Monthly Archives: May 2011

Off On A Tangent

The past few days have seen a lot of sword fighting in our home and a lot of calls for rum.

The girls have a sing-a-long songs DVD and one of the songs happens to be “A Pirate’s Life For Me”. They Love it. We watch it every. Single. Day. after watching it they run off with swords cutting each other down. At he playground they spin the little ship wheel, pick up mermaids, and find buried treasure. a soccer ball becomes a cannon ball soaring over the heads of other children, slamming into some other pirate’s ship.

We’ve all been having fun with this new game. But the best part ever was yesterday. Agatha sang the song, then shouted, “Yo! Ho! Ho!” paused and declared, “Santa say’s Ho, Ho, Ho.” Then without taking a breath shouts, “Ho, Ho, Ho, and a bottle of rum, please.”

Ryan and I could hardly keep a straight face. : ) Apparently we need to put something different out with the cookies next Christmas.

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Probability, Fractions, Addition, Subtraction

At what age should a child know how to count? To 10, 20, 100? At what age should a child be able to add basic numbers? Subtract them? At what age should fractions be introduced, or probabilities?

According to the school district each skill should happen at a certain time – for all students. For this reason I believe many parents don’t ‘allow’ their children to learn the skills earlier. Not purposefully mind you, but rather because it doesn’t occur to the parents that their child is capable of learning them.

Ella at close to 4.5yrs can count to twenty on her own, possibly farther. But that is nothing remarkable the majority of three year old I know can count to twenty. She also adds and subtracts number 0-12 easily, sometimes she uses finger, dots, or some other item to assist, other times she does it in her head. She has a basic understanding of fractions, and is beginning to learn probability.

She enjoys eating sandwiches for lunch. She can practice adding and subtracting as she eats piece by piece. When I cut the sandwiches into different proportions she can practice fractions. As well as adding and subtracting fractions. If you had 8/8 and ate 3/8s, how many are left? If you had five, and have eaten three, how many were there when you started? She’s interested in the ideas, so she plays along. If she weren’t interested we wouldn’t continue, but she is, so we do.

Most recently we introduced her to one of our favorite board games, “Settlers Of Catan”, the board is made up of hexagonal tiles and each tile has a number placed on top. Under the number are dots. The number of dots represent the probability that each number may be rolled, based on the number of different combinations possible with two dice, with 8 and 6 being the most likely to be rolled. We explained the dots to her and took turns placing settlements with her going last so she could place both her houses at once. She choose well. The next time we played she wanted to place first so she could choose the best settlement placement.

We could take the basics a step farther and write down the numbers as we roll them, then at the end of the game see which numbers were actually rolled most often. We could keep that tally and see after 3 games, 5 games, 10 games which numbers really had the highest probability. If 6 and 8 weren’t rolled most often we could discuss possible reasons why.

Next we’ll work on geography. We’ll play “Ticket to Ride” – a game where you build train routes from one city to another. Besides geography it’ll also reinforce colours, numbers, and introduce some complexities of risk taking: taking more time to get lots of points at once, or taking less time and getting several smaller points.

Besides the skills mentioned, the games also teach other skills, but most importantly it provides a fun way for our family to spend time together doing something we all enjoy.

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Filed under unschooling

Fish or flowers?

I have the most amazing husband ever! I’m not gonna tell you what he got me for mother’s day – until it arrives and I have a chance to try it out. Though I will tell you he also bought me flowers. Gorgeous flowers. Growing in a pot.

I was upstairs changing Cordelia and the girls were downstairs playing with their toy penguin. When I came down, flowers and leaves littered the table and floor. The lecture started. But I stopped and asked the girls to sit while I calmed down. I took a couple breaths and asked what they’d been trying to do. Apparently their penguin was hungry and needed pink and green fish to eat. Naturally only flowers and leaves would do.

I let the girls know I was upset, but I understood it was important for their penguin to eat. Instead of going out to the playground, I made them fish. They were slightly upset about not going to the playground, but also very excited about fish.

