Wednesday, February 28, 2007

November 15, 2000 Grammar in Vol 2 - 5

I have addressed the question of how grammar (and other subjects) will be
covered in future books to some of you individually, but I don't think I've
explained this to the whole group. In any case, with so MANY new
adventurers in our group, let me make sure you all understand how they will
work once again. First of all, each book in this series is for ALL
children in grades four through eight. The first book is NOT a fourth
grade book, the second a fifth grade book, etc. Each book can be used for
ANY child in grades four through eight. So, if you think about the books
that way, it will help you to understand that they are to be used in a
cycle. When the five-year cycle is completed and you still have younger
children that have not completed it, you can just start over with them and
either have your older ones do a review with some good supplements or
replacements in certain subjects, or have them working completely on their
own in some areas, but staying with you in bible and history (they would be
doing an in-depth review at their own level, but would also be moving along
with the rest of your family through the span of history), for example.
Still others will want to have their high schoolers working out of formal
high school textbooks in order to prepare for college while the rest of the
family completes the cycle again. ANY child can start the cycle at the
beginning of any of the books and the only thing that he/she will miss out
on is the sequence of history that was covered in the previous book(s).
Nothing else will be "continuous" in the same way, though. Different
science topics will be covered in Book 2 with basic science objectives,
different Bible themes will be covered with basic spiritual enrichment
objectives, fine arts will be covered as it pertains to early American
history (and some European history of the same time period), and the same
basic social studies objectives will be covered (geography and map skills,
cultures, etc.) only they, too, will pertain to the time period we will be
studying. All language arts concepts and skills will be taught again, but
within the context of the required literature or the time period.

Just as the parts of speech, writing skills, punctuation, study and
reference skills, figurative language, etc. are covered in a fourth grade
text book, these are also covered in fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth
grade textbooks. Children learn through repetition and review - that is
why these topics are covered over and over again each year, so that by the
time your kids are in high school, they will know these "basics." Just as
a textbook reviews topics at the beginning of each year, we will also do
this in the Adventure series - so that any child coming into the series at
the beginning of any one of the books will be exposed to each concept and
skill in a way that is easy to understand. IF he/she has never learned the
skill/concept before, it will be easy enough to pick it up because we will
always provide plenty of information to use with a beginner. Older
children in your family who either already know and understand the
skill/concept - or, who have gone successfully through a previous Adventure
book will use that same activity as a review. You will note that these
concepts - such as grammar, get increasingly more difficult within the
course of each book, so that by the end of each year, your younger students
(maybe 3rd and 4th graders) may not catch on to everything. That's okay,
though, because our job is not to beat something into our children's heads
the first time they hear it, but to EXPOSE them to a concept toward
eventual complete understanding. We will review as the year continues and
the next year the same concepts will be introduced and reviewed again -
just like they would be in school. Think about it, if we all understood,
mastered, and remembered EVERYTHING the very first time, there would be no
need for twelve whole grades! Since this is not the case, we need many
years to practice, review, and master the skills that are necessary to
function with literacy, godly integrity, and success in our adult world.
Some students will catch onto certain concepts the very first time and find
them very "easy" - others will NEED all five years of "re-introduction" and
review on a certain topic in order to gain confidence and mastery of it.

So . . . Peggy, in answer to your question about where your younger son
will fit into the picture when he gets to fourth grade, and his older
brothers are in sixth and seventh grades . . . ALL of your children will be
working out of the same Adventure book on the same lessons. By then, if
your oldest child has completely mastered a certain concept, you should
supplement with something more advanced. This would be just like if one of
your kids was in the sixth grade, but was working ahead of that in some
subjects - even if you were using text books, you would want to supplement
them or replace them with something that would be more challenging to him.

For now, with your third grader, just try to expose him to each of the
concepts, and if he struggles, either adjust the assignment and/or move on.
He will see it again when we review it and at least it will be familiar to
him, even though he might not understand it all. Each time it is covered,
he will meet it again. I have used the example of a "friend" to illustrate
this - and I will use it again here to help make this clear. When you meet
someone, you know NOTHING about him/her except what you have seen and
learned from that first introduction. You can't possibly know everything
about him because you have just met him! Each time you see him, you get to
know a little more about him and feel more comfortable around him. The
more time you spend with him, the more easily you get along with him until,
after seeing him periodically for an entire year - he has become a "good
friend" - someone with whom you are completely comfortable and know well.
It should be the same thing with new skills/concepts and the learning
curves of our children. To expect them to master a subject just after it
is introduced would be unreasonable and unfair of us. Yet we tend to do
just that when it comes to teaching our kids. Perhaps it is because we
constantly find ourselves on the defensive with non-home educators. We
always feel the intense need to PROVE that our kids our learning - even at
the expense of our children - by FORCING them to GET SOMETHING before they
are ready! Do you know what I mean? I'm sure we ALL have done this at one
time or another - I know I have. After all, it is a reflection on us as
parents and teachers if our kids don't "get something" isn't it?

We DO have a responsibility to teach our children and there should be high
expectations and high standards - but they should also be reasonable - and
the definition of "teach" does not include "forcing knowledge down the
throat" of a child!

I am sorry if it seems that I am belaboring this question with an
unecessarily LONG answer, but I can't even COUNT the number of moms who
have asked questions that really pertain to the "levels" of their children.
Because we grew up using textbooks, it is hard for us to even THINK about
skills and concepts out of their "grade-level box" and to those who are new
to the unit study approach (especially) this is a FUNDAMENTAL issue in
understanding how it all works.

Your goal should be to teach all of your 4th-8th graders from this
curriculum - you will find that some children are a perfect fit, to others
it will be more challenging (just keep gently moving on), and still others
(more advanced in certain areas) will need more challenging supplements to
go along with this curriculum. For younger students, or for those who are
really struggling with a certain concept, adjust the assignment so they are
exposed to it, but are not forced to do the entire thing. Remember, if you
skip something entirely because your child doesn't understand it - you are
not doing him any favors. Later on, he WILL need to understand it, but he
won't have even a clue as to what it is about. Again, if you just
introduce that "new friend" to your child don't force them to "work at it
until they get it" just as you might force a child to "play with a new
friend for hours" - instead - just make sure they keep "meeting" for rather
brief periods at a time - and eventually they will become more comfortable
with the concept. They still may not understand everything about it, but
at least there will be a familiarity with it - which is a great start.

Peggy, you are right to be thinking ahead - I hope I have answered your
questions and have not confused you further! This is sort of a hard
concept to get across to parents - especially since most of us came from
textbook backgrounds ourselves! These questions about grade "levels" have
got to be some of the most frequently asked questions, so don't think you
are alone! If you have any further questions or still don't quite
understand what I have tried to say here, please let me know.


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