Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Something new?

I haven't posted for a few days because things haven't exactly been running smoothly. Our wonderful (so we thought) car, failed it's MOT. In quite spectacular style actually. It is going to cost around £500 to get it through the test, and then we still have to have some work on the clutch done at some point (not for the MOT test, but a necessity all the same). That will cost a further £300-£400. Argh! Still, it has to be done, and we couldn't get a car as nice and great in all other ways for the price of the repairs, so we have no choice really. I had a couple of migraines due to worrying about our finances, which really knocked me back a bit as I haven't suffered with one for a while. I'm back to feeling positive about things now though and the migraines have once again ceased :-)

We suffered another sad knockback when we found dear Miss Molly (Chelsea's Budgie) not quite her normal self on Saturday morning. We didn't really know what it was, as the usual signs of bird illness weren't there. Her eyes were clear, as were her nostrils, and she wasn't fluffed up in any way. She was however at the bottom of the cage and easy to pick up. There was a small half broken feather, which pointed to the possibility of her suffering a night fright. We separated her from the others, covered her cage to dim the light, and kept her warm. On Sunday the signs were good. She was lively and very eager to get back with the other birds. We returned her to them on Sunday evening after a full day of observation, but found her unwell again on Monday morning. Sadly, despite our best efforts, she passed away on Monday afternoon. She was just a baby.

Over the past few days, I have been evaluating how things work for our family. I've been making mental notes during our "average days" to see if there is anything that could be changed in order to make things run smoother in our household. I try to fit so much into each day; the obvious daily essentials - schoolwork, pet care, household chores etc, as well as the non-essentials that are pretty important to me, such as my running and crafting. I'm not thinking about the times when we go out to meet friends or visit somewhere, just our "at home" days, which I think we could organise a little better and hopefully get into a less chaotic sort of daily routine.

My conclusion? Well, the morning schoolwork routine works well for us. The children enjoy working in the morning, knowing that they have the afternoon to do (almost) what they wish. I say almost as I do limit their TV and gaming time, and sometimes we do things like science experiments and arts or crafts together after lunch. I do think that there is room for improvement though, so we are trying something a little different.

Having noted how difficult it sometimes is to combine the teaching of such diverse age groups and skill levels, I wanted to come up with a way of providing some one-to-one teaching. Chelsea and Joseph are both at the stage now where they are making real leaps in their schoolwork, but sometimes it feels as if they are being held back by the younger ones being around. Because of this, it has been decided that each child will spend one hour with me alone each morning. During this time, the other 2 children (not including Callum in this as he will just be mingling!), will each have an hour on the computer (with breaks) and an hour of doing reading and/or project work. The computer time will be spent either on one of our many CD-Roms, doing research for their project, and/or visiting educational websites.

We tried this for the first time today, and *touch wood* it worked like a dream. Tiegan adored having me all to herself for her lessons, and thrived on the attention. We did lots of reading at her request (her reading to me) and she is picking it up really well. We also did handwriting practice (again at her request), using one of her workbooks. During my time with Tiegan, Chelsea and Joseph settled well into their work. Working independently is not something that they particularly enjoy, but I'm hoping that if the new routine works out, independent working is something that will become easier for them and they won't be quite so reliant on me looking over their shoulder.

With Joseph, I did some handwriting practice, reading, and a spelling test. Joe can read superbly, but written and oral spelling he struggles with. This term we are going to focus on getting his handwriting a little neater, and his spelling a little better.

Chelsea did some poetry, reading, and story writing. She also set up a prayer diary.

All in all, it was a very positive first day. I felt able to relax with each child, as I wasn't constantly flitting from child to child, and it was also easier to give praise for good work / efforts because of that individual focus. Each child left the table with a grin on his/her face, so that is a positive sign to take away from today. It has been easier to plan for, as I haven't had to divide the work into easy/hard/and harder categories, but instead I have been able to choose work for the individual, and it hasn't had to relate to the others in any way.

We won't completely stop working together, as we all enjoy our family projects. The younger ones gain so much from being around the older ones during work times and they learn so much from them. But after today I can see that there is another way of doing things that may suit us, and the one-to-one time will be positive for both the children and myself.

We were all done and dusted by noon. After lunch, Joseph went off to read his football encyclopedia, Tiegan went to watch a documentary on Animal Planet, and Chelsea helped me to clean out the rabbit and guinea pig hutches.

This evening Joseph went to cub-scouts and got his seconder badge, and another for being at cubs for a year. He is absolutely loving Cubs at the moment, it gives me a real buzz to see him so happy when he comes out. Tiegan had her second evening at Rainbows yesterday (and my purse is £40 lighter for the privilage!) Fortunately my brother is going to pay for her uniform, so I don't have to worry about that expense this month. She is absolutely loving it too, and even more so this week as she got her Rainbows bag and was chosen to bring the teddybear home for the week. We are still going through the counting down the days to the next session stage :-)


  1. sorry to hear about the budgie but the rest all sounds brilliant.

  2. Sorry to hear about the budgie Jules, poor Chelsea must have been heartbroken.

    Hope the car gets sorted for you soon, what a nightmare expense!

    Love the ideas you are doing with the children, it all sounds great and so good if you can work in some one to one time.


  3. Sorry about the poor budgie :(
    We're reeling from tight finances at the mo too, all the time theres something which needs buying or needs spending on...even when were 'not spending'!!!
    Im trying not to think about it or it stresses me out!I just hope it gets better slowly and Im realistic about what we can and cant do
    Glad to hear your work plan is helping everyone! I might try to implement a similar thing myself:)

  4. Anonymous5:52 pm

    Sorry about the budgie,Jules. (((hugs)))

    finances are tight here right now so you have my sympathy. We bought a car as a "bargain" which ended up costing us £800 on top.

    As for the routine, I shall be reading with interest as we are going to be starting this sort of routine in the next few weeks.

  5. Really sorry to hear about the budgie and the car problems too.

    All the rest sounds great though, my try something along these lines myself.