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!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Using a dictionary

Amy knows the alphabet and can order loose letters in alphabetical order. She learned this through the alphabet song, a child computer she used before that taught the ABC, and by matching the loose letters to a printed alphabet.

I recently got her to look up words in the dictionary. She is used to look up the date in her homework book (a small diary in which I jot down reminders for her), as well as Bible verses, so "looking up" something, i.e. paging forwards and backwards, is not new to her.

At first I had to help her a lot to look up certain words, but she soon caught on and needs little help. We started with s combinations e.g. sc (scatter), sh (ship, shop etc.),sk (skin) sl, sm, sn (snorted). Later she looked up new sight words that she did not understand (English is her second language!) e.g. concern and suspicious. Quite difficult words, but because they appear in her storybook, she has to recognize them. I found that by looking up the different phonics as well as the sight words, her memory of these words has improved much!

She enjoys looking up the words, but the best part is that this activity has really improved her reading and spelling. We use The Oxford School Dictionary. More often than not, Amy is able to read the meaning of the word. And to think, my aim originally was only to get her to know the alphabet, so that she could file things and look up telephone numbers! She is showing me, that she will be much capable to do much more one day! In the meantime, we will continue to regularly look up words - it is a fun way to learn phonics!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Progress in math's

Amy knows most bonds very well and yet she can sometimes get stuck on something simple e.g. 8 + 6. If she does get stuck, I ask her which bond she knows (usually the double e.g. 8+8) and then she has to work backwards or forwards until she gets the answer: i.e. 8+ 8 = 16, 8+7 = 15, so 8+ 6 is.....! She is grasping this method more and more and it is rewarding to see how her insight improves!

We have also started with carrying over - both working out the sum on paper (counting the ones and then the tens) and by doing mental arithmetic. We started with adding 0 + 3, 10 + 3, 20 + 3, 30+3, 40+3 etc. until 100 + 3. Then we would take another set e.g. 3+4, 13+ 4, 23 + 4 etc. I always asked the sums in sequence and never skipped a set! She soon caught on and can now mentally calculate how much is 18+ 7, 58+ 7 etc. I no longer have to ask them in sequence. She understands!! She sometimes forgets to carry over (58 + 7 = 55), but such mistakes get less and less. It is so wonderful to be able to help her discover math's at her own pace. It is so much easier to drill sums verbally, than to only do worksheets. Homeschooling is the best!!

We have also done some fractions: 1/2 and 1/4. I focus on practical fractions e.g. of 100 and 50 and 60 and 30. The reason for this, is for general measuring and also for understanding time better. I have started to teach her to read the time last year, and she is quite good at it, but we until this month, we always read time in full minutes e.g. it is 8:55 (eight fifty five). We have now started to use the terms "past" and "to" e.g. 8:55 is five to nine. (8:15 and 8:45 involve "quarters" and therefore the focus on fractions.) When she asks the time I give her both versions of saying the time. On some days I leave at 13:15, and she now asks if I am leaving at "Thirteen fifteen" instead of "One fifteen". International time still requires some thinking, but she knows what it is all about!

Today we focussed on measuring again. How long is a metre? We measured from her right shoulder to her left fingertips (nearly a meter), the window (99 cm), and her steps (75 cm). We tried to give one metre steps: we put the measuring tape on the floor and stretched our steps. In the process, she lost her balance and we had a good laugh. I think she now has a better idea of what a metre is though. (It all came about because of an E-mail she received about a 17 foot shark that befriended a man. How long is a foot? How many "rulers" (30 cm) are there in a metre etc. )

I find often that opportunities for math's and reading present themselves as life itself happens. Amy is usually very interested - I believe it is because she senses the importance of such skills or knowledge. Weighing herself and measuring her waist are important to her. She is a bit overweight due to the fact that her medication stimulates her appetite too much. Weighing herself has two functions: to be aware that if you drink out 2l of Coke all by yourself, there will be consequences, and to become familiar with measuring concepts.

Homeschooling is fun!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A new term!

Long time no blog!
Amy came back after the holidays full of beans, but it took a few days to really settle down, back in the old routine and to realize that we were not going to count the days till the next holidays (starting 20 June) from now on! We are going to enjoy each day and each week as they come. She has written about the holiday in her diary and then we had to get ready for Mother's Day.
She copied verses from Proverbs 31 by hand and typed her own message for her mother. Compiling her own sentences is still very difficult for her, but she is better able to see what word is missing when she reads aloud what she has written. I especially did not want to help her too much with sentences for her mother's card, but guided her with questions: why do you love your mom? What does she do? Is she special? Why? What makes her special? Thinking about her mom as separate from herself was difficult. Amy generally has a hard time figuring out reasons. I love my Mom... Why? I like my Mom, she is nice.

After making the card, she practised reading the verses from Proverbs 31. I had to make sure she understood what she had written! There were "long" words like instruction and surpass, but she managed them.

Because so much thought went into the wording of the card, there was not much time to make a gift, but she did sew a bag on the sewing machine. She learnt to do this when we made things for Valentine's day, and did not want to make anything else. I suppose it is better to do the same things again and sort of consolidate what she has learnt. So many little things one takes for granted e.g. to thread a tie through the top of the bag, are difficult for her. But once she has succeeded, she simply beams!
Progress is slower than at the beginning of the year, but she is still doing great.