Wednesday, February 28, 2007

December 6, 2000 - Amount of time on LA units

If your children are spending more than about 45 minutes a day on the
writing assignments alone, they are spending too much time on them. If
your boys are reluctant writers, you might need to ease them into the
writing assignments little by little. Adjust some of them at first to meet
the realistic abilities of your boys. Instead of writing all the events of
the story for that day, just have them choose two or three of the most
important events, for example. You can also try having them narrate the
assignment to you and then have each of them write only the parts you
choose to assign them (maybe a few highlights of the story, for example).
When I assign a paragraph, try having them do only a few sentences instead
- at first. Another way to help them write is to have them first narrate
to you verbally what they would say and then have them copy my example for
that day for the actual writing part. You can also stretch the assignments
out over two days - or more, and then skip any new assignments that would
normally be given for the days on which you are stretching a writing
assignment. The most important thing to remember is that at ages ten and
eleven, your boys really do need to be writing SOMETHING every day and they
need to be challenged. But if they are OVERWHELMED, they won't make much
progress in the long run because they will mainly learn to HATE writing!
If you read the archives of this e-group, you will find that you are not
alone in this. Writing is a difficult thing for most kids - and most kids
don't really like it that much. By not making them write anything, we
aren't moving them forward, but by giving them too much, they end up giving
up too easily or becoming frustrated. By the way, if you are teaching your
boys to type (they can work on this independently) they will be much
"happier writers" in the end - as they will be able to edit their writing
so easily on the computer. Some of what boys hate about writing is the
small motor part - and all kids hate to write things over and over again in
order to make corrections.

In a classroom at school, each of the children in the class will turn in
the same writing assignment with VERY different results. It is the same
with LA - each of the children doing the LA writing assignments will also
experience differing levels of success and frustration. There are over 400
families now using LA - that means WELL over 400 children working on those
same writing assignments. Each mom needs to adjust those lessons according
to the abilities and talents of her own kids - especially at first. You
are the experts in knowing how your kids learn - you know their abilities
and frustrations much better than I do.

If you are feeling "crunched," you can assign your boys library books to be
read independently for social studies and science - or have them reading
orally to each other for some of that time. Some parents have their kids
working completely on their own for these two subjects - others do about
half the reading with them and have them working on their own the rest of
the time. You will need to make sure you are comfortable with the content
of what you assign them independently if you choose this plan.

Also, you should have your boys folding the laundry while they listen to
you read The Golden Goblet (or whatever you are reading in literature)
aloud. Folding laundry does not require much "thought" and they should
easily be able to do that while listening at the same time. We have done
this at our house for such a long time that I rarely do laundry myself and
when Ryan listens to me read, he PREFERS to be folding laundry or doing
something that keeps his hands busy. If they can't handle this job during
reading time because they are too easily distracted, then have them fold
laundry after school. So many moms, exhausted after a day of teaching,
then head for those mounds of laundry while their kids scampler off to
play. Nothing against kids playing, but . . . when does mom get to "play?"
If the whole family pitches in, each person in the family will more likely
have some free time of his/her own each day.

You certainly may stretch out the daily lessons to more than a day if you
wish, but don't be afraid to simply adjust them each day to what works best
for you (and them). LA should not take you ALL day to finish. You will
find, as you get into the year that the days vary, as well. Some WILL be
longer than others, and we do start out rather aggressively - especially in
the writing. So, give it some time, and try "tweaking" things a little
here and there to find a comfortable and realistic pace for your family -
one that does not include frustration and tears. You can still do this
without taking away the challenges and high standards that you have for
your children academically if you keep everything in the proper

Don't be too discouraged - try making a few adjustments and see how it
goes. Let me know how things progress for you.


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