Friday, May 26, 2006

What is it about Thursdays..?

Today is Friday and I feel OK, but yesterday was another feeling **** day , so what is it about Thursdays? Is it because I sych' myself for a four day week that half way through that day I shut down. I dunno, but I definately have done exactly that the last two weeks. Come lunch time I've had enough and the afternoon has been either stressful for no reason (last week), or nothing worthwhile (this week) - in fact this week I hit the sack for most of the afternoon! The babies went to bed, Phoebe crashed on the sofa and the two older ones played happily in the garden (within ear-shot) until P. got home. I told them to spend some time on Zoombinis, or such like , which I think they did, but I was all washed out and knew I would end up screaming at them unfairly should I try to attempt more schooling. Not that they complained of course! Last week I did try to do more school and we actually had quite a nice time looking at flowers and talking about what they are for (still doing that plant project you know - that's over a year it's spanned now, but each time we visit it we recall what we've already learned and the kids seem not to mind that it's so on-going - afterall plants ARE ongoing and now we have a gorgeous garden to observe so easily from our school room it's making it all the more enjoyable :) We were even able to watch the bees pollinating the irises the other day - climbing inside them and coming out with pollen on their hind legs and backs - fab!)

Other than naff Thurdays, school is going really well atm. Boo is coming on nicely with her reading now, although she still doesn't seem to realise just how much she can read and generally still asks the "what does that say?" question even when she could figure it for herself. With a little encouragement she will usually read something if you tell her that she can. Her maths is making good progress too. Miquon seems to be working well for us, but we are blending it with Singapore and that seems to work well. We used Miquon first to introduce the numbers 11-20, then switched into Singapore to learn how to write them. She still gets a bit stuck on 11,12 & 13, but the others she has sorted. I'm not sure how well she undrstands the concepts of tens and ones, but I do know that is re-covered later on in Singapore maths, and presumably in miquon too. We started on some basic addition with number lines (in Singapore) this week and she seemed to grasp that easily, so back to miquon after half term to reinforce that. I think the two are working well hand in hand for her and she seems to like both atm.

For Joel going back to basics has been a little boring at times, but in actual fact has made me see some very fundamental gaps in his knowledge - like the meaning of '=' ! Miquon has helped him see that you can write 7=7 and that makes sense, or 8 - 3 = 3 + 2 and that makes sense too! For him '=' was seen as the solution to the question, when in realitly that's not what it means and he could have come seriously unstuck later on with that thinking (like when he needs to understand algebra). When miquon presented him with 3 = 2+1 (instead of 2+1=3) he was a bit taken aback, but when it required him to fill in the blank (? = 8 + 4, or 12 = ? + 5) he was thrown! And so was I to see that he basically had missed the meaning of equals somewhere along the line! Anyway he seems to have it sussed now and had fun on Wednesday making up balancing sums of his own :) I'm hoping that understanding this BASIC concept will help some of the other stuff fall into place more easily now. Then we went onto fractions - Miquon first and the Singapore (which jumping forward a few chapters). I remembered tackling fractions with Jacob and it being a total nightmare - he simply didn't get it. I was approaching it with dread! But with the help of Miquon Joel has sailed through the whole concept with little difficulty at all in either Miquon or Singapore - he just got it immediatly :). He spent most of the time complaining it was "too easy!!" - great - get it done and we'll move on :)

After half term (Jake has two weeks so looks like we will have too) we're moving on to measuring - which should be more review and then area and time to the quarter hour -both of which are new ideas and we'll cover in both M and SIng'. When we've completed those we'll be finished Miquon Orange, so then I think we'll go back to Sing' for a bit and fill in the bits we've skipped past , but if it's too tough still we'll lay it aside and carry on with M. Yellow

At this point two years ago I was doing mock SATS with Jake, but Joel, although more ready in some ways, is simply NOT ready in others and has too many 'gaps' to take them yet. I might do them with him right at the end of the year, by which time I hope more of the gaps might be filled. I'm not sure why there seem to be so many gaps with Joel. Either heretains less information than Jacob did, or I haven't taught him the same stuff in the first place - I dunno. But maybe his learning is broader and simply a representation of our evolving style. We've gone from 100% textbooks a couple of years back to maybe 60% books and 40% project work this year. I think actually the project work is an entirely different way of learning that is actually more demanding on us all, but gives a greater sense of acheivement at the end of it and of course leaves a lasting resource to refer back to. I think we are likely to remain a fairly 60/40 family now - it seems to work this way and is mostly more enjoyable, even if it does make it harder to measure in real terms what has been learnt and is harder to keep a track of.

