Cath Fickling On Slow Motherhood, Home Schooling & Simple Farm Living

Cath Fickling is a qualified teacher & home school mom based on a farm out in Devon, Gauteng who raises her kids with intention, making each day adventure-filled and memorable. We absolutely love her parenting ethos! Have a read as she talks slow motherhood, simple farm living and the ups and downs of home schooling.

“Having come from the small town of Eshowe, where the gardens are large, shopping is small and children are free, I wanted the same experience for my children. Growing up in a family with six children meant there wasn't lots of extra money for amazing gadgets and toys, but my days were filled with playing with bunnies, building forts, fishing from tree houses, so many amazing memories. As I become a mother, I realised that I wanted my children to look back at their own childhoods and have real, magical memories. I want my children to be free to discover their surroundings and living on a farm ticked ALL these boxes. 

One of benefits of living on a farm is the lifestyle. Farm living means everything happens slowly; everything is simpler. This is the basis for how we live.  Simple living for me is being mindful: mindful of how you spend time, your relationships, what you consume - quality over quantity. 

With regards to motherhood, for me, simple living is putting away your phone when you don't need it. Turning off the radio. Turning off the TV. Enjoying the moment. Listening to your child's stories. Finding out what makes them happy and enjoying activities with your child. Becoming a good listener. Don't feel you need to take pictures all day, be present with your child instead... Both you and your child will enjoy the moments you share much more. 

Being a teacher and seeing how some children really struggled to settle into the schooling system always made me want to keep my children at home for as long as they needed, until they felt ready and wanted to go to school. Each child is so different, one will thrive with the structure and will need the social aspects of school, while the other might need to learn in a more tactile environment and thrive with one-on-one attention. My boys still very much need mommy and love the freedom of learning at home - I plan on home schooling them until they are ready to experience another form of schooling.

Home schooling can at times be overwhelming. You ask yourself, am I doing enough? Some days the children don't want to do art or workbooks... That's where our slow approach to living has been wonderful. Home schooling must be purposeful, if your child doesn't feel like reading a book today, make it into a game… write words on the trampoline and have them jump on them, write numbers in the sand or use stones to form letters. It needs to be purposeful and fun!

If you’re just doing work to "get it done" Stop! Rethink your schooling, get rid of all the paper and play. Learning musn’t be boring or stressful for you or your child. Get to know your child, what is your child’s love language? Use that to help them learn. What are your child's interests? Form your themes around that. How does your child learn best? Are they tactile, visual or auditory learners - plan your teaching around that.

Our home schooling days are very flexible, if we go on our morning ride and we see feathers, I will make a lesson on that. I often use outdoor activities to help with lessons, before a child learns to plus and minus, count and play with sticks, flowers or anything you can find and then when that's in place go to the book! My advice to moms wanting to home school without the pressure: don't compare. Each child is different, don't expect them to be the same. Look at what the curriculum expects you to have achieved by the end of the year, and mould that around your child, your focus needs to be your child not the curriculum. Create teachable moments, your child can learn so much from small day to day tasks, and always remember the best things in life cannot be rushed.”

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