Reflections on our home learning journey 38/2

Jigsaws, I think we can safely say jigsaws have been the theme of the week. Kanga has spent pretty much every wakeful moment of this week working her way through our entire jigsaw collection single handedly numerous times. Out sitting room floor has taken on a Roman Mosaic feel to it.  Occasionally she has let others join her but she is very clear that they must do their own jigsaws and let her do hers herself. A trip to that charity shop is needed to get some new supplies and to up the game for Zog and Bob and no doubt Kanga who has clearly mastered 24-30 piece puzzles.

Zog continues to source out letters and spell African animals. He also kept the Speech Therapist engaged for 45 minutes on Tanzania and the buffalo. She declared that he was doing just fine. We have been working on identifying capital and small versions of each letter this week.

All three have loved and loathed the weather this week as the thunder storms have limited out door time, but the swamp that has formed in the back garden has also been a source of great fun when the sun has come out.

As I continue to learn to hold still and let Bob work maths out in his own way we are making head way though there are still moments when I really wonder if we are making strides. In light of this continued battle I am looking at trying out a Life of Fred maths book which many other home educating families speak highly of and see if his way helps.

Bob is also working on a talk on Spitfires and I am discovering that with this project he can in fact write perfectly well, though still doing copy work as he will not rely on phonetic sounds for spelling. He is so like me in that regard and his reading is all done by sight learning of words and his ability to remember. It always fascinates me how he can remember words having been told them once but does not remember to make his bed in the morning. We have also tried a new tactic with comprehension/narration skills this week thanks to a passing conversation Mark and I had, as I was mentioning how Bob could never answer my questions of a passage I had just read aloud and Mark commented that neither could he if someone else had read the passage and so I got Bob to read the passage and then to answer questions and narrate in his own words and he could do it with no problems. I got him to read the passage twice, the first time writing down words he did not understand and getting him to look them up in his dictionary. Then he would read it a second time with an understanding of those words, before asking him the questions. It was a joy and we breezed through the lessons that way.

We are also enjoying Springwatch on IPlayer which provides plenty of thought and imagination and Bob continues to re-enact much of each episode out and about in the garden.

I have tried this week to be more gently on us all and give us all more time and space and I think we are finishing the week off in a far better place than we were in the middle of the week. I continue to wrestle with the idea the boys need more structured activities when I hear the list of clubs and groups others both at school and home educated are doing and the fact that when left to their own devices they come up with some awesome games and great ways of resolving the inevitable conflict moments that arise between each other and in turn that motivates their learning.

For us this is now the final stretch of this year’s learning and so I am ensuring that basics are covered even if not every lesson is going to get finished to enable us to make a good start the following year when I will be teaching both of them as Zog will be official school age come November.



Reflections on our home learning journey week 37/2

Let’s say the formal lessons got laid aside as the week went on. A week of highs and lows often triggered by my state of tiredness which peaked yesterday after a row of nights where both Zog and Kanga felt it necessary to sleep on top of me. Perfect for the week we have heat and humidity.  The roller coaster of this week is no real surprise being first week back after a busy week off with friend and family staying and different routines. I am thankful I can now see it for what it is and know that it is not the way it will be forever onward.  Though I still need to occasionally hide behind a slammed door and cry and write my ability to parent off in weeks like this.

It was also a busy week for appointments with speech & language therapy, physiotherapy and eye clinic. Added into that was trips out for sports on Tuesday, a trip for Bob to the science festival on Wednesday with friends, younger two both out of any resources to cope that day,  and Nature Wonderings on Thursday to explore the new play ground at Pitville with the Gloucestershire Home Ed Park meet up. Our presence had confused some parents with little ones as they had thought coming down after half term during school hours would mean it was pleasantly quite, the very reason we had all waited till now as well to see the new park. For the introvert that both I and Bob are it was a week way out of kilter and beyond our level of comfort and energy levels leaving us exhausted and at cross purposes when it comes to communicating love to each other. For him his only way to fill up at present is in time and always has been and this week I have been on people overload and so giving time has been so hard. It did have the benefit thought one morning when he really wanted to play scrabble and at 8:30 in the morning for a dyslexic who has spent the night with two sticky appendages my face said it all and he turned and picked up the towel and said “maybe I could dry the dishes you are washing instead and that way we can still be together.” There is hope.

