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, March 20, 2010


Tammy now types out imaginary conversations instead of writing her diary. Conversations challenge her to formulate questions and to use present, future and past tenses, wherease "diary"only required "telling sentences"and the past tense.
Before she writes out her conversation, we orally practise conversations she could have - from imaginary dates with Nick Jonas till possible ones like telling her brother about antioxidants!
I am quite excited about her progress in this regard. She still struggles, but boy, has she come a long way!!
Now the biggest hurdle is to get her not to be too shy to speak to real people. On Friday I told her that the gym coach would like some feedback from us, and I suggested she tell her which exercises she likes and which ones she doesn't like so much. So we practised a possible conversation on our way to the gym:
"Gill, I really enjoy water aerobics. I like the floating exercises a lot, but I do not really like the kicking exercises. Thank you so much for helping me." (Gill is the first and only instructor to really pay individual attention to each of us, including Tammy.)
And on Friday, Gill really paid a lot of extra attention to Tammy, showing her how to improve and giving her positive feedback whenever she succeeded. At the end of the lesson she said to me that Tammy had really improved. It was the opportune moment for Tamerin's conversation with Gill, so I urged Tammy to speak to Gill and then moved away. It was to be between her and Gill.... On her way out Gill said to me that she thought she had understood Tammy....

Praise the Lord that Tamerin finally got the courage to say something more than "Hello" to a "stranger". Please pray that her tongue will be unleashed much more, so that she can be free to communicate. How frustrating to have to "practice" such simple conversations! But how thrilling for her to slowly (finally) overcome her inability to speak coherently and to "wow" herself by being able to express herself and answer questions - no matter how simple the topic.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Reversed Comprehension and Money

Anyone, who has been following Tamerin's progress, will know that speaking and comprehension are her biggest problems. Following the success she had with formulating and verbally asking questions at her birthday picnic (see previous post) I decided to expand the method further.

When we now read anyone of her books (Jonas Brothers, a High School Musical based book, and a Secret Seven book), I get her to ask questions and I answer. In this way she
  • Reads with comprehension
  • Gets grammar practice
  • Practises speaking

She finds formulating questions very difficult and often does not know where to start, so I still often give her clues e.g. "Jack grabbed Susie by the arm and dragged her home." "Why....?" Most of the time she is then able to complete the question, but often gets the grammar wrong e.g. "Why Jack dragged Susie home?"

She so enjoys this new way of doing comprehension, that I have expanded it to her current theme as well. The latest theme is "Money". We have been talking about employers and employees, salaries, wages, working hours (parttime, overtime etc.) business, profit, stock, cash, interest rate, credit and investments. She types a conversation she could have with her dad about these things. "Today we went to the shops and I compared the prices of products. A 1 kg packet of Viennas costs R30. A packet of 500g of Viennas costs R21. So two packets of 500g cost R42. That is R12 more." Etc. etc.

This theme has been a huge success! Besides the general knowledge and vocabulary, she gets to practice her math skills as well. We look at advertisements of shops. Some have (in very tiny print) the number of installments, the installment amounts and the interest rates below the advertised cash prices. Tammy works out the total amount payable on the calculator. To work out the difference between paying cash or buying on credit, she does the deduction on paper. She was enthralled by her discovery that sometimes you end up paying nearly double for an item. After school she immediatly took the advertisement to show her mother!

We also went to the bank to read the notices and get forms to fill in. (A part of our weekly schedule is to fill in forms - basically to practise neat lettering, but also because it is a very necessary life skill.) Tammy was intrigued with the delayed opening security doors. Afterwards we went to Pick n Pay to revise vocabulary such as "Dairy" and "Bakery" (Food theme), but also to read prices and to compare them. Measuring has also a weekly activity been a weekly activity for months and she had no trouble understanding how to compare 500g, 1 kg, 2.5kg and 5 kg.

She is beginning to remember the methods for calculations e.g. if you know the price of one and you want to know the price of more you must.... MULTIPLY and if you want to know the difference you must TAKE AWAY! We compared the prices of viennas, sugar, flour, pens and wshing powder. In the case of sugar, flour and washing powder, the medium packaging was cheaper the the bulk packaging! "Mom you have to compare prices of products!"

Thanks God for a really fun week! Thank you also that Tammy can finally count money.

Monday, March 1, 2010

15th Birthday!

Tamerin turned 15 last week. She has grown so tall and is slimming down very nicely. She has lost about 5 kg since last year. Water aerobics seem to be paying dividents - even though she still has bit of a spare tyre around the waist, it is so much better and I am really proud of her. A major goal is now to improve posture: she and I are inclined to slouch. I let her stand with eyes closed in front of the mirror. When she opens her eyes, I let her focus on a pelvic tilt to see what wonders that does to her posture and how much better her clothes look. (She is to remind me to stand up straight, but she has never done it. None of us wants to look like an old woman!)

I could not attend her birthday party on the Saturday, so I packed a picnic on her actual birthday and her mother, her grandmother, Tammy and I had a lunch in a park.

One of the gifts I gave Tammy was a book by the Jonas Brothers. In it there are interview type questions to each brother e.g. "What type of ice-cream do you like best?" "What is the best movie you have ever seen?" Before we went on the picnic Tammy practised some of these questions. Asking questions is just as difficult as formulating answers! She asked us these questions at the picnic. At first she was hesitant, but soon warmed to the idea. This could become an annual event!

You might have noticed that she no longer blogs. That is because, all of a sudden, she can no longer copy and paste her diary onto her blogs. It is quite a shame - she has kept a journal (with my help of course) for two years and her sentence construction, spelling, typing etc. have improved much. However, the diary thing has become a bit boring: its always more or less about where they went and what they ate, and perhaps about what school work we did. She never writes of own accord about how she felt.

I now want her to write dialogues. She is still inclined to have conversations with imaginary people. I do not want her to "speak to herself" because she does this in front of other people and other children, especially, just think she is "mad". I do recognize her need to express herself in conversation though, and therefore creative writing will now be "conversations".

By the way, the PACE she has to do this week is just about homonyms: underline the correct word: e.g. flew/ flue. (Who needs to know what a flue is? Certainly not Tamerin.) This goes against all I have tried to teach. I believe these exercises will just confuse her in the long run. She did a few of these underline exercises and did them quite well, but I think that is because she has known these words in context for a long time. She has never confused "eight" and "ate". Generally she even gets her "their"and "there" right.

Anyway, I have made a list of the new vocabulary in the book and will teach these words to her separately - I am convinced if she learns earn and urn at the same time, she is bound to use the wrong word! Who needs to know about homonyms anyway? As long as you know the words and can spell them and use them correctly in context.

God, please help me to make the right teaching decisions for Tamerin!