N. works in daily math workbooks and several times a week he writes little compositions or works in a grammar workbook, but most of his absorption of new information during formal "school time" takes place through listening to Tim read aloud. Tim reads to him from history or science books while N. listens (and draws). Tim usually asks N. to take a turn reading a few paragraphs aloud as well. This information gets reinforced through lots of conversation Tim and N. have with each other throughout the day and with me in the mornings and evenings. But Tim was curious to see what would happen if N. tried to take notes while listening. So Tim read about Lincoln from A History of US and N. wrote. Both Tim and I were surprised and impressed by the result:
N. told Tim he really learned the information when took these notes. Later I asked N. if it was hard to figure out what to write down while he was listening. "Did Daddy give you any tips on how to take notes before you did this?" I asked. No, N. said, he just knew that you have to focus on the important ideas. He said he'd learned this in the week-long science day camp he'd participated in last summer. "Oh," I said, so they taught you how to take notes there." "No," he said impatiently, "I just figured it out." Duh!
We were pleasantly surprised at the outcome of this little experiment in note-taking. It's not likely to become a daily exercise, but Tim and N. both said they'd do it again whenever it feels like a fun thing to do.