August 1, 2015

5 Character Traits for Busy Women

by Belinda Letchford
How we respond to our busyness is the key - 5 key Character traits.

5 Character Traits for busy women


Busyness is one of the biggest dangers in our life.  It robs us of our intentionality, our focus, our purpose.  It side tracks us, exhausts us, and changes us.  And yet busyness can be productive, purposeful and proper.  We are to be busy people – we are to work and use our time wisely.  The key is balance – we are to balance the need to work and get things done with all areas of our life.  That is the trick, and when we fall short that is when we see problems in our family.


It is all about how we keep busy.  Here are five character traits that can help us maintain that balance:


  • Be intentional
  • Be Wise
  • Be Dependable
  • Be Relational
  • Have self control


Be Intentional

Be intentional – know where you are going, know how you are going to get there.  This starts with knowing your spheres of responsibility.

  • First of all there is our own life – we need to be responsible for our attitudes and our choices.
  • Our relationships – our marriage, our children, friends and neighbours
  • Our home and all that it contains
  • Our tasks – be it the mundane of everyday or the opportunities to help others

What do you want for each sphere of your life – and how are you going to get there?


Being intentional starts with knowing God’s heart:  What does God want of you?  God has a plan for my life – and that is to glorify Him in all that I do.


Be Wise

Be wise – depend on God for his wisdom.  Wisdom is the practical application of knowing Jesus.   There are actually three aspects of wisdom referred to in the Bible:

  • Craftsmanship – when they were building the tabernacle the craftsmen were referred to as wise in their craft.
  • Solomon observed nature and drew conclusions
  • Solomon was also given insight into the ways of God


We need to grow in all three ways of wisdom – we need to:

  • Study and practice our craft; whether it be the craft of homemaking, parenting, frugality, communicating, teaching etc.
  • Observe the world around us, and draw ‘heart’ lessons. Parables or stories connecting to real life are one of the strongest teaching methods.
  • Know God’s word, learn of his ways by reading His word, the Bible.

All wisdom comes from God.  He has given us the ability to learn skills and knowledge, he has given us the ability to think and apply wisdom.  He has sent the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us.


James 1:5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.


To grow in wisdom – to live a life directed by God’s wisdom – we need to ask him for it.  Solomon asked God for wisdom – and he received it.  God will give us wisdom too.


Be Dependable

Be dependable – To do what you say you will do.


It seems like such a simple response – be true to your word, let your yes be yes and your no be no – but our desire to be dependable quickly crumbles as we take on too much, as we get too busy, as we lose balance and our priorities.


Three ways to show dependability

  • Follow through with our parenting
    • I hear myself say, “in a minute”, “hang on”, “be there in a sec”. I don’t really mean these words – they are a delay tactic and I rarely hold myself accountable to being timely.
    • I hear myself change my mind – when I cave in to big eyes, whining voice, or nagging or when someone’s anger, annoyance or disapproval makes me back down.
    • I hear myself letting it go – I said it, but now I’m just not going to make a scene.

If I’m not prepared to follow through don’t say it!

  • Reliable with our commitments – I want to be known as a person who is reliable. If a meeting was scheduled I’ll be there – on time.  If I said I’d do something, it will be done – and go the extra mile.  Busyness though stretches our ability to build this reputation – we start over scheduling, forgetting commitments, not doing what I said I would do.
  • Consistent with our attitudes – We all have our ups and downs, but overall, I want to be characterised as a person who gives energy, not one who is exhausting to be around. And this all comes down to my attitude – my attitude to my family, the tasks I have to do, my attitude to when things go wrong.    Looking after myself, my whole self – spiritually, morally, physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially – which is hard when we are busy, but it will protect me from letting my attitude slide.

If we are intentional with the decisions we make, if we are wise before we speak, then we need to have the courage to stand by the decisions we make.  Whether those decisions are the quick ‘no, you can’t have chocolate right now’ or the thought out ‘we will go and do this today’ we need to learn to be true to our word.


Two things to remember:  If we don’t mean it don’t say it.  If we aren’t prepared for the consequences – don’t say it.


Be Relational

Be relational – Be people focused, not task orientated.  Be available.   Be Heart focused

This of course is the very core of what being busy is about – getting things done.  But we must remember the reason why these things are important – and that comes down to people – the people we love.  What is a clean out without time to enjoy it with the people we love.  What is money without people around us.  What is a gift or talent without people to share it with.


