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Meditations on Practice

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    Meditations on Practice

    This is partly a handwriting update - things are getting a little better. DD still has some spacial issues, but we are finding some helps. First I make up a "playground story" for each letter. A's have slides and monkey bars. M's have firepoles and slides. Finally, this was an analogy she could work with. Every time I would tell her to sit the letter on the bottom line we would have issues, but sliding down the firepole to the ground she can understand. Second, the small structuring helps have done a lot. I discovered that part of the big issue with any letter that was circular was that she wanted to start dead center of the top. By the time you loop a little a or d to the top it is hard to add the stick! Giving her a tiny starter line to remind her to tap the low monkey bars first has led to much clearer writing. Third, we did end up getting First Start Reading. I had started with something that didn't involved writing, because she was young when we started, but the First Start has been good phonics review and fantastic writing instuction and practice.

    Which all leads me to practice. I looked a lot of curricula for K, and I remember seeing more than one that suggested very little writing practice in K. I have the recommended workbook for the year and each lower case letter was written about 30 times - TOTAL - over the course of a year. But I saw it so many times along with talk about getting children off to a gentle start! developmentally appropriate! On the other hand, you see reviews of First Start Reading. Most people that have tried it, liked it, but the general sense is - too much writing. However, this week my dd and I have probably written 50 a's. They aren't all there yet, but at least some are starting in the correct direction, and most resemble a's more than blobs.

    This got me thinking about how easily MY thinking can fall into worldly patterns (for lack of a better word.) "Everyone" said that more than a simple workbook was too much for a K-er. If she wasn't getting it, well, another year of maturity would help. And there is the crux of the issue. I don't think another year would have helped at all. She just doesn't see how the lines of letters relate to one another. I doubt she will grow out of that. She is my super literal child. On the other hand, practice is making inroads! A month ago everything she wrote looked like mush, but now she has a couple letters that are legible. She was SO proud of writing her very first S the other day (she has one in her name, so this particular letter was a hangup.) I wonder if I hadn't started in the classical direction I would have gone along, she would have created some bad habits, writing would have remained a struggle for a long time, and I would be fretting in third or fourth grade about why isn't she growing out of this?

    I suppose this is the particular struggle of special needs students (of which I know my DD is maybe not really even a mild case.) But, often these students won't just mature into things. Every achievement is a hard won battle of repeated practice. But the message of the culture is that everyone should have a talent - and when you are talented it comes easily - naturally! Or at least practice should be fun because you love your area of talent. But this is culture taking a grain of truth to make a lie. Practice is never ALL fun, and even if you are extremely talented, nothing of lasting value comes without practice.

    This was a reminder to me that even though we are pretty set on a classical education, I can hear the siren song of modern education theory still. Part of me thinks that I must be brutalizing my daughter because she is young, and we still practice handwriting every day, even if she doesn't complain about it! But, the only thing that can give her the thrill of success on this point is practice - about five times more practice than I would have thought necessary. How easily my gaze strays from what is actually working to the exectations and experiences of others.


    Wonderful news! Thanks for the update and for your meditations.

    Helpful thoughts here on practice, work, and perseverance.

    So glad to hear First Start Reading has been beneficial for your daughter. In every resource Mrs. Lowe creates, her approach to education overturns the faulty notions you describe and replaces them with the basic structure, clarity, and repetition children need. As you said, your daughter easily could have fallen far behind without the good foundation you are giving her now.

    And congratulations on your successful "helps," Lena. Your playground descriptions will surely assist your daughter's enjoyment just as much as her motor memory!

    Thanks for posting this.



      I love your descriptions of the letters! so creative!

      I too hear the "siren song" of modern education, and maybe I should wait or not push. I'm glad to hear FSR is working for you.