Friday, July 12, 2013

prunes! prunes! prunes! (a post about writing)

We recently had our annual "homeschool evaluation" - a review of a smallish pile of papers that I've squirreled away over the year that might give some reflection of What We Did This Year:  writing samples, a list of books we listened to and read, brochures from places we visited, and the learning notes that I keep taped up on the inside of our kitchen cupboard all year, to jot notes on.

We don't really follow the school calendar, except that our community classes like piano and choir and coop are over for the summer and we have a large increase in visitors, which breaks up the weeks quite a bit and calls for a shift in schedule.  We still read books and go to the library and make art and do math and play games, so there isn't a really big "tada!" when we're done, because we aren't done.  Right now that feels fine, but I did find that I needed a few days to reflect on what our goals were last fall and think about how we might or might not want to change things up.

Ani wanted to work on writing this year, but she really resisted any of my attempts to guide that work.  We tried traditional copy work, which she found a chore. (Eliza loved it: she loved the poems and she chose to write in cursive)  We tried writing prompts, at the kitchen table and out on hikes.  She found them contrived and boring.  When pressed, she strung together lists of adjectives, which I found lovely reflections of what we were experiencing, but in which she did not seem to have any lasting interest.

Now, this girl loves words.  She loves speaking in alliteration, and will point it out every time she hears it.  She speaks poetically and comfortably uses a large vocabulary.  She reads well and often and tells stories all day long.  I knew the writing would come when she was ready, and over the year it has begun...
I wuns wuz a baby: Mama
Post-it notes are her friends.  Perfect for the tiniest of notes and for getting your point across succinctly.

writing on the roof
This spring Ani was in my nature discovery class at coop, where we spent the last 10 minutes of class every week jotting notes in our journals.  I offered optional weekly assignments for observational drawing and writing, and she was one of the only kids who chose to bring work in.  Having time to sit out on the roof outside our bedroom probably helped a bit with that.  Who doesn't want a special roost to sit in when writing?

I thought myself pretty clever finding reasons to have her do real writing in our days.  We buy a lot of our pantry staples in bulk, so our kitchen is stocked in quart jars full of mystery grains, nuts and fruit. She is always willing to oblige when I ask for her help in labeling the heck out of our supply.  I try to just tell her what label is needed, and most of the time she just checks in about the spelling and doesn't ask me to spell it out for her.  If she does, I do.

When Dan's parents were here, Ani noticed that Gramma D writes in her journal every day, keeping track of the vitals of the day - the weather, what she did, what she ate, etc.  Ani has the tiniest of notebooks that she has been writing a sentence in every few days.  Some pages just have the date, but that is something!  Then she will surprise me and write a lengthy note to someone.  She spent a half an hour on a thankyou email after her birthday.

The journey to reading and writing has been so different for these girls.  Eliza wasn't interested in reading to herself at six, but Ani really took to it at that age.  When Eliza was seven, she sat down to write a story and has been writing ever since - stories, songs, poems, emails, blog posts, letters, notes. Ani is entering the world of written communication at her own pace, but the communication when it comes is pretty darn clear:


Kerry said...

I'd say you don't have anything to worry about with the reading and writing. Very nice:)

merry said...

I agree with Kerry. I think it's wonderful that both girls have been given the freedom to do things as/when they're ready to do them. That says a lot about their teachers/parents!! Love it!