Be intentional with your time – a time for everything, and everything in its time.  Set aside time for the tasks, be focused, and then walk away.  Whether it is finished or not.  This is the key – walk away whether it is finished or not.  There will always be time to work again tomorrow, or later in the day.  But if now is the time to be with people – now is the time to be with people.  The same goes for people people – you may have to walk away from social time because it is time to work.  We all need to use our time wisely – know the purpose of this hour and focus.


Be available – people and needs cannot be boxed or scheduled.  We need to be available and sometimes, in some seasons of a mums life that is 24/7.  But that won’t be for always.  Our attitude to be available helps us deal with what can otherwise be seen as interruptions.  They aren’t interruptions when our purpose is to help our family.


Being heart focused means that we think deeper than the actions we see – we look for the cause.  A tantrum can be a frustrating thing – it can be inconvenient.  This is the thinking of a busy woman.  When we turn our thoughts towards the heart we start to see a child who is overwhelmed, a child who lacks self control, a child who has faced injustice, a child who is tired.


Being relational will turn our hearts towards people even though we may have things to do.


Have Self Control

Self control – walking away from my own desires and doing what is right

Self control is the basis of maintaining a life balance as a busy woman.  A person with self control will not act impulsively – but rather be intentional.  A person with self control will set limits and walk away when things are not right.


We can get caught up in getting a project or task finished and yet we know we need to be getting dinner on, or our little person has asked us to help them, or we know we should be going to bed.  It takes self control to walk away from something that absorbs us, to focus on what we know is right (right task for the right time).


It is easy for a busy person to get areas of their life out of balance.  We tend to respond to the urgent needs and send all our focus on that.  By living with self control, we can create time for all things in our life – and if we can’t we have to acknowledge we have taken on too much or we need help.


We need to have self control if we are to manage all aspects of our life – and as women we specifically need to manage our time, health, resources and passions along with our responsibilities, relationships and roles in life.



I want to be an influence in my children’s lives – and I’m reminded of this quote:


When you show character, people begin to respect you

After time, that respect grows into trust

After time, that trust builds a relationship

When you have relationship with people

You have influence…



Being busy, too busy, certainly puts that at risk.


The dangers of busyness

The dangers of busyness





Also sharing and linking with others throughout the week:  

Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs (see more details on my Link Parties page)

Mom’s the Word, Mom2Mom, Mummy Mondays,  Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful Spot, Mama Monday MusingsHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),Women with Intention,  Whole Hearted Home,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home Shine Blog Hop,  All things with PurposeA Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool LinkupTip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape


July 28, 2015

Homeschooling through the Eyes of my Kids

by Belinda Letchford


Homeschooling through the  eyes of the student.


This week ihomeschool Not Back to School blog hop is about seeing homeschooling through the eyes of our kids.  I thought I would interview my kids.  I sent them all the same questions and this is what they had to say.




 Joshua:  22 years old.  Josh graduated from homeschooling in 2010, and since then has spread his double major B.A. (Ancient History and Politics) over four years.  This gave him the flexibility to still be involved with family activities such as our trip overseas and visiting with Grandparents, camping trips etc.  During his uni years he volunteered with teaching Scripture in Schools, and a young man’s Bible study.  He also worked a few casual/part time jobs – tutoring after school and garden maintenance.  This year he completed a 15 week Internship in public policy in Canberra.  It is nice to have him home again as he works towards the next stage of his life.

How would you describe your homeschool years?  In the primary school years, I remember doing lots of classes directly with Mum and the siblings, including a lot of Bible studies, character traits, math, science and reading. The high school years featured mostly independent work, guided by Mum. There was always a lot of reading- books were a big part of my education and they worked really well with my words-based learning style. Homeschool co-ops with local homeschooling families were also important; group discussions on character traits (proto-philosophy classes, in essence!), public speaking training and perennial games of Cops and Robbers.

What was your favourite thing about how you homeschooled?  My favourite thing was learning to love learning, and then having the freedom to explore the areas that most excited me. Sure, I still had to do math and science, but I was also able to pursue my interests (writing, reading, history and philosophy) in far more depth than I could have tied down to a regular classroom and curriculum.

I think it also helped build strong family ties among us, which has been absolutely awesome in the post-homeschool years.

What was your worst? There were some public school guys about my age who I probably would have become really good mates with, but never did because we didn’t mix in the same social circles. That was a shame.  

How do you think homeschooling has shaped you as a person?  Besides the love of learning, homeschooling was also where I learnt to think for myself and test everything. At the same time, homeschooling exposed me to the importance of family and community ties, a vision of the good life which has shaped my decision-making process ever since.

