Saturday, March 02, 2019

Faithful Homeschooling

Throughout our homeschooling, I have always had a heart for encouraging other homeschool mums on their journey. I am blessed to be able to walk with someone who is considering homeschooling, or those who are struggling and need a bit of guidance. The Lord has brought a few women into my life whom I have had the privilege of walking alongside and who I now count as friends. Some of these women I have never met in person although I look forward to the day when we hopefully will get to meet. 

This post is the first of many that I hope will encourage British homeschooling mums on their home ed journey and I feel I can finally share our journey because... *BIG NEWS* our youngest daughter was offered a place at Chester University this weekend. We now have both our daughters starting university in the fall and our homeschool journey has NOT been 'conventional' by English standards. (Can't believe I'm using the word 'conventional' and 'homeschooling' in the same sentence!)

We have always sought God's direction in our homeschool, and let me tell you it did not look like the direction my fellow English homeschooling friends were taking. We kept with our Christian resources, our American resources. Both our girls sat their IGCSE English and Maths but they don't have the raft of GCSE's that apparently you need to get into university or even a level 3 college course.

I definitely went through many times of panic once we decided not to take the GCSE/A-Level route but I felt strongly that this was not for us and that we should stay true to God's calling for our family. The Lord promises that if we seek first His Kingdom and righteousness that all else will be added to us (Matt 6:33) and that if we trust in Him and lean not on our own understanding He will make our paths straight (Prov 3:5-6). I clung to His promises hoping like mad that I wasn't destroying my children's futures.

The Lord called us to raise our children for him. We were to teach them His ways while we sat at home, walked by the way, when we lay down and got up (Deut6:7), I struggled to reconcile myself to the fact that this was our calling and then suddenly, when we reached this high school stage, I was to abandon all that and 'fit in' with the English educational system which was at polar opposites to our educational methods and ethos.

There were times when I was quaking I can tell you. My friend and mentor, Sonja Woods from Oikos Family Ministries in South Africa was the person I would talk to when I had 'A Moment'. She always reminded me of Gods goodness and of His faithfulness. Her own testimony was inspirational and it is to her that I owe much for the time and encouragement she gave me. So we stayed the course.

DD1 was accepted without a problem to art college based on her transcript and art and nature journal. The interviewing tutor could see her passion and she herself believed in alternative forms of education. DD1 proved to be one of their model students and graduated with a distinction last year. She has since been accepted onto a Graphic Design and Illustration course at University and starts in the fall.

DD2 has taken the full American SAT route and today was offered a place at Chester University to study Fashion Communication and Marketing. Again, the head of the department believes in alternative forms of education. 

God has gone before us and opened doors for both our girls. Neither of my girls had the proper 'qualifications and requirements' for their courses yet both have been given places at college and university. I can only attribute this to the following:

* That what the scriptures say is true. God will be faithful if we are faithful to trust him. He goes before us and opens doors that we don't think can be opened because if He has a plan for our children no man and no requirement of man will stand in His way. He is the author of all things.

* Having a Plan. As a homeschool mom, you need to plot and stay your course. Choose your route and do your utmost to find out everything you can about it and execute your plan with planning and purpose. You are your child's best advocate so don't be afraid to be prepared to take on colleges and universities who don't understand alternative qualifications. Personally, I found more opposition at college level than I did at university level, but stand your ground.

* Keeping excellent records. I can't stress this enough. If you have precise records of your learning and grades each year you have all the evidence you need to prove your case of your child has received a well rounded and most excellent education. 

Now that we have navigated this path with success I feel like I am able to share this alternative way with UK homeschoolers so I will be writing a series of posts on the what, how, where, etc on the SAT route in England so please do bookmark my blog if you are interested to find out more. Do drop me an email if you have any questions, I'm always happy to help if I can. 

Blessings in Christ...

Friday, February 01, 2019

Last Week in January :: First Snow!

Happy February!

We had our first snowfall this week. We woke to a winter wonderland on Wednesday morning, I'm so SO glad to be back in the north. This is what I missed when we lived in Devon. 

I love that weird grey/blue colour that the world seems to turn when it's snowing.

...and watching the snow gently fall to the ground. I will never tire of watching it fall from the heavens, there is something quite peaceful and mesmerizing about it.

As the snow clouds move away you are left with a pastel world. Everything is muted and soft. Wednesday remained bright and cold then the temperatures dropped overnight to -6 degrees, nothing like the polar vortex America is experiencing but the next morning...

Hoar frost had formed on the previous days' snowfall. Like tiny little crystal trees, so pretty!

