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Some friends asked me about the appropriate age for children to do the notebooking activities a couple of days ago. It just reminded me of how we have used notebooking for our son since he was 4 years old until right now with my eldest son, 16 years old. We can do notebooking activities from early childhood to the middle school, and even high school children.
The question gives me some thought to share about how I observe my children doing the notebooking activities day by day through the 3 stages of the classical education. As you know, we are an eclectic homeschooling family with a tendency to the classical method. If you want to know some background about the notebooking activities, you might visit my last round up about the notebooking activities.
Well, notebooking activities should be suitable for learners in any grade level and age with some variation of conducts and any subjects you mention. Based on my observation of my children's notebooking activities in different stages of the classical education, here are some points I have made for the three first stages I have experienced.
Notebooking Activities from The Early Childhood to The Middle School
Notebooking for Early Childhood
- Under 6 years old children might have some difficulty in shaping sentences and they still don't have good motoric which enable them to write. Therefore, don't give too much expectation for them so that they won't get traumatic. Just show them how easy and fun the activities are.
- You should not be disappointed when you find that your young children have a hard time to sit down or to do some narration. Don't be frustrated to get them behave nicely as what you expect. They might need more time to spend their energy on more hands-on activities. Just follow their style. In the end, you still can model them displaying the conclusion of the activity into notebooking activities. Just give them a model and make them interested to write and to draw.
- When your young children don't like doing the notebooking activity, you should not be desperate. Children are growing. They might change or you need to adjust their notebooking activities with their learning style.
- Rather than writing a narration, they prefer talking and drawing. Therefore, it would be useless to get too many lines on the pages.
- I would like to suggest parents write about what they draw and talk. After they finish the drawing or when they are doing oral narration, parents are encouraged to write on the pages. The more they see how and what people write, they will be motivated to learn writing. They might do some writing pretending.
- Teaching the sentence structures in conversation can be started indirectly when you help them building sentences.
Notebooking for The Grammar Stage Children (Year 1 to 4)
- The grammar stage children (Year 1 to 4) might need some help in figuring out what they want or need to write in the notebooking page. Asking them some summarizing questions to discuss will help them a lot with writing ideas.
- Confident writers will not have any trouble in writing independently even if they are correct or incorrect. However, control from parents is still crucial in this stage, especially in terms of handwriting, grammar, and spelling.
- Some children are still reluctant to write in the notebooking activities. They might not be confident in building sentences and starting the narration. Parents are suggested to help them shape the full sentences so that they can learn using applied grammar at the same time. Write the sentences together on the board or on a piece of paper for them to copy later.
- When they have finished copying, they can read the work.
- Maintain consistency in the notebooking activity for the grammar stage children as it is the basic stage for children.
- Year 1 and 2 children might tend to use the primary lined pages to write on the notebooking pages since they have just learned writing sentences. Year 3 and 4 children will start using the basic lined pages.
Notebooking for The Logic Stage Children (Year 5 to 8)
- The logic stage children (Year 5 to 8) are expected to be able to do the notebooking activities independently. They should be able to shape the sentences. They should be able to determine the main and supportive ideas.
- Children in this stage usually still have unstable emotion and mood. Parental control and supervision in the notebooking activities are still needed to maximize the result.
- Based on The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition), Year 5 of the logic stage children should be introduced to layout writing to keep them focused on their writing.
- At the end of year 8, children should be able to write independently with at least 2 layers layout to get more detail explanation.
- You might alternate the notebooking activities into:
- Summarizing narration
- Reporting based on the layout
- Retelling narration
- Creative writing on topics
- From the layout, children are expected to write the draft using well-structured sentences and spelling. They might do it in the draft book or on the paper with erasable pen or pencil. We use Pilot FriXion Clicker Retractable Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point, Assorted Color Inks, 7-Pack (31472) to give more confidence to student writing without being afraid of making mistakes. Give them head up when you try to correct their writing.
- Some children in this stage don't really enjoy writing. They might want to type their writing in the computer. That would be fine, but a control from parents about the content is still needed.
- You might also get children in this age to use notebooking pages apps from NotebookingPages.com to make notebooking looks cooler.
All children are unique. None of my children has the same characteristics and pace of growth. Some of them have an earlier maturity and the others have later. The characteristic ranges of notebooking activities from the early childhood to the middle school are not something exact, but those are what I can see from our children.