Rosemary: Secular Homeschool Magazine

“Rosemary” is a secular homeschool magazine produced out of the U.S.A.

It comes out three times a year – Spring, Autumn and Winter.  I joined their Patreon page for the Digital edition and duly received my copy of the current issue – Spring – which is themed around History.

How could I have resisted?  It’s history!

Here is a quick look at the inside of this particular issue, from their Patreon page.


As you can see from the video, the magazine is advert free while the art is beautiful throughout.  There are articles by folk you may have come across in your home education journey, such as Julie Bogart and Peter Gray.

In total there are eight articles over the 60 pages, an obligatory book section and a lovely essay.

The entire magazine was light and easy to read, as well as beautiful to look at.

It is, as you would expect, focused on topics in American history but the ideas and questions raised by James W. Loewen in his article, “Should We Lie About Columbus?”, certainly resonates in other countries with a colonial history.

The articles are a good length, with just enough detail and ideas to digest.  More than one of them addressed the topics of bias and pre-conceived ideas, as well as exhortations to question them.

I don’t know if there is enough in each issue to keep me as a long term subscriber but it might make a nice addition to a support group library where the cost is spread out amongst many families and there is a gap for a secular homeschool magazine.

I’d love to hear your opinion if you have already read an issue.  Let’s chat.



Welcome back!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly two years without a single post here at the Patch!

I’m both annoyed with myself and yet completely unsurprised by this.
Posting was already coming to a grinding halt in 2017 when at the end of the year we decided to investigate the possibility that Master Oh Waily might be dyslexic. Roll around November 2017 and the testing seemed to be pretty consistent with dyslexia.  It was time to research and work out what we were going to do to adjust to this likely reality.

And that led us in to 2018.  Our grind year.

The 2018 Grind

Mr Oh Waily was away for nearly half of the year – 171 days to be precise.

We took on the option of specialist tutoring twice a week for Master Oh Waily.  We did this so that I could learn what would work for him and so he would have a solid foundation that I could springboard off.

Our regular learning and swimming lessons continued as usual.

Along the way we learned that dyslexia doesn’t always come on it’s own and it’s not really what you may think it is.  We began to learn about executive function and memory issues.  It has showed the gaps in the educational system around supporting kids with learning differences.*  (If you want a formal and official diagnosis you need to pay $1000 or so to an educational psychologist and even with that there’s no practical assistance for kids with dyslexia.)

When you are out of the house three days a week, for more than half the day, it’s inevitable that a number of things slide.  Even relatively important things.

In short, it was a steep learning curve with a side order of hard work, over-work and lack of rest.

By the end of the year I was out on my feet.  Absolutely zoned out and over it.  I rebelled **.

Moving on to 2019

The rebellion helped.  I have perspective and a determination to rearrange things so that 2019 isn’t a rinse and repeat of 2018.  We will be making some changes this year.
We are reducing tutoring to once a week. It’s the same amount of learning time each week, consolidated in one session.  We are not returning to swimming lessons for the first term and maybe the second.  This frees up two whole days each week and take the strain off other areas of our learning and life.

And in a nice moment of synchronicity I read, and watched this post by Jo Ebisujima about how she balances her work and her son’s homeschooling.  Her comments about how her son organises his own pace of learning really hit home with me.  As an eclectic home ed family I want us to balance out the fundamental skills with things the kids are interested in but it didn’t really click in my brain how I was going to help them to be more independent until Jo spoke about how her son worked out how many lessons a week he needs to do in order to complete his year’s work.  That was like a lightning bolt moment.

“Well, duh!!  We have curricula that we use for the core subjects.  I can help them to figure out what they need to do to finish a year’s worth.  They can own it.”

So that’s what we are currently doing.  I sat down with each child and we looked through what was left of their 2018 year that had slid away on us.  We worked out how many sessions for each subject were left and how many they would need to do each week before Term 1 of 2019 started. I have encouraged, reminded and suggested they tackle their lessons. 

Miss Oh Waily has taken up the challenge relatively easily with occasional moments of regression. 
Master Oh is a different kettle of fish, because executive functioning is an issue. I’ve taken a different tack with him. Keeping long term goals in mind is difficult with short term pleasure overriding that in a heartbeat, so I have created a shorter term reward system for him.  At the moment it’s all a bit of an experiment to see what works for his planning and keeping goals in mind.  And it’s a lot of reading about strategies to help executive functioning for me.

