Tag Archives: preschool

A Week of Homeschooling with a Reluctant Learner

Working with my Reluctant Learner

We are back into our second term of the year this week, having had 2 weeks off any formal learning in our home. My almost 5 year old is writing well for her age, and is very hands-on with her learning. We’re not in any rush to have her sitting at the table for long periods of time, but it does help to have all the kids in the same area doing some sort of structured activities, including the younger ones.

I can’t just sit my preschooler down with activity books to go through like I did with my first child. She’d rather get her hands involved in something messy and creative.

This week she announced that she did not like school and would not be doing anything this week. Rather than ruin her love of learning by insisting she do what I had planned (which I thought was all fun stuff!), I asked her what she wanted to do.

‘The Sound of Music’ and nothing else, was the reply I was given.

Reluctant learner paper dolls

By the end of the week, the paper doll folder had enjoyed plenty of use

So here’s how our week of ‘not school’ looked:

  • We found these beautiful paper dolls of the characters from ‘The Sound of Music’ and she spent about 3 hours on the first day just cutting them out and getting to know them;
  • We found an Edelweiss flower online, as no-one around here knew what Edelweiss even meant.
  • We did our own version of this lollipop art in the style of Austrian architect and artist Hunderwasser (everyone joined in for this one)
  • We did a colouring page of ‘The Tree of Life’ by Austria artist Gustav Klimt
  • We looked up Austria on our markable world map
  • We learned how to yodel and watched some great YouTube clips of young girls yodelling.
  • We had Weiner schnitzel (with beef though, not veal) and apple strudel for dinner one night (I made homemade pastry which probably wasn’t as authentic, but at least it was healthier!)
  • We started a ‘Sound of Music’ book at my daughter’s insistence, which has different words for her to trace over and copy.
  • We listened to some music by Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
  • We looked at photos of Austrian landmarks online, especially the Danube River and the Alps.
  • We read about Austria in every book I could find on our shelves, including historical costumes, how children of the world live, and general country facts.

Hunderwasser art (this one is actually my older daughter’s one, as the silver came out better in the photos)

Reluctant learner

The Tree of Life colouring page – a work in progress

This week coming, I plan on easing in a few things we were doing before the holidays, including a few minutes of her reading to me, and some early maths activities. We’ll finish our Sound of Music book, and then next week’s theme is ballet, since there’s much excitement about the upcoming show that the girls are both in.  So we’ll be doing this great free ballerina preschool activity pack.  (Here are the rest of Carisa’s free preschool packs).

But no schoolwork involved, right? 😉

How do you manage to keep learning fun in your homeschool?

~ Victoria

Reluctant learner homemade book

The beginnings of the Sound of Music copywork book. I have written in some words for my preschooler to trace and then copy.


Introducing ‘WinterPromise’ – A Unique Homeschool Curriculum


Reading ‘Children of Many Lands’ Together – a beautifully presented book on 30 countries (exclusive to WinterPromise)

I confess, I love researching homeschool curriculum as I’m constantly looking for the very best resources that suit our learning goals and our core values.  It’s not every day I come across one that really gets my attention, but here’s one that has.

WinterPromise has the best of everything.  It’s a literature-based curriculum with a Charlotte Mason twist and a touch of the Classical, and combines notebooking, worksheets and hands-on activities, journaling, mapping, and the best living books that will engage your child’s attention and stir a love of learning and of history.  I especially love the Christian perspective that encourages my child’s heart towards God and towards seeing opportunities in the world to love and serve.  That has been a real thrill for me, as I’ve seen my daughter’s awareness grow and her understanding widen to how others live.

WP 4

Looking at the stunning photographic displays of what families own in different countries around the world (in ‘Material World’)

We have been using resources from the ‘Children Around the World’ theme this year, and here are some of the highlights so far:

  • Eye-catching books that draw my children in, with beautifully written content. ‘Children of Many Lands’ is one particularly that’s a real treat for us.
  • Involving my younger ones in the reading times and cultural experiences.
  • Reinforcing our family’s core values in international justice and compassion issues.
  • Finding an age-appropriate outlet for prayerful discussion – some of the things we’ve read have given us some priceless opportunities that I’m grateful for.
  • The flexibility to do some things more in-depth when we want to


My friend who lives just a walk away is doing the full-year theme ‘Children Around the World’ and purchased mostly e-books, which made for a much more cost effective way being that we are outside the US.  She is a full-time missionary and wanted to widen her children’s worldview in this area.

There are currently 18 themes that will suit any interest and learning goals, and range from pre-K through to Senior High – have a look here. We have already picked some favourites for future years!

