Has it really been a month since I last posted? Where did that time go!
The new term after christmas usually feels so rushed. Christmas is so hectic, immediately followed by a birthday party to plan and host and of course NYE. It always feels as though we just don’t have enough time to get back into a routine before school is upon us. The start of this new year has felt very different. I’ve had the same ‘start of term anxiety’ that I’ve had after each school holiday…. Is he feeling left out? Is he missing out on those new term rituals; catching up with friends, sharing stories of the holidays etc. From what I read I’m not alone in this. I’m also not alone in that the feeling passes very as soon as we embark on our home learning and socialising. We’re not missing out, just having a different set of experiences.
And so the new term is starting, and C isn’t demonstrating that he feels he’s missed out on anything. I’m sure the anxiety is all mine, after all I’ve been in the system for a lot longer than he has! I decided I could relieve some of my usual New Year pressures by incorporating them into our learning. For instance, every year I make the boys a photo book to capture the birthday memories. Last year C did his own and I really can’t recall how we ever fitted it in with his 6 year old keyboard skills. This year it has become our ICT/ literacy learning for the week. I formalised the explanations of how to use i photo, select a template etc and he was off. Again, this has led to a very natural spelling ‘lesson’, directly informed by his own writing as he he needed a reminder of the rules for making a word plural. For this purpose we had a quick re cap and then popped onto the letters and sounds website to play a phase 6 phonics game. He apparently remembered the rules – just forgot to apply them.
I have also gone through the whole process of how to upload photos to photobox and this year he has taken full ownership of his thank you card design. I’d like to say that I then took a complete back seat with all this, but ‘Missmummy’ was on call a lot. Patience was maintained by reminders to myself that there’s only one of him; this is so much easier than dealing with a class full of 7 year olds all complaining…
or, “something has happened…”
“What did you do?”
“You must have done something”
(whines)”I didn’t, I really didn’t”
Christmas present playing has taken on a new level this week too. Rather than have to wait for the weekends to play with new toys, I have incorporated these into our plans for the next few weeks. The idea of learning about inventors and inventions was generated at some point during our Victorian topic, and so this is the plan for the next few weeks at least. It may be longer, maybe shorter. As always I will take my lead from him and see where his little mind takes us. We have started by building the spy door alarm for his room, building a circuit and understanding how this works. We will be returning to electricity in a few weeks but our next task has been to construct a solar power car. Three times at the time of writing! It has led to developing some key skills and attributes…Resilience, perseverance, problem solving, not throwing anything across the room being the main ones. I, however, am still working on these. Especially the last one when the tiny axle slipped through and out, just as we tightened the last screw! It’s allowed us a great opportunity to explain why not giving up and re trying is so important. He’s applied this learning to a great little app we have discovered too – ‘inventioneers’. To achieve success with this, all the above attributes were needed. Again I had to resist the urge to throw anything. This time my iPad, which is never good!
The building process and discussions as we have worked have led to us generating a long list of questions. This ‘term’ should hopefully be a vehicle for some ideal enquiry based learning, completely personalised to the individual. Our first enquiry is all to do with how cars work, using gears as a starting point.
We went to a soft play this week with another HE friend. The boys played and mum and I chatted, resulting in some interesting discussions about our philosophies for learning, reading material, science on TV, play, and much more. I came away with loads of research and reading ideas, but one particular thing struck me: As we talked, we discussed the difficulty of personalising learning and being able to be truly enquiry based within a class of 30. Relating to the solar power car, I was explaining how we were planning to explore gears and cogs, leading to looking at how an engine works and so on, C is generating a list of further things he wants to know about. My friend was pondering how, in a classroom setting this would be incredibly difficult. How do you meet the needs of the child who wants to explore rubber tyres, the one whose question is around solar energy, pistons, famous inventors etc? We were agreeing that it is verging on impossible, when it dawned on me that I have in fact left behind some incredible teachers in London who would (and do) strive to do just that. If the truly inspirational KS leader at my old school were doing this topic I have no doubt that as well as a trip to a mechanics, tyres would be being brought in, solar panels, sets of gear wheels and so on and children would be breaking off into smaller groups to explore their own areas of interest. I am loving the HE journey but I did feel quite emotional when I reflected upon the colleagues who have been such an inspiration to me over the last few years. Some of you read this. You are incredible and work so hard. I am truly thankful for inspiration, the creativity, the ideas, the heated discussions (!) and for being a school that really does put the children and relationships first. So much of my current ‘job’ satisfaction is down to the job satisfaction I have always had in the past, I am sure.