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Why you should work on TWTM skills - copywork, narration, dictation, outlining, etc.


Nan in Mass

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A recent thread made me realize that if I could do one thing over again homeschooling (other than sending my oldest to community college instead of public high school) it would be to do more of TWTM language arts skills - copywork, dictation, narration, outlining, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, memory work, and logic. I didn't know why these were important (guess I didn't read TWTM carefully enough - sigh) so I tended to skip the ones that were hard for us, when in fact, those were the very ones we needed to work more on. I thought I'd just post this as a separate thread in case it helps even one person from making the same mistake I made.

 

Caution: This might not have been true if I had had a child with strong learning style differences or slownesses, but mine were just engineering-bright/language-arts-dim or wired just a bit differently, not drastically different. Aquiring academic skills so they can learn something by academic means is more difficult than for most children, but not an unreasonable goal. TWTM is the key to that for us. It specifically teaches the skills that the more academically gifted children are just naturally good at. And that means that we needed to work on the ones that my children are not good at. I wish I had known this earlier.

 

You may need to back way, way up to work on these. Follow the progression laid out in TWTM, and work through the progression. Don't just give up on the skill because your child is so far behind. And if your child is good at a skill, good enough that you decide you don't need to practise it, it is really important to keep checking every year and make sure that your child can still do that skill at the new, higher level. That is the mistake I made with one of mine with narration.

 

The whys of doing TWTM skills even though they are hard, boring, and miserable:

 

I think the key to being able to write well is to read tons of well-written material (like great books), to have the physical part down so you don't have to think about it (handwriting and typing), to have something to write about (good knowledge base and good research skills), to have a system of taking the mishmash of thought and putting them together in an organized way (find a method of putting them down in an unorganized way, organize them into a linear structure (outlining), and then rewrite - word processor is nice for this). You need to work on narration and logic for organization, vocabulary and grammar for style. Copywork and dictation deal with the mechanics of spelling and punctuation in a whole-to-parts way and spelling books and grammar books deal with it in a parts-to-whole way. You need to do the narration and the dicatation in order to put the pieces together and apply them.

I think the key to being able to read well (once the phonics part is out of the way) is grammar (so you can understand non-standard word order - think Shakespeare and poetry) and vocabulary. That is the parts-to-whole part. And then I think you need to do tons of reading and narrating and discussing. That is the whole-to-parts, applying what you learned, part.

I think the key to being able to learn the content subjects is study skills, and those depend on dictation (think note-taking), outlining (picking out the main points from the details), narration (summarizing), being able to read well at a variety of speeds from skimming to sentence-by-sentence reinterpreting, and being able to memorize (memory work).

I think the key to being able to teach yourself things as an adult or the key to being able to survive college is reading well, writing well, test taking skills, some sort of knowledge base, good study skills, and good organizational skills - keeping an assignment book, keeping track of one's materials, efficiency (resisiting the temptation of the internet, games, cell phones, and whatever else one does for escape and socializing), prioritizing (skimp on this because that is more important), and dividing large projects into little ones. One also needs to understand the system, how to pay attention to what this particular prof wants, and how to get help if you don't understand something. That last is more important and harder than one might think so I recommend finding opportunities to practise approaching strangers and asking for help. Truly - this is one of those things that seem obvious and easy to grownups but turns out to be a practically insurmountable obsticle to young adults, one that causes them to flunk courses. Sigh.

 

The advantage of this system is that if you get these academic skills down, high school content subjects are hard work but straight forward. For any subject, you pick a spine (doesn't have to be a textbook - it can be any sort of overview), study it (read, outline, summarize it), figure out what skills are involved and learn them (laboratory skills if it is a science), figure out which bits need to be memorized and memorize them, and then pick areas that are particularly interesting to you and investigate them further by doing research - reading and writing about them about them, and doing experiments. This is the pattern that adults follow when they learn anything using an academic way.

 

It is scary to concentrate so much on skills at the expense of content when you are homeschooling. What worked for us when the children were small was to do skills Mon-Thurs (along with reading aloud) and history and science on Friday (along with math and foreign languages, skills+content subjects that we couldn't skip or we forgot everything, and piano). It is important to apply the skills to the content areas, once you can do them a little, in order to improve and speed up, and in order to make the skills truly useful rather than just separate skills.

 

I hope this helps someone,

 

-Nan

 

(My credentials GRIN: two sons in college, one 16yo still homeschooling at home and taking community college classes for two and a half more years before going (hopefully) off to 4-year college)

 

PS - I did do some of these WTM skills. I just can see now, as I have two older children struggling their way through college, that they would have an easier time if their study skills were better, so I am trying to teach the youngest one better study skills and finding that those study skills depend on being able to narrate, outline, take dictation, etc.. Sigh.

