10 Things you probably didn’t know about me…

There are a few things most people don’t know about me. Yes, I’m the homeschool lady. Yes, I have a sparkling personality. Yes, I tend to be a little bit eccentric 😉
Did you know about these?

 

1. I like to read.
A LOT! I love reading murder mysteries and biographies. I like reading my kids’ prescribed school books for fun! (Ambleside Online has all the links to a myriad of classics!). I enjoy spiritual reading, as well as things that stretch my mind a bit like psychology and alternative theories. I don’t always read as much as I’d like to, but I do try to carve out time.
2. I went through a gothic phase…
Yep, black hair, lips, eyes and clothes. Tongue ring. Music that drove my parents crazy! Thankfully I got over that phase as soon as I sorted my self-esteem issues out. Now I’m flower power alllll the way 😉 Flowy hippie skirts, bare feet, no make-up. I even took my earrings out a few years ago. No more hair dye. All natural!
3. I swear like a sailor.
I’m not proud of it, but it’s true… Never in front of the school kids, but sometimes in front of my family or alone…
4. I can’t really cook.
If my amazing hubby would die, my kids would probably die of boredom or starvation! Seriously, I’m the LEAST inventive person in the kitchen. My idea of a good time is mac and cheese… Hubby has taught me how to make a pretty decent curry, and I can bake, but it sure isn’t something I’d call myself good at!
5. I like eating peanut butter and chocolate spread of the jar with a spoon. I’m a savage like that 😉
6. My favourite colour is blue.
7. I wish I could live on a farm and raise chickens and cows and goats. I’d love to run a boarding school and teach my kids how to milk a cow, make butter, plant and harvest, keep bees, make leather goods, build fences and live off the land.
8. I LOVE coffee.
We buy the beans fresh from a local roastery, grind them ourselves and have a mini collection of tools of the trade, ranging from a mocha to a siphon. We’re coffee snobs!
9. I have tattoos.
Three of them: A cross on my neck (that I want to have changed to an anchor) that has a banner across it that reads ‘Saved by Grace’, my husband’s initial as my wedding ring and ‘We walk by faith, not by sight’ across both my feet.
10. I’m a hippy at heart-

I love standing in the rain, picking flowers, lying under trees and smelling the leaves. I believe in God and crystal healing and herbalism and essential oils. I like wearing my hair loose with ribbons and little braids. I like running on grass barefoot. I like singing and whistling and smiling and waving at everyone.

 

So, that’s a little bit about me! What do most people not know about you? Let me know in the comments!

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How to turn Public Holidays into super fun family affairs!

A lot of people DREAD spending the whole day with their significant other and the kids in the same house. Others love it and can’t wait for those rare days off! Which camp do you fall into? Or are you somewhere in between?

Love it or not, public holidays are basically days when you are forced to spend time with those nearest and dearest to you. Only YOU can choose whether that is a blessing or a curse! No matter what the kids normally do, what your better half does or what you try do, things will go wrong, figts will possibly break out and the kids might or might not try and cook their own breakfast and ruin the kitchen! In the end, the decision on wheter or not it will be a good day lies with YOU. You can’t control what anyone else does, but you CAN control how you react to it. Will you see only the bad (ruined kitchen) or the silver lining(wow, they cooked their own breakfast!)?

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Here’s a few ideas on making the most of these golden opportunities:

You could choose to spend quality time at home.
You could pop some popcorn, whip out the fluffly blankets and oversized pillows and watch the latest movies with the kiddos.
You could dust off the old board games (Monopoly or Scrabble, anyone?) and have a good laug while daddy kicks everyone’s (including your!) butts!
You could also be ambitious and tackle a project you’ve always wanted to to. You know, those Pinterest boards full of DIY coffee tables and kitchen table overhauls? How about the bathroom mosaic or the garden steps? Get daddy and the kiddos involved, tackle one project as a family and walk away with a satisfied grin and sore muscles (you know, now you don’t need to go to the gym tomorrow 😉 ) Oh, and be clever about it. Sneak in some Math while you’re buying supplies!

