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…. 

30th Sept, 2018 -The Rainbows Promise

Science / Nature: While we were passing through King’s Cross station this week, we saw the Harris Hawk, who works there to scare the pigeons away. We spoke to her handler and asked questions about her diet and temperament. She was later outside and was flying onto the low buildings. W asked why she wasn’t in a cage and why she followed her owner so well, so we talked about imprinting too. W was so pleased to have met her!

On Saturday, we took W’s stepsister, D (7) to a dance class at a school, where W explored the ‘nature’ part of the school playground, in which there were woods! She loved the fact that there was a school with woods….. but when we saw a shed called the ‘behaviour shed’ which children are put in for time out, W didn’t seem to like the school any more…. and neither did I….

On the way home, we saw lots of dogs being walked and we said hello to every single one (after asking permission from their owners first, of course). We learned about breeds and also about muzzles and why we shouldn’t stroke a nervous dog.

We saw a sunflower with a bee on it and this led to a conversation about how bees communicate with each other to find the best pollen.

The next day, we talked about how trees and humans help each other by converting oxygen and carbon dioxide.

On Monday, W helped to cook risotto. She doesn’t usually ask to cook dinner, so this was a great ‘home economics’ learning opportunity for her.

Tuesday was Rainbows day and it was W’s special ‘promise’ day, in which she had to recite her promise and become a fully-fledged Rainbows member with a badge and a certificate. We decided to bake cakes for all the children and leaders, so we spent some of the day doing that. W managed to almost do the whole bake by herself.

Then came her promise. She remembered it all and recited it well in front of everyone and the leader cried as she pinned her badge on her and welcomed her properly. W absolutely loves her Rainbows group and although we are not religious (Girlguiding has a religious Christian aspect), W gains so much from participating in the group and seeing her friends there.

On Wednesday, we were going to do some learning from W’s encyclopedias, but when we got up, we saw that Watson the cat wasn’t well (she had been off-colour for a couple of days, but definitely wasn’t herself today). I had to make some calls to see if we could get an appointment at the vets for her. We eventually got an appointment at the animal hospital and when we arrived, we saw that it was very, very busy, which was great as we got to see what animals had what problems and what medication they needed (it wasn’t very private at all). W chatted to the other customers a lot and then got to watch the vet examine Watson and diagnose a large abscess. The vet then took Watson into a different room to operate and brought her back to us, dazed and rather sore.

We had instructions from the vet to clean the wound twice a day with boiled salty water and to give Watson a tablet once a day, which W was happy to do. She asked the vet herself whether she needed to keep the other cats away from Watson – something that I hadn’t thought of myself.

We read a few of W’s encyclopedias from the library about cats and big bats.

Geography: On the train home, W asked about zones in London and we talked about zones 1-6 and where we live. She thought that we live in the furthest place from the centre and was surprised that there is even more of London past our house.

Politics: At dinner, we talked about the Royal family again and how their ‘wages’ are our taxes. She was interested in what our money pays for, such as bin collections and schools and learned that everything costs money.

Literacy / English: Our board game for a couple of days this week was Articulate, which W is great at. She guessed really well and described things really well also. It is unsurprising as she is such a chatterbox….

There was the book fair at the school when we went to collect W’s stepsiblings, so the children all got new books. D sat and read to W, which she loved.

Later, when we were all playing charades, W said that she wanted to write down everyone’s initial and make a tally of how many goes each person had had. She did this entirely by herself and it was really good.

Art: W again did lots of colouring this week.

Play: W played lots of imaginative games with her stepsister, D (7 years old) and their My Little Ponies.

On Sunday, I had a cold and we were meant to go to a museum, but I didn’t feel up to it. Instead, W and D had an amazing day together, just playing with their toys. They also went outside doing tricks on scooters and bikes, which was actually quite good. W has been quietly practicing riding her big bike (donated by a friend) and is getting quite good at it now (with stabilisers)

Also this week, W helped me with my work, packing parcels and sticking stamps on the letters, which was great as she doesn’t usually want to (and doesn’t have to). I made a big box for a parcel and W climbed in, so I let her play with it for a while and she turned it into a car, a lorry, a cat bed, a regular bed etc. She had fun in it.

Numeracy / Maths: When we played Monopoly Junior, W was again great with her mental maths.

At breakfast, W decided to randomly tell me the answer to some sums, such as ‘Mama, did you know that 3+2+1 is 6?’ And then she would show me how she worked it out. It was great to see her do that entirely by herself.

Later, we went into town to buy a toy with W’s earnings from her work earlier this week. She was really brilliant at knowing what she could and couldn’t buy. She had £12 and was saying “I can’t buy that because 25 is bigger than 12”. She settled on a toy from TK Maxx, which she was overjoyed with and played with over and over again.

At dinner, W was talking about numbers (I can’t remember why) and did some addition and subtraction on her fingers, completely of her own choosing.

Thursday brought more addition and subtraction during play. W wanted to tell me how many of a certain thing that she had and what the difference was between that and another group of toys.

Socialisation: Monday was our social group day and we were lucky enough to have D there with us. They played a lot with the other children and generally had fun outside and inside with W’s friends.

….So that rounds of another week of home education with us. Next week, we are playing a game of W’s choosing, which is apparently called ‘Unicorn Vets’…..