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One big question before taking the plunge...


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Hi all, I'm new. I came across Susan's books by chance and got completely hooked into all of it. My children beg for 'Story of the World' more than any other book at bedtime! I love it too.

I am planning to take them out of school permanently (they were at local school but because of Covid we've been homeschooling the past few months). I've been doing lots of research about all the different home school styles and curricula, and I really like the Well Trained Mind approach. I just have one big concern. Compared to the style of learning they are used to (age 5 and 8 ) this seems very, well, boring. They love the books and the stories, but I can't imagine the struggle of getting them to do narrations, detailed grammar study, handwriting (they fight against this already). Personally, I've always worked well learning lots of rules by rote and methodically. I guess that's why this system appeals to me. But it is old fashioned and I'm afraid they will be bored and unhappy.

I'd love to hear from others who have moved from standard schooling to this approach, and how their children responded to the change in style. Any tips for making it more 'fun' and playful, while still keeping the content and philosophy?

Thanks!

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I'm not sure the WTM book is old-fashioned and boring, but for the most part you'll find that people on these forums use what works and don't what doesn't.  For a 5 yr old, I would look at Five in a Row and for the 8 yr old Beyond Five in a Row.  Or use a program like Sing, Spell, Read, Write for teaching the 5 yr old to read and do the Beyond Five in a Row with both of them.  Add in math.  Have them do some copywork for handwriting practice, discussing simple grammar/mechanics (capital letters, final punctuation marks, subjects, verbs, adjs, advs, etc).  That pretty much sums up what they need to be doing at those ages.

 

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Welcome!  Homeschooling is an awesome adventure.

I'm wondering how much time you envision this taking up of their day.  Is that, perhaps, where your concern is coming from?  Your age 5 will be in grade 1? So that would be one sentence of copywork, two times a week. Your age 8 will likely be writing 3 sentences a day.  I'm sure they can handle the boredom for the 10 minutes it takes. 

Deschooling is super important.  Have you read about that yet?  Do.  Deschool, for at least a couple of months after school starts.  Then, a couple of months later, when you introduce doing 10 minutes of handwriting, you might find you don't get much pushback.

Have you selected curriculum you want to use?  First Language Lessons does detailed grammar study, but it does it gently.  It's not rigid and boring.

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10 minutes ago, AtticusFinchAteMyBaby said:

Hi Susan, yes I did see that post. In fact, it was partly that which freaked me out! The list of resources and topics and books and websites.... it seemed like so much work to do! I guess I need to get clearer about which things are either/or rather than 'and and and'.

 

For one, you don’t have to eat the whole whale in one sitting. Take it in bite by bite. It is a lot to think about.
You will find as you homeschool this first year and in the years after that you will change how you do things and what you use as you discover what works for you and your kids.
It’s ok to be flexible. There’s a lot of classical homeschoolers that drop latin or never start it. They don’t follow it exactly. Even SWB said there are things she would have changed.  
I recommend her lectures. They are not long, inexpensive, supportive and informational. I still listen to them. 
 https://welltrainedmind.com/c/resources-for-parents/workshops-seminars/?v=7516fd43adaa

To answer your question, my oldest was in public school until 4th grade.  He transitioned just fine but he was also a kid that I could put any lesson plan in front of him and he would do it. He was a self-starter and independent learner. He was the easy one. We studied the Odyssey and mythology, the universe and the science of cooking. He loved Alton Browns Good Eats. 
One thing to keep in mind is your kids are young. I did not like teaching reading. I couldn’t wait to get to real books with good stories. All of the Roald Dahl books, Charlottes Web, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and all of my other favorites from childhood. I had to wait until 3rd grade. Homeschooling has many seasons. Teaching them to read and learn their math facts is the “boring” foundational work that leads to James and the Giant Peach and The Odyssey. So don’t get discouraged and don’t be afraid to change it up if something isn’t working. 

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6 minutes ago, Plum said:

couldn’t wait to get to real books with good stories. All of the Roald Dahl books, Charlottes Web, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and all of my other favorites from childhood.

Funnily enough, my husband is reading Racso and the Rats of Nimh (sequel) to the 5 year old right now! He loves it. Charlotte's Web makes me cry, so will have to wait a while longer...

