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All posts for the month May, 2014

Homework Woes……

Published May 31, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Im sure the title of this post sends shivers down many a parents spine.

Im going to be very clear about my thoughts on the subject, I HATE HOMEWORK.

The word homework evokes all sorts of emotions in me, frustration, fear, anger, sadness!
The mere thought of homework makes me want to cry, mostly because doing homework usually results in someone crying.

I am so fed up of spending hours and hours trying to get my children to understand their homework never mind actually do it. My children are not super clever brain boxes, in fact big girl and middle girl have quite a low cognitive ability, baby girl has the brains, just lacks the inclination. So homework is ALWAYS a challenge for them.

Lets use one of this half terms projects as an example.

Research Roman Clothing & Jewelry. (a few web page addresses supplied and a date for the ‘research’ to be handed in)

Sounds easy eh, except its not when you don’t understand the concept of the word ‘research’, never mind have the ability to actually do any.

So I dig out the encyclopedia’s, she doesn’t know how to use them, so I find the page, she isn’t able to read the text and extract information so she just stares blankly at the pages through her tears.

HomeworkFrustration

‘My teacher said to do it on the internet’ she exclaims as if to imply that would be so much easier.

Ok, I understand books are old fashioned and the internet is the future but I cant tell you how much it annoys me that my children don’t even know what an encyclopedia is, never mind how to use one (except what I’ve taught them that is). Any way, I’m not going to rant about the importance and benefits of books vs the interest I just don’t have the patience.

Browsing books and internet

So in order to keep her happy I produce my laptop, I switch it on, as she doesn’t know how, I open a search page, as she doesn’t know how. She types in her topic to the search box and presses enter. She then stares at the list of results produced by google not knowing what to do next, she reads the odd word and even spells out some of the URL addresses unaware of what they are. She doesn’t have the skills to know how to get information from the internet and even when I open up a page with all the information there, written down, in child friendly text, she doesn’t have the ability to read, understand and extract that information and get it on to paper in the form of research or any other form for that matter. She could sit and copy the text word for word but in all honesty, most of it she couldn’t read and didn’t understand so what would be the point of that.

I understand children have to have homework but shouldn’t it be tailored to their specific abilities!? Are schools not just setting children up to fail with homework that is too complicated for them to understand let alone complete!?

‘Write a poem’ – all good and well providing they know what a poem is.

Research X and present your work in either a poster, power point presentation or article – First they need to know how to research and Im not even going to go down the power point presentation route with them!

Write a book review of your favorite book – Well first of all they’d need to have a favorite book or even an interest in reading but to then be able to write ‘why’ its their favorite, well that would require them having understood the story wouldn’t it.

Write a Chronological report – Seriously!?

Complete an experiment to show what happens to bread when its left to deteriorate and write about your findings – That would require the ability and patience to be able to notice the tiny changes and have the vocabulary to explain what you can see.

Research and create a project on the River Nile – Urgh more research!!!

And these are just examples of ones I can remember off the top of my head!

You might be wondering why they dont know how to use the internet, well, they just dont, they have zero interest in computers, they each have a tablet computer of their own and show very little interest in them, they play the odd game that I’ve downloaded for them but have no interest in expanding their use of them at all. I have a laptop, Mr FO5 has an Ipad, they show no interest in using them either. They dont know what Facebook is (which im secretly super happy about), they have never looked at Utube, they dont know what Amazon or Ebay are or how to find information using Google. Their lack of technical ability and interest does worry me, but, I cant force them to be interested in it, can I, and honestly, Im not sure I want to. The internet is a dangerous place for vulnerable children.

Einstein

So, Tell me about some of your homework nightmare stories and share tips on how you handle things, do you have any ‘technology uninterested’ kids in your family or do you have primary school ‘whizz kids’ that are creating code, developing software and social networking with their peers?

Do you also hate homework as much as me! I cant be the only parent out there that loathes it, can I?

The futures bright…….. well, brighter!

Published May 31, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I was very privileged, along with a few other adoptive parents, to meet with Sir Martin Narey recently.

Sir Martin Narey has been advising the government on adoption issues since 2012, more recently he was chosen to chair a new board that will advise the government on how to improve the adoption process including post adoption support.

A small number of us were given the opportunity to share our stories and concerns. Education and Post Adoption support being the most talked about area’s.

Sir Martin Narey spent most of the meeting tentatively listening to the stories of unsupported families, he expressed sadness and disbelief to most of what he heard, he offered empathy and promised to take on board all of the information that was shared with him, and I believe he will.

Sir Martin Narey is a key figure in the future of adoption, if your involved in adoption and you don’t know who he is, then you should. He tweets and he emails but most of all he listens and acts.

If your a teacher, or head/virtual head, social worker or family support worker you also need to know who this man is, because he’ll be suggesting changes to your roles/training/processes too!

I was very grateful for the opportunity to meet the man that has had such a huge impact on the level of post adoption support we receive as a family, I feel hopeful that the future of all aspects of adoption will be better and brighter for everyone. Perhaps not today, or tomorrow, but I am confident that things will get better.