Even at this early stage of handover I’m feeling good about where this could take us and what it could mean for 2019 – and my sanity level.

The benefits of hearing just the right thing when you need it never fails to amaze me.

I’m also hopeful that my self-imposed silence is now coming to an end and that I will be posting here regularly again.  I’m looking forward to 2019, I hope you are too.

* The only benefit that I’ve found so far to having an official diagnosis is when your child needs to participate in formal assessment, so there is little point in paying the money for Master Oh Waily at this point.  The diagnosis is only accepted for a matter of 2 or 3 years and then you have to get another one… as though dyslexia “goes away” or “is cured” rather than being a case of permanent neurodiversity.

** See the last couple of blog posts over at Oh Waily Waily for more on obliger rebellion.

Cohorts are not the answer

Of the many things that our government could be doing to improve the lot of kids in the education system, this ISN’T one of them.

Yes, I have a bias. I could not envisage sending my 5 year old off to school when it was almost time for her to go. I couldn’t see how she would cope with the long days, and quite frankly, I wanted her to have a childhood full of free time, exploration and fun. No, I’m not an overprotective, paranoid about the wicked world, mother.

I began to read more about childhood development and growth as the time drew nearer, and read, and read and read. I listened to experts talk about their research. In these times of ‘don’t trust the experts’ I know just how outdated that sounds.
I then took what I learned from all of this reading, watching, listening and I weighed it up against what I could see in my own home, in front of my own eyes. I didn’t abdicate my decision to ‘experts’ but I took on board what they said and engaged my own ability to think critically.

At no point in all that reading did I come across anything that advocated for children entering earlier formal learning environments. In fact, pretty much everything I came across – that I could assess as ‘independent’ information – said the exact opposite. We should be sending our kids to school and a formal learning environment at a much later age. Especially boys.
We should be advocating for kids to be entering into academics after the age of 7… NOT at 5 or even 4.

It worries me then, to read this statement,

Of 1117 public submissions on the cohort proposal, nearly three-quarters were supportive, including 76 per cent of parents and 80 per cent of teachers.

If you are the parent of a young child, or have friends or family who are one of that 76%, please, please, please do NOT sit back and let this happen without any research on your part.  Please, for the sake of your children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews, get people to look at the extensive amount of work done on the developmental process that children go through.

And think about what you want your education system to look like – will we continue to take steps towards following the high-performing Asian model of stress-filled academics that can burn children out, or will we follow the integrated yet high performing Finnish model which allows for developmentally appropriate learning and plenty of free time to bed in all that knowledge acquisition.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers which option I think would serve our country’s children best.

At what point did it become acceptable to stress out and measure every aspect of our kids?  When did we stop thinking about them as kids and start thinking of them as vessels that need to be ‘filled with education’ so that they are ‘prepared for the real world’?

If you have kids in school, the only time they’re actually in the real world is when they’re out at the grocery shop helping you pick stuff off the shelf.  School is not real life.  It isn’t even a work-like environment, unless all of your colleagues come from the same socio-economic group, your very local neighbourhood and share your birth year.   Please do us all a favour and disabuse anyone who suggests it ‘prepares them for the real world’.

School isn’t a bad thing. Kids need to learn, and not everyone is able to or wants to educate them at home. That is totally fine. There are fabulous teachers out there who do a great job of it.  For them to do a great job though, requires they have kids in their classrooms for whom the work is developmentally appropriate and who are physically and emotionally ready for the experience.   The more we squeeze the starting age lower, the less we are listening to the ‘experts’ understanding of what goes on with our children’s brains, bodies and emotions.

FOMO on behalf of our kids’ early educational attainment and their future is going to create a new generation of Millenials, only this group won’t be the all about me generation, they’ll be the anxiety ridden, never feeling like they are smart enough generation.  All that testing, grading, ranking and comparing to others will do wonders for their self-esteem… won’t it?

Yeah, right!

Here is the link to the Stuff article that inspired this part rant, part plea.

The horse, and getting back on it.

Well that was the world’s shortest NaBloPoMo.  I fell off the wagon on the third day!
Oh well, I figure that I’m always telling my kids not to give up when things go a bit pear shaped, so here I am.  Keeping on going.

