Sunday, November 12, 2006

All The Best Laid Plans...

…Certainly got laid to waste today! Paul and Joel, P & C headed off to Portsmouth for the weekend Yesterday afternoon, to take C to meet his Great Grandparents (we have not been down since just before he was born), leaving me home with Jake, A and E. Bliss!! People with 3 children don’t know their born (glinting smile)!! Match that with the fact that my Mum comes over on a weekend and today we could actually all FIT in her car - GREAT! Lets make the most of it and go somewhere for the afternoon together that we can’t usually go - Blue Planet should work for all of us :-). So we all took J to tennis this am, which finished at 12pm. Picked E up from her little friend’s (where she had been to play for a couple of hours) and on the way out of the said friend’s road awkwardly bumped over a speed hump (due to parked car on the left). Assumed no damage and continued on to Cheshire Oaks for lunch at the Golden Arch! On the way managed to take a wrong turn and a 8(ish) mile detour!! Starving by the time we were back in Chester, so decided to stop at the V. Little Chef we were passing and have a main meal instead (with a view to a snack tea then at Blue Planet later). Sat down - table in a draft so shuffled across to the window seat. Settled down with our menus - E was sick!! Cleaned her up - decided it was travel sickness, hunger, indigestion of one eaten-on-route banana and catarrh from her cold. Once eventually we were settled I happen to glance out of the window - only to notice that mum had a serious flat on her drivers side)! At this point I was very grateful for changing tables and for the fact that it was Mum’s side that was flat and therefore visible to me because otherwise things would have been a whole lot worse! We then spent the duration of our meal hunting through the Yellow Pages for a mechanic who would come out and change Mum’s wheel on a Saturday afternoon (she has no emergency cover…sigh!). Eventually we found some-one who said he could come in just under an hour (which he kept to thankfully). So, then I rang Blue Planet to find out last entry time which sadly was 4pm. By now it was 3.30 :-( The service in the LC was very slow, which any other time would have been very annoying, but as it was, at least the eating kept the kids occupied for most of their long boring afternoon!! So when all was said and done we headed home again :-(

How do you make up for such a disappointment? Well a silly game of Hullabaloo, another silly game of Cranium Hullabaloo, more silly fun on the Eye Toy (Play 3) and a video tea in front of a long film about pirates and adventures - Swiss Family Robinson!! And...the promise that we’ll go to the early (9.15) service in the morning and try again for Blue Planet straight afterwards. This is a major exception for us - certainly not something we would usually do on a Sunday, but I figure today was exceptional enough to make an exception!!

So on that promise I’m heading off to bed - it’s going to a struggle in the morning for me!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Still taking it pretty easy round here. Today contained a monumentous ONE hour of official ‘school’ I think! And Joel even kicked off about that - rrr! I think things have been too slack around here just lately, but tbh, I’m not that bothered as the kids are well up to par with their peers and ahead of most I guess. Abbie is reading with reasonable fluency these days and tackling some quite tough words at times. She has not been as quick to take off with it as I seem to remember the boys being, but then I also remember thinking that once they hit 6 they just flew there-after. She is not 6 until February and it’s good for me to recall that at her age Jake had only just completed his ‘learn to read’ scheme with ACE (having not started until he was 5 ½ ) - not that he wasn’t ready before that - I just wasn’t!!

On the maths front though she is really struggling. I’m going to paste in here a copy of the email I sent to the singaporemaths yahoo group the other night;

We have moved to MPH where there is a test book with each level. The child is recommended to take a 45 minute test at the end of each section to check for mastery. My 5yo daughter just reached the end of + & - within 10 (MPH 1A) last week and failed the test - simply didn't know what to do when it came to subtractions! :-( I will also say here, that I broke the test up into 15 minute sections and only required her to do 2 sections at a time. I wasn't sure she had the concepts down when we were working through the books and this confirmed my suspicion. SO, I've erased the majority of her practice book (part one) and we will repeat the book, but to give her a break from head-maths we are going to do some of part 2 first; patterns, shapes, ordinal numbers and some other concepts that I know she already understands, before we go back and repeat the tough stuff. Meanwhile I'll have her working on education city ( and the Rainbow Rock CDRom to help her along and then I think we will work MPH hand-in-hand with Cuisenaire rods (we've covered these concepts in Miquon already and she 'gets' the rods). Hopefully second time round she'll be more retentive. Perhaps she was just not ready!Any tips on how to help her remember the number bonds (fact families - whatever you choose to call them), so that she doesn't have to work them out every time? I am not fond of 'drill' - I acknowledge that it can work, but I can only see it as boring for her AND ME!! I'm planning lots of dice games - any other ideas? She is very visual/tactile (both - really), but struggles to picture images in her head. So if I say "imagine...." she simply can't! But she can make a picture with objects to illustrate what I'm saying. However, mental maths is all about transferring the images from the real to the abstract (so for example, from _manipulating_ rods physically, to _imagining_ you are doing the same, to not needing rods at all eventually), but how do you actually get from a to b if your child struggles so to make mental pictures (after-all - when I do mental maths I still make mental pictures of the numbers I'm using!)?

