Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Check out this website - like a youtube for home-educators. It's moderated and kind of a nice place to share schooly vids :) My profile (and vids) can be seen HERE. Have Fun looking. It's pretty new, so not a great deal there yet, but might get to be a good place to find stuff :)

No Bars Hold!

Today was one of those days that are a benchmark in childhood. Natty surprised us all this morning by managing to clamber out of his playpen (the old fashioned square wooden-bar sort) - three times! Admittedly he was aided by a slightly tall toy (which I have now removed) and a table the other side, but all the same there was no stopping him once he sussed he could do it. This, however, seemed to give him ideas beyond his station. Having mastered his pen he then mastered his cot! When I heard him grizzling after his nap this afternoon and asked A to bring him down, she was greeted by him at his bedroom door. The really weird thing is, the day he first fell out of his cot (age about 9 months) I had that morning mentioned to P that we needed to lower the base. Then, last night as we were dozing off I pondered out loud how soon we would need to put N in a bed. We agreed before Christmas, but no rush (all the others went into beds around 18months-ish and N is now 16). Then today you know about … So tonight he has gone to bed in a big-boys bed (well his cot minus one side). We always figure it is safer, once they can climb out (and he the first one of ours who has actually bothered trying), to remover the sides and train them about staying in. Yes, tonight he did push it a little, but I just waited 'til he was really asking to go to bed and then he went down with very little fuss J. So in the space of a month my baby has learnt to walk and transitioned to a 'big-bed' - he's not so much a baby anymore L The next stage is pants and understandable speech and that seems to be approaching rapidly. He is already quite aware of his anatomy (it's definitely a boy thing!) and his babble seems to be developing nicely into speech-like intonations. He has a sound that sounds distinctly like "there you go" and one like "eyeee" (Ellie). It's this beautiful stage that makes me broody.. J !

On the other hand - I have to remind myself that I really have issues with 9yo boys. JA was very difficult between 8-10 and JI is a positive nightmare! I worry about depression with him (there is a strong family history on my side) as he really seems to struggle to be happy some days. He says he can't see the point in life it is this miserable and everyone hates him so he may as well not be alive … and other such stuff! It's quite distressing, but I do play it cool with him. Not too cool, so that he doesn't think I care, but cool enough to not increase the amount of attention he can draw to himself this way. It all stems from me having 'rules' and today's outbreak of misery was triggered when he bunny-hopped off the kerb into the line of an on-coming car on a bend, such that the car couldn't see him until it was almost on him. I had spoken strongly to JI about the self same thing yesterday and warned him that should he do it again he would no longer be able to bring his bike on the playgroup run for a while, but today he disregarded that warning & nearly got himself killed! So I sent him home to wait for us in the garden with a note that he was not going to ride his bike in the street again for some time. By the time I got home he was hiding. I knew where, but he didn't realise that and I knew he was in ear shot when I told the others we were not going looking for him as that would achieve his aim of getting lots of attention! So, when he came in again he was in a real rage and declaring that no-one cares about him and how he was almost 10 and why couldn't I let him do what he likes and have more responsibility (hmmm - I wonder why!!) and he didn't care if he got knocked over anyway because he's going to heaven and it will be much better than this miserable life! "rrrrr" - 9/10yos!! I have to keep telling myself that he will mature out of it and it is just a phase. I just hope we are right on this one. He then of course decided not to come back to school when the others did and I didn't go and get him, but I think the 'calling his bluff' thing might actually work, because although he tells me so often how he doesn't want to learn anything, he did voluntarily come back and collect his maths book, he did voluntarily join in with the Geography lesson about half way through, although he refused to do his note-booking on what we studied today, and he voluntarily joined in whole-heartedly with Spanish lesson numero tres. So, I don't quite believe him on that one!! I think I will carry on playing it this way and I have explained it to the other kids so they are on board. We'll see how it goes.

School-wise we had a bit of a rough day yesterday and I'm not sure whether it was mostly my fault, mostly theirs, or a good mix of both, but JA was in tears on and off about a couple of things and mostly through tiredness I think, not really anything I did or didn't do (thankfully). JI was kicking off (done that story enough for one night) and E was just not wanting to anything I asked her - school related or otherwise - which set me in a snipey mood, not helped by the fact that I stayed up too late on Sunday night). Thankfully today was the total opposite of yesterday and life was generally smooth, happy, full and finished by the end of the day. They are all loving the Spanish (using GP) and can all count to 12, and greet each other nicely by week 3. I forgot to test their spelling of the numbers 1-12 today although I suspect the boys would have been fine. JA seems to have a knack for languages (he did French at school and was pretty good at it from what I can see, but he didn't want to carry on with it, preferring to do Spanish and, as I did Spanish and know I can speak it better, I was quite happy with that) and JI looks like he might have too. He remembers the vocab' really easily - pronunciation is more of an issue, but he'll get there I'm sure J.

