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!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tamerin's Prize Giving: Her End of Year Function

The prize giving evening was a huge success!

Tamerin's biggest challenge is to communicate properly. Her comprehension has been improving steadily, but her spoken language has been a handicap all along: from pronunciation till sentence construction. To stimulate spoken language we prepared a speech which she practised for her prize giving. This was held on the eve of the last day of school. (The school year in South Africa runs from January till beginning of December.) So instead of an end of the year concert, she had an end of the year speech on her year's work. I believed that as a ballet or music exam or an Eisteddfod or an gymnastics competiton motivates children to polish their year's practice, this speech would motivate Tammy to give her all. And boy, has it ever!

Her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins attended and all were most impressed. Best of all was that Tammy really enjoyed it. No-one, except me and the Lord and in a way her mother, knew just how much her speech has improved through this effort. If you have been following our blog, you would know that this speech preparation has gone on for a long time, but it has paid dividends: her pronunciation has improved and pattern sentences has been drilled in a meaningful way and skills such as reading the thermometer were also fine tuned.

The speech was presented as a show and tell and covered most aspects of her school work such as her reader, numerical skills, geography, history and life skills.
Tammy ready to start - the stack on the left table were mostly pictures which she lifted and discussed one by one and then put them on the table on the right. The stack also included her reader and her dictionary!

It took a lot of guts to stand in front of an audience and speak, but she did it well. She stood reasonably still and did not fiddle too much with clothes etc. (We practised this a lot too!)

"I understand prices. The price of this milk is R13.99, but it actually costs R14."

The temperature right now is 24 degrees (Celcius)

"I also know the map of South Africa, especially the road to Durban..."

"The Voortrekkers were farmers from the Eastern Cape, who trekked north..."
The Southern Right whales come all the way from Antartica to our coasts every spring..." It is the first time she was able to pronounce "Antartica" correctly! (The Southern Right whale was part of our curriculum because the family went to the whale festival in September.)

Between her speech and her Nativity puppet show, she passed round a box with sums and problems - the audience asked her tables, division etc. and she answered without hesitation .She loved this. In the meantime I set up her puppet show. I was the narrator and Tammy did the dialogue. We ended with a discussion as to where Jesus is now, what He is doing in heaven, how you become His child and what will happen when He comes back. I asked her the questions and she answered them.

"Don't be afraid Mary. God thinks you are special. You are going to have a baby boy and you must call Him Jesus."

The setup.

Tammy's puppets: crib and all were made out of toilet roll tubes - got the idea on the internet. (I cannot edit my posts once I leave this page, so I can't add the link now. Does anyone else have this problem?)

The angels were another internet idea.

"Thank you for my book prize Teacher!" (She also got an Excellence Award with a gold sticker on which I first embossed an A+ with a ball point at the back. She was most thrilled with the A+)

I am just sad, that due to a misunderstanding, we only have photos and no video clips to share. Fortunately her Oupa made a full scale video for the Durban Ouma to enjoy when she comes to visit in December. The enthralled audience had tears in their eyes and were full of compliments and praise. However, all this is God's work: He brought us together and made all this possible. All praise to Him!

Thank you, thank you God for a wonderful year.

As we now have our summer vacation, this blog will sleep for a few weeks. We'll be back early in the new year. Tammy might come to the farm for a visit, so you might hear from me next week, but in case I have no homeschool news before Christmas:


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gratitude... Tagging others

As you can see in the post below I've been tagged by Nicole. So now I tag Dorette, Thelwyn, Lora, Jen and Beth:
Rules are easy. Name ten things you are grateful for, it can be anything! Funny, serious, whatever. And then tag five others. Spread the gratefulness around!

Gratitude tag.

So I have been tagged by Nicole to name 10 things that I am grateful for. As this is our last week of school, it is an excellent time to think of all the things that I am truly grateful for. Since this is a homeschool blog, I'll concentrate on the blessings of my homeschooling year.

1. I am grateful to God for providing this job for me - I am homeschooling a very special child - not my own. Two years ago, I was principal of a very busy pre-school and on the brink of collapse, last year I was teacher of the Special Needs class in a private school and exhausted and frustrated. This year I am teacher of only one and loving every bit of it. Thank you, thank you!

2. I am grateful that my husband supports me in this. I live 50 km from my job, so it costs a lot to go to work. But Jan never complains.... he has ALWAYS supported me in whatever I did. After 33 years I am still very grateful for the coffee in bed and the breakfasts he makes every morning and for the coffee for the road... Jan I'll keep you! (The coffee for the road is actually only hot water, but it does make the road shorter!)