Sadly there is little to report on the home educating front around the Patch today.  Courtesy of a late Spring cold everyone is feeling well below par and so I caved in and let them do as they pleased.

Instead, I will share my favourite quote from our* October Quotes series.  It speaks to the core of home educating for me.  And as an ex-Anthropology graduate, I can’t possibly pass over Ms Mead’s observation.



Herding elephants…

Let’s start off this blog post by pointing out the elephant in the room …. GUILT.

Lots and lots of guilt.  Attached to the idea that I should be taking time out for myself.
Who is this crazy woman?

I figure I’m a pretty normal sort of person most of the time, but when it comes to what goes on in my head when I bump up against the burn-out wall?  Well, let’s just say it’s not that pretty and it’s not that normal.  If you consider normal to mean that you value yourself as much as you value others.   Interestingly, no one else around me seems to think I’m less valuable in terms of needing time off than them.  They all actively encourage me, but there’s a nasty little gremlin in my head that tells me… they’re my priority and it’s my job to be educating them or looking after them 24/7.
Okay, so maybe I am crazy after all.

In fairness, I’m now a recovering crazy person.
The realisation that one of the best ways kids learn is by seeing behaviour modelled for them was a nasty moment for me.  The idea that it’s not an ‘either them or me’ situation also took a while to bed in.  But now I get it.  I need the time for my own benefit, my family’s benefit and as an important life-lesson for my kids. They need to see that their Mum values herself, and that she looks after herself.  I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking this is the right way to go about being a parent.  So now I have an extra incentive – I’m teaching them a life skill just like I did with brushing their teeth and making food.

So, what does a struggling, recovering, guilt-laden parent do for self-care?  Well, whatever flicks your switch, even if It needs to be a small thing to start off with.

I instigated a daily walk with my kids.  I’m the sort of person who needs to get out in the sunlight as often as possible, especially through winter, in order to feel good.  The walks get us all out in the fresh air, with a light amount of exercise thrown in.  When the time permits I try and do really long walks on my own, but they are still a rarity. I’m a work in progress and as my kids grow up I’m hopeful of making these walks longer and with a little more speed to them.

I indulge my creativity whenever I can.  I take photographs, either out on my own, or if I can’t get free time to myself – with my kids.  It isn’t always possible to have time to myself, and sometimes the guilt of taking big chunks of time out of our weekends makes it hard.  So I compromise.  We take a family field trip and as part of that I make sure the camera comes out and that I sneak my creativity in to my day that way.

I write whenever I can too.  Blogging is a great outlet for me and can be crammed in to a spare hour or so.  Often I write book reviews as a way of combining two things I love to do.  And there’s nothing quite like the bliss of going to the library on my own, to browse quietly and without distraction.  The urge to rush through the process and head home quickly still strikes every now and then, but it is getting better.  And on my good days (read: feeling less guilty) I even indulge in finding a cafe for an added treat.

I still have hurdles to climb – like getting fit and eating better.  But at least I’m finally on the road to better self-care, and like I’m always telling my kids – mastery comes from practice, so practice I will.

Edited to add:

Every now and then the hurdles get pretty big, and sometimes the best self-care is to take a guilt-free break.  It’s pretty hard to face that sort of decision when your inner driving force is all about working for the betterment of others.  But that’s where we sometimes need to go.  Self first, others second.  Only then can we hope to keep giving our best efforts to those around us.

It’s also a bit of an ego issue, albeit a subconscious one and not related to a narcissistic temperament.  They need me to always be available.  Things will fall apart if I’m not the one doing and organising and driving us forward.  Well, guess what sunshine?  The world doesn’t stop when you take some time out.  In fact, it might just be the perfect thing for everyone if you stopped trying to be in control of everything.  Maybe they will learn to take control.  Maybe they can be self-organising.  Maybe they will learn to step up to the plate when they need to.  If you don’t give them the space to try, then they and you will certainly never find out if it is possible.

Take the break.  Fill your bucket with fun, creative, healthy adventures to re-invigorate yourself.  Let those around you step up for themselves; let them stretch their abilities and grow as people.  You are, in fact, doing the opposite of being selfish – you are empowering others.

Go on.

Do it!

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2016 !


I hope that you and your family have had a nice holiday season.

