We had a remarkably productive day today… the telly thing really seems to have changed the house atmosphere for the better, which is nice. This morning the girls played on Reader Rabbit Capers on Cloud Nine, which i thoroughly recommend, absolutely excellent phonics stuff there, then we signed up to the free trial of einsteinonline. I initially set Pud on the reception age stuff to see if a year of “not doing that oh so essential foundation stage” had really left her with any conspicuous holes in her abilities, but she managed that with ease, so i have flipped her up to the Year 1 level for tomorrow. Tonight, i set myself up as a Year 2 student and she sat on my lap and we worked through quite a bit of that – she needed help with it, but thats to be expected and she seemed to enjoy it. The really nice thing was that Moo enjoyed doing the reception level of it as well and it was nice to have something that captured her but that she sort of needed me for as well. All in all a good experience. In the afternoon they did lego and paddling pool and all played really nicely together Pud is very protective of Bubba and was teaching her how to draw today (not that she needed it but still!)
Somehow among all that i managed to put all the washing away, clean the kitchen, clean out the rabbits and tidy the playroom! IMPRESSIVE! Tomorrow i think we might bring the dolls house down and look at decorating it on the inside – it doesn’t really get used upstairs which is a shame.
I suppose, with today being the day Pud might have started Year 1, i have been pondering the whole home ed thing a lot. I think its important to keep in my mind the whys of it all, although they have changed a lot in the 2 1/2 years since we decided we would HE. Initially it was all to do with Puds cleft – i was so frightened of her being bullied and she was a very anxious little lady – and she hated nursery really as well. I thought to start with that i would be violently structured but i have learnt that that really does not suit Pud at all; i also loved (and still love) Montessori materials but those don’t really suit her either. She has a short attention span, loves multimedia and is much more culturally orientated than mathsy/concepty type stuff (she says eloquently!) She is very perceptive and gets a real feel for people, loves to move and dance and create but i think she is emotionally quite fragile and not good at solving issues of ownership or contest easily herself. I don’t think school would compliment her strengths or smooth her weaknesses really, so i am glad she is at home. How ever difficult daily life can be, its GOOD to have her her. Life for all of the other three of us who are at home would be lessened without her. I cannot really conceive how we could be happy if she were not part of the day anymore. You know.. i hadn’t even thought of it like that before… but just the thought is horrible… yey for HE!
So.. once we got past the cleft/bullied thing, i started to think more about the wider issues of school and parenting, and i guess i have covered the parenty bit already. I do believe my place is with my girls; no one knows them better than me and frankly its highly unlikely, given the fact that i am intelligent (if typographically challenged!) adut with 4 A levels, that i won’t be able to teach them what they need to know for the next little while. As i have had more children i have realized they NEED home and being away from it at a young age is NOT natural and its not really necessary in our case either. We have had brief flirtations with nurserys and minders nad it has made no one happy… playgroup being the exception and i think thats cos it was a) very good and stable and had the same staff for the entire 3 years we were there and b) i always treated it as a place we could go, rather than had to go.
And then there is school. The NC leaves me cold; in contrast to the level expected of me at my private junior school at 5-6, its pitiful and it doesn’t seem to get any better as it goes up really – that programme “That’ll Teach em” was shocking in the expose of gcse and how it teaches kids to learn. I can’t BELIEVE we are teaching kids not to bother putting accents on french words; at best its arrogant and at worst its teaching our kids that accuracy is not important. Great! Assuming that that attitude goes across subjects, its not a great future for our doctors and pharmacists… omg…
So i suppose i have a feeling about our HE path after 2 1/2 years of mulling it over… i no longer expect to follow a curriculum or be structured, but nor do i expect to ever really feel completely comfortable with leaving it utterly alone. I think i would like to know that in the basics of reading and maths, and to a lesser extent writing, that my kids will broadly be no lower than the standard set by the NC – but i would qualify that by saying i don’t expect it to be necessary to DO a great deal in order for that to be achieved. i can see my kids love to learn, i can see they are naturally able to seek out things which interest them and grasp the concepts involved, so i suppose i will be keeping an eye on the NC from a point of view of making sure i offer opportunities for them to play with ideas. Still, after knowing them for all this time, they surprise me – Pud knew what an Octagon was today – i didn’t know she knew that (actually my grasp of some of thsoe is a wee bit hazy too – i don’t think i know ABOVE octagon anyway!) I have an curiousity to watch the Year 1 basics over the next year and see how it equates to what a child just learns anyway…. bear with me over it… its a combination of a need and a curiousity anyway!
Kind of on that basis i went looking again today at the very user friendly list of NC “expected achievements” on the site below. its quite good in that it caters for parents mainly, so the lingo is good. This is effectively where Pud should be in about 9 months time, if she were in school, so i thought i might record a baseline here and come back to it occasionally. i know this is deeply un-pc for the HE world… but you know.. we are all different! For the record, although anyone who knows me well knows this, i have this down as a personal record and for interest, not to show off/show up my child. i firmly we believe we are all different but i want to write the different down on this occasion!
Spark Island; learning resources for children, teachers, parents: Home..
# count at least 20 objects reliably.
Right.. well i think we have this point covered (for about the last 2 years!)
