March 1, 2015

Weekly Wrapup (week ending 27 Feb 2014)

by Belinda Letchford

homeschool weekly reviewLearning life skills:  The older teen years are full of opportunities to fine tune many life skills.  This may well be one of the biggest areas of learning going on in our house at the moment.



* Time management.  Managing your day starts with managing your night time, aka getting to bed at the right time to ensure you have enough sleep to be functioning and happy during the following day.  Our kids have been given the freedom to set their own bedtime between the ages of 14-16 (different for different children).

* Helping with building projects – once skills are taught, our kids can not only work on their own projects but they can be available to help someone else.

* Answering the phone and taking messages.  Since Peter’s business calls come into the house there is plenty of practice for this important skill.    The hardest thing for my kids to be comfortable with is asking for people to repeat things if they don’t catch it the first time.

* One of the biggest new things in Daniels life is that he is now working for 5 hours a week maintaining the yard and farm edges (not farm land).  This involves spraying weeks, mowing, cleaning the veranda and shed, checking sprinklers, clearing away fallen palm branches, washing the car and whatever else needs doing.  He is learning to be self motivated, and though he is given a general list we are encouraging  him to take responsibility and manage the different tasks himself as he sees fit.  At this stage we are still working it out with him but that is what we are working towards.



* Filling in forms. Creating accounts.  It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the fine print on forms – both in print and online.  Some people get more overwhelmed by all that type than others.  We need to slowly break it down for our kids as they get used to scanning, and understanding formal documents.

* Using office equipment.  Scanner, photocopier and fax machine (yes, we still occasionally need to send a fax!)  Naomi needs to use this equipment for her TAFE course – this week she printed forms, filled them out, scanned, and emailed them.

* Looking after children.  We had Little Miss staying with us for a few days and Naomi is often the one who I rely on when I need someone to look after her.  Teenage kids need to learn the balance between being a fun person in the life of a little one, and being the one in charge – it is easy for them to be too demanding and exacting.

* Opening bank accounts and using cashcard

* Understanding and organising your own ID paperwork – passport, birth certificate etc.

* How to make a decision when spending a lot of money.

* Understanding yourself – Naomi realised that she had no creative project on the go and that she gets stale about life (bit blah) when she isn’t creating.  So she’s started to create an outdoor studio / nook and has spent two days potting and repotting plants on our veranda, recycling pots and cutlery to make a ‘fairy’ garden, spray painted an old chair, and set up her painting easel.  My only concern is that I’m not sure she is going to fit all the creative ideas she has into the small space on the veranda.

* Naomi has just joined the youth group leadership team – it is a change for her to be an ‘adult’ when last year she was a ‘kid’ but she has great rapport with the kids and is learning to take on responsibility.


What I’ve been doing:

* We had Little Miss here for a few days.  I kept her home from daycare so that she could have some stay-at-home days and we could work on some behavioural issues.  Though we had 2 good days, it did mean I didn’t get much housework done.

* Over the last few weeks I have had a cooking challenge going on with my friends and sister.  We all own a Thermomix and have challenged ourselves to use it more.  I set a menu of 5 recipes which gave a diversity in tastes as well as Thermomix techniques.  We kept in touch with each other as to how the recipe went, and our families scored each dish.  This week we are diversifying a bit and have chosen 6 recipes – 3 for the Thermomix and 3 for the Crockpot.  We are also taking two weeks to work through these new recipes.  It has been fun, and motivating to cook interesting meals for the family again.

* My goal for this week was to help sort out Peter’s office.  Having Little Miss here took up a few days but I managed to play catch up on Wednesday and spend some time in there.  I was going to sort out his computer files as well until I remembered he’d taken his laptop with him over to visit his folks.  I’ll do that another time.  We are working towards a paperless office – which doesn’t mean we get rid of paper – it would be better to say we are moving towards digital record keeping!  So instead I decluttered and moved a lot of extra stuff out of the room – leaving enough room for a sitting chair and coffee table for him to relax in, or have a friend visit.

* I wish I could have a week for scrapbooking – nothing else!!  But that isn’t realistic, so I squeeze a moment here and there.  I’ve also been working on a sewing project.  For the next few months while Josh is gone, I’ll set his room up as a sewing room.  Hopefully having my machine out will encourage me to sew more often.

