Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Paperback Writer

Pamela and I shopped at Wal-Mart on Sunday night. She picked out a spiral notebook and told me she wanted to start another journal. In fact, she planned to make entries dating back to the year of her birth. Three years ago, I required Pamela and David to keep a journal, which they did for two years.

Yesterday, Pamela sat on the rocking chair on the back porch and filled fifteen pages, spanning 1989 through June 2004. I decided to type her journal to help me analyze it better. According the Word's readability statistics, she wrote 2,583 words at a Flesch-Kincaid grade level of 4.8 in one day. She is amazing! When I told David about it, he quipped, "Oooo, paperback writer!"

For those of you with young children who despise writing, keep this in mind: Pamela cried and screamed at the sight of a pencil when she was six-and-a-half years old. I put her on a one-year sabbatical from writing to help her recover from this phobia. She started to learn to write at the age of seven-and-a-half, and I enlarged the paper supplied in Handwriting without Tears because the blocks were too small! She spent two years doing the first grade level of that writing program! Fast forward a decade later and she is flying in her ability to write legibly!

We have not covered past tense verbs in the association method, and she clearly struggled with irregular verbs, writing ated, blowed, wented, etc. Her efforts caused me to rethink my strategy for her language development. Now, I plan to do the following:

* Continue pursuing present tense (right now, I am introducing present tense plural) with her primers.

* Work on cleaning up past tense when narrating (both orally and in writing) books she is reading.

However tempting it may be, I do not plan to have her fix her journal entries. I think it would dampen her enthusiasm for keeping a journal. I see it as a record of where her syntax is at present. If Charlotte Mason can comfortably publish the unedited writings of her students, I can surely leave Pamela's journal as is.


Niffercoo said...

Tammy, I'm so glad you're back! I missed reading your wonderful words of wisdom! I know you treasure the words she has written down! It is so awesome! :)

The Glasers said...

Jennifer, I always enjoy reading your blog. Dear Complete Stranger is one of the funniest things I have read in ages! I am glad I did not have coffee in my mouth. My beautiful inspiron high-resolution would have been splattered.

KateGladstone said...

Coincidentally -- or not so coincidentally? -- Ambleside Reading also publishes some images of handwriting from Charlotte Mason's "new" program. See for yourself at http://amblesideonline.org/CM/NewHandwriting.html
The differences between this and HWTears strike me at least as much as the similarities: e.g., the Charlotte Mason advice quoted here recommends "of course" starting with the lower-case letters, while HWTears commands starting with the upper-case letters. Also, the pictures and quotes here make it evident that the old "new handwriting" program didn't involve changing the letter-shapes at any stage of the game, but the HWTears program commands changing the capitals and quite a few of the lower-case letters at the very same time that one learns to join them. Could Tammy or other readers familiar with HWTears please comment on these differences between the two programs?