# count up and down from any number less than ten, and count up and down to at least 50 in 10s, (10, 20, 30 etc.)
Getting there… I find it interesting that Pud counts to 100 easily from 31 onwards but finds 20-31 hard. i have this feeling that is cos playgroup counts the children (ie up to 30) every day, so she learnt this by rote, whereas we have done a number square very logically… its the rote bit which is still in a mess. When the number square is laid out she can pick out the 10’s column okay.
# read and write numbers up to at least 20 in order and understand which numbers are bigger/smaller.
Well writing is coming very slowly for Pud but she has a good idea of the concept of all these, can order them correctly and knows that 13 is made of 1 in the tens column and 3 in the units. Occasionally, and i imagine its common, her instinct would be to say it starts with a 3.
# for any number between 1 and 30, say the number that is 1 or 10 more or less. e.g. Starting with 23; 1 more is 24, 1 less is 22, ten more is 33, ten less is 13.
She can do this for 1 more, one less with minute help and probably the tens if it were written or using our number cards. i doubt she could do the tens in her head yet.
# understand the terms ‘addition’, ‘subtraction’, ‘take away’ and ‘difference’ and be able to use them.
I don’t think i have particularly used “d
ifference” but all the others are familiar. She can also use those buttons on a calculator.
# Know by heart all pairs of numbers that add up to 10 (1+9, 2+8, 3+7 etc.)
Not by number but could demonstrate it (under protest!) with maths rods.
# use mental arithmetic to solve simple ‘real life’ problems relating to counting, addition, subtraction, doubling and halving, explaining how the answer was reached. e.g how could you pay 10p using 1p,2p and 5p coins?
Grin.. money has become oh so easy recently – i have to pay her to do her room now – but also she likes to collect Henry postcards and she can get the right coins from my hands for those. She can also share out and divide food or sweets between all of us. In fact she quite impressed me the other day – we had eight sweets and she decided they could have 3 between them now and then save the 5 for all of us to have one later! Practical maths! (and dietary concern for mummy!)
# compare two lengths, masses or capacities (volume) e.g 4cms and 2cms, 2 litres and 3 litres
Easy… not necessarily on the actual units but no problem on the concept at all.
# suggest what kind of equipment and units of measurement could be used to estimate and then measure length, mass and volume. e.g for length; a ruler and centimetres.
She knows about tape measures and that they have numbers and all about cooking etc Estimation – no – not really.
# use everyday language to describe features of familiar 3-dimensional and 2-dimensional shapes. e.g A standard cardboard box has four corners, and six rectangular faces.
Easy.. in fact we did spheres only today!
Okay,, so on that basis, a year not in school for reception doesn’t seem to have gone too far astray really does it! Now I’m going to do the same for English….
# Break down common words into their component sounds (sound out) in order to read and spell them.
We were doing this on Reader Rabit today – i was surprised by how much more able she has got recently at this, a while ago she hated it. I don’t think its something she could do without support, but she can do it.
# read familiar common words (e.g only, going, don’t, once, would)
Her reading has not changed much in a year but recently she is interested again. I would imagine she is already up to this level really.
# read and spell simple words ending in -ck, -ff, -ll, -ss, -ng (e.g lock, stuff)
Again.. not far off really.
# recognise spelling patterns with long vowel sounds ‘oo’, ‘ai’, ‘ie’, ‘oa’, ‘ee’ (e.g boat, book) and use them to read and spell.
We have oo and ee down now.. the others are not really featuring much yet.
# understand the terms vowel and consonant
No – not explained it. Could, should really i suppose.. my montying has gone to pot! lol!
# write independently
Blech.. really??? Well maybe in 9 months.. she copies, but its not very legible except her name. But she hates writing and i think forcing it would make it less fun. When she feels so inclined, she can.
# understand if her reading makes sense
Yep – i would say she corrects herself if she gets a word wrong in a sentence she has read all of.
# read simple familiar texts aloud with expression
Yep – “Oh no Pat… no no no!!!” lol!
# understand basic word order in a sentence
Probably… do i?
# add question marks to questions
No… but i imagine its a skill we can accomplish over the next nine months! (oh dear… i feel sarcasm coming on now….)
# compare oral and written stories and know the difference
Are we seriously asking it to be a major skill for a 6 year old to know if a story is in a book or being told from memory…? I assume we are not gonig for oral or written tradition in myth or the bible here????
# retell stories, picking out key points
Well retelling is a fairly major Charlotte Mason thing and we do encorage it. Pud has a memory like a… hmmm… clam??? and can retell ANYTHING!
# read a variety of poems and contrast them and talk about common themes
Not something we have done a lot of yet – we do have poetry phases i guess…
# write simple stories and poems (often based on something read in class)
No… but she makes them up!
# recognise the difference between non-fiction books and fiction
Yes – no problem.
# identify simple questions and use texts to find the answers
Certainly under some circs but not so much a thing we do yet.
I actually can’t summon up the enthusiasm to do the science one, its SOOOO basic. And it terrifies me that my Tudor history empassioned girl would be doing “what people do at the beach in victorian times” sometime over the next two years if she was in school.. thats NOT history. All in all this has reallt comforted me that HE is good for us… its minimum time wasted accumulating the skills that become the boring and essential stuff in school with a much more enriching life attached around that!
ANYONE still there????