As Grace was finishing Year 4 at her last school, I knew that she had been ready to move up for some time. In fact her form teacher had thought she was moving up to Year 5 when she was just finishing Year 3 – this was partly down to her height and partly because of her very grown-up attitude. He was rather pleased to have her in class for one more year. Grace has been very lucky with her teachers and I have to say that Mr Woodley was fabulous, one of the ones we will always remember.
As I have said in previous posts, I haven’t shied away from being completely honest with Grace about numerous things. This includes being open about periods and also not dumbing down my language with her. I have always tried to use grown-up words – not swearing I hasten to add – but making sure that she came up to my level. As a result, if she has ever not known the meaning of a word either Ross or I have used, she has always asked.
Now she has started at her Middle school, she is like a changed child. She is so grown up all of a sudden. In less than a month, I have seen her independence increase and her attitude towards her work improve. She has started to take much more of an interest in the variety of subjects which are now on offer. Where I feel that she was ‘lazy’ before – mainly down to the fact that I feel that she was no longer being tested – she is now starting to come up with ideas for her homework and an enthusiasm for a majority of the subjects. It helps that they are able to earn bonus points for different subjects and different reasons – she is trying so hard to win the most points for at least one week! Plus, there is the extra-curricular activities during morning and lunchtime breaks which include a drama club (she has told us that she is auditioning for the role of Mrs Cratchit in Scrooge) and a guinea pig cuddle club! There is also a room where they have bean bags (not really sure what that all is yet) where she can sit and have conversations with her friends.
This last weekend was all about Grace’s homework – and it meant both Ross and I got involved. Me with Grace’s RE Takeaway homework (I love the fact that they got a takeaway menu with a selection of things they could do) and Ross with Grace’s Science homework.
Grace came up with a fabulous idea for her RE homework a couple of weeks ago. As the subject was Festivals and Celebrations during the year, Grace chose Guy Fawkes and bonfire night and she wanted to create a board game based around this. So, on Friday evening, she and I set off for Hobbycraft. We chose a number of different materials and came back armed with a black piece of foam board, gold pens, some air-drying clay and a set of glitter glue in 3 different colours. For the majority of Saturday, she and I sat in our conservatory and I helped her put together the game ‘Bonfires and Fireworks’. A bit like Snakes and Ladders, you roll the dice and move that amount of spaces. If you land on one with a firework, you go up and if it is a bonfire then you burn down. The counters are all items associated with Guy Fawkes. One of his face, a set of stocks, a gunpowder barrel – complete with burning rope – and a small bonfire. She even made the dice! As the board was a bit bigger than a square, it gave her space to write the instructions and stick a small pot, which was also made into a gunpowder barrel, to hold the counters and dice. I was so impressed that she had thought this up. The only test left now is to get it to school in one piece!
For Grace’s Science homework, she was asked to either make a poster, plan a presentation, write an acrostic poem, produce a powerpoint or film a documentary about three or four materials and their properties. At first, she started on a poster – but that soon went in the bin! So, what else would a child from our family do? Yep, she made a documentary! With Ross’ help, on Sunday she went around the house pointing out uses for wood, plastic, glass and metal. At the end of the day I was presented with the world premiere of her film and she had done a great job!
I have to say that, whilst this new school has been excellent for Grace, it has also helped us as a family. Ross and I get involved in a bigger way with what she is doing – this is partly down to the fact that we have the Parents Portal on the school’s website where we can log in and see how she is performing, and partly because we discuss and help her with her homework ideas. We want to see her do well and, so, it means we sit down with her on the bigger projects and give her some advice and support. I would have loved to have made and done the things she does when I was at school. We just didn’t have the same resources as they do now. I must try not to get too caught up in it, but it is a great way to spend quality time with her whilst helping her to achieve.