Now that it is almost back to normal routine, I thought I’d share a few snippets that have caught my eye over the break.  The first is a wonderful quote from Jamie Martin from Simple Homeschool.  As home educating parents it’s very easy to slip into a sort of personal martyrdom over getting enough time for ourselves as people.  I know I fall in to this trap each year, and putting in place a plan to avoid it is one of my personal 2016 resolutions.

Math time will not be more important than Mommy time–each will have their proper place, and I will not sacrifice the essence of who I am on a self-made altar of perfectionism.

No longer will I take a back seat to the home educating of my kids.  We will be equal partners in this process where they will get a much better role model, and a much more resilient and relaxed Mum.  If you are an introvert who home educates, you might like the blog post this quote came from, 15 new year’s resolutions for the introverted homeschool mom.

My other parenting / educating resolutions come from a single blog post by Dr Laura Markham of Aha Parenting.  You might have noticed me posting about her writings before.  Well, this blog post on Preventative Maintenance is going to be a cornerstone for me this year.  I have been hit and miss with this in the past year and I think I’ve stored up quite a bit of work for myself as a result.

In essence my 2016 Parenting Goals are:

  1. Look after Myself
  2. Daily roughhousing
  3. Daily special time
  4. Empathic limit setting

Interestingly, the order I have chosen to write those in is probably the priority they need to take.  If I let myself get run down there is no mental or physical bounce that will allow me to roughhouse or be fully participative in our special time.  And without the stress-release of roughhousing and special time, the likelihood is a greater need for limit setting.  Without a rested Mum, the limit setting is unlikely to be empathic, so here we are… full circle.

In a very loving and kind way – 2016 is going to be about ME.

What’s 2016 going to be about for you?  I’d love to hear.

Keeping it real…

I woke up at 5:30am this morning and the smallest Oh Waily wasn’t too long behind me.  Today has been long and one of those days.  Tiredness led to a couple of meltdowns this morning, just before lunchtime.  It took a lot of patience and energy to get through that bad patch.  A power nap was insisted upon by me as we were due to leave for swimming lessons at 1pm.  Thankfully he could have slept standing up by that time, so he managed to get a good 20 minutes and we headed out for lessons.
The youngest Oh Waily’s lesson is at 1:30 while his sister is two classes up and therefore starts at 2:30.  This means a minimum of one and a half hours of swimming or playing in the pool.  Yep, it’s been a tiring old day.  Add in the regular Brownies, a later dinner time and tiredness crept up for another visit.  This one brought tears over not being able to play DnD with Daddy.

Luckily Mr Oh Waily was able to let it all go, and consent to play after which we christened the new game HedBanz and managed to get a bit of joy back in to the tail end of a very long and very tiring day for the entire household.  So tonight you get the short post.  The post about the days that aren’t Pollyanna-perfect.  The one that requires the cat.


Although in this case, it’s not coffee I’m needing but sleep.  So here’s to a ridiculously early night to make up for the ridiculously early morning !

See you all, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed tomorrow.  Preferably with a hot cup of coffee in my hand.

A morning surprise

Two and a half weeks ago I was driving to the drycleaners, as you do.   My phone goes and it’s a chap from a toy company telling me he’s calling to let me know that I had won a competition and that he wanted to confirm my address.   While all this is going on I’m wracking my brain to think what I had entered, and when and where but drew a blank.  However, I tried to be polite and thankful while doing this mental gymnastics.  Afterwards I’m thinking to myself – me? win something? unheard of! must be a mistake! ^

The Oh Waily kids are in the car with me, as usual, so they hear the whole conversation and are super-excited to think that a toy or two might be coming their way.  Me, I’m just perplexed, and not much better off when we get home and I check out the company.  I see that I’ve followed them on Facebook at some point, and no doubt it was one of those cases of seeing a friend entering a competition and then being sheeple-like and doing it too.  (In my defence, I generally only behave like a sheeple if the prize looks like something we would enjoy and make good use of!)

Anyway, two weeks go by and I figure that they’ve finally worked out that there must be a mistake and are a bit embarrassed to phone me back to say so.  Life goes on.

Then this morning there’s a knock at the door and a courier standing there with two large boxes. Addressed to me.  From the company running the competition.

