Grief

One night in late October, W woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to talk about something she had dreamed about. After we had chatted and W was tucked up in bed once again, I saw that I had had lots of missed calls on my phone. I called my Mum and discovered to my utter sadness and shock that my Aunt, who I was close to, had died suddenly two hours before….

My Mum and I stayed on the phone for hours, not really knowing what to say to each other, but just wanting to talk about our shock, our family, and how my Aunt’s young adult daughters would cope without her.

It all seemed so surreal and I cannot imagine the trauma that my cousins would have gone through that night. My heart broke for them and for the rest of my family who all now had to come to terms with the void that was left in her place.

I didn’t sleep at all that night. Instead, I stayed up, trying to make sense of what had happened and trying to figure out how to tell W that her Aunt had gone.

…In the morning, when I had composed myself a little, W and I talked about Aunty T and what had happened. It was the first time W had experienced the death of a family member and I don’t think she knew what to make of it. I was determined not to cry when I told W, but sadly I did. I told myself that it was ok for W to see my emotions sometimes, especially so that she could see that sadness is a normal reaction to such an event.

That morning, W and I went straight to my parent’s house (my partner had to work and my stepchildren were away with their other Mum, so couldn’t come with us), where W did very well coping with seeing lots and lots of family members at once. She did not see too much distress as people were very careful to not talk a great deal about the upsetting stuff in front of W, but she did understand that we were all very, very sad about what had happened. Although our extended family had all been brought together again by such an awful event, it was still good for W to have the chance to meet so many members of her family at once.

A few days later, it was time to go home. There was nothing more for us to do at my parent’s house and we needed to get back home to try to find our new ‘normal’ before the funeral could take place (which would be some time in the future due to investigations that were needed beforehand).

I had no idea how W would react to all of this… at first she seemed ok and quite matter-of-fact about it, but as time went on, she started to realise the permanence of death, that she would never see Aunty T again. I won’t go into details here of how W was affected specifically because, although this blog is anonymous, the details of how W’s grief affected her over the coming months are very personal to her.

The truth is that W struggled. We took it slowly, reading books about grief and loss and talking about it whenever W needed to (Winston’s Wish have excellent resources for children experiencing this). It was awful to see the pain and distress that she was going through, especially as I knew very much what that felt like for me too. I made sure to mention Aunty T in passing sometimes, just to show that it was ok to talk about her (and it still is – I still talk about her a lot when something we do reminds me of her).

A few months later, W is doing better. She is still obviously grieving and feeling the loss, but the anxiety isn’t a daily struggle for her any longer. I have been careful to not push her too hard to talk, but to just be open to talking whenever the subject comes up. W still chooses to read the books on grief from time to time and we will do this for as long as she needs to.

I do not know what the next few years will bring in terms of our grief; whether we will get back to normal, remembering Aunt T fondly without all the pain that comes along with the memories, or if we will forever feel this empty place in our lives that she used to fill. All I know is that I have to do what is best for my children to help them through it, but I still can’t comprehend that I will never see my lovely Aunt again. However, somehow we have to find a way to move through life without her. And that, I think, will be very, very hard for all of us.

A workplace ignoring basic human rights?

Imagine there was a workplace – in this country – where basic human rights were ignored.

Where you were not allowed to go to the toilet, even if you pleaded with your supervisors to let you go. You had set times to go to the loo and the toilets were locked outside of those hours.

Imagine you were not allowed to work part-time. Even if you found full-time hours so stressful it made you ill. You had to work… and it had to be full-time. No exceptions.

Imagine you were not allowed to request holidays. You were only allowed holidays at set times of the year, chosen by your supervisors and not you. If you went on holiday outside of your supervisor’s chosen times, you were fined for doing so.

Imagine you were forced to stay at work after hours if you didn’t finish your work for the day, or speak out of turn to a supervisor, or were wearing the wrong clothes. You didn’t get paid for these extra hours – You simply just had to stay at work until your supervisors said that you could leave.

