Thank goodness for structure.

Well, if I’m strictly honest, thank goodness for structure AND Groovy Girls, since the younger two girls are spending a quantity of every day playing with them. Who would have thought that ‘groovy girl gym’ could be such an enduring game???? I’m not complaining though, they are so eager to get back to playing together that they both speed through music practise and all their work every morning at great and productive speed and then, so long as food is served up regularly, that’s the last I see of them. Luckily both of them are very happy with their ‘normals’ and so are putting in a good bit of work, Josie is reading more by the day and loving the drawing stuff we are doing and Amelie is reading lots so even if life needs to up its interesting level by a few notches, I don’t think either of them are unhappy with their lot.

Josie is ADORING being a 4 hour a week gymnast. She’s coming on in leaps and bounds there and loving it completely. Last week she did a forward roll on the high beam without any help, she’s cracked her round off and her beam cartwheel and all she talks about is gym. She’s even learning her first routine :D

Amelie is getting ready for a competition next week; she also got a highly commended in her grade 2 ballet and came top of the class. She was very thrilled with her prize :)

Maddy on the other hand is being a complete dream just at the moment work-wise. She’s incredibly diligent when she’s inside her comfort zone and she’s pushing through verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, maths, comprehensions and various Galore Park books she wants to finish off. While not desperately exciting in content, the CGP KS3 science books are giving her lots of jumping off points and meaning she can talk and do stuff with Max. She’s really liking the physics we have started at our WedEd days too, which is great. She’s deeply absorbed in the Lemony Snickett books just now, which is keeping her quiet :lol:

I’ve started a new tack with maths, which is to work Maddy and Amelie together on topics. I’ve got a list of everything KS2/KS3 on it and we are ticking them off using various resources, from Maths Drills sheets to Galore Park and I’m just pushing each of them as far as they can go with the topic. It’s been a relatively painless way of doing things so far and, now that school is on our peripheral vision and I know they could all suddenly tumble in that direction, I’m happier knowing they’ve got age appropriate skills under their belt. Josie is still in that weird ‘maths is a game I play with numbers’ stage and as she’s working like a trojan at reading and maths will be easier once she’s got that skill, I’m leaving her to her games with it for now.

Fran is back at school and while the novelty has certainly worn off now, she seems to be enjoying it okay. She’s finding the geography hard, not the content but the question and answer style and the concept of revising for tests. Sport Science really suits her though and is inspiring her to have some form of career in that after she has gone as far as she can with dance. She plays in her first school netball game tomorrow (don’t ask me how, she only started playing 3 weeks ago) and I continue to get positive feedback about her. Learning to get homework done in plenty of time and use time wisely is still a challenge, but she is getting the hang of it.

This week she also got to choreograph her own new gym routine – and pick the music for herself from scratch. She absolutely LOVED doing that and the dining room was a dance studio for most of the week. And she scraped a commended in her grade 3 tap, despite it being the dreaded Miss H as the examiner and totally screwing it up. So she was passably happy.

As for me… well :) I’m still here. Still knitting a lot. Doing the 366 Photo project over on my other blog. Reading a bit. Gestating. Trying to remain sane.

Piece of cake :/

Conversation Ed

Last week Fran handed in a science leaflet she had to write looking at health issues and ways of avoiding them or managing them. One element was smoking; I smiled when I saw what she’d written, which included lots about how the government couldn’t ban it because it would become an illegal trade in tobacco and how they needed the tax revenue to support the NHS and so it needed to phase out gradually. All those conversations, talking through the whys and wherefores have paid off; she may be a bit of a dizzy wotsit at times, but she’s learned to question and think and not just accept one view. It makes me very proud of what we’ve achieved.

***

This morning we had to drop Fran at school, something that thankfully doesn’t happen often. It’s only the second time the others have had to waste time on the trip. On the way, Fran mentioned a recent story about the government planning to ban forced marriages. We all got talking about the difference between forced and arranged marriages and how an arranged marriage might be handled in a thoughtful, sensitive way (I know several people who have had exactly that type of marriage) and when it might go less well. We discussed the relationship pitfalls of a marriage that doesn’t start out with naturally developing ‘love’ and how it might or might not work, using an example of one of them marrying the son of a close family to test it out. We talked about trying to see a whole picture and a culture and not just rejecting instantly something which is different to what we know, as wrong. Then we talked about honour killings, relationships that breakdown, families who might prize pride above love and why that might happen. We talked about Sharia Law and the impact of that on lives and culture.