Only half a term left of this year now - this our fourth year of home-edding and we are so widly different from where we begun in some ways, and yet in others ways the path is not so unchanged. I am gradually finding some resources that work time and time again - Singapore maths & grammar and Jolly Phonics being my faithful three. Others we are still trialing with some degree of success, others I do not really want to revisit that much and need to replace with alternatives for Boo next year. I am pretty much sold on anything Singapore and they are relatively inexpensive too. I struggle more with American resources I have bought in the past - they seem simply too repeititive and 'dumbed down' too much of the time. The pace is too slow and therefore becomes 'boring' for my fast-paced kids. I want to find a way of teaching English that 'fires' their imaginations and is not too heavily dependent on an ability to draw well! Everything I find seems to be based around 'draw a nice picture of... and label it well, then write about what you have drawn and remember to describe things well..." (that kind of idea). I do understand the thinking behind that, but not everyone can draw what they picture in their minds (much less enjoy the drawing) and the drawing can simply cause the double the stress. For Jacob and for Joel the idea of writing was bad enough, but adding in a drawing challenge just doubled the trauma! I need something that pulls away from the draw-then-write idea - it doesn't work here! My children enjoy drawing under the guise of 'art' when they are recieving guidance from me and a book about 'how' to actually produce something to be proud of, but off the top of their heads it does not come easily and is not really something they will choose to do for fun, even in their own time. So next year Art is Art and English is English. I actually don't like segregating things so much, but my kids seems to cope better with it that way. Maybe we are just more of an 'in the box' family than I would ideally like us to be! I guess at the end of the day it is less stressful to accept who we are in reality, than to try and make us into something we simply are not! I shall be all too happy if one of my children decides to jump out though - I like a challenge and to try new things. I keep trying to get them to be more adventurous with their learning, but they keep pulling me back to the less creative ways of doing things :( Creativity in our house sadly seems to be reserved for playtime - why is that? And then it seldom involves pen and paper of any description. They most often play 'let's pretend' games, which are lovely and educational too in their own way I know, but can't really be part of our formal schooling. If I ask them to be creative in school time, for some reason they "can't' think of anything!" I guess, quite natuarally, it's hard to be creative 'on demand'!

I want to focus more on Science next year - that seems to be all too lacking and I think they would all (because Phoebe joins us next year too of course!!) like the hands-on aspect of that. And Music - I've bought "Tune In" from SGBox (more singapore supplies) and did an initial lesson the other day. We had great fun using our bodies and in-house instruments to re-create our own version of "Peter and the Wolf " :)

Enough school talk - if you're even still reading!

This week coming the boys are away on 'Energi camp' & Boo and Beef are going to their cousins for three nights. My Mum is keeping the wee ones and Paul and I have our first two night away KID FREE for 8 yrs!! We are staying in a hotel in Shrewsbury (first time ever in a nice hotel too!) and are SOOOO looking forward to it :)

Going now - I've talked too much and you must all be too bored. But at least you can't say I didn't blog!!


Jan said...

great long blog - good to hear from you.

wrt English - we've finished First Language Lessons, which suited C quite well - not much writing but quite a lot of memorising and reciting. Quite an american focus on grammar though and I was ready for the end of it.

Now we've started on Writing Strands which I bought from Ichthus Resources, and I like that a lot. We've started with book2, book1 is more oral, and I may get that for Megan sometime. It doesn't ask for any drawing, and not a great deal or writing either, and not much repetition. It's more based on English usage than theory.

We'd love to see you this summer. We're internetless at the moment (I'm at work) but we must fix a date when you can all come over for a few days.

Caroline said...

yes - yes - yes we MUST see you soon. It's been WAY too long!!

I'll take a look at writing strands, but I must admit I am keen to encourage them to write a bit at least each day, and for Boo the physical act of writing something is definately what makes stuff sink in. She can't read a word so well until she can write it and if she forgets a letter if I make her draw it in the air she will then remember it - a VERY kinsthetic learner I think!!