Some challenges and a victory

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory”… don’t you think these are such wise words… wish I could say they were mine but you can thank Mahatma Gandhi. Basically the hard work or commitment to get to the goal (the victory) is more important than actually even reaching that goal at the end of the day.

It has been a weird few weeks, yet again I was tempted to throw in the towel with homeschooling (and general life) but you know what, I had many days like this too when Leah went to school. Life is not easy, there aren’t endless days of everything going to plan in all our decisions and activities we do and definitely very little goals met on a day to day basis (look at my laundry basket for argument sake). Life whether you choose to homeschool or not is hard work either way and requires effort. But remembering that hard toil beforehand when that day does come (and it does eventually come) is so worth it. The victory is so much sweeter really.

I had a day like that this week. I met up with an old teaching colleague (well she’s more than just an old colleague she is a dear friend) to chat about how I could go about encouraging Leah’s thirst and want to read in a way that would be beneficial and helpful. I am intermediate and senior phase trained, so by the time the lovelies got to me they could “usually” read … so I needed some guidance now. I’d been feeling quite low on all fronts, feeling like I wasn’t “doing” enough with Leah, that I wasn’t engaging her enough, that we weren’t going on enough outings and then what about handwriting and manners and… and.. just generally crappy feelings all around. Anyway we met at Cafe Roux (lovely place if you ever in Noordhoek) and I thought I’d be clever and get Leah to do some basic written maths and phonics written work. She’s not overly keen but she does it anyway and I can see this is as boring as heck and way too basic but anyway she’s doing written work that has to count for something right? … Wrong… What she needs to be doing is playing on the beautiful jungle gym, counting the monkey bars as she goes, skipping and hopping, picking up leaves and sequencing from biggest to smallest, playing with feathers and stones and working out what sinks and floats, coming up with imaginative stories as she weaves and sings under the jungle gym and trees. Ah-ha moment… I know this is the way children learn best with concrete things yet here I was making her do these “colouring in” activities as my friend politely pointed out to me and that it wasn’t really teaching her anything! Flip man, obviously that makes total sense but that teacher person in me needed to tick boxes again. I needed to have something on paper to show progression and attainment of knowledge…

After a good chat with my friend and chatting about all these concrete ways children learn, I left the playground less burdened, happier and more determined to focused on the important things in life, like playing and finding opportunities in those moments to engage, stretch and challenge her little mind. Yes, Mahatma Gandhi, satisfaction lies in the effort – the hard slog of learning through playing in Leah terms and the hard effort for me to allow these natural learning moments to occur and see opportunity and use it – not in whether we have ticked the box for the day, week or month. I am starting to understand the process of homeschooling that it is just that, a process that looks different for everyone as each person is unique… this was my little victory this week.

Getting into the swing of things

Leah has taken to homeschooling like a duck to water… her mama… well not so much! I started out with all these plans in my head that this would be the year of playing and learning through play with a touch of more structured work like handwriting and written maths but the reality has been quite different.

The first week went smoothly with a few outings and pottering in and around the house, painting, crafting, sewing, puzzles and a bit of sit down work but it soon fizzled out to Leah keeping herself entertained and me trying to catch up on all the house chores I had neglected. I know that she is only 5 years old and this is probably okay but I had a bit of a wobbly thinking that maybe I am making a huge mistake. But then I see what a change in behaviour there has been in her, she is much happier, more relaxed, listens better (although not all the time obviously) and she genuinely seems to be enjoying this one-on-one time with me. Even though I am a lot of the time sorting things out or packing away things the little conversations that happen between all the chaos has been probably one of the things I enjoy most about being able to do this with her this year. She has a safe space to say stuff to me and elaborate without interruption or fear of judgement. She has so many new interests and questions and this thirst for knowledge causing me to get excited about the ordinary things that we sometimes take for granted or overlook. Cutting up a pineapple for lunch is no longer just a simple task, it now involves 100’s of questions about pineapples which we now have the time (and energy!) to explore. She has taken to homeschooling like a duck takes to water because that is her natural default as a child, to want to gain more understanding and to feel secure enough to ask, investigate and discover. It is me, her mama, that has struggled with adapting to this new routine and new energy and spark from this very curious little mind. I won’t lie, it is a very exciting time, but I am so exhausted by the days end that I hope (and pray) for renewed strength each day in order to help her through this journey of discovery. I know that this isn’t just the struggle of a homeschooling family, I know that we all have children that are curious and ask a million questions. The difference for us (I have noticed since starting) is that she’d come home from school with all these questions which I would give half answers to because I was just so exhausted. The girls were usually by this time of day at each others throats, both vying for my attention. Then started the awesome crazy hours (those hours just before supper/bath/bed) usually starts around 4pm for us and then I am finished, no time and no energy left… I was depleted and felt defeated. We still have those days, but they are fewer now and maybe it’s just for now but I can’t help but think that the calmer start to the day and general flow has something to do with how the day ends for us.


Sooo… cutting a very long story short, we have had some teething problems and we still working it out each day but so far, Leah is happy and seems to be enjoying this new routine and I am finally (I think) getting into the swing of things.

This is week 3, I wonder what I will say next week…

If you are new to homeschooling, I’d love to hear how things are going and if you are an old hat homeschooling family, I’d also love to hear any tips or words of advice!