Good Old Fashioned Fun

Published May 30, 2014 by thefamilyof5

We enjoyed some good old fashioned fun today and went with my sister, aka their favourite Auntie, and picked some juicy fresh strawberrys! Bought back some memories of my own childhood, was lovely!

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I’ve linked this post up with #WASO The Weekly Adoption Shout Out over at The Adoption Social.

Photographic Memories

Published May 19, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I take photo’s, lots of them, far too many in fact. I currently have 3500 that I need to move from my memory card and on to a separate hard drive, then I have to file them in to folders for each month, then I have to go through them and decide which ones should be printed, then I have to put all the prints in to the albums.

I have lacked the time to sort/organise/print and display the photo’s lately, but I’ve not stopped taking photo’s. I really need to get on top of things because my girls love photo’s and they enjoy looking back through our albums and remembering special times.

Big girl said to me today ‘we have lots of lovely memories in our heads now don’t we mommy’ and they do!

Below are some of our lovely moments from over Easter.

Feeding the ducks with cousins after a lovely sunny picnic in the park.

Feeding the ducks with cousins after a lovely sunny picnic in the park.

Testing out their skills on a climbing wall!

Testing out their skills on a climbing wall!

Hungry Hippos with Daddy!

Hungry Hippos with Daddy!

Exploring the woodlands and following maps!

Exploring the woodlands and following maps!

They love a trip to the hair salon!

They love a trip to the hair salon!

Watching films and eating Easter Eggs, Epic!

Watching films and eating Easter Eggs, Epic!

Baby girl and Auntie checking out their ability to see in the dark!!

Baby girl and Auntie checking out their ability to see in the dark!!

Admiring the stain glass windows of a beautiful church!

Admiring the stain glass windows of a beautiful church!

Their favorite pass time, posing for photo's!

Their favorite pass time, posing for photo’s!

I’ve linked this post up with Memory Box over at The Adoption Social

Memory Box

Catch up!

Published May 16, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Right its time for a catch up, there’s been so much happening here and so much I wanted to tell you all that I’ve realised If I keep waiting for my head to clear and make sense of it all, I’m never going to get any of it out of my head and on to here!

So, here goes my ‘bleugh update’:

I wanted to tell you about the day the school head teacher left and the girls came out of school sobbing like their world had ended. The teachers gave me that look that said ‘ahh so sweet that they’re going to miss her so much’, not one of them considered the impact of the highly emotional ‘leaving’ assembly, with poems and speeches, crying staff and sobbing students, had on my girls, they weren’t grieving for the loss of the teacher they barely knew, they were grieving for their own past and it traumatic losses, they were re-traumatised by the whole experience. If Id know such an assembly was taking place I wouldn’t have sent them to school that day.

I wanted to tell you about the ASD assessments that baby girl and middle girl have been undergoing with the organisation that diagnosed big girls Autism in 2012. There’s too much detail to tell you so I’ll just tell you the result instead. Middle girl will be receiving a working diagnosis of Autism so she will be receiving support in school from the Autism Outreach Team which is great, it also means that she is able to take advantage of the support services offered by the organisation, baby girl will be getting a ‘Watchful Wait’ report, which means we’ll look again in a year.

I wanted to tell you about the new temporary head teacher and my brief chat with him on his second day, poor man I didn’t give him much time did I, any way he seems to understand the girls needs, well more so than the previous head teacher (remember her call to Child Protection Services, urgh) any way, as I said, he seemed to get the importance of understanding their needs and acknowledging them. He talked about ‘resilience and tough love’ briefly too, I’m unsure of his ideas around these so Im not sure he totally ‘gets it’ but he was willing to listen to me and that’s a good starting point. Now I just need to get him to talk to me about the plans for the Pupil Premium Plus!

I wanted to tell you about the Anxiety counselling that big girl has been receiving from the organisation that support her Autism, She’s been doing great and made huge steps in being honest about her worries rather than just dismissing them and saying ‘im fine’, like she usually does. She’s had 4 or 5 sessions and has managed to open up to the counselor/therapist better than I’ve seen her open up to anyone, other than me of course 🙂 So Im hoping that the new skills and insight that she’s had around her own reactions and responses to ‘worries’ will help her in the future. Fingers crossed please!

I wanted to tell you about how Big girl and I have been working on her being brave enough to let people know when she has a ‘need’, i.e hungry, hurt, sad, worried etc she has also been working really hard on telling other people about the things she’s finding hard, so for example she was really brave and told her teacher that the place where she has to hang her coat and bag in the mornings was difficult for her, it was ‘squishy’ so I’m guessing it was too much sensory input for her to manage. She also excelled herself by telling the lady from Autism Outreach how she ‘really’ finds school instead of just trying to please them by saying ‘I love school its great’ like she has in the past. I’m so proud of her and the huge and brave steps she’s making right now.

