Friday, July 30, 2004

Updating you!

Well blogging yesterday didn't happen because Paul & I decided to have an evening together and once I get on this computer I all too often stay here!!

I'm glad you've all managed to access my 'schedules' now - Hooray!

So tonight I'll catch you up a bit.

Our trip down south was lovely once we got there, but the journey was horrendously long and overly cramped on the way down - the children spent the entire journey from Birmingham to Southampton sat in a luggage rack - all four of them, whilst I stood in the corridor with Ellie in the pram, together with another lady and her 3 month old in a pram too, juggling prams around doorways at each station - trying to give Ellie her lunch and a feed sitting on the floor - Ho Hum! I was SO glad my mum had taken the luggage with her as that would have made matters all the worse. Fortunately coming back was not so bad and we did have seats but the children were so tired they couldn't amuse themselves well and were annoying all the way home (remember I was tired too!). They chattered and bickered, dropped things on the floor a thousand times and kept wanting to change seats, etc.. .All I wanted to do was read my book & sleep! At Mum & Dad's they had all shared one room (yes, all five of them) and we had slept downstairs. Me on a not-too-comfy, rather lumpy sofa-bed and Paul on a camp bed. Because the children were all sharing they were up at the crack of dawn - like 6.30am - every morning. Now that's at least an hour earlier than normal and me, I'm an 8.30 person, so to me it felt like the middle of the night! Our usual routine is to send them to watch a video for a while before we get up (or kids TV on Channel 5/BBC 2), but we were in the viewing room, so that didn't help much really - they just wanted to be in our beds to watch - ah well - not much of a rest, but it was a change!!

The party that we went down for was to celebrate Paul's Grandparents both turning 80 this year. Neither of them are too well really. Paul's Grandad had a stroke 2 years a go and is now wheelchair bound and quite heavily dependent on other people. This has consequently meant a gradual wearing down of Nan, who then circumbed to a serious Urine infection a couple of months back and is really struggling to regain her strength following it. They do have carers to help them, but it's sad to see such fiercely independent people have the stuffing so knocked out of them. We all wonder how long they will both live now, so that made the party so much more important in a way. It was especially lovely to be able to get Nan's sister there, who is older than her and who she hasn't seen for two years - they were visiting her when Grandad had his stroke and they haven't seen each other since. And it was so great to see them all smiling so much and in such high spirits - something Grandad in particular struggles to do much of these days.

Since we've been home the children have gradually recovered from their tiredness and normality is beginning to resume - if any such thing is possible in our busy household! But Jacob is now asking when we (the family) are going on holiday (which we're not this year) and Joel wants to got to Colchester like we did last year (we used to live there). But money is so tight this year that a holiday is not on the cards :( . I am planning to Jacob to the Lakes for a couple of days (just him and Ellie), but I think that is going to be really hard on Joel, so I might end up taking three children. I was hoping to give the boys a break from each other and some 'quality' Mummy time for Jacob, who really craves it, but then I'm not sure how I'd make it up to Joel?! Oh, the dilemmas of parenting...! Gladly, we are going over to Jon & Jan's again at the end of August (will we meet any of you?) which is always a holiday to the children, especially as they think that J&J really live on a farm - which of course they do in a sense - because they can see all kinds of farm animals in all directions and J&J have chickens!

The last couple of days have been busy for the children though - Joel especially. He spent yesterday afternoon playing at a friends and then today a friend of mine took both Jacob & Joel, with her little boy & his friend to the Reaseheath Maize Maze . They had a great time in the maze, but I think the highlight of the trip was possibly throwing wet sponges at each other in the stocks that they had there (in a playground outside the maze)!

Next week we might have a young girl come visit us who was great with the children when we lived in Colchester. She is actually the daughter of Abbie's Godparents and she is lovely to have around. I am hoping with her here to amuse the children (because it's them she is mostly coming to see and she's old enough to take them to the park and down to feed the ducks etc...) I might be able to catch up on some housework and start making some rough timetables for next year's school (what I want to cover when, rather than day-to-day timetables).