And I'll keep my son Hendrik too! (And the rest of my family: Frans, Thelwyn and Martelize and Gert, Dorette and Franco. Read more about them here.)
3. I am grateful for Tamerin's parents for believing in me.... I was her teacher last year, so it was quite a compliment for me, when they asked me to homeschool her.
4. For Tamerin of course: She tries so hard and she has shown such wondeful progress! She is a sweet loving girl who is keen to learn. And she is a GOOD girl - it is not difficult to be patient with her!
5. For her aptitute for computers -she took to it like a duck to water! Much better than many adults.
6. For her improved academic ability: language, mathematics and history and geography (Well...the last two sounds a bit grand but we did do some, with good results! At least she now knows what an election, a goverment, a law, a court, a president etc. are!)
7. For her improved muscles: I don't see it, but many other people have remarked how well she looks. And the express abs classes do me the world of good as well!
8. And her abililty to sew with a sewing machine: she is able to really control the pressure of her foot on the pedal. The beginning of the year, she could hardly pick up a pin, let alone stick it through material and now she has made a skirt and a T-shirt, albeit with a lot of help. She really did stitch it on her own, even though I stood behind her shoulder like a policeman watching her with a hawkeye.
9. The lovely view from the classroom. It is magnificent! However, it also gets very hot in there as the windows can't open.... but (big gratitude here), my hot flushes are now nearly non-existent. I am back on hormones and I can live again and the heat does not really bother me!
10. Hackneyed expression or not: last but not least - definitely not least - Tammy now knows Jesus so much better: she knows about salvation and grace and forgiveness and..... and..... And she can read the Bible!

God I bring to you Tammy: you have used me to plant seeds. Please God, let them grow in abundance! Please bless Tammy greatly! Please loosen up her tongue so that she can speak freely - especially tomorrow night!

11. I have to add another gratitude: my blog friends! Thank you for friends who encourage and support and for their great ideas. Thank you for the internet, for bringing me in contact with wonderful people all over the world!

Thank you God for a GREAT, GREAT year!

I'll tag others in a separate post - for some reason I cannot edit my posts, so I cannot go out of this one to copy the "rules". Does anyone else also have this problem? I can click on edit, but can't change a thing... (Sorry! I should not moan in a gratitude post!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Some statistics for her end of year report and "The Speech" progress

When typing text out of her reader, Tammy types about 4 words per minute: She still makes many mistakes, but she corrects them herself. If only I could get her to use the delete button or select and retype method more. She spends a lot of time getting the cursor in the right place, then she backspaces and only then does she type in the correction. I have never given her a computer test before, but wanted a "statistic" for her end of the year report, so that we can gauge progress next year. She thoroughly enjoyed it, and wanted a test for homework.

For her Excel test I gave her a few number to enter and to add and to change to Rand. (Our currency.) She used the autosum button with ease and went to Format, but there she got stuck. However, when I told her to click on "Cells", she immediately went to "Currency" and clicked on R.

She reads 28.5 words per minute. (Maximum score was 35 words.)

For her math's test she scored 100% for multiplication and 57% for adding with ones and tens. She knows her bonds, but she makes many mistakes with carrying over.

In October she pedaled 1.5 km at level 1 in 10 minutes. Now she pedals more than 2.5 km at level 2 in 10 minutes.

She started to stutter again....! I felt so dejected this morning when we did the Nativity puppet show, and she stammered so. (She looked happy enough?) We prayed and then had break and then I really prayed....

After break, she did some sewing before I suggested we practise her speech again. (practise spelled with an s in S.A.) She was very slow and uncertain in the beginning, but became more cheerful and self-confident as she progressed. AND SHE DID NOT STUTTER! And what's more, she did not want me to cut anything from the speech, in fact she wants to say more! Instead of saying "I enjoyed seeing the whales at Hermanus", she wants to say "I enjoyed seeing the whales in the Indian Ocean at Hermanus". Instead of saying "the story of how Jesus was born", she wants to say "the story of how Jesus, the Saviour of the world, was born."!!

Thank you, thank you God! PLEASE help Tammy on Thursday. It will be so humiliating for her to cancel the whole speech now, and it will even be worse, if it does not go well on Thursday. Please free her tongue and her mind. You can do anything!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Speech Progress 3

Tammy is still speaking very slowly, but she is progressing well. The speech is too long, so from tomorrow, we will start to cut out sentences and probably whole sections. I have been reluctant to do it, but we have to make sure there is something well rehearsed for the big night. She likes the nativity play better. I tell most of the story with Tammy handling the puppets and the dialogue. The puppets are dressed up toilet rolls and we found a pattern for the angels at Christmas Paper Angels, but today the website did not want to open!(?)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To practice (practise) spelling or not?

If you have read the previous posts of this blog, you will know that I have given up on formal spelling practices early in the year. Tammy found them boring and I wanted school just to be fun and meaningful. Besides her name, she could hardly spell any word at the beginning of the year. Spelling was mostly "practised" through regular (first daily, lately weekly) updates of her Diary, through copying of Bible verses and other (irregular) computer lessons like typing a recipe, a cash flow spreadsheet, emails etc.

