Friday, 23 October 2015

The Writing Rant.

Joined up - "cursive" writing is part of the National Curriculum. This is what my the 10 year old's Year 6 teacher told me at last weeks parents evening when I also brought up my issue that he's not allowed to use the blue pen he has as it's "the wrong colour blue"  - I kid you not!

When they sit their KS2 SAT's they are marked down if they cannot display they are able to employ cursive writing.  

The National Curriculum states:

Pupils should be taught to:
Write legibly, fluently and with increasing speed by:
Choosing which shape of a letter to use when given choices and deciding whether or not to join specific letters
Choosing the writing implement that is best suited for a task.

It's recommended that:
Pupils should continue to practise handwriting and be encouraged to increase the speed of it, so that problems with forming letters do not get in the way of their writing down what they want to say. They should be clear about what standard of handwriting is appropriate for a particular task, for example, quick notes or a final handwritten version. They should also be taught to use and unjoined style, for example, for labelling a diagram or data, writing an email address, or for algebra and capital letters, for example, for filling in a form.

The 10 year old has neat writing, when it's not joined up.  When he adds curls and swirls and flicks and ticks it's an illegible mess.

I agree children need to know when to use capitals, how to speak and write using the correct grammar.  Don't get me started on how often the boy says "I am going FOR a toilet" instead of going TO the toilet!  Children need to know how to complete paperwork like job applications correctly for adult life but I disagree with the NEED for their written work to be joined.

When children get into their secondary schools the teachers don't care if their pupils writing is cursive, as long as it's legible. Is there any evidence that teaching joined-up writing early is necessary or useful? Do kids need to be taught any more than the basic stand-alone forms of letters? Can they not be allowed to develop fluency for themselves?

There are less and less professions these days where you actually need to physically write. I've even given up sending Christmas cards as it's too much effort to sit and write them.  Most of us already use whatever technology is available.  Even in Year 1 at school they use interactive white boards and iPads.  

If we can concentrate on the basics, the rest will follow and we might have a generation of Doctors where you can actually read what they have written*

What are your thoughts on cursive writing for children?

*All prescriptions and case notes are of course entered electronically these days.

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Friday, 2 October 2015

The Judgement Call

This week, Rachel Stevens previously of S Club 7 fame was lambasted for leaving her two children in her car whilst she "ran some errands.  Reports are she left them for 10 minutes.  Her daughters are aged 4 and 18 months. She has been judged from all sides.  Rachel herself has maintained a silent view on her actions.

But haven't we all been there?  Have you NEVER left your child in the car to go and pay for petrol or to go and get the parking ticket to find the machine is out of order and you have to trek to another part of the car park to go and get one?  The two scenario's I just mentioned are something I have frequently done. Why would I remove a child from the safety of a five point harness in a car seat in the rear of the car to drag them into a shop for five minutes so they can see all the sweets and magazines I will no doubt refuse to buy.  Roll on the meltdowns.

Last year I had a similar situation.  I collected the kids from school.  They were in year 5 and Reception respectively.  I needed to go to a pet store and get dog food.  I parked the car in the stores car park. The 5 year old refused to budge.  I can't even remember what the reason was for.  She was having one of her moments and being the stubborn moo that she is, there is no persuading her otherwise. I was fighting a losing battle.  All I wanted was dog food. I didn't need to browse, I just wanted to pop in, grab exactly what I wanted and go.  She was shouting at me, I was shouting at her. The 10 year old and I got out the car and walked into the shop leaving the 5 year old screaming and crying at from the car.  Now I can see a crying 5 year old in a car doesn't look good but by the time I came out, approximately 5-10 minutes later she was sitting with a face like thunder but not crying. It was all over and by the time we were home, all was well with the world.

Or so I thought.

Until around 8pm when a knock at the front door presented us with the Police.  I was upstairs with the 5 year old having finished bath time and she was in her pyjama's ready for bed.  I have a unnatural fear of authority. I don't know why, I've never been in trouble but I have. I'm also a very emotional person who cries at the Andrex puppy adverts.  It doesn't take much to set me off.

I started sobbing and refused to come downstairs. I felt guilty, ashamed and horrified. The 5 year old didn't understand what was happening. The police asked to see her so MrM took the now crying child downstairs. She too thought she was in trouble.

The Police explained to MrM that ultimately it wasn't safe to leave a child in a car alone. She could have taken the handbrake off, she could have got out and got run over, she could have been abducted. There are any number of scenario's. They asked him to make sure I understood and left without taking any further action.

Have I done it since?  Yes.  Not because I want to flout the rules of authority but because sometimes, she asks if she can stay in the car. Usually if I'm popping into Tesco Express to get a loaf of bread. I tell her not to touch anything, I lock the doors. I'm in and out.  Anything longer than a couple of minutes then she's with me.

I'm not a bad Mum and probably like Rachel Stevens, just doing my best.

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Thursday, 1 October 2015

The One Where The Boys Went Away.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook at all; you may not have failed to notice my posts about the 10 year old going away with the school for PGL (Parents Get Lost).  Did you see Mr.M was going with them? Silly man.  A week with a group of hyper 10 year olds. Good luck!

You may also have occasionally noticed how I mentioned the 5 year old mini Kim Jong-Un and the 10 year old fight like Tom & Jerry,
So I was wondering how this week would go. Would the 5 year old break down sobbing that she missed her big brother? Or would she run rampant around the house and steal his larger bedroom?

Well it's been a bit of 50/50 to be honest.  The first thing she did was claim the big bedroom. She's in a box room and still in a toddler bed (just). So she's practically moved right on in. Her duvet, pillows and  moo-moo have all moved in. The doll babies and night time teddies have all been given places. The clothes will no doubt be coming soon!  The first two nights she joined me around 4am but last night slept the whole night through. I had the whole bed to myself. Well, I share it with silly dog and for a small dog he takes up loads of room!

If you ask her if she's missing the boys she says she's missing Daddy but not the brother. Today is MIL's birthday so MrM & 10 year old called to wish her happy birthday. 5 year old jumped right on the phone to tell him she was missing him.  I've died of shock.

The surprising thing I have noticed is this.  She's playing more. Without anyone at home to distract her, and with no TV as I just don't often turn it on when we get home, she's really been using her imagination to play.  She's been on a bug hunt in the garden, played Vets with silly dog, Doctors with me and her babies, had the old hot wheels box out and the Lego.   These last few days have been lovely watching her imagination at it's best. She's been really happy and totally not deserving of the Dictatorship moniker I bestowed upon her.

It's almost a shame the boys have to come back!

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