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, May 31, 2011

A Long Overdue Update

Oops!  I have not written an update for so long and now there is this HUGE gap regarding what we have been doing.  It’s impossible to cover what we have done the first term, but here is an update of where we are at now:



We are concentrating on assimilating new vocabulary.  As we read a new word, which seems important, we underline the word.  Tammy later types the word in her vocabulary table, practises the word and looks up the meaning of the word in the dictionary.  Next step is to “insert the missing word”.  I provide the sentences with blanks and the meaning of the missing word in brackets.  Before she attempts this exercise, we practice these sentences orally, with me providing the missing word immediately, if she hesitates.  After one or two rounds, she fills in these words for homework.  Generally there are only a few mistakes, which she then corrects the next day.  After she has filled in the same word in at least four different sentences, at different intervals, she has to make her own sentences with these words.  (This is a totally new experience, but she seems to enjoy it.)  Again we first practice the sentences orally: she makes the original sentence and I correct it if necessary, before we practise saying it a few times.  The oral practice is very necessary to improve fluency and to “stick” it in her head.  I often write her sentence for her on the white board, so that she practises the oral sentence together with the written word. The white board gets wiped and her homework is then to type out these own sentences. 

Recent vocabulary had much to do with shopping, as we are currently also busy with the entering of receipts on an Excel spread-sheet.  At the bottom of the first receipt, was an explanation of the rules regarding the returning or exchanging of purchases and words such as  receipt, original, packaging, label, unused, purchase, merchandise, exchange, return, expenditure etc. made their way to the vocabulary table. 

Out of our Bible study book, we had words such as  devastate, commit suicide, anxiety, loneliness, comfort, sustain, temptation, resist, circumstances,  and out of her story book, words such as equestrian, invitation, injure, severely, surgery, insulted, hired, annoyed, date.  (Tammy did not understand what it meant to be asked on a date and assumed it referred to a question regarding the calendar.)

Example of vocab. practice:


The guests at the party had such a good time that they were …………………………….. (unwilling) to go home.

Tammy’s own sentence:

First attempt: My mother was  reluctant to let me go outside the cold whether to let me get sick.

My mother was reluctant to let me go outside in the cold weather, because she was afraid I might get sick.

Her ability to express herself and to remember new vocabulary is improving by leaps and bounds, but it is a slow and time consuming process.  The dividends are great though. 


Comprehension remains a high priority.  So we read a lot and, generally, I think, her comprehension is much better, but comprehension exercises are often a nightmare.  Questions posed are still very straightforward, e.g. “What clothes did she wear?”  (A lavender top and slim black pants.) or “What did she do after Mary-Kate had left?” (She bumped into a strange boy.) Other questions are simple “True or False”.  statements.  At the end of a chapter there is a summary of the chapter with blanks for missing words.  In all of this, however, progress is still very slow.  This is disconcerting, because how can you learn if you do not understand what you read or if you are not able to communicate what you have read? I berate myself for “too difficult” questions, but am at a loss how to make them even easier.

Computer Literacy

Tammy loves computer work.  She has compiled a budget and expenditure spread-sheet on Excel.  She had to type in formulas, drag them, copy pages, rename them and compile a Total Year summary of expenses with referrals to other pages.  (=mar!a1) Voila, the magic!  Great fun. 

Copying of text (Bible verses generally), has improved significantly.  She CAN do it!

Mathematical Literacy

Last term we concentrated on “party problems” (If one, then multiply, if many then divide type problems. E.g. If 10 guests need 2.5 kg of …., then 1 guest needs 2.5 divided by 10 =.25, then 30 guests need .25 *30)  We also did quite a bit of long division: she can do long division, but first has to write out the table of what she is going to divide with e.g. 16, 32, 48 etc.  She cannot make an estimated guess yet.  We will have to get back to long division until she can estimate, but I am not too worried about his. 

We have also done a lot of visual representations of fractions. I make a blank pie chart on Excel with different fractions and she then has to colour in 5/6. 3/8, 1/4, etc.  or she has to say what fraction the coloured “slices” indicate:

Colour in 0.33:      



What fraction does the coloured piece indicate?



The past weeks we were busy with simplifying and multiplication of fractions (E.g. 28/4 * 16/2) Tammy progressed from about 20% till 75% per set of 20 problems. 

At the moment we are busy with  percentages.  She has to calculate VAT (Value Added Tax) and add it to the given price. (14% of R100 is R14, so the inclusive price is R114).  Later she will work out what the VAT was on a VAT inclusive price – this she will do with a calculator though and then on Excel, as these problems will require dividing by 114.  Right now, it is not a bad exercise to multiply with 14 and to divide by 100!  That Tammy needs time is evident in how long she took to multiply with the ten!  (One time 9 is…… 9 and again, one time 9 is …….9)  Multiplication with 1 or 0 is not something quick or automatic, as it would be for you or me, but I keep on hoping it will happen yet.

Geography and Tourism

The grade 10 level was a bit much and although we had quite some success with Tourism in the beginning, this began to frazzle out towards the end of last term and I was ready to throw in the towel.  Tammy was tested at length by a professional, but in the end he could not advise as to whether Grade 10 was really feasible or not!  (Frustration for her parents as well as for me.)   Basically we decided to concentrate mostly on English (self-expression and comprehension), Mathematical literacy, computer literacy and tourism projects for fun.  Tammy will still be evaluated by an occupational therapist regarding her future.  We are dreaming about a placement in a workplace: perhaps somewhere where she could help to put out clothes? Or work with animals?  Or look up flights on the internet?

Please God, guide us to make the right decisions for Tammy!