I spent last evening and this morning reading over the handbook and workbook for the new Spelling U See curriculum. It took me that long because I read it three times. I kept wondering, what’s the catch? Where’s the Hard? Is it such a bad thing that Demme Learning wants to keep things simple?
We’ve spent a whole year now with Math U See. Looking back, it’s hard to pull back the emotional pain of math from BMUS. (Before MUS). Hours. So much explaining. Tears were guaranteed by mom or son. Or both. We looked high and low for a product to link us from our Miquon beginnings to Pre-Algebra which we were sure was going to be Teaching Textbooks. Emotional drama and pain – and in the end, not a whole lot of Math Understanding, just a lot of finished worksheets.
Now, Mr. Demme explains a simple piece of a puzzle to us once a week. We focus on that one tiny spot of math. He’ll show us a half dozen ways to do it sometimes, and allows the kids to pick the way they want to work it out. The lessons are so incredibly easy, that I am now rarely sitting with either teen son. I didn’t see that coming in High School.
I loaned my Zeta MUS book to a friend this weekend to preview. I was actually a bit embarrased. I have a shelf of books on math that appear to be so much more difficult. Long individual lessons. 30-60 problems per day. Quick progression in skill sets. Very difficult to teach without hours, if not weeks of pre-training. What would she think about my MUS book?
So this morning, as I was driving around town to beat the alleged snow storm coming to our town, I was thinking the same thoughts about Spelling You See. It’s a new program by Demme Learning. Again, it takes a very tiny chunk of spelling skills, gives you time to see the chunk (they even call them chunks) until it is second nature, then moves on.
The lessons look so simple. Would my 13 year old enjoy the American Spirit level for older elementary? He’s 7th grade, but his written narration and his Facebook Status updates make me cringe. Could I really just drive home, 3 ring punch the printed PDF (Sample for reviewers), and start? With one paragraph of introduction?
Driving through the tiny flour sized pieces of snow, my mind went to my bookshelf of cookbooks. My favorite is my old Joy of Cooking. I picked it up used and the person before me had underlined and highlighted text along with taping in extra little paragraphs from articles. Want to make a pie crust? You’ve got several pages to read about the techniques and various crusts available. You won’t find how to make hot dogs and hamburgers. Not sure if they even have tuna salad. But they have a lot on the science of combining ingredients to make fantastic food – and make it look great.
And then I thought of our breakfast, because I left before I ate. I could pull out recipes and the science behind the melting point of butter and have a long verbal and reading lesson on breakfast foods, or – I could simply put the hard butter by the microwave and the bread by the toaster. My boys will wake up and figure out what to do. They won’t know that the Ezekiel bread will have a lower glycemic index for their growing bodies or that I put the butter in the dish to give them a healthier portion than what they would use if I put out the whole stick. They won’t think about what the toaster is doing or for how long, to get their favorite crunch going. But I will. I will know. I’ve done the research, bought the groceries and invested years into considering what is best to feed them for top nutrition.
The gal that brought together Spelling You See has 30 years in the field. She knows the why. She knows the scientific learning data. She knows why it is laid out the way it is. Same with our Math. Mr. Demme has years in the classroom and with homeschool students and moms. He knows why the Zeta feels simple – and I trust, especially based on my older son and those who have graduated – that it does build and work perfectly for our goals.
Jon did today’s Spelling lesson. We had a tiny learning curve getting going, and then by the end, he flew through the second half of the lesson. A tiny bit of instruction, practice with, then practice on their own.
I like the Keep It Simple method. And I’m glad someone else has thought so too.