JA chatted to his 'school' friend last night on the phone and afterwards was all begging me to let him go to High-School with his friends. It was a really difficult conversation. If Jake wasn't the crowd-follower that he is I would have less of an issue, if he was more sure of his faith such that he wasn't going to get knocked sideways again at the first sign of someone not liking him because of it, if he wasn't so worried about being 'different,' for whatever reason, that he would do anything to fit in and be liked - if he wasn't who he presently is (essentially) - then I would consider it, BUT the way I see it right now is that it is way too big a risk to take with him. He doesn't think I 'get' him, but that's because in all honesty, I don't think he has quite figured himself out yet and he also has no real idea what high-school is like. He knows they get LOTS of homework (like 1-2 hours a night), but other that that he sees it as a means of social networking! Of course there is that element to it, but that can be done by other means. He doesn't really understand (or doesn't want to understand - not sure which) that some of that social-networking is the exact reason I don't want him there! I do feel for him on the sociability issue and we need to find more for him to do outside of home, but he gave up tennis, swimming and football which were his non-churchy activities, of his own accord. Any of them he is free to go back to if he wishes. I keep encouraging him to keep in contact with his school mates, but he doesn't make much of an effort tbh, so what more can I do? I get that at home he feels a bit too old to join in with the others now, but I think that will change in a not very long time as JI also begins to mature and grow out of playing with the girls so much, At the mo' JI is struggling to adjust to sharing his days and his sisters with his brother again, but I'm sure it will settle down soon enough - at least I hope so! Meanwhile JA is left feeling a bit 'bored' when he is on a break, because I don't allow any SASS time during school hours (9-ish), however I have allowed him to go on Funbrain Maths a little to while away the time. Can't see any immediate solution to that one - just wish he liked reading more than he does, because that would help a little.

Life -otherwise has been happy and busy with a fair bit of out-and-abouting with the lovely sunshine we've been having this last week or so. We have done walks on Wybunbury Moss, Sutton Park (when we went to my s-i-l's a couple of weekends ago) and this last Sunday - Queens Park (in Crewe). This last afternoon out was a bit of a flop as about 90% of the park is closed off for a £3.2M revamp. But the kids played in the very nasty play area (so old and unsafe) and when I had had enough of being scared witless, we went and found a tree to climb and a fountain to clamber on (it was ok to do that). It kept the kids out of the house anyway and they seemed to have a nice enough time. E's best friend AG was with us but Jake was at his mate S's. S lives across the road from the park so Jake & S met us there for a bit, which got them away from the PS2 which they regularly glue themselves firmly to on Sunday afternoons at S's!

I just wish this sunshine would last a lot longer. It makes us all feel so much brighter, but sadly I think we have seen our snippit of summer and autumn is fast approaching. It was good while it lasted, and now I guess we have to enjoy the colours of autumn :)

just for fun;

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Project work

Jake spent most of today putting THIS together. It's only short and sharp, but he had to do all the research completely by himself. He will present it to 'our class' on Monday, but I am pretty impressed with his use of PP. He has composed this completely independently and although you cannot hear all the nice little boingy sounds etc... and all the fancy animations in googledocs, you can get the gist of it. It really is very good for an 11yo I think :) I am so impressed with Singapore IScience - this was a task set from it - why have they taken it our of circulation?! :(


I just thought I'd blog some snap shots of life here over recent weeks.
Click HERE to see the album :)
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Friday, September 19, 2008

Week Two…

Trying a new font - for MichelleJ

We seem to have a bit of a poetry thing going on here atm and after tea tonight each child got to read out this weeks 'piece'. In our History studies of Greece this week we were looking at Lyric Poetry and each of them had to write a poem about an emotion or feeling.

Abbie wrote;


When I am happy I giggle and I laugh,

I like being happy!

I am happy when I see my cousins

I am happy when I am at ballet.

When I am happy I giggle and I laugh.

I like being happy!

Joel wrote;


A poor orphan child.

His parents have abandoned him.

He's left on the street,

Begging for money and food.