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You could be a little more ambitious and decide to go for an outing instead.
What are your hubby’s interests? And the kiddos? Go on a day trip to the lion sanctuary or the gem shop or the Lego megastore! You’ll be the coolest paren, for a week or 2 at least!
Feeling a little more academically inclined? Visit a local museum and learn about your history!
You could go to a few local attractions like a lake or the botanical garden.
If your kids are mad about animals, you could go to a petting zoo.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could go and do something physically challenging like an obstacle course, bike ride, horse riding, tenpin bowling or even ice skating!

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Tell me- how do you like spending your public holidays?

Back to School Survival

The new term has just started! Are you ready? Or did it catch you completely off guard? Well, at least you have the weekend to get your ducks in a row 😉

The backbone of any successful day (and term!) is a solid routine. Do you have one in place? I don’t mean blocking out every 15minutes of your kid’s day! I mean stuff like:
05:00 Wake up, brush teeth, comb hair, apply deodorant, get dressed, make bed.
06:00 Breakfast
08:00 – 13:00 School
13:00 Lunch
14:00 – 15:00 Extra murals
15:00 – 18:00 Free play
18:00 Supper time
19:00 Bath time
20:00 Bedtime

A routine gives kids a sense of safety. Security. They always know what comes next, what to expect.
Have the routine up somewhere visible, where all family members have access to it (a kitcen wall is a good spot)
When do they get up and go to bed?
When do they eat (brekfast, lunch, supper, snacks)?
When is bathtime?
Extra murals?
Write it all down (use hiloghters and funky pens if you have to!) and make sure everyone is on the same page (see what I did there? 😉 )

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Meals are another thing that has the potential to become a deep, dark abyss of dispair! What to feed them AGAINNNN?

If you’re a planner, do a meal plan (somewhere visible on the fridge or wall, or in your diary or bullet journal)
Buy all the supplies beforehand.
If you’re everything BUT a planner (like me) just make sure that there is always stuff on hand to make something with (cheese, milk, eggs, bread, pasta, yoghurt, fruit) and make a little mental list every morning of what you could feed the kiddos throughout the day.

The secret to kids that can actually function (you know, not sugared up on Fruit Loops) is to simply NOT have junk in the house. I mean sugary cereals, chips, sweets, etc. I know white bread is evil, but hey, my family eats it and nobody is perfect ❤
Another thing I would highly recommend is making a point of feeding them a healthy breakfast every morning. In our house that means homemade granola and yoghurt or cooked porridge (non GMO mieliepap or steel cut/ rolled oats).This helps their brains function better, and gives them a nice low-GI start to the day, keeping them fuller (and able to concentrate) for longer.

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I think proper organization is a total lifesaver at the start of a new term. Actually knowing where everything is gives me such a sense of calm amidst all the surrounding caos! Need to find the stapler or paint brushes? No problem. They’re rigt here! (said with a flourish of the hand a nd a very smug smile!)
This is also a good time to check what needs to get replenished or replaced, and to do so before you need it! Come on, it’s weekend. Go buy a few erasers and a new set of kokies. You know you need them! While you’re at it, get each kid their own ruler so they don’t have to fight over the faded and cracked one in the morning basket.
You can also donate all the stuff you don’t love or need anymore, and bless someone else in return. Give them to a crèche in the community, a family member or even the local charity shop. Sharing is caring!

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How are you getting ready for the new term? Let me know in the comments!

A quick update on what’s been happening in my life!

So, almost the end of school holidays! Wow, that flew by… The house purge is underway, the kiddos are good (gog is now on almost a full week of no more booby at night- yay! And Snippie is working hard on her project, helping me clean and she even helped me turn the clutter closet into a prayer closet instead!)

I also have HUGE news to share! I’m pregnant! Yep, after 2.5 years of praying, God has decided it’s time! So things are a litttttle crazy between sonars, booking the midwives, cleaning (nesting?) like a crazy woman and trying to get through the day while exercising a bit and eating healthy, balanced meals!

All in all, life is good!

Oh, and guess what? My blog is now Recommended by CapeTownInsider

How cool is that?

Anyhooooo, how are things going with you? Still enjoying the holidays, or wishing they would just end? Everything in place for the new term? Let me know in the comments!

