Month: November 2016

Week 6: a bit of this, a bit of that

After last week’s challenges, I decided that we needed a big change. K has gotten into the habit of waking at about 4 or 5 and then hogging the iPad until 7, when she will often swap it for TV. I know. Over the past two weeks we noticed a big deterioration in her concentration and mood, so when I saw an article about how screens were making children moody, lazy and angry, I thought: why not?! The author suggests a four week “Fast” which is appropriate at this time of year.

Monday

After I announced the screen fast, K immediately perked up. It was amazing – she suddenly became more playful, happy and almost relieved. I’m not sure what’s going on but I won’t complain. She wouldn’t go out at all BUT we go through a whole day with zero squabbles. It was very stressful as we were waiting on the new piano arriving – which it did, with the help of three strong young men. Hooray!

Peeking inside to watch the hammers hit the metal strings. 


Immediately settling down and getting on with playing. I’m glad to say her recorder teacher is right, the piano appears to come very easily so far. We hope to have it tuned very soon and a new piano teacher starting next week.

The rest of the day was mostly play but she soaked it up: we read books, played games, danced to silly songs. I think that after a week or two she might need a bit less focus but it doesn’t matter. A couple of Christmas books arrived but I managed to hide them 🙂

Tuesday 

A tough start, all of us exhausted. She woke at 4 but both she and daddy managed without the iPad. I took over just after 7, with the aid of minimal coffee. We had a timetable with ten minute amounts of work, broken up with playing, dog walking (!), and music. In spite of the reluctance to walk, we managed to do almost all the work planned before leaving for recorder at midday. Her daily practice has moved her along and she’s now playing much more fluently. Home for lunch and more clay charm making before Get Going again. She did really well with the tennis games and her coach Lewis wants her to keep playing when the course finishes at Christmas! It made such a big impact on her confidence. A happy girl greeted daddy on his return and we all made tiny doughnuts – in clay – before bed.

Wednesday 

An early start but no iPad or tv – just parental entertainment – mum reading the Day the Crayons Quit in a stupid voice. We played with her new Playmobil Nativity set (arrived Tuesday to huge excitement – except I thought it was an advent calendar … and then gathered up her work and drove to G&Gs. In spite of asking for a little tv at lunch time, they all got through the day (more intense than usual as there was no TV break for grandad) and she returned bright eyed and chirpy after her supper. A few new winter jumpers were tried on and then for our special time, we got out the wooden blocks and built towers etc. I discovered an old iPod which we have loaded up with Harry Potter audio books, so she can have a little down time without the screen, hooray!

And then it all gets really busy. The best thing is that the screen fast allowed us to really reconnect during a time of year when I get really stressed out and down. It lasted until the week of Christmas, so the full four weeks. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Will K be happy to do it again? Watch this space.

Week 5: FiaR New Coat for Anna (cont).

Monday

After a very mixed up weekend with some late nights, we had a later than usual wake up call at 7:30. Although we agreed to go to Church, I was very pleased that the Liturgy didn’t start til 10:30, as we were going to try and do something before then and maybe walk. I managed to hoover while K did recorder practice and the dog snapped at the hoover, then we got the bus. It was freezing, literally. We talked about weather, temperatures, why our breath is visible and what Makes frost slippy.

This has nothing to do with the frost but it does mean things are even slower Han usual. The GP diagnosed overuse. Not arthritis, which is a bonus.

During Liturgy K likes to draw and today produced this gem.


We stayed for a Serbian slava service and then made our way to coffee, where K had one gingerbread and then worked away on maths and English on the laptop. She found it tricky to start with but managed to get into it enough to do 40 minutes. Far too cold for a walk at her pace, we got the bus home at 3 (late Liturgies are tricky) and spent the rest of the day feeling tired. No full moon but 10pm before sleep was achieved… no work or down time for mama today.

Tuesday

Recorder lesson dominated the day, getting there by bus and stopping off at the Treasure Trove, where makers can sell their knitted, sewn & baked goods direct to the public through the Edinburgh based Self Aid Society. I bought a knitted bunny for K’s name day and a colour work beret for myself. We got to Class on time and thirty short minutes later, hopped onto a bus back home. I have to say getting any formal work done was not easy today…

Wednesday 

Grandparent day, eventually. They have done better at getting her to work than I have this week!

Thursday & Friday 

Not a great end to the week, with a bare minimum of work. We went to see Trolls at the cinema on Thursday as she just couldn’t work or focus at all. Huge upset and just an unhappy little soul. I’m so glad to say that the film was great – very positive message – and we both loved it (and having the cinema to ourselves)!

On Friday she went to G&G as usual, had a good time and did a little work, but became very focused on a toy which won’t be available til the first Friday in December… a long week ahead.

Week 4: FiaR: A New Coat for Anna

No doubt the best thing about homeschooling is that if, for example, your child sleeps til 3am then has a nightmare and is up from 5 but is completely exhausted by 9, you can adapt the day… a lot.

