Procrastination – my favourite new word. I kept seeing that on another forum I frequent but didn’t know what it meant so decided to look it up.

Procrastination is described as putting off, deferring, delaying or postponing something that requires your attention, usually your immediate attention. For example, now I should be getting washed, tidying up and doing my course work but instead, here I am posting about what I shouldn’t be doing.

I gave up work to concentrate on the house, kids and not to have the excuse that I was doing my TMAs ALL night – and yes, I mean in my last course I wasn’t going to bed the night before my TMA was due because I got too far behind on the work. I’ve tried to learn from experience but in the early stages of this course found I was doing everything else but my study.

For me, having a child with special needs adds extra strains in our life and like all children, both make far too much mess; I find I’m constantly tidying up, washing or ironing and any spare time in the evenings I’m too tired to concentrate on reading.

You could say ‘well, get them to tidy up then!’, but unless you’ve had dealings with a child with Autism and an Attention Deficit (the less compulsive side of ADHD), you’ll realise that getting them to do anything menial is extremely hard. However, that’s something to be left for other posts.

Unlike my previous course (maths), reading tends to need a lot more of my attention in order for it to sink in. I’m a slow reader with low comprehension which for me means that I have to read and sometimes re-read to take in and understand what I’ve read. I suppose you could look at it in this way: following a quick reading test supplied speed test I read 20% lower than the national average with an approx speed of 188 words per minute. This was with relatively easy text, so imagine how slow I am to read course material!

With holidays being just over a week away, I have to adjust my schedule, my list of priorities and get ahead of my course to make sure I do well in my next TMA that is due for completion in the week I return.

How do you cope with a lack of enthusiasm or having too many things you want to do?

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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Home, Psychology, School, Study


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Wider letter spacing helps dyslexic children

Wider letter spacing helps dyslexic children.

This is something worth looking at for those who struggle to read at school. What do you think?

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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in School


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Reading made-up words

Week 15

I spent the week testing the children on the graphemes and reading of made-up words. Unlike the two weeks earlier where we tested a whole page of letter sounds, sounding graphemes and being able to blend the sounds – this week was a quick read of ten made up words.

Most of the children required reminding to remove the ‘er’ from their letter sounds whilst others seemed to get confused with the ‘b’ and ‘d’ when mixed into a word. They also forgot the digraph ‘ss’ and sounded the letters separately. When I showed them the previous weeks letters which listed them without other letters to blend, they were able to recognise the ‘ss’, ‘ff’ or ‘ll’ etc. and sound them correctly. However in a blend with other letters, they had trouble.

There were a few ways that I was aware of to help remember the difference between the ‘b’ and ‘d’ and one of those being: pretending the ‘b’ is kicking a ball so that it moving forward. Another I read on a forum was to think of the mouth movements used to say the letters: the ‘b’ uses the lips where as the ‘d’ uses the tongue, although this wasn’t as easy to explain to some of the children at this age. An alternative would be to think similarly to the ball where the ‘b’ walks forwards and the ‘d’ walks backwards.

What other ways do you know to help children remember?

The problem that I kept running into was how the children recognised the ‘b’ and ‘d’ individually but when in a blend with other letters, they had difficulty! Why is that? Dyslexia? immaturity? – at this age its only something that can/should be monitored and reviewed at a later date.

Another common mistake that kept popping up was when they read ‘E’ the letter instead of ‘e’ but this was another thing that we recapped on by looking at the previous weeks page. There were a couple of ‘O’s instead of ‘o’ and ‘j’ for ‘g’ but mainly they were consistent in their responses. There were three children who stood out who had trouble reading the words; they were made-up and they didn’t recognise them so added their own letters to help make them fit and match words that they knew. For example: ‘under’ for ‘nud’ or ‘over’ for ‘rov’.

Overall this was an easy task and most of the children had progressed a lot from when they first entered the year group.

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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Graphemes and blending

Weeks 13 & 14

When I strolled into Mrs As class, it was a little lively, more so than usual. Within ten minutes I gathered that the usual carousel wasn’t happening that week due to staff absences and training. Mrs A went to her chair, grabbed a wad of papers and quickly came over to run through the details.

To be honest, I stood their stunned, with my mouth open and an expression of ‘huh?’; she quickly ran through it again but what she said changed slightly so I confirmed a few bits. The children were to tell me what each sound of the letters were from the list: to read the grapheme blend of words listed for the children to tell me what word it made: and then tell them a word for them to break down in to the grapheme blend, sounding them out (am I saying that right? Grapheme blends? or is there a better way of saying it?). I double checked to see if they were supposed to see the words on the list which confused me further as, why would I need to say it if they were reading it?

My head went a bit cloudy and during the first day I was hesitant and questioning everything I was doing, I wasn’t confident with my understanding and interpretation of the rushed explanation. I took the first child into a quiet area and started on the sound of the letters listed which included l, ll, s, ss, f, ff. I read the instructions on the paper for the blends which contradicted a little my understanding of the verbal instructions I had received.  I stopped after the third child and double checked some details with Mrs B who was next door (Mrs A was further away and I felt stupid asking again when she appeared to be in a rush the first time!) and she confirmed my understanding but even she looked a little hazy before giving her response.

I was hesitant with each child that day, some I read the grapheme for them to give me the word where others I allowed to read. There wasn’t a great deal of difference between the two outcomes but I wasn’t comfortable.