 

PPS - I am editing this to add that a lot of the credit for figuring this out should go to Colleen in NS. If you do a search for posts by her with the word "outline" in them, you should be able to find some more information.

 

PPPS - Now that I see how many people have read this thread, I am having nightmares thinking that I have doomed some children to long boring days of drill. TWTM has lots of good ideas for making things less dry. TWTM says that what content you do should be allowed to go down bunny trails following your children's interests. TWTM recommends heavily illustrated spines, ones that my family, at least, found interesting even when we thought we weren't interested in the material. All the reading-to-oneself is a pleasant chore once one has learned to escape into a book, and TWTM has lots of reading time built into it, both reading aloud and reading silently and listening to audio books. Reading is still one of those foundation skills. Those fairy tales and folk tales and myths lighten the load. The grammar and logic stage science recs are hands-on and active. Your day should have lots of nice parts, too. TWTM says the skills should be attacked in a "nibbled to death by ducks" manner, a little bit consistently over time. If you do something like Kalmia suggested and establish some sort of routine for working on the skills, then you can just plug through your routine and everyone will know that it isn't forever until a nicer part of the day comes, and nobody has to think about it except when they are actually doing it. School is hard work, but it doesn't have all have to be hour upon hour of unpleasant drudgery at one thing. Think nibble nibble nibble, once the initial explanation is gone through. Cut the task down until it is taking too long. Yllek says not more, but more consistently. That is a good thing to keep in mind. And Lisa (swimmermom) says to emphasize working hard, not being good at something. That is a good thing to keep in mind, too. : )

Edited by Nan in Mass
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Nan,

Just wanted to say thanks for your wonderful words of wisdom and encoragement. I just might be the "one" person you mentioned who needed this info! I've been trying to readjust our LA skills so much the last few weeks and trying to prioritize many of the things you mentioned.

 

I saw SWB speak in Greenville this weekend and once again, hearing her talk about writing was a breath of fresh air. I get so caught up in following a curriculum, finishing a curriculum, hurrying to do the next thing (because it's supposed to be the next grade level), that I don't truly focus on the "basic essentials" enough. Let me just say from my experience, hurrying does not accomplish anything but putting a checkmark beside an item on a to-do list. I must slow down and really see if my dc are retaining those all important basic skills that are foundational for all learning.

 

Thanks again for your great post! I'm sure many others will glean from it, too!

 

Jennifer

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Nan,

 

I am another Mom who really appreciates what you have shared. We too are reevaluating EVERYTHING and making quite a few decisions about what to prioritize.

 

It is VERY scary to set aside content so we can make sure skills are there. Our homeschool is in an UPROAR right now and it isn't pretty. :lol:

 

Thank-you so so much. :001_smile:

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Thank you for your thoughts in all of these posts the past few days. They are so helpful to me!! I'll be that one person that you help. :001_smile:

 

I am going back to re-read some sections of TWTM to set my goals for next year. We also tend to not work as hard on things that don't come easy, and I know that isn't good. And I know it will come back to bite us in the future, but sometimes I feel like I am just living day-to-day. If I make it through the day, the kids are all alive, fed, and have gotten to read and do some math, well...we're all good. :D I know I need to get a bit more structure at some point, and I thank you for this gentle reminder.

 

You are helping so many of us with this advice and information, so thank you, thank you, thank you!!

 

:001_smile:

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Thank you so much for this reminder of the big picture. My kids are still little (First grade, Kindergarten, and pre-school), and sometimes I have little moments of panic that they would seem "behind" when compared to public school kids of the same grade. Sometimes it makes me think I need to reevaluate the way I'm doing things. However, I am convinced that the WTM method will ultimately produce better writers and better students than the current public school method. So, thank you for this encouragement to stay the course.

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Thank you for the gentle nudge Nan! My ds (1st grade right now) HATES to write!! And because of this I have not been considering copywork for next year. Any ideas to make this more appealing to him and therefore a little easier on me? (think dealing with major meltdowns when it comes to writing:sad:)

 

We do a little bit of dictation in AAS, but have not done it consistently. He is happier when he writes on the dry erase board. Does it matter where he writes his dictation? He also loves window crayons.

 

Narration -- we are definitely going to be tackling more of that next year. However, I think we will start of with oral narration. I was thinking of writing his narrations is something really different and interesting for him. Maybe making something like a captains log (faux leather and all) and writing in that, hoping this would appeal to him so he would want to do more of the writing himself.

