Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Summer Plans

Now that I'm a working mum, I feel as though I have to be super efficient in order to get everything done ... even though I wasn't particularly inefficient before, but when your time isn't your time anyone (that's the biggest difference between being at home and working outside full-time), the need to get things done really ramps up the efficiency quotient.

Anyhow, here's the brief plan of what summer 2017 will look like for us:
1. R&R (Resting & Reading)
Tiger has two big bags of books that I've borrowed from the library to keep him occupied for the summer.  A quick glance into the bags show there to be a mixture of genres: 

Please note the above represents an aspirational list, and I am not fussed whether Tiger reads any of them or not.  He knows where the books are if he wants to read them.

I have a similarly aspirational list summer reading for myself:

I have a separate list of technical (work-related) books that I want to get through too, but I believe there are great benefits to be had from reading and thinking about different things (as opposed to work stuff) for a few weeks a year. 

2. S&S (Sea & Sports)
The boys are getting into sea kayaking, so will be spending time this summer taking courses in that.

And because they must always take something up a notch, I've been informed that they are thinking of 'upgrading' to power boating, later in the summer.

On a relatively more sedate front, Tiger and I will be spending a week at the Jurassic Coast, taking a residential course in geology and fossils.

3. F&F (Friends and Film)
My closest friend, a woman who I knew for over 20 years, is visiting and staying with us for a few weeks, so we'll be spending a lot of time together.  This friend of mine is a huge Harry Potter fan, and she wants to go on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, so that goes into the summer plan too.

Tiger didn't want to go on the tour when we had a Harry Potter theme in our homeschool about 18 months ago, but he now says he will go on the tour when my friend is here.  I'll probably also take her around London and Oxford to see all the relevant Harry Potter locations.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

So, How Did the First Year of School Go?

So one full school year has gone by.  Actually, Tiger's school holidays started two weeks ago, but I've only just found the time now to share Tiger's end-of-school-year report.

I attended his end-of-year school assembly (photo 3), which we were told was compulsory for every parent and child to go.  Tiger, being the pre-teen that he is, was very grumbly that Saturday morning and I was not particularly in the mood for spending an entire Saturday morning sitting in a school hall after an intense 60-hour week of work.  Anyhow, both of us showed up expecting to be bored out of our minds.

To my utmost surprise, when I looked through the programme and awards list, I found Tiger's name in several places:
  1. First prize in his Form/year for academic achievement;
  2. Top prize in badminton (photo 2)
  3. Second prize in high jump
  4. Top marks in chemistry in his Form (photo 4)
  5. Achieved the equivalent of GCSE level in physics
An interesting observation I have about prize-giving in school, or in Tiger's school only since I don't know what it's like in other schools here, is that there seems to be a need to give as many out as possible.  For example, there are three prizes in each Form:
  • one for academic achievement;
  • one for effort;
  • one for improvement.
There's also one for being in second place - a certificate of commendation.  Tiger's best friend won this.

I imagine the many different prizes are to encourage as many children as possible to strive for better results.  However, I do wonder about the 'dilution effect' of having so many prizes for all kinds of categories.  What does it really mean to get a prize for "effort" or for "improvement"?

For good measure -- to check that it's just the ultra-competitive side of me thinking the above -- I checked with Tiger and Tortoise separately about what they think of the other prizes.
Tiger's response: "Everything else is 'meh'."
Tortoise's response: "What's the point of the effort prize?  The fact that you didn't get the top prize tells you that you need to put in more effort.  And the improvement prize?  Your baseline must be very low to start with to be given that prize."

Ok... so spoke the two Alphas.

Anyway, there is much more to life than school.

Outside of school, Tiger has been very busy with performing arts coming up to the start of summer:
  • he performed in a percussion concert (photo 5);
  • he performed three public shows and one charity show with a theatre group (photo 6);
  • he achieved a 'merit' in his LAMDA exam (photo 1).
The last one I am particularly proud of, because this is the first year in which Tiger did all the preparation and practices for the exam by himself.  Through his own effort, his score is 3 marks away from 'distinction' and in the interpretation/knowledge section of the exam, he scored 20/20!

In summary, a very good first year of school.  Even though Tortoise and I still have our doubts about how well the whole concept of going to school is, Tiger has definitely grown in maturity, independence and resilience by being in a non-home environment.  In fact, having a year group to pit himself against seems to have brought out the competitive streak in him like never before.  To be fair, there was no real chance for him to compete against anyone of similar age when we were homeschooling.  On hindsight, the lack of competition seems to be a contributing factor to his angst and frustration back then.

We are now planning for the summer.  I will share our plans very soon.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Guess Who Showed Up This Evening?

Tortoise have been saying that he wants to get a dog as a pet.  We've been going back and forth on this topic because I think it's an absolutely lovely idea for Tiger to have a dog to grow up with.

Except that I don't fancy picking up dog poo.  Neither do I have the time to walk the dog these days... heck, I barely get home before 9pm on most days so I'd do well to take myself on walks!

Anyhow, tonight I was home early (by 6pm!) as I was out on training.  As I prepared dinner for my family, I glanced out at the garden and saw this:

This red fox started visiting our garden a few months ago, but it has intensified its visits in the past few weeks, familiarising itself to the surrounding.

After some inspection (it was here last weekend as well), it settled itself on the bed of cut grass and slept for a good half hour.

What a gorgeous animal!

Well, since the fox is from the dog family, I'm happy for it to continue to visit us and be our unofficial pet.

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