Lists, charts, tick sheets. Sounds really boring right? Do they work? Can you actually use them consistently, even after the initial novelty of homeschooling fades? Well, for me, the answer is a big YES, but, each family is different and each mum, dad and child in that house is unique. So the simple advice would be, work out what’s best for your family first. Try different methods until one fits. Just don’t go crazy putting pressure on yourself, or your kids whilst you do it. Keep things simple.
I homeschooled my children a couple of years ago for various reasons, so have tried different methods and routines. They are now registered in a state school, so I have some direction in timetable format during lockdown. This doesn’t mean I have to throw a load of pressure on. My kids go to a Welsh language school, and guess what, even though I’m trying to learn, I don’t speak Welsh! Seriously! I find a way to manage.
Believe it or not there is beauty in homeschooling. You say WHAT? Beauty in homeschooling???
When you get to the bottom of this post, you’ll find the essential list you need if your homeschooling day isn’t going according to plan. Or just jump straight to it now if you need to!
In our house, there is not a strict time schedule. I started with high expectations, and it soon dwindled! Please say I’m not on my own with this. I soon realised that preparation was key, but it doesn’t have to be preparing a month, 2 weeks or even 1 week ahead. It’s very likely something will change and suddenly your wonderfully planned schedule will have a big dent in it and you’ll find you are trying to play catch up.
What’s my ‘method’?
I get to the end of the day, stick 2 A4 pieces of paper together with all the energy I have left. You could use large sheets so you don’t have to stick them together but A4 is what we have in the house right now! The top half is a tick sheet with jobs I expect the children to do in the morning. I said expect……
It really helps them as well as me. It prompts them to get themselves ready before the learning begins and helps me to know they are getting on with it, already teaching independence. There’s a lot of teaching going on under the surface that we don’t even realise we are doing.
The bottom half of the A4 sheet is the school work tick list. I generally stick to a pattern of reading, writing, maths, walking, devotional time, computer work and a few more. I then list the activity that needs to be completed for those things underneath, put a big box next to it, make the chart look colourful and fun and stick it on the board. The children love to tick it off throughout the day.
Do we always get through the list? No. Does my daughter decided that actually mum I’m going to do it my way today, play with my Barbies and do some of my own craft, yes! This is the way things work in our house. The moment I try to force through a resistance, is the moment I open an entry for stress. When mum’s not happy, the rest of the household isn’t happy, SO true!
Each house functions differently, I have a 6 and a 7 year old. Both strong characters, but both totally different in the way they learn. I love having them home, but homeschooling can be REALLY hard, especially if you’re not looking after yourself properly. It is both mentally and physically draining. Sometimes it’s as if life is slowly being sucked out of you bit by bit throughout the day!
Ok, so it sounds dramatic, but seriously, there is truth in that. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. Trying to give both children the desired attention they need can prove difficult at times.
As with many parents at this time, we are all trying to juggle work, homeschooling, looking after the home and all the other demands on us.
What can we do to help ourselves and our children from going crazy in the process?
👉🏻 Each day is going to be different.
👉🏻 We never know how functional we, or the children are going to be until the morning!
👉🏻 Without sounding negative, we are not perfect, so the sooner we realise that we won’t get everything right the sooner the pressure will be lifted.
👉🏻 Have a plan, and work out what is best for YOUR family.
👉🏻 DON’T feel guilty!!! Get your armour on to protect yourself from those negative thoughts!
👉🏻 Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day.
So what’s this ‘beauty about homeschooling’ thing I talk about?
The beauty about homeschooling is that you can make it what you want! You know your children, their personalities, what makes them tick, their look that says, ‘mum, I just can’t do anymore’. I’ve got one of those looks too! You have pretty much all the influence in encouraging them in their learning and inspiring your children to have a love for learning. You might have a timetable from the school, a curriculum to follow, but you CAN do it your way.
Now for that ESSENTIAL LIST I promised you!
If one day you think I just can’t do this today, it really is OK. Make a decision right then to try and have a more relaxed day with the kids. Just make sure you make that decision and be firm with yourself about it. If you’re not firm about your decision, your mind will keep wandering off to what you think you should be doing with the children and the flood gates of guilt will open. Be kind to yourself.
Here is a list for you to hold on to for those days you simply can’t do it.
Print it off, share it with friends, stick it in your note pad or on your fridge, whatever. It will remind you about the important things.
Think about YOUR needs, yes, I actually said YOUR NEEDS!
Think about your own walk with the Lord, what is the Holy Spirit speaking into your heart through your prayers?
For us to grow in wisdom, we must begin to recognise our need for God. Surrender ourselves, allowing the Holy Spirit to move in the depths of our hearts and minds, revealing a greater understanding and an openness to this instruction.
We will not achieve wisdom by simply sitting back.
We must move forward with faithful steps, trusting in the one who generously pours it out to us when we desire a relationship with him.
You cannot build a relationship if you are not taking steps towards it.
We will not achieve wisdom by simply sitting back. We must move forward with faithful steps, trusting in the one who generously pours it out to us when we desire a relationship with him.
Today, I was too quick to respond to a situation. I responded with very little patience. If there is a given opportunity, if our weapons go down, the peace we have is snatched away.
Genesis 4:6 speaks of a conversation between the Lord and Cain. The Lord gives Cain a warning. The Lord says to Cain,
‘If you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be it’s master.’
Let’s be a master and take control! Be ready for the unexpected moments with our armour in the right place. Let’s start to recognise the root cause of our heart responses.
‘For the Lord God is living among you. He is a mighty saviour. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs’, (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT).
The jigsaw above reminds me of how I felt many times during the past year, but I still don’t want to forget 2020. So many pieces scattered in various places around the broken picture.
When we start a New Year, we have a picture of what we envision the year to look like. In the same way, a child will envision what they might like to ‘be’ when they grow up. I remember my dream job was always to be a wildlife photographer. I would picture myself in Africa, the Masai Mara, studying the African Bush Elephants, Cheetahs and lions in wonder. Photographing their beauty, and revealing their most natural behaviours.
I wonder how often that the year we picture ahead of ourselves actually looks like the same picture at the end of it. I’m looking forward to getting my planner out and prayerfully setting my goals and organising for the year ahead. It’s exciting, but I still don’t want to forget 2020.
The Broken Jigsaw
Putting a jigsaw together reminds me a little of patience and perseverance. There are times when we try and rush through, get frustrated, then lose our motivation and vision for the end result. We end up not far off from where we left off. When we take one piece at a time and thoughtfully find the right place to fill that space, it is far more satisfying.
The jigsaw is a picture of the way I feel about myself in 2020. Quite a few pieces have been pulled out and scattered around losing their place.
What I’ve come to see is that bit by bit through all the messy parts of 2020, God has graciously, lovingly and compassionately taken each piece of the jigsaw that was pulled out and scattered. He has then placed the pieces so perfectly back to where they came from. The difference about the pieces this time is that they are much stronger, and much more refined.
I don’t want to forget about 2020. Not because I haven’t struggled, not because I’ve adapted to the changes easily, not because I haven’t been in a heap on the floor in breakdown, but because I want to hold onto the way that God has spiritually changed me through it all.
Renewed my spirit and shown me that when we trust in Him and step out in faith we will see Him even more clearly.
Gods hasn’t given up on me, even when I’ve hidden from Him.
Taken me by the hand and revealed himself to me in the most profound way I have ever experienced.
Held the big pile of broken pieces in His hands and put them back together again.
Been faithful through everything.
He has shown me that He is the king and the only one to fear.
The Father that longs for us to seek Him
My wonderful councillor, and perfect redeemer.
That’s why I don’t want to forget 2020.
We shouldn’t dwell on the past, but we should keep hold of what the Lord has been teaching us, continuing to give Him the praise and glory. Remembering what he has taught us and what motivates us to keep pressing on.
‘We shouldn’t dwell on the past, but we should keep hold of what the Lord has been teaching us, continuing to give Him the praise and glory.’
After all the excitement on Christmas Day I thought the children might wake up a little later on Boxing Day. It didn’t quite work out the way I’d hoped! It didn’t really matter though, the excitement seemed to continue on in their little hearts as they quite happily played with their new toys. I stayed in bed a while longer.
My daughter loves craft. Anything creative, especially the type of craft that will get her hands messy. This morning she chose something a little less messy. I was grateful, especially as I wasn’t there to supervise. After a short while I heard her coming up the stairs to our bedroom. I remember her shining face, smiling with pride as she held a beautiful brightly coloured bunch of flowers in her hand. She had lovingly crafted them for me. Her way of showing love that morning.
I put them on my bedside table and she cuddled up with me in bed. It wasn’t long before my cuddling time was up and it was time for me to move. What a wonderful way that day had already begun!
As I got ready for the day ahead, I looked at the flowers my daughter had so lovingly brought me. There was something more to the brightness of those flowers than I had first thought. They were a gift that would last forever. As soon as I heard those words on my heart, my mind went to the cross, to Jesus. The precious gift that we receive when we make a commitment to the Lord. The gift of salvation.
My little girl blessed me so much. The Holy Spirit used her gift of love through the flowers to not just show the love she has for me, but to remind me of the precious gift we have in Jesus. The gift that lasts forever. The sacrifice made for all those who believe, those who choose to have faith in Jesus and walk in His ways.
I am so thankful for the love that God put into my child’s heart that morning. It’s a sweet reminder of the joy we can have when we give back to others what He gave to us.
In last week’s blog Mary Mother of Jesus – Part 1, I wrote about the beginning of Mary’s journey in motherhood. How her remarkable faith, humility and courage stands out in the scriptures. Her instant obedience to God’s commands, as she follows the path God sets out before her. Her righteous fiancé Joseph is obedient alongside her. Mary is a mother I truly admire. On one hand she was living to pursue her maternal longing for her son, and on the other hand, acknowledging and understanding that her son was Lord of all.
In Luke 2:19 we read of the beautiful verse that gives a picture of Mary’s close walk with God. It reveals her wisdom to quietly consider her situation. It shows her humility as she quietly ponders with grace and elegance.
‘But Mary treasured up all theses things and pondered them in her heart.’
I pray to have such wisdom as a mother, instead of being so quick to respond about the situations in my life! This verse is inspiring and encouraging. As mothers we too can hold on to God’s word in our hearts. We can meditate on them and use them as a shield to protect us along our way.
The consecration of Jesus and Simeon’s prophecy
When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons,” (Luke 2:22-24).
Mary and Joseph were obedient to the Law of the Lord. They took the poor persons options to offer a pair of doves or two young pigeons, instead of a lamb. This itself tells us that they were far from wealthy, (Leviticus 12:8).
Simeon, described as righteous and devout, understood through the Holy Spirit that he would see the Lord’s Christ before he would die. It is at this point that Simeon shares some very profound words with Mary and Joseph in Luke 2:29-32.
‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’
When Mary and Joseph listen to Simeon sharing the prophecy, it fills me with excitement to think about what must have been going through Mary and Joseph’s minds! We are told that Mary and Joseph are filled with wonder, (Luke 2:33). It’s difficult to think of any other way they would have responded after having heard such words. It’s no wonder she kept these things in her heart.
‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too’, (Luke 2:34-35).
How exciting it is to imagine the kind of wonder they must have been filled with! So far, Mary’s journey has been filled with so much profound knowledge about who her first born son is and was to become. A sense of overwhelming revelation that spreads through the scriptures. A wonder that is filled with astonishment and a divine peace in Mary’s heart.
Jesus grows in strength
After Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph return to Galilee.
‘And the child grew and became strong, he was filled with wisdom, and the Grace of God was upon him.’ (Luke 2:40)
Jesus, a Jew, was a carpenter, (Mark 6:3). Or, if we were to look at the Greek, (tekton) a builder. Of which trade, there is much debate. However, during this time, it was likely that he worked with his father Joseph as a tradesman. This could have been working with stone or wood.
