Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Getting the hang of it all

I feel as if our home-school is getting into more of a routine this week. I suppose we have had a couple of weeks 'off' - what with Seymour being around and us having that trip to York.

This week, lessons have resumed.

Both days have started with a violin practice for Francesca. I was stunned - stunned! - to find that she was happy to practise independently - without me!!! - for about half an hour on Monday. I kept appearing to make encouraging noises but I tried to keep out, since that benefits us both. SO much easier if I can keep the little ones occupied and she can get through her exercises on her own. I think she does need me, a bit, to keep her right (sometimes she's playing the wrong rhythm, or not bothering to play in tune) but I'd certainly rather she was independent, and she'll get the technique in the long run, if she's of a mind to.

Today's practice went almost as well, but with some procrastination at the end, when faced with a new piece to learn. I've read that it's an oft-observed trait of first-born children, to be perfectionists. Francesca certainly procrastinates when faced with a task that she might not be perfect at first time. Do I have that tendency too?

She had a strop in the middle of maths, yesterday, because she'd made a mistake and my suggestion for a correction didn't meet with her approval. She drew a scribble right over the page with a felt-tip pen. I gave her time out then made her start again, which meant that maths took an inordinately long time and we were only just starting English after lunch.

The younger two had paper and pencils, the same as Francesca, and did their own 'maths' with shapes to draw round.

When Francesca got on with her maths properly, she got quite into it and I heard her telling someone later that she had been doing 'place value' which is true.

I've noticed that her concept of 'add 10' is letting her down. She can count in tens (10, 20, 30 etc) but when it comes to adding 10, she counts on her fingers and sometimes miscounts and it's all very slow.

Thus, we've been doing some more work on place value: tens and units.

I gave her some abacuses (abaci?!) to draw beads on. Each pair of abacuses was a sum. I gave her the first number, for which she had to draw the beads, then she had to add ten and draw the beads for the second number. In this way, she came to reinforce the idea that each time she was only adding one bead on the tens column. This was to be further reinforced with the computer-version of the abacus that I found online but we didn't get onto that until today, after the felt-tip pen debacle yesterday.

Today, I was pleased that she was able to predict (without counting on) the answer she would get if she added ten, when looking at the abacus online. Later, though, she was unable to apply the knowledge without the numbers in front of her, so more work is still needed.

I also ventured to use some numbers greater than 100 today and discovered that she is not confidently able to read them. We need to practise that too!

I love that I am able to work closely with her and notice exactly what lesson would benefit her next. I am enjoying tailoring her curriculum to her, day by day, as we go along.

On Monday, Elizabeth and Sebastian got to do painting whilst Francesca was taking ages over her maths. It's all part of the experience: actions have consequences (in that case, missing out on the fun of painting). Today, I mentioned that she wouldn't get to play with her friend after school if she hadn't finished her work. I hope the message is getting through.

After lunch on Monday, the English lesson commenced unbidden with a reading aloud of the new book "The Troll" by Julia Donaldson. Francesca was reading it to Snowy and soon gathered a bigger audience.

I used that as a starting point for some written work, asking Francesca to retell part of the story in her own words. She spent about half an hour doing a great piece of writing, complete with endearing spelling mistakes.

Today's English task was to write a letter. She chose to do it on the computer and it was to Grandma and Grandad. "What shall I write about?" she asked, and I said they would be interested to know what she had been doing, or what she was looking forward to doing. She, apparently, is looking forward to going back to Beamish one day and going on the carousel. That is what she wrote about. The typing took ages but was very nicely done, with plenty of "Oops, I need backspace!" and "How do I get back onto that line again?"

Grandma and Grandad replied very promptly, which was great, to encourage this enterprise (thanks mum and dad!)

We had no heating or water (of any sort) today while the boiler was being replaced so we took that as an excuse to go out to lunch. Sebastian thinks everything could be a steering wheel. Here he is driving his plate. You'll have to imagine the sound effects:

This afternoon we did Science. First we answered Francesca's question: "What is the difference between brown flour and white flour?" We sieved, compared, discussed and looked a pictures of grains.

That done, we put some bits of food in plastic bags in order to continue our investigation into microbes. More on that to follow, I expect!


  1. Looking good!!!

    Violin progress very encouraging. Fingers crossed.....

  2. And what else did you find when you sieved the flour - and did they have legs?