This week we have been inching ourselves back into full-time school with Maths, morning meetings, and A5’s reading, writing and arithmetic. It has been really good to be back working again. Even though we only had 2 weeks off it was enough to refuel my tank and regain my enthusiasm for home school as well as allow the children much, much time with their friends. We had also been working hard on getting their school room/play room up and running. I was quite pleased with myself, having cleared copious amounts of boxes from the room. Gary created a desk for both me and C11, putting in electricity and access to telephone plug and therefore broadband. How clever is he? We have begun to create a section under the stairs for A and B’s school area and hopefully next week that area will be completed. Here are parts of our learning room so far:
Starting back this week wasn’t without its problems though, one of which lay fairly and squarely at my feet. The girls started their maths and within minutes we had tears and frustrations (from both of them and then me). I had not taken into account that they may have forgotten what they had learnt, after all we had only stopped maths two weeks ago. But forget they had. Big time. Cue nasty mother anxiety. I had spent six months teaching them all they needed to know about fractions and they had understood incredibly well not two weeks ago. Now, nada. Literally, I set them the easiest exercise and one they had completed already the term before, and they couldn’t figure out how to do it. Even after explanations. So I did the only mature thing left for me to do and showed my frustration at a volume louder than was strictly necessary. Then I locked myself in the loo and cried. The girls were gobsmacked and when I emerged both were tearful and saying how sorry they were they had forgotten. Of course we then sat down and had a long chat to make sure they understood it was not their fault that I was acting like a child. I explained that sometimes mummy had concerns and worries that she was not doing a very good job and that they would do better off at school. As we chatted and shared what was on our hearts and minds it occurred to me that I was giving maths a much higher than necessary importance.
I had only been sharing the day before with a friend how much I wanted to be able to ignore the fact that exams seem to be on the horizon, even though they only turn 12 this year. I lamented that success in life seems determined by success in exams and whilst following what the school did seemed like the logical step to ensure my children got the ‘best start in life’, it was nevertheless a step my whole being balked at. I just wished I had the courage to follow my gut rather than convention and more importantly, I wish I could have peace doing so.
After the chat with my girls I really was questioning whether I was cut out for this. I mean, I had yelled at two precious, gorgeous girls because of maths. I was risking our relationship for the sake of a few numbers! Ridiculous, wasn’t it? So we came to an agreement. We would slowly work our way through Galore Park, a perfectly good and more importantly British maths curriculum, for half an hour every day, all year round. There would be no breaks for forgetting but also maths was not going to be the ‘elephant in our classroom’ anymore. Its importance was never again going to be blown out of proportion. They were going to work to their aptitude rather than their age and they would get to GCSE standard when they got to GCSE standard and not be pushed to do so any time before. And their mother would be peaceful and happy with that. So there.
By Friday I had two mathematicians on my hands, who now remembered all they had been taught and were enjoying working their way through their fractions and achieving success. All those tears and all that worry were not only completely unnecessary but also completely unfounded. How silly do I feel?
On a more pleasanter note I have been having a lot of fun training up my little ones in chores. I had forgotten just how enthusiastic little ones are to learn new skills and how much fun it was working along side them. I am currently teaching them laundry sorting, sock matching and taking the laundry to the different owners’ beds:
Monday was Gary’s birthday and when we had finished our morning meeting we busiest ourselves with the rather lovely task of beautifying the table, making cards and wrapping presents. I cooked him his favourite meal of sirloin steak with a selection of seasonal vegetables. I bought a cake as we are also doing birthday preparations for A5, soon to be 6:
The younger ones began their Mr Men again making collages and making and colouring a Mr Men Puzzle:
They remain fascinated with all things bug like, collecting a vast collection each day and setting them loose again each night. The weather is just right for lots of play in the garden:
Of course I couldn’t leave without mentioning a certain little girl who is beside herself with excitement: