Tuesday was a good day; i’m trying to do more work that pulls all the girls together a bit. In general i don’t mind having them working independently around me, i don’t find it particularly hard to juggle 4 separate children doing 4 separate things and helping each one but with the potential arrival of a baby sometime soon, i thought encouraging them to have some learning activities that they did together might be very useful.
One of the things i find oddest about the home ed conversations i have with non-home-edders is the “how do you manage with them all at different levels?” one. From what you read in the newspaper (an certainly borne our by Fran’s brief school flirt and what teacher and schooling friends say), it isn’t uncommon to have children in a yr6 class who are ‘Level 2 Literacy’ (ostensibly functional 7 yr old reading) and ‘Level 5 Literacy’ (more like age 12/13) – and 30 children spread across those ranges seems to me problematic. Put into that context, 4 children with varying levels seems simple-pimple because i don’t see any reason to pretend that a year of teaching practise prepares you for that type of multi-tasking. Only motherhood, so far as i can see, would bring you anywhere close!
So no, i don’t find that difficult. What i find more of a challenge actually, is remembering that while classrooms using able children to ‘teach’ the strugglers is something i largely disapprove of, there is some merit in emulation, support and mutual skill sharing. I might not like it if Fran was being asked to listen to another struggling 11 year old read in school, but i wouldn’t mind her being grouped with some children slightly either side of her ability and being encouraged to work as a reading group. Nor would i mind her working on punctuation skills as part of a group – it seems fairly rare for one child to be in full possession of a set of skills and have nothing to gain from group work. In fact, i’m probably less disapproving of peer ‘teaching’ than i used to be, especially since i’ve watched her enjoying being a peer coach at gym. She clearly gets a lot from working with little ones and they clearly enjoy the attention of an accessible gymnast who will show and encourage and work quite literally at their eye level (so long as they stand on the beam!)
So one of my goals this year has been to encourage some peer support among the girls in terms of some of their basic skills. We’ve got an interesting spread of talents and weak points among them and instead of fretting that Amelie is fast over-taking Maddy in some Literacy skills, i thought i would try to play it to our advantage. Amelie is a perceptive girl and can be quite cutting, but if you encourage her to support, she does. So this week i thought we’d try and encourage them all to work on spelling and letter blends together, in game form, using these cards. They would all benefit, but Maddy and Josie the most and with a bit of priming, certain 7 year olds can be persuaded not to jump in and show off, so other people get a chance to build up some confidence.
And it seemed to work – we had various very enjoyable games of it and it was all quite co-operative and fun. I’d also bought some maths, fractions, money and music versions and they’ve so far been played plenty. If i can try and make them part of every day in the next few weeks, hopefully it will be a way of them all engaging in something that manages to also be educational for a week or two when babe arrives.
Josie slightly surprised me by being able to find the coin card and value in the money ones all by herself. Not sure where she learned that except that she and Amelie have played shops a lot recently with real money, so i assume it was from that. Good-oh, as my mum would say.
And Amelie has been bringing herself up to speed with music notes (she has a tendency to learn music then play from memory) with this set.
She’s learning the treble clef ones – and Fran is going to practise the same – and then all of them ought to be able to play that together as well.
She did pretty well and i tested her today and she could name them all and tell me what string and finger it is played with on the violin too.
This is another places where i’m trying to get them all working together – although they can mostly work out their tables mechanically, i do think one of my saving maths graces is that i was made to learn them by rote; for all that type of learning doesn’t really stand up on its own, there dos seem a place for just ‘knowing’ some things. I used to love the competition of trying to be the first to get ticks in all my tables boxes each year at juniors, so i thought we’d try it. So far it is going fairly well. Maddy and Amelie spent a hilarious hour last night trying to learn their 3’s together – the squeaking, giggling and use of a cash machine all seems superfluous to me, but today they can both do that one, so it must have worked.
Other stuff going on has been music (theory and practise, lessons going on currently, including Josie on a violin for the first time), Amelie learning her new gym routine, Fran jarring her knee 🙄 and various bits of history. Going to have a go at a group Egypt Lapbook in a couple of weeks, to round off a chapter Maddy and Amelie have done on that, pull in Maddy’s superior fact knowledge and hopefully give Fran a quick overview of that snippet of history. Maddy has worked very hard on doing the two written exercises… i’m still laughing at her picture of a caveman inventing the wheel. Must take a picture. And then i think we’ve done more maths for everyone and more reading. Maddy went again to TKD and definitely likes it so that settles her.
Yesterday we had Latinetc which seemed to go well despite me being slightly off the planet with backache and lack of sleep. Kids looked at bacteria under the microscope, did a practical using paper cells and peas to show how bacteria multiplies and spreads (on the way home we started discussing how bodies make cells from sperm and egg upwards and they all noticed the number sequence of cell division was the same) and then prepared agar petri dishes with swabs of various parts of Katy’s house – lol…. are you ready for that Katy? There was also French, Music, Latin and Sewing in various quantities. Littlies got more sewing this week as i think we’d over run slightly and the Bigs got squashed out.
Suddenly remembered i had caught a glimpse of one of the rabbits looking a bit like she was hopping funny the night before so went out to investigate in the daylight (having ascertained the night before she was otherwise fine) and realised her fun underneath had got rather mucky and clogged up, so brought her in for a bath which she took remarkably calmly. She stayed in for the rest of the day and evening in a warm box to dry out (she has very, very thick fur) and got lots of rabbit worship. Fran made pancakes, everyone went to bed.