Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bureacracy Update

Well I rang the Education boss again as unsurprisingly he hadn’t got back to me. He told me he would be ringing his boss to find out the procedure re applying to home educate and would get back to me. He used the word ‘strax’ which I thought meant ‘next, presently’ but did double check in the dictionary. I was indeed right, but haven’t heard anything as yet.. Half of me thinks even if I don’t succeed at least it’s got them thinking about the concept that Home Education is an option here in Sweden, even if you have to jump hoops to do it.
DH back to Africa today and MIL went back to Pakistan yesterday, so back to reality of 4 kids and me.
The last 2 days M was off school (due to previously mentioned school trips), which did give a taste of home ed. DH even commented something like ‘It’s not so hard to home educate when you’ve got just one at home with you.’ Well I don’t know if it makes it so much easier, depends what you’re working on I suppose. But it was hard to keep him away from the computer. They are currently into Penguin club, which at least does involve a bit of reading, and not solely mindless shoot ‘em up type games. S actually plays with his friend in the other town sometimes, as penguins, I’m not sure if it’s real ‘social interaction’ but is cheaper than him using my mobile to talk to him all the time. It seems to have been hard to meet up with him recently (in the real world!) due to people’s other commitments.
Anyhow M did some Quran, more on spelling the trickier vowels (‘oo’, ‘oa’) He initiated his own game on the white board influenced by countdown, so he learnt the difference between vowels and consonants as well. Then while I had to have a nap, he did some of his maths workbooks from school. I woke up to hearing a little voice saying something a long the lines of ‘8, 12, no start again , 8, 10’ There was one number logic sequence he was supposed to fathom out, and I just couldn’t either. Maybe I was thinking too hard, but you get worried when 7 year old maths stumps you?! There must be an answer book teachers get their hands on? Maybe I’ll type it out when he brings his book home later and see who’s a clever clogs out there!
Biryani is watching Madeline on the TV , she says a v cute ‘ooh la la’ and actually there’s more French in it than I realised before. She also counts to 5 in Spanish (Dora). It’s a shame Arabic/ English cartoons are not so readily available. There is now a Jazeera kids channel on Sky, but it’s all Arabic at a relatively high level and also seemed to be some dubbed western cartoons which did look strange. Also more music on than the English cartoons.
The Dhuhr Adhan has gone off on the clock DH brought back from Singapore. She almost always likes to say the Muhammad RasoolAllah’ part but 'AllahhuAkbar' is pronounced in a v funny way something like ‘cluckley’
As for potty training, it feels like we are beyond the point of no return, she is v good with it as long as not wearing anything on the bottom half. Attempts to get her to wear pants/ trousers resulted in many accidents, which she must be thinking are going to do the same job as nappies. It has also been a nightmare getting her to put a nappy on for naps/ bed which I ended up having to do when she’s dropped off to sleep. So it’s tempting to leave the nappies on but seems like she is almost there so maybe a shame to stop?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

If they can put a man on the moon..

Surely we can find a way to combat the smallest organisms on earth?
I haven’t been up to posting recently due to cough/cold, and on my last few decongestant tablets read the ingredients (as I had carelessly left them out and Biryani had decided to try and eat one- they are so bitter she hadn’t got v far with it alhamdulillah) and the last one was – ethanol, just when I was going to reorder some from the midwife. Medicine seems to so often need to contain the above, or gelatine.
I was wanting to post earlier as I’ve had a conversation with the ‘Education Boss’ of this area re home education. I’d been spurred on by a phone call with a sister, plus M’s continued reluctance to attend school/ decline in good behaviour and increase in bad (Swedish) language being used. Then the final straw came as on the first 2 days back at school they are going again to the a ‘culture’ house i.e. music activities. It’s quite demoralising having to what seems like every other week, have to re-explain to the teacher why our children can’t participate in x, y, z .
Anyhow firstly the Boss asked if there wasn’t a local state school nearby they could attend. (I’d mentioned my dissatisfaction with their independent school) I said yes but explained a main reason being I feel we don’t have enough time to keep up with their Education in English, should we need to return to the UK at any point. He then asked if they attended the mother tongue classes, which they do, but it is only 40 minutes a week, which we have been doubting is of any value recently. They do nothing linked to any particular curriculum and most of the other kids come out the lessons chatting in Swedish. He didn’t seem to have any other excuses to dismiss my enquiry, except that he didn’t know if there was a specific application form (I’d started the conversation on the grounds of just getting a form, not if they’d actually consider letting us do it), and the lady who would know is ill. So left the conversation which I had managed to stumble through in Swedish, half satisfied that he hadn’t point blank refused, but felt fobbed off as couldn’t even get hold of the necessary paperwork, which I think is supposed to be in by the end of the month! Now it’s a bank holiday so will have to ring and pester on Tuesday inshaAllah.
I talked to another sister who’s been having problems with the school too, and she’s arranged a brother who’s teacher trained to do extra classes. So I was feeling quite positive. However when I talked to S about it, he now says he wants to stay at school, he’s concerned a they have an important national test next year, and what the other kids would think if he doesn’t go to school and maybe comes back for that (and I thought he hasn’t been so influenced by peer pressure) . I was kind of thinking it is more M I am concerned with, as S’s teachers are relatively helpful, but thought S would be annoyed if he had to go to school while M stayed at home. However it also makes a problem with my justifications of home education, so shall probably just apply for both of them and see what happens inshaAllah (if I ever get the forms!).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A stab at home education...

