Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Today I am running the session we've all been looking forward to!

Here are my notes, so the ladies who attend can print them out or read them again if they desire.


The Mummalady

The above photograph was taken from


Debbie Ball

The piece of scripture I have chosen for today's session is

1 Peter 4:12 – this is from the Living Bible

Dear friends, don't be bewildered or surprised when you go through the firey trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you.

Instead, be really glad – because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterwards you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory in that coming day when it will be displayed.

If someone had read that to me during a homeschooling session when our first children were little I would have wondered what “firey trials” we were going to go through! But now I realise that every day brings it's own trials – some worse than others, some last longer than others, but as partners with Christ we can do all things for His glory.

Of course, there are firey trials when children go to school too – which can be worsened by peer pressure and lack of communication just from the hours you spend apart – I have seen that these problems are not easily solved by spending long stretches of time apart.

First of all in this session I'd just like to share some thoughts we've found helpful on our journey so far – then we'll talk about notebooking and other lovely systems available to us.

Here are FOUR things that I believe will make your life more enjoyable with your children.

Discipline and training




Work on first time discipline with your tiny children, and continue till they leave home! An undisciplined child is not pleasant for a mother to work or play with, or for visitors to visit, or for you to take anywhere, and later on – an undisciplined child will struggle with discipline to God, and discipline in their own lives when married.

When we train our children we work with them. We carefully explain exactly what is required of them in given situations. Work through things step-by-step. Sometimes we might go through something over and over with them, this takes a tremendous amount of time and effort but it is essential that we train our children well.

Teach your children to respect the property of others, their own property, other people's feelings etc. It is great fun to joke around with your children, but they must know the line when fun starts to turn into being cheekyt, which then turns into disrespect.

Gently point out what “disrespect” means so that they understand. Please do not let them practise forms of disrespect – they will get good at it if you let them. Do not allow eye rolling, sighing, talking whilst walking away from you, not answering you when you question them or tell them to do something ...

It is good practice to expect a child to say “Yes Mum” when you ask or tell them to do something. This means they have heard, and understand.

If you struggle with a child who is continually showing you disrepect then it helps if you view this as a positive thing (try very hard to view it as a positive thing!). It means that you have even more opportunities to work with and train that child before they take their disrespect out into the world when they are grown up.

Please never allow the children to disrespect their Dad - to you, or to their brothers or sisters, or friends. If you're aware of this then please work on your own attitude of showing respect to your husband – you might need to make it a bit more obvious in front of the children to teach them. When Daddy has taken everyone somewhere say “Thank you for taking us Daddy”. When Daddy prays for everyone say “Thank you for praying for us Daddy”. And afterwards talk to the children about how lovely it was that Daddy took the time to pray or take them out somewhere.

Every workplace needs a system. Your home is your workplace where you are educating and raising children. If something is a mess, or you're losing things all the time then sit down quietly and work out WHY! Do you have too much stuff in a space that is too small? Then either increase the space, or reduce the stuff! If you have lists of jobs that never get done – sort out why! Are your expectations too high, your time too limited, or is your time wasted on other things?

After watching the slideshow of the Duggars on their website I had one word ringing in my head – SYSTEMS! How else could you happily live in a family with 18 children and not get into a mess every day?

Shelves and boxes are one of the homeschooling Mother's greatest friends! Out of season clothes should be put in boxes away.

If children are continually making a mess in their rooms then they need help to cope with their belongings and the discipline to keep them tidy. It isn't fair to get cross with them continually if they don't have the skills to keep everything tidy. So if they 4.

really can't keep everything tidy – or if they are just being too lazy – try this system:

Get them to choose 4 favourite things, and take everything else away. You may choose to put them back in after a while, or they may not miss them.

Give them a limited amount of clothing to wear, and pack the others away for a time.

Work out a system for meals, toys, activities, school work, gardening work ... Systems make everything much easier!

When we work out systems in our lives some of our children will naturally start to develop their own systems.

Everything we do affects our children and it is so beneficial for THEM to pick up good character qualities from us rather than a whole heap of bad ones.