At the end of the day once the children had gone home or to clubs, I briefly ran through my outcomes with Mrs A. I’m not sure if she assumed from my details or if that was what I was supposed to do and had misinterpreted, but I was to carry on letting the children read as opposed to me to them!

Yes, this was the time when I should have said something about my confusion, but as I was about to, Mrs A started on something else and I was still processing the information, trying to work out if I was able to adapt for the next day and re-check the oddities that might have been spotted had I done it differently for the first set of children.

Due to the size of this task, varying reading speeds and abilities, this dragged into a second week. I checked out Mr Phonics (details below) to ensure I was learning what the children were supposed to be reading and saying correctly and practiced every day before going into school to make sure it was fresh in my mind.

During those two weeks I was able to determine which children had trouble recognising the ‘b’ and ‘d’, unable or yet to read a digraph such as ‘ff’ and most importantly their pronunciation. Most of them read with an ‘er’ on the end of their sounds – example ‘mer‘, ‘der‘, ‘ger‘, ‘per‘, ‘fer‘ etc. The amount of times I had to re-cap and reiterate the letter sounds when they were reading the grapheme/blending became frustrating. I can understand that children talk in a way that they were raised or pick-up habits from the area in which they live but they should be learning that the way they read and answer questions in school, should be the correct way. Outside of school they can read, write and talk however they want. Their ability to master this skill will hold them in good stead in later life for employment.

Is this age too young to try to instil this attitude or understanding? I think it’s definately something that should be monitored through their early years of school.


Posted by on June 2, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Reading Progress

Week 12 – Continued…

This weeks task was similar to weeks 4 and 5 but without the sounds/digraph testing.

When I got into school, after signing in at the office I grabbed a ‘Volunteer’ lanyard from the basket, slipped it over my head and made my way to Mrs A’s class. I waited for her to finish telling the children about their lunchtime reading club, then she grabbed her clipboard and on her way towards me held it up and asked ‘do you remember doing these?’. I recognised the sheets: reading assessments, they were different but similar. I told her I did and quickly confirmed the allowed number of incorrect readings before each child had to stop and if they were to be timed, which they weren’t.

Mrs A then proceeded to ask if I’d had a nice Easter break which I replied to as ‘yes thanks’ – I’d rehearsed this response so as not to forget to reciprocate, obviously I asked her in return ‘you?’ Any conversation from there on was doomed for an abrupt end as I smile, nod and either respond with a cut off or notably have nothing in my head for a response!

I went and photocopied the sheet to cover all 50+ children and then took the first child on the list for a quick one to one read working my way through the classes during the course of that week. The improvement seen based on the 6 weeks prior was noticeable, very few children had trouble with the b’s and d’s and they were able to read further down the list with fewer scattered errors. I was impressed with their progress.

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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Staying focused

Week 12

Mrs HT came into the class while the children were reading their ERRs on the white board. During this time I sit to the side and wait for them to finish before I start to take them for 1:1 assessment. Mrs HT lowered her voice, said hello and proceeded to ask me a question while waiting for the children to finish. My thoughts however, were on the children trying to concentrate while she whispered over in the corner, so I was very hesitant to respond and briefly answered.

Children hear a whisper, something to look over at and lose their place, miss important information and disrupt other children. Yes they have to learn to stay focused but does that mean we should talk during their lesson?

As it happens, the children were doing well but seeing their HT standing over by the door, led to a sequence of loss in concentration. A split second but enough to break the flow and send them into a confused tis of who should be reading; that was it, they had lost momentum and hesitated at each word.

You could see by their body language that even though they are young, they were self conscious, it slowed them down and made them hesitate. They were motivated by Mrs A to get them back in the flow, the zone, but the damage had been done. They’d been interrupted by a senior member of staff and their bodies twisting slightly in her direction when previously they had been set straight facing the board, was enough to see.

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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in School, Year 2


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Learning at a distance

Weeks 10 & 11

During these two weeks my Psychology course materials arrived. I ticked everything off against the check sheet that came with the delivery and then put the package to one side until I was mentally prepared to start looking through the work.

My previous course was in mathematics and I managed to get so far behind I was struggling to get the assignments in on time, working all night just to finish the work. I started off extremely well but by the time I was on the third assignment, I was flicking through the study books trying to make sense of what I should already have learnt. That was one of the many difficult times in my life and the stress from that, trying to stay on top of my job and dealing with a lot of home issues started to take its toll. However, I was lucky, I passed my course, changed all areas of my life and started to move forward in a positive stream. I had a make a gamble and so far its been the rignt choice!

Eventually I sat down and un-packed the materials, putting the book behind my bed (easily accessible, this is where the books I’m reading and my notebooks go), looking over the website only to find it still wasn’t active and read through the introductory booklet that came with the work.

During the 2nd week the site opened enough for me to start on my course ahead of schedule. I was expecting to be dumped straight into the abyss but surprisingly this wasn’t how it was at all. The first weeks work was set to concentrate on how the course website worked, how to navigate the webpages and links, understand the basic terminology and different types of material (such as web or book) and introduce us into the world of Psychology.

I didn’t complete the full weeks worth of work during this time, although I managed to complete half of it and set aside time for the last bit when the course actually went ‘live’.

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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Home, Psychology, Study


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