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Does WTM Really Work for Gifted Students?


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Hi folks,

 

I've been struggling a bit with my 5th grade son, and rereading WTM for help and inspiration. Whenever I read this book I find myself thinking-THIS is the way I want to be doing school! Then I remember-- oh, this doesn't always work for my particular kid.

 

First of all, it just seems like so much more work than either of us want to be doing. Secondly, my son has never fit well into their specific grade-level models, and I get overwhelmed just trying to think about how to make it all work. I believe that gifted students progress through the trivium differently, but I can't always get a handle on how. It's part of that whole confusing 'asynchronous development' thing.

 

One of the things I'm learning about my son-- and myself-- is that we both are energized by novelty and newness, and I find that mixing up the curriculum throughout the year is very helpful. I'm thinking about creating some type of term or semester system that would actually plan for that, rather than making me feel like we are 'quitting' on things. For example, we are halfway through Latin for Children and though Latin has been a favorite for a long time, we are both waning to the point we can hardly stand it. I think I should put it aside for now and move on to something else, but it makes be feel like we're quitting.

 

Another example is using a core math program and mixing it up with 'Life of Fred' and those 'Key To' books.

 

So you can see that this makes using WTM a challenge. I am wondering how other folks use this program successfully with their gifted kids, and how they adapt it.

 

Part of my problem may be that I need to focus more on their methods rather than specific schedules and curriculum choices. I think if I could do that I may be close to designing something that works.

 

I'd love to hear thoughts on these issues!

Thanks!

Amy

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I agree with you that you need to focus more on the methods. That has worked for us. I also agree about your statement that gc proceed through the trivium differently. I began reading about eduational methods when my oldest was 2 yo. I was quickly drawn to WTM and to classical methods. That being said, one limitation I quickly discovered was the idea that kids don't have logical/reasoning faculties until they are much older. My children demonstrated logical reasoning at age 2. Despite people's protestation that kids just absolutely don't have reasoning faculties until a certain age or stage, I experienced first hand that some children can and do. Two of my children have asked about the whys and wherefores since they were quite young, another thing academicians and classicists often state is not possible. All I can say is that I love the classical method overall, I accept its limitations, and I am not going to be limited by the strictures of a paradigm when my direct personal experience tells me to do something different with my children. Like you, we also experience far greater success by "mixing" curricula. Using WTM as part of the overall picture has worked out quite well. I hope that helps.

 

Nancy

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It works well as long as you modify it. You can focus on the methods. Mine were generally beyond the rote stage during the rote ages. One of mine, who actually liked doing some rote learning at times, was trying to do logic level discussion of Dick and Jane while still learning to decode words (not an early reader) which was quite interesting (he was using Phonics Pathways as the main teaching tool.)

 

Often it is more work than we like to do. We don't do narration or dictation. We mix curricula. We spent a great deal of time on this forum for several years (on the old boards) learning from others (a few are still left, but many of the people who helped us along are on the high school forum now or are no longer on the forum). I still come here, but less and less for questions as my dc get older.

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I still find WTM incredibly helpful. But I adapt a lot, and we accelerate in terms of recommendations when necessary.

 

Honestly, I can't follow a recipe or a dress pattern without thinking I'd like it better with a little tweak here, a substitution there... So why should my educational roadmap be any different?! :)

 

But when I get bogged down or frustrated, I generally find that returning to WTM (and usually reading multiple sections -- *just* reading grammar stage or logic or rhetoric is not going to do it for me) really *does* help me to refocus. There are things I do differently -- we focus more strongly on classical languages than WTM's passing nod to Latin, I consider their math recommendations a little anemic, I choose to do science differently -- but overall, I find it really *is* the closest thing to what my kids need, and what I need as a guide.

 

As for Latin, I highly recommend Galore Park's Latin Prep program. Great for middle-grade kids, clear and thorough, but with a wonderful wit. Sometimes you really *do* just need a change of scenery. Consider doing the first two years of Latin Prep, then switching to So You Really Want to Learn Latin (level 1 should fly by, then you can slow down for levels 2 and 3)... Add in Lingua Latina after the 2 years of Latin Prep, if you need some additional variety.

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Honestly, I can't follow a recipe or a dress pattern without thinking I'd like it better with a little tweak here, a substitution there... So why should my educational roadmap be any different?! :)

 

ITA. We have modified things so much that I doubt we`re really doing WTM. I mix in Charlotte Mason ideas too, but even those don't always work with the gifted. I find that the short lessons suggested by CM always end up being very long lessons because the kids get interested and don't want to stop! Then, we run out of time to touch on all the subjects that we should.

 

There are elements of WTM that I really like -- the history spine, the introduction of Latin, and the attention to strong writing skills -- but the repetitiveness of the grammar stage doesn't work well for my guys and, in fact, can turn them off of learning rather than inspire them. At the end of the day, I want kids who are life-long learners and I don't want to take any approach that might jeopardize that.

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The most successful part of our school has been doing history ala WTM. (When I manage to get in science, that has been our most successful method as well.) We started with SOTW at age 4. We are long past SOTW, but we still use a history spine and mix tons of books. We don't do narration any longer, but dd is writing short papers on some subjects. I still go back to WTM to keep my expectations for dd high; we've really needed to work on pushing the output. For us, the emphasis on reading, writing and history has been perfect.

 

I don't pay much attention to the actual curriculum that is recommended in WTM, although I use some of it. All of my successful curriculum purchases have come from recommendations on this board.

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One of the things that ironically does not work for us is lots of short writing assignments. My daughter had dysgraphia for years, but she still preferred a topic or issue she could really dig into at length, and wrote longer but fewer pieces. She also has a strong satiric wit, is very creative, and loves language play of all kinds, so the straightforward, straight-faced kind of writing that WTM deals in pretty exclusively didn't fit her at all. Plus, ditto on a young child demonstrating strong logic-stage skills.

 

But the literariness of the program, the emphasis on good books rather than textbooks, has always worked.

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