Category Archives: school

How the first ever day at school went for my 10 year old!

I went to pick R up from school after her one-off trial day (so lucky to have such a lovely headteacher at a local primary, willing to let R just go in and see for a day.)

R came out with such a grin on her face and actually bouncing, the teacher came out with her and said she had really fitted in well and been confident and made friends easily. The work hadn’t phased her (which was the primary concern.. dyslexia-wise) they had done maths and geography, and the only writing she’d had to do was copying words, which she did brilliantly… I was really impressed. They’d had reading time  in class and she’d asked to draw instead (which I guess as a child actually properly at the school wouldn’t be such an easy option)

She had a couple of girls look after her, and it sounded like they had a real giggle. She said the teacher was lovely and asked them nicely to get on with work once they’d had a bit of a joke, which they did.

She didn’t get to know any of the year 6 children, which had been the aim really, because their teacher was away, they were all split between the other classes and sat at the back doing homework, so there wasn’t much interaction with R, who was busy getting on with all the year 5 lot. The year 5 teacher said she’s welcome in his class any time 🙂 Shame it doesn’t really work like that!!! I think if that was an option R might consider asking to go in for longer. However, she has said she would like to try and go into class 6 for a couple of days when their teacher is back, if the school are ok with that, so I’ve e-mailed to ask if that is possible.

R is still saying she wouldn’t want to go to Secondary, though she did admit that Primary was much nicer than she expected. Funny really because L has raved about how lovely the Primary was when she tried it for a couple of days and she now also raves about how great Secondary is, and we’ve always been careful to say that there are good things about school as well as the not so good…. so it is funny how anti-school R is.

I wasn’t sure if R would actually fill me on on how it had gone right through the day, but she did, she was so excited, it was lovely. I think she was relieved that the work was ok, I don’t think she realises quite how well her reading and writing are beginning to come on, it takes more than just me telling her! Hopefully that has been a bit of a confidence boost for her.

It will be very interesting to see how she gets on with the year 6 class if she gets opportunity to go!

Watch this space!!

She the first post about this here

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First Day of School with a Difference!

Around 9 years ago I took my shy 3 year old to pre-school, she clung to me and didn’t want me to leave. She didn’t make a big fuss, but she was upset. I came home and cried. L did a term at pre-school, she wasn’t herself, she withdrew, she didn’t cause trouble, so the staff kept saying she was fine, but I knew that the quiet child they saw, wasn’t the child I knew and the best thing ever was taking her out and not sending her back.

Today I took my other daughter R who is 10 and who has never been to pre-school or school before, to primary school for a taster day. I was pleased how excited she was this morning. She was ready when I got up and bouncing around. It has taken her a while to decide whether to try a taster day, I think her dyslexia is the main concern for both me and her. It will be very interesting to see how it has gone. We held hands on the way to school, and her grip certainly tightened as we entered the playground, but the office staff were lovely, as was the class teacher, so I expect she’s been fine.

I think it will be a bit of an odd taster as the class has had to be spilt up with the teacher absent, so she’s gone into year 5 with a few of year 6. This may be a good thing as it may take the pressure of the work a bit. We may ask for the chance of another taster day if R wants to, so she can really get to know more of the year 6 kids, who she would be with if she went to Secondary school next September. I think there will be a lot of talking about that!!!

It was as close as I have been to that feeling of leaving L at pre-school though, as R had rather a worried face as I left her…. but dealing with that for both her and me was much easier than when a child is 3 or 4, I know she is more than capable of coping in many different situations, she has been out on day courses without me, so it isn’t the first time away from me or anything, just the first time in an actual school class!!

It has been strange coming home without her and a taste of what it might be like if we end up with both children at school!!!! Sort of an empty nest taster for me! I’m having days where I’m beginning to understand why people (women especially) have such a hard time with empty nest syndrome! Time is going by so fast, and although my children feel more grown up at 12 and 10, and indeed look grown up too, I think as a parent it still seems so recent that they needed you to do so much more for them, and you can still see the young child you knew. I can see how rapidly teenage years are coming and all the excitement that lies beyond!!

The day is going very quickly though, as I knew it would. Time to get a few jobs done, but not much more, then it will be time to go and pick R up from school!!!

See how the day went here!

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School ups and downs

School is over all going extremely well for L, she is enjoying it, has some lovely friends and some very nice teachers. There are of course the not so good bits… mostly the system itself. L still has target levels set at average (which seem lower than what you might think is average going by the people around her and the people in the lower groups she was in.) The school have e-mailed again to say that although they’d said they’d sort her target levels to something higher than she is working at rather than lower than her present working level… apparently the computer system cannot cope with changing a target level!!! WHAT???!!!

She has been moved up sets now which is much better and she hasn’t had any problems and has a nice friend she sits with for most things.

