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    Help me understand...

    Hey everyone! I'm starting to think about what directions we might be taking with our homeschooling over the next several years. We love MP and as an "accidental" homeschooler, I've been so thankful for the support and structure it has given me over the last couple of years as we've just begun to get our feet wet. I expect we will be continuing with MP for the foreseeable future, but might incorporate some other programs into our studies as well as we figure out what works for our family. I still feel so clueless in so many ways though....

    Okay - my questions right now...I understand MP's approach for not incorporating a writing program until 3rd/4th grade. However, there is a considerably large homeschool community in our area, and I hear lots about the programs my friends are using with their early elementary students for writing. I also have read on past threads that IEW appears to be well-thought of as a writing program. Many of my friends are using this with their earlier elementary kids.

    I guess I'm not even sure what exactly I'm asking - maybe just for someone to flesh this out a little and help me understand how my kiddos will be okay not being actively engaged with writing instruction early on. And, for those of you who use a "hodge-podge" curriculum, have your kids struggled not having had a formal writing program during the early years of school.

    Hope this makes sense....just exploring really.
    Thanks!
    Blair
    Blair

    Mom to 6 sweet girls and finally a boy!
    SB - 9 - starting MP 5M
    A - 7 - starting MP 3rd
    M - 5 - starting MP 1st
    F & SG - 4 year old identical twinners
    CJ - a rascally, busy 2 year old
    GH - 4/17/2017, much adored, baby brother!

    #2
    This is an easy area to get confused in part because it is hard to compare apples to apples when it comes to writing. A lot of times you are looking at an apple, an orange, a banana ...and trying to figure out what is best.

    First, I worked in montessori school before I was married. They required daily creative journaling starting in the first grade at the school where I worked. The output of the students was universally awful. The entries were repetitive despite daily prompts, the spelling atrocious and with little thought or creativity. To be honest, six years old are very limited in their useful commentary on the world, and creative expression often leads to bad habits of spelling etc.

    So, restricting ourselves to the more classically bent options simplifies somewhat. Those all provide a lot of structural support to young students. As a result, they almost universally begin with copy work. Even IEW would at the extremely early, say K stages, be largely copy work. Really, one of the major differences then is simply what is copied, sentences from reading, literature or scripture. For k and 1 most writing programs are little other than MP Copybook with non scriptural content. From that point there is some divergence. IEW starts children on early stages of the writing formats they will use for years. Personally, I find one of the best authors on the subject Susan Bauer. Her book write with skill is compelling. The book is great, but most of it is her own writing suggestions 1 to 4 grade, so it is better to borrow if you just want to read the intro. Her suggestion for the early grades is two things copy work working up to dictation for the skills of getting words onto paper correctly written and in good sentences. Secondly, she suggestion summarizing short stories to learn to put ideas into your own words in an appropriate order. MP addresses the first element through copybook and literature because they copy or help you compose a sentence answer to a question to copy. The enrichment discussions of picture books somewhat address the second, although with more leading questions. By third grade composition, they are taking dictation, summarizing and basically following that model. From there classical composition follows older writing instruction models while Bauer approaches something that is more specifically modern college prep to my mind.

    Some people, especially using more eclectic or Charlotte Mason methods are even slower starters. Kers write letters, and then copy work moves to dictation and narration writing coming in only about fourth grade. Honestly, my little dd in K struggled with writing. Lots of people would say that she just isn't ready, but several months into the year, I am closer to the opinion that most programs undersell practice. In MP they are learning to write letters and developing some stamina for handwriting which in the lower grades is a part of the battle.

    So, I think part of the confusion is that MP does a lot of the same things, but they do it without a book labeled Writing Instruction Occurs now. First start reading begins handwriting and word dictation. Copybook picks that up. Literature enrichment talks about books and so does the first grade lit. By second grade they are discussing novels. We aren't there yet, so I don't know if the narration element is there, but the other elements are. So students learn to put well spelled and written complete sentences on paper and then in third grade they take that skill and begin applying to to narration a of novels or fables. The only thing IEW may do is start some composition models like outlining earlier. But, students have plenty of time. Personally I prefer Bauers materials or MPs because I think they will lend themselves more to learning to write outside of a format. That should blossom in high school and beyond for more flexible writers that don't need a rubric to create a piece of writing. Any one of those are probably better than most writing instruction we got in school. Ultimately, though, you can be confident that most of what other people's children are doing in their writing time is similar to what your children are doing under other labels. MP does a pretty good job of combining topics, memory work and copying, literature and composition, so that you aren't spending all day teaching a pretty small kid.

