Today ds1 and ds2 had a chance to work at the local scrapstore. They were given the task of packing boxes with 60 items in each box. The 'scrap' items were pieces of foam (with sticky backs) which apparently make very good 'stampers' and are in demand in local schools (?).
There was a lovely helper there who quickly took them under his wing and helped them find a working method to fill the boxes quickly. ds1 was given the task to count the items into piles of 10 and then ds2' s job was to put 6 of these piles into a box, close it up and take it to where it was being stored. I think there may have been a bit of miscounting, particularly with the distraction of members of the public coming in and out as they were trying to put the items in piles - there may be one or two schools in with a surprise when they open their box! But, generally, it went well, with ds2 slowly learning his 10 times table (er..no 50 doesn't come after 20 when counting in tens) and the boys entertained for several hours.
We talked a little with the helper about home education and he was surprisingly sympathetic (phwew!). It's always a relief not to have to repeatedly explain - or worse still, defend - why your children aren't in school (yes it's legal, no I'm not a teacher, yes they have a great social life..etc..etc).
Anyway, the boys have been invited for more voluntary work next week, so hopefully it will be a regular thing. Maybe I can throw out all those unused maths workbooks then...