Wednesday, 28 October 2009
The children also enjoyed swimming at our local pool and a slide show from Grandpa Brian, always a highlight of our trip, where we look at a selection of pictures going back to the 1970s when my brother, Rob and I were growing up. It is always interesting to see their reaction when they see old pictures and try to recognise who is who! My parents are visiting us again tomorrow, but this time they will be looking after the children as we go off on a two day break to a Bed and Breakfast at Denbies Vineyard, near Dorking in Surrey. What a treat!
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Monday, 26 October 2009
My poor garden has been sadly neglected while I was in Uganda, ill and then getting back on top of life, the day is set fair and I am hoping to re-plant a bed by dusk.
I spent last half-term re-acting to events and running to stay still after the shaky and swine flu infected beginning so I will also be putting some time aside this week to get an overview of what the coming seven weeks hold and making some space to prepare, practically, mentally and spiritually for Christmas. Julie's post on Finding a Rhythm has provided some inspiration.
My husband and I have booked two nights in a local Bed and Breakfast to enjoy some time alone in each other's company, something we have not made time for in the last couple of years.
Saturday, 17 October 2009
I will be back next Saturday and posting again later that week.
Friday, 16 October 2009
So, this suggestion has not been supported by the Government of the Opposition. Is there another agenda here? Perhaps an economic one: the earlier children are in school, the sooner their parents are back into full-time work or the cheaper the child-care for those who already are? While I am sure that these financial pressures are very real for many families, it does not seem a good argument for early full-time education. It would be good to look at our schooling paradigms with fresh eyes and to see the needs of the children, their social, emotional and educational needs, put first. The rest, surely, should be worked around that?
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
She was delighted with the aquisition and we immediately began to play with her "Purrfect Pal" kitten. It was hungry and meowed piteously (and, after a very short while, irritatingly.) Speed-reading the instructions I figured out how to feed it, but we had no food and no money to buy food. Nowhere in the instructions could I find any information on how to obtain cash. The cat continued to cry and occasionally lie down and I began to worry that it was collapsing with hunger and would, before too long, die of starvation.
Fortunately at this point the game switched off as it was out of power and we called a halt while we re-charged, not just the console but our own emotional tanks. Once energy was restored, my middle-son had a play and discovered the games. Having a quick try of one he was awarded $0.00 but realised immediately and triumphantly that, had he played better, he might have earned some hard cash. With adult help, enough money for the cat food was won and the cat was fed. Oh, the relief! By this stage he was pining for grooming, play and affection. We also discovered that his litter tray had 73 'kitten-clumps' in it, which took some time to clear up.
After the children were in bed I decided I would play a few games to stock up the cupboard with food and fill up the piggy bank. If she saves enough, she can choose a new kitten and I wanted her to be able to design her own pet when she gets up this morning. An hour later I was still sitting there, tapping out electronic tunes (do it correctly enough and the prize is a wopping $3:00, nearly a box of cat-food!), periodically pausing to groom, play with or pet the cat. It's a pretty demanding beast.
Each of its four basic needs are charted with 'thermometers' and I finally felt able to turn in when all of them were registering green and low. I had met the needs of my electronic cat and I could go to bed satisfied with a job well done. Although I know they will rise again, at least I can easily check on what is required and take appropriate action. If only my children were so easy!
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Picture the scene yesterday. She is sitting on the table, giggling that this is easy. We have added ten to twenty, thirty, forty and so on. We have graduated to adding ten to twenty-one, thirty-two. Now we are making numbers with pencils for 'lots of ten' and pennies. I'm trying to give her nine, but I can't because I only have a pencil, worth ten, and I can't break it up, what can I do? She takes the pencil and hands me a penny. Then we figure out what she's got left, now she's added nine by adding ten and taking away one. It's such a fun game that she's asking for more and begging her brother to come and see. I am hamming it up, crying that I can't give her nine, only ten, and I don't want to give her ten, I only want to give her nine. 'Trust me,' she says, taking my pencil and handing me a penny. It's so good, we have to show daddy when he gets in from work.
It's amazing what backing off, unlocking horns and trying a new approach can do. It's amazing how good it is for the soul to giggle with your daughter. It's amazing there's always a second chance.
Monday, 12 October 2009
"We're going the long-cut, because we are better!"
Now, that's my kind of reasoning!
Friday, 9 October 2009
Of course his mother did not know that her son would turn out to invent the radio, to be prolifically decorated or ascribed by the British Postmaster General as being the saviour of the survivors of the Titanic; it must have been scary at times when her son did not follow any kind of conventional educational route, to the point of failing his exams. And of course, not all children will grow up to make world-changing inventions. But I was inspired by this story to wonder what would happen if more children were allowed to discover and then follow their passion, indulge themselves more in the things that fill them with joy and interest, were less constrained by a National Curriculum of a little of everything and less bound by a traditional school-exam-university path. How might our world be changed and who else might be saved?
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
I believe the questioner usually means, "What will you do when they don't want to learn what you want them to?" While I am uncomfortably aware that this flies in the face of conventional schooling, I increasingly feel that if they don't want to learn something then that is because it is the wrong thing or the wrong time. While I do my best to provide educational experiences which I think they will enjoy, benefit from and be developed by, I accept my limitations that I can never see into their minds to know what they are ripe to receive. If something is absorbing them they I assume that is the right thing for them at the right time. Anything thing else feels like seed on the rocky ground.
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
"If you’ve got tears, you’re done. There’s nothing more to discuss or do that day. It’s gone too far."
Last week I reviewed what I was doing and split up the 'table-work' so that yesterday morning all we attempted was handwriting. My middle son wrote three sentences. My little girl, seven words. Having written their very best, they were tired, the pencil-work was getting sloppy and and I was beginning to find fault. I told them to stop. They looked at me with uncertain faces: was I about to shout? No, I simply said that that was enough for today (as I slipped away the lines from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' that I had optimistically printed off for them to copy-write!) We retired to the sofa and began "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" and the epic "The Lord of the Rings". I felt close to the children, relaxed, and read for far longer than I normally do.
In the back of my mind I could imagine a school-teacher or an inspector criticising how much, or rather, how little we had done. I could hear the voice saying "They've got to learn to push through," or "How will they ever learn anything if that's all they do?" It was scary. I knew I could have made them write more and probably done some maths too, but I know that it would have been poor-quality, miserable work. I also know that my relationship with them would have been frayed a little. And, while we would have had more to show the fictitious inspector, I do not believe that they would have learned any more, except, perhaps, that appearances count for more that reality. So, while there were few words on the page, I believe that their handwriting improved a little from careful practice and they learned that quality matters, their feelings are heard and that we don't always have to fight!