L also got kept in after class with a few others for a couple of minutes to write in an answer she’d got wrong in a test… which seemed rather unfair. She’d had 5 days to learn 25 words and their definitions and then was tested on a random 10 and got 6.5 … they kept people in if they got under 7. That was Geography, they also have a list of words for Spanish at the same time and I think the other one is English or maybe History, also a list to learn. Mostly L is very good at learning lists like that, but since they started it she’d said how hard some children must find that every week!!! So to keep kids in after school for not getting a high enough score seemed rather unreasonable!

L’s friend whose sister died in the summer has now moved school as her parents weren’t happy with how it had all been handled at school. So sad for the whole family. I hope the move of school works ok for her. I know L is worried about her.

We had L’s report and Information and Guidance day last week. All very good and her tutor was happy with it all too. So we’ll plod on with school, or in L’s case bounce on happily with school!!! I am so pleased it is working so well for her.

 

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The Reading Discussion

A lazy start, with R having a lovely long bath… a lovely thing to do when it is dark and pouring with rain outside on a Monday morning!

Today we watched some excellent Mathswatchvle videos on probability. There are some sample videos on YouTube. Otherwise you have to subscribe.

I find MathsWatchvle is a really excellent way of learning maths, and R seems to find that too. The clips aren’t too long and you can pause and have a go at questions as you go along, with full explanations after you’ve tried it.

We then had a Mario Kart game or two and lunch,  before a really good reading session.

We are now reading Wolf Princess, which so far seems pretty good. I read a chapter then R reads a page. Her reading is coming on so well, she still only wants to do a small amount and has an amazing way of arguing out of doing too much… I think we have covered human rights and the right to our own decisions rather too well sometimes!!

We usually reach some sort of compromise, else my throat really does give up if I read for so long! She has a total handle on the idea that she might be dyslexic though and I do genuinely think she tires very quickly if reading too much.

Instead of her reading some more of a chapter… which is not an easy book…. (though she does cope very well with it when she does read it) she agreed that she would look at the common word flash cards we haven’t used for ages. A year ago she would have got a fair number right but certainly not all. She breezed through them, which I think pleasantly surprised her…. I don’t think she always believes me when I say how well she is doing, and occasionally it is good to have it actually physically confirmed for her.

The girls both set up the train track yesterday and had a really lovely play together (which is happening slightly less now L especially is getting so grown up), R carried on with the game by herself today too. She talked about how her and L play less than they used to which she misses, but then it is harder now with L at school, and with them both changing as they get that much older. I am happy that they still do manage imagination play together at 12 and 10. I think it is getting less common in kids that age…. which is such a shame.

Poor L came in soaked after school, so a nice warm shower for her… ended up with two girls sat on the sofa watching ‘Friends’ and having their hair brushed through. Love family sofa time.

 

 

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The Education Dilemma with a Dyslexic Child

We’ve recently had the letter from the Schools Admissions team for R for next September. I knew it was coming, but it still threw me. It seemed a gradual progression with L when we went through this two years ago, just taking each step as it came and deciding as each option came along.

R has decided that she would like to go into a local primary, just for a 2  day visit, not a permanent place, just to see what it is like. She has been adamant for a long time that she won’t go to secondary school…. but this is where things are now slightly wobbly…. she now is still mostly saying she doesn’t want to, with occasional glimmers of maybe she might try it.

So, now we hit the… do we apply for a place in case?

With L I could see that as the decision came closer that she was ready and happy and wanted the independence of making the decision and has been happy with her decision.

R, I think is beginning to want the independence side of things, and to perhaps widen her social circle further… but in terms of school I am very worried that all the confidence building we have done around her dyslexia could be undone within a week, even if she does just go and try school. Her reading is coming on, and we read teenage level fiction / young adult, she often struggles on small words and is amazing on larger more complicated words! I don’t think she’d have chance to read higher level books at school, it’d be dumbed down…. we’ve seen it with L, where they have to read a certain colour and can’t move up until they’ve passed tests on the lower coloured books.

R’s maths is great, but I generally read out the questions, as she struggles reading, thinking and writing all together.

We are covering some really lovely stuff at the moment… we have had several theatre visits recently, including today when we went to see ‘Lord of the Flies’ at the Mayflower theatre, with questions and answers with the actors afterwards. Although surrounded by school parties of 13/14 and 15 yr olds she asked two very good questions, and we have had such in depth chats about it all before and after.

We’ll go with a couple of days at a local primary and see where we go from there.

Watch this space!

Anyone been through the same with a dyslexic child?

