Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Creativity and education

Here's an interesting link to a post I've had on my desktop and have been meaning to read properly for a while, stimulated by a flyer for an 'Art Boot camp' !!.
Discussions on European vs Singapore/Asian education systems and Steiner schools (sorry EF) as well thrown in in the comments.
Overall I think it can be hard to hold back on all the structure/curriculums and general targets that the society around us has for kids. I found I had tried too early to start teaching S. to read It was like that with potty training, sometimes if you follow the child's lead a lot of time is saved as well as a lot of frustration on both sides. I still have to consciously hold back with M on pushing the academia, but sometimes he's asking for some worksheets etc so I give him what I can. Maybe my lack of time due to other commitments (e.g the 2 littlies) means he is getting his time to 'play'. However me having a mum who's tutoring 'slower' children back in the UK does remind me of the higher expectations there are in the UK at a younger age than here in Sweden. Well it all comes back to the debate of the purpose of education..........

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Any Swedish home schoolers?

Is there anyone out there home educating in Sweden, anyone interested in home educating, any Muslims home educating in Sweden, any English- mother tongue Muslims home educating in this long land? I see many hits from Stockholm area and just wondering if its some automated web surfer, or is it the Education Department waiting to pounce on me when I actually take them out of school inshaAllah? I couldn’t find any blogs from Swedish home-educators, what I found was: MATS, and this which doesn’t seem very active, hemma är bäst which has links to Pippis homeschool (designed for those who can’t access Swedish curriculum in schools e.g. living abroad). Just want to know is anyone doing it and how!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Skånemejerier race plus other photos

Here is the recipe S wrote down, after having asked me how to make an omelette. I didn't have to coerce him to put pen to paper, he just did it and stuck it on the fridge *faint* and here's how the first ever omelette by Monsieur S. aged 9 years (precisely) and they did get better and better, all 15 eggs worth that he made that day and were gobbled up by siblings. Note:Alhamdulillah, most of the salt is on the table.

o H's impressionist work, 'forest' I think it was. Green's his favourite colour anyway.
Another worksheet created by M. Trees inspired by his friend -from- Lund's style.
And on to the big event, M's first proper running race, sponsored by Skåne Mejerier (local Dairy). It was 800m or so, quite far, and he did very well coming somewhere in the middle. Deep in my heart I thought he could win, but then I saw some of them looked quite big (he's one of the youngest in his year, August birthday) and as if they are in a running club or something, but needless to say I was very proud and I think my heart was beating faster than his. It was v. exciting and everyone got a medal and a Tshirt and a chocolate milk drink. I think they should have let us have free entry (had to fork out a bit to enrol) to this race as now my kids want me to buy more of the stuff.

A man who leads the kids so they know where to run (it was through a bit of forest in the park)

M's medal and chocomilk drink

Scaletrix tent we stumbled upon afterwards. I think this was the bit they enjoyed the most. M said today was the best day ever. Guess which one's my offspring? Ebony amongst a sea of blonde

Monday, May 21, 2007

Yes, I've calmed down..

