Monday, 3 December 2012

Excitement in Pyjamas

Given that today was a low-key pyjama day as has become our habit, it was still a pretty exciting day, most especially for Middle.  Today he "graduated" from Reading Eggs (aimed at 3-7 year olds) to Reading Eggspress (aimed at 7-13 year olds).  He did several lessons in one hit on the last level today as he was so excited to see that he was nearly at the end, and he couldn't wait to be on the same programme as his big brother.  Great was the rejoicing in the house when the Reading Eggspress screen flashed up, and he got to choose his new avatar!  Definitely a proud Mummy moment.  See, Middle struggled academically at school.  He was easily bright enough to do the work, he just didn't fit in the system, and eventually became so depressed that he wouldn't even try.    In six months he has gone from being slightly behind according to Reading Eggs, to ahead for his age.  Now that doesn't actually mean a lot as far as I'm concerned - I always knew he was capable, and I really don't set much store on performance age etc - that's a trap perpetuated by the league tables etc found in the state school system  It's just nice to have a kind of measurable evidence of progress for those who aren't sure of HE, and of course for me if I'm having a wobble.  What means much more to me is that since starting our home education journey Middle has relaxed so fully, I feel like I have my gorgeous, happy, loving boy back.  And quite simply, he was really happy at starting Reading Eggspress - so I am happy for him!

All three boys are now total "Wild Tales" (CBBC) addicts, as evidenced by their excitement at the start of the week being equal to the start of another series - and this week's stars are families of caribou, African wild dogs and polar bears.  There was an entertaining (for me) moment when the caribou gave birth to the baby star of the show, and Eldest asked me what that big red thing was, still hanging from between the caribou's legs.  I explained about placentas etc, and confirmed when asked that yes, I had one for each of my babies - but when I offered to find a picture online to show him, I was answered with an unequivocal "Ewww NO THANKS!".  Apparently that's an education too far right now!  (boys are weird: I am expected to come running to admire the size of their latest toilet-blocking faecal product, but looking at a picture of a placenta online is gross?  Go figure...)
Anyway (moving right along), following Wild Tales we watched an episode of the fun and informative Richard Hammond's Blast Lab, and learned about the surface tension of water.  We did a quick impromptu demonstration of water filled to the brim of a glass, to see if the boys could see the slight dome shape made by the water surface as we added a little more water.  They could, and were dutifully impressed... but were more excited by the splashes made when Mummy accidentally dropped too much water in suddenly - who said education isn't allowed to be exciting?

A different kind of excitement was also provided today by our Christmas Decorations book.  Normally I would prefer something less prescriptive - something that we could design ourselves and be a bit more organic in our creating - but this weekend was pretty full of house-sorting (we culled the toys in Middle and Youngest's room ready for Christmas, and are trying to restore the study into a functional space, rather than the dumping ground it has become) - and I ran out of time to have a look for some more creative crafts or other activities, so we grabbed this book off the shelf, and got the scissors & sellotape out.  It may not have seemed that exciting to me, but anything that reminds the boys of the fast-approaching season is guaranteed to riase the levels of enthusiasm in the house!  And an hour or so later, we had quite a few pretty Christmas decorations ready to be hung/ stuck to windows...

The lovely thing was that even though I personally found the ready-to-cut patterns a bit uninspiring, the boys really got into it - and very quickly came up with further ideas of their own.  Eldest made a rather complicated 3D Christmas tree model that took him a while (cue much muttering), but he persevered with his design and the end product looked great.  Then he followed it with a stand-up santa hat, and a star decoration.  Middle made some decorations out of cellophane and card - and Youngest flitted between making decorations and drawing letters with a stencil he had found.  He was so excited by producing his own letters, bless him - I guess he's ready to learn to write then!  Sadly I can't post photos of the boys' original decorations as they seem to have been squirreled away, probably in the boys' bedrooms... well, I suppose I should be impressed that the bedroom-tidyness lasted a whole day!

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