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!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Speech Progress

We are practicing Tammy's speech for the end of the year function. At this stage we just read it together, but I already see signs of improved fluency in speaking and comprehension has definitely improved. When she "boasts" about her multiplication ability, I first ask her random sums (adding, division, multiplication etc.). We intend giving the audience time to ask her sums. When she talks about the weather chart, the hottest day etc., she is also to say "The temperature right now is...." This part reminds us to check the classroom thermometer every day, so as to make sure she will really be able to read it easily on the big night.
When talking about history, she has to refer to the earth globe and the map of South Africa. She does this quite well. We also talk about present history e.g. the election of the U.S. president, the problems in Zimbabwe, what causes economic problems. (Nogal!)

The second part of the programme will be a Nativity "play". I will be the narrator and Tamerin will do the speech parts of the different characters. The different characters will be portrayed by toilet roll puppets. Tammy still has to make them, but we have started with easy cut out angels.

Please pray that all will go well. I am not sure how well she will handle stress in front of an audience. I do not want to put pressure on her, but on the other hand I do want to give her a chance to show off her abilities.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Outings and New Plans

Tammy, her brother and his friend in the door of the Voortrekker Monument

Tamerin in front of the circle of wagons around the Voortrekker Monument.

Last week Tamerin's brother's school closed for 2 days (Jewish holidays), so I took them to the Voortrekker Monument. It is a huge monument erected in memory of the pioneers of Dutch and French descent who trekked northwards between 1835 and 1850. Their history is depicted in a frieze on the ground floor and in beautiful tapestries in the basement and in displays in the museum.
We discussed the history at length before the outing and Tamerin seemed to understand much of the history: their daily lives e.g. why they had to make biltong (dried salted meat) and bake bread in ant hills, but also the bigger issues: why they moved out of the Eastern Cape, why Piet Retief talked to the Zulu King Dingane, why they had to trek out of Kwazulu-Natal again... History and geography go hand in hand, so to explain the Great Trek, I often referred to the map of South Africa and in this way we revised earlier "geography" e.g. Mozambique (her father went there in the beginning of the year, and that is where the first Voortrekker leader died), the Drakensberg Mountains that the Voortrekkers crossed with great difficulty and which Tamerin got to know on their trips to Durban.
There are only a few weeks of school left. We are planning her prize giving evening. We envisage an evening with her family and possibly my family. We are working on a speech that Tamerin will make on her year's work. My idea with the speech is to get her to practice pronunciation and "pattern sentences" in a meaningful way, i.e. she practices speech on subjects which she might want to discuss anyway. Today she really struggled to say "ability", but in the end she could say: "This year I have improved my ability to read." I pray that her ability to speak will also improve drastically.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Today we had 10 1 minute "fluent" reading sessions: Tammy read out of My Secret Unicorn for 1 minute exactly, then we counted the words and deducted the ones she did not have right. Between the 1 minute reading sessions, we discussed what she had just read, to make sure she understands the story. After the 10 sessions, we added up her scores and divided it by ten. Her average today was 24.8 words per minute - not too bad considering that she was reading "new" work, i.e. it was unpractised sight reading.

We are now on page 94 , but are now going back to practice the underlined (unknown) words from pages 74 - 85. Tamerin inserted a two column table and typed all these words twice. (23 words to a column). We printed these on carton and cut out the words: one set for her and one for me. We printed another sheet: this one has blank spaces next to the words. She will place her cut out words in the spaces.

After break I will get her to match the words (Put "hesitate" next to hesitate), then to choose (find) the words (Can you find "hesitate"?) and finally read the sight words (What is this?)

This method works well for her. When we started the book in January, she needed a set of words for every page. Gradually the number of unknown words per page became less and less and now we are down to 1 set of words for 10 pages! Praise the Lord! I am convinced that we will have finished the book before the end of the year and fulfill the promise we made at the beginning of the year i.e. that Tamerin would be able to read the book independently by the end of the year.


This week we went to the gym every day except Friday. Although we still take it slowly, Tamerin is already showing signs of increased fitness. We just have to keep at it. I have not yet spoken to the "bio". She took the abs class on Monday and was going to show me more apparatus after our workout on the floor (cardio), but I must confess: I was just too bushed after the cycling, rowing etc. to go and look for her to do more... Next week we will let her show us around first and then we'll work out!

None of us has lost weight yet: in fact I have gained!! But it does leave us with feeling good about ourselves.

The trips to the gym are spent doing oral math's. Tammy asked to do 1/4 fractions. She gets confused at times, but understands that to get to a 1/4 you have to divide into 2 and then into 2 again. She generally gets it right and even knows that 1/4 of 10 is 2.5: with R10 one can buy four items of R2.50 at our old school's tuck shop.

Sometimes Tamerin has to buy groceries or stationery. She has an excel file marked "Daddy's Money" where she keeps record of expenses, what the balance of the cash box should be and then of course we have to count the money. She thinks it is so cool to drag formulas. Excel is real fun.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Going to the Gym

I have joined Tamerin's gym so that I can take her there in the mornings. This week we have done 2 "Express Abs" classes and 2 sessions on the floor apparatus: cycles, treadmills, steppers, rowing machines and another stepper/ walker thing - not sure what it is called. Tamerin enjoys spinning most. Once or twice, she hinted that she would rather practice at home than go to the gym, but generally she is quite eager to go - even to the 2nd abs class. She has not yet complained of any stiff muscles. This is surprising because I don't think those classes are a joke and at home Tammy soon complained when we did tummy exercises. She does much more there that when we practice at home, but it does take quite a bit of extra time, what with changing and travelling there (10 km there and back).

Next week we will speak to a "bio" or physiotherapist to make sure the exercises are good for her. (Her muscle tone is very low and she has some back problems.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

We're back!

Tamerin did get to see whales and visited a wine farm during their holiday. Yesterday we spent a long time discussing their holiday and she wrote her diary with my help. After writing it, I suggested she copy it and get the modem started while I quickly went to the bathroom. When I came back, she had already connected to the internet, opened her blog, copied her diary inscription and published it with her own heading (albeit without a capital letter). The "big thing" is that she did all the actual blogging totally on her own! I am so proud of her.

Her reading is getting more fluent by the day. Comprehension is also improving steadily. I have not started the 1 minute reading programme again, but remembered about it today and will do so again. (Thanks for the tip Jen!)

After all the theme projects in preparation of the September holidays (Whales, Hermanus, Wine Making, Jan van Riebeeck etc.) we are back to her My Secret Unicorn. The book has helped to expand her vocabulary. Before she knew about 3 emotions: happy, sad and proud. Now she often uses "disappointed" and today "dejected"! I still let her often look up words in the dictionary e.g. today she looked up "suffering" and "wise" during Bible lesson.

Some planned projects for this term: Revision of the route to Durban as the family plan to go there again this weekend, some more history, sewing of bags for gifts, lots of physical exercise, a speech about meerkats (a type of mongoose). (The family has just got a baby Meerkat for pet.) A very special project should be to plan for a prize giving / concert evening towards the end of the school year. All I can do, is take these plans to Jesus and get guidance from Him as to what to do and when to do it. He has proved to be so faithful this year and I believe He will continue to do more miracles in Tamerin's life.