Sunday, 22 January 2012


Another bad night/early morning on Saturday.  Dave, Pip and I were downstairs in front of the fire at four am.  After reading a few of Pip's books and gradually losing my voice, we managed to avoid the TV, by listening to the 'Muzzy' French programme.  It kept her quiet for twenty minutes after which we did resort to CBeebies!

Bed head gals.

Thankfully Saturday night was a better night, Pip actually slept till seven!  What a difference a full night's sleep makes.  

This morning we covered one of the lessons from the "Home Economics for Home Schoolers" book and it involved making scrambled eggs.  Naturally Pip wanted to join in too, so I was grateful for an extra pair of hands courtesy of Sara.  Dave was the photographer for this session:

 Instruction Reading.

 Egg Cracking.





Benedict and I visited friends this afternoon.  Sara walked Pip to our local park.  She's been walking loads with Debbie and this was the first time ever the pram was not needed on the walk!

I've also been pondering.  My lovely blogging friend Eva made a very kind comment about Benedict's colouring on some of the recent posts and she made me think.  In my haste to tick box and finish our week, I neglected to comment that, he did have some input from me, in the background colouring of his St George narration work.  I did "fess up" in my comments box but the whole thing got me thinking.

We've been homeschooling for two years in February and this is the first time ever we actually have something concrete to illustrate our learning journey.  For sure Benedict has been learning loads in this time period, but  in truth I have found it difficult when we have "failed" in my eyes to produce anything tangible.  I've lost count the different curriculum and learning methods we have tried during this time period.

  I am the product of a grammar school education where all work had to be of the best standard possible and to maintain standards, your end of year exam results were read out by the headmistress in front of the entire class... a pretty good incentive to ensure you stayed ahead of the game!

Add to this inheriting a type A personality from my parents and I have enormous difficulty doing anything substandard.  Little wonder I'm constantly stressed!

I do not find homeschooling easy and am often overawed by my responsibility to educate and  help a young man navigate his way through life.  I do not want him turning around to me at sixteen saying, " Mum, why didn't you do more to help?"

This curriculum we are using which is a Charlotte Mason inspired Orthodox based programme, is helping loads.  Benedict is an avid reader and from this preferred method of learning all else follows.  I've added the Galore Park books as a supplementation and although it is very early days, I'm hopeful they'll help.

So this is me warts and all and from now on, any input I make will be duly added to my posts, after all I would not anyone thinking I was raising a child prodigy! 


  1. Oh Bless you! From what I have seen there is no way anyone could ever say that to you San. I love seeing all your HS projects - you cover some amazing work. I know that many parents do their children's homework for them, so i think that doing a bit of colouring is not going to hamper his artistic ability. I wouldn't be able to resist helping - I love to colour in. I am rambling a lot now and not saying what I want to, so I am off to bed. Hope you get some peaceful nights. xxx

  2. I know there was no criticism from my friend but i did realise that i have a responsibility to be as honest as possible about our journey. Blogging is a very helpful means of communication but with that comes the responsibility of authenticity where possible and my pondering made me aware of that fact.

    Thanks for your kind words san x

  3. Oh San, so my comment triggered so much! Yes, we all want our children to succeed and I remember my parents helping me with a fairy jungle underwater color picture I had to paint in grade 2 or 3. I had no ideas about what to paint.

    I sometimes get critical about what my children produce also, e.g. some of them seem to be afraid of stronger colors or are not inclined to draw very big. Especially when you see all these beautiful Waldorf drawings/paintings you wonder why your children can't do this (I have been reading the wonderful Waldorf art book by Thomas Wildgruber. He used to be a Waldorf teacher and is retired now. It's amazing what he has put together with his students. The book will be available in English in the summer. It's a good book, but it makes you feel inadequate sometimes. Maybe you would like to get it anyway because it shows you what a child should be able to draw at what stage of life. The English title will be Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools. You can see sample pages here).

    But each drawing or painting also reflects an inner quality or stage of life of your child.
    Do you know the book Understanding Children's Drawings? This book really helps to see what a drawing can be all about. So trying to make your children draw more than they are capable of is sometimes like making them skip several years of inner development. However, sometimes a bad picture can also be just laziness (at least with older children like Jonathan and Charlotte). So with the younger ones, I paint or draw a picture first and then I let them copy. That's why water color and crayons are ideal for the younger ones (grades 1-4) because you don't have to be so detailed! It goes much faster than working with colored pencils like Jonathan and Charlotte do now. Also, the younger grades need to develop a relationship with color, not with details or objects. That comes later. I do think that Waldorf education has the best approach to drawing and painting. Jonathan and Charlotte sometimes copy and sometimes create their own. And I do criticize them when I think criticism is necessary, but then I also show them examples of how to do it better, but on a new sheet of paper or from a book. Then I let them try again. Sometimes they can't do any better, but that's okay then. If they are not happy with a picture, they ask me not to put it on the blog and I don't. So we do have pictures/paintings that are just so so, but I promised not to show them in public :).
    Also, before the smaller ones draw into their main lesson books we practice the picture on newsprint first, just to make sure what we need to do. A picture for us is like crafting an essay; you might need several revisions.