Alhamdulillah, it was one of those days. We were all tired and I think this stops all of us having as much self-control as normal. Kids don't hold back on what they want to do, be it mum-pleasing or not, and I don't control my anger so well. Hoping social services don't read the blog, a man in Sweden didn't get a job after the company read his girlfriend's blog, which said she didn't want to relocate if he got the job! Anyhow, the way we disturb our neighbours, I'm surprised we haven't been visited yet.Managed to (just about) keep my cool in the supermarket today with all 4 kids, not normally a feat attempted by myself. Not quite becoming old mother Hubbard just yet, but the essentials being low meant I had to go. The Swedes were kind today and did not appear to comment on the pretend kick-boxing fights that progressed round the frozen section and I almost, but not quite, heard a tut as an apple was dropped on the floor.
Have had the kids home the past 5 days due to teacher-training and public holidays. Much to their (but not my) delight, one of the X box controllers has been resurrected and after many months they had a chance to play some mindless games.
S's friend stayed over and they didn't sleep until very late (as usual,excitement etc). Then as I was checking my pimples or whatever in the bathroom mirror, I heard banging on the door, and they were both quite worried there was a bomb in the house! It was in fact an alarm on an electronic diary that's got lost under the bed, and I haven't bothered, or fathomed out how to turn it off, poor dears, but they slept easy once I informed them of the true source of the beeping.
But have started the Jolly Phonics a bit with M, he seems to like it, and S has been reading his DK book on aeroplanes, plus now his horrible History book (some of the cartoons a bit too horrible, check them first b4 reading) we got free with Aquila magazine.
Just got the first issue today as part of a 3 month special trial offer. I'm not sure about it yet, I flicked through to the letters page, and to my horror read one from an 11 year old (I think) girl, saying she wouldn't want to be home-educated due to the usual socialisation rubbish arguments. Then she went on to complain about the sexism of boys in her school and how you can't talk to a boy without people thinking you fancy them! I ask you..Then to my relief there was a positive letter from a home educated girl to the side of it, so I suppose it was balanced.
Other things we have been doing, some might call it child labour, I mean M learnt how to clean the bathroom, loo and all and he actually said 'This is a little bit fun'.
They always like spraying the cleaner, I use this 'grön sopa' not sure exactly what it is, but it comes from pine trees I think and is fairly harmless and does the job. Smells like that green jelly stuff yo use to get oil off your hands.
S became 'Mr Omelette chef' as he turned 9, and cooked numerous omelettes throughout the day, and actually made a meal consisting of the above-mentioned plus cucumber slices and knäckerbröd (crispbread). Photo inshaAllah to come.(too tired now to upload photos etc)
H has been a bit jealous lately of Hafsah and has told me to take her back to the hospital, because Mama's back is hurting and then her back won't hurt! (it is true that picking up over 9kg of big, relatively floppy baby is wearing on the lower back area).
Hafsah has started climbing up everywhere, like her bro' at a similar age, cannot get down so safely. Up to the microwave, up to the draining board, all with the aid of the stool, oh, and down to floor with a bump and a resulting lump on the back of her head now, the silly sausage (all happening as I have called, in vain, to M to take hold of her, and I rush towards her, stupidly taking time to fling rubber gloves off my hands and getting to the accident scene too late).

H: What's a mirror made out of?
S - What's an egg, if it's not fruit or meat?
Where were pancakes invented?
and just now read the Magic school bus volcanoes book and now have to find out how Australia was formed (I don't think it was from a volcano!)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Reach for the Valerian

I feel like quitting, despite Wednesdays being the day the kids are in their various ‘educational’ institutions the longest. The last 3 hours, dropping M off to Quran class, and shopping and finally involving the car journey home have been my test of sabr today. Guess what? I failed.
It’s been like the book ‘how to fail your exams’ or Libby Purves’ ‘How not to be a perfect mother’, mine should be entitled: ‘How not bring up your kids when you are irritable and tired and they’re in the mood for mischief’’. Not so snappy but gives the general idea..
All the usual slip-ups a parent can make were done. Issuing unfufillable threats, yelling at the top of my voice, 2 emergency stops, saying ‘You’re doing my head in’ If DH were around I expect the oft-repeated ‘Take them away, take them to Pakistan’ would have been wailed.
I tried ignoring in the end but the damage had already been done.
Quitting, however is not an option, the resignation letter in my head will have to be permanently saved under ‘drafts’.
Have had a cup of Lipton, prayed and writing this has somewhat calmed me down. Kids are now bouncing on trampoline, rather boisterously but they are boys. Lil’ sister watches on whilst eating various playthings she’s happened upon.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Where is Madeline?

If you've seen this little girl call the number on the poster in the sidebar inshaAllah..
I lost my 2 year old for 15 minutes once and that was terrifying. I don't know how many people read this blog but 5/10 minutes of my time uploading these pictures seems as much as I can do to help,
plus du'as (and for all the other children who've gone missing too).
Don't they put pictures like these on milk cartons int the US, or do people become blase after a while?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Something very sweet and surprising..

S wrote the following note to his brother the other day and he let me put it on this blog:

' to M.
M this is a present to you becuse you have been playing with me allmost all day and it was nicse to play whith ich other more than we normale do?
this is a game i like to play with it is aboat spacships.'

The gift was a cardboard 'computer game' he'd made, awww.
Needless to say they've been back to normal at each others throats etc etc.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sweden, the best place to be a mother?