What story would you like to ‘tell on’ your mum?  Be kind!  This question is rigged!  

What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of homeschooling with people who don’t homeschool?  It’s strange how adults can enjoy a long mature conversation with you and only begin to doubt your socialisation skills once you mention, 15 minutes in, that you were homeschooled as a child.
For kids, I think the biggest misunderstanding is their notion that being schooled at home actually means not doing any school, ever, and playing X-box in your PJs all day instead.

How would you answer the questions about socialisation?  Homeschooling made me more socialised, not less. Without a classroom of peers to keep me in my comfort zone, I had to learn to befriend younger kids, older kids, boys, girls, adults, and people with different interests to my own. I also had to be intentional about developing my friendships. In ‘real life’ those social skills are paramount, and homeschooling taught them to me.   

How has homeschooling prepared you – or left you hanging – in terms of further education?  The love of learning that homeschooling imparted for me is easily the best motivator to study hard and get good grades (or even learn something!) at university, where everything is self-motivated. The high school homeschool years also taught me to learn independently, and that’s crucial for further education, where they don’t spoon-feed you like most high school classrooms. 

On the other hand, I still had to learn university’s essay writing rules and how to answer pre-set questions, rather than just write what I wanted to talk about. That was a bit of a learning curve, but it didn’t take too long to adjust. 




 Jessica:  20 years – Jess finished her homeschool in 2012 – she took a year as a gap year where she prepared for our family trip overseas and pursued general interests.  After we came home she worked part time as a homeschool tutor and studied Professional Organising part time.  When both those opportunities came to an end, she started Cert 4 in Business Admin with an online/external TAFE, then gained a traineeship with a local business and local TAFE.  She works in an office that helps the public with a variety of technology and office needs, as well as the local internet cafe.  It is a varied and busy office and her skills shine.  She has pursued Duke of Edinburgh consistently, with a variety of volunteering opportunities, running for her fitness and learning piano for her skill.  For her creative / downtime Jess enjoys cardmaking, digital scrapbooking and blogging.

How would you describe your homeschool years?  In a way, my homschool years remind me of Anne of Green Gables. I don’t think I ever hit anybody over the head with my thin notebook, but her delight in learning, reading, and exploring the world was similar to my childhood of creating and learning in an interesting, hands-on, stimulating way. I had lots of pull-my-hair-out math moments; it wasn’t all pretty. But we talked lots, read lots, went places, and learned about a very broad scope of subjects.

What was your favourite thing about how you homeschooled?  From the very start we used stories, pictures, and words as a launchpad to discovering all kinds of things and facilitating discussions. If it wasn’t in the form of a book, it was a movie, Mum telling a story or posing a question, or Dad dissecting a cow’s brain. Essentially, we homeschooled by letting our curiosity be piqued and enjoying the world around us as people with talents, tangents, ideas, and wriggling bodies.

What was your worst?  My least favourite thing about how I homeschooled was the pressure I put on myself to reach a certain standard, which compared me to other people’s standards or strengths. I guess I thought I had to reach grade twelve math, understand grade twelve science, and write essays fluently. By that stage in my life, with my high-strung expectations on myself, some of the curriculum choices were probably not the best for me, either. In the last few years of high school, I lost sight of what I loved most about homeschooling; just enjoying the journey of curiosity and delight-directed learning. If I could go back and rehomeschool now, I would change my math curriculum, ditch the writing book for another fun one, and maybe sign up for a TAFE course and spend more time on the piano. On the other hand, some of the stuff I came up with and things I learned was fantastic, and the life lessons I’ve learned through it all are irreplacable, so while I am a little sad at how my last few high school years ended, I also recognise that it has made me who I am today.

How do you think homeschooling has shaped you as a person?  Again; homeschooling inspires curiosity in me and encouraged questions and thinking. It facilitated my broad interests, gave me opportunities to work with younger kids (something I love to do), and it has given me a big love of all kinds of books!

What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of homeschooling with people who don’t homeschool?  Well, socialisation, obviously!. Other than that, maybe it’s that we do actually study and we don’t purely chase butterflies and watch Finding Nemo all day. We do that sometimes, but it’s because we believe this world is exciting, and we want to learn from a whole-of-life perspective. But we also learn about anatomy, physics, mathematics, writing prose and poetry, geography, and history. If I had a general knowledge competition with a schooled student, I would win in some things and lose in others. That’s okay. Some people I talk to get this bigger-than-the-prescribed-structure perspective straight away; some people live like that now but still think we need a rote education as a foundation. When you get out into the big wide world a bit more, we all know it’s about how we relate to people, solve problems, do stuff we’re good at, and find out things we didn’t even know existed! Homeschoolers can cash in on that perspective early on.

