Home education tips

Home education tips

The Corona virus is spreading and everybody needs to stay at home. Working and learning at home can be a challenge. With the ungoing crisis we thought it is time for some home education tips. You can read our tips on Facebook as well.
Tip #1 - Home is not a school (31-03-2020)
Tip #2 - Little ones first! (01-04-2020)
Tip #3 - A schedule is good, a rhythm better (02-04-2020)
Tip #4 - We do the chores together! (03-04-2020)
Tip #5 - You Don't Have to be an Expert (06-04-2020)
Tip #6 - Make Use of the Concentration Peak (07-04-2020)
Tip #7 - Read With and To Your Child (07-04-2020)
Tip #8 - Grace and Mercy are the Winning Team (14-04-2020)
Tip #9 - Play! (15-04-2020)
Tip #10 - A Love for Learning (17-04-2020)

Tip #1 - Home is not a school (31-03-2020)

Many home educators prefer the term 'home education' over 'homeschooling'. Education at home does not turn your home into a school. Relax: home education starts with home. So take time to think and talk about what makes a home: What defines us as a family? What traditions are in place? Should we start some new ones? HOME is the firm foundation for successful home education. And even you feel not much education is going on: at least you are giving your children a gift beyond measure: home.




Tip #2 - Little Ones First (01-04-2020)

Helping older children with their work while little ones keep you perfectly distracted is very frustrating. That's why it's a good idea to spend time with your pre-schoolers first. We love reading together, but a game or some other activity with mom or dad is fine too. After about half an hour of filling their 'love tanks' with your kind attention, they are ready to play on their own; freeing you to help older ones. Personally I enjoy this way of starting the day very much: it's easy, enjoyable and comes with great rewards.



Tip #3 - A schedule is good, a rhythm better (02-04-2020)

A timed schedule for the day looks very professional indeed ... until real life kicks in and interruptions great and small mock your beautiful plans. We use a rhythm instead. A rhythm - or set order of activities - allows for structure and serendipity alike. As long as I don't plan too many subjects things get done in a happy way. For example our mornings follow this rhythm: breakfast - reading aloud to young ones - maths - languages - sometimes science - lunch. Whatever gets done we consider a morning well spent. Happy planning everyone!



Tip #4 - We do the chores together! (03-04-2020)

For parents home education takes a lot of (extra) time. No problem though: the children can help! Teens can cook and clean well and even a toddler can help clear away the dishes. Having the children do (more) chores not only frees the parents to home educate, but also gives children a sense of responsibility and belonging. The children might grumble and complain a bit in the beginning, but with the necessary compliments for a job well done they are sure to grow into it. 😀



Tip #5 - You Don't Have to be an Expert (06-04-2020)

'Mom, when can I use a semicolon?' or 'Dad, how do I calculate the circumference of an ellipse?' Please don't panic: you don't have to be an expert to home educate! Willingness to find the answers together is enough. In this day and age it is easy to find information about most anything online. Visit a book or website together or watch a video. Questions are a great opportunity to learn alongside your child and/or teach him or her research skills. After some practice your child will grow in confidence as she is able to find answers herself. Her attitude is sure to change from 'No idea' to 'I'll look it up!' 🤓



Tip #6 - Make Use of the Concentration Peak (07-04-2020)

Much research has been done to discover the best time of day for learning tasks. For most of us the best time to concentrate deeply is in the morning around 10. Find out what subject requires most of your child's attention and let him sit down to it around 10 am for the best results. If 10 am is a particularly unsuitable time, you can alternatively choose for one a half hour after lunch or supper, although our concentration peak is somewhat lower at those times of day. Happy studying!


Tip #7 - Read With and To Your Child (09-04-2020)

Reading is key to all further learning and paticipation in society. The ability to read is one of the most precious gifts you can give to your child. Therefore: read to your child, at least until he can read fluently himself (longer is allowed 😀). Enjoying books together whets your child's appetite for reading, gives him a feel for language and builds his vocabulary. Secondly, have your beginning reader read to you daily - also at least until he reads fluently. Don't be surprised if this takes long: 10 years or older is no exception for reading fluency. Reading together is one of the best investments in your child's future.



