Saturday, 26 March 2011

Maths exams, and the second law of thermodynamics

A seemed to have a good time at the sleepover party. She arrived home on Sunday at about 1pm, shuffled upstairs, collapsed on her bed and fell asleep for a couple of hours. Indication of a good party in anyone's terms.

We had a bit of a lazy start to the week, with both of us struggling to feel motivated about anything. But things improved as the week went on.

With maths, A has now reached the end of her online course, and has 10 exams to do (these are each one page of varied questions covering what she's learnt throughout the course). She was less than enthusiastic about sitting 'exams'(!) but I'm hoping they will show her how well she's actually doing with maths. Usually I sit with her so that we can discuss any problems as they come up and look at different ways of working things out. She seems to need this - her confidence in her own ability in maths is so low, I think it reassures her to know she can check things with me. I suggested with these exams that I leave her to it, and she does as much as she can on her own, then I'll come through and we can talk about any she's had difficulty with. She completed the first one on Friday, getting 29 out of 30, and needing no help whatsoever.
I don't think its registered with her how good this is - she focused in on the one error (which was just a careless extra nought, rather than a mistake in calculation), and then started wondering "do they make the first exam really easy, then gradually make them harder?" (which they don't). So, basically not acknowledging that "I did really well"!!!
Its like banging my head against a brick wall sometimes - she seems to be clinging on to this notion that she's really crap at maths (which she clearly isn't!) I guess all I can do is keep finding ways to show her that she isn't.

On Friday we watched the first programme in the Wonders of the Universe series that I've been recording. We both learnt lots, mainly about entropy. I did physics GCSE at school, and it was never as cool and interesting as Prof Brian Cox makes it - maybe if he'd been my teacher I would have actually passed!

This afternoon A is off to a Guide patrol get-together, where they will be cooking pasta together. Apparently they get a badge for boiling pasta - A was as bemused as me at this. Still, I'm sure they'll have a laugh, which is what its all about really :-)

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Whoooosh....another week gone!

Well, week and a half since my last post actually :-/

So, first the sad news: A's remaining guinea pig - Fred - had to be put down. Apparently he had a rather large tumour, and at six and a half was getting on a bit. He is now buried next to his brother - Ginger - in granny's garden.

RIP Freddie

On the HE front, things have been going very smoothly :-)

American history has been quite a theme for the last few weeks. We're still working our way through this book, currently looking at the American Revolution. We're also getting towards the end of To Kill A Mockingbird (which we seem to have taken ages to read) and I have the film version and a documentary about the book recorded and ready to watch. All providing much material for some very interesting discussions!

A has also developed an interest in manga graphic novels, which she has been devouring, and doing her own manga-style sketches too. We recently got questioned - with a look of suspicion - on whether the graphic novel we were getting out of the library on my home educator's card was "for studying purposes?" which I thought was a bit weird. How can a book not be educational?
I really appreciate the fact that we get a HE card - I think its great that the library recognise us in this way - but it seems a little strange that they now want to put restrictions on what is and isn't suitable "for studying purposes". Anyway, I smiled and replied "yes", and we got the book.

On the work front, I feel like I'm putting loads of time and effort in, but there seems to be very little to show for it. Yet! Hopefully this groundwork and gathering of info/updating of skills will pay off in the not too distant future.
What I'm planning to do is get more research/admin type work coming in, so have been on some workshops and signed up for a couple of courses to help me on my way with this.
What I urgently need to do is set up a website. I've been procrastinating on this for ages - I know its essential, and apparently quite easy to do, but (typically for me) I became a bit obsessed about 'getting it right'. I looked at loads of different sources for advice and got thoroughly confused about the best approach to take. So, for fear of getting it wrong and appearing unprofessional, I did nothing.
Thankfully I think I've found exactly the guidance I need through business gateway who offer lots of free resources for the self employed (including workshops on website building), so at last I feel like I'm getting somewhere.

A is off to a sleepover party tonight, so I will have the house to myself. After being forced to watch the comic relief stuff until 1am this morning, it will be lovely to have control of the TV. I'm planning a night of watching horror films in the dark, to see how terrified I can make myself. Such fun.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Mostly science and music (with a bit of crafting on the side)

We headed off to the science festival at a local college last week, with our HE group. This is the third year we've been and its always well worth it. This year we learnt about 'busy bees', 'frenzied food chains', 'flaming fires', and 'Hetty's human organ chaos' (love that last one!).
This is the second time I've been the contact/organiser for our group, and it all went pretty smoothly. It always worries me as I never think I'm up to the job! But I'm actually ok with this kind of behind the scenes emailing and organising - just don't ask me to present anything or work with groups in person!
The kids were great, we had to split into two groups as there were too many of us for one, and our group ended up being all girls, but a range of ages (between 6 and 13). Most of them joined in and contributed enthusiatically, there are some very bright kids in our HE group and I think the workshop leaders were pleased with the keen responses (although A did point out that one guy appeared to be terrified!!)

A was very quiet, partly I think because she feels she's a bit old for this particular festival (its aimed at the 9-11 age group) but she did enjoy it. Also - its easy to hold back if others are really happy to answer and ask questions, I was like that myself (and still am). I felt a bit uncomfortable seeing that bit of myself in A, as I know for me it comes mainly from a lack of confidence and being easily intimidated - thinking others are much more intelligent than me. I certainly think A has much more confidence than I ever did, but I have noticed her putting herself down a bit regarding intelligence, which really upsets me. She's not drawn to the obviously academic subjects, but - of course - that doesn't mean she's not intelligent, I hope I'm able to get that message across to her.

Saturday we had a wonderfully lazy day, doing crafty stuff on the couch with the music TV channel on. The music videos brought up some interesting discussions, as I became more and more fed up with the endless procession of malnourished girls poncing about in their pants, surrounded by S&M imagery. Thank goodness for Adele, looking beautiful and dignified singing 'Someone Like You'.
There are some exceptions - cynical as I am, Katy Perry's 'Firework' video always makes me want to cry. And there's that weird tennis match video for 'Hello' which made us laugh. But generally, although I enjoy a lot of the music, watching music TV leaves me feeling quite depressed, and concerned for my daughter.

A gets weary with me periodically checking "you do know this is bullshit, don't you???" and we've had plenty of discussions around the issues - how the media manipulates, body image, the connotations of some of the violent lyrics and images - all this and more! She seems pretty sussed about it all, but its hard not to worry. It seeps in. I just hope A can keep her head straight and see it for what it is, after all, we cant hide from it, its about finding a healthy way to navigate around it all.