Meal-time Maths

It is hard to get Mip to finish a meal these days. As soon as he gets to the table he starts with his questions ‘whats one add one?’ ‘whats two add two?’ ‘three add three?’ etc.. He knows the answers and tells me straight away if I give him a wrong answer, but he still insists on going through it every meal time.

Bee had an ‘ah!’ moment yesterday when he discovered there are different ways of getting to nine (8+1, 7+2, etc.). He also made an attempt at writing down some sums. Although he wrote them all right to left.

But these kind of things give me confidence in not starting formal education yet, because we see them playing with the concepts and asking the questions of their own initiation. Which has to be more meaningful to them than me sitting them down and ‘teaching’ them when they are busy thinking about something else?

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Benjamin

I wandered through to the kitchen this morning to see what B was up to and discovered him with pencil and chalks writing out Bs, back to front, but B never the less. He is spending a lot of time at the moment at the table drawing pictures. painting, etc., probably several hours a day. It is nice to see his pictures becoming recognisable and an interest in writing developing.

Conversations are developing too and we discuss lots of topics as we go through the day. I can see at the moment how the John Holt style of autonomous learning can work. B is just interested in so many things,and one subject leads to another……….

He’s full of plans too. Most mornings begin with ” Mummy, I was thinking we could go to the seaside today” (in February!) or “Mummy, I was thinking we could go up in a hot air balloon today”

He keeps making comments about having a kitten, but I don’t know if it would be a good idea. He is so sensitive – he would be devastated if it were to get run over .

Flat Play Dough

We had a really slow child-focused weekend and Benjamin seemed much happier by the end of it. His stammer has virtually disappeared. I think I noticed him get stuck slightly once today, but that was all.

Joel is possibly eating slightly more, but nothing very spectacular. I shall try another spaghetti bolognese tomorrow. He seems to like raisins.

Play dough has been the in thing this week. Benjamin has had a book out from the library, which features two characters in a block of flats, so he has been making blocks of flats out of play dough for his toys to live in.

A breakthrough

Up until now Joel has continued to show no interest in eating, and every spoonful has to be slipped in while he is distracted. Tonight I had forgotten to get anything ready so I quickly liquidised a portion of the spaghetti bolognese we were having. The first spoonful went in. He opened his mouth for more. Then again. Then again. He has never volunteered an open mouth for food before. He ate a whole 10 month old sized portion. We could hardly believe it! Now we need to find out whether he will eat other things, or whether this is a spaghetti bolognese- specific response!

Benjamin has developed quite a stammer suddenly over this last week. He has done this once before, and we ignored it and it disappeared quite quickly. He ends up repeating the first word or two of a sentence, sometimes 8 times or more,before moving on to the rest of the sentence. So we are again assuming it will be a temporary thing. But I did notice tonight that he wasn’t making much eye contact with me, so perhaps some more one-to-one attention is called for?

But it just seems so hard to find spaces in the day. Even though in some ways things feel easier now that Benjie and Isaac play so well together, the day still fills itself with Joel and meals and laundry etc etc. A measure of the lack of pauses is that my new-for-Christmas book remains unread – an unheard of event! I think tomorrow I shall see if I can gain some spaces by not turning on the computer.

Yesterday Isaac was entertaining himself by walking around the kitchen with a cardboard box on his head. Benjamin decided he would help him out by taking a chop stick and punching out some eye holes for him, while he was still wearing the box!!! Fortunately I noticed this before he actually pierced the cardboard!

Rewarding Benjamin with 2 chocolate buttons for getting to the toilet to do a poo seems to be working well, and we are probably about 80% successful now. Today, however, we only had 1 1/2 buttons left. I gave 1 to Benjie and ate the remaining half myself (Isaac being in his bedroom for rest time and therefore unaware that chocolate buttons were to be had). Benjie went off for his rest time, but later I heard unhappy sounds coming from his room. I went to investigate. He sat on my knee crying, and eventually said “Isaac usually has chocolate buttons too.” I tried to explain that we had run out, but this didn’t seem to help. He only recovered when I said I would e-mail Daddy and ask him to bring some chocolate buttons home. When Daddy came home I opened the packet and gave one to Benjamin saying ” here’s your other button” and he immediately turned and gave it to Isaac! It was a lovely moment, and I feel quite amazed at the depth of emotion Isaac’s “lack” incurred in Benjamin.