 

Ok...my Sunday project, read TWTM again. I think I need a refresher course. :blush:

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I've flexed high school to about the max and I don't regret that at all. We had a gentle cozy homeschool and I wouldn't change that. I just would work more efficiently by getting those skills down. We did work on skills; I'm just not sure I worked long enough on the right ones.

-Nan

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Nan- As usual, you wrote a beautiful, inspirational and challenging post. I am so thankful for your continued presence on these boards!

 

Question: My kids are older, and I recognize that they (the oldest especially) is lacking in the skills you described. Do you (or anyone else) have any advice for making this happen with olders? Is picking up a copy of WWE still a good idea for 8th graders?

 

Edited to add: I found my answer on the 'other' thread. THANK YOU!!

Edited by happygrrl
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Dear Nan,

 

I'm another one for whom this post has brought much needed clarity. One of the reasons we brought my son home from private school was because his handwriting, writing and spelling skills were YEARS behind his knowledge and reasoning ability. I too often have dropped the "skill drill" because frankly, sometimes it seems like torture. Then I pick it up again. Then drop it. After reading all your detailed posts, I spent some hours last evening figuring out how to fit most of the skills work (copywork, dictation, written narration, oral narration, outlining, memory work, etc.) into the content on a regular basis. Luckily he is not one who would find blending skills and content a negative thing.

 

Because you were so generous to share your thoughtful insights and reflections on the classical education process, I now have a basketful of content books labeled as to what skill area they are best for (as in I taped a label with "copywork" or "outline" or "oral narration" etc. onto each book that lent itself to that skill.) This way I WILL NOT FORGET to include the skill work when using the content.

 

Here is what my basket looks like now:

Human Odyssey for outlining and Socratic discussion

The Darwinian Tourist for copywork

The Indian Tribes of North America perfect for dictation

Kingfisher for the timeline and memory work

The History of US for oral narration

The Battles of the Medieval World for written narration

Earth:The World Explained for written narration.

Prentice Hall Science for end of chapter questions and experiments.

Canterbury Tales for copywork or dictation, Socratic discussion, and literary analysis.

Art History: for picture study/memory work in line with what we are learning in history.

World Geography: for written narration and memory work

Wonders of the Solar System DVDs: for oral narration

Grammar, paragraph and essay writing, and spelling are helped by copywork and dictation but still require outside curricula. But grammar and spelling have significant amounts of memory work.

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Dear Nan,

 

I'm another one for whom this post has brought much needed clarity. One of the reasons we brought my son home from private school was because his handwriting, writing and spelling skills were YEARS behind his knowledge and reasoning ability. I too often have dropped the "skill drill" because frankly, sometimes it seems like torture. Then I pick it up again. Then drop it. After reading all your detailed posts, I spent some hours last evening figuring out how to fit most of the skills work (copywork, dictation, written narration, oral narration, outlining, memory work, etc.) into the content on a regular basis. Luckily he is not one who would find blending skills and content a negative thing.

 

Because you were so generous to share your thoughtful insights and reflections on the classical education process, I now have a basketful of content books labeled as to what skill area they are best for (as in I taped a label with "copywork" or "outline" or "oral narration" etc. onto each book that lent itself to that skill.) This way I WILL NOT FORGET to include the skill work when using the content.

 

Here is what my basket looks like now:

Human Odyssey for outlining and Socratic discussion

The Darwinian Tourist for copywork

The Indian Tribes of North America perfect for dictation

Kingfisher for the timeline and memory work

The History of US for oral narration

The Battles of the Medieval World for written narration

Earth:The World Explained for written narration.

Prentice Hall Science for end of chapter questions and experiments.

Canterbury Tales for copywork or dictation, Socratic discussion, and literary analysis.

Art History: for picture study/memory work in line with what we are learning in history.

World Geography: for written narration and memory work

Wonders of the Solar System DVDs: for oral narration

Grammar, paragraph and essay writing, and spelling are helped by copywork and dictation but still require outside curricula. But grammar and spelling have significant amounts of memory work.

 

Thank you, Kalmia! You just helped me so much! Great idea!

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Narration we started in K. We insisted on them answering in complete sentences. When posing questions to them, we considered the analyzing or critical thinking skills we wanted to expose them to (summarizing, comparing and contrasting, problem solving, inferring, or the author's choice of words.).

 

Dictation we used in the first three grades. This modeled well written sentences to them, worked on listening skills, and, since we had them write on their paper tablet, this also worked on their handwriting skills. Later, when they were learning keyboarding, they did the spelling words on the computer as an early practice for typing.

 

Grammar we continued through fourth grade. This helped with spelling, breaking words into syllables and decoding and revealing the correct pronunciation of words.

