Such delicious homeschooling is happening thanks to my mother. Mum has been taking my kids' education in hand and I've been eavesdropping to learn her tricks. It's so great.
The biggest revelation so far is the great missing link in learning to write: tracing. Lots of it, piles of it.
I'm good with the math. I love all the literature and nature study and art that just kind of evolves out of the seasons, liturgy, or whatever interest is de rigeur with the kids.
But teaching writing stresses me out. How did I learn to write? I don't remember.
|tracing—piles of tracing—really helped William with speed and confidence|
The fact is, I get overwhelmed by the stupidness of English spelling and I get mad because they (Willy) can't write fast enough.
|illustrations for Bucephalus|
So how do you go from basic phonics to writing confidently? My Mum has been practicing a simple—and natural—middle step. William dictates a story (his own words of course). She writes it in pencil. He traces in pen. It sounds too simple, but it's working! His hand is loosening up, he's gaining speed, it's starting to flow!
|The alphabet box: Hugh and Matthias are finding little objects to match the phonetic letter. This picture isn't a fake! They really do this!|
|building the little houses of straws, sticks, and bricks for the Three Little Pigs story|
The boys are busy finding and burying caches of quartz, map-making (in case they forget their cache locations), watching chickens, sandbox construction, comic-book illustration, and live-trap designing for the mysterious predator of Grandpa's chickens. (Three dead chickens since we've arrived. Oh my, the carnage. The drama. Did you know that weasels pin their victims down, bite them under the wing, and suck blood? And racoons decapitate. Cruel, cruel mother nature! This city girl has a lot to adapt to.)
Here's Will looking handsome as he stares into the glow of the computer screen. He's finding parallels in Divine Comedy and listening to the best of the Beatles. And may I just tell you (since he won't do it himself) that his medieval Italian has advanced so far in the past weeks that he does all his own translation for his papers? "Rigorous" his instructor called him. I knew there was a reason I married you, dear: you're "rigorous"!!