Tip #8 - Grace and Mercy are the Winning Team (14-04-2020)

Home Educators need grace and mercy in abundance. Home education means you spend a lot of time together as a family. You share moments of joy, but also of chagrin and frustration. Especially then words of grace are needed. Words that say: 'You can try again, don't worry if you don't understand or if you take a long time to learn.' Words that don't compare and hurt, but instead forgive and give a second chance - over and over again. Words that communicate a deep and profound love for your child and patience to see him or her blossom.
This is what happens when someone puts 'just a little to much' soap in the dishwasher...


Tip #9 - Play! (15-04-2020)

Learning does not just happen sitting at a desk with a book and a notepad and pencil in hand. Learning happens in many different ways, amongst which is play. Play itself comes in many varieties: can be done in- or outside, can be physical or mental (even musical!), done alone or together and provides a good break from formal learning. Research shows that playing makes learning outcomes better. So, if you like your child to be a succesful learner: let him play!



Tip #10 - A Love for Learning (17-04-2020)

There seems to be no end to what can be learned. In the primary years we focus on reading, writing and arithmetic to use them later as tools for further studies. Once we gain an appetite for learning, the possibilities are manifold: we can learn a new hobby or game, taķe an online course, learn a language ... Learning can be enjoyed by young and old, gives us healthy challenges and provides stimulation. So what would you like to learn - or teach your child - today?


Close Yet Far Away

Close Yet Far Away

Well, here we are. Finally back in the Netherlands. Furlough at last. Enjoying all the luxury and do things that are otherwise impossible. Going to the theater; cinema; visiting family and friends; giving presentations and sermons; to the swimmingpool; museums and so on. But no, instead of nice and relax conversations, we are mainly talking about the miserable pandemic caused by Covit-19 (SARS-CoV-2) or the Corona virus. A virus from a family which was not unknown, but in the past was only limited to the Asian regions.

How we feel? That is a regularly asked question. Well, disappointed of course! Sad too. Both Katja’s parents and mine (Jurgen) all are close to their 80s and are at risk because of their health. At the time of writing, they are doing well and we are grateful for that. But what a sad situation for so many others.

We, as a missionary family, are not unknown to the life style we have now. We live fairly isolated in Maroamboka and are therefore somewhat used to it. Homeschooling? Not new to us. Not just going to the supermarket for a small thing? Not strange either. Sitting in the house for days? This is the rule during the rainy season. No toilet paper? … We don’t even have that in Maroamboka.

But for many fellow Dutch nationals. A sense of panic, powerlessness and disillusionment. In Holland we were no longer used to this kind of life. Now what? Everything that was so common is no longer possible. Writing and reading messages on your smartphone all day long is getting boring as well. What if I get the virus too?

Nevertheless, we consider ourselves lucky that we are in the Netherlands at this moment. Things are well organised here. Health care is given top priority. The social safety net for victims can take many blows. If one gets sick, one can get the care one needs. We can also just go shopping and, if everyone behaves normally, there will be enough. Our Prime minister Rutte said: “There is enough [toilet paper], we can [all] poop for ten more years”. In otherwords: Behave!

Of course we follow the situation on Madagascar with sorrow and concern in our hearts. How different it is there! Social distance? Wow, have you ever been to the market in a random town. Or have you ever seen how people live? Most homes in large cities are not affordable, so the whole family lives in one room. There, in that room, they can sleep and shelter during the rain, but locked up together all day brings greater dangers than Corona. Everything and everybody is social in Madagascar. It is unfair to say that they should stop doing that for a while. That would be like banning private internet use in Europe or any other strong economy country for that matter. Let that idea sink in for a while.