These children have been given to us direct from God Himself. It is our honour and duty to raise them for Him. Which means we need to know where they are and what they are doing. When we are home we need to know where they are at what they are
doing. When we are out we need to know where they are and what they are doing.

I believe this starts at birth and goes on until they are fully responsible adults! We are their parents and will be held responsible in front of God for everything that happens to them.

This means we need to make some thoughtful decisions about anytime we leave the children with other people, or we allow them to go somewhere without us.

Please don't think that it is necessary for your little children to spend time away from you to “learn to be independent”. That is totally untrue.

Now for some more thoughts – this time about home education.

During your research you may come across some labels given to various methods of home education such as Traditional Method, Textbook Method, Unschooling, Classic Method etc. All this is very interesting and worth a look if you've never read anything about it before. Your family can take the best of any of these methods to suit themselves. No need to put yourself under a heading.

I'd just like share quickly about the unschooling method.

For us “unschooling” means we don't sit at desks – we don't start at 9 am and finish at 3pm. We don't spend a lot of time settling down before a subject. We don't do each subject separately from a different text book. We don't pack our books away according to the time – we finish when we finish – we have total flexibility. We don't need to school at home – school is a place with one teacher and between 12 and 30 pupils in each class.

So in that way we are “unschoolers”.

I started our home education journey very much in favour of the “unschooling” method, and I met some interesting people who shared their thoughts with me.

Those who call themselves “Purist Unschoolers” may not use any text books or work books, they allow the child to choose subjects of interest to study. They supply resources and let the children use them as they wish. They have liberal amounts of time to play. Some parents are quietly concerned that all the computer games and listening to music might not be beneficial for their child, but the unschooling system will encourage them to trust the child, that the child will learn and progress in ways unseen.

I am reminded of the quote from Charlotte Mason (found in Vol 1 of her Home Education series).

“Most of us have met with a few eccentric and a good many silly persons, concerning whom the question forces itself, were these people born with less brain power than others? Probably not; but if they were allowed to grow up without the daily habit of appropriate moral and mental work, if they were allowed to dawdle through youth without regular and sustained effort of thought or will, the result would have been the same, and the brain which should have been invigorated by daily exercise has become flabby and feeble as a healthy arm would be after being carried for years in a sling.”

Let's purpose to NOT raise children who are like that flabby and feeble arm carried in a sling.

In my opinion there is a very healthy middle-ground between too much seatwork and too many hours spent studying while the children are young verses no expectation at all for the children, no guidelines, no goals and leaving the children to do as they please.

It is up to each Mum and Dad to work within God's plan for their family to find that middle-ground.


Now for some more ideas:

Please ask God for ideas to help your own family and guidance from Him in carrying them out. Often the Lord will give me enthusiasm for a new idea or system just when we need it – either we're going through a hard time, or we are all a little bored with the routine.

Keep learning and keep reading. Stay in touch with new ideas – borrow from old ideas.

If you take one of these ideas and have fun with it – even for a short time then that's great. Please don't think you've wasted time and energy if an idea doesn't work, if its too hard or everyone stops enjoying it after a while. Just discard that idea and go on with something else. If you have kept a note of it then you might want to pick it up again at a later date.

if necessary so children can reach things you want to them reach i.e., placemats and cutlery so they can set the table, books they are allowed without asking etc.

If you have the space try re-arranging furniture in the lounge when everyone needs a change. Make a cozy reading area, or a play corner.

such as child-sized equipment - broom, tray with little glasses and jug, little knives and forks, table, chairs or stools, mixing bowls etc It is more beneficial for your children if they have real tools – not toys. The child should be shown how to use them properly, to care for them and show respect.

If your child doesn't use them respectfully then quietly take them away, and try again another time.

Collect trays and bowls made from natural materials from op shops. Wooden things, pottery, wicker baskets etc. These can be used for lots of games – sorting beads, marbles etc. Have a system for keeping them all neat, and don't make them available to the children all the time otherwise they'll get boring.

At one stage in your life you might benefit from a very strict schedule showing times and details. Another time just a list of “To Dos”. Planning is important, but it will take a meeting between your husband and yourself and God to work out just how much detail you should put into your schedule or plan.

