Saturday, February 4, 2012


I try really hard to follow The Well Trained Mind, particularly when it comes to our study of history. So I've read the section on history for the grammar age student about twenty times already and I keep coming back to it every so often, just to make sure I am doing it right.

We've been plowing through The Story of the World: Volume One, Ancient History at a nice pace and for once, I was feeling pretty confident that I was doing everything or at least almost everything The Well Train Mind suggests I do in our history studies. But I wanted to double check to be sure, so I read the section one more time. It turned out I was still leaving several things out!

Memory Work
First of all, I had totally forgotten that Norah is supposed to be doing memory work in history. I realized right away this is because the activity book doesn't include any reminder to do so. So, I promptly copied the list of ancient Egyptian dynasties out of the back of our Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and into a word document, printed it out and put it at the very front of our activity book. This way, every time I open our activity book throughout next week and the next, I'll see the list of dynasties at the beginning and that will cause me to remember to read through it with Norah. Hopefully, after a few weeks, Norah will be well on her way to learning this list of dynasties. According to The Well Trained Mind, she should memorize at least two lists like this before the end of the school year.

Wall Maps and Globes
Second, I have been forgetting to use the wall map and the globe along with our black lined maps. We do the black lined map that comes in our activity book with every chapter, but we're supposed to find the locations that are on the map on a wall map and on a globe because this is critical to helping Norah get a better understanding of world geography over the years. So, this weekend I plan to put our world map up on the wall in our kitchen, if possible, and I plan to bring our globe into our kitchen, too, because that's where we do history right now. I am not a fan of having school take over our kitchen, but I don't see how else we will remember to use these tools unless they are within sight and easy for us to reach.

Narrations
Third, I have not been making Norah do narrations to go along with the history chapters. I had practically forgotten about the benefits of using narration in any subject besides writing and I have just been skipping right over the narration suggestions in our history activity book! I knew that I would just keep skipping over them, too, unless I made proper preparations. So I printed out about ten sheets with space for a drawing at the top and lines for narration at the bottom and put them in the front pocket of our activity book. This way, I will see them and remember to give Norah a chance to narrate back to me what each chapter says. Norah is not a big fan of handwriting, but The Well Trained Mind says second graders should aim to copy their own narrations by the end of the year so I think I'll begin expecting Norah to copy at least a portion of each of her narrations and keep increasing that portion in hopes that she will be able to copy the whole thing by the beginning of third grade this coming fall.

Review
And forth and finally, we are supposed to be reviewing the previous chapters so that Norah retains more what she learns and gets a picture of how time went from beginning to end. We've never reviewed anything! So, I plan to review all the material we've covered from Chapter 1 on to where we are in the book now at the beginning of the next week, before we start another chapter. I think we will both be well served with a hearty review since I can't even remember much of what came before, at least not off the top of my head.

So, as often as I have read The Well Trained Mind, as hard as I have tried to implement it all, I am still finding that I have so much left to do to perfectly follow all the book suggests. I'm confident Norah has been learning alot, but I know I can still improve on my instruction of her. If we add the memory work to Norah's history studies, she will take more simple facts with her into her future studies and those facts will help her make connections with other facts she encounters. If we refer to the wall map and globe, Norah will gain a better understanding of geography without needing to do a separate geography program. If we add more narration, she'll become a better writer and she'll have more work to look back on and admire. And finally, if we review, she'll retain more of what we're studying. These are all worthy things to strive for.

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