Last night we read the press release from President Rajoelina. Many people think of him as a big crook. But now it seems that this crook takes Corona very seriously. 12 infected people are now known and all have been isolated. Unprecedented measures have been taken. The capital, Antananarivo, and the large port, Tamatave, are completely locked down. No public transport; health checkpoints; all small shops and markets closed; people are only allowed to shop in their own neighborhood (1 person per household); forbidden to go outside between 20:00 and 05:00; food prices have been frozen under penalty of a fine. President Rajoelina addresses the people every night. At 20:00 on the national channel, the Malagasy can stay informed about the current situation. Madagascar is no stranger to epidemics. Epidemics such as, the almost annual, outbreaks of the plague. Let’s pray that the government can also curb this epidemic.

Our heart goes out to the Malagasy. Because of the (often) bad conditions in which people live, even young people are vunerable. They look strong. They carry 50kg of rice on their shoulders. But one-sided nutrition and unhygienic homes plagued by rats and parasites are a recipe for a weak immune system. In addition, many Malagasy are simply terrified and have a very fatalistic attitude. Too often we hear it said by our Malagasy friends: “Well, that’s the way it is. The Malagasy just die quickly.” How it hurts us when they speak like that. How we would like to see them standing tall in life. That they would realise how much they can do to change their ‘fate’ themselves. And above all, that they would realise that the Almighty is not far away but has come to the world to save her. Saving from Corona? Saving from the plague? Possibly, but I’m more thinking about the boldness that comes with the confidence that Jesus saved you for eternity. Below, a quote from Martin Luther in a time when the plague went around Europe like a roaring lion, devouring who it could devour:

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me He will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbour needs me however I shall not avoid place or person I shall go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

Luther’s Works; Vol. 43, pg. 132

Enge beestjes

Enge beestjes

Eigenlijk hadden we een postje willen schrijven over alle lekkere vruchten die we hier hebben en dagelijks eten. Wat een leven! Fruit in overvloed, zonneschijn en een veranda waar op je, bij zonsondergang, lekker kunt gaan zitten met een goed glas wijn. Hmmm, niks hoor. Fruit, ja; zonneschijn, ja; veranda, ook ja… Romantisch? Nee, niet echt. Tenzij je onder een muggennet gaat zitten.

Toegeven, we houden van de warmte (als het niet te bar is). We genieten ook van de ruimte op de veranda. Het is een heerlijke plek voor de kinderen om te spelen. Maar het wordt lastiger als je rekening moet houden met de enge beestjes. Overdag zijn er de tijgermuggen en ‘s nachts de soort muggen die eventueel Malaria kunnen overbrengen. Dan zijn er de spinnen!

Nephilingis livida

Op dit moment is onze veranda het huis van een joekel. Haar beet, zo is ons verteld, is net zo pijnlijk als een steek van een schorpioen (ja, die hebben we hier ook). Onze verhouding met de spin is er één van haat/liefde. Ze houdt de vliegende stekers enigszins in toom en dus laten we haar zitten.

Een ander naar beestje is de zandvlo. Dit beestje kruipt (ongemerkt) onder je huid en begint daar lekker te nestelen terwijl het zich voed met je bloed. De kinderen hebben er al meerdere gehad en afgelopen week was Jurgen aan de beurt. Twee van die ‘schatjes’ hadden zich in zijn kleine teen geboord. Het beste is om het beestje met het eierzakje nog intact weg te halen. Simpelweg er met een naald inprikken is een slecht idee, dan gaat het eierzakje kapot en wordt het een vieze boel. Zachtje rondom het zakje de huid open snijden werkt het best. Het lukte Jurgen bij de eerste prima maar de tweede ging kapot. Uiteindelijk kwam ook de tweede er goed uit. Elke dag weer een kans om iets nieuws te leren. Met de eierzak nog aan de zandvlo gehecht gaf het de kinderen een unieke kans om het te onderzoeken onder de mini-microscoop. Wel lastig want de zandvlo bewoog veel omdat het zich van het licht probeerde weg te draaien.

