Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bring Back the Word Wall

For the GAT test, a child should be at 99% in 3 areas:  Vocabulary, Problem Solving Skills, and Guts.

Lately I've been harping on problem solving skills because of the success I've had with Poyla's 'How to Solve It'.  But this is only 1/3 of the off season regime in this house.  I spend more time fretting about my children's advancement in vocabulary.  A solid vocabulary is necessary for all tests in between the preK OLSAT and the GRE.  Vocabulary is an adequate barometer of school success as well.

For vocabulary, I do three things.   I assign a few pages a week from the Vocabulary Workshop workbooks, post challenging words (from any source, but usually their books) on the refrigerator, and spend an hour or more a week finding books that boys will read.  Unlike math, the only pain involved is mine.

Here's our refrigerator:



The pink words are from the Magic Tree House book 1, which I'm using to help my new 10 year old learn English.

The blue and green words are from a 3rd grade vocab workbook that my Kindergartner is using. It's amazing where a kid will go with a few minutes a week consistently applied for a few years.  He doesn't know most of the words in the unit used to define the vocab words.  We'll be slowing down.

The blue words are for my 3rd grader's vocab book.  He goes much slower because he's already in a GAT program and already has a hard vocab book at school.   The only reason why I still have him do it on Saturday's is to encourage the other kids.

The 1st 2 kids went through a year or so of what I call "guts building".  No child will progress academically (at the 99%+ level) if he can't work hard.   This involves the ability to stick it out and bounce back when things are going poorly.  It involves me assigning very hard work work and then sitting there with them making them do it.

The 10 year old walked into the wrong house.  He's fun, jovial, really good at anything sports or physical, and very musical, as long as it doesn't involve any music practice.   He's hard not to like.  He laughs a lot and will play with anything, including doll houses, if these are the only toys available.

Like any normal child, he doesn't want to do homework, especially an hour of catch up math from a 5th grade workbook (he's in 4th grade).  If I leave him alone for 2 minutes, when I come back he's wandered away.  If I force him to stay seated, when I return in 5 minutes he may have not done anything.   Of course, the work is way above his current skill level and he doesn't really know what he's doing.  There's no textbook and no teacher.  And he doesn't understand the language.

This is why I frown on Test Prep consultants.  There's no way a consultant would put a child through the hell that is needed to get them to their potential.

In a year, this 10 year old will be very comfortable jumping into extremely hard work, and concentrating on it until it is complete.  He'll have a brand new tool set to make this happen, and I will have unleashed another Gifted Child onto the world.  He will be my first test taker for the Selective Enrollment exam for High School.

Let the boot camp begin.






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