How would you answer the questions about socialisation?  I had friends! They just weren’t in my classroom. Socialising also involves all ages and types of people, and both being homeschooled and being homeschooled in a small town taught me to play and talk with people forty years my senior and seven years my junior. The best type of socialised people, in the long run, are the open-minded, gracious, friendly type, seeing people as people no matter their age, gender, race, or personality, and that’s the type of person I want to be. There are lots of opportunities to socialise if we are like this.

How has homeschooling prepared you – or left you hanging – in terms of further education?  Homeschooling requires a thick skull, but not an arrogant attitude. I think the homeschooling community need to be wary of this in our attempt to enjoy the benefits of homeschooling because otherwise, we’re the ones being the jerks. Once I worked out how to be confident in the attitude and skills homeschooling gave me, and knew it was enough of an education without being the one shouting that the loudest, I knew I could do anything I put my hand to. The bottom line for me is this: I love to learn, I am capable of learning and doing, and if there is a hole in my education, I know how to find the answers and ask others for help.




 Naomi – 18 years – Nomi finished homeschooling last year.  Her year 11 and 12 consisted of art, drama and Duke of Edinburgh focus more than book-work.  She has been offered a Cert II in Visual Arts via external studies from the district TAFE – because of her one-on-one tutoring she is fast tracking through that course.  Naomi is also learning piano and tap dancing.  This year has played Touch Rugby and is looking forward to a new opportunity to learn pottery.  Naomi adds light and colour to our family – as her ‘interview’ shows:


1 How would you describe your homeschool years?

Really fun. Wonderful. Me. Unlimiting. Full of experiences and training. Because the world is your oyster.


2 What was your favourite thing about how you homeschooled?

I could study what I wanted,  the way I wanted, and in my own time and style. No one to rush me or ‘force’ me to learn things I had no interest in. I am a visual learner, so I do well with pictures and art, and I will often get more out of a book if it’s read as an audio. Those two facts themselves prove that I would struggle in school! (Not the school’s fault, not my fault, it’s just the way I’m made. The way I roll!)


3 What was your worst thing about how you homeschooled?

Well I can never keep up with the latest trends in music… I reckon that’s about all I missed out on!!!


4 How do you think homeschooling has shaped you as a person?

It’s given me a big mind, helps me keep my headspace clear and open… teaches me that it’s important to keep my eyes open to all things. And even more importantly, to be me and me alone. It’s taught me very much a lot (I said it that way on purpose… Point made!) about myself, who I am and who I want to be, without the clutter of so many people trying to cramp my style.


5 What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of homeschooling with people who don’t homeschool?

Easy! I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but for some reason, lots and lots (and lots) of people seem to instantly predict that if you homeschool, you literally don’t leave your house and therefore you do not know what to do when you come across another human being. Croods much?


6 How would you answer the questions about socialisation?

This question really annoys me actually! But I think if I was put in a random social circle full of different types and ages of Human Beings, I would do much better than many kids my age. I would also have more fun! I think my social skills are great. I like meeting new people.

Oh, no that’s right, I live under a rock. I don’t know how to socialise. Forgot.


7 What story would you like to ‘tell on’ your mum?  Be kind!

heh heh heh. No I”m just kidding. Totally kidding! My mum’s not like that at all. I’m just enjoying referencing to the Croods. It’s a great movie.


8 How has homeschooling prepared you – or left you hanging – in terms of further education?

Well the world is your oyster. A beautiful place to explore. Whether it’s literally exploring by traveling to Antarctica, America, France or Italy, or studying art in TAFE, doing work experience, to finding out how awesome Hungry Jacks is, and discovering a great book or movie, or or going to a birthday party or BBQ or painting your bedroom. I think everything you do is an adventure if you look at it right.

It’s a journey, an experience, maybe it’s a mistake you learn from, or a decision you are very glad you made. I think I already covered this answer in Q4, homeschooling helped me to focus on myself, and what I love (and don’t love :P ) best. Learning how I am Me is the journey of my lifetime… literally! I like being me, and doing my own thing. I now know better how to explore on my own as myself. And that’s the funnest thing.