Hier wonen heeft, wat nieuwe dingen ontdekken betreft, absoluut zijn voordelen. Of je die dingen ook écht wilt ontdekken is weer een heel andere vraag.

Voor de liefhebber, het beestje op video:

Hieronder hebben we wat foto’s van dit spektakel.
PAS OP! DE FOTO’S ZIJN GRAFISCH. JA, ER IS BLOED TE ZIEN.
Alleen naar beneden scrollen als je er zeker van bent.

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Epoxy is your Friend

Epoxy is your Friend

Car trouble is bound to happen when you travel the roads of Madagascar with all the put holes and big bumbs.

We spend our Christmas and New Year in Mantasoa. A wonderful place in the area of Antananarivo… ‘only’ 16 hours drive from home. Naturally you check all the fluids in the car and whether all visible part are still tight. The car did just fine and we had a lovely holiday in Mantasoa.

Then, on our way back, 30 kilometres from the nearest town, the bar that holds the radiator broke. The radiator went down and with that hoses came loose. The bar had to be welded so we quickly continued our way to the garage. At least that was the plan. After a few hundred metre the clutch stopped working. The pipe with clutch fluid leaked and thus we didn’t have any pressure. After a long drive (since we only could drive in third gear) we arrived at the garage. Repair, in between heavy showers of rain, took 4 hours.

On our way again and finally after 15 hours we reached our favourite stopover, Ranomafana. Just a short break of a few days among some nice people is lovely. I wish! The radiator started leaking again. This time we do the repairs ourselves. Epoxy-glue is your friend when you own a car on Madagascar.

I decided to see it as a hobby… That way it is less annoying. Also, it gives an opportunity to learn the traits of mechanics which is useful for a missionary. Likewise, plumber, electrician, carpenter, road worker and what not.

The Big House

The Big House

Building the Trano-be, Madagascar About a year ago, on a Thursday morning, Jurgen was telling the bible stories to the king of Tsiombivohitra. There was another man in the house, an older man. Jurgen did not know him and asked his name: Iaban’i Roly. The coming weeks iaban’i Roly joined the meetings in Tsiombivohitra. After getting to know each other a bit better it turned out that the man officially lived in our village. The reason Jurgen did not see him there yet? Iaban’i Roly was building a new big house (trano-be) and until it was finished he lived somewhere else.

One day the man asked Jurgen why he did not tell the stories in Maroamboka since we live there? Jurgen explained that we promised the other villages to come there as soon as possible and that we must keep our promises. Iaban’i Roly and Jurgen decided start the stories in his house when it is finished. That would take a few more months.

The house is finished! Jurgen visited and found Iaban’i Roly’s wife who said she would send her husband to talk with him. He came yesterday the plan is that Jurgen will start the stories after Christmas. Iaban’i Roly said that Thursday morning is the best time to have more listeners since it is taboo to work on this day.

Building a trano-be, MadagascarOkay, why telling this? Well, the appointment is very interesting. Iaban’i Roly is not only one of the king of Maroamboka, he is also considered to be a important and powerful witch doctor. Together with his ‘colleague’ witch doctor he has costumers from all around the area. He even receives people from the capital, Antananarivo. They come especially to get a ‘blessing’ or something else only he can provide. The Malagasy fear him. We are not worried. Although the stories are very clear on the practices of the witch doctors, Jurgen is there because he has been invited. He just couldn’t let go of this invitation.

Newsletter November

Newsletter November

We have just send our newsletter for November 2019 with the following subjects:

  • The work in the villages
  • Translating, and further…
  • Our family
  • Furlough
  • Things to pray for

Read the newsletter online.

Or download it here.

