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Transitioning from grammar to dialectic

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    Transitioning from grammar to dialectic

    This question is specific to my son who is twice exceptional. He has ADHD which affects his social skills and attention, but he is academically gifted and very bright. But it is also a question about the stages of classical education in general. I've read that students do a lot of memorization in the grammar phase because they have an easy time memorizing at that age. But when they transition from the grammar into the dialectic/logic phase of learning, do they lose some of the ease at which they can memorize? It just seems like my son is not memorizing things as fast or as long-term as he did last year. I'm trying to assess why this might be. Is it that the material might be more difficult in 4th grade than 3rd grade? Have I slacked off on my end with how I teach? Is this a natural progression as students transition from grammar to dialectic? He's only 10 years old but cognitively may be a couple of years ahead. (And socially a few years behind, but that's a topic for a different post!) I look forward to hearing your wisdom on this subject!
    Son- 4th grade, homeschooled, full core
    2 younger children in Catholic school
    1 more munchkin up to no good

    #2
    This is an interesting question! It could be a combination of things, as you mentioned. Here are some possibilities:
    1.) The material is more challenging and now requires more sustained attention. His ADHD, which impacts both concentration and working memory, may be showing itself in ways his intelligence compensated for previously.
    2.) As he grows older, he simply might not enjoy memorizing as much as he did as a younger child. The "stages" theory is derived from the essay in which Sayers noted that some ages are more predisposed to doing certain things.
    3.) As he grows older, perhaps he is less willing to take direction from Mom than when he was a little boy. If so, it might be time for Dad to enter into the memorization in some way. See Boys, Men, & Poetry by our own CatherineS.
    4.) If, as you suggest, you may have simultaneously relaxed your approach, this could make steady memorization more difficult.
    5.) Any combination of the above.

    If this is largely due to #1, you'll need to break down the elements to be memorized. Perhaps choose only a handful of key names, dates, and verses you want learned by heart, or create shorter "chunks" for him to learn the full amount of memory work over time. You might take advantage of audio/visual review with CDs or DVDs or require more frequent recitations of cumulative material. If #1 is responsible even partially, all of this will help. He will need to begin understanding his need for such accommodations, so this can be a good time to explore the very real effects of ADHD on learning, memory, and concentration. Be encouraging, of course, as he learns what is needed for him to succeed.
    While sports and music lessons can provide many of the same benefits of practicing a difficult skill and overcoming anxiety to perform in front of others, poetry recitation is an art that can be accessible to many with special needs.

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