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 28, 2009

First days of 2nd Term: Elections!

Besides our school vacation, we have had many public holidays in April: 22 April was Election Day, 27 April was Freedom Day (to commemorate our first truly democratic Election 15 years ago) and Friday 1 May is Workers Day. Last week we had two days of school and then I took off the rest of the week to go to the sea with my children (after we first voted of course!). So this is our "2nd week" of school, but actually today has only been our 3rd day of school this term. We could get used to have so many days off!

Last week Tammy and I spent a lot of time calculating how many people would vote if the voter percentage was 80%, 70%, 60% etc. based on the actual number of registered voters. (23,180,000). The ruling party i.e. the A.N.C. had a 2/3 majority after the last elections and that meant that they could change the constitution by themselves. To ensure true democracy, it was hoped that they would not get a 2/3 majority again. We have a very high crime rate and service delivery throughout the country is deteriorating and in many places virtually non-existent. In these aspects, the country is a mess and change is desperately needed if we are not to share the lot of Zimbabwe.

Anyway, it was good talking to Tamerin about the importance of voting and how the parliamentary seats would be allocated. Today, we studied the real results ("results" and "statistics" were today's new words) and then Tamerin "practised" speaking about the results.

She again did a lot of % calculations - from very simple ones e.g. 10% of 100 and 10% of 200 to 65.9% of 17,680.729 i.e. the election results. The complicated ones she did with a calculator of course! She also calculated percentage the other way around e.g. 40/ 50 x 100 =80% . Here too she worked from very simple calculations to real election results i.e. 11,650,748 out of 17,680.729 (the A.N.C.'s results) and 2,945,829 out of 17,680.729 (the D.A.'s i.e. the main opposition's results) It was good to see that her calculations were the same as the official statistics!

So what did she learn in this theme?
  • What elections are about and a basic understanding of how our government is put together.
  • The importance of voting: the higher the voter percentage, the more votes are needed to get a seat in parliament.
  • What an I.D. document is.
  • The voting process
  • To read figures that run into hundred thousands or millions. A million has six zero's!
  • To calculate % and to have a basic understanding of percentages e.g. 50% is half.
  • These % calculations helped to reinforce basic arithmetic: multiply and divide.
Tammy has been familiar with the term "percent" for a long time, as she daily records the weather forecast and it often includes 30% or 60% chance of rain. Since January, I let her calculate her homework results i.e. calculate how many sums she did, subtract the mistakes, and work out the percentage that she achieved. Working with percentages is not difficult, but an important life skill and I am thrilled with how well she copes with them. We can now go on to work out discounts and interest rates.

Thank you God for Tammy's good progress!

P.S. Tammy wrote (with help) on her blog about the election results. This helped her to verbalize her election information as she would explain it to her Ouma.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Last day of school of First Term 2009

We had a wonderful last day of term last week: Tammy and her family came to our farm for an outing. First we had a lovely picnic on the stoep and then we climbed up the koppie (hill) behind the house. It is not very high or far, but it is quite steep.

Tammy and her brother climbing up the rocks. Since doing water aerobics, Tammy's general muscle tone has improved much and so has her balance and stamina. She climbed up with far greater ease than December last year when they first came to visit.

Tammy's grandmother and her mom.

On top of the world. Tammy still had a fever blister: she had tonsillitis last week. The spare tyre around her waist is slowly but surely getting thinner and thinner.

Ouma Vossie posing with the horse, with brother Shaen and cousin Lee standing by. Tammy has always been fond of horses, so riding had to be included of course. Hendrik was at home, so that worked out well. I wouldn't want to saddle and handle the horses myself.

Tammy on horseback. She has several toy horses. Last year we read "My secret Unicorn". Getting onto the real thing was a little intimidating, but Tammy seemed to really enjoy it.

Big smile before the dismount!

Shaen's turn.

While waiting their turns, the cousins had fun playing with the dogs.

Mommy's turn!

This has been a great term. There has been noteworthy progress in especially the following areas:
  • Spelling and ability to "make out" words. Big improvement.
  • Pronunciation generally and especially of "long" words like "electricity".
  • Ability to use multiplication purposefully e.g. every day she has to calculate how many problems or sums she had by adding the amount in a column with the number of columns. (She usually did about 60 sums per day.) After counting and deducting the mistakes, she has to work out the percentage on the calculator. She also converted Rand to Dollars. We will do much more of this as their trip draws close.
  • Ability to determine "highest" or "lowest" number.
  • Ability to read the thermometer.
  • Knowledge of sport (cricket and rugby) and awareness of political parties in South Africa (We have an election coming up.)
  • Understanding of the meaning of Easter.
  • General fitness and improved muscle tone, coordination and balance
Most noticeable challenges:
  • Creative language (Speech and written language).
  • Adding - this is a bigger problem than multiplication!
  • To improve her posture

Have a Happy Easter. We will be back on 20 April 2009