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New to HE and finding it harder than I expected

(18 Posts)
lostinafrica Mon 12-Sep-11 20:50:44

I have 4 DCs, aged 7, 6, 4 and 1. Last year, the three elder ones were in school, but this year I have withdrawn my 6yo DD as she seemed so unhappy each morning about going and then each afternoon about the mountains of homework she got. I read up about HE having not really known about it before and thought it sounded brilliant and so much more sensible than all that pressure she didn't need.

So I started (in August here) in high spirits, explained to her that we'd do a bit of reading, writing, maths and exercise each day and apart from that it's up to her. We don't have a very long day, what with school runs for the 7 and 4yos, so that takes a good chunk of our time. We read lots, but though she's a good reader, she just wants me to read to her.

I came across some of her books from last year recently and looked at the high standard of work - neat writing every day (she says she doesn't like it now) and beautiful pictures that she used to draw. She used to sit and colour in pictures at home really carefully, too.

Then there's the standard of work she's choosing to do for English and Maths, which is basically stuff she did at school last year or two years ago, so that she can get a sticker, or whatever reward it is on the computer program we have.

I read a lot over the summer about children's natural inquisitiveness and desire to learn, and all she seems to want to do is regress. What with the heat and dust here and general lack of things to do (could go to the market, for example, but it's quite an overbearing place, no English spoken, could easily get lost, and don't have pushchair or carrier for 1yo!), I'm feeling quite despondent.

Can anyone give me some advice or reassurance? Am I giving her too much free rein? Or not enough?! Am I just not creative enough with finding things to do?

FionaJNicholson Mon 12-Sep-11 23:14:07

A 6 year old who wants you to read to her a lot sounds great! Do you have access to lots of audiobooks/downloads as well, to save your voice?

Also it's very common for children of all ages when they come out of school to be quite anxious about being out on a limb and to retreat into safe things they know already.

Sorry I've missed previous posts, why are there no other English speakers?

lostinafrica Tue 13-Sep-11 07:00:55

Oh, I didn't explain, just let my nn do the talking... I'm in a country with a lot of English-speaking expats, but not many English-speaking locals!

Thanks for your encouragement. Do you think I should try to find ways to encourage her to write - or just wait it out?

I think part of my anxiety about it all is that dh is not really that supportive - we're in a 4-month trial of HE that might extend to a year, but when I mentioned HE the 4yo, his immediate reaction was, "No way!" So I want to see immediate results to prove this is a good thing to do, but that's probably not how it works, is it?

I read on a thread here about children aged 8 and above who weren't yet reading or writing. I can't begin to imagine the confidence of their parents to persist in believing that they're doing the right thing - how do they do that?!

CheerMum Tue 13-Sep-11 07:28:45

hi, we're in our second year of HE and i would say it took my dd (and me) a good 9 months to relax into it. she is very bright and so i would give her maths that was above what she had been doing at school but, because i told her it was a year above her "school age" she convinced herself that she couldn't do it - even though she could, perfectly well.

i think to set yourself targets is a good thing, but they should be related to the child rather than proving to your dh that HE is for you.

I also abandoned handwriting as, to be honest, as long as i can read what she has written and it is fairly neat, i'm happy.

personally, i have retained control over the level of maths and english that my dd does and everything else we cover by doing a topic which my dd chooses. at the moment it is rainforests and i choose a variety of work for her to do, some easy, some more challenging.

will you be in that area for long? is it worth thinking of doing a topic on the local area, perhaps learning some of the basics of the local language?

lostinafrica Tue 13-Sep-11 08:15:36

Thanks for your reply. It's really useful to get an idea what others are doing. We're coming to the end of our time here, but there's plenty we could still learn about the place. There are a couple of museums and we could take a camera out with us... She's done language lessons at school and hated it, so I shall take that slowly but try to encourage her to say good morning to shopkeepers and our cleaner.

How old is your DD? What do the topics look like when they're done? I'm not sure how much writing to expect from her and if I have the wrong expectations, her confidence or interest takes a knock...

She's happily banging nails into a piece of wood outside at the moment, which is exercise as well as hand-eye co-ordination - great!