Here are a few photos from my phone this week:

Things we’ve been talking about:

* Do Hard Things:  Hard things are the things that God calls you to do – What are the hard things God is calling you to do?  If you can’t answer that how about putting it a different way:  What are the hard things facing you at the moment and how would God have you respond?

* This week is our first week with Joshua gone, and then Peter also went over to Queensland to see his folks.  So there are just 4 of us at home.  We have to get used to still sitting up at the table and enjoying conversation and games night even though it isn’t all of us at home.  There are some adjustments ahead of us – and sitting up at the table at dinner time is going to be one habit we are going to have to be intentional to protect.  One night we played Boggle over dinner – that was fun!

* What does it mean to do your job well?  What does it mean to be the best you can be?  What if you have skills that the world doesn’t value?  How do you determine if you are doing well?

* 50 Shades of Grey – since my kids are on Facebook, they’ve all seen it talked about – the movie won’t be showing in our town since we have an outdoor theatre so they can’t show R rated movies, but the DVD won’t be far away.  I appreciated this blog, A letter to my children about 50 Shades of Grey, because it lists the content and shows it up for what it really is.


Blog posts I’ve enjoyed reading:

* A new way to read with my kids

Do your children determine your self worth?

* 14 Important Lessons I’ve learnt from 14 years Homeschooling

* Prayer prompts to combat daily frustrations


Also sharing and linking with others:  

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

Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful SpotHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),  Capture your Journey,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home, A Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool Linkup, Weekly Wrap-up, Collage  Fridays

February 28, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Visit

by Belinda Letchford

When we visit we build relationships.


Five Minute Friday is a weekly writing challenge and linkup, where you write for 5 minutes on a designated word.   Every so often, I find myself with some writing time on Friday (or Saturday) and plan to take this challenge.  When I have done this I find that my 5 minutes 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.


This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is: Visit


To visit someone is to spend time with them – whether it was planned or impromptu.  To visit means to give time to someone, and I believe a visit goes best when you give of yourself as well.

In this harried life that we all get caught up in visiting can be left in the whirlwind of getting things done – and we are worse off for that.  We are social beings and we need friends, but more significantly, we also need to give.  Being a friend is a two way thing, having a relationship (regardless of how shallow or deep, new or old) is a two way thing.  We need to give and take – and we need to visit.

To spend time to visit – either a stranger who needs your love and care, or an old friend where there’s mutual affection and giving – we need to have the right heart.

  • We need to prioritise people over work – our work will never all be done, people come and go, opportunities to connect come and go – we need to find a balance between relationships and work.
  • When we visit we need to be prepared to be real – to show the real us, the hurting us, the tired us, the happy us, the doing okay us.
  • We have to be prepared to listen as much as we talk.
  • We need to be so others focused that we see their need, more than we acknowledge our own, and then we need to be brave enough to meet that need; whether it is a hug, a cuppa, or a help with a project.

We should go home from a visit, knowing some aspect of their life and our life is stronger. When we put off visiting, we put off building relationships.  This is true with our relationships with people and it is true of our relationship with God.

We need to set aside time and visit – visiting is investing in relationships.

…. And that is the end of my 5 minutes


As I wrote this I was thinking of four groups of people

  1. The people I already know, but don’t know well – do I make time (we have to make it happen) to reach out to more people than my close friends
  2. My children – yes, I need to visit with my children, not necessarily over a cuppa, but to spend time with them, getting to know their heart, to encourage them, and to be encouraged by them.
  3. Peter – to visit with my husband, means to sit and chat my day, to share dreams, to talk about significant and insignificant things. I visit with my girlfriends – can I visit with my husband?
  4. God doesn’t have ‘needs’ that are met by my visit, but He has a deep desire to spend time with me and for me to know him.  Regular visits throughout the day consolidate our relationship.


Linking up with:  5 Minute Friday

February 27, 2015

Does being a Christian effect your Parenting?

by Belinda Letchford


does being a christian effect your parenting-


A few weeks ago I asked my family a question:  Does being a Christian affect how you live your life?  We had an interesting discussion, had to get rid of some automatic ‘good-Christian’ type of answers in order to get to the bottom of this question.


We can do things as a Christian – do the right thing, teach God’s word, pray, have Christian friends etc but I don’t think that is really where it is at.


