A walk to the stables

A walk to the stables
Tamerin at the horses: we walked there on Thursday and talked rugby nearly all the way!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Holiday preparations - computer skills put to use

Amy's family are going to the coast next week. Besides counting the "sleepies" on the calendar each morning, she also worked out how many weeks there were i.e. she had to divide the days into 7. Besides the 2 times table, Amy does not know any tables yet, but with the abacus she was able to work out how many 7's there were in 18 etc. The 2nd 7 on the abacus (i.e. 8 - 14) is of course divided, so she had to remember that the group of 3 + the group of 4 make up one 7. She understood this quite well. We looked on the map where they are going and she looked up on the distance chart, how far that is (638 km). Then we worked out how long it would take to get there if one drove at 80 km/h, 90 km/h, 100 km/ h.

The next day we looked up the road on the road atlas: she had to look up to which page to go, find the route, follow it, and then see to which page she had to go next. Amy typed the different towns on excel and the distances between the towns as indicated on the atlas. We also worked out how long it would take for each distance more or less. Afterwards she added up all the distances and times with excel - the minutes had to be divided into 60, to work out how many hours the minutes made. Because we worked with estimations, the minutes came to an exact 180, so it was not difficult to work out the hours! Of course she also had to work out what time they would arrive: if they left at 6:00 it is 6+ 7= 13 , if they left at 12 it would be 12 + 7 = 19. Then of course she had to work out again what time 13:00 is on her watch. She looked thrilled when she started to remember without calculating that 17:00 is 5 o'clock etc.

Amy also typed in all the different toll gates (5 between Johannesburg and Durban would you believe!). If we can find out how much each one charges, she can work out how much cash her Dad should have ready. It would be good for her to count out the money - she loves doing this.

Amy also used a search engin to search for things she hope to see (dolphins and whales), as well as the place they are going to stay. I am amazed at how well she can read words like "search", "print" "back" etc. on the internet, yet takes her time to read the same words in her story book. I have tried since the beginning of the year to make Amy aware of road signs. She took note, but not as much as I have hoped. Yet when she saw lists of road signs in the atlas, she was clearly more intrigued. Today we drove a short distance on the highway and noted many different road signs - also that the routes have numbers - then we checked on the atlas again, and so on and so on.

These holidays have given us much opportunity to learn. How wonderful not to be bound by a curriculum, but to use life itself as it happens, as the curriculum.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The 3 R's: progress this week

Yesterday Amy suddenly grasped that 8+2 = 10, 2+8=10, 10 -2=8, 10-8=2 is the same combination, just in different forms. I let her write out all the bonds of 10 (i.e. 5 bonds) in this way and since doing that she's been her old self again. She loves it if I ask her sums. We walked to the shops and back (more than 5km all in all) and she never complained. We discussed many things we saw along the way, but also spent much time asking and answering sums. The "new" sums of the day were 8 + 3 and 9+3. She still remembered them today, and answered without hesitation. She has known all her doubles e.g. 8+8 and the uneven bonds between the doubles: 3+2, 4+3, 5+4 etc. for some time, and she knows how to work out 9+ (work out what is 10 +...and then go one less.) For a child who could not grasp how to add +1 without counting blocks last year, this has been a major achievement. I am so, so encouraged by her.

This morning I could see that she was not in bright spirits and when we started. It turned out she was angry with her Mom... Why? Because she did not like school! I was rather taken aback, but I realised, it is not that she does not like school, it is just that she likes watching T.V. more! We talked about have idols again and what God wanted of us. We read 1John1: 8-9. If we tell God about our sins, He forgives us. What a relief to be able to confess these things. After Bible and prayer, she was much happier and we had a very good day of hard work.

Amy's reading and writing ability is progressing well. I do not bother any more with phonics and spelling - we just do our sight reading routine and comprehension routines, but I am amazed at how much she remembers - also when she writes or types. She types her diary a few times a week. In the beginning I had to spell out letter for letter for her to type. Now she types many words without me having to spell them for her. I just have to remind her not to leave out the little words e.g when she wants to write "I like computer", she is inclined to want to simply write "computer" without the "I like".

She enjoys typing her diary and e-mails her updates to her Mom. It still takes a very long time to complete her diary or a short e-mail, but I have seen tremendous progress here. (I still dictate most, but her own input in what to write is increasing steadily.) I think it is because the diary and e-mails are about what she does every day. The words used, are the important ones in her life. The copying of Bible verses have had the same effect - she can now write a word like "forgive" without my help.

Tomorrow we are going to cook and hopefully read the road map to the coast, where her family is going the end of the month. I hope there will also be time to surf the web. I hope we can make a blog of her diary.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Language comprehension

We are back in full swing after the school holidays and my mother's funeral. Amy did not seem keen to start school work again, but once we got going, she was fine. Her sums were disappointing. I had planned on doing adding with ones and tens, but she was not too sure of her bonds , so new work had to be put on ice for a while. She made many mistakes with last week's homework. (I think she did it in front of the television!) We have to do a lot of revision again, but I am confident that she will quickly pick it up again and then we can go on. I believe math's should always be easy and fun.
Reading was good, but what especially made my day, was the way she responded to verbal questions - both when we discussed what she did this weekend and also when I asked her questions about the story we read. She definitely listens better to what is asked and seems to understand when and why better. She also attempted to ask me questions and I helped her to formulate them properly. She loved "catching me out." We still have a long way to go as far as comprehension is concerned, but there has been promising progress! We do a lot of comprehension homework i.e. the filling in of missing words from the text and answering simple questions.
Both Amy and I were rather disappointed that she gained nearly 4 kg during the school holiday. However today she had lost 1 kg again and 1 cm around her waist. Tomorrow we plan to go for a long walk again. She needs the exercise and it is a good time to talk. We need to talk and talk and talk - at this stage it seems the most pressing need.
For fun, and improved understanding, we searched for horse farms in the Blue Ridge mountains on the internet. Amy's book, My Secret Unicorn is about a family on a farm near the Blue Ridge mountains. She loved finding the pictures on the internet. We still have to find Carolina etc. on Google Earth.
Teaching one special child is great! What a priviledged teacher I am.