There's a saying that goes “If we fail to plan then we plan to fail.” And another one “If you aim at nothing you'll hit it everytime.” But please don't be disappointed if you try a schedule and it doesn't work. Just put it away for the future and try something else.

I have seen some pretty fancy systems for chores, menus, appointments, shopping lists, assignment sheets, organisers, tracking systems etc ... these are not my cup of tea, but they might work for you!

We have a yearly calendar on the wall for meal-planning, appointments and other important dates – and I have a spiral-bound book for making quick notes and lists, and a small notebook for writing in when people are ill, have operations or require medication, and large post-it notes on the fridge for a shoppoing list - and my NOTEBOOKS! More on that later.

This is the sort of schedule we are using for the children at the moment. It doesn't have times on it, just what is to be achieved each day. You are welcome to look at that afterwards if you think it might help you.

This system works for me, but if it stops working then I'll change it!

On the topic of schedules and time, I would like to encourage each family to ask the Lord what outside the home activities are important for your family. Over the last 10 or 15 years children's activities have increased dramatically. I don't think it's any co-incidence that over that time there have been more divisions among families and it is harder for parents to develop any unity amongst their family whilst living fractured lives.

Sports, music, entertainments etc – they can have their benefits, but they can also put stress on a family. A calendar full of days or afternoons out, meetings, practices and lessons does not contribute to a restful home atmosphere in which children can grow and learn naturally. And the more you allow your children in the way of outside activities, the more you are feeding your children's appetite for them. Soon you will find that your children are not content to have a day at home. They may be restless and bored.

There may come times in your life where unavoidably you find your calendar full of appointments and commitments which keep you out of your home – like a sick child, an elderly relative who needs assistance or some other issue – I believe your family will be able to deal with these challenges with more strength, and return to a settled life after the challenge has passed if you base your normal family routine on a simple, home-based life.

For those of you who attended the Refresh Conference you might remember Gabrielle talking about reading. I second everything she said! I have another couple of thoughts to share on the subject of reading.

Make books. Here are a couple of examples of very well-worn books from our place.


I strongly recommend this next idea:

Get a small tapedeck for your child as soon as they are responsible with equipment.
(Note – you must be the judge of whether a child is going to be responsible with equipment. Once again – I advise that if they are not responsible with something, don't get cross with the child – just take the equipment away from them. Perhaps it would be better if they have to ask to use the equipment, and then return it to you promptly when they have finished with it. This is part of learning respect).

Get the tapedeck and some blank tapes – or tape over old ones. Tape yourself reading poems and stories to your children. Keep their comments on the tape too. This is one of the ways our daughter learned to read. She listened over and over to a poetry tape that I made her. One day she was looking at the poetry book and she realised that she could read the words because she remembered the poem. And she took off from there.

The children can make tapes of their own stories or singing etc.

Work out a SYSTEM for storing blank tapes, and labelling and storing the tapes you have made.

If you would like to follow a curriculum or booklist be aware that you are looking at SOMEONE ELSE'S ideas of what constitutes a “good book”. You might disagree. Take it to your husband and God and decide from there. I think it's ok to use a booklist as a springboard to start off, but still be very discerning. Treat any lists like you would a watermelon – chew on the good bits and spit out the pips!

Have your older children sit with a clipboard and paper while you read – they can be taking notes of interesting phrases or words – or drawing a picture for their notebook.

Some children might not be able to draw and concentrate. Some children might not be able to sit still and concentrate. Pray for wisdom about what to expect from each child.

Especially to your older children. Have them think of a question, or give them one. They must learn to think things through and if another question arises from their thinking, then they should move onto that question. The child must work hard not to let distractions take over.

For younger children try to guide their thinking out loud. When they are old enough to write fluently have them think with a pencil in their hands so they can write their train of thought. This avoids distraction, and they can keep their thoughts in their notebook.

If we are not careful Lego can become spread everywhere, and cause many a injury
to bare feet (and something nice for the puppy to chew on behind the chair). But Lego is such a worthwhile resource that we try our best to keep it contained and we play with it a lot.
I can't ever begin to understand how playing with Lego has helped develop the minds of our children. Looking at the entries at the Pet & Hobby Day it's not surprising to see such fantastic Lego models produced from various children in our grupo – and all we have to do is supply it, and keep it contained!