You can subscribe to our newsletter [wp_fancybox_media url=”#inline_content” type=”inline” hyperlink=”here”]

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Our favourite stopover

Our favourite stopover

Three times a year we travel to the capital Antananarivo. Jurgen undertook this trip every month the first year we lived in Maroamboka. A trip that, if everything goes well, can be done in 16 hours. In the capital we meet friends, we get to worship in English at our church, and we can arrange the necessary administrative matters (such as visa, car and motorcycle papers and several money matters).

It is a tiring journey. We prefer to combine the trip with a stopover in Ranomafana. This is a tourist village in the middle of the national park with the same name. We always look forward to stay there for two or three days before traveling on to Tana.

Needless to say there are luxury hotels and restaurants in a place like Ranomafana. These hotels mainly rely on tourism. However, we prefer to stay in a simple hotel called ‘La Palmeraie’. It is simple but adequate and also affordable for the Malagasy in terms of price. Hotel La Palmeraie is our place. Maman’i Kano is the owner and she knows us well. She is very welcoming and receives us joyfully. The rooms are simple and, not unimportant, clean! We always have two rooms for which we pay a total of 60,000 Ariary (about € 15,–) per night. We share the toilet and the shower (with hot water) with other guests which is okay because there are cleaned several times a day.

We usually plan to stay a few days, from Monday to Thursday. We leave on Monday morning to arrive in the afternoon. We don’t do much on Tuesdays. The children usually go into the village or to a river to play. On Wednesdays we sometimes go to the thermal bath. This bath is cleaned weekly on Tuesday so Wednesday is the day to go. For us it is 1,000 Ariary (about € 0.25) per person because we live on Madagascar. For tourists it is slightly more expensive (5,000 Ariary, about € 1,25)). On Thursday morning we leave around 05:00 to arrive in Tana in the evening. This is the way we try to keep traveling a fun and a bit more relaxed thing to do.

We’ll post some photos of Hotel La Palmeraie below.
There are also rooms available with a private shower and toilet. The rooms vary from large to small.
Prices start at 30,000 Ariary (about€ 7,50) with the ‘most expensive’ room for 60,000 Ariary per night.
Telephone number: +261 34 45 940 88
Locatie Openstreet Maps: Maroamboka, Madagaskar-21.25822/47.45392 – OpenstreetMaps
Locatie Openstreet Maps: Maroamboka, Madagaskar21°15’29.4″S 47°27’15.2″E – Google Maps

Micro Credit

Micro Credit

Our area is rich in many respects: there is an abundance of rice, fruit, coffee and sugarcane. Most people have chickens, while the rich own cattle. Local stores sell basic food items such as beans, peanuts and dried fish. Despite low wages (Eur 0,74 a day) our neighbours have enough … until sickness arrives.

Treatment by a local GP costs anywhere between 5 and 8 days’ wages, whereas treatment in hospital – over 2 hours’ drive away – costs several months’ wages. Our neighbours often know where to find us when the dark days come. Letena came to us this last December. His wife urgently needed a caesarian in hospital, but he did not have any funds. If no help came he would lose his baby and his wife – also mother of his son.

We helped Letena with a gift and a loan. The same day his wife was transported to hospital where a healthy daughter was born. Now, over half a year later, both mother and child are faring well. The child received the name ‘Fandriana soa nomenan’Andriamanitra’, which means ‘The Creator gave a good bed’.

Meanwhile business has picked up for Letena: sofar he has been able to pay back over half of his debt to us. By giving money to pay towards medical expenses we help save lives; by giving credit our neighbours retain their pride and dignity as they show the ability to provide for their families. Giving and lending is also culturally appropriate: borrowing and lending are a normal part of interdependency in relationships.

On behalf of Letena and many other neighbours: a warm thank you to everyone who has helped us to live and give in this place!

Fandriana soa is a healthy girl
Letena’s wife proudly shows her daughter Fandriana soa
Fandriana soa nomenan’Andriamanitra
Fandriana soa nomenan’Andriamanitra
Letena's wife with Fandriana Soa
Fandriana Soa six months old