Bristol Old Vic today revealed the cast who are to bring Sally Cookson’s newest family show to life- the dreamy Christmas tale, Sleeping Beauty. Bringing the much loved fairy-tale bang up to date, roles are reversed as our male beauty is tricked into a deep sleep for 100 years, before being woken by a poor young girl with the heart of a lion.

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Based on the famous fairy story and also taking inspiration from the Welsh folk tale, The Leaves that Hung but Never Grew, this magical tale sees the pampered and protected Prince Percy team up with the determined and feisty Girl who helps him wake from an enchanted sleep, battle the evil Fairy and discover the magical tree with leaves to cure all ills. Together they discover how friendship can come in unlikely places and how we are all stronger together than apart.

I am keen to see this with the whole family but particularly my daughter. I am a big fan of girls learning how to be feisty and I like the creativity of the role reversal in a traditional tale. I am also very keen to look into the Welsh folk tale and to add it to our home education efforts. Life sure teaches us the best friends come from unlikely places (like blogging!) and that it is strong to reach out for support and to work together.

It’s a bit of a trek for us but an excuse to revisit Bristol and the prices of the tickets are affordable.

27 Nov 2015– 17 Jan 2016
Theatre
Sleeping Beauty
A Bristol Old Vic production
Devised by the company
Times vary
Prices £34 – £7.50
Tickets www.bristololdvic.org.uk | 0117 987 7877

What is the best way to learn about maths?

I had a difficult day on the home education front as I tried to teach maths to my daughter.

It got me thinking about what is the best way to learn about maths.

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I look back and I remember playing shops with my Mum before starting school. I also remember having a little blue circular container for holiday savings. Mum went mad when she found out I had being dipping in regularly for Chewitts so there was not much left at all by the time the holiday came round. An early and valuable lesson about saving, spending and the need to budget for special occasions.

Moving onto primary school, the only clear memory I have is of doing regular speed tests in arthimetic. At the same age, my daughter according to Key Stage 2 needs to know about numerals, digits, integers, graphs, percentages, fractions and a whole lot more besides. I learned about integers this week for the first time as far as I can recall.

At secondary school, I hated maths lessons more and more as the years rolled by. I could see no point in most of what we were learning. I was bamboozled when numbers became letters in algebra. I was more interested in chunky chicken pie than Pi. I used to spend maths lessons moving my ruler about so that light would appear on the blackboard and distract the teacher. I still managed a disappointing but adequate B grade in my O-Level.

At university, when I got into money trouble, I knew Dad would write a cheque or the bank would lend me money. My only real concern about figures was how college could justify charging 20 pence for a portion of vegetables.

In my working life, if any job description mentioned financial management, I would avoid it like the plague. I did help families with their budgets and carry out calculations of welfare benefits and debt repayments whilst working as an advice worker.

In a later job, a boss said quite casually that I had a learning difficulty around numbers. She was bright so presumably knew what she was talking about.

At the moment, my children are doing daily worksheets on maths set by myself and guided by Key Stage 2 of the National Curriculum requirements.

My daugther loves art and I have learned this week that there are ways to harness that passion to get numeracy across to her. My son, like his Dad, is keen on maths anyway so they work together a lot.

Both children are using maths games online too which captures their imaginations.

We bake which involves loads of maths and we go shopping comparing prices in different stores, working out how much things add up to and how much change we are due.

What is the best way to learn about maths? I still don’t have the answer but finally I am enjoying finding out and think we are making progress as a family with this topic.

Are your memories of learning maths good or bad?

How do you help your children with numeracy?

What do we really need maths wise to succeed in the real world?

Did you know that lack of tyre safety contributes to more than 1200 road accidents?

Driving with defective tyres can result in heft penalties such as £2500 along with three points on the licence!

Tyres matter and I asked my husband’s view as he is the driver in our family.

“I have always loved driving and recently bought a second-hand Jaguar car.

I use my car for the daily commute to work and for days out with my family.

My tyres are important. They are my only contact between my car and the road. They provide grip for steering and braking. Tread patterns help to disperse surface water from the road which could cause aquaplaning.

