The way of doing this topic of literacy learning at home is one that is causing me a few dilemmas. I am a very conventional soul at heart and it takes a lot for me to go against the norm. Having said that, we just did with home education, but still, I do struggle. I was brought up in a boarding school (not just attending it but living in a boarding house as the daughter of a housemaster) so I lived and breathed school, school, school. Having said that, I didn’t find it particularly traumatic (I worked hard for little result though), even though I did have my own father teach me history A level. We managed to work that one out fairly well. So, when we decided to home educate our children, I wasn’t comfortable going too far from a conventional method for maths and English (literacy learning), to give her a fighting chance if she did ever wanted to go back to school. However, over the last few weeks, I am beginning to come to terms with what learning concepts she has had to cope with. They are very complex, especially in learning literacy, and then added in with the fact that they seem to be worked and worked and worked at for a couple of hours, I am beginning to realise why she was so sapped of her enthusiasm for school and writing.
Our little lady loves writing stories. She writes and writes, but the prescriptive method of literacy learning was taking away that enjoyment. Literacy learning was linked into these complex concepts that needed to be included in writing, leading to one thinking so hard about what order you were putting things in, it doesn’t make you want to write anything. Concepts, that I’ve been working on with her for a few weeks now, I struggle to grasp with an English A level. Also, she was good in her spelling tests (having learnt a list of words to complete), but when it comes to writing, she just spews everything out onto a page, and in her enthusiasm they all go to pot……kind of proving that learning tasks aren’t necessarily the way forward. The workbooks I have invested in are bright and colourful, and made to help keep the child’s attention on the subject, but even with this, my enthusiasm is waning let alone hers. I am very close to throwing the workbook out the window, I just need a bit more courage. Our physical little men would never have sat through 2 hours of conjunctions with subordinate clauses or the like, and then what would have happened to their learning as they got bored or left behind? They might even have ended up being labelled little trouble makers. Surely we should be encouraging them to enjoy writing and stick to the few key concepts that make up our language at these initial stages. I feel we are very much over complicating everything for them, and is it any wonder they get fed up? Just because it used to be taught like this doesn’t make it right.
My gut feeling is I should let her write her stories, and then we go through them together afterwards, thinking how things could have been put differently, or spelt differently. Having taken the leap to home educate, I now need just a bit more confidence to leave the English workbook behind (I have no issues with maths at the moment), and go from there. Once I saw the level of concepts involved, we just did them in the book to introduce them to her, but never hammered away at it until she grasped it fully. I am appalled at what a Yr 3 aged mind is expected to comprehend. We can’t just feed it into them earlier and earlier, making them feel like a failure if they don’t understand, because we want to compete with the best countries out there. Their minds are not ready for these ideas yet. Incidentally, what do the happiest and successful countries generally do with their education….start later and have less tests!! Why can’t we learn from them, rather than pressurising our little people younger and thinking it will work, even if we break them in the process 🙁