Unfortunately in the last 10 years we've seen a lot of evil creeping into the Lego range. As in all things: books, music, toys, DVD's, games etc discernment is needed by Mum and Dad as to what they will allow in their home.

Just before we leave the Lego topic – we have found a great game called “Lego Communication”. Sort out two identical sets of bricks – one per player. The two players sit back to back and the “caller” announces what he is making. “I am putting the black four-block onto the middle of the long blue thin one. Now I'm putting the wheels in the centre of the blue thin one.” When all the pieces are used the players check to see if their models are similar. If not – where was the problem? With the caller or the listener? Very interesting game!

I saw an advertisement for a very elite Independent Primary School. They offered a low child/teacher ratio (so do we), they say that “All buildings will be aesthetically pleasing, colourful and with natural lighting.
Learning spaces will be bright, comfortable, warm, inviting, and ergonomic with the feeling of a homely living space rather than an impersonal environment.”

We can do that too.

They say that “All students have the opportunity to take place in the real processes of
running the Centre – gardening, maintenance, commerce, administration,
food preparation, development of rules, site layout ideas, are amongst the things that students will engage in to develop practiced citizenry and an understanding of the big wide world before they leave school.”

That's no problem for a home educating family. The above holistic-style school charges $1500 per pupil, per term. That's $6,000 a year for ONE CHILD!

But for a bare minimum we can homeschool with the following: a Bible, some art supplies (coloured pencils, coloured paper, scissors, sellotape and watercolours),

Notebook per child, library card, book fairs, recycle centres and op shops, a
dictionary, small tapedeck and tapes and wiser, older friends.

Add time goes on and money permits add your own “how to” books, paper punches, felt pens, coloured cardboard, a computer and printer, or photocopier

Save some money for the “back to school” sales in January/February. When all the school children are buying exercise books and a huge list of other books we can buy lots of lovely art paper, colourful folders for Notebooking, lined refils, coloured pencils, pens, rulers, marker pens, glue sticks, sellotape etc.

Read and learn. Read biographies and autobiographies about missionaries, women married to famous men, homeschooling “how-to” books, cookery books, natural health books - ask around to see what other Mums are enjoying reading.

If you find that you just don't have time for reading try something that is working for us at the moment. After lunch we all have quiet time. The children know they must play or read quietly in their rooms. It's not going to be this straight forward after our new baby arrives, but having worked this into our shedule for some months now it will be easier to return to it when things settle down somewhat. In my opinion this benefits everyone.

In relation to Mummy studying and learning - imagine you were new at a job and you wanted to excell. You would seek out information and learn everything that would help you, and move you forward and serve those who worked with you, and your boss.

Being a wife and mother and Home educating our children is more than just a job! So we must learn and study – ask the Lord for enthusiasm to learn more about cooking, nutrition, natural health, exercise, games, systems!!

For those who haven't heard yet – a lady in our group sells these fibres and they make cleaning your house MUCH easier! With NO chemicals.

For example – if you give a responsible child an all-purpose cloth and a spray-bottle of water they can go around the whole house and clean all the light-switches, door frames, door handles, front of fridge etc – just using the cloth and the water.

If you have a bathroom cloth or glove hanging in the shower then you can clean the shower with just the cloth before you get out.

If you have a bodyline cloth then you don't need to use soap on yourself, so the shower actually stays cleaner longer.

If you have an outdoor glove you can clean anything that lives outdoors without having to take the time to wonder “What shall I use to clean it?” And it cleans things very very well. Even when the dog rolls in something black and smelly.

A kitchen glove will clean all the grease from around the cooking area including range hood – with only cold water.

A kitchen maid will allow even your small children to do the washing up with only cold water – no washing up liquid, no hot water. YOU clean the kitchen maid when they have finished.

10 minutes before tea, when the table is set and everyone is waiting for their tea get them to play the “GRAB-A-CARD” game.

