Eeyore!

 

 

The stories actually DO teach value life lessons to young and old (and even the odd homeschooling mom 😉  )

 
Here are a few things the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has taught me:

 
It’s okay to be sad at times. Your friends are there to help you through it.

 
You’re never too small to make a difference.

 
No matter how scared you are, when you CHOOSE to be brave you can accomplish big things.

 
Alone we are weak, but when we have friends watching our back and supporting us, nothing is impossible.

 
It’s okay to eat honey, be a little squishy and still love yourself.

 
Sometimes we just need to look at the world from a different perspective to see what we missed the first time.

 

Be kind to all people, be sensitive to their feelings, and they will love you even more.

 
“How to be a Tigger is up to you”- There is nothing wrong with being your own unique YOU.

 
Always be the type of person others can count on. Be reliable. Be trustworthy. Be someone else’s ‘safe place’.

 

 

Have you gained any valuable insights from the stories your kids watch? Share them with me!

Posted in Homeschooling, Uncategorized

How to keep kids busy for the Holidays!

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Firstly, I need to say this again: LET THEM BE BORED! Boredom fires up creativity, which is exactly what you need! That will help them entertain themselves instead of constantly looking to YOU for entertainment!

BUT, I know we sometimes need a bit of extra help, so here are a few quick and easy ways to keep them entertained if you really just need half an hour of peace! 😉

 

*Paper crafts: Give them old magazines, writing books, pens, pencils, whatever you can find. Just not glitter! Glitter is a nightmare to clean. And it WILL get EVERYWHERE!

*Paint: Give them old boards, mix some paint and send them outside!

*Gardening: Give the kids their own special little place in the garden to dig tunnels in, play with their toy cars, scoop, and shovel, make mud pits and plant a few plants. Pumpkins are super easy to grow, and it makes them feel soooo accomplished!

*Board games and jigsaws: Let them play with what you already have OR let them design their own!

*Play Shop: Let them ‘sell’ their toys to their sibling/friends. They can even set up a stand and make play money by tracing over real money and cutting out the coins.

*Rock Painting: Let them paint rocks and hide them in the local park to find later, or to pretty up their own garden! Let them try out different designs and techniques.

*Spy Games: Let them become spies for a day! Make secret ink, make disguises and design a secret cipher. Lots of undercover teaching opportunities here 😉

*Handicrafts: Give the kiddos the sewing needles, knitting needles or crochet hook (if they’re old enough) and plonk them in front of YouTube to learn some skills! They’ll feel super chuffed if they can knit granny a tea cosy all by themselves!

*Rolled Paper Beads: These are super easy to make and they can use them to make play jewellery (bracelets and necklaces) as well as special event cards.

*Games: Revive old games like touches, hide and go seek and more. Game books can be found in your local library or online!

 

So, what are you doing to entertain the kiddos these holidays? Or are you leaving them to be bored? ;)1.

Posted in Home, Homeschooling, Uncategorized

More Ways to Entertain a Homeschooled Toddler

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Kids grow up so fast… Thing is, we need to grow with them!

So, here are a few more ideas for homeschooled toddlers (original here)!

1. Do hopscotch (I use this paint that simply washes off with water- Video DIY here) or play on a painted number line.
2. Draw henna shapes on their hands and feet and have them show daddy!
3. Do sensory play with cooked oats, yogurt, finger paint, spaghetti or instant pudding.
4. Go on a nature walk and pick up nature finds for the nature box (great to play with on rainy days).
5. Go on a nature walk and try connect the sounds to what they can see (dog, bird, plane, etc.)
6. Blow bubbles to encourage them to jump and clap.
7. Make a mud pit and give them old kitchen spoons and bowls to play with.
8. Give them fruit pieces and some sosatie sticks to skewer them on.
9. Play hide and seek by hiding stuffed animals and letting them find the ‘elephant’ or ‘tiger’.
10. Paint outside or in the bath with dishwashing soap (I use this non-toxic cleaner for EVERYTHING)

Have any ideas to add? Leave me a comment!