 Daniel –  Is still homeschooling.  He studies for 3 days a week, Monday – Wednesday.  Thursday he goes to TAFE for a vocations course – Cert II in Pre-Construction, and Fridays he works on yard and farm maintenance.   He does Taekwondo and over the last few months has tried Touch Rugby for a little variety and team sport.  He loves minecraft and often connects with his friends to play.  


How would you describe your homeschool years?  Comfortable and relaxed – enjoyable and fun in some ways. I don’t really know how to describe my homeschooling because it is the only thing I’ve done. Yet at the beginning of this year I started TAFE, and between the two I find that TAFE is full on and homeschooling allows you to do things in your own speed and your own learning style. Although sometimes, my mum has to push me to do school.

What is your favourite thing about how you homeschooled? That I can do things in my own time yet not feel rushed.

What is your worst? For me, I don’t feel like there’s one.

How do you think homeschooling has shaped you as a person? It has enabled me to invest in interests such as:

  • Writing novels
  • Drawing
  • Reading
  • Photography and animation

What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of homeschooling with people who don’t homeschool? That home-schooling will ruin family relationship because you are always together, and that you need a partner the same age to spark ideas for good learning.

How would you answer the questions about socialisation?  I do have a lot of friends; some I’ve known since my childhood, some through homeschooling and some from church.  I also made friends at a Christian camp I went to.  School isn’t the only way to get friends, it’s how you live life and how you connect with people along the way that makes friends.


Well that is what my kids think!!  

Thank you Josh, Jess, Nomi and Daniel for taking time to answer those questions – and for Nomi for putting that extra entertainment in.  Never had ‘gifs’  on my blog before!!


Not back to school blog hop

Curriculum Week


I wrote this blog post for the ihomeschool Not Back to School Blog Hop – this week homeschoolers themselves are documenting their days.









Also sharing and linking with others throughout the week:  

Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs (see more details on my Link Parties page)

Mom’s the Word, Mom2Mom, Mummy Mondays,  Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful Spot, Mama Monday MusingsHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),Women with Intention,  Whole Hearted Home,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home Shine Blog Hop,  All things with PurposeA Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool LinkupTip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape

July 27, 2015

Teaching Methods that work in a Homeschool

by Belinda Letchford

Choosing good curriculum and resources is only half the equation the other half is how you use it - find teaching methods that match.




Choosing good curriculum and resources is only half the equation when it comes to successful learning in a homeschool setting – the other half is how you use it.  What teaching and learning methods are going to work in your family.  These are the things that helped my curriculum choices work for us.


Oral Narrations

Based on Charlotte Mason thinking, I used oral narrations – the art of telling back – as the basis for our writing programme (separate to learning to read, which we used a phonics programme).  Learning to write is about three things: having words to say (thinking), knowing how to spell those words (phonics) and knowing how to pen the words (handwriting).  I would read something – Bible story, Five in a Row story or something from a non-fiction book and then have one of my children tell me back what they heard.  As my children grew older this moved into telling me what you heard, understood, or thought.   This lead into discussions as we tossed ideas back and forth based on that initial reading.



Discussions were another key component of our learning tools.  Narrations gave information, discussions took that information and thought about it some more and added other people’s knowledge or questions into the mix.   Though I have trouble with Socrates view of ultimate truth, I value his concept of keep asking questions – open ended questions.


Open ended questions (where you are required to answer more than yes or no) are central to our family learning – regardless of the subject (history, math or wisdom) and regardless of the age.  Questions make you think – I tend to call my style of questioning ‘prompt questions’ because I want to push them to keep thinking beyond their first answer.


My goal in teaching my children to write has been to teach them to think and put their thoughts on paper – the structure of essays or reports etc can come later if/when they need it.   Talking helps clarify your thinking.


Reading, speaking and writing - the core  skills for learning.

Reading, speaking and writing – the core skills for learning.


Lapbooks and Notebooking

Lapbooks and Notebooking were the way that we incorporated handwriting, technology, art, research and thinking into our studies – once again, regardless of what we were studying.


Lapbooks are a collection of mini books or folds of paper that hold a small amount of information.  I love Dinah Zikes method of making small books, but there are any number of resources available online.  Our favourite lapbooking memories are with Five in a Row.  The reason lapbooks are so successful in primary school levels is that the children are recording small amounts of information and they can use any amount of creativity they desire.  Our Joshua didn’t like colour – he was just about the facts and information, where the girls loved to colour, decorate, snip and glue.  The biggest challenge to making lapbooks work is the mothers desire for pinterest worthy lapbooks – we must resist this and let it be the kids work – that means things will be glued on crooked, there will be wasted space, there will be spelling mistakes.  The more children I had at the table the messier lapbooking became – I did find using scrapbooks instead of the folders made it much easier for the kids to glue in their own work on the day they finished it.