First I need to mention I’ve never made something like this before. I also didn’t have a pattern. So by no means are these perfect, and when I make the next ones I’ll make a few changes, but for now the girls love them. After the girls chose colours,  I drew out what I hoped would turn into fish.The girls took their own supplies and stitched and cut while I worked.

I used embroidery floss and craft felt. All total it took me roughly an hour and a half per fish from start to finish. That includes time needed to completely forget a piece necessitating unstitching and restitching. It also includes time to completely tangle and untangle the floss. And time for help. Completely doable in an afternoon, unless you add in the time it takes to feed the children, clean crushed something or other off the floor, read a story or two, wash fingers, faces, floors, walls, and table. That stretches the time to two afternoons.

Poor sick Ella loves her fish, Agatha will get hers when she wakes up in the morning.

I actually had fun making them, and am looking forward to a few changes for the next one. Ryan suggested gills, I want to add scales with a blanket stitch, and figure out how to fix the dorsal fin. It doesn’t sit right, but I’m not sure how it should sit. Any suggestions?

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Apology Vs Abuse

For about a week now the girls have been getting roughly an hour less sleep per night than they should. Plus a cold’s been lingering around. Everyone’s a bit irritable. Today I took the girls out  all day. Shopping. It wasn’t a fun day, but things went remarkably well, until…

We were at Micheal’s getting some cake decorating supplies  when we passed a display with overpriced books. Ella wanted one. I pointed out that she already had the books on the shelf she was looking at, but offered her a different book instead. She got angry. I explained that she could either get the book I offered or she could leave without any books. She got angrier and demanded both books. I said no.

She screamed louder.

People checked to make sure she was okay.

I hugged her as she screamed, she gratefully accepted. However, the screams didn’t stop and neither did her demands. As we left the store (with her under my arm), she tried to hold onto shelves, carts, anything she could reach. When we got outside I tried talking to her again, but she tried to run back into the store. So I picked her up and carried her to the van. Up until this point I was calm, I was reassuring her as we went. Though I didn’t bring her tiredness to my attention, which I should have.

As I put her in the van she screamed that she didn’t want to be in the van, she didn’t want to come with me. I opened the door and told her she could leave if she wanted. She stayed in the van, but screamed as I buckled her up.

When we got home she screamed that she wouldn’t come into the house. I brought everyone else in first, then came back out for her. I was a horrible parent and told her that if I left her in the van it would get as hot as an oven and she’d get roasted like a goose. I also told her that the police don’t let mommies leave children in vehicles, and if I did the police wouldn’t think I was a good mommy and they’d find her a new one.

Oh boy. Angry or not, frustrated or not, it doesn’t matter. There are so many better ways I could have handled the situation.

As it was she took it well. Said she wanted to stay in the van so she could get a different mommy. She just wanted to be alone. I heaved a sigh of relief and told her she could have alone time in the house. She crumpled and let me pick her up to carry her to the house. Once inside she took off to her room where she ranted and raved about me and the situation for about fifteen minutes. I then knocked on the door and said I’d like to give her a hug.

At first she didn’t want me there, but I told her I loved her and explained to her how I was feeling and what I thought about what happened in the store. We realized we’d had a misunderstanding and she asked if we could try going back to the store again a different day. I said “sure.” She then told me she was tired and wanted to go to sleep. So I helped get her tucked in and settled her toys just the way she wanted them. She was asleep by quarter after five.

I feel drained after that episode. And very much like a failure. Over all things could have been worse, but I crossed the line. Our relationship broke a little bit. I tried to scare her, to manipulate her into doing what I wanted her to do. I could have remained calm and found a better solution to MY problem. Instead I hurt her emotionally.

Yes, I apologized. We kissed and made up. But what about next time, or the time after that? How many times can a parent apologize to repair damage done? When is it no longer an apology, but part of the cycle of abuse?

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