"...Composition is not an adjunct but an integral part of their education in every subject. The exercise affords very great pleasure to children, perhaps we all like to tell what we know, and in proportion as their composition is entirely artless, it is in the same degree artistic and any child is apt to produce a style to be envied for its vigour and grace. But let me again say there must be no attempt to teach composition. Our failure as teachers is that we place too little dependence on the intellectual power of our scholars, and as they are modest little souls what the teacher kindly volunteers to do for them, they feel that they cannot do for themselves. But give them a fair field and no favour and they will describe their favourite scene from the play they have read, and much besides." Charlotte Mason ~Vol. 6, p.192
Let me repeat that what is called 'composition' is an inevitable consequence of this free yet exact use of books and requires no special attention until the pupil is old enough to take naturally a critical interest in the use of words. ~Vol.6, p.274
I can't tell you how many times I have read posts by people questioning this idea of not teaching composition to young children. And so for me, as it so often is with Charlotte's methods, it's a leap of faith to trust this process.
My oldest is now in YR4 and only half a year into written narrations. Scanning through her work, her writing has been brief and lacking in style so I've wondered about it. We have never studied sentences or paragraphs or how to write anything.
I think they must have found some notebooks they received as gifts at my last baby shower this morning because when I woke up, they both handed me their first little compositions that they'd been working on for fun. They had pen and book in hand during their spare time for the rest of the day and even took them to bed with them tonight asking if they could stay up and write for a few minutes longer.
Below is what my YR4 daughter wrote - the spelling and punctuation are indicative of my lack of focus in that area - I'm trusting CM on spelling through dictation, but our lessons have been sparse. The kids have had talks with me to teach them more spelling, which I will. I have told my daughter not to worry about spelling or punctuation in her written narrations for now, just to write freely. We'll be working on those areas more in the months to come and I'm confident with a little attention, we'll see quick improvement. For the time being, it's seeing unrestricted movement from her mind through her hand onto paper that is thrilling.
My husband wasn't too happy that the son left the father in the story. I wasn't too happy the mother plotted a lie to her husband!
But I was pleased with the thoughtfulness behind it all and the fact that she's enjoying writing. The only input I gave her was that I felt it was wrong for the 4 men and the mother not to have any consequence for their actions. I have a feeling there will be more chapters to come as she left room for a table of contents.
Here's her younger YR2 brother's page:
In a recent post in the AmblesideOnline Yahoo Group, Anne White, in speaking about writing curricula and its emphasis on rules said:
"It's much more important to have something to say and to say it well than to worry about whether or not you can fit the piece of writing into some pre-approved format."
I agree with her. I don't think my daughter would ever have written this story if we'd approached writing from the other side - the rules side. We'll keep you posted on our progress.
How about you? Are any of you trusting the process? What are you finding? I'd love to hear your thoughts!