Saturday, September 3, 2011

China and Rice Porridge

Our Homeschooling Routine

A few of you have asked me how we manage our home school routine.  Let me just say from the start that this routine is definitely not set in stone but it acts as a guideline to our day.  I believe its vital to have a plan, because if you don't everyone else will plan your day for you and its so easy to get distracted - that one thing to clean, the email you want to read, the phone(s) and even "researching" ideas for teaching your children.
7:00 am Wake up
This does sometimes change especially if we have had a late life group meeting the night before, or friends visiting.  I prefer to let them sleep a little later because I know they won't manage school with too little sleep.
7:00 - 8:00 Getting Ready for the Day
This part of the day is all about getting ourselves and our house ready for the day.  Even Ruth at the age of 3, is responsible for setting the breakfast table, making her bed (which entails moving her bedding around and is far from tidy but she is learning responsibility for her own things) and getting herself dressed after someone has laid out her clothes.  The boys normally pack away dishes, put out the breakfast cereals, taking out the trash and tidy up the lounge.
8:00 - 8:30 Breakfast
This is a very special time for our family.  We are very fortunate to have my husband working from home and so he normally reads the Bible to the children while they eat, or some kind of missionary book.  At the moment we are reading a series called Jesus Freaks which are true stories about Christian martyrs.  But even this doesn't happen every morning and then I do a time of Bible with the children in the morning before lunch.
8.30 - 9:00 Get Settled
After breakfast they quickly brush teeth, take their vitamins, wash any excess breakfast off around their mouths (which is often - my kids love breakfast - especially rice pudding! See recipe that follows)  Unset the breakfast table, wash dishes and head to our learning centre. (room where we do most of our learning which could really be anywhere in the house)
9:00 - 12:00 Learning
We normally start the day with their individual grade subjects like Maths, English, Latin, Mandarin and  Afrikaans.  I spend time with each of them whenever needed.  Ruth normally starts her day with about 30 minutes of educational TV.  Then she joins in with her own activities which I plan the day before.  We sometimes stop half way for a stretch, some Milo and a slice of bread or fruit but only for about 15 minutes.
12:00 - 12:45 Lunch BreakI make lunch while they run around like crazy riding their bikes, J-Boards, Hide and Seek and anything that requires a lot of noise and energy, in fact occasionally one of them will try and stay inside to read or play Lego but I believe children should get as much fresh air and activity as possible.
12:45 Ruth goes for her afternoon nap
12:50 Get Settled

Wash hands and get ready for the next session
12:50 - 15:00 Group Subjects
We do all of our group subjects such as Geography, Computers, History, Zoology, Anatomy, Life skills.
15:00 - 15:30 Break for Odyssey and finishWhy is this part of our schedule? Our children love listening to Odyssey on the radio every day and so this is normally my time to bring the day to an end.  I used to try and add more school time after this but I have realised that they also need to finish at a reasonable hour.  When we feel the need to get more done in a day - then we start earlier.  In fact if we have a play date or excursion planned for the afternoon, we also start earlier to make sure we get enough done in the day.

I would love to hear how you manage your school day?  What approach do you use?  Are you very structured or do you allow your children to guide you through the day?

Breakfast and Rice?
 So with China still pulsing through our veins after our 2 week trip with China Heart International, I thought that a good rice recipe would be very fitting.  Do they eat this in China? - who knows but they definitely eat it in Kalk Bay at the Grant house.I have seriously found the most delicious breakfast for my children.  Not only is it delicious but it tastes a little like eating dessert and who doesn't LOVE dessert?  So this one's a little different but a real winner.

Creamy Rice Porridge

2 cups uncooked white rice (never tried brown as an option)
2,5 litres of milk
2ml salt
30ml cornflour

Cinnamon sugar and butter for serving

1.  Heat your milk until it just starts to boil

2.  Add the rice and salt
3.  Simmer for 20 - 25 min or until rice is cooked
4.  Mix the cornflour with a little extra milk until its a smooth paste.
5.  Add the cornflour mixture to the rice and mix.  Allow it to cook for 5 more minutes or until it has thickened.
6.  Serve with a blob of butter and sugar and cinnamon

This recipe is truly delicious.  It makes a big pot so you might think its too much but my children loved it so much they snacked on it for the rest of the day (so did Sean and I:).  Cold or hot it tastes delicious.  Bear in mind we are a family of six and rice is really yuk! when you freeze it, so maybe try your first batch by halving the quantities and if they love it - then go ballistic!

Faces and Places of China Part 1
After a two week trip to the other side of the world, we arrived home exhausted, jet lagged and amazed at how much we had done in such a short time.  What we saw, experienced and gave to, was beyond anything we could have imagined.  So I thought I would post some photos of our time away.  I have decided to divide the photos into different sections.  These photos are all photos of the beautiful, contrasting structures found there.  Of course we only saw a small part of this country but what we saw just really fascinated us in its size, colour, creativity and contrasts.
 This was in the Muslim Chinese market area.  I just love the detail and colours. 
 No this photo wasn't just about the tall buildings in the background but look at those electric wires! Soooo many of these hanging over whole cities and they are so thick and so many you can see them for miles.
 This was one of the "smaller" places we stayed in, only few million people live here:)
I love these Chinese traditional buildings.  Funnily enough I thought that there would be far more of these but most of China lives in high rise buildings.
This structure was actually at the top of a high rise building and we suspect it might have been a place of worship or a temple.
Market place.  For those of you that received gifts for us - if they need returning, THAT'S the place to take it to.
The drum tower, with drums all around the sides with the most amazing views that had me more enraptured than anything they had inside. Have a look at these views from the top.  Its probably the only place I found where there was some quiet.  With all the hustle and bustle and all the people, its hard to find a quiet spot.
The Chinese love flowers, everywhere you go, even at the tolls there are flowers everywhere, hanging baskets of flowers all the way down the island in the middle of a freeway, and some of the them are plastic ones stuck between the vegetation when there are no flowers blooming.  Its quite a site and so pleasing to the eye when so much attention is placed on detail. 


  1. Wow! That's a lot of language study at once. How do they manage to progress satisfactorily in each at the same time?

  2. Thanks for sharing your daily planner..always good to have another perspective, love your photo's of China, cant imagine such huge cities though..

  3. Jenny it does sound like a lot of language study but a few things to consider is
    * not to overwhelm them with long sessions - most are only about 10 minutes, except English of course (which entails far more)
    * we use different ways of study for each Language which keeps them motivated and interested.
    Do your children study languages, and how do you manage?

  4. Hi -I am interested in what program/books you use for Manderin. My eldest daughter is studying it at UCT (and also has just been there on a trip)and I would be interested in doing it with my younger daughter. Janice

  5. Oh, I don't have any kids. Most of our foreign language learning (primarily Spanish) was irregular until we were high school and older. Sometimes I think we would've had an easier time mastering them if my mother had emphasized it more when we were children. Oh, well.

  6. I will be writing a post tomorrow on how we go about studying our Mandarin and other languages and hopefully that will help you with your daughter. What did your daughter do there, was she on vacation?


Go ahead, leave a comment! I would love to hear from you!