Monday

Instead of church, we read through the book carefully – it’s a beautiful story and keeps even 8 year olds attention – and then discussed Bartering. This was interesting as K said she wouldn’t swap any of her precious things (anything), so we talked about trading our time and skills instead – she could help someone keep a baby busy, help tidy up a house or garden (with a lot of support). She was a bit frustrated at how much she cannot do, so perhaps it is a good time to start building some life skills into our routine.

She then did a full hour of Mathseeds – I think it’s too easy right now but it keeps her going and reinforces the numeracy she has. Today was about money and coin/note denominations.

We had a trip to IKEA and Costco for various items and we talked about how shops don’t do bartering but tradesmen or artisans might. However, I pointed out that I don’t barter for my work!

Recorder practice and an attempt at a walk before setting up some weaving with paper and watching for the SuperMoon which was only partly visible.


Tuesday

Mama bear was capital T tired today, and I wasn’t even the parent being woken during the night and getting up at 5am.. a bit of reading and getting ready for the day, then K entertained herself by singing and dancing around while I tried to study and prepare for an OU assignment. Not easy with in flight entertainment at full blast…

We made it to recorder on time and her daily practice is really paying off in confidence and technique. She’s now trying to play tunes by ear, after singing them out. On the way back we stopped at Princes Street to buy some equipment and supplies for the new doll case project I have planned. Shhhh it’s a surprise!


The German market is almost ready and the wheel is going round so it must be almost December!

Today marked the beginning of the Orthodox Nativity Fast, 40 days of special remembrance and fasting of course, as we approach Christmas. There are lots of links and resources here but I will have to dig out the felt Nativity calendar I made last year – it took five hours so I decided against making them to sell!

Wednesday

Rather a blur, as we decided to move her little handpainted bed out of the room and swap it for the grown up bed of drawers. It means that a) I have a legitimate reason to be antisocial and b) we can fit in the piano! Hooray, we have found a decent piano which will be delivered on the 28th. Granny and Grandad did most of the work as mama was very under the weather, with K helping in between playing with her figurines which she ‘dusted’. 

In the afternoon there was a lot of measuring, using tape measure, rulers and even a sonic device (as bats do to find their way around), plus a few worksheets and of course, playing with Hermie the dog.

Thursday

Again exhausted so very very low key. Recorder practice, reading, reciting times tables and maths games, then a walk to get some fresh air for all of us. On the way we started looking at berries; we talked about how they help both birds and the plants, how beautiful they look and started comparing shapes and colours of leaves and berries. The light is really amazing just now, when it is not overcast.


I hope that we can use these as inspiration in our nature journals, using different material to try and decide what we like best.

Friday 

A G&G day, with some great recorder practice, great cursive writing, reading our book and even a bit of maths and spelling. K has decided she hates the 10-minute a day books, perhaps because they are designed to be practice rather than teaching? Lots of dog playing with Hermie the terrier too, but overall a tired and run down girl this week.

We have decided to continue using A New Coat for Anna next week, as we didn’t achieve lots of our learning outcomes or complete the lapbook.

I forgot to mention that the Amelia Thimble bjd (ball jointed dolls) arrived on Friday, to great excitement. A post alll about them soon!

This is a “sorbus cashmeriana” in a neighbour’s garden – it is a delight in every season. I wonder if it says anything about coveting trees in Exodus…

Week 3: unit study “Dogs” part 1

This week K chose to study dogs, in general. Thankfully I had bought the unit study from Amanda Bennet’s site a few years ago. It is very North American focused but there is enough to allow it to be adapted easily for Scotland. It’s a huge resource and you DO need to use a computer though, as lots of the information is hyperlinked from the file. To complement this we downloaded the Dog Lapbook from Homeschool Share as who doesn’t love having a pretty lapbook at the end of a study?

Monday began very slowly, as teacher was feeling pretty tired. Miss K sat and played with hama beads – fine motor control, concentration, occasionally plunging her hands into the large tub of beads… while we got everything up and ready for the week to come. We had a daily timetable on the blackboard too, to make sure we got the minimum covered. That didn’t work, so on Tuesday, we added images/drawings. Tuesday was similarly busy but reluctant to work so by Wednesday, I was grateful for the rest when she went out to G&G’s.

Trying to get as many things on the floor as possible…


Our whiteboard timetable.


On Wednesday, her biggest focus was finishing work…


On Thursday we went to Church & tried to finish work in the cafe – it wasn’t completely unsuccessful but by now we were agreed that we need more focus by using a FiaR book each day. She managed to avoid maths almost all week…

Friday was another Granny & Grandad day: they managed to persuade her to do some reading – her strongest point – and some times tables, but overall this was a week that made me really wonder about homeschooling. Daddy SSS pointed out that if she had been at school, there would be room to hide if she was having an ‘off’ week but hopefully we can get more done next week & include more maths & languages.