 

We began outlining history and science from fourth grade on. This task was met with lots of resistance so we focused on recognizing and differentiating the main topics and supporting details.

 

We also apply the Magical Three Game to lots of areas. We have them come up with three main details on any topic or person we study. When thanking a grandparent for lunch or a special trip, have them mention three things of which they were appreciative so it sounds more sincere and less rote. When writing, occasionally compose and insert a sentence expressing three details for sentence variety. During an interview or presentation, emphasize three main points they want the audience to take away with them--any more tends to be forgotten or loses impact.

 

I thought it was interesting that a large firm in D.C. had their litigators record and listen to themselves read Shakespeare a few times a week to maintain their oratorical skills. So, even after they read silently well, I have them read a few pages aloud daily. I'm surprised how this has improved their speaking skills, recognizing and expressing words that group together, and developing more expressive tone in their speech.

Edited by Kerrie in VA
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Here's my post:

Thank you again, Nan, for your wise and encouraging words.

 

As I said in my response to your post, I find myself reading TWTM over and over again in order to maintain my focus on the essential skills you reference in your post.

 

I attend every one of SWB's workshops, even if I've already heard them, at every conference I attend so that I can hear this message again.

 

This year, with a 5th grader and a 3rd grader, I am beginning the process of self education in earnest. I realize that what SWB says in her workshop on self education is true - if I don't read the classics now, I will be ill prepared to teach them when my dc are in HS. I don't have the foundation I'm attempting to provide for them myself; I'm learning the content at the same time that I'm learning how to teach the content.

 

As ds 11 enters the Logic Stage, I realize that the time is rapidly approaching when I will no longer be able to do this. I need time to think about this material before I can engage in a thoughtful discussion about it. I need to understand the "big picture" before I can understand the place of Plato, or Herodotus (fill in the blank) within the flow of history.

 

Right now I'm in the grammar / early logic stage myself.

 

So . . . I'm interested in learning how others are approaching self education.

 

For myself, I can tell you that my house is dusty, and the meals are boring :tongue_smilie:

 

I'm (finally) reading SWB's HOAW this year, along with DK's History: the Definitive Visual Guide. I'm taking notes, as SWB suggests in TWTM and TWEM. I'm summarizing the important people, places, dates and events in a notebook. I'm doing some of the assignments SWB recommends for HS in TWTM. I'm also reading ds 11's introductory logic text for next year.

 

It's tedious. Sometimes it's boring. Other things, including my children, need my attention.

 

But, I really feel like I need to continue to do this, if I am to equip myself to teach them in HS.

 

I'd love to learn from others who are doing this / BTDT :bigear:

 

And here's a link if you would like to reply :001_smile:

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Kerry, I'm also loving the Magical Three Game. I just don't know what to tape it to...yet. Maybe I'll just write it on the backs of their hands... That's it! I'll write "Complete Sentences" on the back of each of their left hands and "Magical Three" on the right! LOL

Edited by Kalmia
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Narration we started in K. We insisted on them answering in complete sentences. When posing questions to them, we considered the analyzing or critical thinking skills we wanted to expose them to (summarizing, comparing and contrasting, problem solving, inferring, or the author's choice of words.).

 

Dictation we used in the first three grades. This modeled well written sentences to them, worked on listening skills, and, since we had them write on their paper tablet, this also worked on their handwriting skills. Later, when they were learning keyboarding, they did the spelling words on the computer as an early practice for typing.

 

Grammar we continued through fourth grade. This helped with spelling, breaking words into syllables and decoding and revealing the correct pronunciation of words.

 

We began outlining history and science from fourth grade on. This task was met with lots of resistance so we focused on recognizing and differentiating the main topics and supporting details.

 

We also apply the Magical Three Game to lots of areas. We have them come up with three main details on any topic or person we study. When thanking a grandparent for lunch or a special trip, have them mention three things of which they were appreciative so it sounds more sincere and less rote. When writing, occasionally compose and insert a sentence expressing three details for sentence variety. During an interview or presentation, emphasize three main points they want the audience to take away with them--any more tends to be forgotten or loses impact.

 

I thought it was interesting that a large firm in D.C. had their litigators record and listen to themselves read Shakespeare a few times a week to maintain their oratorical skills. So, even after they read silently well, I have them read a few pages aloud daily. I'm surprised how this has improved their speaking skills, recognizing and expressing words that group together, and developing more expressive tone in their speech.

Great suggestions Kerrie!

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Nan, Kalmia and ELaurie, thanks for your replys--my reply was lost twice, my husband was laughing at me, and I was about to give up.