I wanted to update you on the ‘private therapy’ front also. In early February we finally found a local therapist able to offer us a service and approached the placing authority (PA) with the details for approval. After waiting and waiting and waiting some more they finally responded and said in a round about fashion that they were no longer sure if they’d be able to fund the therapy they’d promised us back in September and that actually they felt it might be more of the responsibility for our local authority (LA) to fund due to the ‘Post 3 year deadline for support’ being in June. So the LA and PA argued it out for a while and finally at the end of April it was agreed that the PA would fund the initial assessment stage and the funding for the actual therapy would be addressed once that was complete. So this week and next week we will be undergoing the assessment stage. I then anticipate months of ‘discussion’ between the LA and PA whilst they decide who will pay for the actual therapy!

I wanted to tell you about sleep, we’ve made some really big changes and progress with big girl and middle girls sleep routine and its paying off, they’re getting much better ‘sleep’ and we’re really hoping it continues. Baby girl however, well since going back to school after Easter she’s gone from taking 5-10 minutes to fall asleep to over 2 hours. I haven’t been able to get to the bottom of whats going on with her yet, It could be the new ‘male’ head teacher that’s temporarily joined the school, We are seeing a recent pattern of baby girl struggling with men. There was a brief mention of it in the reports from back in the day but in all honesty I’d put it to the back of my mind as nothing had ever caused me to think it was ongoing. However, she ‘flunked’ a cognitive assessment that the ASD organisation conducted, we wouldn’t have known to question anything if she’d never had a cognitive assessment before, however the one she completed with CAMHS last year was conducted by a woman and she scored highly. Or it could be that the class TA has been away for a period of time, although I don’t think that would explain all of it as I think she was there for the 1st week after Easter. Or it could be something else? Either way somethings going on, there are various little signs to tell me she’s not feeling quite right at the moment. Answers on a postcard please 🙂

So that’s us, it isn’t the in depth detailed update I wanted to write and there so much more that’s just buried too deep in my brain right now, but its enough to get the backlog out of my head and on here so I can move on with regular updates 🙂

Foster Care Fortnight 2014

Published May 14, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Its Foster Care Fortnight in UK right now (Monday 12 to Sunday 25 May). Fostering plays such a vital role in many of our most vulnerable children’s lives. Some of my closest friends are foster carers and they change lives every day. The trouble is, there just aren’t enough foster carers available. Perhaps its for you?

To mark the occasion we have a special (first time ever for FO5) guest post from the ‘National Fostering Agency’

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What does fostering mean and what do foster carers do?

Taking place this May, Foster Care Fortnight is an annual campaign to highlight the work done by foster carers and raise the profile of fostering. The theme of this year’s fortnight is ‘Guess who fosters?’ – with members of the public being invited to answer the question.

It’s a very appropriate theme as this is a question that many people do ask themselves. Most people will have a vague awareness of foster care, or may even have met someone who has experienced it themselves but there is still a lot of confusion about the exact role of fostering and what it is that a foster carer does.

With that in mind, we’ve set out here to answer both of those questions. Hopefully this will help to raise the profile of foster carers as part of Foster Care Fortnight and ultimately help to reduce the estimated 8,600 shortfall of foster carers in the UK.

What is fostering?
At its essence, foster caring involves providing a home for a child in need. This is describing it in its most simplistic form, as being a foster carer involves so much more. There are a number of different kinds of fostering, ranging from emergency care for just a few days, to respite care (often over weekends) or it can even be long term care, often right up until the child reaches adult age.

For however long the foster child is in their care, under whatever circumstances, the basics of foster caring remain the same. They are there to provide the support, stability and care that a foster child needs in that particular situation.

Working as part of a team, including other health care professionals such as social workers, foster carers aim to identify the kind of support the child needs and provide this in a non-judgmental and stable environment. Foster carers are involved in everything from support attending school, health appointments, extracurricular activities and simply looking after the children in a day-to-day environment.

Fostering is different from adoption as there is no transferral of legal guardianship, with many foster carers having to remain in close contact with the children’s birth parents throughout the process.

What do foster carers do?
As we have mentioned, foster carers main role is to offer a stable, safe and warm environment so that children can feel safe and supported. They also try to help children build, develop and maintain good relationships with their families.

Of course, the physical needs of foster children are met, including good food, warm clothes and a clean and safe environment in which to live. Foster carers also need to offer support around any health issues that might be facing children in their care, and ensuring that they participate fully in education is another key role.

Fundamental to all of the above is the issue of trust. Foster children often talk of the need for trust between themselves and carers. Feeling like they are being listened to and being able to communicate well and in a positive way are key core skills for anyone wanting to be a foster carer.

It is difficult to outline an exact role for a foster carer because as each child is different, the circumstances and role of the foster carer is different too. However, if you enjoy working with young people, think you can make a difference to someone’s life and believe you can offer a stable environment for a child who really needs it, then fostering might be for you.

Website: http://www.nfa.co.uk/
Phone:0845 200 4040
Email: info@nfa.co.uk
Twitter: @NFA_fostering

nfabig

Tangled Wool

Published May 6, 2014 by thefamilyof5

My head feels like its full of wool at the moment
Its a messy, tangled collection of wool
Each strand of wool represents some news, a story, a moment
They’re all different in size, all different colours
Some are pretty, some are not, some are fluffy, some are not
I need to untangle each of these strands before I can work with them
Once I’ve untangled them I’m going to knit you all the most amazing story blanket!

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