27 minutes ago, Kiara.I said:

Are you planning to use curriculum that lays it out for you, or pull your own material and do it free-form?

If you're using curriculum, have you decided on what?

I think a mix. Things like maths I'd like to have the whole thing done out for me. The other areas I'd like to have more flexibility.

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1 minute ago, AtticusFinchAteMyBaby said:

I think a mix. Things like maths I'd like to have the whole thing done out for me. The other areas I'd like to have more flexibility.

 

Okay.  So I've never tried to independently teach formal grammar without a curriculum telling me how to my kids.  It's possible, certainly.  In terms of copywork and narration, I'll tell you a bit about how Writing With Ease is structured, and how we did narration for history.

WWE level one has four days per week.  Days 1 and 3 are copywork (one sentence each, or maybe two very short sentences.) Days 2 and 4 are narration, which means the child listens to a selected passage, orally answers some questions about it, and then tells you one thing they remember about the passage.  Partway through the book, on day 4 they start copying out the sentence they told you that you wrote down for them.  I don't remember exactly the progression for levels 2 and 3, but they include copywork, moving toward dictation (where you read the sentence out loud and the student writes it out.)  The narration section moves toward them telling you a summary of the passage rather than just one item.

For history, we used SOTW. Again, we used the activity guide which had oral comprehension questions, and then I had them do a summary of the passage we'd read. At age 8, I was still scribing the narration for them as they told me what to write, so it wasn't writing-intensive for them. If your age 8 loves writing and does so fluently, they can certainly write it themselves. There were days where I got pushback about that, but I'm pretty sure I would have gotten pushback about anything I required of them. Regardless of how fun and entertaining, as soon as it's "required" then there can be complaint about it!

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39 minutes ago, AtticusFinchAteMyBaby said:

Hi Susan, yes I did see that post. In fact, it was partly that which freaked me out! The list of resources and topics and books and websites.... it seemed like so much work to do! I guess I need to get clearer about which things are either/or rather than 'and and and'.

 

There is really no rush at this point. Start with one thing - I recommend math, figure out what you like and what you think they will like and then when you are ready start with that, 15 to 30 minutes a day (try to end before anyone gets upset). Then figure out the next thing and add that, then the next.

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Also -- the amount of time for study of each subject that is listed in the Well Trained Mind (WTM) book was required by the publisher -- Susan Wise-Bauer *repeated* says that families should adapt and do what works for their specific children and situation -- families do NOT need to do everything in the book, do not need to do every subject, and do not need to do each subject for the whole length of time listed.

A classical approach to education has more to do with basic philosophy and goals (i.e., things like developing strong thinkers/writers; study of a wide variety of "classic" subject areas; "conversation" with primary source documents and classic works of literature, etc.), rather than being a proscriptive schedule. 😉 


Welcome to homeschooling, and welcome to the WTM boards! Enjoy your journey -- your children are at a wonderful age for delight and discovery in learning! 😄
Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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Oh wow, a page a day for an 8 year old is not at all what Susan Wise Bauer recommends! 

I really, really, second the advice to listen to her audio workshops - especially the ones on writing! They are so very helpful and practical and encouraging.

The other thing I wanted to comment on, the 'boring' parts are actually just skill building. There isn't really a way to practice handwriting except to practice handwriting. You can use different colours, different copywork selections, but at the end of the day you need pencil in hand. I would keep it short and sweet (ie, one SHORT sentence for your 5 year old) and just encourage them to try their best for a short burst. The second part of this is that it may seem boring, but don't underestimate both the rich content and the feeling of accomplishment in mastering a skill. Not everything needs to be tailored to their whims or dazzling to catch their attention. They will adjust. Part of this is teaching your kids to value what is valuable, they will get used to it. And, I've never met a kid at that age who thought narration was boring 😄, they want to tell you everything that has happened "and then... and then... and then..." that's narration! "Tell me back your favourite part from today's story!" Get them to draw a picture, you can scribe their narration - done! Don't over complicate this.

Keep your days short and let your young kids have hours in the afternoons to let all that learning percolate. 

