Friday, September 10, 2010

Back-to-School (or not)...

Obviously for home-educated children there is no such things as 'back to school' in the traditional sense, but as we DO take traditional holidays there is a definite change when term starts up. Suddenly the idleness and non-routine of summer is gone and thinking caps go back on! If it were sunny, which it isn't, I'm sure learning would be happening in the garden and lanes, but as it is wet (no change there then) we are pretty much confined to the house and more formal learning, but that's OK ~ it gets us back in the swing of things, and away from excess square screen time..!

It's been an up and down kind of week.  Being now almost 28 weeks pregnant I am finding it a struggle to keep going all day, but I am also acutely aware of having had 8 weeks off and the children really needing to get back to some kind of routine ~ if only to make sure they get up and dressed in the mornings!! ;)

So, at the end of last week I sat down and went through resources with them and talked through my expectations for them for the year. Nothing as heavy as it seems, except that I did make it clear to both older boys that they needed to be working a bit harder than they had been. They agreed - in theory!! Then this week we 'started up' again.  Monday was a nightmare, but I think that was just settling in/down to the idea of using a pencil again. There was far too many 'Muuuummmmeeeeeeeeeee'-s in that day to be bearable!! Tuesday and Wednesday were loads better, but Thursday had some pretty awful patches again. Even though I decided at the beginning of the week that all the 'group' activities could start up next week to give me chance to get back in the swing too, it still seemed to a big stretch. Wednesday night Stitch joined us in our bed from the small hours onwards and I know my sleep was erratically broken, not because he was a pain, but just because he was there. I woke up still tired and far too early, which really did not help my mood for the day. So when the Bugs had a wobbly over something little and continued yelling at me after several warnings to stop - well I kind of lost the plot! That was right at the start of the day ~ good start! When we'd both calmed down (and talked) things were better for a while and he was certainly good as gold for the rest of the day! The girls were angels, but I didn't have enough patience with Lilo and her reading (or lack of it) today. We did have fun writing an opposite poem though: we read 'Bed in Summer' and reversed everything in it ~ which ended up, of course, like a poem written by someone who works a night shift and talked about how that might feel, so not a completely lost day!
She's also continued with Orange Miquon this week and has done some Headsprout. I decided it was time to challenge her though and get her to prove to herself that she is actually better at reading than she believes, so I set her THIS book to read over the weekend. There is nothing in it she can't sound out, so with a little concentration and determination I know she can read it! I've asked Paul to read it with her though ~ he has more patience than me atm!! I meant to do some Science with her too, but that didn't happen :( ~ next week..!

The little ones enjoyed games of Dotty Dinosaurs (big favourite with Stitch atm, and he knows all the shapes too) and played with shape pictures for quite a while. 

DD also did some colouring by numbers & some other number work (basically quickly revising concepts I know he already understands, ready to step up the game a little ~ he is good with numbers now). We also set up a little science experiment and talked about what 'science' actually is. He is BIG on asking questions at the moment, so this really appealed! Other stuff I have done with him this week;  read Three Billy Goats Gruff and did 'language arts' stuff related to that ~ talking about concepts & words in the story, re-enacting the story with finger puppets & playing with playdough mats (I even made the playdough!). A friend put me onto THIS website and actually it's looking like it might be a really great resource for Lilo and DD this year. I've also put Minnie and TP on Science & Language Arts streams too, but they can work through them more at their leisure than my instruction (although I will get involved where I need to of course) ~ it's just another resource for them to access to make life interesting :D ~ This is the Science page that Minnie made a start on, in case you are interested. 
At the end of Thursday Taz was doing a crossword based on collective nouns. It WAS challenging and tbh I couldn't have answered all of it without doing a bit of 'looking up'. His problem is that he approaches all of school (and life) like a test ~ he assumes, as I guess all 11 year old do, that he KNOWS everything he needs to know already and therefore he can answer anything worthwhile with the knowledge he already has. Problem is, of course, that he doesn't know that much really, so when he comes up against things he cannot answer easily he has a tantrum!! Despite having well stocked shelves of books and the internet readily at hand he thinks sucking answers out of me, or getting me to do the research is a much better thing to do than look anything up himself. He is approaching 12 ~ this is no longer an acceptable solution in my eyes and so I told him he had to find the answers for himself (especially as I would have had to have done the same) ~ cue major wobble, huffing, puffing, crying, slamming of the computer mouse when the first website he visited didn't have the answers he wanted... cue me getting rather annoyed with him... cue more tears and anger... (does this sound familiar to ANYONE, please tell me it does!!). Eventually he found all but two of the answers he needed, but was FURIOUS that it had taken so long! Welcome to life son ~ things do not always arrive on your plate so easily as the snap of your fingers!! 
There have been a few other issues with Taz this week too, but I am hoping that things will settle down as he gets used to this years work load..!

Bugs on the other hand ~ who used to give me SO much grief, has worked like a dream. Long may it continue! :D But we are beginning to think about the future for him too. He is worried (although I am not) about not taking any GCSE's (which quite simply we cannot afford to put him through, and in all honestly I am not sure would benefit him really for HIS future). He is NOT an academic ~ not stupid at all, really quite bright, but not 'sparked' by academic subjects. I cannot see him flying into a career where he is required to use Science, Maths, or English much beyond the normal everyday level that most of us use. I want him to be well grounded and 'up to standard' in those subjects of course, but I do not think an exam in them is necessary for where he is likely heading. He is creative and I want him to be able to enjoy his learning in a creative way. I think that school would stifle him and in reality, IF he went in next year with a view to doing GCSE's, he would hate it more than he realises. SO, what instead..? We like the look of this; 
He would look at doing the 'creative and media' higher diploma (equivalent to 7 A-C GCSE's), with a view to then going on to do the Photography AS/A2 course, but of course that would be optional, he could do pretty much anything else if he chose to at that point and of course he could do additional studies too. SO, here's hoping that this course is open to him (need to make some enquiries), because it looks absolutely up his street and I think college will be a healthier environment for him than school, especially as it is 
quite likely that some of his church friends are to be going there next year too.

Monday week I have my annual visit from out LEA lady ~ it doesn't worry me as  she is very nice and has been consistently visiting us for a number of years now, but still, it's in the back of my mind with recent events and all...

I think that's about all I can think to write just now; pretty 'schooly' I know, but life itself just ticks along, with me getting fatter and the kids getting bigger ~ that's just us!! I still struggle to envisage our family with another little addition in around about 12 weeks time... I am SO not ready for that!