Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to School?

If you live in British Columbia and do not send your kids to an independent school then you know the pain parents are going through currently. June 17th was the last time kids were in school, two weeks before they broke-up for summer and it is September 3rd and a there seems to be no end to the strike. I have looked desperately for an independent school but they do not have space for both kids, I can get one or the other in but not both. I am also looking for alternative help, Kumon, Sylvan, that can help with extra studies but these are also expensive alternatives and the $40 per child per day only covers half the cost. We did have a tutor that came in from Tutor Doctor  but the issue we had was we had a wonderful tutor who loved to teach maths but she left to take a full time job and we had an alternative who preferred English. It was fine but I did not like the disruption of changing tutors just as my child was getting into a rhythm.

I am acutely aware that if I do not help my kids along sooner than later then they will fall behind quickly. The schools here in BC have long summer holidays and it has been proven that skills are lost during long summer breaks. Throughout the summer my children have been reading, the summer program at the library has been very useful. One of the things I lack in is teaching my kids is maths, mainly because it does not come easily to me and my mental arrhythmic is appalling due to lack of practice during my younger years plus I was not taught well from the start. My husband on the other hand whom was privately educated and went to a prestigious school in England, oozes confidence and has a much better handle on many subjects but he is so busy with work that he is unable to help my cause (when I say busy, it is seven days a week, lucky to get a few hours of his time). I can't complain my husband is earning money to keep a roof over our heads. Also, it is harder to explain the value of money nowadays because we use cards so often to pay for goods. I do give my children cash for chores and try to teach them to save which seems to be working. The problem with taking my girls out so they can understand how to use money and calculate what change they will get;  in Canada until you get to the till you have no idea what the actual cost is. This is due to the tax(es), they do not appear on the ticket. So if my kids look for something worth $2 then we know they need more but because we do not know what tax amount to calculate before we get to the cashier because the government tax many items differently depending on what it is. It is challenging to teach and get a grasp on  how much one needs to pay. It is ridiculous. In England what you see on the label is what you pay making it easier to see what amount you have in your hand and handing the money to the cashier and if there is change it can be calculated beforehand.

So to make these challenges less of a problem I have purchased a number of exercise books and games; crossword puzzles, word search, paint by number, bingo, Monopoly, educational books, maths books, reading and writing and sketch books for art projects. Here are a selection:

4 Cats Art History Books

4 Cats Art History Books

The books below were bought from the Dollar store for $3 each. They are great and the kids love them too.

There are also a number of TV shows that help. My kids love The Magic School Bus and Horrible Histories. There are also some good websites that I have yet to explore.

Putting a lesson plan in place will help too. Kids love routine so for my 6 and 8 year old my plan looks something like this:

8am Breakfast
9am Quiet reading and read to me individually
9.30am English activity, word search, writing practice, reading aloud etc (depends on age)
10am playtime and snack
10:30am Maths activity, counting games, card games, Bingo, exercise book, times table
11:00am Art or Physical activity
11:30am help to prep food for lunch, set table
12:00 eat, clear table, play
1pm Read, writing, drama, physical activity
2pm Learning about art, history, science experiment
3pm play
4pm help with preparing food or setting table or chores in general.

It gives you a guideline and of course you can mix it up with outings and day trips that they rarely get in a school environment. It helps to get kids back into a routine and I can tell you they will love you for it.

If you have any suggestions, books, Educations shows, learning sites on the web, I would love to hear.

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