Short Spurts

There are  few lessons that must use some traditional methods. Some would argue that none do, and for some kids, that may be entirely true. In my house we study math and grammar traditionally except that we don’t do them every day all year. I teach these in short spurts. They both require great attention to detail and intense mental effort for my kids. They really despise them. I see it as my job to make the learning a bit more pleasant, and the way we do this is by focusing on those lessons in concentrated chunks of time while somewhat neglecting other subjects.

We do math once a week for hours. The first part of that time is basically the kids mentally falling apart, and then we get down to learning. Once they are in the groove, I like to stay there as long as possible.  I’d like to do math in seasons (like I do for grammar) but there is just so much math to cover. Thus we do once a week math lessons.

Grammar is a finite subject. There is only so much to learn, and honestly it does not take 12 years to learn it! Unless you count MadLibs, Schoolhouse Rock, and writing letters to friends, I don’t teach grammar at all until about 6th grade. At this point, I teach grammar intensely for a few weeks. 6 weeks max.  We cover word usage, some spelling rules, all of the parts of speech and punctuation rules in this time. My experience has been that by waiting until 6th grade, my kids start grammar already knowing a good bit just by using words up to this point. Will they know it all perfectly in 6 weeks? Not likely. Will they be better off than before? Yes. And the more they use the new knowledge in their everyday writing, the more it will be perfected.

With that said, we started a focus session in grammar this week. We are using a free online program called MobyMax.com. Two of my kids are currently working through this program, and they both tested at about the mid-fourth grade level. I have them working through 10 sections of questions a day. That equals about 80 questions a day. Monday was meltdown day. Tuesday was mildly better. Wednesday we started making real progress. They were flying through lessons on Thursday and Friday. They have already each made a month’s worth of progress according to the traditional order and year long model the program uses.  We will keep working on these lessons for the upcoming weeks, and I expect to see a difference in their writing as we go. I know it worked for my first girl. I believe it will work again.


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