  4. Part 2:

    I think many homeschooling parents are kind of paranoid about how much the child is learning. But just think back to your school days, you didn't learn as much as you could have in a school setting, either, right? There are good teachers and bad teachers and as a homeschool teacher you have strengths and weaknesses as well. You can't do everything equally well! I always think that God has a plan for everyone and will put the knowledge he or she needs to succeed sooner or later into that person's life. As a homeschool teacher I can create a good learning environment and I can cover the basics, but I can't become an expert in everything. Homeschooling is a process, a journey. I'm a much better teacher now than I was when I started with Jonathan. We all learn together and we make mistakes together, but also a school teacher will (hopefully) learn over the years. It's also good for our children to see how we are not perfect and still need to learn and make an effort. We homeschoolers also always seem to think that we have to prove that our children are learning and are doing something, right? That's probably because homeschooling is still not the mainstream thing to do. I sometimes fall into this trap, especially when thinking or talking to my German family. My mom is a former teacher and my dad a retired city manager/mayor. Both jobs stress the importance of the institution to care for the people. Also, homeschooling is more or less illegal in Germany. I still don't know what they think about our way of educating our children and I partly started my blog to show them that our children don't grow up to be complete misfits in society.

    So I admire you for your honesty about the pictures. Maybe your filling in the background is like my feeling of "I have to blog to show my German relatives that we are doing something." See, now you got me thinking as well. Maybe we are both like that little girl you used to be with the headmistress reading out loud the grades! Maybe this feeling of needing to be at the top of the class will never go away, but maybe we can also learn to keep it in check. By the way, my English teacher once stood me in front of the class and made fun of me because I couldn't spell "beautiful." He told me I was a hopeless case and would never learn this language at all! So for a long time I was convinced that English was not for me :).

    Blessings on all the work you do, San. I'm sure Benedict will turn out fine. After all, he loves you very much (remember the tea he made you?). All your patient taking care of him and dealing with his diabetes will never be forgotten. Even if he doesn't know it yet.

  5. Eva,

    Thank you so much for your beautiful words!

    Your Waldorf information regarding drawing and the use of water colours and crayons has given me much food for thought, what you described makes so much sense, so it would be useful for me to read around the subject further.

    Your comments about the good Lord ring true also, I have great trouble "letting go and letting God in" another work in progress regarding my character! Good job HE never gives up on us!

    I'm blessed to have you as a friend on this journey, you have helped so much this past year, with words of encouragement, suggested resources and prayers when needed.

    Love to you

    San xx

    1. Dear San, I'm so glad my many words are of help. After I had hit "publish" I thought that maybe I had written too much or the wrong things. Sending you a big hug across the ocean and thanking you for being my friend!

      When you wrote about "letting go and letting God in" I had to think of all my birthing experiences. Peter was with me all the time and told me during each labor I had to let go and let the contractions happen and not fight them. That's how it was supposed to be he added. Of course he was so right, but it still was difficult. Maybe these changes in us are like labor pains.

      There is a Catholic woman who is starting an online book club. Her first book will be about a similar topic. Here is the description. I thought it sounded interesting.

  6. Hi San,
    You sound just like me, verging onto the perfectionist side! I have a motto written on the inside of one of my (many) notebooks that says 'Do what you can do, and the Lord will do what you can't do!' I find reading that often helps to let some of the less important things slide of my shoulders :) It is so true!
    It looks like you are having many wonderful moments with your children at home, I'm sure they will remember these fondly as they grow. Keep on with the great job Mama!
    With love, Carly x
    (PS We love oil pastels too - I saw a post with them in below - we've only just finished off my old set from about 20 years ago, they don't make them like that anymore lol)

  7. this is an especially moving discussion. it makes me realize how i love blogging and hearing from all of you homeschooling mamas out there in different counties, states, countries. thanks for your honesty, san, and thank you to eva, carly, and jacqui for your thoughtful and loving responses. we all keep doing the best we can with open hearts.


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