First day of the new system, it appears that the children had a rather different idea to how it was going to work than I did. Our system doesn’t involve boxes per child prestacked with work – I’m nowhere near that organised, and I doubt I ever will be. Instead their boxes have pictures that they’ve drawn themselves of preferred activities – in fact, that was what Big spent large parts of the morning doing, drawing the pictures for her part of the box.
My idea was that they’d pull out a card/ picture and that would prompt them for an area to find an activity – or they’d ask me and I’d suggest something appropriate from our resource stash. And I was hoping that they’d work through the cards in the space of a week or so, so that we’d get a balance of activities undertaken.
The children, Small especially, thought he’d pull out cards until he found one he liked the look of. Obviously.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First of all we had to find the box, which was in a crate in the garage. Then they did their cards and put them in the box. Then they wrapped it in a red cape and held a box opening ceremony. Really. Big spoke some words about how important the box was and what it was for, and then declared the box open.
Cutting down on the computer time has been good. I think the main problem we’ve encountered really has been boredom and lack of action. So Small had his hour on the ‘puter and played Command & Conquer Red Alert. Think Big only had a half hour session, although she did help Small a bit as well.
At some point, Small pulled out a play card at the same time that Big pulled out a maths card, and he invited her to join in the playing. So maths got put off. I suggested that it might work best if they took it in turns to draw cards and then did the same activity assuming they both have that, or improvise if they don’t. So that was a slight change to how they’d been working it. And it improved the day immeasurably. They did space together and made planets out of playdough then Big taught Small the montessori planet song. Don’t know whether it’s a standard, or just something we used at school I’m afraid.
And the final activity of the day was craft. They made collages, which is way more arty/crafty than they usually get, so that was a good card as well. And they wound down with Worzel Gummidge which I think was the first tv they watched all day, so that was good too.
I made stir fry veg for tea, to go with rice and chicken pieces. Turns out Small doesn’t like stir fried veg 🙁 He was quite disappointed as it contained broccoli and carrots which are both vegetables he likes so he wasn’t happy for them to taste strange. Bad mummy.
Tim read to them while I had some quiet time, and they didn’t quite make it through the day without trauma, with a spat at lights out time. Close though, and definitely something to build on.
But I seem to have glossed over the bribery and punishment don’t I? It was an interesting part of the day. Big did her standard yelling at me for no apparent reason, and I said that I was considering docking her 10p pocket money every time she did that. An interesting discussion followed with friends on a social network site as to whether this was a good idea – were we learning about cause, effect and consequence, or was I just employing bribery and punishment? Opinions in the usual place 🙂
Later on Big told me that she really wanted to yell at me but she didn’t want to lose any of her pocket money, so we managed to talk about why she was so angry. It turned out that she thought I’d said that they needed to write things down – I hadn’t, when Space got pulled out of the box, I’d suggested they use George’s Secret Key to the Universe to learn about it.
It seems that Big thinks that learning things means writing them down. And that there was far too much writing at school. (There was barely any writing at school that I noticed. Certainly not nearly as much as there would have been at a mainstream primary. Although it wasn’t really done at the children’s behest so that may be part of the problem.) She didn’t know what to write out of George’s Secret Key – they had found some images about the moon and she was trying to write that down but it didn’t make much sense without the images so she got herself very very stressed.
I told her that I hadn’t said anything about writing stuff down, and that while writing things down can be good for learning, it isn’t if all you are doing is copying things from one place to another. And also that it might be a good idea to ask me for further details rather than assuming I’d said something or meant something and getting really angry with me because of it. And that I was pleased that we were talking about the angry.
That might have been our best learning moment of the day actually. And all sparked off by a bit of bribery/ punishment 😉