One more thing: I did my ironing today sitting in the yard in the sunshine, listening to Diana Waring's history tapes in preparation for trying to teach the children in some kind of informed way - and WOW! She has a lot to say, but it's really worth listening too! And what a treat for me - almost two hours of solitary 'listening & learning time' (the girls were asleep, Paul was shopping, the boys were lost in a maze!)

Well I guess that' s me about caught up and you totally bored I reckon!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I did it - again and again and again!!!

It's taken me a while but at last you should be able to access my schedules on line. Click here 
I hope you can all follow it well enough, although you'll need your 'back' key to get back to the index page. I've had to use a combinationof two programs to get this uploaded. For somereason I just could not get Publisher to upload into an index.html page (?), so I had to use word and my usual program and add one to the other - a WHOLE load of fuss!!

Anyway - we're back from our long weekend and I have some rather over-tired and stroppy children, but we did have a nice time whilst we were down there. We went here and had a lovely afternoon. Well worth a visit if you're ever down that end of the country.

Been on the computer all day and now need a break, so sorry this is short and sweet. I shall try to blog more tommorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

A Bit Better!

Well, thanks for all those sympathetic comments folks! Life these last two days has been a BIT better - not quite the number of tantrums, but still some excessive stroppiness! But hey just tomorrow to go and I have deliberately scheduled minimal work for the 'last day of term'  - good thing really as I have to pack for a weekend trip to the inlaws! I am so not relishing the over five hour train journey (three changes) with five children and then back again on find a good book to try and loose myself in!

Today I had a lovely moment - a moment that told me I'm doing so badly and my children are developing, exploring and learning along the way. I was doing maths with Jacob and English with Joel and I suddenly spotted that they were both doing a touch of art at the same time. I never imagined maths and art to fall together in the same lesson, but Jacob was colouring a lion's head as he answered the questions in his maths exercise. He carefully selected the appropriate shades of yellows and browns and made a really lovely looking lion. Joel had to colour some objects beginning with letter 's' in a seaside picture. He decided of his own accord to turn it into a colour blending experiment - well I guess that's art & science really! He made some interesting shades of stones and got really excited when he mixed pink with green and got brown!

On the note of achievement... Jacob did a four page 'revision' exercise in his maths today, covering addition and subtraction with carrying and borrowing, multiplication and division within the 2 & 3 times tables, word problems with a jumble of requirements (i.e. one would meen adding, the next multiplying, the next subtracting, etc...) meaning he had to deduce which  operation was required before he could work out the answer. He didn't flinch and he got 100% - How chuffed was I?!
 Just as a measure, this is the boy who couldn't add 2+3 without using his fingers at the start of this year! He's come a REALLY long way. Singapore Maths is Fabulous! Even learning his tables, we tried the tradition 'recitation' route, but it didn't work. Singapore basically use a slow & steady with lots of repitition route and Jake can now tell you any multiplication or division within the 2 & 3 tables within the click of your fingers!! I am very impressed - as you can probably tell!

I'm going to make some achievement certificates now and present them to the children tomorrow - highlighting the areas I think they have done really well in this year.

I guess Jacob's progress is quite obvious in Maths, but he has done really well in English too. He has progressed from print to a very neat-for-a-7-year-old italic join. He can write completed and well structured sentences. He is a good speller. He uses Capitals and full stops in the right places most of the time. He understands the 'parts' of a sentence. He can use word compressions without making too many mistakes. And his reading has really moved on too - He has read two of Jan's CoreK read-alouds as readers these last two weeks (the Dolphin ones). I'm going to read them back to him though - so he hears the stories with a little more fluency to get the 'meat' out of them.  It's a shame Jan wants them back really as I see so much 'potential' for study in them,. Anyway, I digress!