Mary and Joseph go to the annual Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem. It is at this point we get another glimpse of the future of Jesus. We read about the beginnings of His calling to preach. Nothing will stop Him from this calling, to the point where he stays behind in Jerusalem without informing his parents!
Mary and Joseph are anxious because they can’t find their son, (Luke 2:48).
Mary had had such divine encounters up to this point, it surprises me that she responds with anxiety. This is one of many parts of Mary’s journey that I do love reading, because of the comfort it brings. It expresses how natural her maternal response is towards her son. Even through the divine nature in which Mary came to carry her son, she is still very much a mother to Jesus having a maternal protection for Him. The responsibility that Mary’s son was Lord of all could have easily put more pressure on her when she couldn’t find Him.
Again, we see the contrast of Mary living to pursue her maternal longing for her son, then on the other hand, her acknowledging and understanding that her son was Lord. An amazing and yet extremely challenging combination.
Social factors also contribute to an understanding of Mary’s anxiety. During the time that Jesus was growing up, there would have been much social disorder where Mary and Joseph began their lives as a young family. It would have been an era of violence and political turmoil after the death of Herod. A very difficult time for many, including families. There would be deep scars remaining after the implications of Herod’s diabolical decision to have every first born son killed. It is no wonder that they were anxious!
As mothers, we can all put our minds to this situation and relate in some way to the worry and anxiety that Mary would have felt. Perhaps frantically searching for her son. The stomach twisting, gut wrenching feeling of loosing sight of your child.
I come from a family of two sisters and one brother. I am the youngest. My brother was 4 years old when he decided to hide behind the shed in our garden! It became more than just a game of hide and seek. My mother had the whole street searching for him! He probably would have been too young to understand the trouble and stress he had caused my mother, but understandably she was cross.
Jesus’s authoritative words that He spoke when he was found preaching in the temple (Luke 2:49), confirms the description of His growing strength and wisdom described in Luke 2:40. After the search for Jesus, He is both obedient to his calling and to His mother. They leave Jerusalem and made their way back to Nazareth together as a family. We don’t hear the conversation that follows between Jesus and his mother, but we do read that again, with wisdom, Mary,
‘treasured all these things in her heart.’ (Luke 2:51)
This is not the only time we see the authoritative behaviour towards his mother Mary. His family try to intervene during his ministry, (Mark chapter 3). At this time he is accused of being possessed by Beelzebub. There are other times in scripture that reveal His authority. They show the growing submission of Mary to her son’s divine nature.
His final words to Mary
‘When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home, (John 19:26-27).’
This is wonderful! Even when suffering on the cross, Jesus ensures that His mother is cared for by John His disciple. Mary provided for Jesus as his mother, and now Jesus was providing for her as a provider as her son, but also as a provider as Lord.
It becomes clear when we look at Mary’s story as a mother and devoted child of God, that her pondering, wonder and treasuring of all things in her heart is a beautiful example of her profound faith. She is a woman seeking and trusting God as she faithfully walks in her journey in motherhood. We can apply this same action of wisdom to our own journey in motherhood. Taking time to feed our hearts and minds with the words of God. There is a clear sense of a graceful, quiet spirit that seeps through the scriptures as we are directed through the story of Mary, mother of Jesus.
As a mother she is naturally wanting to acquire the relationship that any mother longs to have with her son. In contrast, Mary also submits to His authority as he grows into a young man and begins His ministry.
For Jesus, His work is priority. Yet, the final words Jesus speaks to His disciple John confirms the undeniable love for His mother. Jesus makes sure Mary is cared for before the ‘sword pierces her own soul’, (Luke 2:35).
What can I do? I say to myself in the quiet stillness as I hold my hands in my head. What can I do? I hear the words, just….keep…..going. Priorities flash before my eyes. My little children, precious little children. My beautiful family. My strong minded husband who keeps me going when I can’t see the light through the one step forward two steps back. I fight through the brambles, the thorns, the tangled mess that try to block my vision of where I should be stepping forward into, just……keep……going.
