Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beginning to reap some of the fruit of our hard work!

I feel like I'm startin to see some fruits in following the scope and sequence for Language Arts in the Charlotte Mason method (as laid out on the Ambleside Online website). We've been using AO for the last 18 months or so. I will mostly use Riley as an example since she is a typically-developing child and therefore it's easier to see in her work. Not that Austin and Reece haven't made wonderful strides, and I will share an example from the both of them at the end of this post, but that Riley is more typical for her age and developmental level.

Riley's language arts exposure has consisted of oral narration, copywork, dictation (both studied and unprepared), and an introduction to formal grammar the last 2 years (First Language Lessons 3). She has had intermittent spelling instruction with spelling workbooks which we would give up because she wasn't missing words and it seemed like busy work. She is also learning to type this year.

The fruit that I am going to speak of doesn't have anything to do with any of these individual subjects. It has to do with what she is doing in her spare time: writing. Last November she wrote a story for National Novel Writing Month. Recently, she started a new book based upon the adventures she and her siblings and a neighbor girl have in our backyard. They have created a make-believe world out there and she's writing the adventures down into stories.

In each of her stories, she has used vocabulary and sentence structure that we have not formally discussed in any curriculum. She punctuates her sentences with about 85% accuracy, and I'm impressed with the way she can punctuate direct quotations despite having no real lessons about it yet. (I think it's coming next week in her grammar book! LOL). She has a style about her writing that is mature and draws the reader in!

That's not to say we won't ever use a formal curriculum for writing, because we will one day. But she hasn't learned to be phobic of writing because I didn't press it upon her too early. The daily bits of copywork, oral narration, and dictation have given her the practice she needs to become used to expressing herself while not forcing her to be "creative" until she was ready!

Now, I promised a little bit about Austin's progress as well. The best example I can give is in his narration for Robinson Crusoe. He began this book back before Christmas, and 2 chapters in, he realized he didn't understand it. That was the first huge step, because before he would just do the mechanics of reading without checking in himself to see if he was comprehending. So then I decided to read it out loud, and quite honestly, it was difficult for me as well. So I found an unabridged reading by a man with a fantastic British accent, and Austin listened and followed along. At one part, he came to me very upset saying he thought he was in the wrong place. He knew this part of the story, so maybe he lost his place? I took the book and looked it over - to find that the author of the story was sharing his journals where he had written down what had already happened! So Austin DID recognize that part! He was doing more thinking about his learning AND he was comprehending! After 3 long months, he finally finished Robinson Crusoe and it was time to narrate.

While it wasn't a long and detailed narration, it WAS fantastic in its own way: he started with the very beginning of the story (which he had read/listened to months prior) to explain that Robinson wanted to go to sea but his parents didn't approve. Then he told a bit about the middle, and a bit about the end of the story! There was an order to his narration, and he did not hyper-focus on unimportant trivia! It was thrilling!

As for Reece, I'm not requiring narrations of her yet - and therein lies the fruit I'm seeing with her. She is BEGGING me to let her narrate! She is BEGGING me to let her do copywork! She sees those things as what you do when you are a big kid, and she wants to be included! Her narrations are mostly a sentence or two, but she wants to do them, and I know she will get better as she gets older (and when she is narrating materials that are more appropriate for her developmental level).

It's not easy for a box-checker like myself to sit back and let a more natural style of learning happen. But it's hard to ignore the power of the process when you see the results!

2 comments:

Lisa said...

Reading this brought tears to my eyes, Jen! It's working! What you are doing is working!

Niffercoo said...

Thanks, Lisa! I needed to write it all down so I could remember for days when results are harder to see! :)