sum up for 2006

Like many other bloggers, I find this time of year another questioning one about what we are doing. the nights are drawing in, and the summer of running about is pretty much over. Maybe I am a pagan at heart, so November 1st really is my new year? It does sort of follow that a season of changes makes you focus on changes. So are we entirely happy with our HE provision? Well no, and to be honest, I think that is a good answer, as complacency is nothing to aim for. But, I think that actually there is a lot we as parents need to be organising so that we can give the most to SB. I suppose an equally valid question is do we feel that we are failing in our HE provision, and I would answer no to that too.So, what would help?

1. Having a tidier house, so that we could find things when we wanted to, and the clutter – particularly in the utility room and kitchen – distracts me. It means I don’t function as well as I could. At present, pretty much our whole downstairs could do with a good sort out, as well as the garden, so it ticks in the back of my mind.

2. focusing on using the resources that we have. Etiher in having them available enough that when we are on a roll, I can just put my hand on them, and also so that we can utilise some of the scheme things well by doing them regularly.

You can tell that we are not really autonomous. I think we are mostly child led, but we do have some limited structure areas, and I guess the rest tends to be mostly autonomous, or child led in that a number of options are suggested.

What are we doing well?

The regular singapore maths and explode the code has gone well. Sb has just finished the first half of 1B, and seems comfortable with all the concepts in it. We do maths play all over the place as well as it comes up, but try and do this structured bit on a near daily basis [and usually ends up about 4 times a week.] Explode the code has also worked well for us as a resource. When we started using it, SB was adamant that she couldn’t read, and made no attempt to do so, but has been quite happy to go through the books. As we started book 4, she suddenly became aware that she could read, and that she wanted to read. Having done so much already, she can read some of the early readers [oxford reading tree, usbourne, blue nose readers, ladybird phonics] – with me – which she enjoys. However, explode the code is getting difficult for her at the moment, and she isn’t really enjoying it. So we are not suggesting it [though its in her box] and instead doing a bit of daily reading to consolidate her skills. Should she wish to go back to explode the code, it will be a child led decision. She has done a fair bit of starfall instead on the computer though.

The having loads of books actually works very well. SB often picks books out for either me to read, or her to look at pictures and do a bit of reading. The DK picturepaedia does particularly well for that. We go through phases, but on most days she will look at a ‘fact’ book – totally at her discretion [ie autonomously], and some day go through loads. For recent bedtime reading we have been working through all the books she can find on the body for example, prior to that we had a real roman fest, and early dinosaurs/greeks/egyptians/space have all captured her fancy. So I think the autonomous book availability works well for us.

Crafts work quite well. Though some more organisation would help vary them. Hama is a favourite with both her and BB, and always available on the dining room table [and unfortunately the dining room floor - ouch]. Playdough is used by both – both to do blobs with, and SB is getting more creative – cf her igloo, and today practicing doing heads so that she can make them with fimo! Speaking of fimo, SB is enjoying trying harder to create ‘good’ things with this, as I told her it was expensive, so playing around is with playdough, and ‘sculpture’ is with fimo. She wants to make people, so we need to get skin tones from Merry – I did order 20 pearl blocks for free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We haven’t done much painting for a while – and I refer you to item 1 of things to improve on! But she does a lot of drawing, sticking and colouring in, and there has been a huge change in the care she does these.

socialising – we are quite good at that, what with the 2 local home-ed groups and having visitors, I think that is fine. We don’t socialise every day, but enough.

‘activites’. SB has swimming lessons and ballet lessons, both of which she loves. The village football hasn’t restarted this year, which is a shame as she would have liked to do that, and I’m still conscious that she would like to start gym again, so I think we should organise that too.

playing. One of my desires for home ed, was that there shouldn’t be an abrupt end to the years of playing. We do plenty of playing, with dolls, imaginary games, snakes and ladders/set/cards etc etc. definitely something we do well

family togetherness another thing I was concerned about was that if SB had gone to school, she would have only really had a chance to know BB for 7 months before she went to school, and then their relationship would have been based on evenings when both were grouchy, and weekends. I’m sure they would have still loved each other, but I do think that Home-ed has given them the chance to have the beautiful sibling relationship they do.

Limited TV. well, we have always had limited tv – after all its in another room. it is mostly first thinkg in the morning cbbc if she request it, and a David Attenborough [or similar natural history] DVD in the evening wind down. We have been watching walking with animals with Kenneth Branagh most recently, and we all enjoy them with roasted chestnut supper – yum.
What we are improving at
Music. i have started to be a bit more organised on the piano front. SB definitely wants to learn, but doesn’t always want to do it. We are trying for 5-10 mins on mon/wed/sat/sun [the days when I can do it basically. Its not a huge amount of time, but enough to just tick on. We do do well on listening to a wide range of classical music and discussing how it makes us feel, and its mood. SB makes up loads of songs and dances. I like the look of the theory book in action at the 2 red boots, so I might part with some more cash!

science experiments. we are kind of up and down here. SB really enjoys this kind of thing, and i think item 1 gets in the way here too. If we could do more on the spur of the moment, I think we would be doing a lot more. This is something I think we could work on.

Story of the world. Still used irregularly, but at least used. SB enjoys listening to it, she likes the colour in bits, we should do it a bit more. 1 chapter only takes 5 mins to read and then another 5-10 to talk abit about.

The key AARRGHH moments

Still Languages, both modern and ancient. We have Latin is not so Tough, and Muzzy German and Spanish. We really must get into the habit of doing some, as I was never brilliant of languages and feel bad about it, and I think they say the sooner children start, the easier it is. Although I am seduced by the Rosetta stone, I think we must show we are starting to use what we have got before forking out on something expensive to gather dust.

The other household/craft type things – sewing/knitting etc. SB shows interest and I don’t take it forward – partly cos this is a weakness area! I read blogs about knitting/crochet/paperwork/beading and think umm, yes, she would love that. We do do baking though, cooking together etc and food groqwing, so not all bad. Oh, um Housework itself???

Balancing BB and SB so both get the best deal possible. I guess this is the perennial problem, and the payoff for the joy of having a sibling. Swings and roundabouts there.

Oh, and the biggest one for me is that I am not the key home-edder. I wonder what Chris might agree or disagree with?

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