Imagine having your break times taken away as well for any of the above reasons.

You wouldn’t stand for it, would you? You would even campaign for the rights of those employed by this company to make conditions better for the workers.

Imagine if the employees discussed here are children.

This ignorance of basic human rights is happening every weekday in this country, within our schools.

To our children.

We have conventions on rights for adults, EU working time directives, enshrined in law, but no such thing to protect children’s rest time within schools.

At work, in the UK, your employer legally has to let you take the rest breaks that you are entitled to. Not so in school.

You can take paid holiday from your workplace when you want, as long as you give your employer the correct notice. Your employer can still say no, but you do have a degree of autonomy over holidays. Not so in school.

All employees have the legal right to request flexible working (e.g. changing hours to part-time, changing working hours, compressed hours, home working and flexitime). Children do not have a right to flexible schooling. On very, very rare occasions in this country flexischooling is considered for a child at a state school, but it is considered a temporary measure until full-time schooling is resumed. If a child is at school, it must be full-time, long-term.

Children do not have the right to go to the toilet when they need to. In this country. On this day. And it is a disgrace.

We cannot continue to treat our children in this way. Our children have rights and feelings too. They are humans just like the adults who should be here to protect them.

4th Nov, 2018 – Hallowe’en

This week, we were not feeling up to much (more about this here). We went out a little, but mainly stayed at home in the warm, relaxing and doing whatever we wanted.

Socialisation: At a Halloween kids disco, W joined in with the games and the dancing and coped very well with the noise and general chaos. Later, it was trick-or-treat time. W was determined to go out, despite not feeling great this week, so we did and we met up with friends to go together. She absolutely loved it, although last year, someone opened their door and properly scared the children, so this time, W hung out at the back of the crowd of children, then asked her stepbrother J, 10, to take her to the front when he thought it was safe. J obliged every time, bless him.

We met up with friends in a cafe, but didn’t stay long.

Science / Nature: We had a good look at the moon and the stars as we were out after it was dark. We said we’d go and find some bats next time.

I lit a fire in the garden to burn the dry grapevine and W learned again that fire needs 3 things in order to burn. She later asked where the grapevine disappeared to when it had burned and I explained about ash and smoke. While the fire was burning, we cleared the leaves from the back garden, founding acorns and snails as we did so. 

On Tuesday, we watched a vet program on the TV while W rested on the sofa. She watched them reduce a dog’s temperature, fix a dog’s legs (they didn’t show the gory bits) and she also learned about venomous snakes. 

I had a hospital appointment and W came with me. She told the nurses that she has a toy blood pressure machine and a thermometer.  She was a little subdued, but she was interested in what was going on around her. When I went for a blood test, she watched the numbers on the screen change until it was my turn to go in.

We looked at a poster of the stomach and intestines and W was interested in how they worked. She then rearranged a children’s toy to categorise the animals within it.

I had an ECG and the nurse explained to W what it was for and what the electrodes did.

Caught a spider in a glass and W had a look at it (she would usually be too scared to approach) 

Arts: W did quite a bit of colouring-in and drawing this week. 

On Monday, I didn’t feel up to going to our usual social meet, so W suggested we stay at home and make a cat house for our cat, Flash. I asked her to design it on paper first and then make it from cardboard etc. 

Her drawings were great and so we set about making it together. Instead of telling her what I thought would work and what would not work, I allowed her to do things and then change her mind if something didn’t fit. We both really enjoyed figuring it out together and she did very well at working it out. She drew windows and doors on a cardboard box. She told me how she wanted them to be cut out. We stuck cellofane on the backs of the windows, then W wanted curtains. She decided by herself that we should stick string up behind the windows and then she cut curtains out of wrapping paper and attached them in her own way to the string.

Later, we carved pumpkins for Halloween. W drew her cat design on paper and then drew it onto the pumpkin so that I could carve it.

We watched the Disney Robin Hood cartoon film together. She was curious about whether the story was real, so we talked about legends. It was actually a rather boring movie, but we sat through it anyway as she didn’t have the energy for anything else. 

Play: W made beds for her toy dogs out of shoe boxes, using all the face cloths, napkins and towels in the house for bedding.

She also played with her magnetic pop-up toys a lot, then later played independently with her dolls and cars, getting them set up for a journey and working out a complicated hierarchy regarding who sat where. This lasted over a few days.

Board Games: My stepdaughter, D (8) had a new board game – Chinese Chequers. We all played it and W picked up the rules quickly and followed them well. She even figured out skilful moves.

Politics: General conversations with W this week have covered: the law around sending children to school, children’s rights in relation to this, Donald Trump and his wall, who pays for the Queen’s palaces, gay rights, racism in America, gun control in America, and women’s rights. All of these conversations were instigated by W, who appears at this stage to have a keen interest in politics and how the world works.

Hopefully, we will do more next week and will get out more in order to develop W’s new-found interest….

28th Oct, 2018 – A Birthday!

There was much excitement this week as it will be D’s 8th birthday. D requested a party for her friends at the house, so that is what we did. W was great at helping with the preparations (wrapping the presents, filling party bags etc) and a good time was had by us all.

Here is what happened in terms of W’s learning this week, in order of subject:

Play: This week, W has played with her stepsister, D (7) before and after her party, a lot, which is lovely to see.

On Tuesday, W played with me at home as my partner and the children went to see the a movie, which W didn’t want to see (she struggles with any mild peril in films). We first played Mouse Trap, then she asked if I could build some water slides from Lego for the toys from the Mouse Trap game. She enjoyed playing with them in their new water park for a while, then when she tired of that, we played ‘Duck’ (W’s own invented game).

Literacy / English: The board game in the evening was Articulate and W got the highest scores out of everyone for her descriptions of words.

W played I-Spy with us in the car, which is great for W’s literacy learning.

Science / Nature: Our carbon monoxide alarm had gone off in the night (it was faulty. We have 3 alarms, so I tested the other two and it was all fine), so I explained what had happened. This then led to a discussion on what carbon monoxide is, how a fire needs 3 things in order to burn, and then we moved on to learning how the sun burns!

At dinner, W asked what is at the Earth’s core (!), so we talked about magma, volcanoes and rocks.

Then she asked what temperature water sharks prefer (!) so we had to look that one up (20-30 degrees, apparently). We learned where they live and then talked about the difference between fish and mammals.

W used the antique scales to weigh a polystyrene ball (I’m not sure why) and was really pleased when she got it to balance. I asked why the scales balanced and she said that it was because each side was the same weight.

Before bed, W talked about what the role of drone bees are and what the queen does. She also talked about sandstorms and why they change the colour of the sky. 

Home Economics: W did some baking as we needed to make the cake for D’s 8th birthday.

Politics: Somehow we got to talking about the fact that smacking children is legal (none of my children have ever been hit, obviously). W said she thought it was wrong that it is illegal to smack a grown-up, but not a child. Then, somehow, this led to a discussion on laws and democracy again. We touched on dictators (gently) and then talked about how the Conservative party came to be in power if most people didn’t vote for them. In very simple terms, I did a drawing of how many people voted red, how many blue and how many didn’t vote at all (a fact that she was shocked by).

Music: She listened to some songs on her tablet and learned the lyrics to them.

Socialisation: When it was time for the partygoers to arrive for D’s party (E [9], J [7], E [7], and B [7] and all their respective adults), W played with everyone really well. At times, it was too noisy for W, so she would go off and play quietly for a while and then join in again when she was ready.

There were many party games, including building a Lego car and racing it, guessing how many Lego bricks were in a jar, hide and seek, Mouse Trap and all sorts of other games too. All the children (especially D) had a lovely time and D said that it was exactly what she wanted in a party.

In the evening, W was brilliant at negotiation. The house was messy after the party, but at tidying time, W said she was too tired to tidy. I said that that was fine as it was late and she was tired. I asked if she would find it hard to sleep if the rooms were messy and she said that she would (she has always found it hard to sleep in a messy room). After some thought, she then said that she would prefer to tidy before bed. The others said that they did not want to tidy, so she talked to them and explained why she felt more comfortable if everything was put away (important toys getting lost etc) and they then agreed with her and helped to tidy too!

On Monday, we went to our regular social group. We had a lovely time and W was excited that she could bring her siblings, J (10) and D (8) along too this week. She then played with P (5), who had been to our house for a play date last week. She also chatted to her other friends: P (8) and B (7). Unfortunately, it was raining, so the children were not allowed outside this time, which made the hall exceptionally noisy. After 1.5 hours, W had had enough of the noise, so she spent some time with me in a side room in the quiet for a while and that seemed to help. However, every time she came into the main hall, she couldn’t cope with the noise. I will purchase some ear defenders soon and see how she copes at the group with them.

PSHE: At bedtime, W asked about adoption again and talked about the boy she met on the train, so we talked about the fact that adoption is rare and that it would never happen to her. I explained that it is a really good thing for the children who are adopted because their families were either too poorly or too young to care for them, so the children got to live with a new family who could give them everything that they needed.

She asked if she knew anyone who is adopted and I said that she knows many adopted children, but that we don’t ask children about it unless they talk about it first, just in case they aren’t comfortable talking about it yet.

Maths / Numeracy: At our Monday social group, W helped D to sell some things that she had made out of Hama beads. W served D’s customers and helped D to count the change.

W randomly decided to count backwards this week, which is the first time she has done that.

Geography: In the night, W got up when I was still working (I mainly work at night when she is asleep), so she watched me work for a bit and saw that I was looking at Google maps. She asked questions about the British Isles and asked where Ireland was etc, so we looked at satellite pictures of various places.

Art: Then she got out her colouring pens independently and wrote her name lots of times and drew some fabulous detailed pictures of cats…. all at 11:30pm……!

After W finally went to bed, I got back to work at my kitchen table, making it a very long night for me indeed. I hoped to catch up on sleep over the next few nights, but that wasn’t to be as we had some sad news in the middle of the night……

 

 

 

 

21st Oct, 2018 – Random Questions

This week, like last week, has seen the focus remain on play-based learning, with random in-depth questions thrown in when I least expect them.

We have seen friends and had lots of fun playing with toys (and sneaking in the odd educational game too). Here is our week in the usual format:

Board Games: We played the Orchard Toys Shopping List game a few times this week, but noticed that one of the tiles was missing, so we took advantage of the brilliant scheme that Orchard Toys have for missing pieces and sent off for a replacement. W was really, really pleased when it arrived in the post.

We also played Go Fish and Jenga many times.

Literacy / English: W played a lot with her stepsister D (7) this week. They played mainly with their princess toys, with the toys getting married and moving in together. For some reason, each family of princesses needed a door number and a letter, so W and D wrote these for them.

In a shop, we found ourselves looking for clothes, following a recent growth spurt. W read the labels on the clothes to look for the sizes and told me the prices too.

On the way home, W helped to read the train tickets, displays and train signs. 

We later played Articulate as a family, where W was great at both guessing and explaining the words.

Our bedtime reading has been the original Mary Poppins books, which W is really, really enjoying.

Science / Nature: On Tuesday, we watched a weather report on the TV, which W was really interested in. She liked watching the arrows for the wind direction and loved looking at the map of the British Isles, asking lots of questions about where things are on the map. W asked how storms start and why they happen. She then asked how they go away. She was very interested in this and later asked where in the world they happen the most.

At breakfast, W asked me why the outside of her glass of water was wet, so we talked about condensation and water vapour. J followed it up and talked about humidity.

For dinner one night, W put together her own pizza. She asked why the cheese would shrink when cooked, so we had a chat about how and why that happens.

At a neighbour’s house, their dog, Clancy was very wiggly and over excited, but W handled him really well and managed to stay calm amidst all his wriggling…. We later discussed breeds of dog and what happens when two breeds mix.

Maths / Numeracy: At dinner, W’s siblings, J (9) and D explained odd and even numbers to W, so I’ll remember to follow that up when we are looking at door numbers on the street.

We requested to go shopping for a particular toy that she wanted to spend her earnings from last week o, so we popped into town to buy it. When we brought it home, W was so proud that she had earned her own money and bought a toy for herself.

Spatial Skills: At Rainbows, it was my turn as a volunteer to create an activity, so I had all the children build a Lego car of their own design. We then had a race to see which car won. Each child had a set of wheels, a steering wheel and a seat. The whole of the car had to be their own design. They all did amazingly well – even those who hadn’t built Lego before.

Socialisation: W had a play date with P (6) and J (3), who she had met at the scout camp (now a monthly meet up) and really enjoyed it. She loved having her friends round for a visit.

On Monday, we had a day at home, playing and getting a few jobs done around the house that needed doing. A friend was due to come to play, but cancelled at the very last minute, giving us a free day for once!

The next day, it was time for another playdate with her friend J (4). They played together with Playmobil and then played ‘Duck’, which is a game that W made up and one that I am not completely sure of the rules involved….

W’s Aunt came to stay, so W had a lovely time playing and chatting with her.

Geography: W randomly asked me the following, which I had to look up on my phone:

What is the world’s most populous city (Tokyo); which city has the most buildings (Hong Kong); and which is the largest city by area (Shanghai).

Politics: W asked about the laws around school and didn’t understand why, if you were enrolled in a school, you had to go full time and not just sometimes. She thought that that was a silly rule….. I’m inclined to agree. I dislike the all-or-nothing aspect of school, as detailed in my blog post here.

We had another political discussion on a train journey later in the week when W asked what the difference is between a dictatorships and democracy.

…So that was our week of child-led learning…. As a parent, I do feel I have to be prepared for any question at any time. I often have questions sprung on me like the ones above, with no indication that it is coming (and no opportunity to think about my answer properly)! I think as W gets older and the questions become more difficult, I may have to tell her that we will look it up together later, so that I get time to think about my answer first…..

14th Oct, 2018 – the Royal Albert Hall

This week, W’s learning was mainly play-based. However, we also had some brilliant social education (called PSHE in schools), learning about the situations and lives of people that we met while travelling.

We saw an older, blind man teaching a much younger man, who was also blind to use a white stick. W was fascinated by how the younger man was going to learn to get around. We have seen (and also helped) people who are blind get around, but I think W was really struck by the fact that people have to spend a lot of time learning these skills. It led to some brilliant conversations about disability, with W asking many questions.

Another opportunity for social learning this week came from a random meeting with a family on a long train journey. We got talking to them and it somehow came up in conversation that their child was adopted. He talked about his birth mum to his parents and also to us. W listened with interest and later asked me many questions about him. We have talked about adoption many times before as some of her friends and family members were adopted, but W seemed interested in this particular boy’s life. We talked in vague, age-appropriate, terms about the reasons why a child would be adopted and also about the many positive aspects of adoption.

I feel it is so important to talk about other families, whose situations may be different to ours, in the hope that our children will grow up being trailblazers in accepting and embracing difference without a second thought.

…So, now that we have covered PSHE very well this week, here is what the rest of the week looked like, in subject order, as usual:

Science / Nature: We watched some builders and crane operators for a while as they were building a new tall building in central London. W asked lots of questions about how a building is built and why it doesn’t fall over.

W later asked to go to the park to feed the squirrels, so we looked online to find out what the best food for them is, which turned out to be apples and sweetcorn. At the park, we found that most of the squirrels wanted the apple, but two did not (and the ducks ate all the sweetcorn).

On the way home, we saw a ginger cat with one eye, so we talked about how she was either born with one eye or had an operation on it because it was sore and that it wasn’t sore any more. 

W had her daily vitamin, which led to a conversation about the vitamins D, A and B12; why we need them and where they come from.

W asked why her hair is the colour that it is, so we discussed (with the help of a diagram) the genetics of hair colour. We talked about my hair colour, W’s donor’s hair colour and what colour hair she could have had from those different genes. 

On Friday, we posted some ink cartridges to recycle and W learned why it is important to recycle as much as possible. W wanted to know why it mattered if the landfill sites got really big.

The batteries in one of W’s toys had run out and W wanted to replace it herself. She used the screwdriver very well, and again this gave us an opportunity to talk about recycling.

On Wednesday, W decided to weigh some of her toys to see the difference in weight between them. 

Maths / Numeracy: We played Monopoly Junior and W did well again at adding and subtracting money. We talked about currencies – she knew that dollars are American and pounds are English. 

W helped with my work (because she wanted to) and looked for items with certain 4-figure numbers on. She did really well holding 4 numbers in her head and getting them in the right order.

Home Economics: I made Yorkshire puddings and W helped with every stage. She really liked mixing it all together and sieving the flour. She was great with weighing out the ingredients.

She later helped me to cook dinner. She separated the leaves from the stalks of parsley, cut the stock cube up, zested the orange, opened packets, added ingredients to pans, measured out the honey (and then licked all the honey off the spoon).

Socialisation: At the weekend, Grandma and Grampy came to visit and the children loved spending time with them, chatting and playing.

At our regular Monday social group, W played with a few of her friends and their dolls.

The next day, we tried a new Home Ed group, which will hopefully be running monthly. It was at a Scout camp and was fabulous! There was a campfire where we toasted marshmallows, a wooden climbing frame, lots of space, a hut, a craft activity, and lots of other things to do. W saw a friend who she has met before and played with her for the whole time that she was there. Her name was P (6) and we have already arranged a playdate for next week. They got on very well. There were other children there that she knew well: T (7), A (4), E (6), and a few others too. We will go again!

Play: W and her stepsister, D, played princess families for ages.

At the park, W took a doll onto the climbing frame and the swings to play. We also played frisbee and W is getting better at trying to catch it instead of ducking!

Whenever we have been at home this week, W and I have played with her dolls. At the moment, she is enjoying teaching her dolls how to walk, eat food, making beds for them, comforting them when they cried etc.

W also wanted to play at hiding things in the garden. She was very good at actually hiding things, but found it hard to resist pointing them out… She now understands the concept of ‘getting hotter’ as you get nearer.

The bedtime ‘board’ game this week was actually ‘GO Fish’, which W always enjoys.

Spatial Skills: One evening, W built a 3D wooden butterfly that Grandma had given her. She did very well with it, even though she hadn’t built that type of thing before. She put things together the wrong way around (I let her) and then realised when other bits didn’t fit, so she tried again. She was very calm and patient with it, and was so proud when she finished it.

She later put together a Lego toy with no help at all.

English / Literacy: On Sunday, W asked to do some homework, as her stepsiblings were doing theirs, so I got some activities out for her to do (writing practice) and she did those.

Later in the week, she did two more pages of her workbook, then played I-spy with D, learning a little more about spelling.

We filled in a couple of days on the calendar with things that she had wanted to do and she was good at understanding the length of time that would pass before we would be able to do each.

On a long train journey, we learned a little phonics from train station signs, as usual.

At Rainbows, W made a Thank You card. She decided to write a card to Grandma to thank her for coming to see her.

W also made a card for her friend’s first birthday. She made flower shapes with stickers, drew a rocket ship and Mars, and made up some song lyrics for it.

Music: The next day, we went to the Royal Albert Hall for the Primary Proms, which was brilliant, as it is every year! We learned that the Hall was built for Prince Albert. W didn’t remember being there last year, so it was like a new experience all over again for her. She absolutely loved all the music and said that her favourite bit was a band who sang a song about bullying and a song about love.

The host taught the children about Morse code, music in 4, 3 and 5 time, the differences between the planets, counting in time and asymmetrical ostinatos! It was very educational and also very fun!

RE: On the way home, we talked about Ganesha as the taxi driver had an ornament on his dashboard.

…So, there is all the incidental and planned learning that has happened this week. I must remember how important it is to show W her work folder from time-to-time, so that she can see how much she has done and how far she has come with her writing especially. I was reminded of this again when the grandparents came to visit and W proudly showed her giant learning folder for Reception year to them. I think it was good for me to hear again how much W is learning as I still have those days when I fear I am not doing ‘enough’, whatever that is…. 

7th Oct, 2018 – a relaxed week

This week was one of those weeks where we did a little learning as we went along, but not massive amounts of concentrated learning. It is funny how all the learning that we do evens out over time. Some weeks are very busy with W trying to soak up as much information as she can, and others are more relaxed and play-based. I suppose W’s motivation to learn goes along with any developmental leaps that she makes. This is yet another affirmation for me that a child-led approach to education must be beneficial when a child is allowed to learn when they are most receptive to it.

So here is our condensed relaxed week, by subject, as usual:

PE: At the swimming pool, W practiced her swimming a bit more and also played on the inflatables for a bit.

Play: One of W’s favourite games lately is a game of owning her own restaurant and having other people as guests in her restaurant. I must say I like being waited on for a while as I’m putting my feet up….

On Thursday, she also played a long game of hotels with her Nanna and Granddad, which they also enjoyed!

We played “Unicorn Vets”, in which we fixed her pretend unicorns’ poorly horns and hooves and cleaned up after them too.

Literacy / English: W was feeling in a helpful mood and assisted with alphabetising the CDs. She did very well with reading the letters and with knowing the starting letters of names. She also thought about how to lay out the CDs on the shelves so that she could reach them.

On Tuesday, we read one of her cat encyclopedias, which compared big cats to domestic cats. There was a quiz at the end and W got nearly all the questions right, so she was really pleased.

Art: W did some great drawing this week. She started with cats (drawing a hook in their tail so they were glad to see us) and when she was asked what she would need to care for her cats, she drew loads of things: food, water, brushes, cat box etc.

Again, W did lots of colouring, as usual. This time it was in a symmetrical pattern book.

Numeracy / Maths: W helped to sort some Lego – she is still loving categorising and sorting it.

We worked a little bit on telling the time, mainly on half past and o’clock.

Socialisation: On Monday, a friend came over they played all sorts of games and generally messed about.

Monday was also our regular social group day. W did a bit of charging about with the other children and then helped to practise writing with a few other kids to write. Towards the end of the session, she played with her friends and performed a show with them.

On Wednesday, W saw her friend J (4 years old) for a few hours. They had a great time playing.

Geography: When we were on the train, we discussed the difference between a borough of London and a regular town. We talked about how big London is and how many people live there.

Science / Nature: W looked at my hands and commented on how old they are (!) and then said that she could feel my bones and that hers are all soft, so we talked about the differences between adult and toddler bones and skin.

We saw a vet show in which a dog was living in the crawl space under a wooden house. W asked why the house didn’t have foundations, so we looked at different types of buildings and the types of foundations they needed.

We did some gardening and looked at the flies in a bag of garden waste that was breaking down. We also moved some worms, weeded and swept up.

We saw a freight train at a local station, which had stopped at the platform, so we looked into the cab and noticed that there were many more controls in there than in a regular train. The driver very kindly moved out of the way so that we could see in. We counted 19 carriages on the train and talked about why a freight train needs a bigger engine and is more noisy than passenger trains.

Business: For some reason we were talking about a job that I had in a pet shop when I was a teenager. W asked why that shop is not there any more and this led to a discussion about why a shop might close down. She was really interested in that and also interested in how businesses make money.