    Finally, I have hodgepodged somewhat even in those beginning years. On the one hand, I have trouble with liking the idea behind too much stuff. I want to try it! And it can be fun. In MP I had a tendency to skip some of the phonetic awareness activities because they seemed more suited to a classroom. I did do similar activities using all about reading, simply because they were laid out day by day and geared to a single child. The one warning I will give. It is very easy in picking your own materials to lose simplicity. You pick your favorite spelling and phonics and reading curricula and suddenly all of them overlap here and there. If you still want to do them just as written, the kids can end up overwhelmed and duplicating effort. You usually have to take some effort to patch things together so they fit better and don't do similar things, and you lose the simplicity of a program that combines effort by combing subject somewhat. To some it is probably worth the work. To others the simplicity saves you the headaches. It depends whether you want something like IEW where you can either look for your own source material, which is more work for you, or have composition in a separate workbook from everything else you are studying. Or you do MP lit and it is scheduled, practices writing all while you study great lit anyway. The long and the short is that comprehensive programs have the feel of everything pulling together in one direction. But they do the picking for you, so you are blessed the more you agree completely with their choices and philosophies. Picking for yourself is more unwieldy and can feel a lot more compartmentalized. But it can follow your personal biases more closely sometimes. You have to pick which trade offs you can make more easily.

    Lena

    Comment


      #3
      Blair,

      Lena did a really good job highlighting the development of writing through the early grades in the classical approach, as well as the end result when we choose to add, add, add more things together.

      The only thing I will add is about time and patience. My eldest, who is in seventh, tried a variety of these writing curricula in her lower grades...and honestly, while she did the work well, I questioned myself constantly as to whether it was "enough." Looking back, she was learning grammar, copying, using a handwriting program that had more copying, dictating, and writing her own sentences and definitions for her spelling words!! This kid was drowning in written work, and I still worried whether we were learning writing!

      I see the folly Lena describes in my repitition of efforts. Then we did a bit of IEW last year and early this year....and guess what? She did it easily and really enjoyed it! So this is just to say that while you may not see your children create the same things other families' children are able to do, do not let it draw you into confusion and wasted effort. Take confidence in the skills your children are learning, and trust that the fruits will come. Another small example....my son is ten, and has only done Classical Comp as his "formal" writing training. This week he was finishing a final draft of a lesson, and was tickled to read it to me. As he read, I realized he had added dialogue to his story! It is one of the elements they learn in the program, but has not come up very often yet. But he added it for fun...and contextually, it was a perfect addition. It was a total surprise, and revealed to me once again how hidden is the actual learning that is going on...but it is there, and we need to trust it.

      Hang in there when the "urge to compare" comes calling!
      AMDG,
      Sarah
      2020-2021
      16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
      DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
      DS, 16
      DD, 14
      DD, 12
      DD, 10
      DD, 8
      DD, 6
      +DS+
      DS, 2

      Comment


        #4
        Blair,

        Lena has given you very good information. Thanks, Lena!

        I just wanted to say that Andrew Pudewa is speaking at our conference this year (July 30 - Aug. 1). And he is doing a 2-day pre-conference IEW workshop on Mon.-Tues. (July 28-29) at our Spring Meadows campus. If you are really feeling like you would like to learn more about IEW, this would be a great opportunity.

        Regards,

        Tanya

        Comment


          #5
          Hey Blair,

          We actually ran the gamut of curricula (with my eldest) before arriving at IEW and then MP. I had seen IEW for years and always tried the cheaper programs, with disastrous results! I also tried numerous grammar programs with similar results.

