Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Why is it so much easier to teach them math?

Sometimes I think that the things I am most qualified to teach are the things I am least competent at teaching. Is this because I assume too much? Because I know enough to realize how poorly I teach it?

I have a Master's degree in English literature and worked during college as a writing tutor. I have published a couple of pieces and kept a journal since I was fourteen years old. I know my way around a paragraph.

And yet the single most contentious part of our homeschooling experience this year has been journaling. I let the kids pick their own notebooks to use as their daily journals. I gathered interesting writing prompts. I tried to pare down my expectations (five vivid sentences a day from Isaac, three from Eleanor), and yet they both hate writing in their journals.

I'm determined not to give up on journaling. Learning to write--not to handwrite or to spell but to convey ideas--is too central to the learning process in early elementary school (an interesting article on that topic). Even so, this week, I was too tired to battle Isaac over his journal. "Write about what you want to."

"Really? Anything?"


He wrote for an hour and forty-five minutes that day and then forty-five minutes the next to produce a manual for the computer game Starcraft.

I'm thrilled, but not sure how to build on this little glimmer of success. In the past when I've told him he can write about what he wants, he has just whined that he can't think of anything. Any suggestions for ways to help my kids love writing?


Ruth said...

Maybe he'd want to write fanfic or something. He's got good foundation material for that, with Harry Potter and Narnia.

Coleen said...

I agree...language is a very important skill. I've noticed that being able to speak well, read well, and think clearly are not always associated with being able to write well. Dave, for example can use his Dragon Dictate program and produce a very impressive paper for school. If he has to type the information, his report shortens and the vocabulary is more elementary.
For me, my mind goes blank when I try to verbalize my thoughts, but get me on a keyboard and the words flow. Perhaps it's our method of learning that affects it?

Annette said...

Such an interesting idea that it may be the physical process of writing that slows him down. Could be.

For the time being, he has solved the problem himself. Now that he is done with his Starcraft manual, he is doing a how-to-draw book, showing each step of how to draw all the characters and weapons in Starcraft.

Maybe I can lead him to fanfic when he's done with that?