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    New This Year: Written Narration and Daily Meetings

    August 10, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    Has anyone else entered the pre-school jitters? About last Thursday, I got that familiar sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and my nerves have been on high alert ever since. I was hoping to finish Charlotte’s Volume 3: School Education before school commences, but I can’t put off the planning any longer. You can either work with the fear, or work against the fear. I choose the former, and so working away is what I’ve been doing.

    I was looking at the Ambleside Year Three Schedule yesterday while pondering how to tackle the readings this year. I have the toddler-dropping-the-morning-nap hurdle on the horizon, as well as the five-year-old-starting-kindergarten issue. Both of these will take away from the time I usually spend, uninterrupted, with my firstborn. But that is life in a family, right? The give and take is part of the package.

    My son was probably capable of doing readings on his own last year, but I am not one to think that capability always indicates the best choice. Children learn a lot from having something read aloud to them–the value of cadence and pronunciation can’t be overestimated. With that said, I still don’t think it is possible for me to read every single reading to him, and now that he has another year under his belt, I’m not sure it’d be the best idea anyhow.

    So yesterday I drew up (yet another) spreadsheet, one that, for the first time, my son will be receiving a copy of. Each week has its own page, and I’ll give him one week at a time. I’ve listed all of the readings, and scheduled some of them to be read on his own, and some to be read with me. I think I’ll be reading approximately a third of the Year Three readings aloud.

    Because we cram what some may do in five days of school into four, and also twelve weeks of school into eleven (because we do an exam week after each term) I ended up with about three readings per day on most days (of course I can think of at least two days where it worked out to only one). The thing about scheduling three readings per day is that this also means I need to schedule three narrations per day.

    I was pondering what to do about this, when my son brought me a story he had written about our pet ducks. It was quite long. Apparently, he’s been working on it for over a year, and I could see how his punctuation and spelling improved over that time.

    And that’s when it hit me.

    I henceforth ordain that he shall do one written narration per day.

    This child seems to like writing, and he is definitely ready for some grammar instruction. We did some formal grammar lessons last year, but there didn’t seem to be much connection between the lessons and his actual writing on his own time. The goal, naturally, is not to have him pass a grammar test but to write well even when he thinks he’s playing. Last night, I reread Cindy’s post The Philosophical Grammarian Rambles, and decided I was on the right track. She quotes our friend David Hicks as saying:

    In the early grades, most instruction in grammar should be meted out in the context of individual writing conferences, so that class-time is not consumed with abstract grammatical drill.

    All we need is something to confer about, right? At the same time, his private writing is at once too tender to touch (so it seems) and also done in spurts, meaning its availability is unpredictable. If he has a regular writing assignment, though, then we’d have something to talk about.

    I’ve been pondering a daily meeting where we can go over his math and a couple other things, so this would also be a good time for a Grammar Chat. I know that writing stories is easiest for him, so all of his written narrations will be for the literature selections–in the first term, this will be MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin most of the time.

    We will see how this goes. I am always open to changing things up if my plans don’t fit the situation. Part of me thinks he is capable of this, and part of me wonders if I’ll be asking too much. My guess is that the truth lies somewhere in between, and it could be that I’ve simply pinpointed a place he’s going to grow this year.

    Anyone else tried writing conferences?

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