I read this article about the topic and found it slightly contradictory to its title. Personally I think the title should have been 'Sweden, the best place to avoid being a mother' .
To start with, the high level of contraception would obviously limit actually having the kids in the first place.
'Equal opportunities' for working women means the children are most likely in day-care for the best part of the day.
Parental leave has to be shared to a certain extent between both parents which means the father can be the one off work to take care of the kids. So if you want to be a mother but not actually look after your kids, I suppose Sweden is pretty good.
I don't deny of course we should be very grateful for the high standard of living here compared to such countries as Cote D'Ivoire, shukralhamdulillah. Also it is very good that I get, be it a very low amount, parental benefit on top of child benefit for staying home with my kids (if under 8.) The cash pays my tax bill basically, so keeping at least 2 bureaucrats in a job, one in the social security dept and one in the tax office.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Poles, small and large (I mean stick-like things not Polish nationals)

Here is Hafsah successfully placing a ring on a ring-thingy (can't think of its name right now). OK, it's a plastic Fisher-Price ring going onto an IKEA wooden toy ring holder, and the rings are going on in random size order, but I am impressed! I saw a little boy at playgroup, slightly older than her, completing this sort of task no problems, and then I realised I should actually try to resurrect all the pieces in the set so she could have a go. My long-term ongoing project is to just get things in sets so the kids can actually have something to play with when the 'I'm bored phrase' comes out. The only toys that stay unmixed up on a regular basis is the Lego, everything else just tends to demonstrate the laws of chaos. This can result in some interesting imaginary play, but things such as jigsaw puzzles just don't hit the mark with half the pieces stuck behind the radiator or wherever they've ended up. I finally got round to buying the trampette. The beds are not likely to last much longer, the amount of bouncing they endure, despite my urgent pleas for them to stop. Lack of space and cost put me off, but it was a special offer, and what's a bit more clutter?! I do however catch myself about to shout out 'Stop bouncing' when I hear that familiar noise, and remember that it's only the trampoline and try to relaaaaaaaaax. We had a bar-b-q last week when the weather was quite warm (it's gone really wet now but the rain's needed). Here is one of the many flag-poles just by the grilling area, typical of what one might find around and about in Sweden. This ones quite a whopper and if there's a strong wind it's a bit scary being near it. However there's rarely a flag on it. I think just on Nationalistic occasions. Can't imagine that a huge Union Jack up on a huge pole, in so many numbers, would be quite so welcome in the UK.

H has allowed us to show his nursery teacher a clip of him speaking Swedish on DH's phone. I was surprised and pleased he agreed. Still no signs of him wanting to speak in the flesh though.
At home he was playing with the 'pop up farm' toy, now very appealing since Hafsah likes it a lot, and when he did the pig, he said to himself 'not allowed to eat'
Hafsah is being quite cute saying 'Mama' 'or 'Mimi' with the final syllable going up to an extremely high tone. Her routine has been quite disrupted recently, not quite sure why, although she's had a cold and another bottom tooth has arrived. The 5 pm nap has tried to return and subsequent late bedtimes, meaning no child-free time in the evenings, equals Mimi (me, mum) goes crazy. Also the short (almost summer) nights means I give in to 4 am feeds as it's time to pray anyway. Anyhow tonight, she was in bed by 8pm so able to finally get on the computer after chucking S off. He's been into reading the exo-force Lego magazine stories on-line. I didn't want to stop him as he so rarely wants to read any text. Oh and he's started learning the Chinese characters, inspired by his Lego, and of course M also wanted to do this. They spent quite a good deal of quiet time copying out pages of characters. Wondering if there are any special pens/ paintbrushes used for writing these characters. I remember students studying Japanese at Uni having something special to write with.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

More daycare madness?!

Well, we've had feminist nurseries, now the far right are trying to introduce far right ethnically pure Swedish nurseries. I'll say no more, except I wonder if they'd accept a Swedish Muslim convert couples kids there? (not that I'd think they'd want their kids to attend). Of course UK, and US immigrants are just about accepted in Sweden, even given positive discrimination sometimes. However this doesn't apply to me as most think I'm Bosnian or something. Had another acknowledgement of my 'good English' the other day THAT'S BECAUSE I AM ENGLISH, but try to think of it as a good starter for dawah, after the obligatory embarrassed pause as the penny drops. This apparent superiority of the English language here in Sweden has given me another reason (excuse) to not be so good at speaking Swedish.
Had May day off today so took all the bairns to the Muslim playgroup (I don't think you have to be Muslim to go here, but no men allowed. (for religious, free-mixing reasons). However any nationality, skin colour etc may apply!! )
H did some pattern sequences with big beads, and he seemed to grasp this more quickly than I expected. He wouldn't allow me away from him for more than 30 secs, so poor Hafsah had to be left in the little ones play area with another mum, but she seemed pretty happy.
Played out in the park and had our 'fika' (snack) in the pleasant weather. If we were 'properly' home-educating, in some people's eyes, it could have been 'socialisation' crossed off the list of things to do, interacting with ages 0- 35 plus keeping a couple of old ladies in the park amused.