For only a box to sleep in,

Only a newspaper for a blanket.

Hoping that some day, someone would take him,

From that dark, dreary, cold place,

Take him to love him and care for him.

Pheobe wrote;


Wonc (once) I got hurt by a ball

On the trampoline.

And I hurt my leg.

They each had to then illustrate their poem and they did a good job J

Our new curriculum seems to be going down well on the whole and the children are beginning to get into the swing of things now. The GP English I especially like although it is considerably more stretching than anything they have used in the past and they consequently, are each needing a significant amount of help with it. I think once they get a real handle on the expectations of the text they will be fine. Even so, they have all produced some nice work so far. Joel chose to write a newspaper report on the 'evacuees' this week and I really like what he did. It was short and concise, but it said all it really needed to and the headline was good.

Joel has had real problem this week with his maths and we have had some major kick-offs from him. He has been on a 'word-problem' section and he got himself in a real tiz with them. They were not particularly difficult but he has convinced himself he can't do them. He is actually quite fine with all the numbers and the operations (generally), but working out how to solve 'real life' problems just throws him. He seems to get really confused with terms like 'each' and 'per'. I seem to remember JA being the same, but much younger. So, my plan - bless him - is to give him more of the same over the next few weeks until he 'gets it', I'm not going to stop him progressing on, just adding in a bit of 'evening work' in the form of word-problems and hopefully get him manipulating the numbers without such a major flip-out!

We did Astronomy this morning and everyone seems to be enjoying that J. We began by filling in the mini-books for the stuff we learnt last week and gluing all of them into our new note-lap-book-folder! Jacob made a great Mnemonic for the planets; My Very Energetic Marsian Jumps So Uncontrollably, Never Pauses. I thought it was even more clever because it distinguished the two M's and made sure he could remember which was Mars J. After they had done some pencil work they cut out next weeks mini-books while we chatted about 'The Sun.' Then I had them all spinning in circles around each other on the trampoline - orbiting and rotating like the sun, moon and earth. That produced lots of giggles and dizziness (and a few sulks too from JI who thought HE should be the Sun first - sigh) and generally got the message across. This was followed by trying to burn a leaf in the sun with a magnifying glass (to show how the sun might 'burn' your retina if you stare at the sun), but the sun was not intense enough. One to repeat in the summer (and to do with chocolate on a hotter day too!), but they could see the 'sun beam' on the leaf and how it was intensified through the bent glass, so that was not a complete loss. I can see this book is going to be a big hit and even more fantastic is that it reinforces what we have been learning in our Geography Curriculum all last year and into this too.

The worst part of today was when JI decided to 'run away' for about 45mins. He had a falling out with his bro' (tell me something new) whereby he simply would not let JA join in with 'his' game, would not share anything with him and would not accommodate any of his ideas. When I told him that he had to start lettling JA in on his games, being more flexible and realising that the whole world did not centre around him and his whims, he stormed out! I let him go. I knew he would come back soon enough. None of my kids are like me enough to have the courage of their convictions - thankfully!! (By 10 I had seriously run away at least twice, for several hours and had no intention of returning home at all and would not have done if 'others' had not intervened.) Anyway JI snuck back in and slinked of to his room, avoiding a whole afternoon's work (Mental Maths, Art and ICT (making a P.Point presentation slide show about our family/school). When he eventually did reappear downstairs and decide to enter back into family life you'd have thought nothing had happened. I wasn't going to push for an apology this time. JA did not seem to expect one - he was just relieved that JI was home and OK (he was really worried, bless him) and JI acted all sweetness and light for the rest of the day - even when I said he had to do his Mental Maths if he didn't go to club and that he couldn't go on the computer until after he would have been home from club! Trouble with JI atm, is that you just never know how far his molten larva will spread and how long it will retain its heat! Part of me wonders whether I should completely turn the pressure off him and not force him to do school at all. He would not be allowed square screens between 9 & 4 and all the others would be 'doing school', so they would not be available to play with him. I just wonder (a) what he would do with his time? and (b) whether he would get so bored with his own company that he would they choose to come and join back in with us to alleviate the boredom? I'm toying with the idea, but I'd have to explain it well to the other children or it would simply seem very unfair on them, which is not what I am trying to achieve. I just want a less reluctant, more friendly son/learner in my home.

That's it for tonight - Bed calls!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Do schools today kill creativity? (Ken Robinson, TEDTalks)

Have a listen - it's brilliant!! Now to heed what I hear - that's the hardest part!

"Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One Week Down…many more to go!

So as we near the end of week one… it's been an up and down week. Day one was ace, day two was more of a struggle. Yesterday was OK and today was lovely. I'm finding my timetable to be quite 'tight' but at the same time doable - just. I am sure as we get into the swing of things it will iron itself out. I wish though, sometimes, that I didn't read all these blogs of free-style home-edders leading a child-led lifestyle. Not because I feel they are doing anything wrong and it annoys me or anything, but more because I think I envy that way of life. But in all honest - how? How would I realistically let my children lead our education? I would be led in so many different direction all at the same time and they are such a diverse bunch (and some of them are way too competitive to be healthy) that it would be almost impossible to find something for them all to do together that was entirely from them. I would love it if they were the kind of kids who pow-wowed and came up with a stunning idea of for a project they could all work on together - and then actually had some ideas about how to bring that into being - but sadly they are not L. JI basically tells me he has no desire to learn anything - and I think he is being blatantly honest, he really is disinterested in life in general atm and that is where he is at fair and square, but sorry mate - that is not an option here. If he doesn't want me to tell him what to do he had better come up with some ideas of his own, or else knuckle down with what I set him to do. AR - well, she is creative, but a bit ditsy. She might come up with an idea, but she would have no idea about how to make it happen - and that is so how I was as a child. BUT she is a sponge and LOVES school and everything I throw at her pretty much (except Miquon Maths which she hates and which we are stopping at the end of the red book as it seems superfluous now). She never complains at writing and can write way more than JI in any given amount of time. She has good levels of concentration (most days) and is a dream to have around. PG struggles to work independently and likes to have someone hold her hand, but she is getting better at it and can work for longer periods without being so distracted or demanding of me. I have her and A at the same end of the table as they are so close in age and A will occasionally give P a little nudge in the right direction just to keep her going. That seems to be working well. If P were to do anything autonomous it would most certainly be to do with princesses - I'm not sure there is much else of importance in her world just now, but maybe animals. She loves animals and says she wants to be a vet, but that may just be because her best friend is totally obsessed with animals and some of it has rubbed off. Anyway, who am I to judge and I don't mind encouraging her to take an interest in that field at all J. EN is definitely my best candidate yet for autonomous learning. She has always been a sponge and I am constantly amazed how much she picks up from the happenings of life going on around her. Atm I am actually trying to keep her learning to her style as much as I can, but she keeps begging to do workbooks! So when she asks we do - and she has a little timetable like everyone else, but I am sticking very loosely to it and would far rather she spends as much of her day playing as she wishes to. She is not 5 until November so I see no rush to be learning 'stuff' she has no need to know, but if she wishes to join in she is more than welcome. JA on the other hand is my star of the moment - applied (generally), keen, enthusiastic and motivated - he is a joy to have around - AND he can help the little ones when they need it J. It has given JI a jolt to not be the eldest one who 'knows it all' and that has to be a good thing! That said, JA's knowledge base is not as broad as it might be and JI does know more about some stuff. What this has made me realise is that even if I do stifle my kids a little with timetables and schedules, they still learn more about what we learn about than they ever would at school. JA joined in with our continuing Greece project (nearly done now) this week and even though he had covered it at school there was some stuff he simply didn't know. We are looking at Language and Literature in this section of our study and although he had written his name in Greek at school (as we did) using the same website that I used to get a transcript, he hadn't heard of the Iliad and Odyssey (although he had heard of Odysseus), or know that they were epic poems. To be fair I didn't get taught that at school either, what I learnt was probably very similar to what he has been taught (i.e. not a great deal of any importance), but my kids will know it - and he does now!

Some of our school time is simply hard graft - mainly English and Maths are that way, but in regard to English I can see that Jake has been awakened to the joys of writing and tonight (as out-of-school work) he had a writing task and produced this (with minimal help towards the very end as he was getting tired);

The Circus

Trapeze artists flying,

Clowns pieing.

The ring-master introducing each act.

Budgies do some tricks,

Trampolinists do some flips;

Such things I could never do!

You never want it to end

When the acrobats bend,

In their very sparkly leotards.

Big Top reaching higher and higher,

In the ring below jugglers with skittles and fire.

Stalls of people entertained.

Bare-backed riders circling round and round,

Finale comes, dust flies from the ground.

The show is over! Applause.