Being a Christian is being a follower of Christ, it is being made new, it is having a relationship with Christ and drawing on his “helper” that he gave us – the Holy Spirit.  Do we do life differently now that we are a new creation?  Do we do life differently now because Jesus is in our life?  Do we do things differently because the Holy Spirit dwells within us?


Do we parent differently because we are a Christian?  Not because we should, but because the Holy Spirit is alive in us and working on our heart and responses to life.


We can list all the things a good Christian parent should do – but that is just living by a set of rules that someone has drawn up.  Being a Christian, a follower of Christ, a new creation, isn’t about following such a list.  Being a Christian is about letting the Holy Spirit change us to be more like Jesus.


Read that sentence again – it is about letting the Holy Spirit change us to be more like Jesus.  Change us – not our kids, not our spouse, not our neighbour, or our kids friends – but us.


  • As I’m confronted with my child’s anger – do I respond as one who loves Jesus?
  • As I’m confronted with my families lack of support – do I respond as one who loves Jesus?
  • As I’m confronted with hard things in family life – do I respond as one who loves Jesus?


How would Jesus have me respond in these situations – how do I respond as a wife, mother, sister, friend to the frustrating, annoying, disappointing, sad things going on around me?


  1. By relying on Jesus love for me, and for others I can show His love – I don’t have to feel love, I have to act with love – sincerely. This can only happen as we soak in Jesus’ love, as we live in prayer, as we ask and ask and ask for His love to fill our hearts.  This is not a human love, it is a love that comes from loving Jesus.  He loved us while we were still sinners, that is we were still rejecting us and he loved us.  That is the love we are to have for others.
  2. By relying on the Holy Spirit to strengthen me. The oft quotes scripture from Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Paul is talking about being content with much or with little.  The inference is – whatever circumstance God has you in we can learn contentment, and Christ will strengthen us.
  3. By resting in Christ’s peace – a peace that is beyond our understanding – the most odd place to find peace, to the human eye, is in the midst of a storm – it is beyond our understanding. But that is the type of peace that we can have when we walk hand in hand with Jesus.


Being a Christian parent isn’t about all the things that we do, it is about how we do these things – personally, us, me.  Do we do the right thing with a grumpy heart?  An impatient voice?  Or resentful actions? This of course isn’t a response that honours and glorifies our Lord Jesus.


This week as we are challenged with the various issues and people in our family, let us rely on Jesus, let’s ask for his love for our family, and for his peace and joy to overflow in our heart.  When we are filled with his Spirit, the fruit of that will overflow into every relationship we have.



Also sharing and linking with others:  

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

Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful SpotHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),  Capture your Journey,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home, A Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool Linkup, Weekly Wrap-up, Collage  Fridays

February 24, 2015

Learning Together: Homeschooling with Multiple Ages

by Belinda Letchford

teaching multiple ages


All four of my kids are different from each other – they have different learning styles, different strengths, weaknesses and interests.  One of my ideals that I wanted to shape our homeschooling was that we had the opportunity to learn together.  Actually it was deeper than that – learning together was a teaching method that enabled me to be involved in the learning process.  Teaching four different lessons in each subject every day would have driven me to a packaged curriculum where I wasn’t as involved.


One of the questions that homeschool mums ask is how to teach multiple ages, multiple levels.


An idea that helped me with this was from Ruth Beechick who said, you learn to read and then you read to learn.  We had individual lessons to learn the study skills of reading and writing and then they applied those skills to the other subjects.  I had individual lessons for the math, learning to read, learning to write, and typing.  For the other subjects, the general knowledge subjects such as Bible, Science, Geography, Art, History, Character and language arts, we learnt together applying reading and writing as we learnt.


There are three aspects to any lesson

  • The content – the knowledge you want to be learnt
  • The teaching method – how you give information, and how the child receives it
  • The product – the project at the end, the proof of learning


By being aware of these three aspects we can easily adapt a lesson to fit all of our children.


The Content:  I found curriculum or resources that were easy to adapt to various ages.  My favourites were Five in a Row, and Answers in Genesis By Design science.  These gave me the content to work with.   Reading aloud is another way of coming together with one central idea to explore (Sonlight is a helpful book list at the least).