You can add Science and Language Arts programs to your themed full-year theme package, and WinterPromise also stock some quality Math programs and activity kits.

Finally, I thought I’d show you some photos from our recent English tea party (from a free WinterPromise study on Great Britain).  The kids loved this one.  Because I have English parents and we eat similar food anyway (and I wanted our tea party to be a little more special than normal), I took the opportunity to make some things we ate as children, and did a little family history lesson while we ate.  Naturally we also learned a little table etiquette also.  The kids learned about their English roots and most importantly we had lots of fun!  The girls especially loved drinking from  cups and saucers.  They have asked me to make some of our family favourites from when I was young, which I’ll do at some stage soon – Toad-in-the-Hole, Roast Beef with Yorkshire puddings, apple pie and custard, and bread and butter pudding.

WP English tea party (3)

WP English tea party (4)

WP English tea party (2)

If you’d like to find out more, start here for further information, free samples, and heaps more.

WinterPromise are having a Facebook party this Monday 30th September.  I encourage you to come along and learn more about them and win some of the dozens of prizes.  I hear that there’s going to be a special announcement.  I’ll be there – join me!

WinterPromise FB Party{Linked up at Ducks in a Row}

Keeping Your Eyes on the Big Picture

reallifehomeschooling-640x480I’ve had the privilege this week of guest posting for Candace at ‘His Mercy is New‘.

I’m not a veteran homeschooling Mum by any stretch of the imagination – we’ve been homeschooling for just 5 years.  But I hope I can pass on a few things that I’ve learned mostly through trial and error that will help you.

I have a confession to make – sometimes I yearn to know what the ‘other’ life is like.  What would it be like to dress up in pretty clothes and put on some make-up that isn’t dried out?  Or enjoy a second income and buy some brand new clothes?  Or best of all, take a blissful walk on the beach in solitude every day at sunrise, just myself and the Lord?  How would it be to just let someone else deal with the character issues in my children on a daily basis?  Some days, especially those after another disruptive night’s sleep, my enthusiasm wanes for tackling sibling interactions, preparing wholesome food, and keeping the learning consistent and productive. I find myself letting out a weary sigh and wondering how well I’m going to last the distance on this journey!

Gladly, I have never regretted our decision to home educate our children, as early on we established our ‘why’ with a strong conviction.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt utterly overwhelmed at times!

I’d love to share some of the things I’ve found have gotten me through more difficult days.”… continued here

To read the rest, please visit His “His Mercy is New: Real Life Homeschooling #20 – Keeping the Big Picture in Mind”

Why We Read Together

Why we read togetherI love books.  Both of my parents were avid readers and passed this love onto all three of their children.  And now I have the joy of instilling a love for the written word in my own children.  I love it that now I can see that love growing in them also.

Here are some reasons why I believe filling your home with family story-times, and stocking your shelves with plenty of quality books, is worthwhile:

  • First and foremost, the time that you spend together huddled up around a good book being read-aloud is what making joy-filled memories is all about.   One-on-one times reading to your children, as well as family story times altogether, will leave an imprint on your children’s hearts of quality time with Mum or Dad where everything else can wait and they are the most important priority in that moment.  Priceless.
  • Reading regularly will develop a love of reading in your children.  Reading is where they’ll discover other worlds, cultures, people, slices of life, and all kinds of knowledge that will enrich their life and teach them things that you alone cannot.
  • Exposing your children to well-written literature will expand their vocabulary and widen their understanding at so many different levels.  They will gain greater use of language and stretch their minds to develop their own thoughts and ideas.
  • Reading a variety of stories and great books will widen their worldview and create an unquenchable hunger for learning.
  • Reading about the different lives of people from all walks of life, both fiction and non-fiction, will create moments of opportunity to teach and guide your child.
  • Reading for a length of time will eventually lengthen your child’s attention span and teach them listening skills.

If you are unable to buy every book that you would love to read, consider making frequent use of your local library.

I’ve recently updated and added a number of book lists that I hope will give you some ideas of some titles to add to your home library.  Many of these we have, and others we hope to add soon.

You might also find this reading log useful.

Finally, here’s a great book that we are hoping to add to our bookshelf soon that provides more than a thousand worthy titles of wonderful stories for children of all ages:

Read for the Heart cover

Homeschooling Preschoolers – Using what you have

Homeschooling Preschoolers

I wrote a couple of months ago on Quiet Time Bags/Busy Bags that we have introduced to our learning environment, as my 3-year old had been wanting to join us for some more organised play/learning time.

