Thursday, December 03, 2015

Another Month...(part 1 of 2)

So already we have zipped through November and are on the run up to Christmas. I am not quite sure where the time has gone, but I do feel like my feet have barely touched the ground!

The Educational Bit...

Our first term of the year has gone great. After initially being incredibly difficult with Stitch, he seems to have settled down and is getting a handle on the fact that a little more is expected of him this year. To begin with he was having major melt downs over producing any work that required use of a pencil for more than a few words, but now it seems he has discovered a love of writing! Out of nowhere he is churning out stories and before one is written the next is brewing in his head.  So much so that I've told him to jot down his ideas in the back of his book; just some rough notes that he can go back to whenever he is ready. I haven't actually chosen to read any of the stories (although I do intend to) because I know I have a tendency to be too picky - and right now I am just glad that he is writing! Just like his reading and spelling, which came good all of their own accord, I am almost certain that with Stitch, the best thing to do is to leave well alone and help him only when/if he asks me to. He fiercely resists interference, and hates it when I help him because I think he might need it. He loathes even more to be corrected, and becomes quite easily defeated by it. So, for now, I have decided to only 'mark' work that has a definite correct/incorrect answer (maths, grammar, science etc...) and the more subjective/imaginative/creative things I shall keep my pen well away from ;-). Most of the black and white stuff he breezes quite nicely through anyway, and where he doesn't he's more happy to work things through with me, because he, like every child I've ever known, like a page full of ticks! :D

The other children are working hard and well and I seem to have managed to get the levels about right this year. 
DD is working a bit ahead of his 'year' in all areas.  
Lilo a bit behind and a bit ahead (she is a crazy mix of ability and struggle).
Phoebe is knuckling down this year and ploughing through a tonne of work, which means she is beginning to catch up a bit where she had fallen back (unnecessarily). She is thriving and feeling like she is achieving lots ~  a bonus for her is that she has 3 hours of Zoology a week built into her self-determined timetable and is LOVING it :D. 
Abbie has a fairly heavy workload, but is great at getting her head down and ploughing through. She is working through a foundation level GCSE maths book, which is challenging us both. How the work in it qualifies as 'foundational' maths is beyond me. Surely the foundations of maths should be the everyday maths we all need and use, and maybe a few key basics in other areas (like algebra, trig', etc...), but what she is doing is more like what I did at higher level GCSE all those years ago! It's way more than basic maths and is tbh beyond where I had felt it necessary to push her. Abbie really struggles with maths, and doing this was meant to help and encourage her that she knows more than she thought she did, but sadly I don't think it will have that effect. However, it will give her a head start when she has to do the work for her actual GCSE at college in a couple of years. She will have at least covered the material and had plenty of time to do so at her own pace. I'm not sure the book we have explains things simply enough though, or does so in a confusing way, so I may need to find another source text. Any recommendations? She's using THIS atm, and has the workbook too. The format works for her, but it seems to assume too much prior knowledge of each topic. She has tried watching videos on Conquer Maths, & other You Tube 'teachers' to help her, but the topics don't always match up well to what she needs to learn ~ and my days, how does anyone ever understand what Mr Khan is on about? He uses so much Mathseese! 