Little Josie, drinking it all in, said “You mean in some places in the world people always think that it is the lady who is wrong?”

We were home by 8.15am.

***

At dinner tonight Josie said she likes all the fairy tales except the Ugly Duckling because it was boring and there was too much pecking and not enough other stuff. I told her about the meanings in the story, about difference and self worth and confidence and self belief and being your own person and fitting your skin. Maddy chipped in with bullying and thinking you are important in your own small world and not acknowledging that different is good. She said she sometimes feels like the different one in her musical theatre class. I said that well, perhaps she was or perhaps only she saw it that was but one thing was for sure, she had one of the most beautiful voices of all those kids and that was her special gift.

Josie said “I thought it was just about pecking!”

***

I really love home educating. I love having a family. I love just being with these people I share my home with. They fascinate me.

The home ed bits.

Life, aside from being extremely busy, is very peaceful here, back into the rhythm we all find comfortable and comforting. The girls get their stuff done first thing (currently we’re doing lots of maths, verbal and non verbal reasoning, spelling, grammar games and reading practise) and then, with that done by 11am or so, we’re able to do other things. We’ve gone back to the work diary idea, where we use a planner to add 4 “must do” pieces of work to each day we are at home, plus music – this Dodo Academic Planner is perfect; each day has 5 boxes, (for family members), but it works really well as a prompt box. The facing blank pages is where we work out weird maths stuff, keep a note of unusual stuff they do, what they read etc. They have one each and love them.

We’ve been doing some of the Primary Maths Challenge papers as Amelie is sitting it next week. It has been going… averagely…. ;)

With the endless round of dancing (4 shows currently being rehearsed!) talent shows, school shows, panto, TKD, gym, rugby and goodness knows what else, evenings and weekends are full and it helps to keep the days calm. Fran is so busy we hardly see her :( She’s happy – and doing fabulously – but it is a major change for us all. She’s trampolines there now, badmintons, has been chosen for the school dance show, has had decent grades from all the first round of tests she has done and her teachers seem to like her. She’s enjoying it very much indeed. I love that it is working for her, I can see she is totally at home there – I just miss her company.

Moving to the new gym club has been a good decision, despite my anxiety. Fran went back pretty much at the point she left off, Amelie is perhaps still not being stretched as much as she’d like but is happy and Josie went back to a 90 minute class and found herself moved to a 4 hour a week class. She LOVES it. Somehow my little squidgy baby girl who didn’t like trying new things has turned into this poised, lean beauty who goes off and does stuff without a backwards glance.

There is loads of music happening. Fran is doing grade 3 cello next term, Amelie grade 1 violin, Josie is learning recorder and Maddy has moved on to strumming on the guitar and is working away at flute. I don’t think any of them will ever be world class, but I love hearing the sound of it – I do wish I could persuade them to practise the way the music teacher asks though… Amelie in particular seems to regard most pieces of music as a race :roll:

This week we’ve been doing animal study. They’ve each been drawing an animal from the Draw Write Now books and then looking up facts about the animal and typing them out. I have to say, while the SWN books were a guilty purchase a long time back, they’ve been so worth the money. We use them LOTS, even now.

PhotoPhotoPhoto

Maddy took the whole thing a step further. She drew her armadillo in the style of Picasso, her blue heron in the style of Van Gogh and her mountain goat in the style of Monet. This involved her voluntarily sitting reading art history books for ages, which seemed like a result :lol:

Amelie did an arctic fox and a giraffe.


Amelie’s favourite arctic fox fact was that it will eat the poo of larger meat eating animals.

Josie drew a reindeer and a porcupine.

Before we started our Art etc sessions, none of my kids would have produced work that good. They all either had perfection issues, or using colour issues, or using media issues. Now they go for pastels or whatever quite confidently. It’s been a hugely good things.

We plan to carry on with this for now and then hopefully do a ‘animals around the world’ project later on, to pull it all together with some geography and David Attenborough watching while I feed a baby.