We've been at school for roughly a week. Yes, I really mean WE. Rory is trying to learn his lessons, and I am trying to learn how to teach him. Last year, we had a lot of trouble with writing. Not creative writing, but physical writing. Although he has very neat handwriting, Rory was determined that he didn't want to do it. By the end of the year, he was doing much better, and I was feeling pretty confident that he would be able to manage this year. Not so much. He has spent a lot of time sitting and not writing. I can't understand why he would rather sit and do absolutely nothing (not even making paper clip sculptures!) instead of getting to do the stuff he really likes, like riding his bike (new tricks include taking his hands off the handlebars, and looking backward) or building with Lego's. He can't, either, and gets a very thoughtful look when I ask him. It would be humorous if I was not so frustrated at the time! He claims that he can't keep his mind on it because there are songs running through his head. So, we're using silly bands as rewards. He gets as many silly bands as he has writing assignments. He gets to keep any that he finishes in a timely manner. Yesterday, he kept 2 out of 2. Today, 1 out of 3. It was not such a good day. The worst thing is that I know he CAN do it. It has nothing to do with actual ability. There are those times that he can whiz his way through an assignment like he whizzes around on his bicycle. Then there is today. He did okay with his math assignment (which for some reason usually falls under the same not wanting to write umbrella), but couldn't manage the copywork. He had to copy a bible verse, and the last stanza of a poem he's been working on. Yesterday, he had to write sentences using his spelling words. He did fine. He did manage to get some copying done today by talking his way through it. Eventually, I tried dictating it after having him read it for himself. That worked pretty well, too. Here are my theories. First, he seems to be what is called an auditory learner. He loves to be read to, and tends to read aloud to himself. His speaking skills have always been very good, and he seems to have a knack for language. This would explain why talking himself through the assignment helped. It drowned out the music in his head. The other thing I deduced was that he needs to have something to think about, or his mind will wander. Pure copywork isn't very interesting, and gives him nothing to think about. Dictation makes him have to think about how to spell the words, rather than just writing what he sees. That may be why he did better with the spelling word activity yesterday. It gave him something to think about. I had not started dictation with him, assuming that if he was having trouble with the copywork, which is supposed to be easier, he would have more trouble with dictation. I have to remember that Rory doesn't do anything well if he's bored. The other thing I've noticed is that he can be paying attention when he doesn't seem to be. Sometimes when I read to him, he is looking in the other direction and humming. This makes me assume that he is not listening. However, when I ask him what I just read, he usually can repeat it back to me. The biggest issue is that his humming distracts ME from reading! The good thing is, that he is really enjoying the curriculum, other than the writing parts. We are currently studying about Columbus. Today, we were reading about how he sailed to Iceland, and Rory ran to get the globe and figure out where Iceland was! He even found Genoa, Italy, and traced the route to Iceland to find out how Columbus got there. There was a discussion question based on the reading which I forgot to do until a couple hours later, and Rory was still able to narrate back what he had read in his reader and what I had read to him from the read-aloud. He likes the geography, science, history, and art activities, and we added in his Nature Reader because he wanted to. So far, he's doing well with his math book, also.
I am working on the sixth book in Charlotte Mason's Homeschool series. I have read the first and third already. I am starting with those, because they are most related to teaching techniques and theories. When I first heard about her, I was puzzled that I didn't remember hearing about her theories in any of my education classes in college, especially since there are still schools following her methods, today. As I read her books, I think I know why. She repeatedly connects education with religion, and specifically with Christianity. Since I went to a state school, it would probably have been against the separation of church and state to teach about her. I am finding that she makes quite a bit of sense, however, and am trying to apply her principles as far as I understand them. I specifically picked a curriculum that followed many of the same techniques. So, all in all, it's not a bad start. I think we'll get it together.