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An 8 year old at school may be required to write a page.  WWE has little physical writing in the first few levels (and you might as well start with level  1 but you can speed it up if need be.  FLL is mostly oral.  SOTW you can do a bit of writing or a picture or an oral narration or simply read it and move on. Ignore the scheduled they were insisted on by the publisher and not even followed by the authors of the book. Get the WWE1 sample and a maths programme plus a pile of books.  WWE1 takes about 10 mins a day and start with about that for maths.  Read SOTW and spend as much time outside and reading to them as you can manage.

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Thanks everyone, this is really helpful and reassuring. I clearly misunderstood some fundamental points, so will go bact to WTM and read again.

As everyone has been so helpful, can I ask about one more of my major fears? The part of the day which is structured learning (whether that's reading, writing, being creative or whatever) seems straightforward once you get get going. What I'm even MORE worried about is the free time! When all their friends are at school and I need some time to myself to work, get dinner, or just breathe. What do your kids do to keep themselves occupied without other kids or Mummy to play with?! It may just be my boys but they are terrible at keeping themselves busy independently (one of the reasons I wanted to break them out of the formal school system where initiative seems to be frowned on!). Right now, they just follow me around all day until I'm ready to scream!

Thanks so much for the advice and encouragement, it's really valuable 🙂

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Welcome! You’ve received some great advice above. One thing I’ll add is that so much of modern education qualifies as ‘edu-tainment’ in my mind; there is a heavy emphasis on making school fun and watching videos and playing games. I’m all for having a good time, but that is not my primary purpose as an educator. My job is to teach, theirs to learn. Your kids are young enough that they will adapt quickly. Learning is work and at times work is hard, but I’ll bet they will surprise you with how quickly they adapt if you are cheerful, but firm and consistent with the new ‘normal’.

As for what to do when finished with school, have you read about/heard about ‘read or sleep afternoons’? When the work is finished after lunch (or whenever), everyone goes to her/his room and can either read or nap. At my house for many years the mantra was: No feet on the floor from 2 until 4. My kids generally gave up napping by age 4, but learned to lie in bed reading books, drawing, or playing quietly with a small ‘hand toy’ (anything small enough to fit in their hand- a doll for one, horse figurine for another). 
 

When everyone was up from rest time, I was refreshed enough that I could make it through the late afternoon and early evening until my partner returned home for the dinner/bath/bed routine at night.
 

I credit this forced reading/independent play time with my girls’ maturity, independence, love of books, and ability to occupy themselves. Now that they’re 22, 20, 15, and 11 you might think we’ve outgrown this practice, but when quarantine hit and the older three returned home to shelter-in-place, we all fell right back into our afternoon quiet time. Although nobody sleeps anymore (unless ill), we all appreciate the familiarity and rhythm to our days. Old habits die hard.

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late to the party here. separate phycal writing and narative. scribe type anything. narative language development is essentual and physical writing is optonal. https://mindwingconcepts.com/pages/methodology the why of narrative

3 hours ago, AtticusFinchAteMyBaby said:

Right now, they just follow me around all day until I'm ready to scream!

I used choice lists with my dd. They may need supprt to realize their optons and discover their own ability to use their time well. also you can have boundaries. ask me and you get chores. also quiet hour, moms day off, send them to auntie's once a week, etc. youll find ways

You can use physcal structures to drive choice. (shelf, bin of options) You can put choices on their weekl checklst. 

Edited by PeterPan
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3 hours ago, AtticusFinchAteMyBaby said:

Thanks everyone, this is really helpful and reassuring. I clearly misunderstood some fundamental points, so will go bact to WTM and read again.

yes even swb flexed with each dc. she also had help of awesome grandma and dh. we meet our kids where they are. for some kids the skills are difficult (a disability) or need to be modified. we fit our kids not the other way arou nd

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17 hours ago, AtticusFinchAteMyBaby said:

Any tips for making it more 'fun' and playful, while still keeping the content and philosophy?