There were a few spelling errors, but not many and it was neatly presented. I was pretty pleased with that as a starter for Yr7 J and it gave me hope for the others, that they will get there. If JA can get this far with literacy, then I know the others will too. I am so excited about seeing it come into being! With Jake I kind of missed it because is happened at school. I am only glad I get to share it now J. JI is just majorly reluctant to write much at all, but when he does put his mind to it he is pretty good too - I just wish he was less resistant and put his mind to it a little more often!

Today was our first non-book day of the year and I did manage to keep it that way although I have decided to be a little more prescriptive this year, for reasons chatted about above - they simply do nothing if left to decide for themselves because they never agree! So the day started out with the introduction in THIS book and it went really well. El decided she wanted in (even though she was eating breakfast whilst listening due to sleeping in til 9!) and when we had done lots of reading and chatting about things (again discovering things I thought JA really ought to know already) - and a bit of hooning from JI - we set out to make a solar system model using THIS kit and it has come out really well. E did Pluto and Uranus, JI did the Sun and another and the others shared out the others between them with JA going between them all and helping them with the fiddly bits - like I said he is a real asset J. C was at playgroup at this point - thankfully! Next week will mean a little writing up but I am planning to use Live and Learns 'learn 'n' folder' alongside it so that should make the workload sharable, more manageable and lighter all round. A is looking forward to filling in the books and JA was pretty keen too. I hope they don't get left with the lion's share too much, but I want this to be the kids work and something they put together without TOO much help from me.

The afternoon was filled with music - learning about 'Ostinato' (repeated pattern), playing with it, walking around the room in silly steps and banging things and then watching a stack of 'Stomp' videos on YouTube - great fun!! J

After that they wanted to do PE, but I had nothing planned so I told them to go set up an obstacle course in the garden, which they duly did and, after initially arguing about how to set it up and who was 'in charge' they sorted it out and played at that for a good 45 minutes or so - and then P came home and took them to club!

Another memorable moment in my day today was when E & C had a scrap this evening over a toy microphone! C had been tidying away the instruments which he had played with after our music session and E wanted to continue to play with this mic'. C was adamant he wanted it, but more than that he simply did NOT want E to play with it. E hung on for dear life until the wire snapped off - leaving her holding the mic and C holding the now useless wire. I had decided to see how this one burned itself out and just watched (the toy was old and useless anyway so I could cope with it's decent into even less usefulness!). At this point C lost it and laid into E some, but she didn't flinch and hung on regardless. C now screamed at her (very shrill, loud, nasty screams), but she stuck to her guns. Eventually C got so rough that E threw the mic at him across the room and hit him with it - reducing them both to floods of tears, but C - now triumphant - went and gloated to his Dad (with his limited language) about how right he was and the injustice of the whole thing and then marched upstairs to return the toy to it's box. He didn't even want to play with it for himself! When he returned downstairs I spoke sternly to him about his meanness and made him go and get the mic for E, who sadly by this time was in so much of a sulk she would not accept it back, or a hug from me (as I had evidently wronged her by not intervening in the beginning). Now, perhaps I was wrong to watch this play itself out, but to me it is important to me to see what shapes the dynamics between my children at times. Who is really in charge? Who is the one most likely to give in to persuasion? Who has the strongest sense of right and wrong - and how well adjusted is that opinion? In this instance C thought he was in the right because he wanted to put away the toy as he had been asked, but to what degree did he need to stick so rigidly to that instruction and to what cost? He was not even content to accept that I was willing to let E carry on playing with it and thereby supersede my own instructions! He was very indignant when I asked him to return the toy to her even though I explained that she would have to put it away in the box when tea was ready. Interesting to see though that E was not so worried about the infliction of screams on her ears or blows to her body, but the injustice of my not sticking up for her - that was what hurt her most I think and hence not accepting a hug from me afterwards (we did sort it out though). It also showed me something of the softness of her nature in that she gave in against her will in the end purely to prevent things escalating any further, but not without a hint of vengefulness (the throwing of the toy). She was certainly no push-over - good for her!!

Monday, September 08, 2008

First Day Back - a bit of a ‘poo’ day!!