Press on towards the goal. Keep returning to the vision, the reason for moving forward. What can I do? Helpless, empty and frozen in my thoughts, I must keep going. I lift up my eyes to the hills. I reach out, I see, I know that now, I can keep going. I can make a difference. I can move forward. Bring my children up in this world, to be strong, to be focused, to be faithful and to laugh. No matter how tough, no matter what arrows come our way, the Lord’s shield will be our refuge. He will – keep….us…..going…..
Mary, mother of Jesus, truly was a faithful servant of the Lord. This is clear in scripture. Her journey describes her role as an ordinary mother in nature, and her extraordinary spiritual walk with the Lord. The bible highlights her elegance and grace. There is undoubtedly pure joy in the Lord that saturates the scriptures when she speaks of Him. Even during hardship in Mary’s life she continues to walk through it with outstanding courage and faith.
The story of Mary, mother of Jesus, reached my heart in a new way this year. When we hear the same stories in the bible frequently, we can become complacent. We can think that we don’t really need to give it much more attention than we usually do. When in fact, there is always much more to dig into.
I cannot help but admire such a faithful mother as Mary was. Her humility in her responses to the situations she faced. She was in her home town, Nazareth, part of Galilee when angel Gabriel appeared. He gave her a message from the Lord. She was not expecting anything like this to occur. To her, it would likely have been just a normal day like any other until this event happened. Her humility is clearly highlighted in her response to angel Gabriel. She was greatly troubled by what was said to her.
I think about how Mary would have felt about the prospect of Joseph knowing that he wasn’t the father. How would she ever explain her situation? A virgin bearing a child. Thankfully, with God, she didn’t need to worry about this. Joseph, being a righteous man did not want to expose Mary to public disgrace. All became clear to Joseph through the angel of the Lord in his dream. He was just as faithful in his response to the Lord as Mary was.
Mary had a divine encounter that we will never experience, she is like no other in that sense, she actually carried the Son of God, the Messiah. On one hand she was living to peruse her maternal longing for her son, and on the other hand, acknowledging and understanding that her son was Lord of all.
It is clear, that at such a young age as Mary is thought to have been, she already had great faith. The outstanding response to angel Gabriel, is one of the many ways that her faith is delivered through the scriptures. Her obedient heart, undoubtedly expresses her favour with God, immediately affirming herself as the Lord’s servant and accepting without any form of hesitation, the calling and blessing from the Lord. Mary’s wisdom gives sight to her fear of the Lord.
Glory and Praise
Mary is said to ‘hurry’ to Zachariah’s home, in Judea. She meets with her relative Elizabeth, after having heard that she too is going to have a child. Excitement is ready to burst out of her heart. There is a sense of urgency. This is to me a beautiful picture of two sisters in Christ sharing an amazing revelation from God. It is a time of giving praise and glory to God. They share a wonderful divine and prophetic time together.
At this point we hear of the Magnificat, the hyme of praise. The song in Mary’s heart that is filled with God’s words, praises and glory. This song gives insight into Mary’s dedication to her meditations in the word and her time with the Lord.
As a mother myself, I can’t help but think about how Mary must have felt in the events following. Not only giving birth to Jesus, but having to give birth to her son at the Inn. Then, being told by Joseph in the middle of the night that they must escape to Egypt because the King wants to search for their child and kill him. Just the emotional, physical and spiritual impact in having a baby is a huge experience alone, and now this! Like most loving parents, they would have done anything to protect their baby from harm, let alone the son of God! They would have also known with deep conviction that when God spoke, they were to do exactly what was being told of them. Without delay they did as God said. Mary and Joseph’s actions show their obedience, and trusting and faithful hearts.
