Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A PS to Yesterday's Post - and some lovely Art

Well that was a great big long blog post yesterday - and it completely failed to make the point that I was supposed to be trying to get to (combination of running out of time and just getting distracted by my own waffle - oops!  Don't think I'll ever make a pro-blogger ;) )

Anyway, I was talking about why I see the need for us to use online curricula, even though we are stongly drawn to the 'unschooling' end of the HE spectrum.  We've been 'doing' Home Ed since Easter this year: more deschooling than anything else which has been incredibly helpful - I strongly recommend it to anyone just embarking on their HE adventure.  Now we're entering a new 'term', I've been taking stock of where we're all at...  Firstly, I cannot imagine ever sending my children back to school - socially and emotionally the boys are doing SO MUCH better than they were at school. Academically though... (let's say for the sake of argument that it can be sectioned off as a separate entity) - well... Youngest has made undoubted progress, largely thanks to his passionate love of Reading Eggs (an online curriculum).  Middle and Eldest?  I have to say, their "abilities" have gone backwards in some areas.  Their confidence and reasoning has made great leaps, so I think on balance it was easily worth it.  However, when Eldest had a go at the 'Reading Eggspress' programme that he's lately been pestering me to try, he was assessed at a lower age than he actually functions at in my opinion - because through lack of usage he had forgotten what verbs, nouns etc were.  Middle has also regressed a bit when it comes to Maths - forgetting how to perform certain tasks that are actually useful (that's the bit where I left off in the previous post I think).  Anyway, combined with yesterday's conclusion that standard maths skills (such as times tables, carrying/ regrouping, even long division) are really useful tools to have at one's disposal, my observation that the boys' learning in these two key areas (Maths & English) has gone back a little was the final factor that convinced me my instincts weren't all wrong... for now at least... until I change my mind again ;)

Anyway, so that's what I was trying to say yesterday!  On to today, and over all it's been lovely :)  Eldest had another temperature spike today & was feeling weedy, so we decided not to go to craft club.  That sad decision aside, the rest of the day was fun (in a gentle way).  Eldest was keen to get back onto his Reading Eggspress trial - he seems to be enjoying it still.  Youngest was also keen (as always) to get onto Reading Eggs, and spent some time happily engrossed on that.  Which left me some time with Middle, going over a Maths worksheet that I made for him, with lots of space on the paper to work out his 'regrouping' - and only eight sums on the whole page so it wasn't too intimidating.  We got the cuisenaire rods out and went through the whole process, showing him how regrouping works in a visual way - and he seemed to grasp it very quickly after that.  He still wasn't keen on doing the page of sums, but fortunately for me there is a fail-safe key to motivating him... reverse psychology works every time!  If you try to jolly him along gently saying "come on, this is easy, you can do it" he just stalls, whines, procrastinates - basically does anything except what you're looking at.  But if you say "uh-oh, I thik this one's too hard, surely you can't be clever enough to work that out", he loves it!  It baffles me, and doesn't come naturally as I like to speak positive words over my children  - but it absolutely works (for him - his brothers are a different matter), and as long as I say it in a jokey enough manner, he thinks it's the most fun we can have!  So anyway, one page of eight sums later, and he's really happy with addition using regrouping (we'll move on to subtraction next time).

After that we went to the bank to pay in the money we counted up yesterday, and had a lovely chat with a lady who was very interested and encouraging when she found out that we home educate.  Eldest then had a rest when we got back, and got engrossed in a cartoon book (I've recently introduced him to our Calvin & Hobbes books... he's hooked!)  Time for some "Deadly 60" and "Horrible Histories Gory Games" on TV, and then on to the highlight of our day...

Middle had been asking to do some art, and I found a really lovely project on one of my favourite art websites, Deep Space Sparkle... we painted some long thin 'birch trunks', left them to dry and painted the background on another page, using watered-down paint, and then sprinkling with salt for an attempt at a snowy effect (my paint was already too dry so it didn't work very well, but Middle's worked well)  Eldest's trees looked really effective I thought - and the beauty of this project was that even Youngest aged 3 (almost 4) was able to produce a lovely piece of art (although I did have to take the black paint away as he was getting carried away doing the tree trunks)...  The cutting out was straight-forward (I helped Youngest as there were a lot of splodges and he couldn't see where to cut!), and we glued the trunks on to the background using PVA (glue-sticks didn't work well with the salt), then putting heavy books on top while the glue dried - we all think they look great :)
Middle's "Birch Trees"                        Youngest's "Birch Trees"
Eldest's "Birch Trees"                         Mummy's "Birch Trees"

Lovely art project - lovely day :)


  1. Thank you :) we were really pleased how well they came out!