The other problem I find she has is that when she needs to make two 'moves' she forgets the first almost instantly, or even simply forgets the answer she has found before she has recorded it. She then needs to repeat the whole process to find the answer again - even with simple additions of 5 + 3 say!! It's like her brain doesn't actually log the answer at all and if she does manage to record it quick enough it, is forgotten instantly and, should the same sum appear again in the exercise, she will repeat the whole calculation again because she has forgotten/fails to recognise that she has already done it once, let alone remember the answer! I have been at this point before with my other two older sons, but the mud did not seem quite so thick and they did not get really sunk until we were dealing with numbers to 20! In reality they did get the basic concepts first time round and are now both very proficient at maths, but dd is REALLY struggling! We have actually covered the basic concepts of addition & subtraction within 10 four times now already in various ways. We have used EarlyBird (last year), MEP (a free downloadable curriculum I found online) and the first part of Miquon - and now we have been through MPH 1A once already and are about to repeat - that will be 5th time over the same ideas and each time she SEEMS to grasp it and then, just as quick as a blink, it's all gone again!

So, there it is in a nutshell. I must admit - I’m a little stumped!

Joel on the other had is whizzing on and not blinking at MPH 3A :-) It really is a breath of fresh air to him.

All the English resources I bought from S&S seem to going down well too and today Joel did some vocabulary work. He loves using a dictionary so this was a really attractive exercise to him.

I’ve done no formal English with Boo today, but sat and read a whole Sheltie (by the Sea) book to her - I never read nine chapters of anything in one sitting - and she thoroughly loved it!! :-) I am slowly coming to the conclusion that I am going have to approach school a bit differently for her. She is OK with pen-work, but she is really a listener/doer and would probably thrive better on Sonlight style school…it’s me that would struggle with it! After I read to her, she then read to me and then went downstairs with a CD & Book and listened to more stories.

Whilst I was reading to Boo (and the other girls should they have chose to listen instead of playing dress-up), Joel was out with my friend S and her family at a homeschool get-together over in Newcastle. S’s son asked if Joel could go and I leapt at the chance to amuse him for the afternoon. He had a great time so it seems! His biggest report is that there was a ½ pipe which he was apparently very good on with his scooter!

One saving grace atm might be the amount of time I assign them to Edcity and other times that they take off to listen to a ‘Learn French’ CD in their room while they play!

Other things…. I found this great resource today and for the $10 (just over £5) it cost me I though it worth having; A Child’s Geography - downloaded it and am busy printing it off (I’m so glad I bought that heat binder in Tchibo!!). I think it might suit Boo very well and looks like a nice ‘must have’ to own!

Caleb is now officially a ‘big boy’ - in bed!! (albeit just a converted cot, but still..!) But couple that with the fact that since the clocks went back he has been getting up at 6am (6.30 at the latest) and we are NOT early risers! AND he is getting up in the night too (no idea why)…resulting in me being one over-tired grumpy mummy too much of the time, who can’t wait for lights-out most nights. If fact I often shut down before the kids are in bed and leave them to Paul (not sure if he is best chuffed though, as he is most often the one who gets up early with C.). If you’re thinking “if C is getting up why put him in a bed?” - well - he was getting up anyway - with a thud enough to disturb the other boys as he clambered out of his cot, and then going over and hitting Joel to get him awake. With the bed he just wanders into us and leaves the boys alone - so that is much better for them at least! Strangely he always goes down OK and seems to love his big-boy bed. He’s just not too good at staying in it for very long. Even in the day he has dropped his sleeps to just about an hour each, if I can actually get him to have two at all. Why can’t he stay a baby just a little longer - long enough for me to get through the worst of pregnancy - like another 3 or 4 weeks would be OK!

That’ll do - PC headache coming on and tea needs cooking!