Digging deeper into the story of Mary, mother of Jesus and a faithful servant of the Lord, exposes the mix of both divine intervention in her life, and her earthly walk. She expresses maternal concerns and anxieties just as we do as mothers. Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is highly favored, before knowing that she was to carry the son of God, revealing to her that he is always protecting and watching over her. He was with her. He knew her heart. This can bring us comfort and encouragement, because he is also always watching over us, with us and he knows our hearts too.
God will always be waiting for us to call on him both during times of distress, and times of praise and glory, just as Mary did in her beautiful, scripture filled hyme. If we take time to be still, hearing the spirit, and meditating on his words, we can shout out in praise and glory and thankfulness for all he is doing in our journey in motherhood.
In part 2, we will move forward in the story of Mary, mother of Jesus and explore the time when Jesus is a teenager. We will also dig deeper into the relationship Mary had with her son during his ministry. Moving on to when she hears his final words said to her personally as he is led to the time of His crucifixion.
This blog post relates to the scripture given in Matthew chapter 1 and 2, and Luke chapter 1 and 2, from the NIV bible.
I’ll leave you with a piece of my daughters art work ❤️
Ok, so this morning the rain is heavy, it’s not exactly a morning that is encouraging me to jump out of bed and I’m convinced it’s the reason why my daughter woke up so early.
The wind is strong, it’s dark and it’s definitely one of those days where I would rather get all the blankets and cuddle up with my family on the sofa with a film than go outside, even the umbrellas don’t suffice when it’s this wet and windy.
But, this morning, I was taken back to the words that were on my heart last Autumn.
‘See the beauty that surrounds you.’
What a focus for the day! Our perception of beauty varies from person to person, but the beauty that surrounds us in what God has created is undeniable and His beauty always stays the same. His beauty shouts out from the tops of the mountains, from the crashing of the waves in the sea, from the array of deep shades of colours as the sun sets and the wonderful reminder of God’s promise in his rainbow. There is no doubt that His beauty and His glory is so evident when we looks at what he has created.
So even though we might look out of the window this morning and all looks grey, we can remember that God’s beauty will always stay the same, God’s beauty will always surround us and you can always look around and see His beauty that surrounds you.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’
Prayer can easily become a list of requests. We don’t necessarily go out of our way to make prayer this way, but in the same way our children come to us as parents, we naturally as God’s children have a tendency to only ask for what we want or need in prayer. It seems that even our prayers can unknowingly be filled with selfish desires.
The more that I ask Jesus to guide me through His spirit to teach and discipline my children, the more I see the parallel between my relationship with Jesus, and my childrens’ relationship with me. When our eyes are opened to the understanding that we too can behave in this way towards our Heavenly Father, we are able to give more grace during the times when our children push us to our limits!
We would all like our children to appreciate everything that is given to them and be thankful for all that they have, in the same way our Father wants us to be thankful in all circumstances. As parents, the very people our children model themselves on, we should ask ourselves, are we thankful in all circumstances and do our children see our thankfulness shining through in our home, during times we are surrounded by friends and family, and perhaps more challenging, in difficult situations. Can they see thankfulness in action? How are we demonstrating our appreciation for answer to prayer, for others and for our children?
If we can make every effort to display thankfulness, I believe that our children will respond. Giving a thank you card to a friend, thanking your child for doing something immediately after being asked, or for offering to help with a job, and going a step further to tell them why your are thankful and how it impacted you. Thanking God in our prayers and involving the children in this, making a thank you basket and during family time, asking each member to write down something they are thankful for and take it to the Lord together. There are many ways that we can implement thankfulness into our family life.
Until we start making changes in our own personal prayer time, in family prayer time, in our home and asking for the Lord to lead us by His Spirit into wisdom and guidance in the way we train and discipline our children, we will continue to struggle through in our own strength to maintain consistent foundations. Have you ever noticed that consistency fails without the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we begin to live in thankfulness, we allow the overflowing joy that is promised to us to consume our hearts instead of focusing on the disappointments. We can live in joy no matter what our circumstances because our thankfulness is not overshadowed by what may at times seem like mundane duties that we live through each day. We can be thankful in all circumstances as God always intended.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
‘Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you to belong to Christ Jesus to live.’