Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wednesday with Words: The 3 R's

Now that our crazy June is over!  I am ready to slow down a bit, read and relax for the summer.  All the rest of our trips are vacations (our kids will be there but staying at Grandma's house).  

I was thrilled this past week when Artios released its K-3rd grade program.  Lori Lane and her team have done their research and put together some great materials for this age group.  Ruth Beechick's The Three R's is required reading for all parents.  So I pulled out my copy and decided to start reading.  

Here are a few favorite quotes: 
The science research described above seems to be telling you to keep up that kind of informal teaching a little longer than most people would advise you to.  The American attitude that "earlier is better" will die hard, in spite of research evidence to the contrary. 
I met another preKinder mom this week who was feeling the pressure on her 5 year old son to read and be calm.  I feel for her.  It reminded me that I am so blessed to have options and keep my boys home through that stage - so that we can go at our own pace.  

As Beechick explains: 

Also, in the first two grades children often need pauses for consolidation of their learning.  They may pause and spurt at different times.  During summer vacation after first grade, children forget a lot that must be reviewed and relearned the next year.  And children are not all ready to begin reading at the same age.  
This is the wonder of homeschooling we can just gently move forward, pause and pick up again at the child's pace.  I am learning - for quite a while I tried to keep my oldest at the school's recommended pace.  Craziness! 

Artios suggests Bob Books for the reading program.  Since they are doing it and I have two kids showing signs of readiness (despite being 2 1/2 years apart) I think I will probably give it a try.  I like the way that Brandy over at Afterthoughts and Teaching Reading with Bob Books has put it together. I think her method will provide the consistency that I lack.  I figure my children's experience at Artios will provide some bells and whistles.  We are using Phonics Pathways right now which I do enjoy. Maybe I'll use them for different children so that they can't compare themselves easily.  

The quote below is the one that really got me. 

She insists: 

. . . grammar scores do not correlate with quality writing.  Children who know the most grammar are not necessarily better writers.  
YES!   So glad someone is speaking common sense.  How are so many of us decent writers but can't recall any formal grammar?  We read and were read aloud to which helped us learn how to develop a good story or argument - but it is totally unrelated to grammar. Some programs seem to make dissecting grammar a prerequisite for good writing.  It just isn't.  In fact, my fear, is that it freezes some kids as they are learning to write.  If they know they are going to have to dissect it but can't do it well - they will opt for an easier way of saying it.  Similar to the way students pick the easy word they can spell instead of the best word.  

Grammar is essential for BETTER writing.  Grammar has its place, as part of logic.  In my opinion, it is best learned through a foreign language because we automatically "know" the right answers in our own language.  Using a different language helps us "see" what grammar is all about. Learning a foreign language isn't always possible; but, I've come to believe that it is ideal.   

So, Beechick (and Charlotte Mason) encourage grammar as analysis to be introduced in 6th or 7th grade.  At that point, students can use it to analyze their writing and truly improve it.  They are ready for the puzzle that is grammar.  Prior to that it is just memorizing, which might be appropriate, but is not going to magically transfer into better writing.   

Artios does use Analytical Grammar in the 4th to 6th grade class.  However, their main focus is on reading and comprehending good literature and vocabulary development.  They use more modern writing projects (brochures, research papers, etc.).  I am glad he is getting this experience and I don't have to oversee or analyze it.  Instead I just supplement with copywork and dictation (as Beechick describes) - which is easy to do.  

I am still trying to discern what is best for my oldest when it comes to spelling.  This is the year though that we need to tackle that issue.  Beechick talks about dictation and spelling words from their writing.  This is probably the combination we will pursue but I will have to be more disciplined myself to make that happen!  

So, this is my personal tirade.  The tone of Beechick's books is calm, matter of fact, encouraging and practical.  This thin book (120 pages) doesn't seem like "enough" but it truly is.  Great summer reading if you are thinking about what to do with your younger children.  

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