This is so right on! Now they may surprse you. My ds ASD2 is all fun and games but he finds language fun. We're working on bones, very fun. SHORT helps. Super short. fast pace. mimal wtiting. some games. COMPETITIVE

Remember, some of WTM is now in commom core. its easy to go in teacher supply and find things for or goals unlike 20 years ago. so ask here for each subect and tell limitations and people will give ideas

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9 hours ago, AtticusFinchAteMyBaby said:

Thanks everyone, this is really helpful and reassuring. I clearly misunderstood some fundamental points, so will go bact to WTM and read again.

As everyone has been so helpful, can I ask about one more of my major fears? The part of the day which is structured learning (whether that's reading, writing, being creative or whatever) seems straightforward once you get get going. What I'm even MORE worried about is the free time! When all their friends are at school and I need some time to myself to work, get dinner, or just breathe. What do your kids do to keep themselves occupied without other kids or Mummy to play with?! It may just be my boys but they are terrible at keeping themselves busy independently (one of the reasons I wanted to break them out of the formal school system where initiative seems to be frowned on!). Right now, they just follow me around all day until I'm ready to scream!

Thanks so much for the advice and encouragement, it's really valuable 🙂

It's ok to let them have free time. Kids need to get bored and figure out how to occupy themselves. If they get bored enough, they will find something to do. You don't have to constantly entertain them, keep them occupied, be their facilitator of all fun things. Leave a chunk of time where nothing is scheduled and they can play with their toys or with whatever you "left out" aka strewing. The reason they are at your feet all the time is because they have never been taught that it's ok to figure things out on their own.This is really very common in today's overscheduled world. Overscheduled/overstructured kids never really figure out how to relax and oftentimes end up anxious. Give them (and yourself) some downtime. They will learn how to regulate themselves eventually. Peter Gray from Psychology Today is an advocate for unschooling, but more importantly writes extensively about the value free play is to creativity and independence.

 

 

Edited by Plum
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@Plum is completely right about free time! Entertaining them is not my job. Interacting, discussing, educating, nurturing, reading, feeding, and physically caring for them - yes. Entertaining - no. I taught my kids this even before we started homeschooling them.

One good way to reinforce it is to tell them that if they come to you whining about what to dooooooo, they will get a job. They catch on pretty quickly 😉

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1 hour ago, Momto6inIN said:

@Plum is completely right about free time! Entertaining them is not my job. Interacting, discussing, educating, nurturing, reading, feeding, and physically caring for them - yes. Entertaining - no. I taught my kids this even before we started homeschooling them.

One good way to reinforce it is to tell them that if they come to you whining about what to dooooooo, they will get a job. They catch on pretty quickly 😉

So true! My youngest cleaned out the pantry last night all on her own! I always thought it’s my own fault if I’m bored and same goes for them. 

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On 7/17/2020 at 5:43 AM, AtticusFinchAteMyBaby said:

. What I'm even MORE worried about is the free time! When all their friends are at school and I need some time to myself to work, get dinner, or just breathe. What do your kids do to keep themselves occupied without other kids or Mummy to play with?! It may just be my boys but they are terrible at keeping themselves busy independently (one of the reasons I wanted to break them out of the formal school system where initiative seems to be frowned on!). Right now, they just follow me around all day until I'm ready to scream!

Thanks so much for the advice and encouragement, it's really valuable 🙂

 

One of my cyber friends wrote a post a long time ago in a message board far away about how she helped her son (who was the only child at home as he was much younger than siblings) learn how to have productive but unscheduled afternoon time.  In her situation (and this may or may not apply to you) her son needed to be "in homeschool"  until 3:30 when his friends came home from brick and mortar school. (It was just her way of doing things. your mileage could vary).  She called it "choice time" and listed about 5-10 things he could go figure out on his own.  She wrote it in a post on another forum because the question (how to help them keep busy) is a common question when starting homeschool journey.  I found it in the archives and here's a link to that advice from 2006 that still sounds good. https://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?p=9770#p9770

you can scroll not only through "julie in mn" answer, but scroll through that for some other ideas.  I realize it goes off this forum but back when that post was made several of the people were on this forum and that other place and doing some WTM kind of style of learning with a purchased curriculum of another company

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For the time after their official school work is done.  We always had outdoor play time that lasted at least an hour.  We also had a quiet time they had to stay in their rooms but could read, or play with quiet toys.  Its also a great time to teach practical skills in cleaning and cooking.  

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