This is a series of posts I am writing about The Well Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. Although the WTM has a decidedly homeschooling bent, it is an excellent reference book for any parent who is interested in taking an active role in their child’s education.
Over the next few weeks I am reading the WTM again for the second time, and blogging about my thoughts chapter by chapter. I want to be conscientious about not violating any copyrights, so I will not be including quotes from the book on my blog. I will however, be referencing specific page numbers from the third edition. I invite you to read along with me, and chime in your own thoughts in the comment section below.
Page 27: Fabulous! Fabulous! Fabulous! This was such an excellent description of how to teach language to babies and toddlers. I followed all of these ideas myself (before I read the WTM) and my children were speaking 8-9 words by one years old, and complete sentences by 18 or 19 months. The only idea that the authors don’t include however is Baby Signs. I wonder why the exclusion? We used Baby Signs a lot with my kids and they knew about 20 signs by one year old.
Page 28: Regarding fine motor skills and writing… There has been a lot of research about working with play-dough and other traditional preschool activities building up the fine motor skills children need to learn to write. I wonder what the authors did not include this?
Page 29: I love how explicit the authors are when they talk about five year olds really not being ready for a lot of desk work and worksheets. It is interesting to me that a lot of parents on the Well Trained Mind message boards are so focused on worksheet type activities with their small children.
Page 31: I’ve got to say as a former Kindergarten teacher, I really took offense at this part. I taught my students so much more than just how to line up! I taught them phonics, writing, basic math skills, science…. Agh! I could go on. Are there bad Kindergartens out there? Yes. Are there fabulous ones? Yes!
Page 33: Regarding letter magnets… My friend Claire turned me on to this one. My daughter’s new favorite toy is the Word Whammer.
Also on Page 34: I love how they include Bob Books. Here are my ideas for games to play with Bob Books: http://teachingmybabytoread.blog.com/2011/03/02/bob-books-boring-but-brilliant/
Page 34: I would like to specifically point out that the authors are not against teaching sight words, but in fact encourage it. I have seen lots of posts on the Well Trained Mind message board from parents who think that teaching children sight words is anti-phonics, and an example of poor teaching practices in public schools.
Pages 36-37: There is a contradiction here in my view. On page 37 the authors say they are against “child-led” education, and yet their example on page 36 of teaching a four year old to read because she asked you, is exactly an example of child led education! I for the record am a proponent of child-directed education, but with the caveat that the teacher or parent is in charge of the general outline, scope and sequence of the education.
Page 38: Regarding handwriting… The last school I taught at used Handwriting Without Tears. I liked this program very much.
Page 39: The description of teaching math to young children ties in very closely to a Constructivist approach, even though the authors do not appear to embrace this philosophy. But I’ll save my thoughts for that for chapter 6!