Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Gotta learn to swim!

October 30, 2013

Babess had her school swimming lesson today.  Mindful of her in-over-her-head experience while on holiday, I asked her how it went.  “OK,” she replied.  Uh-huh.

“How deep was the water?  Where did it come up to on you?” I asked, trying to get more detail.

“Oh, it was too deep, I had to stand right up on my tippy-toes,” she tried to demonstrate, “and it was too sore to keep doing that so I chose to sit on the step for the lesson.  But I got to play in the shallow water after,” she offered brightly.

Hmm.  She is a lot (about 20cm) shorter than most of her classmates.  I’m not familiar with how deep the learning pool is.  I need to chat with her teacher, I think!  I do know that the swimming instructors are very good though, so they’ll probably have her participating in due course.

Since she apparently can’t stand up even in the shallow end, it’s even more important for her to learn to swim!

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

It was easier when every question was “why?”

October 2, 2013

Today’s difficult question from Fainjin, as we were walking to the supermarket:

“Mum, is the sky higher than it looks?”

I’m still thinking about that one… any suggestions, please let me know!

© UpsideBackwards 2013.


September 30, 2013

It’s the first day of the spring school holidays.  Pearl is out with a friend, and Fainjin and Babess and I have just been shopping, now sitting down for some morning tea.  There’s some conversation about what we will do with the rest of the day, who needs a drink of water, and so on.  Trivialities.

All of a sudden, Fainjin says, “Mum, what numbers can’t you equal?”

I frown at him.  “What do you mean?”

“What numbers can’t you equal?”

Does he mean unattainable ages?  Imaginary numbers? – unlikely, I don’t think those come up until university-level maths these days and he hasn’t even done multiplication really yet…

“Sweetie, I don’t understand your question.  Can you give me an example of what you mean?”

He thinks for a bit.  His expression clears… “Well,  in colours, you can’t make red or yellow or blue… so what numbers can’t you equal?”

I’m impressed with his analogy.  Primary colours are an interesting comparison to prime numbers.  As I said, he hasn’t really done multiplication yet – some doubles and halves, counting in twos and fives and tens – but he seems to instinctively grasp the idea that there must be fundamental building blocks in mathematics as well as in art and light.

Explaining prime numbers to a six-year-old without a clear grasp of multiplication is an interesting and delightful experience.  Especially when an intrigued five-year-old starts chiming in with more questions.

I can tell these holidays are going to be fun.  I really hope he doesn’t start asking about imaginary numbers tomorrow though – I still struggle with those!

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Planning ahead

April 16, 2013

Tonight we had parent-teacher-child conferences at school.  Fainjin was encouraged to talk about his strengths.  He had written that he was good at “fiting” (fighting! oh my!) and writing, and we discussed a few more.  He agreed that he’s good at building things with Lego, and his teacher said, “I think you must be good at planning too, aren’t you?”

He looked mystified, and she said, “When you’re building things, you have to decide what to build, and plan it in your head.”

“I just use my imagination,” he said dubiously.

“That’s right, but how do you know what you’re going to build, what it’s going to look like?”

He still looked very uncertain of what she was getting at.  “Well, mostly I like building battleships?  So… I just build those.  I just… do my work?”

I suspect the “plan in his head” is so strong and well-defined for him that he’s not really even aware he does it.  He decides to build a battleship, and just knows exactly what he’s going to do to get it without thinking about it.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Teacher Training

November 28, 2012

Fainjin is tiring of school  a little bit.  This isn’t very surprising – he’s only 5, it’s his first year, and we’re nearly at the end of it.  Everyone is tired.

His teacher has mentioned to me that sometimes he just decides he doesn’t want to do something that the class is doing.  She has found that promising him a turn on the class i-pad later is a good motivator – and sometimes she doesn’t even need to follow through because he forgets!


This afternoon he said to me, “Mum, do you know why I decided to cry at handwriting time today?”

“What?! You cried at handwriting time?  Why?”

“Because then Mrs X says I can have a turn on the i-pad!”  He was quite pleased with this strategy.

Fainjin and I had a little conversation about this behaviour.  I’ll be having a little conversation with Mrs X, too…

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Solar Eclipse

November 14, 2012

I was stuck in a meeting this morning.  All I could do was glance wistfully out of the window and note that the light was definitely dimmer than it had been a few minutes before, and later note that it was brighter again.

But the children were more fortunate – the older ones, anyway.

Fainjin’s class took turns looking through special viewing glasses and “it was so cool Mum, you could see the moon going in front of the sun!” He agreed that it got dim during the eclipse – a partial eclipse, in NZ – and found it all very exciting.