My usual daily journey involve urban roads and motorways so I need to make sure that the important parts of my tyres are kept within the limits the manufacturer of both my car and the tyres specify. Whilst the law states minimum tread depth of 1.6mm I never allow mine to fall below 2mm. Regular inspection of the tread and sidewalls is essential.

As the tyres approach the end of their useful life I prefer to plan the changes and to look around for the best prices. Point S tyre-dealers have sites around the country and it is easy to search for my tyre size and see respective prices from premium to economy brands. Once my search is complete I can find a site conveniently located and book an appointment. No turning up on spec to find my favourite is out of stock or waiting in long queues at busy times.”

Yesterday was a challenging home education day which we all learned from.

I had slept very badly the night before. My two home-educated children had a row about a game. This was a very silly time for me to try and encourage my 11 year old daughter to tackle some numeracy work. She downed tools, curled up in a ball and refused point blank to get involved saying “I like art not maths!”

Ever since starting the home education path, I have worried that I will damage my children in some way and leave them unable to deal with life. I brood on this and it haunts me as I want to do the best for them.

So with fatigue playing its part I am ashamed to say I got cross and may have shouted too. This was, of course, counter-productive. My husband suggested I leave things for a while with me accusing him of always being able to go off to work whilst I have to deal with home education as well as everything else. Tension mounted.

It was not long before I sought advice from the Home Education UK Facebook group. I was reminded that I am human and will not always get things right. I was told that school teachers have bad days too. I was urged not to beat myself up emotionally. I was given practical tips including the new concept to me that maths can be taught through art and music.

Then I made my daughter a snack and we had a hug but only after she told me it was going to cost me. She is her mother’s daughter!

She picked up a fashion design book and cd-rom and played with that for over a hour. She was then in a good mood and happy to do some maths questions that I had set for her on a wide range of topics. She answered the question “Why do we need to learn maths?” with “Because schools want us to eat numbers”. I am sure there is deep meaning in that somewhere.

Later as we watched Lewis and a bomb blew up lots of maths books but left an artwork undamaged, I pointed out that this summed up our day in some ways.

My daughter replied, “Art will always prevail!”

We went to bed at peace and ready to learn another day.

If anyone has good tips on teaching maths to someone with a passion for art, please do share them.

If anyone has the secret to not stressing as a home educating mum, do let me know!

Today it is my son’s 10th birthday.

He is having a happy day and is very excited at entering double figures.

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I have pinned a smile on my face, bought him the presents he wanted and a big surprise too. I have made a cake to his specifications. His brother and sister gave him treats too and he had money from my brother which he says he will save.

I feel strangely sad, a little bereft as my youngest child becomes that much older and more independent.

So I am going to cheer myself up by giving you 10 awesome facts about my boy.

1. He weighed in at a mighty 11 pounds and 8 ounces at birth. We have learned over the years that this bothers him so we don’t talk about it but what a bouncing baby!

2. Always adventurous, he climbed before he walked. No household mountain was too high and I think he will conquer many peak as he lives his life.

3. I have never met anyone who did not like my son. He is socially confident (unlike the rest of us) which makes him very easy to be around. I nicknamed him Charimsa ages ago and it suits him.

4. At the age of 3, he tried to make my terminally ill Mum better with a mini egg. Poignant moment and a sign of the sweet soul that exists beneath his full-on personality.

5. He had the best relationship with my late Dad. He is all boy and my Dad enjoyed that very much. “Stick them up!” my Dad would say and they would have a mock boxing match. Dad was also the one Ramsey liked to read to most.

6. My husband has 7 children in total. I think that Ramsey is the one who loves him most. He won’t have a wrong word said against his Dad and since my Dad died, Him Indoors has become his best male adult friend.

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7. Ramsey has a scar which has ended up being an attractive part of him although he could so easily have lost his eye when he had a fall whilst I was juggling two under two and turned my back when I should not have done so. It is a reminder of challenging days and post-natal depression.

8. Ramsey appeared in advertisments for Tesco and NatWest and saw absolutely no reason to be nervous. He has the most amazing self-confidence.

9. When my son hugs me, it is like the sweetest medicine. I think he has healing powers.

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10. Ramsey is gifted, has a kind heart and excels at everything he attempts. What is lovely about this is that he has not a hint of arrogance.

Did I mention that I loved him very much?

Happy Birthday Ramsey!

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