You prepare this ahead of time by making cards with easy chores on and putting them in a box or bag.

Everyone grabs a card and runs to do a job for 5 – 10 minutes. If a child finishes their job they should help another child to finish the one they were doing (if that child WANTS help to finish).

This is a brilliant idea that I've used for many years now.

Don't trust your memory to store up ideas for “what can we do now” moments.

To make our list I went through our house and looked at all our toys and resources and wrote them down. Then over time, I've added other things I thought of that the children enjoyed, like bubbles, playdough, splashing in puddles, wrapping small parcels, making iceblocks, musical cushions, box of musical instruments to make a marching parade, etc.

These toys, games and activities are not available to the children all the time.

They have a few toys that they can play with by themselves without asking, but in our house we get into a mess too quickly if they have too much available all the time.

If you train your young child to stay on a blanket for a short period of time with a toy or activity it makes your reading out loud sessions easier, and you can take the blanket with you when you go to church or visit friends.

Choose an appropriate activity from your list (i.e., not playing with shaving cream!) and don't give a box of marbles to an 18 month old!


Onto the actual subject of today's session:

First up – because we love it most:

What is notebooking? As far as my research shows it's an American term that relates to the use of a folder - the American's use 3-ring binders, but we tend to use 2-ring binders over here.

So who does notebooking?

Everyone from the 3 year old right up to adults.

Start keeping a notebook for each child as they produce work you think they'd like to look back on one day. Or pages you make for them to see what they liked, or where they went when they were a certain age.

You don't have to keep every little scribble – and it might not be work they actually produce themselves – it might be a train ticket stub glued onto a page with a photo of them on their first train ride – that's the fun of notebooking!

This encourages children to work neatly and practise study, retrieval and organisational skills.

At the end of the year – or when the Notebook is full just put it away carefully – don't take everything out so you can reuse the folder – it is much easier for you or the child to re-read their work when it's still in a folder.

Until around the age of 7, 8 or 9 when a child is ready to take over, it will be Mum that directs what the children put in their notebooks. Some pages can take a bit of time, others may be just a quick picture and some words – try not to make each page a masterpiece. That could set a child up for stress if they can't produce something similar.

With older children Mum still oversees and gives suggestions and directions, but children who notebook often come up with their own ideas – delight directed learning – and it's all kept safe, in one place. Older children may take a little more time to adjust to this system, but it is very important for them to be comfortable with research and retrieval skills – and not just following a curriculum. They need to do a lot more in the way of self-motivated study on things that interest them – producing written or printed work to assemble into some sort of order.

Mums need to do notebooking too!

I'll come back to that one later

When I first learned about notebooking (and realised that I had been doing it myself for several years) I explained it to our children. Our 7 year old daughter was delighted and had visions of making scrapbooking style pages. Our 14 and 16 year old sons were a little worried till I said “The only thing you can do wrong IS TO DO NOTHING”.

Their notebooks do look different from their sister's one. Fewer pictures nowadays - less frills – but they refer back to them because everything is safe in one place.

Each child will settle into the sort of system that is best for them if they are directed and have the resources to produce their best work. Some may just produce the work, put it into a sheet protector and be happy. Others will cut out pictures, trace and colour borders around the page, add photographs, lace, buttons ... it's up to them.

Mum – be a good example – start a Notebook right away if you don't have one already!

Here is HOW we do it:

We do make our notebooking page, put it into a sheet protector and put it into the notebook – or folder.

It's safe, it's protected and the children love to go back through them – perhaps when a grandparent or friend shows an interest in what they've been doing.

This method is brilliant for non-curriculum families – but I would strongly encourage curriculum users to have notebooks too.

Our older boys like look back on pictures and stories they dictated to me and they illustrated when they were little. I have kept them reasonably neatly, but if we had been notebooking with sheet protectors, it would have been much easier for them to read through and laugh over their work now.

Notebooking can give children a real sense of purpose – that their work won't be lost or spoiled, and they are building a memory book.

There are many websites with notebooking ideas – I've been through a lot of them and have gleaned what I believe to be the best ideas from each which I will share soon.