For Joel: he has learnt to read - big achievement of course. He has the basics of addition & subtraction under his belt and a good understanding of most other basic maths concepts (shape, size, ordering, fractions, etc...). His handwriting has progressed from scratchy, nervous squiggles, to very respectably legible with some basic joins of vowel blends (ae, ai, oo, etc...).

I've put together my schedules as word documents - just thinking how to make them accessible to you all!

Monday, July 19, 2004


If anyone would like to see the photos from the Museum trip - click here - but beware they are all of aeroplanes - I forgot to get the camera out before we got to that bit :( !

Today was a BAD day! I don't know why, but I think Jake got out of bed the wrong side. Right from square one if we were at loggerheads with each other. I did stop a few times in the day to ask myself if I was being unfair/unreasonable/grumpy, etc... But whatever I said, or did and however I approached things the end result was the same today. At the slightest hint of a 'no' or a 'wait' my 7 year old son was throwing himself on the floor in fits of temper and rage. If things didn't happen immediatly - and the way he wanted them to - he flew off into one. But then he failed to learn from the error of his ways. By wasting 20 minutes having one tantrum about not being able to go on the PS1 straight after lunch (we wanted to ALL go out to the library, but to wait for him to have PS time would have meant VERY irritable, impatient girls - and that's not fair) he got behind with his work, so ended up missing out on the library trip - more tantrum and more wasted time! (I MUST ADD - he was NOT having a tantrum about the work he had to do, just about not getting what he wanted!) He then took AGES to do his work - which was not difficult or much and was still doing it when the others got back from the library. By the time he finished it was time for swimming - so STILL no PS. He hoped he might get to go on it after swimming. I told him that would depend on him and how long he took getting changed after swimming. He has a 30 time limit - else he misses out on chocolate from the machine. His brother came out of the changing rooms quickly and got his chocolate - Jacob did not and missed out - ho humm, hence we were late home, late tea - so still no PS. I did tell him though that because he HAD earned 20 mins on it today that would cary into tomorrow and be added to tomorrow's time, but no - he persisted in having ANOTHER tantrum - more time wasted (another 20 mins or so) so he missed out on his bedtime story because it got too late and both Paul & I had just had enough by then (to say the least!!). Why could he not see that it was his own attitude and sloathfulness that was causing him to miss out? He even said "I don't want to be helped" at one point when we were trying to 'chat' with him and help him see where he was going wrong. RRRRAH - what to do on days like today?!

Let's hope tomorrow is better...! :)

Friday, July 16, 2004

We've had a lovely day out!

We went to the Museum of Science and Industry (in Manchester) today and had a fabulous day. Such an amazing place for a freebie! It's so hands on and there's so much there. We couldn't cover everthing in a day, so we did the textiles, but missed the working mill, the 'experiment' play area - REALLY great fun, and the space & aviation bit - with some amazingly huge aeroplanes to stare at! The boys were also desperate to go on a tram, so we did that too. I'll blog some pics tommorrow. It's veg-out time now - when I've cleaned up the kitchen from the devatation that was tea-time!
Oh yes, and Ellie cut another tooth today - that's number two - aaagh!!
Gonna watch a film with hubby & Mum tonight then hit the sack early me thinks!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Getting there and Nearly there!

Sorry I'm not blogging much of late - been VERY busy!

We are all quite tired now and almost ready to close up shop (school) for the summer, but we are persevering for another week just to 'finish up' a few things.