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Getting back in the Swing

We don’t specifically have terms as such in home ed, but things do change a bit with clubs and groups stopping for school holidays, and we also catch up with school friends more then too. Now L is at school it makes the difference between term time and school holidays even more obvious…. Although L has been back at school now for almost 2 weeks, we have been slow getting our brains in gear at home. Partly because we went camping last weekend which extended the summer further for us, a chilled out weekend with friends.

We also had a trip to the magnificent Highclere Castle the weekend before.

Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle

This week has been more library stuff, with the decision going back to Cabinet again, basically to be rubber stamped through …. 5 libraries facing closure unless the community steps in and runs them. Also the mobile library has been axed.

Rant alert

Very disappointing as we had genuinely researched alternative ways of keeping our library open (and others) and we have faced a council set on one way of dealing with things, even though in our area there simply aren’t a plethora of available volunteers to take on running (and funding / paying bills / rent / training volunteers etc) the library. We have been totally ignored and it has been extremely frustrating. The council now wants to talk with us about options…. ie.. us taking it on… we aren’t able to!!! Half our group are 70’s / 80’s and the rest of us already do as much as we can. R is keen to come to the meeting with Councillors to have her say. She is disgusted. We will lose where our home ed group meets regularly too.

Amazing tour of our local theatre today. We are seeing Horrible Histories Groovy Greeks soon and have had some educational workshops with that at the theatre, today’s was a tour, including the fly floor…. where they lower scenery and set from above the stage!! That was great. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures.

We also saw Jason Donovan rehearsing on stage as we walked through, for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Very exciting.

Still chasing L’s school where they said she would be moving up sets in everything this year… she still hasn’t been, apparently she was overlooked (the no SATS results problem again… bizarrely as she now has exam results!!) but they seem unable to rectify the situation and will apparently re-jig in a few weeks… have phoned again, awaiting a phone call back!

R has been keen to have some ‘work’ to do each morning when she gets up, so I’ve been leaving maths and art and writing out each day, which she does early morning. It is working well at the moment.

 

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Break from technology

We have been away in Tenerife for two weeks… sunshine and relaxation… and no gadgets, no television… no phone.. only a basic kindle & books…. great to have a break from so much technology!

Playa de la Arena
Playa de la Arena
Playa de la Arena
Playa de la Arena
Loro Parque
Loro Parque
Siam Park
Siam Park
Jardin Botanico
Jardin Botanico

It has been really lovely, and although we’ve now been back from holiday a while, it has left me wanting to not dive straight back in with computers. Not here on my website / blog particularly… I have been thinking about things I’d like to write about… the biggest joy to be away from has been Facebook! It has also been good not constantly seeing news all the time.

We have read so much and played card games and chatted and swam and lazed…. the first really relaxing holiday we’ve had since having kids…. not that we haven’t relaxed a bit before, but both girls really appreciated chilling out too.

So it is a gentle start to September, at least I’m trying for it to be…. I came back to over 400 e-mails and a council decision to close (unless community groups step forward) local libraries. So now it is back to campaigning. Not what I’d hoped for.

We had our Not-Back-To-School Picnic / Sports Day with our home ed group yesterday, it was lovely to catch up with so many people, and the weather was fairly kind, if slightly chilly… but good fun. L got to come too which was good… as she had an inset day.

 

L went back to school today.. she was excited about going.. unfortunately there was incredibly sad news about her friend’s sister, so there were tears after school.

R and I had a gentle day, we chatted a lot about things we want to do this term (it feels more term like with L at school!)

We created some weird and wacky Alice in Wonderland clocks for an event coming up….

We played with the guinea pig, and picked lots of blackberries. Rose made a blackberry smoothy with lunch.

Then we carried on reading ‘The Outsiders’ by Michelle Paver which is taking us a while but we are enjoying. We like the point of view of the dolphin and also bits about Ancient Greece. R read a page for every chapter I read…. it is a pretty wordy read and she did really well.

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Awards and Film Watching at School

Awards and film watching plus drama and art

L has had a good week for awards. She had a presentation evening at school for being in the Netball team. S went and said there was a lot of high achieving sports, but also the yr 7 netball team, because although they hadn’t won any cups or awards… they had worked very hard and improved, and been reliable too. L was really pleased with her certificate and badge.

L also came home beaming yesterday with a green badge with G on it… which apparently you get if you are put forward by 3 different teachers as gifted in their subjects. She was put forward in Maths, Science and Spanish, and as talented in Metal work.

I am obviously very proud of her (though I don’t need a badge and certificate to make me proud of her.. or to tell me she’s doing very well), and I wasn’t sure about this whole gifted thing at school…. but apparently it is seen as something you work for each year (or term), it isn’t a permanent label, seen as unmoving, which did reassure me. L is certainly working hard, because she wants to and enjoys what she is doing… but she isn’t stressed, or over working… perhaps because she sees it less as work and more as something she has chosen to do.