I can't quite believe we have reached the end of January already. I usually struggle during this month with the short days but this month has been ok. There has been much to enjoy and appreciate. February brings with it a whole lot more to appreciate and unique celebrations that belong to just this month. We have Candlemas on Saturday, Valentines Day and in our family, we have birthdays and of course lengthening days! Wishing you all a lovely weekend...

Thursday, January 31, 2019

This Week :: Nature Journal

I seem to find less and less time to spend here these days. I have the best of intentions but since starting my degree a lot of my time is taken up with that. This week I have assignments due, so a lot of time has been taken up with that. 

Although my days are busy with academics of all types, my daughters and my own, I do try to find time to do the things that I love such as rambling in the countryside and of course, working in my nature journal. 

Above is my Big Garden Birdwatch page. Each year I create a page to mark this event, it's become a bit of a journal tradition. I hadn't done the bird count at this point in time but I have since added to the page on the right. I had a really good count this year.

On Monday we went for a walk across fields, down country lanes and alongside hedgerow paths. It was so cold but look at that sky and that cloud formation! So beautiful.

We found some hazel catkins on our walk so we brought them home to draw into our nature journals. I adore how they all blow about in the wind. Another name for them is 'lambs tails' which is quite sweet. They do indeed look like lambs tails all hung up to dry blowing about in the cold January breeze. Nothing like a good country walk to clear away the cobwebs and refresh the mind! 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Big Garden Birdwatch :: A Citizen Science Project

The Big Garden Birdwatch is happening this weekend and we are all set! We've been participating since 2014 and it is something we look forward to doing in our homeschool. 

It is a great citizen science project after we have spent an hour counting the birds that visit our feeder we log into the RSPB website and submit our results. This helps them keep an eye on the various species of birds, monitoring the health of their numbers.

This year is a little different because we are now on a farm. We get lots of starlings picking about in the horse's field in the morning and for the first time since we moved to the UK, I've spotted numerous red wings picking about the field with them.

I'm contemplating my nature journal entry for this years bird count. My most favourite entry was the one from 2014. Every time I look at it I am taken right back to that day for some reason. I think it has something to do with sketching not only the birds but the setting as well. I think I'm going to do something similar in my journal this year.

If you are in the U.S then why not participate in a similar project called the Great Backyard Bird Count? This year it is running from the 15th to 19th of February, so lots of time to get organised and plan it into your nature studies. In the past, we have made some tasty bird nibbles for the occasion. Pinterest holds a goldmine of ideas.

Right, I'm off to prep my journal page...wishing you all a blessed weekend.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Nature Sketching

One of my goals for this year was to be more purposeful in making entries in my nature journal. So far it's been a fairly good month...

I started off by finishing the phenology wheel I kept the whole of last year. I was disappointed at the beginning of the month as I paged through my journal and realised that I had only made one or two entries for the whole year but at least I kept my phenology wheel. I'm wondering if I should do it again this year. I haven't decided yet.

Our first nature walk was focused on squirrels. We are taking our nature walk study opportunities to explore the different parks and woodlands near us. This particular park had loads of squirrels, all grey as the red squirrel in this country has largely been driven far north by this little bully.

Bully or not, we enjoyed watching their antics and find them rather sweet. In the winter months, they are far more brazen as they run up to you hoping that you have a tasty morsel or two for them. In summer they mostly keep to the branches above.

While I contemplate on keeping another phenology wheel of the seasons this year, I thought that to create one to track the growing daylight hours in the month of January would be a good exercise. It is very interesting to see how our daylight grows every day. It starts off slow and slight and by this time we are gaining almost two minutes of daylight each day. By the time we reach the end of January we should be seeing the sunrise before 8am!

My latest entry is of Decembers Full moon and the blood moon that I observed on the 22nd and 24th of December. The reason why I used the photographs I took of the moon over those two days as opposed to the Super Blood Moon that appeared over the UK in the early hours of  Monday morning is because we had too much cloud cover to observe the super blood moon this month. But I had captured some fab pictures in December of the partial lunar eclipse and of course that beautiful full Cold moon.

Full 'Cold' Moon 22 December 2018
I'm thinking that I may keep a photo record of all the Full moons (at least those that I can see) for this year. If you want to take moon photographs all you need is a good bridge camera. If you have a DSLR all the better but I took these photographs with my little bridge camera.

Partial Lunar Eclipse 24 December 2018 gives us a Blood Moon
Did you know that the moons all have names? The Native American names differ from the names as set out in the old English Almanacs. According to the Old Farmers Almanac, the Native Americans' full moon names were created to help the different tribes track the seasons.

I find folklore and the old ways so fascinating. It was all very in tune to the seasons, weather and farming life which I love. Well, that wraps up today's post. It's the Big Garden Bird Watch this weekend so I'll be back before then with a post. Until then, have a lovely day.