The Teaching Method:  We tend to teach in much the say way as we personally learn.  In our family this worked really well for my oldest two as they have the same learning style as I do.  But my younger two learn differently.  They need more movement, more creativity, more space to process.  I found the book, Every Child can Succeed by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias very helpful in helping me see the differences in my kids.  It helped me accept the fidgets, the need to drink, the need for sound and the need for quiet.  It helped me understand there is more to learning styles than simply Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic.  Because we were committed to learning together, and wanted the best for each other, we grew in tolerance when we varied things up a bit.  Though most of my teaching method was by reading books – I did try and incorporate different things when we started to discuss and explore a topic further.


The Product:  Up until this time in our lesson we have all been together.  I’ve been reading or talking, the kids have been listening, narrating, asking question, discussing.  It is at this point that I would start to separate the kids depending on their ability.  It is at this stage that the kids would start to respond at their own level. I would set up the youngest – they would be excused to go and play, or they would be asked to create something – a colouring in, a playdough model, cut and paste.  Those who could nearly write might do some copywork, or a drawing to base a narration on later, those who could read independently might be given a non-fiction book to dig deeper, those who could write would give an oral narration and then go and write a written narration, those who were advanced in their thinking would talk through their ideas with me further and then go and research and record to their level of academic skill.  If my children finished their work before the whole group then they would be expected to read, draw, Lego or finish other independent work. And then we would move onto the next thing in our day together.



Dealing with the very young – the pre-schoolers – is a challenge that often unravels these plans.  My strategy here would be short term pain for long term gain – we need to set aside time and teach and train the pre-schooler to focus, play independently, and be quiet.  There will be times that the pre-schooler needs some extra training to get up to speed.  I have found it best to train the pre-schooler and then work with the lessons.  This may mean a month or so where your school age children work independently on something different than your ideal plan.  If you see yourself needing such a time of training, consider the things that your older children can do independently, do some research to find apps, or online activities that they could enjoy for a month or so, set some art or creative projects for them to do, maybe you could do a series of DVD-school (Magic School Bus, or a series of documentaries).  Set these activities for the times you are training and focused on your pre-schooler – when pre-schooler is doing well, or having a nap, then you can pull out the priority choice of your planned lessons.  Once your pre-schooler is being productive rather than destructive you can start learning as a family again.


When I set our study routine for our mornings I would plan for the whole family – this mean I would include the things that I needed to achieve as a homemaker, as well as activities for the younger children.    As I set out each subject that the school age kids need to work on, I also consider what the baby will be doing (or likely to be doing), what the pre-schooler can be doing.


Because we were literature based learning, I found that the pre-schooler could join in for the beginning of every lesson slot.  We would have Bible time and one other lesson each day.  After the story was read, there would be an activity for each level – the pre-schooler would do the activity for the duration of their attention and then go and play – sometimes free play, sometimes structured play with activities I would set.  I would also include in the pre-schoolers day room time and screen time (ABC’s Playschool was always a favourite).  Once my older children would settle into their reading/writing aspect of their lesson I generally did a little housework – did the laundry, prepared lunch and dinner, swept the floor – or I’d focus on the pre-schooler again with another story time, and a focus activity just for them – threading, matching, painting, playdough, dressups etc.


So far I’ve focused on the pre-schooler as they are seen as a major disruption to lesson time.  But we also need to consider things at the other end too – the older children.  There comes a time when our children need to study more independently.  This happened at different ages for each of my children.  As I reflect back now, I see that the general knowledge subjects that we studied together as a family created a general knowledge, taught study skills, and consolidated their reading and writing.  There came a time where their personal strengths and interests became such a strong pull and motivator that it was necessary and right to let them study on their own.


If you are still holding your child’s hand in terms of understanding, processing, and analysing information/knowledge then they are not ready to be studying independently.  Not to say that they won’t need to you to help them get over a hump, or they might need you as a listening buddy as they occasionally process but if they need your help to do the work on a daily basis – they are not studying independently and there is no shame in joining the family for group work for a little longer.


The main benefit of studying as a family – other than using this time to establish study skills – is that it reduces the amount of prep the homeschool mum needs to do.  When studying as a family I am only planning for one class per subject, though I set different assignments.   When my children study independently they are involved in choosing course content, they are choosing learning methods that work for them, and they are working through assignments (the product) on their own.  For me to do that for each individual child will be exhausting.  So keeping everyone together until they are ready to do it on their own is a key for healthy homeschooling family life.



