I mentioned before that my kids are doing math worksheets to the tune of 100 problems a day, and it seems to be helping. Sunday, S-man came up to my husband and asked him to quiz him. Surprised, my husband complied. S-man answered every single equation quickly. When Jim commented on it, S-man replied that, "Mom has been making us do worksheets every day." Jim asked if he liked it, and S-man quickly shook his head in the negative. "No, but it has sure been helping."
So much for theories. I remember a man in Kentucky who used to teach school telling me that kids are smart but they still needed to simply memorize a lot of "stuff" in the early years. Being the kind of kid (and adult) that always wanted to know why, I ignored his advice and taught the why. Maybe we were both right. My kids know why equations work the way they do; now they can rattle them off.
Now I'm borrowing a page from a very popular teacher of mine in high school. I'm giving them grammar worksheets to diagram. Somewhat more simple than the ones he handed out, but the principle is the same. Hopefully they will become more confident in diagramming too.
I'm also waiting for a second copy of The World of Captain John Smith, and I'm going to give my older two assignments to complete before we come together for discussion. They are ready to work more independently now, and it's history which is impossible to slow them down on anyway. They'll have the book read before we could do it together anyway. I had planned to read it and do activities together, but I think this will be more effective. I feel more energized about it anyway. That will give me more time to work with my daughter individually too, and I need to do that. She is beginning to complain that I do more with the boys which is probably true. There are two of them, but she needs/wants the company.
I realized after writing this post that I had previously tried to do the same thing with math but to little effect. I think there is a lot to be said for teaching the subject when the kids are ready. In the boys' case, I think they had to really understand the why before it finally came together for them. They also had to be ready for the increased seat work time. It's like everything finally came together: them understanding the need for it as well as how it all worked together.