Some websites have free printable worksheets – some have a picture of a famous person, place, or time in history - and room to write, so the child will research the person or place or time in history and write a few lines about it.

We don't know where that might lead. It could spark a whole world of interest for that child. Like the time we decided to use some Charles Spurgeon quotations for copywork. This has gone on and on as we have found more and more gems of information from Mr Spurgeon!

Suggest things to your child – encourage them – provide materials and then it may be a case of “Step out of the way Mum!” You may have a child that really takes off by themselves and launches into many many areas of interest and study that you would not have thought about.

A few weeks ago our oldest son went back and found some information he had printed out on the inventor Nikola Tesla. He re- read it, then he did more research on various projects that Mr Tesla had been involved in.

If you have a child that does a lot of research on a particular subject and it's all kept neat in their Notebook then that Notebook becomes a text book! Someone who knows nothing about that subject can read the Notebook and learn a lot.

How many notebooks can you have? How many do you want to have?

Some people start out with putting all their work into one notebook – but later they might like to separate them out into various notebooks for different subjects NATURE STUDIES / ART HISTORY / QUOTATIONS / BIBLE COPYWORK etc

And now here are my top ideas for things to include in your notebooking:

a photocopy of a letter your child has written to someone

any letters or cards they receive

a picture or activity they have coloured at church

certificate for completing a course i.e., dog training or first aid

certificate made by parent for child mastering a skill i.e., washing up

a completed chore chart

copywork which may include: Bible verses, hymns, worship songs
quotations, lists of continents, oceans or capital cities, poetry

photographs arranged in a scrapbook style of birthday parties, picnics, educational visits, visits with friends ... these are ESPECIALLY great to look back on in years to come as everyone grows up and changes

ask older friends, grandparents or church elders to write a favourite piece of scripture – cut it out, mount it, decorate it - you could even put a photograph of the person on the page

copy a favourite recipe and illustrate or take step-by-step photographs

child's own poetry

child's drawing of each family member (and pets) and a short description of person

research notes

drawings and explanations for experiments

- notes from a “how-to” type book (as in “How to Write For Children”)

if child is saving money for a certain goal then make a chart and put into notebook – or if the chart is on the fridge then put it in the notebook when it is completed – maybe with a photograph of the child holding the item they have saved for

a page from a workbook that a child is particularly pleased with

ideas they get from a story they read or hear which they think they could change to make their own story.

stories the child has written.

- artwork – either something instigated by Mum i.e, 'let's all do some string paint pictures – or paper mosiac work – or it might be some work the child has done quietly by themselves

pictures traced – a very good skill to practise – you can use baking paper instead of expensive tracing paper, but very keen artists should be treated to a lovely pad of real tracing paper.


Please Mums – do this as an example for your children, and to help you organise your life!

The only thing that you may find hard is disciplining yourself to keep the notebook in the same place all the time so you can find it. Make a shelf space available right away!

One of the most valuable things you can file away safely in your Notebook is your thoughts on WHY you are doing something. WHY you are homeschooling. So you write your thoughts, date it and file it away.

There are many reasons for doing this – one of them reminds me of this story:

Someone gives you a recipe. You cook it and everyone enjoys it. Next time you don't put garlic in, and add a few more tomatoes. Everyone likes it. Next time you miss the garlic, put more tomatoes and put macaroni elbows instead of pasta bows, and you don't put sugar in. Nobody likes it anymore. Things have slowly changed and you need to get back to the original. But if you haven't kept the original you can't see what you were doing at the start!

If you write down WHY you want to homeschool or WHY you have made a family decision not to attend youth groups, or WHY you have decided that one particular child won't be learning to drive until they are at least 17 – it might help you when you have forgotten your original reasons – or you might review your original reasons and find that they're not relevant any more.

And some more things to put into your own personal Notebook:

homeschool newsletters

interesting articles from newspaper or magazines that you may wish to discuss with the children sometimes

patterns from magazines or books – i.e., folk art or embroidery

church roster with your family's name highlighted

list of favourite meals – makes weeky meal planning much easier

list of things needed next time you order from a company i.e., stationery or health supplements

blank notebooking pages you come across and want to keep safe for the children to do one day

any instructions that you may print off the computer on how to do a task

list of big projects to do around the home i.e., build a fence or a garden and you can get the list out and cross them off as completed

one page per family member to write their illnesses and any treatment required.