Well, that went quite well. We got everything I had scheduled done and with minimal fuss and nonsense. The only thing is that Jake hasn't done his reading for today, but he has worked really hard and had a hard passage from Huck' Finn to read in his GP English. It took him a while to make much sense of it. I think maybe another time I need to try reading it out to him first as some of the texts (like this one) are written in a quite difficult-to-read way. So I think I will excuse him for today J Best bit about it is that at the end of the day, he has done all his work, an hours 'homework' (i.e. - there's a lot to cover and you're going to have to work an extra hour to the others to fit it all in) and just said to me "I want to do more, but then I don't coz my brain is fuzzed" - fair enough - give yourself a break on your first day mate! Aside from English he made a start on Conquer Maths today and got 100% on the paper he did (addition of decimals), so although it took a little more time than I had allotted him, he stayed back while we did the playgroup pick-up, completed it and did very well. I think it encouraged him somewhat J.

Els just kept asking to do more and more and more. I kept her hoping between activities (according to her shortish attention span) and she was happy and busy. The only time she complained a little was after lunch when she had absorbed herself in a dress-up paper-doll game, but she had been playing solidly at it for an hour so I didn't feel too guilty, especially as she was going to do Headsprout which she loves. She did that and then said she wanted to do it again (bless). Then she spent about 40 minutes on Ed'City (mainly maths I think). Other than computer time, E started the day by filling in her sheet from Sunday School then she did some number work - and I think she does now does recognise and understand the numbers 1 - 4 at least, so that's a start! After that was playgroup run to collect C, and on the way home we collected some nice leaves for E to make a leaf-print book with for her ABC lapbook (letter L). Once that was made she did some Science (Child's Play Science, from Singapore) - lots of colouring and circling, nothing deep or heavy, but today she learnt what happens to food after you swallow it: "So it goes down to my tummy, then the wiggly bits and then comes out as poo!" - good start I'd say. She couldn't quite get a grasp of the word 'intestine', but 'wiggly bit' at least draws the picture in her mind for her to link the word to at a later date J. I wonder what conversation might come up at the tea table! - Apparently she has just told Paul what she learnt today - in exactly those words I just quoted and pointing to herself, but she also told him that "the bendy bit is called the stomache." She remembered that word - great! Not a bad start at all J I don't think she feels she has worked too hard today either, because when she was done she asked to play on Poissonrouge - which is more learning in my book and playing in hers, so that was fine by me J.

The girls & JI worked generally well and achieved everything they aimed to do today. We had experiments with light, water and energy all going on at one point. P is doing water, JI energy (looking up kj on food packets), and JA was doing light conduction. A was learning about fungi and had to go and find some pictures on the internet of micro-organisms. One of those she printed was a picture of e-coli (more poo!!) - lol.

I managed to sign C up for a couple of extra sessions at playgroup too, so he will be there 3 mornings and an afternoon now, and Fridays he'll be home with us all. I hope it's not too much for him, but I think he needs the stimulation that playgroup gives - and the paint!! He is always asking to do painting - bless him. Thankfully the afternoon session doesn't start for a couple of weeks though, so he will get a gentle slide into the increased hours.

So, all-in-all a pretty successful day (albeit a bit full-on and exhausting) J. Let's hope it continues this way. When JA was asked by Paul if he'd had a good day he said - "Yeah, good. So far good start." (meaning 'so far, so good,' but he got a bit muddled)!

Tonight we have had a staggered tea because P had to go and collect someone from the station for a friend just about the time tea was cooked, so most of us have finished, but Paul, C & N are just eating behind me now. E is trying to feed N - so cute, but it's not an easy job! N is a little bit into trying to feed himself atm and resistant to being fed, but he is so messy! E is giving an exuberant running commentary of the digestive processes (lol)! It's so funny when kids first grasp what happens to our food and drink, but it does become a bit of an obsession for a while I find J.

Girls had swimming tonight. A has gone up to level 5 now (at last). She also passed her ballet exam (B) and has gone up into the Grade 1 class - seems too grown up to hear my little girl is using a Barr and dancing between four positions. I am so pleased with her J.

That'll do for tonight as JA wants the laptop back for playtime after his bath.

Friday, September 05, 2008

What to Say..?

