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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We started potty training this week and it’s going very well so far. The only accident so far was my fault – we had just had passed on to us a lovely pair of Osh Kosh dungarees so I dressed him in them but of course he couldn’t take them off by himself!

He enjoyed his birthday very much. We gave him a tape player and Grandparents gave him the Winnie the Pooh stories narrated by Alan Bennett. So we have been listening to a LOT of W t P this week!

He and Benjie are playing lots of Alfie and Annie Rose games at the moment (books by Shirley Hughes). So Isaac spends lots of time crawling around the house saying ” I’m being Annie Rose the baby girl!”

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.


Space is the current enthusiasm. Benjamin found one of Matt’s old books showing pictures of the first landing on the moon, and then Matt discovered a NASA web site with clips of all sorts of rocket take-offs, moon expeditions, etc. One showed an experiment on the moon showing an astronaut dropping a hammer and a feather together. They both fall fairly slowly and land at the same time. I had thought the hammer would still fall faster than the feather, albeit more slowly than on earth, but of course there is no air resistance to slow the feather down. Galileo was right. So discussions about gravity boots and space buggies has, for the moment, partially replaced train topics.

Still lots of track building going on during the day though. Jigsaw puzzles are also being popular, as is a new road mat from Granny.

Last week Matt and I were discussing how to respond to Isaac, who is often very slow to respond when asked to do something and mostly seems to be oblivious and far away in his own world. It can be very easy to get frustrated with him if you are trying to get anywhere in a hurry. Benjamin, in contrast, has always been much quicker to respond. As we talked it over we began to wonder whether partly he is less responsive to us because we haven’t built the same depth of relationship with him as we have with Benjamin. Benjie had us all to himself for 15 months, and even after Isaac was born I guess partly we were still focused on all the new things Benjie was doing while Isaac tagged along in the background. Benjamin often gets one to one time with Matt after Isaac has gone to bed etc but Isaac never has one to one. It was one of those horrible sinking moments when you realize what you have been doing wrong. We decided that Matt would have a half hour just with Isaac every day before bed, and tonight Matt took him off to help him with setting up the PA for the Christmas guest service. ( tomorrow will be Benjie’s turn)