 

Nan thanks for all you detailed postings. It's reaffirming to hear feedback from a veteran and your sons' experiences in high school and college.

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We did it in the car.

We retold stories, too. That was especially nice for me. I told the children to read a short folk tale and retell it to me in the car to entertain me. This turned out to be a very useful excersize. It helped them learn to tell a story, it helped their memory, it helped them to see how a story is constructed, it taught them a batch of valuable stories to enrich, entertain, and educate them, and it gave them an important social skill. We all entertain each other telling each other story jokes and stories of things that happened to us or someone we know. In other cultures or in some circumstances (hiking, for instance, and parenting), we retell folk tales.

-Nan

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Nan,

I agree with everything you said here...as a mom of 3 children who graduated my homeschool and did NOT struggle through college. The reason....and I know many find this very difficult (me included) is to not try to measure up to what everyone else here (or at least a majority, so it seems,) is doing. IOW, my kids are extremely intelligent LATE bloomers. I could never keep my kids on age level on what is listed in the WTM. My kids do not move into Rhetoric stage learning until the are approxiamately 16 or so....and once they get there, the CC is much better at teaching that stage than I am.

 

I made a big mistake with my now 16 yo, thinking he was ready for rhetoric level studies because he was so heads and tails quicker to learn that my other guys...but alas, his maturity did not match and he basically crashed and burned out...due to a chronic illness, too much physical training and ME pushing...pushing...pushing...when I should have been pulling...and solidifying.

 

My parents always told me age was just a number. How wise they were in hindsight.

 

My kids are very early readers, they are early talkers, they memorize like nobody's business...BUT, they are very immature in their thinking processes...at least according to the WTM timeline.

 

Backing up and making sure the foundations are strong is of tantamount importance. I did not push my older 3 the same way. We read, narrated, copied, I did dictation well into their high school years. We summarized, outlined, recited, memorized...well into their high school years. My older son took calculus at 19...not 16....he failed it...took it again...Got a B+...

 

My kids are wiggly, observant, conversational. We talk. I use BIG words...a lot! They understand big words and use them in their daily conversations.

 

If your kids are in high school and you need to back up to firm up the foundations, don't be afraid to do so....pushing sometimes is the wrong direction....especially when you should be pulling.

 

My 2nd dd was not able to write a coherent paragraph until 11th grade! AND, that wasn't because of years of skipping writing. We narrated, dictated, copied, read great books, discussed, analyzed, cried a lot too. She just was.not. ready. In 11th grade, I had her do BrAVEWRITER classes which were a God send in teaching me the gentle firmness I needed. She found her voice and we were off. I taught her English 101...because at the CC she had to take it online...We worked for hours and hours and hours. She wrote, rewrote, and rewrote again...but NOW at 18, she was ready. She had reached the Rhetoric stage at 18. She had a great foundation. When it kicked in, it kicked in. She got an A in the class...and in EVERY.Single. Class since. Her professors ask often if they can use her papers as examples.

 

Point is....I needed to keep at the basics....keep building the foundation. Her weak point was writing. She flew through maths and sciences....

 

My other kids were weak in other areas....we had to work extra hard in those areas...keep laying a firm foundation. Not skipping the subjects that were hard....

 

Logic in our home begins in 9th grade. We are not ready in 5th....we do some puzzles, talk about fallacies, I point them out when they use them...but formally...not until 9th' ish.

 

I have learned so much using the WTM guidelines, CM's writings, Ambleside articles and just watching and learning FROM my kids and how they learn best.

 

We did not begin WWE yet. DD 12, will be going through a crash course of books 1-3 and the book 4 for next years first semester...in 8th grade. She is a natural writer, but a late bloomer :D Her spelling and grammar skills needed to catch up to her desire to write stories. She has done outlining this year, but is still not adept...so we back up to find out where we gapped something in her writing skills.

 

Anyway, thanks Nan for writing this, and I also hope my experiences with my kids will help someone to feel better about where their kids are at, and continue to homeschool with confidence...knowing how important those firm foundations are, and laying them down strong, returning to them when necessary and not feeling like a loser when you have to.

 

Blessings,

Faithe

 

PS, please excuse my typos...I am having a bad Fibro flare-up and in terrible pain ...plus my little guy has been puking since Wednesday...been a bad week...but I did want to chime in.

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Thank you for the gentle nudge Nan! My ds (1st grade right now) HATES to write!! And because of this I have not been considering copywork for next year. Any ideas to make this more appealing to him and therefore a little easier on me? (think dealing with major meltdowns when it comes to writing:sad:)

 

We do a little bit of dictation in AAS, but have not done it consistently. He is happier when he writes on the dry erase board. Does it matter where he writes his dictation? He also loves window crayons.

