Monday, November 8, 2010


I've struggled for years in trying to teach the kids how to write. I've let the perfect become the enemy of the good enough.

This year, I enrolled my two oldest in Camille Golston's Lost Tools of Writing class through Memoria Press. My goals were two-fold. First, I wanted them to get the instruction that I just can't seem to give them. LTW is being worked on continually, by I didn't think I'd have time to figure it out for my two oldest. My second goal was to learn how to teach the program. I sit in each week (either with Judith or Benjamin) and take notes on both the content and Camille's teaching. I think this is going to be a huge help to me. I'd love to enroll in Andrew's apprenticeship program, but it's just not doable right now.

For the younger kids, I bit the bullet and bought a couple of Middle Ages themed writing programs. I'm tweaking them, but I must admit that I'm enjoying having things laid out for me. The kids are doing more writing and I can adjust the checklists and the 'rules' as we go; for example, instead of simply banning certain words, we discuss propriety in using them (I can't ban said - too many great writers use it too often to simply ban it and I've read too many modern novels that avoid it and they're just ridiculous).

Here's an example of nine-year old Eliza's latest efforts:

A certain fox requested a stork come and dine with him. The stork came and the fox, who was planning to play a practical joke on the stork, gave his guest soup, which was in a wide and shallow bowl. The fox enjoyed his meal, but the stork, who had an extended beak, left for home starved.

In return, the stork kindly invited the fox to dinner. The stork gave his visitor minced-meat, which he served in a tall jar with a narrow mouth. The stork had a pleasant meal and filled his stomach. But the fox, because of his short and big snout, could not fit his mouth into the jar. And the poor fox left for home on an empty stomach. As he drove home in his car, he confessed that he was given what he deserved.

Moral: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


French Update

We've slowed down in working through Barbier from the plans I posted last time, but lots of learning is going on.

Little girls: We're parsing and construing our way through their homework assignments, one sentence at a time. This is slow going, but I really think it's going to give them the best foundation for continued learning. We work on only about five sentences each day, so each exercise takes about four days, but this gives us time to continue with French Phonics, Madeleine, and their paradigms.

Older girls: We've slowed down here, too, but as we work through each sentence, the girls' understanding is growing by leaps and bounds.

I type up each homework sentence in Pages on my iPad (one at a time, so I don't have to work ahead). Then we go through and discuss each word, its part of speech, its job in the sentence, the various elements of each word (person, number, tense, mood, and voice for verbs; person, number, and gender for nouns; number and gender for adjectives and articles). We also color-code each word as to its job in the sentence and adjectives match the color of the noun they modify, but in italics.

We haven't really done any English grammar in quite awhile, but they're learning so much that I think we'll be okay. Even though we're not really discussing English grammar as a separate discipline, we do discuss it lots in their composition assignments.

An additional help: I let the girls change the colors of the words in the iPad - they think that's pretty cool! The touch screen is still pretty new for them.