Our Schoolroom Declutter

We’ve had a pretty busy (and amazingly blessed!) term. So busy, in fact, that I got to the stage of just shoving stuff into any nook or cranny that would take it!

Our ‘schoolroom’ is actually the living room/kitchen/dining room. The huge TV cabinet houses all of our books and other supplies. Each child has a drawer with their personal books and bits and bobs in. We ‘do school’ at the kitchen table or lounging on the chairs. That’s pretty much it.

So, the problem:

The ‘bits and bobs’ became hotspots and then out of control fires. The ‘personal drawers’ turned into hoarding spaces for shoes, Lego and rocks. No more space for the books.

I also have a teeny tiny bit of a problem. I’m a hoarder at heart. And I love books. So, whenever I see a book I like, I buy it. And most of the time I never get around to reading it. So it also just goes on the shelves.

Every afternoon the kitchen table was still stacked with random books, atlases and nature find. Nothing had a home, so it got dumped on the table. So, we couldn’t eat at the table. Which irritated the living daylights out of me!

The changes we made:

I got three chair covers. We now use one for the stuff we use regularly: Bible, atlas, read aloud books. The second one is for all the files (that contain our song lyrics). The third contains all the writing books.

Then, I took the huge painting down from the wall and hung up the Nature Find box.

I started purging the TV cabinet. This is the system I followed:

1. Unpack EVERYTHING

2. Clean the drawers and shelves

3. Look through the books individually, and bless everything out that I do not absolutely love and use regularly (the ones I use, but not very often, went to the storage shelf)

4. Pack everything back neatly and in order! Top shelf: languages. Second shelf: All other subjects. Third shelf: Toddler educational materials. Fourth shelf: The morning Basket (that contains the stuff we use every day)

I also repacked my Natural Healing books, my cookbooks, my magazines and the toddler’s books. I purged everything that was broken, a duplicate or useless. 

I now how so much more space, and so many empty shelves! And it feels like a mountain has been lifted off my shoulders. Everything has a place, and is in its place. The kids know where to find stuff and where to pack it away. And we can eat at the table again! Woohoo!

 Tell me: what does your schoolroom look like? Which are your ‘problem areas’? Are you also planning a schoolroom de-clutter for the school holidays? Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

 

Materia Medica (Herbal Journal)- What it is, and why you need one!

As part of the curriculum we follow (Ambleside Online, Charlotte Mason based), we get to choose a different Handicraft each term.

Term 1 we chose Herbalism.

We chose that because, when it comes to health and a great many other things, I prefer a more natural approach. Instead of painkillers, I’d rather grab my Lavender essential oil. Instead of shampoo, I use kombucha or water. Instead of commercial disinfectants, I prefer to use Care. Or water. Instead of antibiotics, I prefer Colloidal Silver.

I believe God knows best, which is why he gave us all the tools we need for healing ourselves and our kids. Don’t get me wrong- we have medical aid, and doctors and hospitals have their place in my life. Broken bones, severe infections, etc. BUT cuts, scrapes, bruises, bites, stings, etc. get treated naturally at home.
Which is where the Herbal Journal AKA Materia Medica comes in.

I used a super cheap unlined book I got from the local stationary shop (I think for something ridiculous like R4), and it serves its purpose.

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In this journal I include:

The herb’s common name

Latin name

Plant family

Parts used

Medicinal uses

Recipes

Warnings

 

I add to my journal on a continuous basis. At the moment it contains info on:
Lavender

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Peppermint

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Thyme

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Rosemary

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Amaranth

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Sage

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As I learn more about a herb, I add to the page.

I find it a lot easier to simply refer to my Materia Medica instead of a Herbal Reference Guide when I’m looking for a recipe. It’s quicker, easier, and as with most tried and tested recipes, I know it’s one that’s worked for me in the past!

Would you also like to start a Materia Medica? What would you include in yours? Which natural remedies are staples in your home? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

What to do for the school holidays…

School holidays are upon us! Most of the craziness of the pre-holiday rush has died down. We’re starting to get excited about (or dreading!) the upcoming break.