Added into all that was hopes we had for an interview for Mark which did not materialise and we were once more thrown back into the question of what are we doing, what is next? Longing for a place where we could say yes to Bob’s requested to have a cat. We are house sitting for our holidays and will be looking after a cat so it will be a good test as to how ready he is for an actual cat. A cat will be my preference to Kanga’s desire for a dog and definitely more realistic than Zog’s desire for a pet Buffalo. On a side note if anyone is aware of any good books on Buffalos please let us know. We came across a promising sounding one today only to realise that the photos are of bison which are not buffalos but are sometimes named buffalos in North America but are not the same as the African Buffalo and so the facts were unreliable.

It has also been interesting for me this week as I have watched Bob at various times out in the garden having his quiet time in and around the summer house either reading, whittling or re-enacting Springwatch and I hear the children charging around together at the nursery next door with relatively guided play and instruction. There is always constant interaction, conversation and it feels like they never get time to just be. In my heart of hearts I know which I would rather my children were doing but when sleep has been absent it is easy to shoot a question of doubt off.

Kanga in natural 2 year old style has not been able to deal with the humidity and heat this week and so has generally fallen in a heap of emotions every time the word ‘no’ is uttered, or the boys have not finished with a toy she wanted and so on.

Bob’s learning patterns this week have stretched, encouraged and frustrated me at various points. Monday and Tuesday I managed to bite my tongue and realised that he was working out multiplication differently to how I would have chosen to do it and therefore how I would have expected him to do it, because clearly my way is the most obvious, yet he was getting the right answers and his way made sense when I stopped to think about it. One Wednesday then knowing I had a physio appointment and that he was going out to the science festival and the other two were both falling apart I thought I would not push lessons only to find him creating his own writing and maths lessons as in his words “I did not have time to teach him that day and that it was important to do lessons everyday.” Let’s just say they were not the words he expressed the next day when we did try to do lessons and it was as he had never heard of a number before or the possibility you could combine two of them together through addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. And he would only write if allowed copy medieval scribes and have a quill. Today I did not even attempt anything structured but this afternoon while they made chalk paints in the garden and discovered what happens with too little or too much water to the chalk powered I read poems from ‘Heard it in the Playground’ and ‘When We Were Six.’ This afternoon and the cycles I have had this week with the children have been the food that has nourished and kept this soul going this week. We are so blessed to be living with cycle paths through lush green spaces within a town centre and the loan of a chariot so I can take all 3 out with Bob on his bike.

Zog’s crazy developmental spurt has continued this week with a continued hunger for writing and for me to spell words that he can then write down. To think that a month ago he could not identify one letter nor had ever written anything. On the way to sports the boys were playing eye spy with me and while non of Zog’s objects were visible, they were African animals, he had the right first letter for them all. It was encouraging to see Bob get the hang of the game and be able to attach the right sounds and letters with objects around him that we could see.  Without any direct help from me Zog has worked out how to write the shapes of almost all the letters. Once again this mum with dyslexia has been stretched as he keeps asking for words to spell. In-between asking how words are spelt he has a hundred and one other questions that he needs an answer for in his quest to know the world around him better. These questions are either alongside Bob’s questions or statements of recently learnt facts and Kanga’s constant chat. He was thrilled when they got the chalks out this afternoon and Bob showed him how to make chalk paint so that they could brighten up the patio area and in his words “finally make it more cheerful and fun for everyone because grey is just so dull.” There is no doubt that Zog was given to us to bring colour,  joy and a handful of cheekiness into our lives.

Buffalo bakery has continued to be in business with many doughs prepared in the garden and often eaten in the garden, spelt breads of different flavours, aztec tortillas, viking strawberry juice, pastry puffs and pizza.

The week was a roller coaster but this end of the journey I am thankful for it, for the highs, the hard conversations, the challenges and the hugs and the chance to be barefoot with a book in hand in the garden.

The photos below capture reading under blue summer skies, the colour of the garden, what we get up to during lessons, watching our sunflowers grow, and practicing our camera skills.