Well that’s it, he’s back to school. Today is the end of his first week and we have had a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Tears, anxiety, worry, excitement, joy. I won’t say it’s been great to have him back in school, but it hasn’t been bad either. Just another change to get used to. Overall it’s been tough but manageable.
I’m enjoying that structure to the day now but I had forgotten how much I hate homework. Now, how could you forget that, you’re all thinking, you’ve been homeschooling forever, literal home work. But it really wasn’t the same. The home learning we did was on our terms, doing what we wanted, when it suited us. Homework is taking a child who has already been at school all day, is emotionally and physically tired and asking them to do more. It is asking them to do spellings, day after day, after day and it is getting them to read the school phonics books which are at best dull at worst downright boring, I mean he literally got sent home a book about a packed lunch, a flipping packed lunch! It’s no Lego Star Wars or wildlife book, things that we had been reading and progressing so well with.
I knew this would happen though, I knew that whilst I could still add in elements of our home learning I would have to persevere with his homework and that would be the majority of what he did at home due to time constraints. I am also fully aware that it is not enough for him. I have just spent months, one on one with my own child and I know where he struggles and where he doesn’t and also know what motivates him. So whatever extra I add in needs to be fun and not feel like homework and it needs to be quick. When Learning Resources said they had some back to school products they would like to send us I was all over it, as they were just what we needed to make everything a little bit easier and whole lot more fun!
L’s biggest struggle is with maths. He is reading really well now, turns out he just needed books that interested him. So over lockdown we’ve nailed that and I’m so happy with his progress. Spelling needs some work too but we are getting there. It really is mainly his maths that needs extra help. The one thing we don’t get homework for. Go figure.
With maths being our main focus when we get bit of time at home the products Learning Resources sent us couldn’t have been better. We got a MathLink Cubes starter set, Tackling Tables card game, Sum Swamp board game and Sight Word Swat game. Three amazing maths resources and a super fun reading game. The perfect set to help me, help him continue with his learning, catch up to where he needs and wants to be and have a bit of fun whilst doing it.
The MathLink Cubes are fab and L was already familiar with them as he had been using them at school and finds them helpful. He is still very visual with his maths and finds having the blocks incredibly helpful. Funnily enough over lockdown I’d been speaking with the husband about trying to source him an abacus, just to help him along and ended up making him something out of a pipecleaner and beads. The cubes are so much better! Plus they come with loads of activity cards to work through covering creating and finding patterns, volumes, addition and subtraction and ordering. The activity cards really help me to teach him and find things to do together and having a building block aspect is fun for him. These are so simple but super effective. Aimed at ages 3+ I wish we had a set sooner.
The Tackling Tables card game is a lot tougher. Times Tables are a huge struggle for L and as it turns out I am rubbish at them too. Weirdly I was never taught my times tables at school, so I find the speed element of the Tackling Tables game difficult. Thankfully they are split into different ability levels and have clear age guides to work towards. So hopefully the more we play the better I will get and the more confident L will become. The premise is simple, each card has the answer to a multiplication in the middle and the numbers that create that answer in each corner. You hide the answer with your thumb, show the card to the child and using the two corner numbers tell you the answer. For example L will see corner numbers 2 and 4 and I will be hiding the answer 8 with my thumb and he has to tell me the answer in three seconds to get the card. You can also use it to reverse the sum by hiding different numbers. I you are hiding the 2 and he can see the answer is 8 and part of the sum is 4, he can tell me ? x 4 = 8, or even what the division would be. Aimed at ages 5+ with levels going up in age this is going to be really valuable resource for us.
Our final maths game is Sum Swamp, a flipping fabulous and fun board game. We love a board game and often try to play a game after dinner in the evening whilst we’re all up at the table. This fun little number is going to make n excellent addition to our collection and we all know learning happens best when it’s fun. The aim of the game is simple, be the first to get to the finish line. Roll your dice, cross the swamp, mind the hazards and go! But instead of one dice you have three. Two number dice and one with + and – sides. You roll all three and with the highest number first create a number sentence. So if you rolled 2, 5 and – you would have 5-2 and move forward 3 spaces. It’s simple but fun and great way to practise the basics and get faster and faster and more and more confident with those core sums. I love a bit of learning that doesn’t feel like learning so this is a winner for us. This aimed at ages 5+ and it’s just really nice. Such good quality. It looks good and it’s fun.
Finally we come to Sight Word Swat. This immediately grabbed L’s attention and it is so much fun. You have loads of cute little flies with words on them. There are words on both sides of the flies and they are colour coded by difficulty level. You also have fly swats. You lay out the words you want to practise and get the kids to swat them. If you are paying with more than one child and adult calls out a word and the first child to swat it, wins it. The child with the most wins. I have adapted it to play with L on his own and time him. If he swats it in under 5 seconds he keeps it. It is a great way to keep up with that literacy, practise tricky words and more basic words and just keep on increasing that vocabulary. When L has had his his turn swatting the flies I get him to turn the tables by putting down some new words and he reads them so I have to find and swat them, just because reading the word to me and recognising a word I have said are two slightly different but equally important skills when it comes to literacy.
I always know if we are struggling with any kind of learning at home Learning Resources will have a tool to help and now he’s back to school and we’ve got the headache of homework to deal with it’s really nice for me to have some help in the form of the MathLink Cubes and Tackling Tables and some ways to slip in some extra learning on top of the homework without it feeling like work at all with the Sum Swam and Sight Word Swat games.
It’s going to take us some time to settle into our new routine but all I know is I don’t want to let all the hard work we did over lockdown be for nothing. I don’t want him to forget that learning can be fun, because we really did have some fun. I also know that he will have some catching up to do because I am not a teacher and he missed so much time at school. These next few weeks are going to be interesting but we’re here for the ride and I’m more confident in the support I can give him with the maths especially now that we’ve got some good tools.
Disclosure – we were gifted our items in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts, opinions and images are my own.