I was labelled as gifted at school and personally it seemed like an unwelcome pressure. If you do well it is just expected, if you don’t do as well then it is a disappointment…. Not a pressure from parents particularly, just a general feeling.

Read this article recently: Pushing kids to be gifted

The wind down to the summer holidays is well truly under way at school, there are lots of nice things going on and L is having a fab time. The only thing that has bugged me this week is that some teachers are showing the first bit of a film in class as a treat (Ice Age) knowing that there won’t be time to watch the end, with no intention of letting the class see the end on another day. This would bug me! Wouldn’t it bug you? Other teachers have managed to show a whole film over two lessons, or have picked a shorter programme that fits into one lesson… makes more sense to me!!

R is having a good week too. I think she is pleased with the maths we have done this week, especially as L brought home her maths exam paper and R looked through and could do quite a lot of it. (Though she did say that she’d be worried about reading and understanding what the question says. If I read it to her then she totally understood the maths side of it. Such a shame exams don’t allow for this (I haven’t researched this enough… I know some people can get extra time if diagnosed with dyslexia, and possibly a scribe sometimes.. but I’m not sure if you can have someone read the question out loud… it isn’t something I’ve heard of.)

R had her drama performance of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’. It was great, all the kids did really well, you could hear them all clearly, and they were all confident, even the usually more quiet and shy ones. It was on a proper stage, with lighting, back drop with pictures from the book and well chosen music too, with some groovy dancing to ‘Wild Thing’ R loved every minute of it. S came too and also our friend A, with lots of other parents too. Really enjoyed it.

We even did some more maths when we got home…. then R needed a nice break because her brain started melting!!! 🙂

I’ve done some painting today, good relaxation for me.

2015-07-16 17.30.47

 

R has been over to see Granny and Grandpa and Auntie J and Auntie M, she’s played badminton, running Granny round like a mad thing. Then she wrote out care instructions for Auntie M who is having R’s guinea pig when we go away soon.

 

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True Tie Dye Home educators

R had Auntie M round for the day to do some tie dying… lots of tie dying in fact. Enough to firmly establish us as bona fide hippy type home edders 😉

tie dyed hammock
tie dyed hammock

Our hammock is now a lot prettier!

Having been to L’s information and Guidance day and had her report from school, R decided to write her own report, which she started but then found the writing too much of a slog and asked if she could dictate it to me instead… which I happily did. She showed Auntie M what I’d written and then with Auntie M decided to correct my ‘unclear’ writing and write it out more neatly ( 🙂 )

We then had a trip to L’s school for the summer fair…. which included lots of sweets, guessing the name of the teddy bear, guessing how many sweets in the jar, and teachers having wet sponges thrown at them in the stocks. Met some more of L’s school friends. R was a bit nervous at first as it was quite full on, but L seems very at home with it all.

school summer fair
school summer fair

We also had chance to have a look at a fire engine and chat about it all with some firemen and firewomen.

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Three letter abbreviations and the mysteries of school

It was L’s IAG day today (information and guidance) not to be confused with ICT (something computery) or HLT (homework learning tasks), school is full of these mysteriously named things…. we’re gradually finding our way through them!!

So, IAG day is a ten minute appointment with L’s tutor, she has to wear uniform and parents can go if they like, then the rest of the day is free. So we got an earlyish appointment, R wasn’t overly impressed at having to walk there with us, but I didn’t want to leave her at home alone for that long…. even if she felt ok about the idea.

So behaviour and effort graded from 1-5 for each subject (5 being good) and also homework and classwork, again from 1-5. All fine. Plenty of 5’s and also L has taken part in plenty of after school activities and attended well, so all boxes ticked for the school. (not that we’re fussed about the boxes being ticked)… for me the boxes I want ticked are her happiness / well being / friends, and also her enthusiasm for learning and staying interested and engaged. Tick for those too, so I’m happy. We did mention to her tutor that the school system still seems unable to cope with the fact she has no official SATS results, so the computer system has basic target levels for her, despite them being obviously wrong and us knowing her levels… It doesn’t seem to be possible just to adjust them on the computer!! Very bizarre. Hopefully now L has done all her end of year exams, the results can be fed in? (You’d hope so!)

L then met friends for a trip to the park, I read some of The King’s Curse to Rose and we did some maths, then it was out to the Chiropractor (R went to play next door) with L… as she has been having hip and leg pain (we had a car accident a few years ago, so she’d been to the chiro then. The chiro said it isn’t nerves, it is muscles tightening, most likely due to sitting at a desk each day…. Doh. Another downside to school!! We now have some exercises for L to do each day to stretch herself out.

The girls then had Woodcraft at the park, a nice walk and a bit of geocaching.

 

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