 

Narration -- we are definitely going to be tackling more of that next year. However, I think we will start of with oral narration. I was thinking of writing his narrations is something really different and interesting for him. Maybe making something like a captains log (faux leather and all) and writing in that, hoping this would appeal to him so he would want to do more of the writing himself.

 

Ok...my Sunday project, read TWTM again. I think I need a refresher course. :blush:

 

My advice FWIW, begin copy work with one beautiful letter. When he can make letters without complaining...one beautiful 3 letter word. When he can do that without crying....one 4 or 5 letter word. Work up to 3 word sentences...go to 5 word sentences...then 2 three word sentences and on. Then advance with dictation the same way.

It seems like it will tyake forever....but really...it is foundational, and relatively pain free.

 

Good Luck.

 

Just so you know...I had one boy at age 6 who could read and enjoy the Encyclopedia Britannica, but couldn't write his name without crying. I have definitely BTDT...but it is not insurmountable if you move slow and steady.

 

Faithe

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My advice FWIW, begin copy work with one beautiful letter. When he can make letters without complaining...one beautiful 3 letter word. When he can do that without crying....one 4 or 5 letter word. Work up to 3 word sentences...go to 5 word sentences...then 2 three word sentences and on. Then advance with dictation the same way.

It seems like it will tyake forever....but really...it is foundational, and relatively pain free.

 

Good Luck.

 

Just so you know...I had one boy at age 6 who could read and enjoy the Encyclopedia Britannica, but couldn't write his name without crying. I have definitely BTDT...but it is not insurmountable if you move slow and steady.

 

Faithe

 

Thank you or taking the time to reply even though it sounds like you are having a rough day. :grouphug:

 

My son actually has great handwriting. He just does not like to write. We will start of with small bits and pieces though like you suggested. Thank you.

 

Praying for health and healing in you and your house. :)

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I have been there, too. I wrote about what I did about it in several really long posts in another thread on the curriculum board, the one where people asked me what I meant by my post in the worst hs mistakes thread.

-Nan

 

Nan, your posts always keep me glued. I love hearing your perspective and your honesty. I just re-read my post, and I hope I did not come off as a snot. I just wanted to encourage others who need to focus more on those foundations ...no matter what age their kids were...and that my journey woth my olders was so painful because I always felt like we spent so much time covering the same ground over and oveer...while everyone else seemed to be soaring leaps and bounds ahead of us....perfect SAT scores, college at 14, while my kids were still working on writing a decent paragraph.

 

Th\anks Nan, for always being so real and open....you are a blessing to so many Mom's here.

 

Faithe

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Mommyfaithe, thank you.

Anybody who wants to read about what we did can read more than they every wanted to know, probably, it in this thread, way down. Just look for the huge posts by me. Sigh.

http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/showthread.php?t=254880&highlight=nan+mass

-Nan

 

Thank you! I started to read that thread right after Paula posted it, but then had to leave the house. I will be heading back to it to read it over. Thanks again. :)

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I have been there, too. I wrote about what I did about it in several really long posts in another thread on the curriculum board, the one where people asked me what I meant by my post in the worst hs mistakes thread.

-Nan

 

Found this one too, thanks.

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No you didn't at all, at all.

It is uncomfortable talking about your children and what you did and how it all turned out. I think that is why your post is worrying you. I read it with relief. : )

 

Phew...I find homeschooling very scary, but the alternative scarier...so I just keep plugging on...praying it all turns out alright. So far...it has been good....but my poor kids are always on the testing end of my theories...lol. So far, it has worked out.

 

I need to constatntly tell myself to slow down, breathe, assess....reassess....and assess again. The best programs might not be providing what the child needs at the time. Every 6 months or so, I re-read the WTM...especially the stages my kids are attempting to master. It is a long slow process...but I wouldn't trade in that time with my kids for anything.

 

Faithe

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Thank you for the gentle nudge Nan! My ds (1st grade right now) HATES to write!! And because of this I have not been considering copywork for next year. Any ideas to make this more appealing to him and therefore a little easier on me? (think dealing with major meltdowns when it comes to writing:sad:)

:

 

I have had much better work with handwriting since switching to the whiteboard. They work on letter formation, then joins, then words until they are writing anything well on the whiteboard. Then, I move to copy work.

 

I love my whiteboard, everything goes better on the whiteboard.

 

I just bought 2 new ones with crayons, they are a big hit although they take a bit more work to erase.

