MagiKats at home - a parent's perspective

Day One: We’ve just got back from the workshop and I have to say, Emily is buzzing. She had a smiley face on her feedback sheet from her mentor today and was told that she had worked really hard and made great progress. She filled up her stamp card and has come home with a bouncy ball – something I never thought would put a smile on her face, but it just goes to show that it is not always WHAT a child is given, but the meaning behind it. If you had told me 11 months ago that Emily would be enjoying doing extra English, I would have called you crazy!

Day Two:

Although it is the weekend, it is MagiKats homework time. I have given Emily the responsibility of choosing her own work schedule each day, but I make sure she has completed everything based on her decisions. She is nine, after all! There are five days’ worth of work, as there are every week, including one of those books she loves to read. The book work takes longer and is spread over two days, so Emily decides to start this tomorrow – she is quite tired today and we are busy later in the week, so this makes sense to me. The other three pieces are two on spelling (she is not a great speller) and one on punctuation. She chooses spelling and sits down straight away, while I get on with making lunch.

The work only takes her eight minutes today and I mark it (following the answer sheet) while she eats. There is only one correction – good girl!

Day Three:

It is book day today, so Emily reads the story (it is actually non-fiction today and all about the Olympics) and then starts working on answering the comprehension questions. I always keep the questions to one side until AFTER she has read the book – it is a tip that Emily’s Principal gave me when I found her one day trying to answer the questions without having read the book first! She stops after she has done about half the questions and we will finish this tomorrow. I don’t do any marking today as Emily likes to check through her completed sheet before giving it to me – something she was taught to do in her workshop.

Day Four:

Disaster! Emily fell over at school today and has a badly scraped knee and a bashed head. She seems ok but is thoroughly miserable and the last thing she wants to do is extra English! At least with the workload, it is possible to take a day off without slipping behind, so we agree that she will finish her book sheet tomorrow instead. She has ballet at 4pm and so it will be quite late by the time we get home, but she has chosen to do that instead of doing it today so that is fine with me.

I had a chat with my husband last night and we were thinking about starting Emily’s younger sister, Beth. She is only five and would need me to sit with her every day (Emily does not need my help most of the time) but she is already showing similar signs about maths that Emily displayed about English and we were thinking it would make sense to prevent any future problems by getting Beth extra help now. Plus, Beth loves doing anything Emily does, so that would save me having to get Beth a ‘treat’ every week when I drop Emily off at MagiKats to distract her!

Day Five:

We are back on track and Emily has got home from ballet, still with a sore knee but with a better attitude today. The exercise really helps! She finishes her book sheet and writes an impressive 50 words for her final answer. These sheets are harder for me to mark, but the guidelines are useful and I know that the Principal will double check what I have done. Emily has some bad habits on punctuation (perhaps we will do that sheet tomorrow) and has yet again forgotten some of her capital letters and full stops. These count as mistakes on all MagiKats sheets, so she corrects these after tea.

Day Six:

Thursday and Friday are always difficult days because Emily has Brownies on Thursday night and she is always tired after school on Fridays, so I am glad that the other two pieces of MagiKats work this week are quick and easy. When Emily first started MagiKats, I couldn’t quite understand how she would make progress when everything coming home seemed so easy. I spoke to her Principal and she explained that the work Emily does in her workshop is challenging and the work coming home is deliberately easy – she called it ‘core work’. The ‘core work’ aims to fill in any gaps Emily has in her knowledge (there are plenty of those) and once she is fully up to speed, will look to practise skills. If I ever help at home then I write this down onto her tracking sheet (that reminds me – must fill it in!) so her Principal knows that a particular topic needs more work.

I ask Emily to do her punctuation sheet tonight as she was so forgetful with it yesterday. She does it really well and chooses the ‘easy’ column on the tracking sheet.

Day Seven:

What a tired little girl I have! She moans as I remind her that she still has one sheet to do, but she knows that she will feel guilty if she arrives in the workshop tomorrow morning with one sheet left unfinished – so it is spelling once more. In truth, her Principal is always really nice if Emily has missed a sheet as there is usually a good reason, but I don’t consider feeling tired a good reason when she can do the sheet in well under ten minutes – and she takes only five minutes tonight. Emily heads to bed. When I go to mark the work, her handwriting is horrible! I decide to make a note on the tracking sheet for her Principal rather than getting her out of bed to do corrections (poor handwriting counts) – I am sure that it will be sorted out in the morning.

Sitting down for rare quiet time in front of the Friday night television, I decide to speak to Emily’s Principal in the morning about getting Beth started. In many ways it would be easier to have both of them doing it!

*the ‘parent’ here is fictional, created from feedback from real parents and combined with information about how the MagiKats programme works.

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