But what to actually DO with the kids? If you’re not going to just continue with work like a lot of homeschooling families, but are actually going to take time off of schoolwork, you might already be dreading the cries of “Mommy, I’m soooooo boooooooored!”
Here are a few of my favourite suggestions when it comes to keeping them out of your hair (and keeping your sanity intact 😉 )

Paid options:

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If you’re feeling brave, you could take the kiddos to the mall for a movie, tenpin bowling or to play a few games at the game arcade. A mall close to us recently opened an ice rink, and it’s a huge hit with the kiddos! If you’re on a budget, window shopping and an ice cream could be just what you need to ward off a bit of cabin fever!

 
If you have a look on a few local websites, you’re also bound to find a treasure trove of unexplored local places, perfect for day outings. I’m talking water parks, amusement parks, gem shops, petting zoos, snake parks, animal sanctuaries, to only name a few. Maybe take the kiddos for a day of cheese tasting, go to a local factory or workshop, or even take a leisurely stroll through a museum or an art gallery. Take the time to expand their horizons and expose them to exciting stuff you normally wouldn’t have time for.

 
Even a picnic at the local Botanical Gardens could be an absolute treat (and you can sneak in some education. A tree identification treasure hunt, anyone?)

 

Free options:

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One of the best free things you could do with the kids is to volunteer. Bake some cookies for the nice old ladies at the old age home, take it to them and listen to their stories. The kiddos could even do a little play or concert. The pensioners always appreciate a little time spent with young children- it gives them such an injection of energy! It also gives your kids some patience with and appreciation for a much wiser (albeit slower) generation.

 
You could take them to the SPCA or Wetnose for the day, to help bath and play with the puppies, and maybe even leave with a new furry family member.

 
You could help out at a local non-profit organisation by planting trees, feeding the poor or even knitting a square for a blanket. The possibilities are endless!

 
Getting fit together can be a super fun (and cheap or free) way to spend time together. You could start doing local Parkruns together, do workouts at the park or even start playing tennis. There are a whole host of cool workouts just waiting to be discovered on Pinterest. Search for Darebee workouts, and thank me later 😉

 
If you are lucky enough to stay close to the beach, take them through for the day and do a beach clean-up while at it (another undercover learning and volunteering opportunity!)

 
Other free options include taking a walk in a nature sanctuary, going to a nearby park or the local mall’s playground. A walk (or bike ride) around the block could also help get rid of some excess energy!

 

Rest!

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This sounds like an impossible task, but hear me out!

 
Switch off the alarm clock. Let the kids play outside until late, then come inside and play board games or cards. Have them sleep until they wake naturally (and you do the same!) Eat when you’re hungry, nap when you’re tired and cancel all other responsibilities.

 
Take this short little time to recharge your batteries, reconnect as a family and just BE.
Something I’ve always preached is ‘let them be bored’.
I know how that sounds!
But boredom leads them to interesting discoveries. Don’t feel the need to keep them entertained. If you take a step back, they’ll soon think of something to do. Be it climbing trees, baking mud cakes or trying a new craft, at least they’re using THEIR brains, and not continually picking yours!

 
If all else fails, put them to work. I’m pretty sure you have clothes that need to be mended, a light bulb to be screwed in, dishes to be washed or a garage that needs some TLC! Or is it only me?

 

What are you doing with the kiddos these holidays? Let me know in the comments!

How to avoid the crazy ‘end of term’ rush

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A lot of us are currently in that ‘just before the end of term’ space. You’ve been cruising, getting used to the new way of doing things and starting to enjoy it all. Things are good! And then you realize that exams are looming and you still have SO MUCH to do!

 
Panic sets in. All playdates and co-ops get cancelled, outings are postponed till next term and the kiddos are cooped up in the house to ‘do school’.

 

Worksheets need to get done, exam memos drawn up, work drilled just to pass the tests so you can breeeeeaaaaaathe through the holidays. Just for it all to start again next term!

 
Stop the craziness, my beloved people. It’s unnecessary, and bad for your health. ‘Yeah, yeah, easy for you to say! You don’t know what it’s likkkkeee’, you whine.