We never write tests, but this week I let her write a spelling test to satisfy my curiosity as to how good or bad her spelling is.

Test 1: No specific preparation, words taken from Grade 3 spelling and My Secret Unicorn:
Score: 32/ 60 = 54 %
(Reading alone does not seem enough to improve her spelling. She has to type or write these words regularly as well, as she succeeded better with the words that she has regularly typed before.)

Test 2: Same test after correcting mistakes and practicing them by typing each word 4 times:
Score: 51/ 60 = 85 % (!!)
(Practice makes perfect!)

Test 3: 25 words taken from text that she has typed before – mostly her diary
Score: 12/ 25 = 50%
(Sigh.... Oh dear!... There goes my original theory!)

She could spell Wednesday, but forgot to use a capital letter. She typed drew for draw - the diary is usually in the past tense so she has written drew more than draw. She could spell words like monument, picture and express (from Express abs class). However letter order confusion still occurs a lot e.g. baver for brave, stirk for shirt, who for how and vice versa.

Conclusion: Typing a diary is also not enough although it certainly has helped a GREAT deal! Next year we will continue with the diary and Bible verses, but I think practising spelling will now become a regular part of homework as well - as the Grade 3's do in regular school. I will make sure however that they are not just meaningless lists of words, but words that she needs for her diary, a theme or whatever.

About her diary: it is not entirely her own work: she first writes an entry in a file called Diary Originals and then she copies it to Diary and then I help her to find and correct her mistakes and to expand - i.e. to help her to express what she wants to say. My aim with Diary was to improve both oral and written language and typing. It certainly has helped. We started with her diary at the beginning of the year with me dictating letter for letter. She started her Diary Originals in June - before then she could not string 3 words together on her own.

Her first entry:16 July 2008
We have walk houses ride
We the to Kim possible
I do blog

Her most recent entry: 18 November 2008
On Friday we went to Durban.
On Saturday we played with Caelen, Robyn, Tayle, and I.
On Sunday We went to the show.
(The "show" was actually a funeral service. Her vocabulary is still limited, but still...)

Thank you God for letting me be part of this wonderful journey of PROGRESS! Thank you for Tammy's cheerful face! Keep on blessing this child God!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Speech Progress 3

We have two weeks before Tammy's prize giving and still a lot of work to do before this gala event. She is now able to say most parts of her speech ( a "show and tell") correctly and without help, but she still speaks hesitantly and softly. So we have two weeks to practice to make sure she can speak confidently, fluently and clearly! Progress has been very good - for both her "speech" and the Nativity puppet show. Through practising the speech, she has internalised "pattern sentences" and new vocabulary with its sometimes tricky pronunciation (she struggles with words like ability, illustrate, rowing). The best part. however, is that her comprehension of both written and oral language has improved drastically.
She still sways a little when she practices her speech, but usually she corrects herself: she really tries to stand still and to hold her pictures still when she speaks. We still have to work on speaking with a smile and enthusiasm though.
Please pray that all will go well. So far, so very good! Thank you, thank you Jesus!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Speech Progress 2

Tammy's speech for her "Prize Giving" is coming along just fine! To make it more interesting and to make it easier for her, we have added a photo for each concept. E.g. a printout of the Excel weather chart for when she speaks about the temperatures, R5 and R2.50 coins for when she talks about fractions. There are pictures of S.A. history and old themes like Hermanus and the Southern Right whatles, but also current history ones like Obama, Mugabe, the inflation in Zimbabwe, the farms etc. To explain how unemployment spirals, she uses carton people and empty containers as businesses.

The important thing here is that her speech has improved much, but also her comprehension. Her homework comprehension this week was about her speech. All her answers showed understanding, even if the written answers were not 100%. For instance, in answer to a history question "What happened to Louis Trichard's people?" She wrote "Sickness malaria mosqito" instead of "They died of malaria". BUT SHE UNDERSTANDS! Halleluja!

Her mother says that Tammy took an old diary with a world map along when they visited a friend. There she showed them the different countries and talked about them. For someone who had not even known that she lived in South Africa at the beginning of the year, this is quite an achievement and I am so so grateful. The Lord is really helping her.

P.S. She was quite upset when Obama won the election - she even phoned me! This is the first time she has phoned me to tell me news. Her mother thinks it is because Mc Cain looks like her grandfather.

Here are some gym photos I took for her speech. We'll print them on their colour printer on Monday.

Tammy now pedals 2.5 km in 10 minutes - a big improvement over her 1.5 km in 10 minutes a month ago!
Abs exercises. She still struggles but does them without a complaint!