Notebooking was the next step for us – as our children became more confident with research, thinking and writing they created notebook pages.  A notebook page includes a heading, an image and some words.  It doesn’t need to be paragraphs – it can be labelled photographs and diagrammes, or it can be a full essay.  There is still flexibility with notebook pages.  I saw notebooking as collecting information, thoughts and questions on a page.  There are many worksheet like notebook pages available though I incorporated technology by getting the kids to learn to use Microsoft Word and Publisher and make their own Notebook pages from scratch.  <LINK>



Unit Studies

Unit Studies are where you take one subject or theme or book and study many topics from that central idea.  Five in a Row is a unit study based on a children’s picture book.  Diana Waring history and Mystery of History were unit studies based on chronological study of history but at the same time you are incorporating language arts, science, art, geography etc.   I found this very conducive to family learning when the kids were younger .


As the children grew older and their interests diversified they did more topic studies – a science lesson, history, technology, geography etc.  The one thing that we always incorporated into whatever we were studying was our language arts.  Our language arts lessons were fairly minimal (after they were reading and writing) as we used it.  Ruth Beechick said that we ‘learn to read, and then we read to learn’.  I took this idea and applied it to all language arts disciplines.  We learnt the skill to research and then we researched.  We learnt to write and then we wrote – finding context to improve these skills in all our other subjects we studied.


Another aspect that changed from unit studies as our children grew older was that they moved into project studies – and this depended on their learning styles – but the children who were more kinaesthetic learners – hands on and practical – moved to project units.  Instead of a topic of knowledge (such as a unit study) the central point to their studies was a project, and they learnt many side skills, including academic ones, while they were busy creating.


Reading Lists

Over the years we’ve moved from an assigned reading list to the kids making their own choices.  In keeping with the idea that we wanted our children to have a broad general knowledge – and that you can never learn everything there is to learn – we’ve encouraged our kids to maintain a broad reading schedule.  During their homeschooling years we set aside 30-60 minutes a day for reading their reading list books.  I gave them general categories so that they could maintain variety:  General knowledge (History, Australian history, Science), Christian growth, Interests driven.


Productive Free Time

Productive Free Time is a phrase I started to use many years ago that defined a time in the early afternoon where the kids could choose what they wanted to do, but it needed to be productive.  It could range from reading a book, to playing a board game, practicing music, to pursing a hobby or interest.  They had to be able to say what it was that they were doing and they needed to do that one thing for a set period of time.  This stopped them from waffling through the afternoon not really being productive at all!  This time in our day has been where the kids have consolidated their creative skills and passions – which have often influenced their studies particularly in their highschool years.


Create a Context

Learning doesn’t happen well in a vacuum.  For long term learning, where the kids take ownership of it we need to create a context, making the subject relevant.    We studied the Bible because as Christians that is important to us.  We studied history and science because we wanted an understanding of the world and the people living in it.  We learnt to write and speak well because we valued communication.  This is the first level of context – a reason why.


The second level (which isn’t always there or easy to find) is finding a practical application for the things we want our kids to learn, and use that practical application as the lesson itself.  For example:  we wanted our kids to learn to write so they wrote letters to grandparents,  in learning to write stories they published books so people could read their stories.  Creative projects like building, or sewing, or card making it requires math skills.  Having visitors come to your house requires learning how to introduce yourself – which is the basics of public speaking.  Real life provides the context for much of our learning – sometimes it comes naturally, sometimes we may need to contrive it, but if there is a reason why we need to learn, if there is a practical use for what we are learning our children will learn better (don’t we all?)



These teaching tools created a love of learning in each of my children as well as giving them the tools they needed to become independent learners – a combination that will prepare them for their futures.  But more significantly, these teaching and learning tools created a relational approach to learning, they gave me an opportunity to engage with my kids – not just on a creative hands on level, but on a heart level.  I had opportunity to talk with my kids, to ask them questions, to listen to them grow in their understandings.  Our homeschool has to be more than just information – our homeschooling has to be about growing the whole child, in the context of a family and how we teach the lessons we want to teach will play a big part in that.



Also sharing and linking with others throughout the week:  

Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs (see more details on my Link Parties page)

Mom’s the Word, Mom2Mom, Mummy Mondays,  Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful Spot, Mama Monday MusingsHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),Women with Intention,  Whole Hearted Home,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home Shine Blog Hop,  All things with PurposeA Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool LinkupTip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape



July 26, 2015

10 Things I want for my kids

by Belinda Letchford
Ten things I want for my kids.

Ten: 10 things I want for my kids



There is so much I want for my kids – things I pray for them, things I try and teach them as important, things that I model so they can see it as an example, things I value in my own life.  Regardless of the things they do with their life, the person they marry, the friends they keep these are ten things I want for my kids:

  1. To know God’s forgiveness
  2. To want to study God’s word
  3. To love God’s people
  4. To be committed to growing as a person
  5. To work with all their heart – whatever they are doing
  6. To live by truth – by the truth found in God’s word
  7. To live with grace towards others
  8. To know how to rest
  9. To be friends with their siblings
  10. To have opportunities to grow in their passions



Ten things I want for my kids.

5 Minute Friday: Ten


Five Minute Friday is a weekly writing challenge and linkup, where you write for 5 minutes on a designated word.   Every so often,  when I find myself with some writing time between Friday and Sunday,  I plan to take this challenge.  When I have done this I find that my 5 mintues of writing tends to reflect something that is going on in my life or my general reflections.  So I share these short posts with this in mind – this is simply my immediate thoughts when I read this word today.

Read more thoughts about “10” over at 5 Minute Friday






Also sharing and linking with others throughout the week:  

Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs (see more details on my Link Parties page)

Mom’s the Word, Mom2Mom, Mummy Mondays,  Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful Spot, Mama Monday MusingsHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),Women with Intention,  Whole Hearted Home,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home Shine Blog Hop,  All things with PurposeA Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool LinkupTip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape

July 24, 2015

10 things we did as Intentional Parents

by Belinda Letchford

10 Things we did as intentional parents.



As Peter and I look back on our parenting journey – we now have grown and almost grown kids – we see the importance of being intentional.  Even before I was married I looked at spheres of my life and said to myself – where to do I want to be and how am I going to get there?  These two questions helped me plan action steps.  And it is the same with parenting – what do you want your kids to be like – and how are you going to get there.  Here are ten things that we’ve done in our family as a part of our intentionality.  These ten things aren’t fireproof ways to get morally mature kids, they aren’t guarantees to have friendship with your kids when they are adults or surety that your kids will love and serve Jesus – but they are ten things we’ve done with those things in mind.


  1. A yearly WOTB (said: what-bee). Actually this came from a business seminar we went to and it means: Working on the Business.  We often get caught up in doing the daily stuff of life that we rarely step back and see the big picture – set the vision, write the goals and determine the processes.  We have tried to have a WOTB yearly – a time where we get away from the daily tasks, and focus on what we want for our family and how we are going to get there.


  1. We’ve invested in Professional Development. When our family was young we discussed the need for Peter as a Vet to have a certain amount of professional development and he budgeted for the costs of that.  We realised that if we were serious that my work was at home, raising our kids, then I too needed professional development (as did Peter as Dad) so we budgeted for the costs of that.  It takes time and money to learn how to be a good parent and homemaker.  Parenting courses and other reading material, time to network with other mums finding and giving support, and time on the phone to my mum who was my parenting mentor and guide.


  1. Intentionally taught Character. I see character as the quality of our response to people and circumstances, based on our moral values.  Character is a life skill – how we respond to people and circumstances.  Using Character First as my main resource, we intentionally taught our children to connect their actions and attitudes with a moral value.   We taught them to be kind and loving in their words, because people and their feelings are important.  We taught them to care for their belongings because Daddy worked hard to buy those things, and we need to learn to be responsible for the things we have.  Each action or response is tied in with a moral value.


Character is the quality of our response to people and situations.


  1. Planned Heart training. I would regularly (sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly, sometimes quarterly) look at each individual child and see where their heart is at.  Their heart is their beliefs, character, emotions, passions, choices – what’s going on in their life and what do they need to learn.  I would then intentionally plan a heart lesson – they may need to learn orderliness, or be reminded of pride vs humility, or see the consequences of their choices.   I would also think through the consequences that I could use to help them learn the importance of the lesson I could see they needed.  Reminding myself of Bible verses, stories, and natural ramifications meant I was prepared when conflict came into our home.  I knew how I was going to handle things.  I also reminded myself during this planning time of my kids love language and made sure that I was showing them love.