New Year’s Day Run

I (Matt) took Benjy and Isey to the little trains today. They have a few of the trains running on New Year’s Day. We turned up and were standing around chatting to people, to be told that there were four trains on the track if we wanted a ride. As the run was a ‘members only’ occasion there were not many children to be passengers (apart from the big children that were also enjoying the rides). We were quickly offered a ride behind ‘Toby’.

Toby was made by one of the members. He said that he had been making a steam engine, but it had taken rather longer than he intended. When Grand-children started to approach a lot quicker than the engine he decided to make an electric instead. This turned into two Tobys. He has two Grand-children, so two engines made sense and I guess it was a lot easier making them the same. He had both of them running today and they look just like Toby the Tram Engine. He is thinking of calling the second one Timothy.

After one lap riding behind (what we later found out was called) Timothy, I was offered a drive. So we set off with the boys sitting behind me. Then the boys were allowed to drive under my supervision. It was very easy with Benjy, as he just did what I asked him to do and responded fairly quickly. Although when coming in to the station he had to be helped to slow down a bit quicker. However when Isaac had his first go he started off with the train in reverse gear and thrust the controller on to quite fast. I was very quick to stop the engine using the controller and my feet! I think I had been lulled into a sense of security by how easy it had been with Benjy. Isey proceeded to learn how to drive well and after a while was responding well to me saying ‘faster’ or ‘slower’.

Having been round a few times we got off so the boys could run around. We raced a few trains and Benjamin won every time. (That gives you an idea of the speeds involved.) We then went back to the station and were offered a drive of another engine. This one is green, apparently it doesn’t have a name, it is number 5601. This had a diferent method of control for the boys to get used to and a button to press to make it do a bee-boor sound. Benjamin was characteristicly gentle with the throttle and Isey turned the knob a lot less gently. We quickly found out that the engine had a lot of power and that I didn’t want Isey to take it to full speed.

I tried to teach them to look ahead down the track to see if there were any engines ahead so that they could go faster/slower as appropriate, but this was mostly lost on them – maybe next time.

When we were leaving Isaac was very lovely as he was totally in his own little world. I couldn’t work out if he was being a train or a plane. I don’t think I have seen him so gorgeously far away, yet also quite responsive. It was very child-like and happy.

I forgot to take the camera! Oh well.

This morning Benjie disappeared downstairs to continue work on a railway track, and Isaac lay in bed chatting and singing in the dark until I went and got him up. They then played peacefully for the rest of the day. I asked Benjie mid-morning if he wanted to go out for a bike ride but he said he just wanted to stay and play all day. J and D came to visit in the afternoon and Benjie and J built a zoo with the bricks and ark animals.

I weighed Joel today. He has reached the 25th centile. Still a long way to go, but at least heading in the right direction! He’s being such a Daddy’s boy, very much as Benjie was. He bounces with excitement when Matt comes home and crumples if he goes out of the room.

Benjie was looking at a picture of a goods train today and said the truck contained “gravel – for making gravity boots” !!

Organization and first word

I’m working on it – organization that is. Am developing a routine of preparing the next day’s meals the night before, which makes things much easier. Matt has put together an mp3 CD of sermons by favourite preachers for me to listen to while I’m cooking, so I’m enjoying my evenings in the kitchen. I also cleared the desk yesterday and caught up with filing today.

All is well with the children. We’re not getting out so much now it is so cold – just brief half hour trips to the local play area – but the boys are just totally absorbed in building railway tracks for as many hours as they are left undisturbed. Benjie’s tracks are quite complex now – he’s particularly liking spiral patterns. I would put some photos up of them, but that will have to wait until we buy a digital camera ( January sale plan) . My phone – camera won’t talk to my computer, and now Matt has changed jobs we no longer have his laptop to act as a go between. So text only until January…..

This evening as Matt and I were calling to Isaac Joel very definitely also said “Isey”