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The whys of doing TWTM skills even though they are hard, boring, and miserable:

 

I think the key to being able to write well is to read tons of well-written material (like great books), to have the physical part down so you don't have to think about it (handwriting and typing), to have something to write about (good knowledge base and good research skills), to have a system of taking the mishmash of thought and putting them together in an organized way (find a method of putting them down in an unorganized way, organize them into a linear structure (outlining), and then rewrite - word processor is nice for this). You need to work on narration and logic for organization, vocabulary and grammar for style. Copywork and dictation deal with the mechanics of spelling and punctuation in a whole-to-parts way and spelling books and grammar books deal with it in a parts-to-whole way. You need to do the narration and the dicatation in order to put the pieces together and apply them.

 

 

:iagree:

 

Thanks, Nan!

 

And, I will add my favorite why the 3Rs are important quote.

 

"The Teacher" by Jocob Abbott, 1844. From p. 64:

 

There are three kinds of human knowledge which stand strikingly distinct from all the rest. They lie at the foundation. They constitute the roots of the tree. In other words, they are the means, by which all other knowledge is acquired. I need not say, that I mean, Reading, Writing, and Calculation.

 

Teachers do not perhaps always consider, how entirely and essentially distinct these three are from all the rest. They are arts; the acquisition of them is not to be considered as knowledge, so much as the means, by which knowledge may be obtained. A child, who is studying Geography, or History, or Natural Science, is learning facts,--gaining information ; on the other hand, the one who is learning to write, or to read, or to calculate, may be adding little or nothing to his stock of knowledge. He is acquiring skill, which, at some future time, he may make the means of increasing his knowledge, to any extent.

 

This distinction ought to be kept constantly in view, and the teacher should feel that these three fundamental branches stand by themselves, and stand first in importance. I do not mean to undervalue the others, but only to insist upon the superior value and importance of these. Teaching a pupil to read, before he enters upon the active business of life, is like giving a new settler an axe, as he goes to seek his new home in the forest. Teaching him a lesson in history, is, on the other hand, only cutting down a tree or two for him.

 

 

So, go sharpen your axe and the trees will take care of themselves.

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I have had much better work with handwriting since switching to the whiteboard. They work on letter formation, then joins, then words until they are writing anything well on the whiteboard. Then, I move to copy work.

 

I love my whiteboard, everything goes better on the whiteboard.

 

I just bought 2 new ones with crayons, they are a big hit although they take a bit more work to erase.

 

Thanks Elizabeth. We like to use our whiteboards for a lot too. We too have been using the crayons, but on our smaller tablet-size white boards. He loves to use his small white board, but because he is a leftie, the markers tend to smudge. The crayons have been wonderful. His handwriting is actually very good. He just doesn't like to write period. It's just something I am going to have to work through with him.

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Mommyfaithe - Thank you so much for your post. It really serves to remind us that WTM works - just erase the grade levels and move through it as your DC develops. It's wonderful to read how your DCs blossomed! Keep telling your path - it's worthy of repeating! Perhaps just copy your post and every 6months, just post it lol. WE need constant reminders. :001_smile:

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Thank you so much for this reminder of the big picture. My kids are still little (First grade, Kindergarten, and pre-school), and sometimes I have little moments of panic that they would seem "behind" when compared to public school kids of the same grade. Sometimes it makes me think I need to reevaluate the way I'm doing things. However, I am convinced that the WTM method will ultimately produce better writers and better students than the current public school method. So, thank you for this encouragement to stay the course.

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

Mine are close to the same age and I often feel the same way. It is SO easy to feel 'behind' when it takes so long to nail skills down, but I KNOW building a foundation is the most important thing during these years. Thank heavens my OWN copy (not the libraries!) of WTM came in the mail a few days ago. I still have some gaps in my own understanding of this all.

 

 

 

 

We do a little bit of dictation in AAS, but have not done it consistently. He is happier when he writes on the dry erase board. Does it matter where he writes his dictation? He also loves window crayons.

 

For some reason whiteboards are like magic! My daughter will write far more on the whiteboard than she will on paper. She actually gets excited to do it! I totally credit the Hive with the idea of using the whiteboard in more subject areas than just AAS. I am so thankful and use it liberally for any writing tasks (except copywork).

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Nan, thank you so much for your posts. They mean alot to me. After reading the other thread, I went through the WTM and made a daily and weekly list for each child of what we needed to do. I hope that this will quell the 'am I covering everything?' fears.

 

Faithe, thank you! thank you! thank you! I do believe you wrote that post for me. ;) I have been beating myself up because my kids are not anywhere near what other hs kids their age are doing. I keep telling myself that we are exactly where we need to be and that slow and steady wins the race. Your post indeed an encouragement to me!

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:iagree:

 

Thanks, Nan!

 

And, I will add my favorite why the 3Rs are important quote.

