Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Habit of Perfect Execution-Part 1

I would like to write a little bit about this subject because I think it is a widespread concern among many mothers today. Children are capable of achieving much more than we give them credit for. In fact, it is often because of their incredible intellectual powers of manipulation that they are able to convince a mother they cannot complete a given task. And the loving mother, not wanting to overextend her child, falls into the trap set by her own little angel. Of course, sometimes the child has good reason to balk when he sees an empty page set before him from his well-intentioned mother, which must be filled with perfect writing within the next forty minutes. But, in my experience, nine times out of ten, a mother does not require enough effort from her student. Let us use the example of copywork. Many parents are convinced that their child just cannot form perfect letters with his little hand. YES, HE CAN.

Here is a quote from Charlotte Mason:

“A Child should Execute Perfectly. No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required from him as a matter of course…Set him six strokes to copy; let him, not bring a slateful, but six perfect strokes, at regular distances and at regular slopes. If he produces a faulty pair, get him to point out the fault, and persevere until he has produced his task; if he does not do it to-day, let him go on to-morrow and the next day, and when the six perfect strokes appear, let it be an occasion of triumph. So with the little tasks of painting, drawing, or construction he sets himself--let everything he does be well done… Closely connected with this habit of 'perfect work' is that of finishing whatever is taken in hand. The child should rarely be allowed to set his hand to a new undertaking until the last is finished.”

She is right and I know she is because I have taught many, many young children to write perfectly by applying her principles. They are:

1. Expect perfection.
2. Do not give into whining.
3. Keep the lesson VERY short to avoid tediousness-5 to 10 minutes is plenty for young children.
4. Start with a stroke, not a letter.
5. Do not require a page full of strokes or even a line, just a few PERFECT strokes.
6. Do not go on to a new letter until it is perfect.
7. A job well done makes the doer happy.
8. The lesson immediately following should not be written work, but totally different for a change of pace.

Here is an example of a recent piece my seven year old copied:
She was convinced she could not write when we first started last year, but now she writes happily every day for just 10 minutes, and she is proud of her work, often hanging it up to display. It required tiny little patient steps on a daily basis.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2.8.10

    I love this idea! And I think it goes well with your "Organized Home" article. I have been working hard trying to be consistant in everything we (hubby and I), as parents say (and do). I am at a point now where I feel that my kids were better at cleaning up after themselves when they were very young than now! I do take partial blame, as the consistant thing is very hard! However, I can't go back and change it... Do you have any advice to help a frazzled mom out?!
    Meet my kids~ Katelyne (Katie) is 14 yrs old now and although we are very blessed she is so diligent at her chores, studies, even obedience! She tries very hard. The problem then? I KNOW she can do better! She does what is needed and no more. She'll be in 9th grade this year! I want her to be really ready for college. She wants to be a vetrinarian or kindergarten teacher.
    Laine, our oldest son, is 12 yrs old. He's matured a great deal over this summer. He's (finally) hit the "reading because I like it stage" (Thank-you Lord!) He is more of a dreamer. We tease him (playfully) when we watch a movie at the theater and he is so "into" the previews the place could burn and he'd still bet here... watching! He gets the wiggles, and is easily distracted. Loves to draw, and is very good at it! He wants to be and artist.
    Our youngest child, Kallob is 11 yrs old. He loves to moan about anything he is expected to do. Although he's great at math, he says he hates it. Hates to read- would rather look at pictures. A month ago I had to get rid of a lot of our younger favorites as he was reading JUST those instead of something more age-appropriate. He's very mechanical. He wants to build houses, building and whatever else he chooses when he gets older.
    Sorry about the long post- I just really need some kind of help!!

    I *LOVE* your site!