How do I encourage my daughter and point our her writing errors? I am worried about destroying my daughter's confidence, but want her to write without grammatical errors.
The other day a friend asked me how she could tell her daughter that there were many grammatical errors in her writing piece, but that the content was exactly what she was looking for. The mom was worried she might step on her daughter's self-confidence as a writer. This is how I approach this situation. I would say this to the student, or to my child, without showing them the paper with my corrections on it, "You have done an excellent job in writing the content part of this paper. Congratulations! You grasped everything I was looking for, and I am very impressed at how you think and how you express your thoughts on paper. Now, there are some minor errors that we need to look at and you need to fix. If you don't fix these errors, another reader may not be able to see your great thinking process, because they will be stuck trying to figure out what you're trying to write." I would then take out the essay, which would have my corrections on it. During the first part of my talking, I would try to smile and physically show approval so the child feels honored....With analytical writing from ages 11 or 12 and older, I prefer correcting all grammatical and spelling errors, and making the student rewrite the piece so in the end, the student has a perfect paper. But, if possible, I try to have the student do most of the work.
Encouraging discussion in history with your child may be easier than you think. In any history reading, there are certain facts to know. Who did this? What happened? When did it happen? However, there are also elements to the story that may not be clear. These elements are up to the person's interpretation. Why do you think it happened this way? Do you think this was a good thing? Was this good for everyone involved? Were the people right in going to war? Asking the why questions and the questions that involve judgment involving right and wrong will encourage the child to think. It may take a while for the child to understand that he may answer something that might be different from what you are thinking. And for the first few times, I wouldn't say what I thought, as the teacher. Get the child used to the idea that it is good to have his own analytical thoughts and that you are interested in what and how he is thinking.
There is an excellent commentary in the Wall Street Journal today that shows the debate between environmentalism, freedom, and something so simple as the wash machine. It begs the questions, "How far can/should environmental laws go? Should Americans be confined to wearing slightly soiled clothes in order to save water and energy? Because environmental energy laws have made it much more expensive to buy a high quality wash machine, is it correct that poorer Americans have such a hard time having clean clothes?" Most people would agree that a clean environment sounds nice. But what if it means that the average person's clothes are less clean?
One thing my wife commented on during our first years of living in America was, "How can the strongest country in the world have such poor functioning wash machines?" I didn't know the answer then because I rarely thought about how clean my shirt was when my mom cleaned my clothes. But according to the article, America's top load washers all worked very well, according to Consumer Reports, in the 1980s. Since then, because top load washers are not allowed to use as much water as they used to, they don't function very well. Front load washers function better, but they, too, are limited in their washing ability because of environmental laws.
I think this discussion about the effects of environmental laws on the quality of life is an interesting one to have with teenagers. Teenagers tend to be idealistic and are more readily to agree with laws that clean up the environment, especially if they are not the ones doing the laundry and buying the clothes. I would be curious how they would think about the quality of life diminishing in order to somehow benefit the environment.
knew my son was ready for a critical thinking history method when he started to beat me in arguments I had thought beforehand weren't even debatable topics. I learned over time to have two separate areas of topics at home with my children. There were items we could discuss and debate, and there were issues that were not up to discussion. We could discuss the theme of a novel, or the cause of a war, but we could not discuss the correct way to talk to mom, how to treat your sister, or when to do the chores. Once I figured this out, life became much easier.
Many home school parents seem to worry that their children are not thinking critically ENOUGH. Most of the time, the issue is not with the teaching method, but with the age of the child. You know your child is ready to tackle critical thinking issues in history when he starts to argue with you about many household duties and he starts to have very strong reasons to prove that he is right.
Here is an idea you can use to stimulate discussion at the dinner table. After your child finishes a novel, have him report to the family about one of the characters in the book. He can describe what the character looks like, what he acts like, and if this character would make a good friend. Have your child explain why this character would make a good friend or not. What is this character's personality like? Would he help you if you needed help. Then, have your child ask anyone at the table, for example, DAD, if he knows somebody like this character. Have Dad describe how this character reminds him of someone he might know of. This may lead the family into a discussion about what type of person makes a good friend.
We hope that these two are eventually the same don't we? But as our children age and eventually leave the home, knowing the right perspective will be challenged. Friends, societal pressure, mass media, will chip away at the right perspective we have given to our children. They will be challenged to defend the truth, and they will be challenged to make up their minds on new issues that did not exist when we were raising them. Which is better - to teach the correct perspective or critical thinking? In the 1940s, Dorothy Sayers wrote that it was a tragedy students were learning a smattering of subjects with little or no critical thinking skills. Do we dare make the same mistake with our own children? Critical thinking is a process that we can nurture in our children. With a sound thinking process, our children will not fall prey to the pressures of the world, at least not forever.
Hello Everyone. It is an honor to be writing to classroom and home school moms who want to teach independent and critical thinking in History and English. On Saturday, I presented to outstanding home school moms an introductory seminar on how to lead the Socratic Discussion in History and Reading. I am always amazed on something very common in home school moms. Many seem to think they aren't doing a good enough job. They feel their children aren't getting the best education possible. And so, these moms study, research, and go to seminars on their Day Off from school. This is such a beautiful testament to me how committed they are to their children's success. And, these home school moms set the bar high for me as a teacher in the classroom and at home with my own kids. Rest assured, nobody loves your child more than a mom. And, if you are honestly searching for the best education for your child, I bet that your kids are more academically advanced than the average school child. Don't lose heart! Keep up the great effort!
Teaching with the Take a Stand! series helps me get to know my children and students better and it helps them how to think critically, form historical judgement, and express themselves in speech and in writing.