Friday, 17 August 2012

Home school - A Model Day?

We really did proper home-school today and it felt like a huge success.

Overall it was happy, productive, relaxed and harmonious. A great day!

We were up a bit late, this morning, and I felt a bit of pressure to get a move on and start the day. I think it was gone 9.30 before we'd all cleaned our teeth and I was encouraging Francesca to do violin practice.

One good thing: being Friday, I let Elizabeth put the TV on while Francesca practised. That certainly prevented her from wanting my attention during the practice and allowed me to relax about the time I was spending.

I usually do what I call a 5 minute practice with Francesca, so it doesn't seem too daunting to her. In fact, I've been increasing the time to about 10 minutes, recently, and even that is not quite enough.

Today I set the timer for 15 minutes, although I didn't tell Francesca that at the beginning.

Lengthening the time meant that I felt more relaxed about the time available and I stopped pushing her quite so hard to get on with the tasks.  She played her scale and arpeggio beautifully and was soon onto the piece.

The piece is always a stumbling block for Francesca - she finds it hard and is therefore reluctant to tackle what seems like an insurmountable task. I'd discussed this with Seymour last night and he'd suggested breaking the onerous-looking tune into smaller chunks. Thus, I asked Francesca to play just the first bar, which she did quite easily. I had her practice that a few times, and then the next bar, and the next... We soon got through the whole piece and her confidence was soaring.

I knew she was anxious to see what Elizabeth was watching on TV so I let her watch Show Me Show Me as a treat for having worked so hard at the violin practice.

Then we got down to school work.

We started with English. Francesca loves her 'Gold Star Literacy' workbook and was happy to work for about half an hour and would have kept going longer, I think. She works independently and loves the fact that she has to award herself a gold star sticker at the end of each page.

Sebastian sat up too and wanted to do drawing. Francesca was really lovely with him, showing him how to draw things and write things. She wrote 'big' and 'little' on his page, in appropriately sized writing so he would learn.

Elizabeth wanted to continue practising writing letters in her handwriting book. She uses her wipe-downable literacy book first, to get the hang of the letter formation, then she traces carefully over my dots on her special hand-writing paper. She did a row of 'd's and a row of 'i's this morning. She gets a sticker at the end of each row, which she thinks is great.

Then we did Science. We were answering the question, "Are there the same number of Smarties in every tube?"

I gave Francesca 5 tubes of Smarties, labelled A-E and a pre-made results table to fill in. I was so impressed with the way she organised herself - tipping the Smarties into bowls and counting them into a different bowl, labelling the bowl with the right letter and filling in the results table. "How do you write thirty three?"

At one point, she lost count and patiently started again.

When we looked at the results (32, 32, 33, 13 and 31) she spotted that one looked rather strange and actually suggested we check it again.

It turned out not to be 13 but 30. An error in translation really - she'd said to herself, "twenty eight, twenty nine, thirteen."

We were able to draw a conclusion and predict what we would find if we counted another tube of Smarties (which we then did and were right!) It was a good investigation although Elizabeth and Sebastian couldn't wait to be allowed to eat the Smarties. I had to give Sebastian some of his own to experiment with.

Francesca drew a picture of herself wearing a lab-coat on the back of her page. She had a big smile because she was enjoying it.

Friday is TV day, so I had promised the girls they could watch TV this afternoon, after 'school'. They wanted to watch The Rhyme Rocket, which started at 1.20, so we had time for lunch, Maths and Music.

For Maths, Elizabeth played her counting ladybirds game on the computer and Francesca got her Maths workbook and was happy working away independently. Alas, when I looked at what Francesca had done, I was surprised to find it was wrong.

The instructions were to colour in a queue of people: "Colour the 3rd person blue, the 7th person green" etc but Francesca had started with the first person and was colouring them in turn. She had not understood the significance of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and so on.

I talked her through it and wrote the labels under each person and she was soon back on track. It wasn't hard for her, just previously un-encountered.

Elizabeth did jigsaws. Sebastian was napping by this point.

Then it was Francesca's turn on the computer, to practise recognising the notes on the musical staff. Unfortunately, the computer decided to do an automatic reboot, right in the middle of the game, which took so long it was then time for The Rhyme Rocket, so not much note-practice was done after all.

The girls were so happy watching TV and it was so quiet in the house that I put on an audio-book and tidied the kitchen, sorted the washing and started to cook dinner.

Francesca asked me to watch Zingzillas with her, and we snuggled together peacefully on the sofa, watching a really excellent violinist playing ever so fast.

I couldn't resist saying, "Oh Francesca, I don't want you to go back to school!" and she said she would rather be at home too (result! Yeah!) I'm more and more inclined to give home ed a go. If I don't try it now, I'll probably always wish I had.

In other news, lots of family, including the visiting cousins came round at teatime and stayed to help with bathing, which the girls loved.

More days like this please :)

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