Little Star Homeschool

"Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each." Plato

Next door but one going down the road was dashing (as this hyper-manic 20 something does) along the right of way at the back of our house followed by his 3 year old daughter when disaster struck. She fell. She grazed a knee. She cried. He exploded in a rage. She had fell on something or nothing as 3 year olds do (Robert spends plenty of time on the floor but is stoical about it) so John duly dashed out to apologise and try to calm this man a little but thats not good enough for his little princess. We are now in the process of removing the old obviously defective concrete from the path and renewing it with a ton of sand and lots of paving. And of course just when the work gets underway it rains for two days. The skip we've hired is daylight robbery, its little more than a bucket and its nearly full and I have some stuff in the house I need to put in it.

After that I thought the week could only get better, silly me. We are still at war with British Gas after 8 cards and 3 meters....with no sign of a solution.

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The gladioli Robert helped plant earlier in the year are stunning! Later this year we will put in some spring bulbs for next year, daffodils, tulips, etc.

Not the embarrasing 'I've put my foot in it' kind of clangers, but the pink knitted variety. Bought a DVD whilst out shopping featuring some of my fave characters from childhood, remember the soup dragon? Robert watched it all twice, he was entranced so its been a peaceful evening.

More work tomorrow and John has to wait in for the man to fix the gas meter, we had it changed and its not working properly. Its a card meter and it won't accept the new card, or should I say *cards*. In the space of a week we've had 5 completely useless cards and the credit on the meter is ebbing away. Good job its summer and we don't need the heating on otherwise I would be blowing a fuse. John is more laid back than me and is sure it will be ok. I am preparing for battle with British Gas. Grrrrr.

I haven't blogged for a few days due to extra shifts at work (still doing holiday cover) and picking up the pace with my ebaying so we have enough money to get away on holiday later this year. So I'm catching up while listening to sleezy Kipper music from the website. Robert read Kipper's beach ball to me again last night and can read more words, such as kipper, plasticky, and elsewhere he is picking up more words still.

Robert can write his name, he uses the whole of an A4 sheet of paper tho! And he is working hard learning to write numbers. We used some print outs from Scholastic which helped him get the shapes of the numbers and he was off and running!

This was all happening while John was shouting at the printer as it mangled paper, smudged ink and made some very strange noises which Robert found very funny. I'm starting to think that cheap ink cartridges aren't so cheap after all if they wreck the printer!

Everything in the garden is coming

Robert planted some bulbs with John back in May and he's very pleased with the results. He calls them 'nana's flowers' because in March I cross stitched a floral mother's day card with Robert for her and said "nana likes flowers", so all flowers belong to her.

Got back from town and had a scan through this month's (September 2005) Nursery magazine published by Scholastic. I buy it now and again because it has great large format posters inside, this time its an alphabet one and Robert is using it to look at while he writes the letters in his name.

In the 'news' section there is an alarming article telling me that children under 3 in nurseries may be branded as potential criminals if they show 'that they are not under control.' Nursery staff will be trained to spot potential criminality and keep this on file which will no doubt be passed through the education system. Talk about give a dog a bad name.

Will parents be informed that their child is branded a potential criminal?

Will the records be passed from nursery upwards and eventually to the child's first employer?

Will the records be passed to the police, family therapy, social services, etc. which could result in a child being forcibly removed and placed into care or possible compulsory adoption?

What concerns me is the thought that the child may be judged by the actions of the parents, if they look poor or scruffy it will be too easy for teachers to assume they are criminals and their children will be too without evidence of any criminal record. Whatever happened to 'innocent until proven guilty' ?

