MONDAY It's just a few days after my husband's 39th and my 36th birthday when an unsolicited letter arrives from a company that would like to help us write our wills. I'm recovering from such cheery thoughts by teaching Dana, aged nine, a willing and persevering little girl, with fairly severe attention deficit disorder. We are reading words beginning with "wa". "Were you in the war?" she asks.
Tuesday Anna, aged seven, very bright, American and fairly dyslexic, is making good progress on the suffix "-ed". I ask her to illustrate the word "planted" and she starts to draw. "Have you planted any seeds or bulbs at home?" I ask. "Oh yes," she replies, "I've planted the herb that smells like an Italian sausage. Oh, yes, I know - basil." Later, her mother tells me Anna has already decided to go to Harvard.
Wednesday Ten-year-old James finds the "ar" pattern fairly easy. Only with the word "solar" does he encounter any difficulty. He pronounces the initial letter with a "z" sound. I ask him which other sound the "s" can represent and he soon reads the word correctly and shows an undrstanding of its meaning. He then reverts to his original mispronunciation.
"I know somebody called Zola," he says. "Really?" I say, recalling a long dissertation on the French author. "Yep," says James. "He's a footballer."
Thursday I am working with Danielle, aged eight, using Edith Norrie's Letter Case, a spelling aid that helps children with the articulation of syllables and words, and can help to develop their awareness of how sounds are formed with their mouths. It includes a small mirror so children can look at their mouths as they speak.
I explain carefully to Danielle what we are going to do. She opens the box excitedly, picks up the mirror and looks into it.
"I've got terrible teeth," she says.
Friday After my last teaching session of the day, I try to make some headway with my tax return. I realise I've spent an incredible amount of money on teaching resources. I thumb through my receipts again and realise I've included a receipt for our new dishwasher.
Caroline Carnelley teaches dyslexic children at home. She lives in Buckinghamshire