Notes made from a sermon

phone lists

address lists

household hints i.e., getting rid of ants – how to stop cats spraying

ideas for presents for people – as someone mentions a thing they like i.e., a certain type of chocolates, or aftershave – make a note of it so you know what to get them for their birthday

your own personal artwork

- master list to transfer to your yearly calendar i.e., wash vacuum cleaner filter every 6 weeks; trim dogs nails every 3 weeks; cut goat hooves every 6 weeks; wash outside of house every 6 months; clean gutters ...

If you are making quick notes you don't need to use sheet protectors.

Don't make this harder than it needs to be.

If your child is battling with getting things JUST RIGHT so they can go into their notebook then first of all we might need to look at our attitude towards our own work, and our attitude to their work, and then gently encourage them that as they grow up they will want to see an honest representation of what sort of work they were producing at different ages.

Don't think that we do all of these things - all the time – they are ideas I have collected and am excited about using – and we're on the journey too! And please don't compare your style of notebooking to anyone else's – this is an opportunity for your family and your individual children to really take off in a way they feel comfortable.

To make it a lot easier for you, I have been able to get some beautiful notebooks or folders – and I have printed out some lovely notebooking pages and activity sheets, put them into sheet protectors and have them for sale.

The folders on their own are $6 – the folders with sheets in are $8 each. I suggest that you buy a folder for each child, and the folder with the sheets in for yourself – then you can give out sheets as necessary and use your folder as your own personal Notebook. A bit like I have with mine.

There are no instructions – you can't do anything wrong with the activity sheets – your child can colour them, make them into card games or cut them out and stick them on to a piece of cardboard and write on them, put a poem on them - whatever the child likes – guided by you perhaps.

Lapbooks are like a unit study very attractively displayed. They can be as simple as this 4 year old's cheetah study, or more complex with little booklets and information wheels like this sled dog study.

Hannah Batt has some more lapbook ideas to show us.

To find the templates and ideas just Google “lapbooks”.

I'll ask Hannah to speak on Lapbooks soon, but my one bit of advice would be to keep a boxfile handy to put all your bits and pieces in as you produce them. Then when you are ready to assemble your lapbook you have them all in one place.

The idea behind this is a display folder that your child can sit in front of them while they are working – and it holds all the important information they are concentrating on for that year – or part of a year – whatever works best for you and your child.

You don't have to print everything on coloured paper and have it all looking perfect. Do some handwritten information, some printed – some colourful, some black and white.

Get to the child to help you when they are younger, and then have them make their own mini-offices when they are older.

Some examples of items to stick into your mini-office are:

Child's name, address, phone number, birthday etc

List of names of their family, plus birthdays.

10 Commandments

Books of the Bible – Old and New Testament

A number chart – 1 to 100

Letters – uppercase and lowercase

A piece of scripture they have chosen, or Daddy, pastor or church elder has chosen for them for the year.

Colour chart – colours and words

Left hand – right hand

an analogue clock

money chart

maths symbols: + - = etc

printed out thermometer with F and C

punctutation marks

grammar rules/parts of speech

map of the world – map of New Zealand – map of neighbourhood

NZ Flag

tally marks and how they work

favourite poems

vowels – long and short

shapes and their names

photograph of child/family/friend/grandparents etc

measurements mm,cm,m etc

quantities grams, kg etc

paper currency and coins

prayer list with post-it notes. Notes can be taken off and put into Notebook when answered.

Older children can have the periodic table, tricky maths facts, foreign language words to learn, large passages of scripture and other things that they would benefit from seeing in front of them all the time.

Keep the child's mini-offices safe when they are finished with. The child will be interested to look back in years to come. Or you can re-use the same ideas for the next child along.



This is an idea we loved, but didn't get around to making this year.