CheerMum Tue 13-Sep-11 08:28:34

my dd is 10 and i keep an eye on the nationally expected standards for her age to make sure i am keeping her up to date (actually - that's nto entirely true as she is working at least a year ahead of her age but didn;t want to sound like i was bragging hehe)

with topics they vary, it isn't a one piece of work idea, it's an area of interest that we would research, read books on, i usually find a couple of fiction books on the subject for her to read as well, i like to do a couple of day trips too, themed art work, work sheets etc my dd is quite academic and loves worksheets.

where are you off to next - could you research that?

and i heartily recommend audio books or storynory.com (online stories - free to play)

really, at six, i wouldn't worry too much about it all, just some basic maths, times tables and carry on reading smile

CheerMum Tue 13-Sep-11 08:29:54

i konw it is easy to say "don't worry" but hard to do x

and i would consider upping the level on the computer programme

SDeuchars Tue 13-Sep-11 08:50:53

Won't she soon run out of that level on the computer? Can you suggest trying something from the next level up (and doing it alongside her)?

It may also be a good idea to find something on the computer that is puzzle based (thus giving an incentive to continue) and that does not clearly indicate school levels - she may be choosing to do the safe stuff because she can identify it with school. If you get (for example), Madeline or Carmen Sandiego CDs she may do things at a higher level without realising.

lostinafrica Tue 13-Sep-11 09:08:19

Yes, puzzle-based sounds good. I've just had a look at Activity Village and it looks a lot more interesting than her workbooks! grin

I just talked to her about doing a topic together. She said she wanted to do one on "Famous People" (because that's what DD1 did at school in year 2!). Not the answer I was expecting at all, but she was excited by the idea, so I'll see where it goes.

Can't buy things here or even get them sent out (unreliable post), so I'm stuck with what I've got - but I'm feeling more relaxed and inspired thanks to your replies, thank you!

CheerMum Tue 13-Sep-11 09:25:15

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/famouspeople/

hope it helps x

DeepLeafEverything Tue 13-Sep-11 11:11:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DeepLeafEverything Tue 13-Sep-11 11:12:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lostinafrica Tue 13-Sep-11 13:39:31

Ooh, thanks for the link, CheerMum, we will try that tomorrow. And Deep, that's a good point - I did that once three weeks ago and haven't thought of it since! She also wrote some clues for a treasure hunt recently, so there are certainly ways that I can get her writing if I just think.

Sounds like there's plenty for us to do and there shouldn't be any pressure. Silly, isn't it, I took her out of school to get her away from the pressure, but I'm still feeling it! I'll just have to give up trying to prove something to DH. Difficult, though.

ommmward Tue 13-Sep-11 13:48:48

It all comes in its own time.

I was too busy mumsnetting looking at some important work emails this morning to pay much attention to anyone doing busy painting games. When I looked up, one child had covered themself in paint from head to toe, and another had done the most astonishing series of intricate Tom and Jerry pictures, with captions. Every caption was legible, spelt correctly, and relevant to the picture.

We have never once sat down and "learned" reading or writing. Not once.

And this child has never (as far as I know) written things down independently before. typing - yes, I'm aware of that. But handwriting? This was the first time without asking me to spell out every word.

Let the motivation come from within - if you read to a child a lot, and give them access to interesting resources, they will surpass your wildest dreams. Mine do, on a regular basis

Notquitegrownup Tue 13-Sep-11 13:55:23

Re writing - can you get her a few penpals too? (One is boring - takes too long to reply)

You can scan in her letters and email them, so that you speed up the process, or send them off in the post, but it is real writing that will get real replies. Equally, ask if she wants to write to any of the famous people you discover, to ask them any questions. She will be sooo chuffed if she gets a reply. In fact, you could see how many famous people you manage to get replies from

Notquitegrownup Tue 13-Sep-11 13:55:59

Sorry pedants -from whom you can get replies.

lostinafrica Tue 13-Sep-11 18:32:45

Thanks for more great ideas (penpals could definitely work) - and inspiration (*ommmward*, wow!). I feel like I'm at the beginning of a steep learning curve, but I'm excited about it all again. I don't think I'm going to get the chance to HE longterm, but then who knows? And if it's only going to be for four months, I'm going to do my best to make sure it's a happy time!

lostinafrica Wed 14-Sep-11 20:21:54

Just had to report that I tried the BBC Famous People site with her today and she loved it. First thing she said was, "I have to write this down!" She made notes on three different people, with a picture for each, kept reading bits out to me when I was not sitting with her, and worked all afternoon on it, even drawing DD1 into the excitement - and the bonus is that they seemed happier together doing that than they have been since DD2 started the HE.

Plus we scrapped the workbook for Maths and drew a numberline in chalk outside and jumped up and down it.

And DH thinks time spent on MN is time wasted! Thanks again for the help, everyone.

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