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, January 26, 2011

Grade 10 has started!

As mentioned before, our aim this year is to start with Grade 10.  Tammy’s subjects are English, Afrikaans, Math literacy, Computer studies (not science), Geography, Tourism and Life Orientation.  Here is a summary of what we have done these past two weeks:


We continue as before: I tried to follow the handbook for about 2 days, realised it was no use, so we’re back to my method: lots and lots of verbal drilling of questions and answers.  These exercises are mostly based on the cultural subject of the week – either Geography or Tourism. At the moment she is transcribing geography statements as questions e.g. Statement: “The earth moves from West to East.” Question: “In which direction does the earth move?” Statement: “The 0 degree of longitude is also called the Prime Meridian or the Greenwich Meridian.” Question: “What are other names for the 0 degree of longitude?” “South Africa lies at 30 degrees East.” “At which degree of longitude does South Africa lie?”  and so on.

The forming of questions is still a major challenge, but there has been steady but slow progress.  By integrating the cultural subjects with English, she has a better chance to assimilate the new vocabulary and concepts.  Hopefully this will help her to better understand and answer test and exam questions.

Vocabulary and spelling practice also come from these subjects and her reader.  We have started with “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis and what a joy!  She seems to understand it well and anyway she enjoys it.  I should just focus more on reading, but we so often get stuck in other basics and then the time for reading gets gobbled up!  (Maybe we should start the day with reading….)


We have started to read Afrikaans.  She seems to understand it well – laughs at appropriate places.  So far we have covered all the single vowels, double vowels and have started with diphtongs (oe, eu, ui) and some open syllables (oral, besig and a few others.)  My aim is to enable her to read Afrikaans as soon as possible – we’ll only worry about grammar, speaking etc. much later.  She still struggles so much to speak English that I really find it hard to switch to Afrikaans when speaking to her!   It feels counterproductive!  On the other hand, who knows, being able to speak Afrikaans, might just open up the communication gates for her!  We haven’t had many Afrikaans lessons, but she loved the ones we did have. 

(The rest of her family speak Afrikaans, but apparently Tammy preferred to speak English, when she was little, and the speech therapist suggested they stick to English because she struggled the Afrikaans r and g!  I’d rather not say what I think of that suggestion!  Whatever happened to mother tongue is best?  When I came into the picture, she could speak neither language understandably…)


We started with how to use an atlas.  She can look up a city in the index and find the right page and map position.  The introduction included a host of new vocabulary such as population, physical features and boundaries, but she was very interested en mastered the new concepts satisfactorily.  We skipped geography last week, when we concentrated on tourism. 

This week we focussed on latitude, longitude and time zones.  We had to begin with the earth’s movement around the sun.  As she had had very little geography before, she thought that the sun moved around the earth.  There are many gaps we have to fill somehow, and yet master the Grade 10 work as quickly as possible as well.  Today she had to calculate time differences – this involved very simple adding or subtraction and counting of time zones.  She seemed to understand what to do, but made many arithmetic mistakes e.g. 12- 8= 3.  She knows her combinations very well: we have drilled them in the past, and yet in new situations like these she “slips”. So math’s was spent in revising deduction instead of continuing with division… so that we can do “story sums”!


This is the “most likely to succeed” subject.  Tammy was very interested in what tourism was and the different types of accommodation, tourist attractions etc.  She looked up flights for an imaginary holiday, but struggled to understand what the differences in price really meant.  The flight times did not intrigue her – I don’t think she really understands, despite our having done lots of time duration calculations last year.  Time calculations remain a big must on our agenda! 

Computer Studies

I try to let Tamerin do more work on the computer e.g. insert charts on Excel, tables of contents on Word etc.  I must confess that computer studies is another subject that does not yet get all the attention it deserves, since the other subjects demand so much more effort.  I just hope that the work I do let her do on the computer, will later be enough to really master whatever is required for Grade 10, and more importantly what is necessary for life!  I am convinced that her computer skills are what will land her a job one day.

Life Orientation

As I don’t have a “handbook” yet, I just go with what her mother understands from Tammy’s cousins what it is all about: apparently mostly about HIV and sex.  We have talked about sex in the past and did so again, especially about sexual abuse and her right to say no and what to do if such a situation should arise.


The least favourite subject!  The curriculum started with rounding up and down of numbers.  We had done it in the past, so this was not really a problem.  But the first lesson also had “story sums” (with vocabulary she could not pronounce!) and here the old problem of not being able to recognise what formula to use reared its ugly head again…. and, as before, she struggled with basic division.  So we focussed much on division by 5, 6, 8 and decimals again.  I also printed out charts on which she had to mark .66 or .33 or .125, .25 etc.  (I wanted to share these charts with  you, but do not know how to copy them onto the blog!)

Visualising a fraction helps: she is becoming quite good at estimating .5 ,125 etc. of a container.  She loves it when I only show her the side of a measuring jug and she points to .375 and I turn the jug so that she can compare her estimate.  More often than not, she is quite accurate!  She can count in 125’s and I am very proud of this achievement – should help with cooking!   (With multiplication she used to make more adding problems rather than with the actual multiplication.  With division its usually the same: she makes more mistakes with deduction to work out the remainder, than with the actual division.

To do division by 7, I let her calculate how many weeks and days there are between certain dates. Any time related sum has always been difficult for her, and  she still needs much practice.  The problem this week was again deduction: “What is 31 – 25?”   “???” Last year she was well able to do this.  Why this slump?  But I believe its just temporary.  We’ll get the basics right (again) and then we try the Grade 10 work (again)….!

(It does not make sense to practise calculating  decimals when dividing with 7 – when we come to long division she could maybe do it, otherwise a calculator will be fine.)


Maybe I do not sound to positive in this blog, but actually I am.  It’s just going to take a lot of time and a lot of work.  But Tammy and I are committed and that is half the battle!  And of course I believe we have God on our side!

Sorry for this long post!  Will try and post more regularly and have shorter posts!  Next something about our very satisfying Bible study!