Now that our older girls have been in school a few years, it is becoming clearer what educational methods provide deeper learning for us. So as I plan for the new school year, I want to tweak a few things.
One thing I want to use on a more limited basis is fill-in-the-blank material. This quote from Karen Andreola in "Narration Beats Tests" sums up my reasoning.
Today's children are exposed to much information and come away with little knowledge. Why? Because they have never thought the writer's ideas through and made them their own. Charlotte Mason observed that what the child digs for becomes his own possession. Narration develops the power of self-expression and forces the child to use his own mind and form his own judgment.
Another thing I want to change is how we handle spelling. In early elementary, I want to have a strong focus on phonics instruction and reinforcement. Starting in upper elementary, I want to heavily intertwine our spelling instruction with dictionary studies. In junior and senior high, I want to move to vocabulary study through word roots. They will also continue to maintain their Growing Dictionary, which is intertwined with all their studies.
I've also figured out why I don't like all-in-one language arts programs. When they are all together, each component is not covered as comprehensively as when separated out.
I am realizing more and more how important communication skills are. We can only express ourselves well if we have learned the tools of good oral and written communication. If we can give our children those tools, we are giving them a gift that will last their entire lives.