Pearl’s class also took turns looking through glasses, and had a pinhole camera as well.  She got two turns, she told me, and was fascinated by how quickly the moon had moved across the sun.

Babess looked regretful.  “We missed out.  It’s so sad.  We had a card with a hole in it, on the window, and we were going to watch the moon, but we were too late.  But we could still see the sun with it!”

The next total solar eclipse visible in NZ will be in 2028, I understand.  I hope we can make a family trip to the South Island to see it!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

What it’s all about

August 25, 2012

Fainjin was the only child to show up to his music appreciation class this morning.  Luckily, this bothered him not at all.  He enjoyed the opportunity to have the teacher all to himself, and sang “Why Does The Sun Shine?” to her, as well as showing her a hip-hop dance he learned from his adored older dancer cousin (it’s super-cute, not that I’m at all biased).

In turn, she taught him a couple of new songs, and a dance.  He came home with not one but two stickers on his hands, and labels in felt pen: L and R on the appropriate hands.

“Why did you need to know left and right?” I asked, wondering which musical instrument they might have been talking about.

“To do the Hokey Pokey!” he grinned.

Oh, of course!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


How many fingers am I holding up?

June 11, 2012

While I prepared dinner this afternoon, Fainjin was in the loungeroom colouring in, practising his writing, and – as it turned out – playing about with numbers.

“Hey Mum!” he yelled at me as if there were miles between us instead of just a hallway.  “I worked something out!  Five plus one, equals, SIX!”

“Yes it does,” I replied, wondering what he might be counting.

A minute later he yelled again.  “And five plus two, equals, SEVEN!”

“That’s right.”

Having established a pattern, the next sum was immediate: “Five plus three is EIGHT!”

I put the veges in the oven and went to see what he was up to.  He was just writing numbers and adding them up, as far as I could see – not counting anything in particular.  “The first one has to be five,” he told me, but I still don’t know quite why.  “Five plus five is ten!”

I went back to the kitchen.  After a little while, he called out, “Mum!  What’s ten plus ten?”

“I think you can figure that out,” I encouraged him.

Later, over dinner, I realised I hadn’t heard his answer.  “Did you figure it out?”

“Yes!” he was proud of himself.  “I counted on my fingers.  Ten plus ten is… twenty-one!”

The Dad and I exchanged glances.

“Hmmm, really? Perhaps we should check.”  I held up both hands and we agreed that was ten.  Then I raised one finger at a time and we counted on from eleven.  Twenty!

Fainjin looked thoughtful.  “Maybe I have more fingers than you.”

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

The Sun

June 1, 2012

Fainjin has been learning about day and night at school – what makes day and night, what makes the moon shine, why is the sun hot, and so on.  I recommended a song, “Why does the sun shine?” (sung by They Might Be Giants) to his teacher, and she liked it so much that the children have all been learning the words.

Fainjin loves it and sings it a lot at home (and on the way home from school, and in the car, and …).  I love it too and sometimes sing along with him.

Pearl finds this excruciating.  I don’t think it’s because I’m a bad singer, I think she just doesn’t like me to sing where her friends might hear her.  I tell her it’s my job as a mother to embarrass her, but she’s not convinced.  So any time she hears the song – including when Fainjin is singing by himself – she dramatically covers her ears and begs for it to stop.  Mostly we ignore her.

Today Fainjin and I were going into town on the bus, and he asked if he could sing it.  “OK, but really quietly,” I advised, “because there are other people on the bus and they might not want to be sung to.”

He sang it VERY quietly to himself – I could barely hear him myself.  Then he turned to me and said very seriously, “Pearl hates that song.”

“Yes, she does,” I had to agree.

“So I won’t sing it near her.”

Awww.  That is true brotherly love.  I wonder if he’ll stick to it?

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

School trip

May 9, 2012

Fainjin had his first ever school trip today.  As they are learning about space, they went to the local planetarium.  They saw a film, “Tycho to the Moon”, about a dog who goes to the moon.  “Guess how he gets to the moon, Dad!” challenged Fainjin.  “Um, in a rocket?” hazarded The Dad.  “No, in his space-kennel!” Fainjin was delighted to know more than Dad.

On the way home and throughout dinner we heard all about Tycho and his trip to the moon and how he found a baseball left behind by an astronaut.  We discussed why dogs might need spacesuits on the moon, and which planets you have to pass to get to the sun.

Fainjin described some constellations to his awed little sister, and we promised that on a clear night (sadly, no chance tonight) we would all go outside and look at the stars again, as we sometimes do.

Babess was very disappointed to hear that Pearl and I actually saw a dog spacesuit when we visited the Air and Space Museum in Washington last year.  “You should take me there, because I haven’t seen it,” she said sadly.

As good a reason as any to travel, I suppose!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


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