 
Really? I’ve been there. Done that. Wayyyyyy too many times! That’s why I finally know better.

 
So, how do I avoid this mad ‘end of term’ craziness?

 
It’s simple:

1. Prioritize

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First, tally up all the work that still needs to get done. Have a look at the exams. Do they actually ask anything about that king you still need to read 3 chapters on? No? So skip it now and read them next term.

 
Take everything the kids still need to know, chapter or page wise.

 
Divide this into the days that are left to get the work done before exams start.
Now you know you still need to cover 20 pages of History, 3 pages of Science and 5 short stories.

 

2. Keep it manageable

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From here, break it up into manageable chunks during the day. Do 5 pages of History, take a break, do 5 more, go for a quick walk.

 
Maybe download the audio book and squeeze in a chapter in the afternoon drive.
Get innovative, and use your time wisely.

 
Also remember to take frequent breaks, feed them (and yourself!) healthy stuff, move frequently and get enough rest! Don’t let them study into the early morning hours. Don’t cram the day before. Do it spread out over time!

 

3. Find your child’s learning style and work with it!

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It’s so much easier to help your child study for a test if you know HOW they learn (you could use this handy dandy quiz I made especially for you, you awesome person 😉 ). You can use different study techniques for different learning styles.

 

This keeps things interesting, and gives the kiddos a huge sense of accomplishment because they actually ‘get’ the work now!

 

There’s no feeling in the world that compares to sitting down to a test and knowing what to write!

 
My biggest take-away tips are these:

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Don’t get overwhelmed
And
Start NOW. Don’t put your head in the sand, ostrich style, but man up and get it done. Face the music, find your beat and dance the heck out of it!

 
So, how are you surviving the rush? What are your pro tips? Let me know in the comments!

My Top 3 Tips for surviving the week when you’re having one of ‘those’ weeks…

We all have one of ‘those’ weeks once in a while. You’re tired, or sick, or just hormonal. You don’t feel like adulting, never mind parenting. Actually raising little humans… You just want to crawl into bed, pull the duvet over your face and soak up the warm, dark nothingness for a week or two…

 
Annnnd, back to real life. The tween needs to finish school work, the baby is not letting up for one second and the toddler is screaming over everything and anything.
Stay in bed and drive yourself nuts or man up, get up and get stuff done even though you feel like an extra in The Walking Dead? Tough choice.

 

 

So, I’m not an expert on the topic, but this is what works for me when I’m having one of ‘those’ weeks, but the show must go on:

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1. Take care of yourself.

 
Even when (well, especially when) you really don’t feel like it, force yourself to eat a healthy breakfast. Get up, get moving and do some light exercise (even if it is just a few stretches- it counts). Apply a drop of Lavender essential oil to your temples. Pick some pretty flowers and put them on the kitchen table. Watch a cat video on YouTube if it helps 😉 Read a bit. Pray, meditate and read your Bible. Journal. Even if it is only for 10 minutes. Because these small acts of self-care will make you feel like you’re worth something. That you have purpose. That you’re loved. Just do it. It helps. Pinkie promise.

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2. Ask for help.

 
Delegate tasks you’re not feeling up to. Get the kids to wash the dishes, sweep and mop and take out the bin. Bribe them with chocolate if you have to. Ask your hubby to cook supper for a few nights. Ask your mom to help out for an hour or two. Say no to commitments you don’t feel like keeping. If the people really care about you, they’ll understand. Ask a friend to drop the kids off at extra murals. That is why we have the beautiful, kind angels we call friends- to help us out, to be there and support us when we are feeling weak and vulnerable…

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3. Get organized.

 
Plan, plan, plan. Write everything down. Have a to-do list, a bullet journal, a shopping list, a schedule written out NEATLY (not in my drunken-spider scrawl) so that you can simply pass that on to the person helping you out and they actually know what to do and when to do it! It helps tremendously if you don’t have to try and explain things when you’re already feeling like crap. And it feels so good knowing you’ve got a contingency in place.

 

So, not a super long post, but hopefully a helpful one! What do you do when you have one of ‘those’ weeks? Who do you turn to for help? What systems do you have in place for when you’re in a dip? Let me know in the comments!

