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.
General Thoughts: This was a very enjoyable chapter for me to read as a former K-4 teacher. I found it interesting that many of the authors’ suggestions are things that are actually in practice right now in many public schools, but labeled or described a bit differently.
Page 50: To me this seemed like the shift from “Learning to Read vs. Reading to Learn”.
Page 51: The four separate WTM disciplines: spelling, grammar, reading and writing, and but quite different from the Four Blocks model often used in classrooms today. Spelling is a key element of working with words, but the grammar part was really only lightly covered in the two different schools I taught at.
Page 57: This page was really fascinating to me, because after reading so many posts on the Well Trained Mind message board in praise of Open Court, I was under the impression that the WTM authors were in favor of that type of program. But on page 57 they come out strongly against reading texts and are in clear support of using real books. Am I missing something? I taught with Open Court for two years and thought it was just okay. Yes, it had phonics in the younger grades, but the third grade program had a heavy textbook emphasis. The only real books I had in my classroom were ones I had purchased myself or had been donated. Here is more on my experience teaching with Open Court: http://teachingmybabytoread.blog.com/ravenswood/open-court/
Page 62: I found it curious that the authors made no mention of Guided Reading Levels, which is a huge movement in public schools right now, and actually ties in quite nicely with what the authors are saying. Knowing a book’s level helps adults help children make appropriate selections in reading material.
Page 64: The example of a first grader who suddenly wants to write a story is another example of the WTM authors taking what a public school teacher would consider to be a child-directed approach to learning, even though on page 37 (likely speaking to unschoolers?) they come out against that.
Page 65: I really liked the idea of letter writing. This is something we have been doing with my son at home. He even has his own address labels! My question, is why wait until 2nd grade to do this? The other great idea here was to occasional write down your child’s stories. I call this “being your child’s secretary“.