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If you've used WTM through the elementary years...


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Will you please tell me about your experience? Would you do it any differently if given the chance to do it over? What worked? What didn't? What was the best/worst thing about following all, some or most of the WTM's recommendations?

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This is a great question and I look forward to hearing what others have to say.


One thing that I am very happy with is the emphasis on memorization during the early years. This has worked out very well and has given them, I believe, a greater understanding of history. I heard a teacher saying that rote learning is out and not a good way to teach. I completely disagree with this. My kids memorized the kings and queens, presidents and major wars and as we worked out way through history, those names and wars meant something, then, and they were able to place them in a mental time line and basically just remember the facts surrounding those people better. It has become a joke in my extended family that my kids are little historical encyclopedias.


One thing I wish I had spent more time on was the recommended narration. I don't think I really understood how I was supposed to go about it in the early years and I made it too complicated and was trying to do it for too many subjects and burnt out quickly. I wish I had stuck with it for maybe just one subject and not been so detailed, if that makes sense.


I could go on but I don't want to turn the post into a book. ;) But I will say that so far I am well pleased with WTM's philosophy in the grammar stage.

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I've followed the WTM recommendations fairly closely for 1st-4th grade. I think it has worked well for my dc so far. I did add a couple of things like Biblioplan for history which expanded areas like the Reformation or Ancient Israel, etc. Also, for science I tried the WTM way first for biology but then I found God's Design and used that instead. It still has a four year cycle of covering biology, earth science, chem., and physics but I don't have to come up with as much on my own.

I think the narration emphasis has been really helpful and I definitely see the value of memorization as well.

Oh, and we didn't start Latin until this summer, Prima Latina, and I am planning LC1 for this coming year. We are also doing state history this summer, which is not part of the WTM recommendations but I thought it would be a good way to spend our summer and it has been great.

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We followed most of her recommendations from age 5 through fourth/fifth grade. My biggest regret was not following the same recommendations for our ds, who is now nine. Although, obviously there are differences in how they learn and their ability to learn different things, I was FAR more diligent with our oldest. We're now trying to get back on track, but I fell into a very relaxed approach that I'm now regretting. I'm blessed in that dd has always been a reader and a self motivated learner, but will have to be diligent with ds to get him back on track. And, blessedly, our third is only six and the rest younger than that.


A very (very!) relaxed approach sounds so good when you're overwhelmed, but the truth is is that it severely limits your children. While I am not, and doubt I ever will be, an advocate of "school at home" there is a good balance between school at home and uber relaxed homeschooling. After all, most of TWTM is actually FUN - good books, real books, memorization games, some copywork from fine sources, etc. I had sold my TWTM book and now I'm looking for a copy again.


I hope that helps.

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I have sinced changed in my philosophy a bit, becoming more language-based instead of history-based, so I'm doing things differently now, but putting that aside, here are my comments:


1) SOTW was fun to read, but did become less so by Volume 4, especially for the younger children. Volume 4 seemed more appropriate for 5th-6th grade students.


2) By Volume 3, I started feeling like there was just too much info to cover, and began picking/choosing the chapters we would read.


3) The AGs for SOTW are wonderful and very thorough, but I had trouble finding many of the literature suggestions, either because they were out of print, or because my library isn't very good. :confused: What I would do the second time around is go through the AG ahead of time, and put all the supplementary books on my "Bookmooch" wishlist. I would do this as early as possible. (Bookmooch didn't exist when I went through the cycle the first time, but it has since been very helpful.)


4) Doing the notebooks for history, science, AND reading got to be a bit much, so we focused on history and science, and didn't do narrations as often for reading. With multiple children, it can be a bit frustrating getting all of them to do their narrations when they have to be copied into the notebook.


5) My most difficult narrations were those that had to come from the Usborne Nature Encyclopedia. I would read the entire spread, and then ask for a narration. It was just too much info to summarize and/or choose from. What I would do differently is read a sub-section and then have dc narrate from that, or read the spread, and then ask which part was the most interesting. Then I'd re-read that paragraph or section, and we'd do the notebook page from that.


6) I confess that I did not have my dc memorize all dates/kings/lists in WTM. I don't regret this, however. I'm not big on the memorization of lists & facts in grade-school. I would rather they memorize passages from literature and Scripture. (But that's a philosophical thing, so you can throw it out if you want to.)


7) I liked SWB's guidelines for the amount of time to be spent on a subject area, combined with a "do the next thing" approach. Her sample schedules, etc. were very helpful in planning, and in deciding if we were on the right track.


8) Doing Phonics Pathways worked well, and starting SWA about halfway through was a good fit. (Does she still suggest this? I used the original WTM).


Gotta run -- hope my comments have been helpful.

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I would say we were pretty much "WTM purists". We followed the ideas, but not the exact methods or curriculum. I didn't really like how the notebooks were set up, so I changed that and we used some different curriculum than they suggested. However, I LOVE the ideas and followed those to a T. We did a 4 year history cycle, lots of great living books, lots of memorization (we did poems, verses, history and science things often in song, math facts, Latin prayers, etc), narrations, etc.


As we have moved into the second cycle I'm still staying pretty close to the ideals of the logic stage. My dd will be in 6th grade and ds in 4th, but he has a very logic stage brain already. I really have very few regrets. I felt like we were able to accomplish the goals of the grammar stage in ways that my kids enjoyed. I am hoping that will be the same as we go through the logic stage now.


