Curriculum Corner with Mrs. Winterstein
The esteemed instructors of the Lower School kicked off their first meeting of the year last fall with the following passage from Wisdom and Eloquence, one of the many excellent texts we are blessed to use as resource:
“Teaching students to write effectively is without doubt a time-consuming responsibility because students are not born with an innate ability for formal writing mechanics. These have to be learned, and the process is pretty much the same for the vast majority of students. Reacting to a student’s writing as an editor and allowing for rewritten improvement is the only way to teach this skill.”
Parents can surely relate to both the joyful and despairing emotions that we experience in teaching children to write. In Jr. Kindergarten, there is one fleeting moment when the students are able to write a letter or word, by themselves, without looking at a visual first. Victory! The student has worked all this time to practice muscle memory against amateur fine motor skills, concentrate on one task, and fight the urge to use the pencil as a sword, javelin, or lightsaber long enough to generate the most significant building block in his lifelong vocation of learning. Triumph! Vincit! What is the student’s reward? More work, of course.
As we journey through this tenth year of being a Classical school, the work of the student has changed. Lower school students no longer try to write paragraphs or essays, minding capitalization, punctuation, correct spelling, perfect penmanship, and grammar rules while simultaneously iterating ideas. They instead listen carefully to stories, verbalize their comprehension with complete sentences (or in the case of our youngest students, hear and see teachers model this), copy one or two simple sentences that are already correct and eloquent, and then take down dictation to practice active listening and recreating great literature. When these students enter the Upper School, continuing their excursion into the progymnasmata, they will be able to focus their energies on more complex skills, having mastered the fine motor and basic language conventions in the Lower School grades.
We are blessed to have students whose parents faithfully partner with us as we require mental toil from and attempt to inspire wonder within our students. We are especially grateful that you have chosen us, in loco parentis, to continue the academic, theological, and character education and formation that you began and continue in your home
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