Really should be clearing the living room, after M’s ’party’ he organised for the residents of this abode today. They were off school for various reasons, one being my cold is quite bad and didn’t want to struggle getting 2 reluctant children to school on time. Also M was supposed to being doing Easter crafts, and S was v, v upset yesterday night, missing his Dad, his friend in the other city and generally fed up with everything, so I agreed to let him stay home.
Offered S spelling games on the BBC website which he had a go at, but in the end he said he’d prefer to do old-fashioned pen and paper.
Read a bit about different animals, started off by looking up about scorpions. He’d remembered about mammals as we found dolphins in a different section to sharks…
Did lots of drawings of battles (spaceship type mostly), read his new Horrible history annual which corresponds with stuff he is doing in school about the Middle Ages. I myself flicked through, and have learnt that the Black Death spread all over Europe and different countries had different reasoning/ superstitions as to why it was afflicting them.
Oh and the main activity was baking not just another chocolate cake (3rd this week, in fact I’m not even fancying a piece now and we’ve also run out of eggs!), but also gingerbread men (inspired by Shrek game I’m afraid!) (JazakiAllahkhair UmmRashid for giving me the confidence to let them loose in the kitchen).
M , well he had flour fight with Biryani while I was lying down, well more like a re-enactment of his ice skating trip. What was learnt here? Well how to clean the kitchen floor I suppose!
Also today he got me to write out a list of things he has to do e.g. say prayers, brush teeth, he put tick boxes next to each thing, but I think he’s forgotten to follow it up…He also did some drawing with a little writing on, I think inspired by a screen shot from a computer game. Later in the afternoon, finally got him to do his homework he was supposed to do for school. This was definitely not child-led, but didn’t want to have more hassle from school that he’d been off and not done his homework as well. So far they’ve not minded him having the odd day off, alhamdulillah.
H is actually quite keen to try and spell words and write them, although in capitals from right to left but it’s a start mashAllah.
Miss Independent, walked all the way to nursery on her insistence, which I think would have been hard at this age with the boys, I remember having to go to a midwife appointment with S tagging along. It was a much shorter distance and I’d been left without a buggy. It was struggling to keep him going by saying’ look at that bike, let’s walk to it’, kind of thing, and using distraction after distraction to stop him dawdling.
Biryani however strode down the street, only stopping to take a second look at a dog sitting in the front seat of a van which she described as ‘funny!’ Later on though there were difficulties getting her to hold hands across the road and at a relatively busier junction I had to heave her under my arm as she had a mini tantrum ass he wanted to take apart a Deli’s sandwich board sign outside the shop.
She’s just now got her nappy, top and trousers on for bed. OK the nappy was a bit builder’s style, her top was on upside down and I had to help her with the trousers as they were half inside out. This independence thing is all well and good, but with the potty training it gets a bit excessive when you are awoken from a nap by being shown her ‘success’ as she expresses 'doned it, shabash’ and when she wants to empty it herself in the toilet. One way to wake up quickly I suppose!.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A bit on the younger ones

