Monday, 29 March 2010

So where did that week go?

I feel exhausted a the moment, struggling with trying to support a friend, not sleeping at all well, and feeling pretty stressed a lot of the time. However, home ed life goes on and we have managed to do some good stuff too.

Went ice-skating Thursday (well, the kids went on the ice while my friend and I sat shivering and drinking horrible coffee). I discovered when we got to the rink that this was the day for the home ed group's regular lesson - a fact I had forgotten as A had never shown any interest in attending - so it was really nice to see some familiar faces, one in particular I hadn't seen for ages, and A got to see a couple of the older girls she gets on well with.

Friday was good, despite the grey weather. We went to visit a lovely family we know through the home ed group, had some lunch together and the girls played. We got out for a short walk but it was very damp and dreary, hopefully we'll go back in the summer and get out with them as they live in a beautiful area.

Saturday was difficult. 'Nuff said I think.

Yesterday A went off round to Granny's and I had a work day, although I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped due to my frazzled brain worrying away. Still, exciting things are happening in my world of work - an article about to be published (I will put a link up when its out) and I'm working on a couple more. I'm not likely to make my fortune any time soon, but things are going in the right direction.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Times Tables, anyone?

I'm back to worrying about maths.

For the past few months we've been using smartkiddies - an Australian online programme (with a crap name). It has worked really well for A, and I've supplemented it with other materials I've picked up along the way from various sources, linking in to the area she's working on.

The only part she hasn't got on very with with are the timed challenges, put her under any time pressure with maths and she panics and cant think straight. She has completed some of these, but I haven't pushed her because I'd much rather she understood the processes and how to work things out than give her the message that you have to be quick to be good at maths.

We have now reached the multiplication section, and it seems to be expected that all children must learn their times tables off by heart. I know this is what she would have to do in school, and she did when she was at school, but I have big reservations about this approach. We have gone through all the tables and looked at the patterns within them and ways of working out the answers, and she can do that, but I have not made her learn them by heart.

Most people I speak to about this seem to see times tables as a necessary evil, and the only way of teaching kids the basics of multiplication. I don't really agree with this, but am starting to doubt myself. I've been having a few of those 'am I doing this all wrong?' moments, which are fairly familiar as a home edder.

My problem with times tables is - it is learning by rote, which goes against my general approach anyway, and means there isn't necessarily any understanding behind it. A child could repeat all their times tables perfectly but not be able to work out the answer. I know this is not very likely as kids get taught the processes alongside learning them off by heart, but it seems that learning them by rote is just a way of getting to the answer quicker. Which brings us back to this idea that you have to be quick to be good at maths (am I going round in circles here?).

I suppose I could drill A everyday in her tables, and she would learn them eventually, but I worry that it would take her back to that deep, deep hatred of maths (rather than the dislike we have progressed to) and feelings of inadequacy because she's no 'good' (ie quick) at maths. My gut feeling is that it just wouldn't suit her way of learning, she finds rote learning very boring (unless its learning lines for a play, because she's connecting into the performance for that) and will just switch off. She needs that connection of understanding and application to 'real life'.

However, we are trying a little experiment. A has realised herself that she has particular problems with the 7 times table, so we have written it out on a big piece of paper and put it on her bedroom wall. She is going to approach it like learning lines, and keep going over them. It will be interesting to see how she gets on with this, it may work because the idea (although suggested by me) has come from her own realisations about her strengths and weaknesses, and a desire on her part to improve. We shall see...

I'd be really interested to hear anyone else's experiences in this area - please feel free to give me your opinions and examples of what has/hasn't worked for you and your child/ren :o)

Monday, 15 March 2010

Mother's Day

After an emotionally exhausting Saturday (nothing to do with A - I spent a lot of time with a very troubled friend) I was treated to a day of pampering on Sunday :o) Just what I needed.

I was woken to flowers, chocolates and a cup of tea, followed by breakfast in bed. Then I came downstairs to find a lovely hot bath with candles and a drink on the side.
Tulips - my favourite
bath with scattered lavender & candlesposh juice!

We went over to Granny's for a cup of tea and to give her a present, then it was back home for massages, make-up and nail painting.
We rounded off the day by going for a curry with Granny - perfect.
I just need to say - I REALLY appreciate my lovely girl.
Hope all you mums out there had a great day too.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

I am - most definitely - back

OK, enough with the blog break. It didn't work. Even if no one reads it or wants to know what I think or what we're doing, I have to blog.

I have been motivated today, by some positive news on the work front, to give myself a good kick up the arse and stop being so lazy. I cant use the 'not enough time' line as an excuse - there is NEVER enough time to do everything I want to, thats how my life is. Truth is, I like blogging, I enjoy it, and I've missed it.

I think there may be changes in the way I blog, it has evolved along the way in any case, its bound to. I'm toying with ideas about changing the name and how it looks, but am not sure yet. I think a slight change in perspective may occur, posting more about me and work, but then my life is still predominantly about parent/home ed stuff, so not that much of a change perhaps.

I am going to try to be more honest here. I think I've held back on a lot of issues because I'm not sure who's reading and don't want to upset anyone. A bit ridiculous really, why should I care? Its my blog.

Anyway, here is a little update on some of the things we've been up to:

  • went to the science festival at a local college with our HE group. A bit stressful for me as I had been the contact for the group, so lots of emailing to and fro, but all went well on the day and we learnt about volcanoes, made solar power models with K'nex, and met lots of creepy crawlies.

  • went for a loooong bike ride in the sunshine.

  • watched and discussed a programme called 'American Hate' about the Black Panthers - their history, and the current 'new' Black Panthers. We're going to watch the second part, about the Ku Klux Klan, sometime soon.

  • A wrote a letter and drew a picture to send to the African child her Granny is sponsoring

  • A created some more fashion designs for her label

  • We discussed and researched setting up our own shop on Folksy - watch this space!!

  • Talked to Nonno and Nonna about our plans for Italy next year - they are taking us to meet some of A's family out there.

  • Lots of maths, English, piano, drama, art, singing, laughing, eating of cake....I could go on...