They continue to be a helpful resource that we pull out when I need concentrated time with my eldest daughter.

The other thing I have found useful is taking stock of some of the other activities and resources we have throughout the house, much of it unused a lot of the time.  When these things are re-organised and presented in a way that makes them ‘new’ again, they can be a helpful addition to learning time.  It’s amazing just how many things you might find around the house without having to purchase new things.  Even some of the things in your pantry can be used for counting and sorting.  It just takes a little imagination, and some re-organising (like sorting out those puzzles all loose in a box!).

It doesn’t all have to have an educational component either.  You could always pull out old baby clothes for dolls, blankets for forts, or make a pretend clothesline for your child to hang things up.

Here are some other things you might have tucked away that you can  reintroduce:

  • Scrapbooking paper
  • Puzzles
  • Bubble mixture
  • Memory games
  • Beads
  • Lego
  • Stickers
  • Posters and old magazines
  • Old socks to make puppets
  • Play money
  • Fabric scraps
  • Flash cards
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Magnetic letters or fridge magnets
  • Make gloop
  • Stacking cubes
  • Newspapers for paper mache
  • Nesting cups
  • Cut out used colouring books for a collage
  • Pouring and filling containers (with dry pasta or rice)
  • Sorting pasta shapes or macaroni elbows (with spoons or tongs)
  • Print off your own colouring pages from online and turn into books
  • Grocery shopping with empty packets from your pantry, and a cane basket for carrying them

You might want to consider rotating resources and only getting certain things out once a week.  You could even group toys in big cloth bags, and rotate them this way.

One final thing… never underestimate just how much learning your child is doing simply by being with you all day.  The loving connection with you throughout the day is more important that having all the right activities organised.

Here are a handful of photos of some things we have found tucked away that often get forgotten about.

school 5

school 4

school 6

school 2

school 1

I’d love to hear your ideas!

~ Victoria

You might also be interested Multi-level Homeschooling: Beginnings

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Take a Day Off Homeschooling

take the day off homeschoolingFour years of homeschooling later, I’ve learned that there are times when you just have to take the day off.  I used to think that I was caving into my child’s battles. But now I see that I have to just balance up what’s really going on under the surface, be it in their heart or within our family or home environment, versus my own need to keep my routine in place.  I’d rather just keep the joy of learning alive – wouldn’t you?

Here are some reasons you might want to consider taking a day (or two) off your formal schooling:

  • Someone is recovering from illness;
  • There’s been some special events on during the week and everyone is tired;
  • Mum has morning sickness;
  • Baby has arrived;
  • The nights hours were busy and someone is too exhausted (including Mum);
  • Someone is grumpy and it’s just not working today;
  • Things have been a bit monotonous lately and you need to freshen up your school time a bit;
  • You’ve been working hard and deserve a break;
  • Just because.

We had one of those days yesterday, so we just cruised through the day with no Maths or formal learning of any kind, but we had a really peaceful day of gentle learning and fun.

Activities requiring little or no supervision:

  • Draw a character from a book you are currently reading;
  • Go for a nature walk;
  • Lay down outside and look at the clouds together;
  • Free time outside – ball games, hop scotch, skipping, exploring with a magnifying glass;
  • Local museum or art gallery trip;
  • Take a trip to the library and get out as many books as your child can carry;
  • What season is it?  Can you crunch in the autumn leaves?  Walk on the beach and collect shells?  Get bundled up and splash in puddles or play in the snow?
  • Playdough or clay;
  • Quiet Time Bags for little ones;
  • Build a fort and create a scenario for your children; eg. today the kids have made a Turkish tea house under the kitchen table.  Or you could suggest they pick a historical era and dress up;
  • Find some other homeschoolers who are keen to have the day off too;
  • Make cards for someone special;
  • Write letters to someone important.  Or just someone that you think would like to receive a letter;
  • Get the children to create a play and then perform that evening;
  • Ride bikes;
  • Board games;
  • Threading beads;
  • Make jewelry;
  • Dance;
  • Have a look through all those art and craft books that you’ve accumulated and haven’t looked at in a while – any fresh ideas?
  • Finger painting;
  • Pull up some of those old clips on YouTube that you watched as a child, and watch with the kids: Little House on the Prairie, Swallows and Amazons, and some of those vintage cartoons like Snoopy;
  • Have your children create a play (or join up with another homeschooling family to do this).

Feel free to share some of your ideas!

