Category Archives: October

Frenzied Sausages

Back to chess again today.  D came with us this time as J had too much work to do.  I packed a huge amount of food (we were going to be out for 3 hours after all) and a big bag of activities to keep us occupied.

After dropping a delighted M off at chess, D and me headed back to the car to start her Biff, Chip and Kipper activity book.  She’s finished the first set and now she’s onto level 2-3 of the phonics book.  Once she’d finished that she had a drink and a snack while she listened to a Charlie & Lola audio story.

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Then we headed out to the park in the glorious sunshine!

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I don’t know if I’m unusual in this but I absolutely hate parks.  There’s something about the mind-numbingness added with the physical exertion that I can’t stand!  I’d much rather be on a walk or something.

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Anyway, after D had been on everything a few times we headed back to the car and D listened to a Billy Goats Gruff audio story and then played Numberjacks on my tablet.  Before we knew it, the 3 hours was up and we went to collect M again.  M was over the moon as she had just beaten a boy who claimed it was the first time he’d lost to anyone!

This afternoon was spent packing for our trip to my parents’ house in Nottingham.  The girls did a bit of Trunki packing, but not a lot.  They quickly built up into a frenzy of excitement about tomorrow’s trip and ran around the house chasing each other, screaming, laughing, and pinching my bottom.

I’ve given them a bath tonight.  The first one in ages because they’ve been showering at David Lloyd of late.  They’re both beautifully calm now, combing their mermaid dolls’ hair and quietly chatting to each other.  Peace!

Little things:

M created a wonderful treasure map which J & I had to follow to get to the treasure (which was D), it was really properly done with the furniture drawn from a bird’s eye view.

D talking about going to Nottingham: ‘Mum! Louis [toy bunny] is looking forward!’

D talking to me in manner of a 40 year old: ‘So.  How was M’s chess today?’

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Chess and The Canterville Ghost

M’s half-term chess course started again today.  J took the day off work to look after D while I took M to Hersham for her course.  She wasn’t too keen on going at first but just as happened the last time, she absolutely loved it and was disappointed she didn’t get to finish the game she was in the middle of when I came to collect her.

D had a quiet time at home with J and drew him a picture of a hot air balloon, which looks more like a Rothko painting to me.

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After I’d had lunch and a cup of tea we all set off to walk into Wimbledon to get M some shoes (the never-ending quest, it seems).  The shoes we’d ordered in for her still weren’t right so the search continues!  The girls had a play on the rides with J while I got a couple of bits and bobs and then we set off home again.

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When we got back I started on dinner and J set off for work.  After dinner, D started reading a book so I volunteered to read to her so we all snuggled down under a blanket to read How the World Works.

It soon became apparent that the sausages weren’t really in the mood to sit and listen to me so I put a film on they hadn’t seen before – The Canterville Ghost.  M has read the story before and loved it but she was really taken with the film, particularly the cheesey romance they’d added in…  She says she’s ready to have a boyfriend now (!).  I did wonder if she might like a girlfriend instead but that idea was brushed aside.  D was fascinated by the ghost, Sir Simon, and how he became a ghost: not being a believer in ghosts myself I found this quite hard to explain!

Cutty Sark After The Storm

Well, we were pretty much left unscathed after last night’s storm.  The worst that happened was that our Virgin Media was down this morning – so no telly, radio or internet!!  Luckily, J found our old cronky radio under the stairs so we could get the weather and travel report.  Phew.

It’s times like these though that you really appreciate telly.  The girls were absolutely fine about going straight to their activity books as soon as they woke up but I found it difficult to mentally adjust from being asleep one minute to being asked to draw a fairy perfectly, the next.  Blimey it was hard.

So it seemed from the weather and travel report that all was well on the tube so we headed out at 8.30… and apparently everybody else decided to do the same after checking the travel.  The tube was packed!  I thought it would be quiet with it being half term and towards the end of rush hour.  Makes me feel so grateful that I don’t have to do that everyday anymore, like J.  The girls were tremendous but we were all flaking out from the heat by the time we got to Bank.  Then onto the DLR which the girls were SOOOO excited about.  I’m not sure I’ve been on the DLR before as I didn’t remember that you can sit right at the front with the driver?!  They got to have a little chat with the him and see all the Canary Wharf skyscrapers, the Thames, the boats and the views!  They were really disappointed to reach our destination: Cutty Sark!

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I’ve only ever seen the ship when it was under restoration and never been inside so it was all new to me: I was really impressed.

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The ship has been raised up and the museum built around and under it.  We explored the hold and there were loads of hands on activities (M loved the simulation where she got to steer a ship across the globe without causing a ship-wreck) and films (D loved watching the film about the Cutty Sark racing across the world to try and beat the Thermopylae back to London).

Then we went up on deck to explore some more, it was fantastic!  There was a ‘captain’ on board who was giving a family friendly talk but I think it was for slightly older kids as my two couldn’t follow what he was saying.  They loved running around, exploring the cabins and asking me countless questions.

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Then we headed right down to the bottom of the museum for a drink in the café – we got to sit right under the ship itself.  Then we headed over to a group of tables where an activity had been set out for kids to do over half term, as part of the Family Arts Festival.  This is what had attracted me to visiting Cutty Sark in the first place – the activity was Rangoli Patterns.  How handy that it fitted in nicely with our India project!  The girls got stuck straight in and had no qualms about asking the lady in charge for whatever they needed.  It’s lovely to see their confidence growing.

They both did a lovely job and got to add it to the collection of Rangoli patterns on the floor.

We headed back upstairs and when I looked at my watch I realised we’d been there for 3 hours?!  There was no escape just then though as they both decided they wanted to go around again!  M had a particular interest in how the ship was made and handily they had a little piece of each material on a display: she really enjoyed touching each one and asking questions about it.  Then we went back up on deck again but this time around D was really flagging and they were both getting a bit tearful (although assuring me they really did want to stay) but I dragged them both out before accidents and upsets started – they were so tired!

What an amazing day: I was astonished by how much I enjoyed looking around a ship and now we all want to go again!

Little things:

M lying in bed tonight saying ‘I’m so excited!’ and she was – she’d had such a good day she was all wriggly and smiley.

D’s last words on falling asleep ‘I love Cutty Sark…’

Two Days Out

I’m a bit bleary eyed as I sit here writing this, willing it to be bedtime already.  We’ve had pretty much two days out of the house: funny how tiring it is to be out of the house so much!

Yesterday we went to the meet up in Stoneleigh.  M loves the Thursday group but after it she is wiped out – and we’re only there for 3 hours!  It’s no wonder she used to come home from school exhausted, tearful and angry: she’d be out from 7.30am to 3.45pm on a normal school day.  I was trying to arrange a meet-up with M’s best friend the other day and I almost said to her mum that M couldn’t do Thursday evenings because she’s out all afternoon and would be too tired – how would that sound to a school Mum?!

This morning we went to the cinema to see Peter Pan, courtesy of the National Youth Film Festival which runs this week and next.  It was the girl’s first time at the cinema so it was perfect that they could see a film they’ve watched hundreds of time before.  They loved it, particularly the chocolate I bought for them.

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We got back home and the girls immediately ran to the table to start on an activity book.  M very sweetly helped D to do a wordsearch while I made lunch.  Then we went swimming.  I haven’t actually been in the pool for ages so it was nice to have a bit of a swim myself.  We were in for an hour and a half and D took some persuading to get out.  Having said that, they are both unbelievably compliant at the moment (will it last?) – I can’t help feeling surprised when I ask them to do something and they jump to do it.

Little things:

Gorgeously serious conversations with M about knocking houses down, listed buildings and economics.

M noticing the leaves on trees moving in the wind and commenting on how it’s like they’re dancing.

Bumping into a friend that we haven’t seen for ages and her commenting on how happy M looks.

Curriculums and Who Should Know What?

When we had first decided to home educate I thought it would be useful to follow a curriculum.  I wasn’t sure that I would know what to do, what they should be learning, what level I should be aiming for etc.

I felt we needed a curriculum but I didn’t want to buy one and feel tied to it.  One of the reasons we took M out of school was because she didn’t find anything interesting so I knew I would need to find subjects and projects to re-engage her.  However, I also wanted to make sure she was keeping up with her peers, particularly as she would be competing against them in the 11+ exam (more on that later).

I had a look at a few curriculums online and found one that I could download for free from Core Knowledge.  They seemed to be a well respected and serious bunch of people and the content of the curriculum would make you an excellent contestant on QI.  However, I did spend a lot of time taking parts out that I was sure neither of my two would be interested in (Mesopotamia for 6 year olds?  Really?).  I’ve since found out that Gove will be basing his new national curriculum on Core Knowledge: horror.

I did wonder about the relevance of a lot of the history content in particular. Whether this is normal for a 6 year old I don’t know but M doesn’t have any concept of history or time.  She commented fairly recently that she knew I didn’t have TV or electricity when I was growing up because she saw it when Peppa Pig visited the museum.  Ahem.

I used the word ‘relevance’ earlier but I’m not entirely sure a subject has to be ‘relevant’ for it to have value.  After all, D adores learning about space but I can’t see that it has any relevance to her life at all (she’s 4).  But then again, I remember learning about the civil war at school and not understanding the point of it at all: why do I need to know this when it has no bearing on my life?  It’s only now that I’ve learnt more about history as an adult that I can see the bigger picture.

So I am going to wait a while until her brain is ready and she can see the bigger picture before tackling subjects such as Mesopotamia.  I think that rather than using a curriculum we will just be dipping in and using what we fancy, rather than rigidly sticking to it.  I can see now that if the sausages aren’t interested in what we’re learning then they’re not taking it in, so then it seems like its a time wasting exercise for all of us.

That’s not to say that we’re going to ditch everything they say no to.  I think some things are very important, like learning a language, and maths.  So far though, I’ve managed to link these activities to their lives to peak their interest (like learning the word ice-cream in Chinese!).  So we’re going to start by making little inroads into history  and see how we do – we’ve got a little project on Guy Fawkes coming up.  We’ve also started a historical time-line going up the stairs so hopefully M will start to get some perspective on time.  How wonderful that I can tailor the girls’ education to suit their needs!

Which leads me on to the afore-mentioned 11+.  I am starting to have serious doubts that there would be any value in the girls returning to school.  The more I read about home education the more I believe its an enormous privilege to be educating the sausages.  I don’t want to hand this privilege over to Gove.  Every time I see him in the headlines my heart sinks and then I think ‘phew, he doesn’t affect us anymore’.

P.S. Core Knowledge also publish a book called ‘What Every Year [2] Child Should Know’.  The ‘should’ part gets to me: who says who ‘should’ know what?  But I have to admit that there is a little bit of fear that M’s peers WILL know what they SHOULD know and she’ll be left behind.  I hope this fear will disappear as my confidence in HE grows.  Watch this space.

Bingo and Much Much More

For those of you avid readers who were wondering where yesterday’s post was, I’m afraid I didn’t have time to write one as I actually went out!  Without the girls!  I know, what was I thinking?!  I managed to meet up with my friend K, in her new restaurant Winston O’Boogies in Fulham (a free advert for K, there).  I did wonder whether she would be too busy to sit down and chat but luckily she wasn’t and we had a good catch up.

We’ve done a fair amount over the last couple of days.  D has done quite a bit on Reading Eggs and Mathletics: I had hoped to do this every day but so far it has been hard to find the time, partly because once the girls are on there they don’t want to get off.

M finished her project on India: I found a YouTube film that played lots of different Indian instruments and she loved choosing her favourites and drawing pictures of them, plus the girls liked learning the word ‘Namaste’ and practising the little bow that goes with it.  All in all, I’d say it was a pretty successful project.

Tinkerbell popped in for a little visit this morning.

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M has been learning her 4 times-table and finally knew it well enough today to answer all the sums quickly and correctly (I say ‘finally’, she’s only 6!  I don’t think I knew my 4 times table until I was 12 – such is her love of maths).

Yesterday the girls found an old magazine freebie of a Numberjacks bingo game.  They loved it so much I was thinking I could pretty much incorporate bingo into anything they are learning.  So today I cobbled together Peter & The Wolf bingo!  The girls sat down to watch the Disney version on YouTube (they still shriek whenever the wolf appears, but they love it) and then we had a game of bingo.  D immediately wanted to be the bingo caller to avoid having to lose the game to M, which turned out brilliantly as she got some reading out of it too.  Weirdly, M won every game.  She is peculiarly lucky.  In the past I’ve had to toss a coin to settle arguments between them and she has NEVER lost.  Weird.

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Following on from the India project, today I got the girls making their own little passports.  I had already scanned in a passport cover and so quickly made a little folded A5 booklet for them.  On the first page they stuck in their photograph and wrote their age, date of birth and nationality.  I intend using these passports for sticking in flags of countries we’re learning about.  Today they coloured in little Union Jacks I had printed out and M got to colour in an Indian flag.  She was very pleased and D was a little miffed but hopefully this will persuade her to join in next time we learn about a country :).

There was a lot of spying going on today, which is the girls favourite game at the moment.  Of course they only have me to spy on so I have to make a great show of not noticing the giggling, whispering and shuffling feet behind the door.  I also have to make a great pretence of not knowing what on earth is going on when they slip a whoopee cushion under me just as I sit down.

So, after quite a few ‘surprises’, we set off for David Lloyd.  First of all we sat in the café and got out the beloved workbooks.  D drew a gorgeous picture of herself and M filled in a few words with missing letters which she found far too easy, but I think it’s a nice feeling for her to breeze through the odd page now and then.

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D’s swimming lesson was horrendous, she cried through almost all of it.  I was torn between wanting to go over to give her a hug and staying away because I’m starting to wonder if my presence at the lessons is doing more harm than good.  Unfortunately there are no proper stadium seats so parents have to just hang around at the pool side.  In the end I chose to keep my distance and she stopped crying for the last few minutes of the lesson :(.

The day finished on a high note for the girls.  I had given them a choice between having a biscuit at David Lloyd’s café or baking something when we got back and they chose to bake.  So we made iced cakes.  They both had a go at weighing and as we were only making a small amount I got M to divide all the ingredients by 3 so I squeezed some maths in there too.

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Little things:

Getting a tight warm hug from D when she got up because she’d missed me last night.

D calling M ‘bonkers’ in the back of the car on the way to swimming.  So I taught M the phrase ‘takes one to know one’.

Coming out of swimming and both girls (unprompted by me) literally gasping at the beauty of the autumnal trees’ colours in the setting sun.  It felt so great that they have such an appreciation of colour, and that we have the time to stop and admire it.