Friday, July 30, 2010

Another beginning

There seem to be a lot of beginnings in this whole parenting business. The most obvious one is that we have a new baby - Astrid was born at home last Friday morning, so is one week old today.

Before we had her, though, we had a summertime, which I have conveniently summarised in photographic form. I was confined to the house for 6 weeks of prodromal labour, after having been confined to the house by SPD, but we had a good time anyway.

Picture plate We played with our food...

Bookshelves ... and climbed high things...

Where the peas aren't ... and ate all the peas BEFORE we photographed them (I think there were about 6 pods) ...

Orange flowers ... and photographed the flowers before spacehoppering on them...

Children's websites - anything phonics ... and some of us got a little obsessive about websites with phonics stuff on them...

... and we did cycling and swordfighting...

... and got bigger and bigger ...

Linnea and Emer ... and played some more.

Another new beginning, of course, is that now that I am freshly active and back to my able-bodied status, we can go back to the usual round of things we like to do - library trips, museum visits, maybe art galleries, possibly slightly further afield also - and of course the local home ed groups, if we can manage those, too.

And I've decided, after thinking about things for a bit, that I'm going to get a curriculum for my four-year-old. She is not the same as the six-year-old at all, and where externally imposed guidance grinds one child to a halt, it seems to give the other one a bit of zing and bounce.

I've decided on Five In A Row for a number of reasons. It was easy to get hold of, the books are lovely even if we abandon the curriculum itself untasted, and it seems like it will be easy to sell on if it doesn't suit us. Also, I've been following the adventures of the Tinderbox family and it seems like I would enjoy teaching from the FIAR curriculum, which you must admit is an important factor if I'm not to bore the child to tearful rebellion or, worse, apathy.

There are a number of other things I'd like to get regularly involved in. Both children are signed up for swimming lessons again, this time on the same day which should help Emer a good deal. There's a regular ice-skating group in Oxford, which we could probably get to every other week if not every week. There's the usual Friday at ERAPA thing, which I would like to get to more often than we have managed it for the past two years (I can't believe I've started going just over four years ago, that seems ludicrous). And of course Rob is now working right next to the museums in London and day-trips there are more appealing than ever.

I'm a little leery of taking on too much at once, but it's nice to feel so enthusiastic. Though it could be just newborn hormones.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Early Reading

I always assumed my children would be early readers. I was an early reader. I have a house full of books. Until we had children, all we did in our leisure time was read, really (now we don't have the same kind of leisure time).

And so when I had a child who was clearly bright but not obviously an early reader, I got very confused. She reached three without obviously reading and I was slightly worried. She reached four, and I was distinctly disconcerted. She reached five and I spent a lot f time persuading myself that it was ok if she wasn't an early reader.

Now she's six, and still not obviously a reader.

I'm not totally comfortable with it, and I don't pretend I am. I know that for at least three years she has been learning to read, in various ways - there were early word-recognitions and mispronunciations which she couldn't have arrived at any other way. A friend overheard her reading a book to herself. She read large parts of a book aloud to another friend. She knew things she couldn't have learned without reading.

And from time to time it has been obvious that she's working on word-recognition (see-and-say, whatever you call it) and at other times that she's trying to figure out phonics.

She really really liked the Peter And Jane learning to read books, as far as we can tell precisely because the stories are not the point, practicing is the point. She doesn't like practicing her reading on decent stories. She hasn't read me a Peter and Jane book for ages, though, and has been playing phonics games on the computer (instead?) and keeping very private about the whole affair.

She has asked me to find her illustrated Learning To Write books where she can fill in the words of a pre-written and ready-illustrated story, like the Peter and Jane ones but more interesting.

I remind myself that although I was reading adult novels starting about 4 months older than she is now, my own mother taught herself to read aged seven, while ill in bed looking at a packet of ASPRO on the mantelpiece.

I find it pretty confusing, nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's been a long few weeks

I've been having prodromal labour for five weeks now so things here at home are all a bit... strange. But we've had a few nice incidents. Linnea drew a picture of what she imagines might happen if I had the baby in the waterbirth pool we have in the front room (leaving no room for anything else at all) and the midwife was so struck by it she seized it to send to a midwifery magazine.

Linnea's first term of swimming lessons since the ones that stopped her swimming is almost over. She started lessons shortly after turning 3, because she could swim, but at that age they are sorted by age, not ability, so she rapidly lost interest and with it skill, and we left it for a couple of years. But now she's in with the five- and six-year-olds and has done a term of Level One, so can move up to Level Two in September. Apparently she's very good and the rest of the class were called upon to observe her backstroke the other day.

Emer will start in Level One in September and we shall see how that goes. She claims to be looking forward to it.

Linnea wants more Learning To Write books, like the Peter and Jane ones but with better stories - she likes the size and the illustrations but not, unsurprisingly, the plots. She still likes those minimal plots for Learning To Read though. Meanwhile she's working through her workbooks, allowing herself to do one thing from each page on each day, apparently.

Emer and Linnea have both been doing a ton of phonics and maths games on their laptop.

And we've been growing things, except when we've been killing them by accidentally or purposely bashing them to the ground with footballs or whatever.

Oh - the other thing we did lately was haul out my loom and have a bit of a go on that. It's interesting to see how it works but neither of them has anything they hugely want to create with it yet.

And we bought a pocket microscope which is incredibly useful.

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