I am, and always have been a huge fan of WTM and the philosophy. If I had to choose one thing that helped in my decision to homeschool it would be reading WTM because it just totally resonated with our educational beliefs. In fact, I actually cried with relief when I found and read it. I had looked through so many things that I didn't like and was feeling very discouraged about the curriculum choices. I don't think it is for everyone, by any means, but it is definitely for us! I only get more and more excited as we get closer to the end-goal. My kids are still enthusiastic learners (not that they are excited about every little assignment :001_smile:) and they are on their way to becoming good writers, communicators and thinkers (Lord willing!)

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Will you please tell me about your experience? Would you do it any differently if given the chance to do it over? What worked? What didn't? What was the best/worst thing about following all, some or most of the WTM's recommendations?


My oldest child just finished grade 4, so officially through the "grammar stage." I have LOVED LOVED LOVED using WTM to plan out our homeschooling - I can't recommend it highly enough.


When I first read WTM, my oldest was 3 or 4, and I remember thinking, "who in the world could do all that reading and writing??" I was so overwhelmed by it. But when ds was ready to start grade 1, I had no plan, so I re-read WTM and then I "got it." All I had to do was start with the 1st grade suggestions in the skill areas, and add in the suggestions for the content areas. The notebooking part of science, literature, and history was what really appealed to me - I had no idea those subjects could be learned in a fun and interesting way - all I had known was boring textbooks. But the writing and creating fun pages part sounded fun, and as we went along, I realized how THIS was how information would be learned and solidified.


I wasn't too sure about Latin, but as 3rd grade came closer, I re-read the Latin chapter, and was convinced. Probably because I could understand then why it would be good for ds to start learning it at that age. I got brave and read further about the Latin progression, and decided that we could do this, because the other stuff was not taking all day long.


If I could start over, the only thing I'd do differently is to read WTM when ds was younger, lol! And I'd have started a formal math program earlier - we floundered until 3rd grade with math, but that was due to me not knowing certain things, not anything to do with the WTM recs.


I have used most of the WTM recommended texts and methods, and once I understood the "why" behind each item, it worked. For example, narrations and copywork/dictation. I tried doing this, but it wasn't until I listened to SWB's Writing Without Fear CD that I understood why, and got a little more detail about how to conduct narrations and copywork/dictation. I needed the overall picture, and the CD gave it to me.


So, I've been very happy with the recommended texts, too, like SOTW, all the recommended science texts (I hardly ever see these mentioned on the boards, but they are really very good and easy, if you use them the way it says to in WTM!), the Latin sequence.......I know there are lots of other great texts out there, but for me, who knew nothing about how to teach these various skills and subjects, the recs in WTM have been WONDERFUL.


We are heading into the logic stage section of WTM, and I have all my books here and ready to go, and once again, am very excited to get started. A whole new set of skills and books......and they look so fun! All the way down to the art and music appreciation recs......that's a whole new world for me, and it's looking pretty interesting.


I can't think of anything that hasn't worked so far, but I'm rather driven because I will figure out WHY something is recommended in there. I will re-read WTM, read ahead in WTM, come to these boards and ask questions until I understand the bigger picture, and then I will jump in wholeheartedly into teaching the area I previously didn't understand. This book has opened up a whole new world to me for getting a great education, and I want to pass that on to my kids as much as possible.


The biggest thing I've gotten out of WTM is that there are skills to be learned, and then you can practice the skills on the content areas, in an organized fashion (chronological history, for example, or biology for a year instead of jumping around). Learning done in patterns, to me, is much more effective and satisfying.



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I found the WTM boards here almost 9 years ago, when DS was 2. I'd had a momentary panic that I could never homeschool even though DH and I had always wanted to and began scouring the internet for some sort of instruction book on how to do it. WTM fit our own goals and tentative plans so well that I embraced it whole-heartedly. (I did tell a friend recently, however, that if I'd realized Sonlight had checklists I probably would have gone with them. I love checking things off!)


We've followed the WTM recommendations pretty closely, although science is a bit problematic. We really enjoyed chemistry and physics in 3rd and 4th grade as laid out in WTM. But because biology both in 1st and 5th I had a hard time sticking with it. Both times we started out strong with the WTM recommendations, but somewhere around 6-9 weeks we started slacking-off. I think that having to pull things from different sources made it more difficult for me to stick to a schedule. So in 2nd grade we used Christian Liberty Science's 2nd grade workbook. And this past year (5th) we used WTM for the fall and Apologia's Botany in the spring. Next year we'll do Apologia's Astronomy in the fall and WTM earth science in the Spring.


I wish that we had done more memorization, but I am glad for all the memorization that we did do.


I am very glad that we began narrations in Kindergarten (using FIAR). It's a wonderful way to check comprehension, cement the information, and learn how to summarize.


I'm also glad that we began Latin (Latin Primer 1, WTM 1st ed. rec.) in 3rd grade. I had initially thought that we might start it earlier because I had a second-hand program that said it was suitable for earlier use. But in 1st grade we were really trying to get into the rhythm of school and learn the basics. In 2nd grade, reading still hadn't taken off and I thought we needed to solidify grammar. By the end of 2nd DS was reading beautifully (it really did "click" overnight) and grammar was golden. Third grade was exactly the right time. He even said Latin was his favorite subject that year (after history of course).


Writing Strands just didn't float our boat. We worked on it for a while in 3rd grade (I think that's when we started it) and then didn't do anything formal in 4th grade, although we kept doing the narration/dictation thing and began outlining at the end of 4th. This year we tried Classical Writing and I'm really happy with it.


Nearly everything I use that was not from WTM is newer than the first edition (I only got the 2nd edition last year) & recommended by someone on this board.


I re-read the book about once a year and refer to it often throughout the year when planning, looking for book recommendations or trying to remind myself what it is that I'm doing here.!

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