To Train Up a Child

I was a little surprised at the controversy over this book and I’m almost afraid to mention it because I know it evokes strong emotions in parents.



I think I wasn’t shocked by anything in the book because I came from a family where physical chastisement was normal.  Sometimes it was unproductive and sometimes went a little too far – but that’s where I felt this book was good as it talks about how to discipline children in a way that isn’t lashing out in anger with whatever happens to be within arm’s reach and to really think about the whole sphere of discipline before it gets to physical chastisement.  I actually have found parts of  this book useful for disciplining my kids.

I can see how it could encourage child abuse – it depends on your interpretation. I think it goes too far in parts and potentially the tone is irresponsible as many parents are stupid, abusers and/or looking for a way to parent that doesn’t involve love, time, attention and thought.

This book isn’t for everyone but disciplining your children is a very personal and private topic.  I think the scrutiny and challenge this book has received has also been a good thing.  Children are vulnerable and in our evolved societies we should be looking out for their best interests.


Mudpies to Magnets – science curriculum


I’ve just started with Mudpies to Magnets and my first experiment failed to deliver so I’m not sure about some of these ideas.

we didn't win the Nobel Prize this year...

our air machine didn’t win the Nobel Prize this year…

Some are also very prep heavy or unsuitable  when you have an 18 month old running around.  However there are a lot of experiments in here (more than you could ever use)  so you won’t be lost for ideas and some of them will work I’m sure. Even my failed experiment generated an interesting conversation and so was not   in vain.  Plus it has a range of ages up to 5 so plenty of usage will be had I’m sure.

Rainy camp

It’s called summer camp but  Nigeria doesn’t have a ‘summer’. It has rainy season, Harmattan and wedding season.  ‘Summer’ is a bit of misnomer.  It’s currently rainy season where it pretty much rains everyday and floods a lot.

For example here is our road this morning…



Anyway Ru-bear and Kio-Bear have been at ‘summer’ camp this week.

When I saw the shiny flyer I jumped at the chance to offload my kids for some of the day and have me time and organise myself.   Camp has been good making me very focused.  I wake up at 6 (usually its 7.30) and do an hour or two of numeracy/literacy/violin practice with the three year old while the 18 month old does colouring or play dough.  It’s also given me my day back – not that I’ve done too much useful with that. Blackberry Messenger really needs to join my post of things I really ain’t got time for!  As a homeschooling mum I try hard to stay connected to the community so I’ve join a couple of committees and groups and they pretty much BBM/Whatsapp you all day every day.

Both kids  love camp and at first I thought this was a sign that they should be in school but but now I don’t think it means anything. They enjoy camp and they would enjoy school and they enjoy being home with me and basically they are happy kids who find it hard not to enjoy anything that is fun.

I also have realised that when you’re kids are away all day you sort of want to know what they’ve been doing but teachers are not that forthcoming.

Mums complain a lot to me about the lack of feedback teachers give.  I think they want specific minute by minute analysis – like in a football game.   ‘Uh, it’s only 10 minutes in and Phineus has already picked up the dry erase markers.  He’s running with the markers to the white board and look he gets there before anyone else and starts writing out A, B, C,D – oh no he’s lost interest! He’s seen a dead bug on the floor and has decided to step on it. Can his concentration be brought back to the task at hand? Does he need extra tutoring?  Rob – over to you in the staffroom’.   I mean it’s ridiculous  – we all know it’s ridiculous.  You’ve sent your child for someone else to babysit/educate but now you to spend an hour talking about what happened?

Anyway so they’re doing camp and camp is pretty cool. Here’s a really intricate structure Ru bear made yesterday! I think a lot of marshmallows were harmed in making this!


Selfish Reasons to have more Kids and other books about genetics



So… I’m obsessed about genetics.  I don’t know how this happened. I just watch my kids growing and become fascinated about who they are becoming and how I’m affecting that.  Selfish Reasons to have kids argues that I’m really not affecting their destiny as much as I thought.  That took the wind out of my sails a little. I mean homeschool is hard, you like to think you’re having an impact.  Since reading this book I’ve had to rethink my intentions a bit and make sure I’m still working on and improving my own life alongside homeschooling because if I can’t stop making it about them becoming x, y or z. this ship has sunk before its even left port. Oh and great book – although I STILL DON’T BELIEVE YOU!


Another book on genetics I’m still reading is The Son Also Rises – Surnames and the History of Social Mobility


What I find very interesting about this book is again the impact genes have on social mobility.  As my husband keeps assuring me – it’s all much of a muchness – but  I believe he thinks this way because he’s a Warrior not a Worrier.  This is another genetics book that blew me away – all about gender behaviour.  Mothers are just programmed to worry more about stuff that doesn’t matter.


If you know of anymore fascinating books about behavioural genetics, holler at your girl!



