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Making tea and drinking it was WAY better than a temper tantrum.
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And we began a balsa wood model, no photos by request, and painted with acrylic, and baked, and briefly looked at baking powder, water, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Oh, and fractions.

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I’m most interested in the 6yo and the 2yo teaching each other to read. The 6yo really cares about the rules and gets cross when books do easy to read texts “wrong”.

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It’s here. Which is frankly weird, because it’s JANUARY, hello? But nonetheless…We had a busy morning, in that not very busy way; it was low key and unrushed, but people seemed to be getting a lot done.

Reading maths puzzle books. I like that they don’t need to be written in, so we can hand them on or lend them to others.
Using acrylic paint to colour air-drying clay. I have no idea what the shapes are supposed to represent.
Pick up that green shovel and DIG, woman!

So I pottered around the garden recording signs of spring.

No idea what’s going to surface here. Tulips and daffodils and crocuses and things. The thing is, it’s JANUARY and the place is bursting with little green shoots.
Fuzzy buds on the apple tree.
And on the fruit bushes. Fruit twigs, really.
JuniperJasmine berries. Wasn’t that a Body Shop fragrance?
House!
I say again, January.

Honestly.

We’ve had a good time lately. We did lots with fractions – L has been adding fractions in her head for a while without being clear on how she did it, and we did it on paper so she could see what was going on. We finally made it back to the library and got some new books, and somewhere there’s a diagram of clementine segment skins under a microscope. Pocketmoney maths is big but complicated.

And we had haircuts, to cover up the look of the most recent self-cutting attempts. I don’t much mind them cutting their own hair, any more; my biggest objection was when one of them cut the other’s hair, but since I cut my own hair, and theirs, I don’t care much if they do it too.

But it’s nice that I didn’t have to, this time. And they all enjoyed the unaccustomed use of a hairdryer.

Linnea is four years eight months old now, apparently. I find it hard to believe, myself. And
what is she doing?

She’s definitely learning to be more conciliating in her interpersonal relationships – children who cry or shout at her are very likely to get their way unless she’s totally confident that they will still be her friend tomorrow. She clearly offers compromises and gets upset when they aren’t listened to.

Her favourite protest at home is “You are a Gnoring me!” and her favourite insult is “Now you are nuis-less,” (also “Don’t be so nuis-less.”) She’s toying with “You’re a stinky poo,” too, but that’s for fun rather than to express unhappiness or frustration.

She’s more and more interested in learning to read and write but still not interested in being Taught. Similar with maths – she’s adding, subtracting and multiplying single-digit numbers all the time, but doesn’t like us initiating a session of it, though we’re expected to drop everything and answer “what is seven nines?” at her lightest whim.

I gave her window crayons recently and she drew some lovely stuff on the bay window. I must brave the cold without my gloves and photograph it. It’s very bold and confident; there’s a house and a snail and a sun and some waves.

She’d like to learn to knit but doesn’t like how fiddly and difficult it is. She has short needles and lovely mixed-colours yarn, thanks to Nana, but hasn’t stuck it out as far as knitting a whole stitch yet.

Her grasp of anatomy surprises us sometimes – she told us over Christmas that her ribs are the bones which protect her heart and lungs because her heart and lungs are soft and squashy and bones are hard. Presumably that was in a book or on telly but I didn’t know she knew it.

I said “I like spending time with you, Linnea,” today, and she responded, thoughtfully, “But not when you’re cross.”

True enough. Don’t like much when I’m cross.

The children around us are getting used to being at school six hours a day. I’m not, but they are settling down ok.

And we’re working out what is best for us, too. We need to go out less, I think; my children want to spend hours at home playing with lego and reading books and dancing.

I’m trying to make a handy to-read pile for the four-year-old as we can get through fairly large chunks in one go. Someone else I know is reading “Little House In The Big Woods” to a much younger child and I am going to flick through it to see how bad the butchering / beestings incidents are, because Linnea will notice if I skip whole chapters. She tends to hand me the book open at the page we were last on (presumably using the numbers?) when it’s time to start reading again.

Edit: On page four she looks out her window to see two dead deer, and the butchering goes from there to the end of the pig bit, on and off. Now, she knows about meat-eating animals, and that people are made of meat, but me and my ex-vegetarian sensibilities are a little concerned that she’ll react more or less like I did when I learned where meat comes from. I was a terrible, tedious bore, but at least I could eat dairy products. A vegetarian four-year-old would really complicate things on us here.

On the other hand, looking at the very first illustration, a Garth Whatsisname one of Laura skipping along waving her bonnet, and Mary walking primly along with an armful of flowers, I
see that I was set up from the very beginning to want to hit Mary in the face with a lump of green, stringy, slimy seaweed and stuff some crabs down her dress.

Bounded

It’s easy to see from the three-year-old’s behaviour that she’s happy with firm, reliable rules, clear boundaries, and regular mealtimes.

And now the one-year-old is getting in on the act; she visibly tests boundaries, is confused when they’re not enforced, and depends on their being there for her physical safety (stairgates, for one).

The kids need reliability, it seems. And freedom. And boundaries. And open spaces.

And sometimes, a mother who will just close her eyes, wait, and quietly go grey while they learn something new, like how to climb the swing-set without dropping the teddy or the carton of juice, or how to get down an 18-inch precipice hands-first.

I don’t like the phrase “home-schooling” because I don’t like the verb school unless it’s applied to fish. I don’t much like “training” either, applied to children.

I home-educate. That is, I offer my children opportunities for learning, and sure enough they learn. Linnea finds opportunities to learn that I hadn’t seen coming; that’s what being two is all about! I provide a safe environment, up to a point, and plenty of interactions with people who are not exactly the same as us. We have books, a kitchen, a garden, and pets. We have television and radio and art materials.

When my two-years-ten-months-old daughter, just the other day, walked into the room with a sippy cup of water, with the lid on, I asked my guest “Did you fill that for her?”

No, he hadn’t.

Later she walked in with some bread and butter. The butter was not exactly spread, more daubed; we discovered that that was because there were no knives readily available and she used the handle of a teaspoon.

I am so proud I might die.

She’s been watching “A Bug’s Life” over and over and over – sometimes twice a day. She talks about it, in little snatches. She refuses to let me skip the scary parts. We discuss them as best we can later on, never in the middle of the night when she wakes homesick and ill, but often in the daytime when we’re out walking or indoors playing or reading or doing boring household stuff.

It’s got some pretty big themes; it’s fairly obviously about The Oppressed Majority, which is nice because I’ve been reading various books about South Africa lately, and my aunt has just come back from Zimbabwe. There’s also a little bit about small weak children growing up into big strong adults; she’s not sure she wants Emer to get big but she’s intermittently keen on the idea that she will herself. And she likes it when the grasshoppers (oppressive minority) get their come-uppance but doesn’t like the grasshopper-on-grasshopper violence one leetle bit. She’d prefer honour among thieves.

The biggest thing, of course, is violent death – squishing and being eaten by birds. I’m never sure how I feel about her watching things with or about explicit death.

It’s strange that something I feel so guilty about – parking her in front of a screen for hours so that I can cope with the rest of life – is so obviously interesting and stretching for her.

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