You get a large piece of corrugated cardboard or better still would be corrugated plastic. Make it into a shape like this very rough one we made then inside you place sticky velcro dots, you can hot-glue little magnets and pegs etc then you've got a place for all your equipment. Your child puts this up in front of them while they are working and they have access to:

pencil box
post-it notes
a small cork tile to use as a notice board
a zip-lock bag with paperclips, rubber bands etc

At the end of the session the child can fold the mini-office up, put it beside their desk or behind the couch and nothing will be lost.

This fascinating, and very adaptable system was devised by a lady who needed to work out the best way to home educate her autistic son.

The system looks like this:

First you get a shoe rack with four shelves.

Next you put three clear boxes in each shelf.

Each box has a velcro dot on the front.

On the velcro dot is a laminated square with a number written on – one number per box 1 – 12.

In the evening the Mum puts all the work which she requires her child to do during the next day into the boxes. One subject per box.

During the day the child works through the boxes (independently or with Mum). They start at box number one, take out the work and complete it. Then they take the velcroed number off the box, put the box on the floor next to their desk and put the number onto their schedule strip.

At the end of their work the shoe racks will be empty, the workboxes will be empty in a stack beside their desk and all the numbers will be neatly put onto their schedule strip.

So that evening Mum comes along, puts all the boxes back, puts the velcro numbers back on and fills the boxes again.

This system works exceptionally well for the sort of child who needs to know what is expected of them during the day, and they will be rewarded by emptying the boxes as they get through their work.

There is an e-book you can purchase which explains this system in more depth, and the book has a lot of ideas about what to include in the boxes and chore charts apparently.

We have adapted this system to using just three magazine holders – which I put our seven year old's work into for the day. I will be extending the system next year with another three boxes for our four year old. These boxes suit us because they fit into our bookcase.

I have heard comments from mothers who have implemented this system – a lot of them say that they have finally got a lot of resources off their shelves and into use that they never got around to using before. Also a lot of fun things can be included in the boxes.

Here are some ideas for putting into the workboxes:

maths book
handwriting sheets
book and paper for copywork
art supplies for cardmaking
unit study work
lapbook work
little cards written by mum that say: 10 minutes running outside, or have a snack in the kitchen, or listen to music for 10 minutes, or practise piano 20 minutes, or do a puzzle with Mum.
A foreign language CD to listen to for 20 minutes
spelling word list
a book for reading out loud, or to read to younger sibling
sewing project

For a younger child it would be fun for them to check their boxes every day and find things like:
colouring sheets
counting bears or similar for maths practice
threading beads
photograph of them doing some outside work to show them what they should do
lacing cards
play dough
music or poetry tape to listen to.

This system has been in use with some people for a long time as an excellent way to review materials before a test.

My biggest advice with Index Cards is that you need a SYSTEM to keep them all in order and useable!

There are children who LOVE sorting the cards, and the tactile reward of shuffling them and stacking them up.

Some of the things you can use Index Cards for:
numbers with dots and numerals
days of week
months of year
multiplication tables
maths terms
learning a new language
roman numerals
spelling words
names of family members
flags of the world
oceans of the world
mountain ranges in the world
capital cities

That's the end really – but I just want to encourage you again to take what you think would suit your family and adjust it to fit.

I hope there has been something here that has given you some enthusiasm for next year, and I'd just like to leave you with a poem that speaks to me about the high calling and sometimes pain and anguish of motherhood but as the poem ends it shows the ultimate reward we can gain through all these experiences.

Here are a couple of links to help you dig deeper:

blogtalk radio has a wonderful indepth show by Cindy Rushton



Our favourite place for supplies is Officeplan. Phone them on 0800 600 123 and ask for a catalogue - they are beautiful big catalogues that our daughter loves to take on car journeys to read! They have wonderful art equipment, paper, cardboard, staplers etc plus office equipment. Any orders over $40 have free postage within New Zealand.

The Mummalady


Alison said...

You are a gem. Thanks for the fresh inspiration and encouragement. I have just printed this all out and looking forward to implementing many of the ideas adapted to suit our family.
Daily Reforming, Mrs Bart

The Mummalady said...

Watch for more posts about the workbox system and how it is working for us as the year goes on. Bye for now!