The Triple Package


Not obviously relevant to homeschoolers but living in a foreign country with kids who are mixed ethnically and culturally I find myself thinking a lot more about culture, race and ethnicity in the context of raising my kids.   The Triple Package  is a very thought provoking read, I’ve made reference to it more than once in my blogging here.  When you become responsible for your child’s education you start to think about what you want the end result to be,  what success is and what kind of person your child will grow up to be. It’s made me think a lot about these questions – things you just don’t have to think about so much when you send your child to school.

Amy Chua’s first book ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ was pretty engrossing too.

Singapore Maths -Essential Math Kindergarten A




I’ve only just started using this Singapore Math workbook with my 3 year old but we both really love it! I have to pace ourselves so we don’t turn a good thing bad.  Never thought I’d say that about a math book but what I like is that rather than teaching what I’ve always understood to be ‘math’ (i.e rote learning and intimidating numbers) it engages young children with patterns, puzzles and activities to develop their understanding of mathematical principles. It encourages conversation rather than demanding ‘the right answer’.

Learn & Grow Curriculum



Don’t be fooled by the cheapo artwork. I’ve been using this for the past year and for the price (about $30) it’s been wonderful!

Learn & Grow covers the whole school year with a full day’s lesson for every weekday. It takes into account seasons and special events in the American calendar.

I don’t use it everyday but its a great backbone when you don’t have time to think of a lesson plan. The only drawback is some of the materials can be hard to get hold of  – especially if you don’t have access to the internet or an American toystore but for some this may be an advantage as coming without materials that you may not even need/use means it’s cheaper.  Great value for money and a lifesaver for me!

My homeschool bookshelf

I’ve been meaning to post my homeschool bookshelf for a while now and it hasn’t happened. Mostly because my bookshelf looks like this…


I can never remember/find any books!  I’m working on a more efficient bookshelf!  My books are increasingly online too.   The problem is that levy on imported furniture is so high you have to get most things made and carpenters here are like plumbers,  they earn so much they are difficult to pin down.


But I have over the past year read and accumulated many books that have been helpful to my lil homeschool.  I hope they are useful to you too.  You certainly don’t need a lot of books by the way. I think I just like reading.  I’ll try to add reviews as I go on. Feel free to add your comments too!


500,000 reasons to homeschool in Lagos

Parents all over the world complain about the cost of travelling during school holidays where airlines routinely hike up the prices – it’s a huge issue in the UK where parents can be prosecuted for taking their kids out of school during term time – but Nigerian parents have it worse. Especially when you consider the already high cost of schooling here.  We get hit twice!

At time of posting the cost of a British Airways economy ticket from Lagos Nigeria to London UK is about 500,000 naira (£2000) – if you can actually get a ticket.  It’s usually around £600 give or take.  So for me, my older son (just a couple of hundred for the baby as he’s not yet two) and my husband £6000 to get  to the UK via economy. If we then want to move on the US to visit my husband’s family – add an extra couple of thousand pounds.

Lagos-UK is probably one of the priciest routes because of Nigeria’s strong links with the UK.  Lagos-US is even pricier. My parents are in the UK and my husband’s mother is in the USA so we try to visit both at least once a year and stay a while. I also want my children to experience the freedom of walking, public transport, parks and museums – things that are unavailable where we live in Lagos. For the price of these summer tickets, we can travel twice during term time and still have money left over.

It’s not the only reason to homeschool of course but and not an issue right up there the Israel-Palestinian conflict – I certainly never flew until I was able to pay for my own ticket aged 18 – but its just another reason to step back from the financial pressure of the school fees and the air fares and the inconvenience to family life and look at what works for your family.

Life’s a beach…

Today we visited our local beach (Bar Beach) with buckets in tow to collect some sand for our sand table.  Bar Beach was recently cleared off squatters in preparation for a huge construction project (Eko Atlantic) and it all looks quite inviting. Acres of golden sand leading out to the sea.


Anyway we ran into a group of area boys who are territorial young men you generally have to ‘dash’ a few hundred naira (a few dollars) to get safe passage.  So I brought my  Naira but honestly when we rolled up at the beach, I didn’t feel comfortable even with our driver present. Oh and they wanted a few thousand naira for access. And I had a feeling by the time we’d collected some sand they’d want a bit more naira on top.  Anyway we turned around and scuttled off home.


These guys used to ‘manage’ the beach back when there were squatters so you can see their disgruntlement at having the rug rudely pulled from beneath their feet by politicians.  It’s not like any provision was made for them. Also it’s pretty much what happens with more children out of school than any other country.

Ru-bear cried his eyes out. Pampered child of the West that he is, he thought area boys were a cuddly cartoon gang like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and didn’t understand why they wouldn’t let us access the beach. Time to wake up and smell the slave-labour produced coffee, Son.

Looks like we’ll have to find another beach.