Not much to say about today really. Began well with some elaborate game of playmobil happening in the girls room, with all children involved. Had to arouse myself from slumber to get C ready for his first day back at playgroup. He was very excited to go and took his Cars Mini-lapbook with him to show N (leader). My big boys spent far too much SASS time again today - I just wish it would stop raining, then at least I could kick them out on the trampoline, but it is so wet and cold :( E on the other hand has been trying very hard to find things to do and today she sat down with an ABC sticker book that I had sorted out when filtering through the 'activity books' drawers. It was unstarted, so she could own it as hers, and easy enough for her to do with very minimal supervision - lots of matching letter shapes and pictures that start with the right sound. She enjoyed it and stuck at it (pardon the pun!) for about 20 minutes, which seems to be about her maximum attention span for anything really - be it DS, computer or hands-on stuff. I need to bear that in mind next week. Twenty minutes just never seems long enough to do anything much and when it comes to things like lapbooking it hardly makes it worth making all the mess, but I have to remember that 3 twenty minutes slots is an hour of work and she will do that in broken bits no trouble. So I guess I just need to be able to leave the mess out in between slots! :) With this in mind she has her own work-table all to herself (except I anticipate CT wanting to join her some of the time) so she can work big & messy in her own space, without annoying the 'big-kids'.

I made JA come on the playgroup pick-up just to get some fresh air, even though it was raining a bit. Ordinarily he will be allowed to stay home so long as he is working!

Lunch time was different today as I was out of tortillas and most of the kids currently dislike bread. So I made a 4-egg ham & cheese omelet, warmed up 4 sausages (big fat cumberland ones) and made four sausage-sandwiches - with red sauce of course, and I made up a packet of 'noodles' for the fussy ones. I asked each of them to come and choose what they wanted and I got left with the pickings, but it worked and everyone was happy, even if it generated a little excess washing-up over the normal plastic plates only! I was exhausted by the end of it though!!

The top websites for this summer with all the children have been MiniClip (boys) & Girlsgogames - particularly the dress-up games! This afternoon they were having a hoot with 'line-rider' - simple, silly, but quite fun! When it all got a bit too load in the lounge I sent them back upstairs, but E was not in the mood for sharing in their hooning, so we snuggled up and read together for a bit. It was really nice, just us two, but as usual when I read, I began to nod-off around the end of book 6! So she and I snuggled even more, down under a blanket (I WILL not put on the heating yet!) and kipped together for a while on the sofa until Daddy came home and ferried them all off to Trailblazers (after-school church club). JA is technically too old now, but he is going to 'help out' with the little ones. Not sure how much 'help' he will be, but still! I just love moments of intimacy with my children and snuggling on the sofa peacefully with just one of them is something I have always enjoyed (btw - the two smallest were also napping in their beds at this point).

While the kids were at club I eventually got my turn on the laptop, only to find that something had been messed with and I couldn't open Firefox for love nor money! I ended up uninstalling and reinstalling it and then having to add-in all my add-ons again (thankfully just an essential few!), which was rather a time-wasting pain. Was JUST reading the Portico post for the day when tea was on the table - so where DID that day go?! And now it is WAY past bedtime and it's the last day of the holidays tomorrow (not counting the weekend)...maybe I ought to DO something with the kids, but what..?

Other little called today to ask how we could look at reducing our OD back down - like Yeah right! I still haven't got all my books I need yet and we have two birthdays and then Christmas coming up - maybe in the New Year love - or is that when I need to resub' to Ed.City x 6 - Oh dear!!

More schooly stuff :- big P has agreed to teach JA DT on a Fridays for an hour or so - great - so not my thing. I'm not sure I could have done it to be honest. I wouldn't know where to start, even with the book's help! JA could just do the book theoretically, but where is the fun in that? So P has agreed to make him use the book and then they will put the theory into practice on a project together - maybe making me some new spice racks, as I really do not have enough and I have jars all over my work surfaces!
Little P is so excited about the fact that she will be in 'Year 2' although I don't know why and in reality a lot of her work is not Yr2 level, but I envisage she will go some way to catching up this year as her reading is becoming more and more effortless :)
E can't wait to get started - I just hope I can make it as much fun for her as she wants it to be.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

OOPS! seems 5 weeks is not long enough for me to get my act together and write to let the High School know that JA would not be coming! I awoke with visions of his tutor calling out his name this morning (which they would have done!) so I promptly hauled myself out of bed and sent JI over to the school with a letter. Feeling badly because there will be other kids vieing for that place - hope one of them gets it - it IS a good school, as any school can be.

The day has passed uneventfully with nothing from Jake about the fact that he wasn't going.