5 Ways to get your kids to love school!

Kids tend to dislike school for a great multitude of reasons. Math? Ugh! It’s difficult and confusing. Why do we need to learn about prepositions? Where will we ever use them? It’s boriiiing! Why can’t school just be fun?!

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone. It’s (unfortunately) very common for kids to feel this way. Wouldn’t you feel the same if you were forced to sit quietly and learn stuff you don’t see the use of just to pass a test to make someone else happy? Yeah…

BUT there’s light at the end of the tunnel! School can and SHOULD be fun!

Say whaaaat?!

Yes! It should! Shakespeare should be cool! Your kid’s eyes should light up when they hear ‘algebra’! And yes, it’s do-able, and no, I’m not smoking my coffee 😉

So how do you actually practically go about making school fun and getting your kids to love it?

Here are my five tips for doing exactly that:

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1. Variety
Mix it up. Daily! Kids need routine, but they also need change to look forward to. For example, Math in non-negotiable for me. It needs to get done every day. But it can be in the form of book work, or climbing a tree to measure the height and working out Pythagoras on a scrap of paper. Grammar could mean conjunction tag or a Grammar Hunt or writing a letter to Grandma or writing an essay to the local newspaper explaining why the new President is exactly what our country needs! Keep it current and relevant. Which leads me to my next point!

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2. Real Life Learning
Learning should have an application. Why else do it? Give the kids the reason for why they’re learning rounding (makes grocery shopping without a calculator easier), History (morals, current world issues, how that involves the economy, jobs, and finally, their chances of making money!) and grammar (writing a CV, letter or even an e-mail). Don’t give them the abstract, but try give them the concrete stuff whenever possible. Bake cookies and cakes instead of doing fractions and rations on a board. Teach them real business skills like market research, marketing, graphic design, budgeting and people skills. Teach them to be and develop leaders and thinkers. Teach them the beauty of art and music by going to concerts and art galleries. Make it real in their minds. That way they’ll actually CARE. And when they care, they learn with a happy heart.

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3. Use Songs
I love using songs to get the kids moving and learning! I also find that the songs loop in their heads until they know it! Andy songs include the Alphabet Song, the Planets and the Bones song! I also love using songs to teach additional languages in a fun way. For now, we’re doing French songs and starting on Afrikaans folk songs soon. This helps the kiddos with the pronunciation of the words, to recognise the ‘sound’ of the language, and later, to learn new words. I find YouTube an invaluable resource! It’s an absolute treasure chest of easy to learn songs with cute animations and moves the kids readily join in with.

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4. Get Moving
Play games, jump around, and clap your hands. Do ‘crossing over’ exercises first thing in the morning, before school, to wake their brains up. Exercise daily (be it cycling, weights, capoeira or kiddie yoga, just do SOMETHING). Stretch and shake your legs and arms. Do finger exercises. Act out whatever you’re learning in History of Literature. DO experiments or go hunt for bug or climb a tree to get to the highest leaves! Use your body to work out memory sequences (see suggestions for Kinaesthetic learners here).

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5. Passion Projects
This was something I started as an experiment in January, and it’s proven to be an absolutely amazing idea! The idea is for the kids to choose a different topic each month. They have to then research it in any way they choose- documentaries, YouTube, Google, asking friends, reading books and magazines, even asking the library lady. It encourages them to find creative ways to solve problems and to look for information in out=of-the-way places. They also have to present their project at the end of each month in any way they choose. It could be a puppet show, a physical demonstration, a model, a poster, a video or even a book (bound or PDF). This gives them the freedom to research something THEY want to know more about, but it benefits their schoolwork overall because of the skills they pick up along the way. Sneaky sneaky! 😉 But it works!

 

So, those are my five tips for getting your kids to love school. In the end, I work with the end in mind. What do they NEED to know? The, how can I get there? My goal is set, but my method of getting there is flexible. When you teach a child to truly love learning, you are well on your way to raising a lifelong learner. And the world sure could use more of those!

 

What do you do to get your kids to love school? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments!