Sunday, November 28, 2010

How do you have...

...two children, one 6 years old and the other 6 months old playing in the same room, when the 6 year old is playing with lego and all its associated small pieces, and the 6 month old is crawling and wanting to play with everything her big brother is playing with?

Pip is too young to learn to leave Dr John's things alone and of course his things hold so much more allure than her own, and to me it seems unfair that the onus is solely on Dr John to be careful with his things.

I know, I know, its hardly an earth stopping problem.  I just need other people to do my thinking for me at the moment :(

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our Approach

As I mentioned a little while ago, we have slightly changed our approach.  Whereas before, Dr John had a chart with space for 20 tasks that he had to complete in a week, now we have taken that and the responsibility away from him.  We have explained (and simplified it) that at school he would have to do 4 hours of work a day whereas at home he only has to do 1.  Sometimes the mere mention of school can send him in a spin, and so during those times when he is showing a reluctance to do anything we use the 4 or 1 question - do you want to do 4 hours of work or 1? For some reason it seems to work. And so, if any charts are going to be kept, it is privately by me. 
I have tried to create a rough idea of what we would like to achieve.

There is the 10 book challenge which is going really well and he is even asking if some books can go in the next challenge.  So far he is onto his sixth book, and I think is beginning to see the benefit of reading, finding out what is going to happen next etc.

He either does a page from his math calcul sticker book or does sums on his magnetic board, eg 57+66 ones which he makes up and ones that I do.  Interestingly we discovered a few days ago that he can read numbers up to 1000 but doesn't really know what order they come in ie that 200 comes after 199 etc. so we have been working a bit on that and we are going to put up a (very long!) number line around the apartment to help. 

He continues with his weekly lesson and we have got the flashcards out again for vocabulary competitions although we do need to move on a bit to sentences and conversation so I'm going to bring out a poster we did a while back with j'aime, je n'aime pas etc and develop that a bit more with some verbs too.

In the last few days he has asked to do some of the kits that we have had knocking about for ages so they will probably form the basis of our science work complemented by resources such as Magic School Bus, The Way Things Work and lots of the fab Usborne books that I sell :) There is also a body book that a friend has blogged about that I would like to get. Its so important that the resources are readily accessible and ready to go so that when he asks to do one we have everything we need, unlike the water filter column kit he wanted to do yesterday and we've had to put off as we didn't have everything we needed.  In the end we did a colour mixing kit (I need to put links in this blog!) which will continue using a Light and Colour book I have.  I also bought some undyed wool from my lovely friend at NZ Wools which will be a nice ending to that topic.

Dr John is showing a real interest in cooking so I will sit down with him and go through our cookbooks to find recipes he'd like to do. This may lead on to a bit of geography too, as we have a round the world cookbook and we can talk about food miles too.  Already he has written out a recipe for chocolate muffins he likes doing and hopefully from that he will see the value of practising his writing as I suspect that when we next come to it, he won't be able to read what he's written!

Writing is a bit of a sticking point. His letter formation isn't too bad as long as you don't mind capitals but at times the size and overall appearance render it illegible.  As he is a child that doesn't like sitting down and doing workbooks I have been at a bit of a loss as to what to do about it.  So I asked him. We agreed that his writing needs some work but that he doesn't like doing it. So I am going to make up a story and each day give him a sentence or two to write. It has to have capitals and small letters and basic punctuation in the right places or he has to do it again. In reality this may be tricky to implement, but to be honest the alternative (as I've set it out) is letter formation repetition so hopefully he will choose the more fruitful and less painful approach.  If it doesn't work, then maybe we'll use Handwriting Without Tears or Getty and Dubay, but I hope we don't have to.

No firm plans on this one.  We tend to talk about physical geography when we go for hikes.  A copout answer is that it naturally comes up in day to day life.  Hmmm.

This is an area that I need to work on not dismissing, particularly as it was the subject I was least interested in at school. We have The Story of the World (+ activity book) so I think we may just read through that. 

Dr John is starting to draw more. He has never been interested before. I really don't want him to think that anything he does is wrong so I will leave him to get on with it unless he wants help.
There is however a Picasso exhibition on in Zurich so we will visit that and do some support work too. (Hmm, I wonder if there is a Djeco Picasso kit....)

After that, I may use The Usborne Book of Art to study various works. 
I would also like to introduce him to the camera.  For a long time now, I personally have wanted to do a photo study on graffiti, so talking about that (and doing it!), coupled with visits to the camera museum in Vevey and the musee de l'Elysee in Lausanne should cover that. 

This takes many forms. We have a cd about Beethoven so we will listen to that frequently and discuss it and YouTube some performances of his works.  I have bought a music theory book so we can start that and a beginners piano book so that we can move away from my crude colour coded keys.  

Other Stuff
I have a poetry book, I Like This Poem, from my childhood that we can dip into.  The first poem is the witches spell from Macbeth so we can also read Macbeth, doing a bit of re-enactment with glove puppets, and some art work depicting the scenes too.

It may seem like this is very structured but really it is only for my benefit. I need to have a plan and things to hand when required and I think this is the best way of doing so. 
It was clearly illustrated to me last week that he doesn't work well with knowledge of a plan.  On Thursday we achieved a lot of different things, including his french lesson and yoga, just by me suggesting things to do, and he was happy to do so, so on Friday I thought that we should have a list of things we needed to do before we went ice skating.  Not everything got done, and there was a lot of tension flying around.

(A list for me also helps to focus ME when I am floundering due to sleep deprivation which is quite often at the moment thanks to my beautiful daughter ;) )

Friday, November 05, 2010

I wish I lived nearer Winterthur...

...because then we would be able to go to the fabulous technorama more often.  Its 300km away, so possibly doable in a very long day but not ideal.  
So on Thursday evening directly after yoga we set off in the van.  We got almost to Zurich before stopping for the night at a service stop.  Unfortunately, for me in particular, we were extremely close to the motorway and Pip woke up very frequently so I wasn't as refreshed as I could've been. 

After breakfast of croissants and coffee or hot chocolate (depending on your age) we drove on to the Technorama.  Every exhibit is hands on which means that you really can spend the entire day exploring the 3 floors (and the slightly out of place lame model train display in the basement) and still not do everything.  They also a few demonstrations of which we participated in two. 
The first was to do with forces and Dr John and Chris Evans went in a spinning seating area where they rolled balls to one another and tried to walk in a straight line amongst other things.  I was quite glad I was on Pip minding duty as spinning things really aren't my thing.  I get dizzy on a playground roundabout! 

The second demonstration was about gases, involving balloons, helium, carbon dioxide, oxygen and lots of bangs.  It was in German but they handed out brief explanations in English so I was able to let Dr John know what was going on.  

We had lunch in the cafeteria there, and left just before it closed.  As I say, I wish it was closer so we could go more often.  We then drove towards Zurich and stayed the night in another service station.  The next day we stopped off on our way to Zurich zoo as I was buying some fabric remnants from someone.  I got 2 large bags of fabric from her, and she very kindly gave me a craft book too.  Its in German, but has lots of pictures!  I find it so difficult to find reasonably priced fabric here in small prices.  I only make small things, bibs, blankets etc so don't need metres.  

Anyway, we made our way to the zoo.  It was raining so we started in the rainforest exhibit.  We saw lots of wonderful birds flying around our heads and occasionally there would be terrifying shrieks from the monkeys up in the roof.  Its a great set up in there as they do a little tour around it and take you on little paths and across rope bridges that
 you wouldn't otherwise be able to do.  On our tour we were joined by a French speaking family so the guide was speaking to us in English with Chris Evans translating a few words she didn't know from German and then I was translating it into French.  A great linguistic
 workout for me! 

After lunch looking into the rainforest we ventured outside.  Not so much fun due to the weather but we saw everything we wanted to, including spending a lot of time with the gorillas.  That evening we drove along the motorway a bit further, stopping at another service station before continuing home the next day.  A lovely weekend and leaving on Thursday evening meant that we were home by lunchtime on Sunday and it was completely relaxed with no rushing about.  And we got to spend another weekend in the camper which is always a bonus.  Roll on the time when we go away for another couple of months like we did 3 years ago.