          So I started my son with IEW when he was in 5th or 6th grade. After seeing a complete transformation in his writing/composition skills and desires I spent more time on IEW's website, listening to Andrew Pudewa. That eventually led me to tossing the grammar texts for the Latin texts. Anyway, as far as writing, though we're moving slowly, I think he's doing fine as far as 'catching up.'

          All this to say, you will be fine with either of these composition/writing programs. I would also like to state that Lena is correct about IEW beginning with copywork. They have a newer program for reading and writing for the K-2 crowd, which starts with copywork before going into composition instruction. (We opted for First Start Reading).

          We will likely stick with IEW because my crew really likes Mr. Pudewa's teaching, but Classical Composition appears to be an excellent program as well. I tried it with my eldest, but he asked to stick with IEW. When other moms are asking though, I always recommend (they choose one of) these two programs.

          Blessings!
          Kami

          Comment


            #6
            Great insight from Sarah

            Originally posted by KF2000 View Post

            So this is just to say that while you may not see your children create the same things other families' children are able to do, do not let it draw you into confusion and wasted effort. Take confidence in the skills your children are learning, and trust that the fruits will come.
            I love and appreciate this, Sarah!
            Festina lentē,
            Jessica P

            2020-2021
            11th year HSing · 9th year MP
            @ Home, HLN, & Latin online
            11th, 9th, 6th, 3rd

            Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

            Comment


              #7
              This is our first year homeschooling, so perhaps I can offer something on this

              My daughter went to public school for K-5th grade, where she was in the GT/Honors program. Academics come fairly easy to her, but the classroom environment toward all the students was universally awful, their math and writing instruction left a lot to be desired, and the district was unresponsive to parents; so we pulled her to homeschool. I have to echo your sentiment that Memoria Press gave us excellent advice and support in our journey, and I am grateful for this and trust their judgment and academic advice.

              Regarding writing, my daughter is 11 years old and can crank out a 5 paragraph, well-developed essay, with paragraphs that support her thesis, excellent transitions between paragraphs, and can put together decent support for her thesis. I'm impressed with that. But... the darned essay is nearly unreadable because of poor spelling, atrocious grammar, and non-existent punctuation except for a period at the end of the sentence. Teaching my daughter grammar and cleaning up her punctuation/spelling issues have been the most difficult challenge for me, thus far. I do think this comes from having a child write before they can read fluently, and from accepting "inventive spelling", and from not teaching grammar from a young age. So, I am resigned to teaching these things for the remainder of middle school, because I can already see that this is going to be a long, slow, slog. Hopefully, by the time she reaches 9th grade, I will have a child who can take what she did learn in public school and marry that ability to a grammatically correct and properly punctuated sentence with no spelling mistakes.

              If I had to do her childhood over again I would have homeschooled from the beginning and not had her write essays until she could read fluently, despite the fact that I would be sacrificing her being able to write an otherwise top-notch essay. I would stick to handwriting and copywork exclusively for those early grades. Why? Because now, in addition to teaching grammar, punctuation, and spelling, I also have to un-do all the bad and lazy habits of inventive spelling and lazy editing she developed over the years. So my advice is to take Memoria Press' advice and make sure your child can read fluently, has a firm grasp on English grammar, and can construct a top-notch, properly-spelled sentence before worrying about fancier essay writing. Good luck with your homeschooling journey!
              Last edited by reefgazer1963; 01-24-2014, 08:27 PM.

              Comment


                #8
                Thank you for posting this...your experience was valuable to me!

                Blessings on your first year!
                AMDG,
                Sarah
                2020-2021
                16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
                DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
                DS, 16
                DD, 14
                DD, 12
                DD, 10
                DD, 8
                DD, 6
                +DS+
                DS, 2

                Comment


                  #9
                  Ladies, thank you so much for your responses. While I don't have time to respond about each persons comments individually, I am blessed by everyone's willingness to take time to share your experiences in such a well thought out way. We've had family in town for nearly two weeks so I'm just sitting down to catch up on what I've missed. I am very reassured to know hear the general consensus that our children are not going to be behind or ill-prepared, but actually, quite the opposite....so often I feel overwhelmed by the desire to do everything "just right" with homeschooling to make sure I'm not ruining my children (hehehe, I am joking about that) that I need to just relax and enjoy the ride.