  1. Used my time intentionally. I looked at all that I needed to do – maintain family relationships, look after the home, homeschool the kids, help in the community, learn things myself, and not to mention finding time to relax and refresh myself – so I looked at all that I had to do, and I looked at the hours in my day, and I made time slots for each priority.  I also looked at the things that I was doing and looked for opportunities to teach my children something.  If I was doing housework – that was a time to teach my children life skills.  If I was helping someone out, it was an opportunity for my kids to learn to help others.  If I was having my quiet time, it was an opportunity for my kids to learn to have time in their Bibles.  I also made time for specific things – when I saw a gift/skill in my children I made time for them to practice that or get lessons to grow in that, when I saw a need, I would arrange my time to address that need.  We often complain that the busyness of life just rushes us on, but we need to be intentional about how we spend our time, and when we are, we can meet our priorities.


  1. Taught our children to think in terms of a Biblical Worldview. A worldview is simply how you understand the world around you.  We wanted our kids to see the world – and all the issues concerning living in this world – through the lens of the Bible – what does God say about these things.  We’ve taught that by
    1. referring to God’s word when we talk about everything
    2. asking questions about the characters of books they read and movies they watch – questions that prompt them to think about the issues the characters faced

One resource that we highly recommend for senior highschool students and all adults is The Truth Project which is produced by Focus on the Family.  It addresses the foundational thinking for each sphere of life.


  1. Create specific family time where we can relate to each other. These times have evolved and changed over the years but central to our family life is that we seek time where we can be together.  As our children have grown older and have connected with more outside of the home activities it has become even more critical that we have set aside time to connect with each other.  Meal times is one of the easiest to be consistent with (we all need to eat) but also the quickest to let go by the by.  We can also set aside an afternoon, an evening and regularly plan activities to do together – it doesn’t have to include food!  Some families have their children plan these times, others brainstorm ideas together, and sometimes the parents treat the kids to a surprise activity.  There is no right or wrong way to do family time – the key is that we do it – regularly.


  1. Celebrate and affirm the individual – We mainly do this at Birthdays, but also on major achievements. Our birthday traditions include special food, sometimes a party, no school, no chores (a reality check once adult life and working starts!)  We celebrate 10 years old with a unique experience negotiated with each child, and we celebrate 18th with a community celebration as they enter adult years – the highlight of this celebration are several gifts which celebrate who they are as individuals, and reflect their passions and talents.

Each year I like to write each child a letter, reflecting my heart for them – I affirm my love for them, sometimes I record their growth and I leave them with my mother-heart prayer for them for the coming year.  This is private, and they have rarely shared those letters with anyone.


  1. Create opportunity for our children to be a part of the body of Christ. Our children are a part of the family of God and as such we have tried to get them involved – they have helped us on rosters – taking up the offering, picking up communion cups, serving morning tea, cleaning.  As soon as appropriate they have been on the roster themselves to read the scriptures, greet at the door or give a kids’ talk.  When I organise food to help others out, they help me cook and deliver.  When I meet with someone who is distressed, they join me in prayer first and then disappear giving that person time and space in our home.  When we drive to church they think about who they can be a blessing to instead of just wondering what they can get out of it. I want the body of Christ to be my children’s family – and to that end I get them to be a part of it.


  1. Tell God Stories. We don’t do this enough – but I believe it telling of the good things that God has done – or the modern way of saying it is: giving testimonies.  We often see testimonies as our ‘salvation story’ and yet God does more for us – our salvation was just the beginning.  So often we are asked to pray and we don’t celebrate the answer (maybe we don’t even expect one) – but God does answer prayer, God does speak to our hearts, He does intervene in our lives; He is our provider, our protector, our strength and wisdom – when we celebrate and make known how he is involved in our life we build up our faith and the faith of those who are listening.  I have used a scrapbook to document the good things God has done – but we can keep a memory box of representative memorabilia.  But regardless of how we keep the story – it must be told to our kids.



These ten things obviously reflect the things that we want for our children – your ten things may differ.  But the key is to ask yourself what do you want for your family, and how are you going to get there?



Also sharing and linking with others throughout the week:  

Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs (see more details on my Link Parties page)

Mom’s the Word, Mom2Mom, Mummy Mondays,  Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful Spot, Mama Monday MusingsHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),Women with Intention,  Whole Hearted Home,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home Shine Blog Hop,  All things with PurposeA Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool LinkupTip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape


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