Also sharing and linking with others:  

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

Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful SpotHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),  Capture your Journey,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home, A Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool Linkup, Weekly Wrap-up, Collage  Fridays

February 21, 2015

Weekly Wrapup (ending 20-2-15)

by Belinda Letchford

homeschool weekly reviewWe’ve had a couple of big weekends this month.  After our friends from America left, the next weekend we went to Lake Argyle for a few nights with some friends to celebrate their daughters birthday.  It was a timely weekend away, giving us plenty of down time, time with friends, and time out in nature.  A  highlight for me was getting away with another couple on their boat early Sunday morning.  We found a waterfall – that I had seen in photos in full flow but it was still beautiful.  We sat and shared a few thoughts from the Bible and talked things over for a bit and then went exploring on the river.

Then last weekend we celebrated Naomi’s 18th.  Yes, she did have a party on her actual birthday so this was a second one!  Naomi’s birthday falls in the school holidays and her friends are usually away so she has often had a 2nd celebration but this one was a bit more special as we celebrate 18 more than 21.  At 18 our children enter the adult world (according to our society) and we choose this time to honour them and encourage them (how we do that will be a post for another day).   Naomi wanted a paint/messy party so she did all the organising for that side of things.  Then we had a potluck for dinner.  For the formal part of the evening we shared Nomi’s story with a photo presentation, and then a few speeches and prayers.  It was a special night to be with friends.

As far as study goes Daniel has been doing a great job working with his new routines.  He is starting at 8.00am now, where for many years it has been 8.30.  This just means he is able to get through his morning responsibilities that little bit quicker and consequently he finishes that little bit earlier.  He started to do a kit on Electronic Circuits but hit a few walls and became discouraged – so we’ve laid that aside for the moment and he has started a Udemy course on writing a short mystery story.  The course is making him think about the behind the story details as he builds a character and plot far more than anything he has done before.  It is excellent.  He spends about 2-2.5 hours three times a week on this course.  He is thriving with going to TAFE (Cert II Construction).  He is taking responsibility for getting ready, facing the day with enthusiasm.  He has a big day on Thursday as he goes to TAFE and then walks to a friends place till Boys Bible study.  This week he stayed in town with Josh so they could bring Naomi back from her Tap Lesson.  So it is a long day.  Then on Friday’s he is working around the houseyard and farm – taking responsibility for the gardens and buildings etc.  This week he sprayed, learnt how to drive a tractor along with his regular chores of regular garden maintenance.

Naomi (not homeschooling but still learning) has made her first face-to-face connection with her art teacher thanks to technology.  She too is going to TAFE, but a full time course externally.  (Cert II Visual Art).  This week has seen Nomi fill out forms, clean up after the party, learn minecraft, help me around the house, sell her first few things on a local Facebook page, do some photoshop lessons, piano practice.  She has started running again after a year of injuries last year, though it is very steamy humid at the moment so it is hard going.  In her afternoons she is working (she takes in ironing), Piano lessons, Girls Bible Study, and Tap Dancing.  Over the last few days we have been talking about her choosing a few clear projects to fill her mornings with  and to set some goals and disciplines around her, otherwise her days will slip into drudgery.

A few Sundays back we decided to get back into our Thinking Sundays where we sit down with our dinner in front of a thinking DVD.  Jessica is leading a girls Bible Study at the moment and they are doing “Do Hard Things Conference” DVDs so though Naomi is doing that also in her girls Bible study group, we decided we would do them at home as well.  Mainly because Daniel was keen.  Naomi and Daniel were quite young when we did this book when  it first came out.  The idea is that we watch something, and then talk about it.  But I have also found that there are times that the best conversations comes out throughout the week after we’ve had some time to let the message sink in.

And probably the biggest news of all is that Josh has left for at least 3 months, and maybe longer, depending on what opens up for him.  He has gone to Canberra for a 3 month internship in Public Policy.  We will miss him.  He has been my friend and support for many years. Unfortunately his flight was delayed but we weren’t told so we all rocked up to wave him off only to be sent home.  Some friends were joining us at the airport, so we all went out for dinner together to wile away 5 hours!  It was a nice way to spend the last time with Josh but leaving him at the airport was a bit of an anticlimax.


Also sharing and linking with others:  

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

Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful SpotHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),  Capture your Journey,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home, A Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool Linkup, Weekly Wrap-up, Collage  Fridays


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