It’s over half-way now till D-Day and it’s getting harder to hide the bump. H’s nursery teacher guessed yesterday, I never tell people outside of friends and family until it’s blindingly obvious. She said it was the way I was resting my arms on my stomach.
I’ve already had a few tummy rubs, which I’m not sure if I like or not..
It's also been a week involving the repetitive conversation as to whether Biryani is starting day-care yet? It’s just dawned on me that actually it could be around about way of saying ’When are you going to get back in the workforce and pay your taxes (although unbeknown to them I am already thank you).
Otherwise it seems like children are expected to start their ‘outside the home ‘career from age 1. There is nothing else they could constructively be doing is there? I think I should print a T-shirt for her saying ‘I’m a stay-at-home kid’
I feel she would like to attend some sort of playgroup where I can accompany her. But right now she has a lot social stimulation, be it mostly male, but also her grandmother and plenty of toys and other paraphernalia to experiment with. I did feel sorry for her this morning as she was desperate to go in the park after we’d dropped M and S off at school, but H was home alone with sleeping MIL and they hadn’t eaten breakfast, and it was cold and I hadn’t put her socks on, just winter boots, no waterproof trousers on, and I was really tired, and, and this means nothing to a nearly 2 year old. The TV had to be put on so I could get some horizontal rest. Now I shall take her out, despite the emerging gloomy mist and bathrooms needing sanitizing…

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Photos of everyday life..

This is the sort of thing H takes pictures of when he manages to get hold of my camera without my knowledge. Sometimes they're quite telling, other times they show pictures of people in their 'natural' poses (me frowning at some misdeed or squinting at the computer screen). Don't worry I won't upload the latter, they'll have been deleted from the memory!. This is one of a my IKEA chest of drawers that matches the bunk beds but ended up in my room, and the green box contains the paperwork for my Swedish tax return, which this year I have to do myself, and basically is a weight on my shoulders I could do without. The yellow spray is for Biryani' s hair which becomes bush-like, and tangled very easily.

S blew up all these balloons for Biryani while I was out dropping M at school.
He was home as he was ill (the type of affliction that is worst at 7.30 a.m. and it's time to get ready for school).
In fact mashAllah he was a v good babysitter. Nowadays I am trying to avoid picking Hafsah up which is necessary when going out in the car as I get some discomfort in the stomach muscles doing so. Also it means I can take the smaller car whch has a cd player and is less of a gas guzzler. Don't worry MIL was around in the house too, for emergencies.

and more interest as I managed to stick them to the ceiling. When I asked M why this happens, H chipped in 'ecrekticity'. He's been watching too much 'Timothy goes to school' his favourite programme. Still I don't understand why static electricity actually makes them stick, so shall have to look that up...
H playing with the balloons, a lot of fun for a 50p bag of balloons. Also here is the computer desk/ Lego protection unit from nearly 2 year old hands, and general dumping ground, oh and a basket of wet washing hoping someone will hang it up to dry, and a bit of floor, that's a novelty.
The other end of the 'living' room (a lot of living goes on in here as you can see) Washing on radiator needs to be folded and put away, window still needs replacement glass (alhamdulillah it has been a mild Winter) .
Biryani is trying to imitate me, rubbing the balloon on her hair!

and not so exciting a pic, but this is H's pomegranate seedlings popping up, I'd given them up for dead but he reminded me to water them (they were placed on top of the bookcase so prying fingers don't excavate them).
Other things going on, I'm trying out making 'surdeg' sour dough, and I'm on Day 2, so we'll see how it gets on inshaAllah. Have managed to wean the two littlies onto wholemeal rye pancakes and last time sneaked in some sesame seeds, although these seemed to pass straight through. What can I add next to add more nutrients?seaweed?!
Biryani's progressing with the potty training in that I haven't had to change a no 2 nappy for nearly a week, she's very proud and says 'did it!'
It's v difficult to get her to wear a nappy once it's off, which causes difficulties as if I need to lie down I need her to wear one as I can't expect the others to sort her out, so I'm reluctant to leave it off so often. Maybe inshaAllah once DH is back.
School, well M is reluctant to go nowadays, maybe made worse by S being off, but then also found out a boy on his table has been horrible to him. So have had words with the teacher. A sister I know who's son is in the same class phoned me last night. She's been v concerned at how her son's getting on at school / disagreements with the teacher (quite a long story) so nowadays she's coming into the class sometimes to observe. She said it was v noisy and hard for the others to concentrate. She was also concerned about the lack of supervision at break times, as there is a big open public park with woods at the back situated behind the schools. The children aren't supposed to wander off up there but some do, M does seem to listen to the school rules at least.
I don't like the idea of complete silence in classrooms and that discussion is v important but there have to be limits. Also I find it sad our kids can't feel safe playing in woods, but this is 2008. Anyhow, one of those 'doubts about my kids education' times, must trust in Allah to help me get a solution.
S had to write a reply to a 'pen-friend' arranged between another school in the city ('swedish' school) and I was pleased to see that the boys handwriting and spelling were, if not worse, but on a par with S's. I am unsure how the usual standards are here as 99% of kids in my kid's school have Swedish as a 2nd (3rd, 4th) language.
Now must do some housework, yawn...