I think this is the final clincher that convinces me home ed is the right choice for Robert, possibly the only choice. It is not that I am unconcerned whether he could turn out to be a criminal type or out of control, we all worry about the influences from society on our kids but where will this all end? Remember the Victorians and their passion for phrenology to identify potential criminals, this is not progress its regression. I attended a very strict all girls senior high school with an extremely old fashioned moralistic headteacher who believed if the uniform was deviated from in any way chaos and immorality would ensue. This kind of thinking is extreme, rediculous and only encourages rebellion in children.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

I was at work today so John took Robert to Tapton House, ex home of George Stephenson (the man who invented The Rocket....more trains) for a couple of hours. The house is on top of a hill and he ran all the way down and loved it! There's a playground at Tapton and he indulged in his favourite activity....the slide. Whilst in the playground at the bottom of the park a little girl came in accompanied by her mum and grandad, she wouldn't speak to Robert and avoided him whenever possible she refused to play on the same things as him and seemed painfully shy. her mother explained to John that "she goes to nursery 2 days a week. She's not normally like this she's just being daft." So much for schools developing social skills. Robert did get to fuss her little 2 month old labrador named Sam.

New words he can read include: T-Bone (from Clifford website) Doncaster (from monday's trip to York) and coat.

He is now aware of where he lives, coming home from tapton they approached the railway station and John said "there's the railway station over there" and Robert replied "yes, Chesterfield station." Wow!

Off we trekked to York again, yesterday. Quick look round the NRM and caught their road train to York Minster. We relaxed for an hour on the park examining gargoyles and trees.

Got completely lost looking for the castle, which turned out to be little more than a tower and a very expensive museum. A bonus however while we meandered aimlessly through York center was the excellent find of a remainder bookshop, we picked up some more reading material for Robert before heading off again. When we found the castle we climbed the steps up to Clifford's Tower, I realised how unfit I am when my legs nearly gave way at the top. Robert loved the tower, exploring the nooks and looking out through the arrow slits. John climbed higher still onto the ramparts (my ever increasing vertigo meant I stayed put) Robert has no such fear of heights and couldn't get enough of the view!

We hiked back to the train station with Robert on John's shoulders most of the way as he tried to doze off. Our train was cancelled due to 'signal failure' and with no sign of any more trains for the foreseeable so Robert got an hour's sleep at the station while we decided what to do. John's an old hand at rail travel and figured out an alternative root home catching two trains and a bus, and the challenge cheered him up no end. Amazingly ther homeward journey took the same time as the outward journey.

I've sussed getting more one photo onto blogger, hurray! There will be no stopping me now.

I've also noticed the date stamp on my camera is years to come I will be wondering how did we manage such a sunny day in York in November???!!!

Robert has always shown an interest in photography and loves to grab the camera and have a go, the great thing about digital cameras as everyone knows is bad photos can be erased for ever before anyone sees them. Sometimes though the mistakes are funny, clever or just plain interesting. This is one of his pics.

Robert was very lethargic and quite today, perhaps after effects of jabs and I had to do an extra shift at work. He picked up later though when I found some Clifford games on there are some phonics games he loved and did well at. His new word for today is Vodafone???!!!

We began construction yesterday and completed our first papier mache project 9pm tonight. Its a hot air ballon built round a balloon and a flower pot. I did most of the gluey messy bit, Robert helped with the painting and decorating the 'basket' with stick on funky foam shapes (his favourite craft material) and John stepped in for the technical bit - threading the string and hanging the balloon. Below is a pic of John with balloon.

Its not been a bad day considering Robert had his 3.5 year check up and jabs, he was so brave he got a sticker of which he is very proud AND a Tigger certificate!

Robert read Kipper's Beach Ball to me before he fell asleep, well when I say read I mean he recited it from memory mostly. Still I was very impressed even if it was a memory feat, those omega oils must be working! He is reading new words every day now, todays memorable word was 'craft'.

Little joke: I was singing 'how much is that doggy' and when i got to the waggly tail bit I asked Robert if he had a waggly tail. He of course said 'no' indignantly. I asked why, expecting him to say it was because he wasn't a doggy. Instead he shouted 'because I've got a bottom'. *sighs*

I have been looking at different maths schemes available for homeschoolers. I like the idea of using blocks to shape mathematical thinking which is available via the use of cuisenaire rods but what grabbed my attention and more importantly Robert's attention was Saxon Math. The Saxon webiste offers online math games, Robert quickly pushed me out of the way, grabbed the mouse and began matching shapes and colours, sorting coins, completing colour sequences and matching numerals to sets of objects. Take a look at the games on their website at I am left wondering if anyone supplies Saxon Math books in the UK.

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