The kids recognise the name immediately and are clamouring to open the boxes to see what’s inside.  No surprises there then.  No chance of hiding things for Christmas either !!  Oh well, that’s just the way things happened.

I certainly had no idea of what to expect, other than maybe a couple of smallish toys, not a couple of boxes!  It was this side of pandemonium as each box was opened and the toys extracted.  There were two very happy kids, I can tell you.  And one amazed Mum !

Here is what greeted us!


Do count them!

Fifteen separate toys!

I was not expecting that.

Thank you so very, very much Planet Fun.

^ I think I might have had Tyche looking over me.  (Yes, ancient Greece is coming up in history here at the Patch!)


When are kids too young?

This article from Science Alert came wandering across my web view today.  It’s called “New study suggests we’re sending our kids to school too young“.

My initial reaction to reading the title was, ‘well, duh!’

The idea of sending my just-turned-five year old children off to school simply turned my guts when I thought about it.  I just couldn’t see how they would cope with a full school day at that age, either physically or mentally.  They were wiped out after the two hours at sessional daycare that they went to for a couple of days a week so that I could take care of my fitness needs.  And as I would hear from folk about their new-at-school kids needing to take the kiddie equivalent of mental health days (or possibly recover from exhaustion) it simply re-inforced in my mind that we had made the right choice for our kids.

The issue with this particular article is that it isn’t the first research to show that we start our kids far too young at school. There have been others, and it was a bit of a hot topic a couple of years ago too.  With even more interesting links and references to follow up, this article from the New Scientist is well worth reading through.  It’s called “Too much, too young: Should schooling start at age 7?

The sad and concerning thing is, that despite a lack of evidence supporting the current school starting age and more supporting the positive effects of a later start, governments around the world are pushing towards an even earlier start for our babies.  The official age that children must be in school in New Zealand is six, but the majority will have begun at five if they are going to go at all.  So here it is a cultural norm rather than a compulsion issue.  And unfortunately it seems very few folk are all that keen on questioning it.

And that makes me quite sad.

Where’s the coffee?

Is it Christmas yet?
Are we done for the year?  Can we be?  Huh?  Huh?  Huh?

Yes, there are days when those words run through my head, and that’s only in February!
Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re being selfish or self-centred for choosing to home educate your kids!  I could have a life that involves talking to a range of other adults on a daily basis if I weren’t at home with my kids.  I could go to the gym and have the body of an athlete if I didn’t do this.

Yeah, right!  (At least to that last one.)

Some days are bloody marvellous with your kids, and other days are like Chinese water torture.  As the year goes on and as everyone starts to become tired of the constant company, there are slightly fewer of the first and slightly more of the latter.
I’m sure there are super-mums out there who have the juggling of personal time, fitness, kids’ activities, date nights with hubby, and the serious business of having the kids learning stuff, down to a fine art.

I have to confess to not being one of them.  And I think it’s time for more blog posts about that side of our serious commitment to our kids’ education.

I wonder if most blogs about this only want to highlight the good stuff because of that dreaded social media disease of one-upping / living a false life in front of others, or whether there is still a good sized fear that to actually talk about the hard stuff might add ammunition to the anti-home ed brigade out there.
Personally I’m not sure which it is, but it’d be nice if we could gain a bit of balance in this.

I’m pretty sure that no one’s real life looks like their Facebook feed, or their Instagram account.  As a seasoned home ed veteran said in a group I belong to, and I paraphrase, “It’s like a highlights reel.”
And that’s the truth of the matter.  The fun bits are there to see, not the arguments, the frustrations, the let downs.

As for the folk who think home ed people are a bunch of hippy/fundamentalist/tinfoil-hat-wearing weirdos doing irreparable damage to their kids, I’m pretty sure there are school parents whose home life isn’t the stuff of fairytales either. (And they aren’t shoulder to shoulder with their kids on a daily basis!!)

So yep, by this time of year it’s beginning to wear thin.

And what does a conscientious mother do to get over that hump each day?


Yep.  That helps.

Oh, and taking an unschooling or project based approach goes some way to chilling out too.  Or take some good advice on clawing back some time for yourself, and remember that to create self-motivated, life-long learners it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Good luck.   I know we all need a bit of it some times!


Yesterday’s post title came from John Lee Hooker’s “Wednesday Evening Blues”