                  Blair
                  Blair

                  Mom to 6 sweet girls and finally a boy!
                  SB - 9 - starting MP 5M
                  A - 7 - starting MP 3rd
                  M - 5 - starting MP 1st
                  F & SG - 4 year old identical twinners
                  CJ - a rascally, busy 2 year old
                  GH - 4/17/2017, much adored, baby brother!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Don't be too hard on yourself

                    Reefgazer, your post was excellent, but I also want to give you a little consolation. My eldest son went to "away" school for K-3rd. At that time, it became obvious that he was far advanced above his peers which was our motivation for homeschooling. In a nutshell, he aced the IOWAs year after year in every subject EXCEPT handwriting, spelling, and punctuation... your call-outs for your DD.

                    Well, fast-forward 12 years: he was admitted Early Admissions to MIT where he's now a Junior in aerospace. He is the captain of MIT's debate team, incredibly articulate... in fact, most adults run from his level of communication. But I have to confess: his emails can still a jumble of misspelled words and lousy punctuation. His handwriting is best described as "crabbed manuscript".

                    I've come to understand that some of the skills of communication are largely visual (spelling, punctuation) and some people, even brilliant people, just can't or don't seem to even... see the problem?...care? Spell-check normally does the trick for my son, but certainly in spoken communication those visual skills are completely irrelevant. I do not suggest ignoring the issue, but rather seek to give the perspective of someone who obsessed over those same issues in her child's written work during the homeschool years, but then came to see that the "problem" didn't amount to all the obsession and worry I experienced in those years.


                    Looking back, my advice would be this: work for improvement and accuracy in your DD's work, but be willing to move on in the scope of educating the *entire* child. I'm nearly sure any mother would do this (!) but it does sometimes help to hear it.



                    Jen
                    DS, 27 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace)

                    DS, 25 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                    DD, 22 yrs, graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC; 2nd grade teacher.

                    DS, 12 yrs, 8th grade; attends a private classical school, 7th - 12th.

                    All homeschooled for some/all of their K-12 education.

                    Me: retired after 16 years of continuous homeschooling. Ahhh....

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks so much for your perspective! It's good to know I'm not the only one who struggles with a kid who doesn't seem to care that her spelling is atrocious. I'm beginning to let go and accept that everyone has their weaknesses, and handwriting and punctuation may be my daughter's weaknesses. So, I have accepted "OK" handwriting. Luckily, since I posted my original post less than a month ago, I've seen a big, rapid jump in mechanics and usage in her writing. I don't know where it came from so fast, but I'll take it! Hopefully, the journey won't be as tedious as I am expecting.

                      Originally posted by Jen in Japan View Post
                      Reefgazer, your post was excellent, but I also want to give you a little consolation. My eldest son went to "away" school for K-3rd. At that time, it became obvious that he was far advanced above his peers which was our motivation for homeschooling. In a nutshell, he aced the IOWAs year after year in every subject EXCEPT handwriting, spelling, and punctuation... your call-outs for your DD.

                      Well, fast-forward 12 years: he was admitted Early Admissions to MIT where he's now a Junior in aerospace. He is the captain of MIT's debate team, incredibly articulate... in fact, most adults run from his level of communication. But I have to confess: his emails can still a jumble of misspelled words and lousy punctuation. His handwriting is best described as "crabbed manuscript".

                      I've come to understand that some of the skills of communication are largely visual (spelling, punctuation) and some people, even brilliant people, just can't or don't seem to even... see the problem?...care? Spell-check normally does the trick for my son, but certainly in spoken communication those visual skills are completely irrelevant. I do not suggest ignoring the issue, but rather seek to give the perspective of someone who obsessed over those same issues in her child's written work during the homeschool years, but then came to see that the "problem" didn't amount to all the obsession and worry I experienced in those years.


                      Looking back, my advice would be this: work for improvement and accuracy in your DD's work, but be willing to move on in the scope of educating the *entire* child. I'm nearly sure any mother would do this (!) but it does sometimes help to hear it.



                      Jen
                      Last edited by reefgazer1963; 02-05-2014, 10:27 PM.

                      Comment

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