 

"The Teacher" by Jocob Abbott, 1844. From p. 64:

 

 

 

So, go sharpen your axe and the trees will take care of themselves.

 

Elizabeth,

 

Excellent quote! Worthy of posting on the wall . . . Thank-you for sharing it.:001_smile:

ETA: The words of the quote Elizabeth shared didn't show up when I quoted her...not sure why! Scroll back to read it!

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[quote name=Kalmia;2539428

 

Because you were so generous to share your thoughtful insights and reflections on the classical education process' date=' I now have a basketful of content books labeled as to what skill area they are best for (as in I taped a label with "copywork" or "outline" or "oral narration" etc. onto each book that lent itself to that skill.) This way I WILL NOT FORGET to include the skill work when using the content.

 

 

I love the tape idea!!! A few weeks ago when we started discussing content vs skills, I listened to SWB's MP3s again and made note of the skills. Then I wrote them down and next to each one, I wrote which curriculum etc fit the bill for that skill. So far it has been easy since we've done WWE1-3 and now WWE4 for DS10 and WWE1-2 and now WWE3 for DS7. However, I look forward to more formerly accomplishing those skills in our content areas. WHile it will extend the length of time in the content area, we won't be using time on separate skills and I feel using the skills will help to cement the content. DS10 is ready for that since writing doesn't take quite as much effort although trying to get him to switch to cursive has been a battle.

 

A WTMer was kind enough to send me a planner she constructed and I will use that. One page has 3 rectangle for books and under each one you state whether it's for narration, outlining, which pages, etc. I'm finding that I need to be more organized. Anyone who knows me would say I'm an organized person (well, would you agree Kalmia?) but I'm finding this logic stage, with another one on the heels of logic stage, and a 4yr old begging to do math and read.....I'm being pushed to whole new level of organization, even for me! I hope I'm up to the challenge.

 

Last summer we were selling a house and moving. Now that we're settled, I hope to spend this summer self-educating, planning loosely, so that the year goes more smoothly and I don't lose sight of the skills. We worked mostly on skills this year and are wayyyy behind in history and science (although I suppose can you really be behind in history and science since it is so vast you can never be caught up or ahead) but after reading all of Nan's and Mommyfaithe's wisdom, I feel more comfortable about where we are now. We've had a 2months of intensive writing/LA but I think it was worth it and needed! Now we can back to history and science for the rest of the year and summer and USE those skills we've been working on!

 

Again, thank you everyone for this wonderful discussion! It's so nice not to be alone in this endeavor.

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Thank you for your wisdom, Nan!

 

I've come to a similar realization this year, after reading through the WTM and Marva Collin's Way again. We've been working on hammering away at skills this last semester. I've had days when I've wondered if this is all for naught, and I'm just making this harder than it has to be. These posts have helped me to see that we're still on the right track, chugging along with an air of determination.

 

If I only had the money for two books to help me walk this path, I would buy The Well Trained Mind and Marva Collin's Way. Marva inspires me with her no-nonsense approach to education, and WTM tells me how to get there. Good stuff!

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My oldest is in 4th grade and sometimes I wonder if we still need to plug away at all of these repetitive things (dictation, narration, copywork, etc.). Thank you for reassuring me of what the important things are and why they are so important. I want for my kids that I know I didn't have. I want them to know how to learn, how to teach themselves something new.

 

So, thanks for the encouragement to keep at it!

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I haven't read all the other posts, but I saw firsthand this year exactly what Nan is discussing in her OP.

 

My son is in 2nd grade. Last year we began using WWE for writing, and we do narration a la WTM in history and science. Late fall/early winter, we had a lot of illness in our family, so I became lazy. We stopped doing WWE2 (I figured he was narrating "enough" in history and science, and we focused on writing through R&S grammar). I also scaled WAY back on the narrating in history around this time due to our crazy lives.

 

Well, ds was tested last week using the Woodcock-Johnson Achievement Test (state requires yearly testing for homeschoolers). From last year to this year, ds went DOWN in passage comprehension! I was shocked, but I truly believe I can directly attribute it to the scaling back I was doing with WWE narrations and history narrations. We were still narrating in science and with our monthly read-alouds, but it was definitely not to the extent it was last year. You better believe we are going back to getting WWE and history narrations done on a regular basis!

 

The suggestions in WTM work. I'm thankful I am learning this now.

 

I am also very grateful for your post, Nan. As we are just entering the trenches (or are still getting our feet wet), it's reassuring to hear from someone who has been there and can see the outcome that is so far out of reach for those who have younger children. Thank you for sharing your experience and your advice! :)

Edited by jenL
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