 And lastly Chip. He is coming along nicely with only as much input from me as he asks for. He likes to work with Abbie and Phoebe too, so it's not always me he wants ;-) . He is racing ahead with his number work and decided he wanted to have a go at Sumdog. He tested in towards the end of Year 1 level!! I have done nothing more than teach him to count and recognise numbers really ~ it's crazy. He totally LOVES numbers too, and is always 'playing' with them out-loud. He would do maths all the time if I let him, but every now and then I try to coax him into learning his letters too. He has been able to recognise initial sounds for a while now, and a few weeks back I realised he can also identify end and middle sounds with almost no effort. So out of the blue one day I asked him how to spell cat (phonetically) and he easily sounded out " c-a-t." We did a few other words, including some with four and five syllables and he did them with ease. In my mind I registered the fact that he could essentially breakdown and build up words, which would mean that once he could recognise his 26 letters he would be reading and I wouldn't have really had to teach him the mechanics of it at all :D. I wondered how many letters he already recognised, but it wasn't many, so at that point I felt he would benefit from starting on that. I paid him up on Reading Eggs and Maths Seeds for the year (and renewed Stitch's subscription too, so that he could use Reading Eggspress again, which he enjoys) and he is playing on that a substantial amount. I am not stipulating how much or little he does because he is such a keen learner I don't feel I need to :D. He adores the Maths Seeds and would stay on it for hours. Reading Eggs takes a little more persuasion, but if I say he can reward himself with Maths Seeds for a lesson on Reading Eggs, that works well! Couple all that with his determination to learn to WRITE the letters too and I think he will be reading in no time ~ and when he does I think he is going to have his nose in a book a lot of the time! Just now, he loads up the alphabet song on Busythings  (another fabulous learning site) and then sits and copies all the letters onto a piece of paper. 


 He is also quite determined to get 3 egg rewards on each of the letters on his Eggy Alphabet app. It's a bit repetitive but he doesn't seem to mind too much ~ gladly, because he is learning phonetics and writing whilst doing that.


Writing is definitely a love of his. It's great to have a boy with no objection to using a pencil (or stylus)  and he seems to have a love for binary...


Lastly, we are working slowly through a lovely, gentle Phonics programme I used with Stitch. We're just doing a couple of new letters a week and that works nicely hand in hand with his Reading Eggs pace. We have pinned letters around the house, on various objects, and he loves running around finding them all, telling us the sound and what it's for; "nnnnn - numbers, tttttt - table," etc.  Sometimes, if he doesn't feel like going to look for them he just visualises where they are and tells me them all, which is great, because it means he is beginning to learn how to picture things in his mind and make 'photographs' ~ such an important reading skill :D

We haven't been using the Spielgaben as much as I had hoped, or would still like to, but occasionally Chip has a binge on it and plays with it all day. It often comes out to help us with the older chids maths, as it has fabulous manipulatives, but Chip, atm, is a writer, so we are just going with that flow. I do use it a bit with Stitch too (when he remembers to ask me to), and those sessions have nudged him into concepts he hadn't touched before, but he seems to enjoy the stretch, when he can concentrate for long enough! 

The big boys are both doing fine too. Jake is busy working as many hours as they throw at him at Brantano, but quickly realising this is not how he want to spend his future! So I've heard him muttering about putting some time into getting his photography up and running properly and seeking out a more fulfilling job. But otherwise he is happy enough and certainly happy to have some money in the bank!  He has also enjoyed being able to buy everyone in the family (and his girlfriend, of course) nice presents this year :D

Joel is coming to the end of his first term at college and I think he has very mixed feeling about the whole experience. One day it's great, the next day it weighs heavy. I'm not sure what the issues are, except that the course is rather too disorganised (in true SSC style) for Joel's very organised mind. He likes to know where he is at, and when, and he struggles when things get changed last minute, which they seem to be frequently. He expects a lot of himself professionally and therefore expects that the professionals around him should act that way too, but he doesn't feel they do really, which is a shame if it's true.  
This Monday we all (yes, all of us!) got to go in and watch him perform. It was originally supposed to be solo performances that evening, but that got changed (last minute) and instead it was group performances. He played his cajon in a folk 'band'. They were very good - superb in fact! His 'band' have been chosen to play for the college Open Evening next week ~ go them!! 

The other two songs are here;

His solo performance was then on Tuesday, but he only had to perform that to his peers (sadly) and his tutor's feedback was that he was excellent. Again he was annoyed though, because of a change of expectations. They had been told it had to be a 15 minute performance, which he pushed himself to achieve and was very worried it would be just under, but in the end it turned out that the duration was not even a grading factor; they were marked on demonstration of ability to apply skill in three different styles of music and being able to verbally present for a few minutes, in a professional and confident way ~ which he did with ease apparently.

Next Post for part 2 ~ The Family Bit  ~

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