I'm also trying desperately to plan a 'course of study' for next year and pool resources together in some coherent way! I found a good website for anyone who likes to have little bits of paper telling what's next hanging around - and calenders - and unit study 'plan' sheets & records of resources used/to use, etc... (

And then I found this reading scheme with 30 downloadable books! I'd really like to try to get together a 'school/group' subscription, which would mean that anyone in that group had full access to EVERYTHING on the website (750 boos and resources - from pre-school to yr6). If anyone wants in PLEASE let me know (by email or otherwise). I already know of one other lady who is interested. If just five of us go in that keeps the cost down to under £20 p.a. I really think it's worth it. They even do books in French and Spanish - maybe a cheap way of teaching a foreign language? Apparently Katy Beresford (a Mudd-puddler) does some editing work for them making UK versions of the books. She gave me this link too - - more freebies here!! The 'Tommy' books here - if used with the teachers notes and worksheets, look like little unit studies in themselves.

School Today

Strangely, right at the end of term school really seems to be coming together although I do often find it a challenge trying to coach a new reader and an emergent (not physically) writer!

Our Bible study today was about praising God with music. Joel made a harp with a toilet roll - and we played musical statues!!

Although Jacob still seems apt to burst into a tantrum of either rage, or tears at the slightest mention of the word 'think'! That said, he does seem to be gradually becoming more able to DO the thinking. Today, presented with a pretty difficult exercise, with a little nudging and prompting in the right direction, he was able to complete the task. He basically had to sift out important from 'accessory' information. Jacob is a child who has inherited (from my Mum)a need to fill in every fine detail, so he saw almost all the information as important! But with a little help he got the hang of it. Then all those facts had to be arranged into a 'short report' - with Title, introduction, subheadings and bullet points. Wow - tall order for a 7 year old! But once the tears had dried up, and he realised this was not a 'do it on your own' task he we was fine. It is often hard though, I find, to find a balance between leading him to the right answers and allowing him to be creative in his thinking! And also not TELLING him what he has to write can often be a challenge to me.

But all in all life since the new arrangement of time has been much more peaceful. aaah!:)

I am really looking forward to using some of next years materials as I have managed to get hold of some REALLY good stuff. I hope the children will enjoy it as much as I anticipate they will. I have tried to be more wide and varied in my thinking about styles of we wait! Once everything is in I'll post up links to our new resources.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Thinking it through...

Sometimes I really feel like giving up on this home-schooling thing! I wonder if my children would be better off at school, away from this tired ratty, impatient Mummy - but then I think that I would only be substituted with a tired, ratty, impatient, over-worked, stressed teacher in a classroom with 25+ non-working children - and it brings me back around! But for MY sake I do think it would often be easier!!

We've just had a tough couple of days, but then today was great and we are FREE for the weekend now. But the tough days did afford Paul & I the opportunity to sit down and chat 'school' - What are our aims and objectives? What is important to include and what could be excluded? What learning is essential & what is surpus and/or just adding stress?

To the end we decided we need to see the term out as peacefully as possible and then re-think our methods for next year. Essentially the daily 'schedule' does work, but we need to build in some more flexibility. So from September onwards I am going to plan a THREE day week and allow the children to take four days over the work. That way we don't spill into Friday and the kids don't feel they have failed if it's not all finished by Thursday pm - because it more often WILL be. We have also decided to build three 'project days' into each half term - but these will be a suprise to the children each time - they won't know it's happening until school starts that morning! Sometimes they will be on a topic that they have expressed a desire to learn about, sometimes an idea that either Paul or I have been inspired with. They will work along the lines of a short-sharp unit study idea and hopefully inject some fun and creativity into our school. I really like the idea behind unit-study schooling, but I believe it would loose momentum and it's 'exciting' element if we overused it (i.e. all the time). I hope this way to have the best of both worlds and keep the feeling fresh. It will also help that I should have to 'readers' by next term who can work on simialr topics albeit at different levels - and the younger girls can join in the fun too!

And so...our school is EVER evolving! Hopefully for the better. It sure is a learning process! We have come such a long way in just a year - I wonder where we will be in another three years from now. Will our methods and philosophies on school simply have turned head over - who knows...?

N.B. - My new business site is uploaded now (just working on the payment button) - so check it out! All feedback welcome! - see the link on the left.