 {You might also be interested in Homeschool Toolbox}

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Quiet Time Bags

We are just at that point where Annabel (3 ½) both wants and needs to be doing some organised learning time during the day.  We’re soon to be officially start on Sonlight’s P3/4 package (it helps this Mum to have a set start date – I need to prepare in my head for it :)).  But along with this, we’re going to use our Quiet Time Bags so I can have one-on-one time with my 7 year old, while also taking care of the little guy who is 1.

I’ve used old picnic hampers bought for a couple of dollars each from a thrift store/op shop a few years ago. These are ideal for storing busy bags, as they can be stacked on top of each other in the cupboard. Also pictured is our Wedgits and ‘Matt-Man’ pieces, which are such big activities that we won’t need to do anything else on those days.

So after googling ‘quiet time bins’ (also known as ‘busy bins’ or ‘busy bags’, amongst other things) I set to it and found lots of ideas on Pinterest and homeschool blogs.  We already have plenty of things to put in them, plus I’ve printed colouring pages off the internet and turned them into books.  It’s amazing just how many things we do have that can be recycled and made new again.  Annabel is enjoying the attention as I assemble these, and I know that she will anticipate the joy of opening her bin each morning when they are ready-to-go.

Here are some things I’ve put into them (plus a few extra ideas):

  • Board books
  • Etch-a-sketch
  • Colouring books with crayons
  • Activity pages (eg. mazes)
  • Puzzles
  • Counting items
  • Lacing cards
  • Playdough
  • Small photo album with pics of family
  • Flashcards
  • Sorting and stacking activities
  • Memory games
  • Large lacing beads
  • Felt scene creations
  • Buttons
  • Magnetic dolls
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Clothesline (pegs with mini clothes and string) (see here)
  • I spy bottles (fill with dry rice and things inside)
  • Paper clips and popsicle sticks
  • Mr Potato Head
  • Ice cube trays with beads (or dried pasta)
  • Duplo with cards
  • Old wallpaper sample books (take out some pages and roll into a bundle)
  • Shells/stones with blu-tack or playdough
  • Sensory mix and match cards (see here)

I found a neat site called Small Potatoes that does a step-by-step tutorial on how to create fabric bags.  I love the idea of using fabric bags as we can simply recycle what would normally just be thrown away, and I also have the added security of not having tons of little plastic bags around my little guy.

I don’t know how to sew but figured it couldn’t be that hard to sew in a straight line to create them myself.  I used some unused fabric scraps that my husband bought home from work (leftover from upholstering chairs) and some soft plastic pouches that a bank was throwing away.  You could also use a soft plastic table cloth from somewhere like Spotlight or CraftMart.  I would personally avoid using stiffer clear plastic – especially when using a friend’s sewing machine.  🙂

I think my attempt turned out fairly well, although the stretchy fabric I used was a little trickier for this ‘first-time’ sewer (unless you count the placemat I made during Home Economics about 20 years ago).  I would imagine that some nice bright cotton fabric would be a great choice.  And having more than 4 pins from a travel sewing kit would also have greatly benefited me!  So if I can manage making these, then anyone can.  Truly.  And the experience might have awakened the sewer within.  🙂  Although please don’t look at my handiwork up close!  Ha ha!

Here are some further ideas for assembling your bags or bins:

  • 5 containers filled with your bags in each, and labelled with the weekdays, Monday to Friday.
  • Hanging your bags from coat hangers (with clips already attached) – or using foldback clips from the stationary store.
  • Using old suspended files and taking out the metal part, then sewing in the top of each bag as an alternative way of storing them.  Hang inside an old filing cabinet.
  • If you are a super sewer, you might like to add zips.  I considered using Velcro dots to keep mine closed, as there’s no sewing involved.  But because they’re a little larger than is practical to stick on multiple Velco dots, I’m just going to use foldback clips for mine.
  • Think about how many activity bags you want to put in each (if you’re doing a bin for each day of the week).  I would think that about 6 different activities per day would be ample.

It’s amazing how much you can come up with simply by using the things you have, and by finding all kinds of free things that others are no longer using.  Ask in shops for old displays or old wallpaper sample books.  Or collect shells from the beach or interesting stones.  You could even ask at the bank for unused bits and pieces, such as window display magnets, cardboard, money boxes, and stickers.

I have mine stored in picnic hampers from the op shop, but haven’t managed to find anymore like this just yet.  But two baskets plus the two ‘bigger’ activities will be enough to get us started.

Rather than labelling days of the week, Annabel can just pick out which one she feels like playing with on any given day.

Here are some sites that might give you some further ideas:

Please share some other ideas for what you might like to put in yours!