Most of our books have arrived now and we are set to go on Monday. I decided not to start this week as I was just not ready - no schedules, or tidy drawers, no new pencils etc... Still need to do the stationery shop at the weekend, but all else is sorted now.I've made an individual 'timetable' for each child, with some overlap here and there for joint activities. JA has to work a bit on Fridays too, which I don't think he is going to be too impressed about, but otherwise he will simply not be able to cover all the required level of work. I am very curious about how people actually 'free-school' at this level and still ensure that a child reaches a level that will mean they are able to go to college or Uni should they choose to. I think if JA was really not at all academic I could think about going down a more 'practical' path with a view to some kind of apprenticeship later on, but I can't see him doing a dirty-hands job! Hopefully what I have will be practical and stimulating enough for him to enjoy it as best as it is possible for him to enjoy studying! It's the art side of things - which he really wants to pursue atm, that I might find myself a little challenged on, but I am hoping his natural ability will carry him and he will excede my 'teaching' level and fly on his own with that.

Some folks have been asking what I have settled on for Curriculum, so here's my list - all fully linked!;

JA - Yr7

  • Galore Park English
  • Understanding Spelling.
  • Galore Park History, which he will do aswell as or instead of joining in with what the rest of us are doing, which is currently finishing a project on Greece.
  • Galore Park Maths coupled with Conquer Maths.
  • A Child's Geography with us, but he will eventually also have Galore ParkGeography when they publish book one in October.
  • IScience 6 (Singapore)
  • Exploring Creation with Astronomy - which we are ALL doing this year.
  • Galore Park Spanish (his choice of language and as I have done it to GCSE I can help him a bit).
  • Artistic Pursuits - not sure which book he will use yet, we don't have them all, but one of those that we have will be fine.
  • ?Music - we have 'Tune In' from Singapore (SG Box) that I bought ages back, but I think it will be a bit below him. I think I might just have to get him into learning guitar again - which I can teach him to decent level. I can't provide a link as they don't sell it anymore.
  • IT - I have some books that I can't find a link for just now, but they are excellent, albeit a little out-of-date, and they get the job done!
  • DT - I have some CGP books, but it will down to him if he wishes to do it or not. They are beyond me I am afraid. Might have to be a Dad thing on a Friday maybe...
  • Education City for all subjects
  • For Bible Study we use a combination of private study notes, family study, and Postal Bible School.

  • There is a time for personal reading built into each day (but obviously
    they can spend out-of-school time reading too!). I do not prescribe
    what they read - it's their own choice.

JI - Yr5

AR - Yr3

PG - Yr2

EN - YrR

  • Lots of Foundation stage S&S books; Nursery Activities, Nursery land, All about..., Pre-reading skills, Nursery sounds, Nursery Writing. With those she should get pretty much all she needs/wants/is able to do atm.
  • Headsprout if she can cope with it. I've paid for it already for her, but it has no expiry and I don't her to get stroppy or stressed with it, so she can do it for as long as it stays fun and she stays keen :)
  • Lots of Ed'City
  • other puzzle-type books & colourings.
  • Games for Writing - Peggy Kaye. The others like to join in with these sometimes :)
  • I would really like to go down the whole FIAR route with Els as I think she would thrive on it, so if money becomes available to me later in the year I may well invest in it for her.
Other than that E is free to join in with other topics, or not, as she chooses - so long as she is not a being pest I am happy for her to play lots still :) When I feel she is ready - maybe not this year - we will start Jolly Phonics.

I don't have anything much for CT other than chalk-books, colourings, drawing boards, peg-boards: those kind of things that make him 'feel' like he is busy with us. I think I might try to up his mornings at playgroup though, now that he is free, for my sanity & his good. He really does get bored at home some days and I cannot give as much to him as I would like, so he may as well have fun at playgroup & be properly busy doing age-appropriate stuff and playing with his buddies there. I can do C stuff after-school time, but at least he will only have to amuse himself for half the day that way.

I need to add in things like Cookery (I have numerous kids cookbooks - I wish they would use them!) and possibly Needlework (not my forte) for them all, but these tend to happen more spontaneously on a weekend and are so not really part of our formal school timetable.

So, there you have the shape of the FrogAcademy this year. Have fun reading all the links :)

The boys have spent the a lot of the summer finding things to bicker & fight about - this afternoon it was because JI has put a whole in one of the mesh drum-heads and JA was hoping to get them in his room when JI gets his flats at Christmas. Looks like we will have to get a replacement mesh-head too, but JA does not talk to us first, he just laid into JI. I am hoping that with their noses stuck in books they might leave each other alone. It is horrid tbh! If they can't work together they will be spending a lot of time in separate rooms for the sake of everyone.
At least it's not me JA fights with so much these days though!

That'll do for today - it's taken me all day do write this (on and off) and add in all the links. I now need to go wash up and do 'other stuff' :)