It’s starting to hot up in Dubai – high 30s and 40s/over 100F and it’s humid. The evenings are not much better so I am no longer spending time outside apart from a daily half hour swim for the kids to see the sunshine, get some Vitamin D and outdoor exercise! I am dreading the long summer here! It’s hard to keep us all entertained especially when so many friends leave for over 3 months! Getting through the summer will be a lonely slog. So, I’m trying to focus on doing more book-learning homeschooling now that long days in the park and on the beach with friends are over. I actually really enjoy this and the kids are more accepting when the options of what else to do are more limited (and will become even more so in the following weeks as everyone drifts away to more clement climates).
I am trying to do a daily chapter of ‘Life of Fred’ with Edward (but manage probably 5 days a week). He is always happy to do Fred. Sometimes he’ll ask me to just postpone starting for ten minutes whilst he finishes up a Lego or action figures game, which is totally fine with me. Fred is occasionally starting to get quite hard – we tackled the concept and measurement rules of Area, Volume and Perimeter in one lesson – when Fred was evaluating fish tanks! Then we quickly went on to the shortcut for multiplying by 10, 100, 1000 etc… as well as continuing to learn the rules for doing ‘long’ addition, subtraction and multiplication. Phew! Apart from basically liking the series, because the character Fred is so likeable and the stories so engaging, I think it helps that I try to stick to doing that chapter at around 9am everyday or at least straight after breakfast. A bit of routine/expectation does help gets things done.
Petra continues to pretty happily do her Carol Vorderman’s ‘Maths Made Easy’ series of workbooks. I also bought an English and Science one to have a look at. I noticed it was sometimes getting missed if Fred took a long time with Edward (on the harder chapters) so I tried doing her Maths whilst I prepared breakfast this morning and it worked quite well. She needs attention but nothing too focused given that it’s not extremely challenging stuff.
For literacy, in addition to all the books I read the kids (Petra is mad about the ‘Magic Tree House’ series so that covers all sorts of history and geography too! And both kids love the ‘Junie B. Jones’ books) I’ve started dipping into ‘Five in a Row’ Volume 1. ‘Five in a Row’ is basically a series of unit studies, included in the one book ‘Five in a Row’, based on fiction books you’d probably already like to read your kids. I had only one of the reading books, the library only two but I’ve managed to borrow 5, so we’ll only be able to do a portion of the program unless I decide to order the books. But I think it’s still a worthwhile program to do. The kids don’t like it too much because they’re used to ‘just enjoying’ a story which does involve discussions and questions but not in this guided way which is therefore more structured and more, of course, parent-led not child-led. But I think it’s an interesting thing to have a go with gently in addition to all the reading I usually do with them.
Petra’s learning to read has also taken a more structured turn. She’s known her letter sounds for about 3 years now, has been able to sound out small words for ages and knows some ‘sight’ words so I’ve been thinking her reading will take off for a long time now! But she doesn’t seem that bothered to teach herself/want me to teach her more than I have been (which is very little in order not to put her off learning to read). Yet, she adores books. Lately, I have noticed that she’s noticing and, I think, caring a bit more that she can’t read. Although she’s more frustrated that we don’t understand what she writes for us; although we can recognize all her letters, she’s writes well, her inability to spell and put spaces between her words (of course, she’s not quite 5 yet) means we can’t understand what she’s written a lot of the time. So, I decided to try ‘Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons’ which a friend kindly gave me and recently finished with her 6 year old son. It is dry. We did 4 lessons today because I can skip past learning the letter sounds. But hopefully I can make it fun enough, or she’s she progress and want to learn to read enough, that it will work and she’ll be off, being the independent reader that I think she’ll adore being. Of course, I will NEVER stop reading to the kids, I love it too, but I think she’ll really enjoy having the world of stories opening up to her whenever she likes.
In terms of writing, Edward dictates a few paragraphs of an ongoing story to me. We enjoy this and hopefully he might notice how words are spelled as I type them. He usually sits next to me (previously he ran around the room as he dictated). I have a ‘Spelling Made Magic’ book that is meant to teach spelling in a more fun, kinesthetic way, so I’ll look into trying it. I really want to avoid rote learning but as he gets older and wants to write the odd greeting card or something, I find it hard not to be shocked about his spelling, hoping that he’d miraculously learn to spell through the independent reading he does, which is quite a lot and pretty ‘advanced’. And I also worry about handwriting on the odd occasions he needs to handwrite something, but again don’t want to introduce some dry program.
For history, we’ve given up ‘History of the World’ for the time being because we are focusing on these other areas and we were looking specifically at Ancient Egypt for a while because of our March Luxor trip (and will do so again for a highly anticipated June trip to Cairo to see the pyramids and King Tut’s treasures in the national museum!) But we listening to a ‘History of Britain’ CD in the car which is very well done (although it does have a traditional focus on battles and monarchs).
Science just seems to come up naturally from time to time. Edward suddenly asked how you make electricity and so we had a chat. I found something in a book on our shelves (very satisfying to have a book collection that can answer that sort of question, even if it’s never quite perfect!) and we looked up on Youtube making a bulb light up by peddling a bicycle (which really wowed Edward) and from three different kinds of little wind-powered objects (a vertical and horizontal windmill and a fluttering device).
Our local DVD shop is sadly closing down, so I grabbed (hopefully) a few usual bargains – documentaries that I don’t think are geared towards kids but might be useful after I’ve vetted them first – including some BBC ones s about the Trojan War and Alexander the Great and a series called ‘The Ascent of Man’ that I’ve heard a lot about but know little.
With regards to our ‘library’, DVD and workbook selection I do have to remind myself that the information from these things doesn’t magically transfer into our minds. I have to READ the books to the kids (find a way to interest Edward to read them himself), WATCH the DVDs, DO the workbooks etc… And until I do, there’s NO POINT BUYING ANYMORE which is something I find hard to resist sometimes because if it’s on my bookshelf, it feels to me as if it’s then in our heads! I find it very hard when I’m on the bookdepository website or at a bookshop (second hand is sometimes even worse than ‘new’ because of prices) and I think we really could do with xyz when we already have so much we actually just need to USE! I hope Hubby isn’t reading this, as he sees yet another book purchase on it!
IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMESCHOOLING MIDDLE EAST, welcome! If you are interested in reading about our homeschooling adventure, I recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. Why I recommend starting at Day 1 is because this adventure into homeschooling has been a rollercoaster; philosophically and emotionally, which you might learn, seek solace from or even be thoroughly entertained by. It started in Bahrain on 22 February 2012 and continues in Dubai. My kids are Edward aged 8 and Petra aged 4. For you to get the full intellectual and dramatic impact, it’s best to start at the beginning. You might be contemplating home educating and wonder what those early nail-biting days feel like or you might enjoy reading somebody else’s take on an experience we share, or you might be more generally interested in my thoughts and feelings on education and parenting. Whatever the reason you’re reading, I’m really humbled that you’re taking your valuable time to do so and I really hope I can be some kind of hope or inspiration for you. Thank you!
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