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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Some New Lessons Learned (by Mom)

  1. David doesn’t “do school.” Or at least we don’t call it that. What I’ve discovered is that David’s dislike for going to school in so intense that he will reject anything that might be associated with it. So, if I say, “Ok, it’s time to do our schoolwork,” I’m instantly met with resistance. But if I say, “Let’s practice our cursive handwriting,” or “This is how you multiply with carrying,” he is response is more positive.
  2. Of course, Mary loves “school” and gets upset if our day is not schoolish enough. She likes doing workbooks and having lessons and being read to. I almost suspect that a little of it is play acting for her. The question is, how do I fulfill her desire to know she is “doing school” and fulfill her brother’s desire to learn without “doing school”? Hmmm.
  3. Being laid back and relaxed will create a more productive atmosphere and will keep “school” from becoming a chore to everybody. When I get wrapped up in deadlines (easy to do when I have reviews to write), worry too much about what we are learning and how I’m going to document what we are learning, or get upset because it seems like I can’t get anything done, everyone suffers. Mom’s attitude sets the tone. If I’m anxious and put-upon, the children will be peevish and unmanageable. If I’m relaxed and approachable, everyone’s happier. I’ve also noticed that the children actually retain information better in a relaxed atmosphere (especially if they don’t know that I’m trying to teach them something).
  4. This might seem a little off the wall: Teach cursive first. I’ve been working with Mary for over a year on writing (because she wants to write, I don’t feel a need to push it on her). And she still “draws” her letters when she prints. No matter how many times I show her, hold her hand, guide her, have her write with/in different mediums, she still draws her letters (copies the finished shape, but in a haphazard order). I read an article recently off of Don Potter’s website by Sam Blumenfield explaining why we should teach cursive first and it makes perfect sense! I little light went on in my head. So, this week I started teaching her cursive writing and already she is writing letters instead of drawing them! And, she is so proud (as she should be). I am also actively working with David on his cursive writing, not with a workbook for a change, but through modeling. He’s doing very well, too. Maybe I’ll improve my own handwriting.
  5. Which brings me to the next thing, and something I really already knew, but sometimes what the mind knows, the heart does not fully accept. Workbooks do not work. Or at least not very well for my kiddos. They don’t teach the material you want them to learn. They might teach them things like test taking strategies (guessing at the right answer). They don’t test knowledge very well, either. There’s a temptation, you see, to give a child a workbook. Especially when the baby needs to be changed or someone or something else needs your attention. But what I’ve found is that often a child can answer all the workbook questions, but still not really understand the concept or have the wherewithal to apply it in different situations. Mary’s Italic workbook did not, for instance, teach her write rather than draw her letters.

1 comment:

  1. I've been in for 25 years now, and I still hate "going to school." I prefer to tell myself I'm "going to hear a lecture now" or something.

    I guess some things remain constant for some people, no matter the age.


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