Sunday, 28 September 2014

Importance of routines

Being until Wednesday a remote mum again, I can only wonder with awe how Archaeologist Husband deals with the homework of Number One Son. It is not a secret that I am quite worried about the way some of these exercises have really stretched Number One Son too far. I am not for dumbing down, but somehow the exercises have to be linked to the level the child is at. Number One Son cannot write properly long sentences or keep straight line, even if Archaeologist Husband tries to put in time every evening to do this. Last week exercise was to compose a long sentence to describe an action in an image. For a child who tries to learn to write the letters properly that was probably a step too far. However, the exercise was fine for those in the class who can already read. This week's 'exercising the use of scissors' sounds more like a task Number One Son can exercise with ease.

Number One Son likes routines - after all, he has been going to the nursery since he was about ten months old - so this has made his change to school quite easy. He seems also quite happy to please Ms Teacher. I feel that I should have tapped into this character of Number One Son's personality when I tried to introduce the word and action card games in order to improve his speech development in the past. I perhaps should have been more persistent. On the other hand, he probably was not that ready to concentrate. He was happy to join the monkey eating the bananas, but quickly wanted to play with other toys.

It will be lovely to get back to the normal daily routines - even if it will be only for a couple of days. Taking Number One Son to school, picking him up from the after school club or from the school gate after a couple of words with the other parents (mostly mums or grandparents) and a pop to the local supermarket will bring me back momentarily to the normal everyday life. We do have a daily routine with me skyping almost daily, but that was broken by the conferences in Italy, and I am playing catching up.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Transient values?

Yesterday and today I have been thinking about my values. How much does my son mean to me? How important are family holidays? How important is securing a permanent job in the light of losing a family holiday or two? These questions have gone through my mind when it has become clear that there is a fair possibility that I have to cancel our family short break during the autumn half-term and head to a job interview. The final details will be heard soon, but there is a fair chance, since I gather the potential half-term schedule of the interview panel is more important than the one of the interviewee.

I suppose most men would not bat an eye lid when faced with choices like this (I may make a gross oversimplification here), but for myself these things are important. I spend quite a lot of time away from Number One Son and I had been waiting for the break, but on the other hand, we will get the windows fixed, if I will secure a job in a nice university. Of course, this is on the back of leaving most of the summer school holiday to be covered by my Archaeologist Husband and without him I could not do what I do know. I probably should devote one blog to the good husbands behind successful female researchers. I know a few and their support is or has been paramount to us. Female scientists do not flourish with old-fashioned husbands.

With my current experience as a Skype Mum, it is clear that the best work-life balance is achieved for female researchers when you have a supportive workplace but also make sure that when you work, you are efficient and create new things and publish. The trust is mutual and work benefits both sides when planned and maintained properly. Thus, I must prioritise work sometimes, but I have to hope it will be rewarded with family time later.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Gove's legacy

Now I and Archaeologist Husband have met the Year 1 Teacher and discussed Number One Sons situation. On one hand I feel more confident that things may go Ok, even if any extra Number-One-Son-specific support comes only when all the visits and enquiries are done for the new model Special Educational Needs support case evaluation. She is tough, but that may be what our stubborn son may need in order to unlock his potential. However, some specifics stemming from the new curriculum and policy are alarming.

Year 1 Teacher explained that the new objectives are basically for the five-year-olds the same objectives that were a year ago the objectives for the six-year-olds. This means that our son who has now started to make some kind of capital letters and can scribe the short version of his own name has now his long first name and surname in proper small and big letters as a homework. I am not sure if the targets have to jump over a series of steps in a matter of week.

The good part is that we are forced to start to put into practice a homework routine and hone different bribing and encouragement tactics in order to get our son to scribe different things. He has never been the one for drawing, so this takes some coaxing. I am sure he is not alone among the boys in this.

The worrying part is the fact that even the brightest among his peers are disappointed how 'work-like' the brave new school is. I am not sure that the worried faces and moans about the lack of play were the things Gove had in mind when he started to formulate this new brave curriculum. In Finland the children play when they are five. In England they sit by a table and scribe. I hated myself school for its senseless learning without curiosity and reading capital cities or areas by heart. This new curriculum prescribes the model to the toddlers and expects that they somehow become nuclear scientists and learn the mysteries of the Universe by following unrealistic goals. How will those who do not learn to multiply and divide when five pick these things when they are ready? And how the children can keep the fun in this all? New thinking requires unconventional and curious mind.