Saturday, July 22, 2017

How I Homeschool - Language Arts, part 1

Today will be part 1 of the whole topic of language arts.  I want to cover what we do or have done with Grammar, Literature, Poetry, and Spelling.  Next time, I will cover writing.   It seems to need a post of its own.  

First, Grammar.....

I have used a couple of things over the years depending on what works best for my kids. We gave Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola a try first since I love her Story Starters (more on that next time) and all her other books, but my kids just couldn't grasp the language or the concepts with her book.  So, my girls gave these a try.

Pictured here is the first one; there is a second one as well.  My girls adored them.  Set up how a typical day with Charlotte Mason grammar would go, it covers a wide range of grammar study from grammar itself to picture study.  My girls loved its charm and flourished under it.  I loved that it didn't include diagramming (I hate diagramming and truly find it unnecessary, my personal opinion).  If I felt that they needed a bit more to it, I would add selections from English for a Thoughtful Child. These also have 2 volumes. These were great together and were a great fit for my oldest girls.  Today, someone has developed workbooks to go along with Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons which you can find at this website.  There is a link there for the second book as well.  I do wish they had been around for my girls.  

However, when I had my next 2 come along, boys, these were not working for them, for whatever reason.  They also found them boring, at least for their interest needs.  Now, I know Grammar is not always interesting but I find that if a subject is the least bit interesting to a child, they tend to do better.  So, my hunt for a good fit for them began.  I wanted to keep true to my Charlotte Mason roots, so I was introduced to First Language Lessons from Peace Hill Press/Well Trained Mind.

These fit what my boys were needing right away.  They also fit my needs for a Charlotte Mason style with reading, narration, memorization, stories, and all.  My boys found these much more interesting and my youngest 2 have enjoyed them as well.  Books 1 and 2 are now separated on their website into 2 different books, but when we began, it was all one volume with a division in the middle.  These are teacher intensive, but I enjoy it.  These cover 4 years of study.  I don't usually begin Grammar until a child has a good grasp on reading, about 3rd grade.  Then, we study steady Grammar for 4 years solid.  For 7th and 8th grades, I get review books from Spectrum that they can do on their own and review the topics we have previously learned.  The downfall to First Language Lessons is it does cover diagramming.  Now, if you love to diagram, this is for you!  However, as I mentioned before, I don't, so we skip the diagramming lessons (go ahead, I give you permission to gasp).  Overall, we have been very happy with these books.  And, they stick to our love of Charlotte Mason style

Next, Literature and Poetry.....

There are loads of lists available out there all over Pinterest and the internet, but I want to share what I do and what has worked lovely for me.  I want to give my children a good grasp on good literature.  There is no end to the reading that they could get from the library and my kids have dived into plenty of popular series - Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Junie B Jones, Magic Tree House, Divergent, Hunger Games, etc.  These and much more have been read over and over.  But, I wanted my kids to experience solid good literature as well, books that have stood the test of time.  So, each year, I give them a reading list and they are required to work through it and write book reports.  

I got this idea from both Veritas and Classical Conversations (ironic that they both are Classical in style which I am not), but I loved their lists.  Veritas is quite extensive and thorough.  Classical Conversations seems to be a bit more doable.  So, I combined what I felt was the best of both worlds to formulate the lists.  Each summer, I re-evaluate them based on my child's interests, current reading level, etc and tweak them accordingly.  For high school, I have a set genre I want them to read each year (more on that in my high school posts).  These have worked well.  Once read, they have to complete within 48 hours, the book report.  Some of mine work well with a set sheet. I have used Homeschool Creations book report forms and have loved them.  Others enjoy typing up their own.  I give them a set number of words to write and they go to it.   I will be sharing more on this in a future post, so keep an eye out for it. 

A note on my dyslexic child...yes, she has a reading list as well.  I have hers set up very differently.  I wanted her acquainted with good literature, but she is unable to read it.  Here is where the blessing on audio books come in.   Our library uses a couple of different free audio book formats which we use frequently.  But, we have also use Librivox and YouTube for our audio books as well.  So, half of her reading list is audio chapter books to listen to, narrate to me her book report, and then draw a picture of her favorite scene.  The other half of her list are books that I know are on her reading level and that she can read to me.  I don't require book reports on these since her level is so low and she is reading to me anyway.  This has worked so well for her and she adores listening to her stories.

Having a good stock of poetry to fall back on is a wonderful thing. This is only part of our collection.  I enjoy adding them whenever I can.  And, I have found many wonderful others at our library.  Not all of my children enjoy poetry, but I feel it is an important part of literature so I am sure to include it as much as I can.  Hymns are always written in poetic form, so they can a healthy dose of it each Sunday as well.

Last for today, Spelling.....

And, here is where we have done a number of things.  I have a couple of children who are natural born spellers and thus have needed little to no help in that area.  They would write, I would correct the errors, they would rewrite and we would move on.  And, then I have a couple of children where spelling is a huge huge huge struggle.  I am a natural born speller, but my husband is not.  So, to have some of each kind is not really surprising.  What has surprised me is how long it has taken some of my kids to get it.  What seems so obvious to me is not so obvious to them. And, then there is the dyselxia issues.  So, we've had our challenges and still have them.  But, here are some things that I have used over the years.  

If you have a child who are natural spellers or just love memorizing lists, this is the book for you.  I have used it minimally but it works well with those types of children.  My one son will be using it next year.  He seems to do well with lists, so between this and fun times with Spelling City, he will do well.  He has struggled to learn to spell and only in the last year have we figured out his nitch.  I think this will go far with him.   We have also used the Spectrum Spelling series as well.  They are the typical spelling lesson book with lists, exercises, and a test on Friday.  Not all of mine have enjoyed these but they do make great review for a struggler.

For my big girl was struggling, Spelling Wisdom from Simply Charlotte Mason was what made life click for her.  Lots of memorizing and copywork but it did the trick and she finally got the spelling game.  There are five books in the series though I only needed to use parts of first 3 to get the ideas down for her.  But they will last you many many years of schooling if you should choose.

For my last 2 children, one of who is dyslexic, I will be using All About Spelling.  It ties in with her All About Reading which has taken to new heights of reading and I want to keep up with the consistency.  I haven't used the curriculum yet, but am excited to dive in and teach it.  She is excited to be learning to spell even though her reading level isn't that high.   I also plan to incorporate Spelling City into her day as well.

So, what is Spelling City?  Its an online spelling game site.  There are lots to do for free, if you want, but I chose to pay the yearly fee and expand the games, spelling lists, and much more for my kids.  They test drove it last year with the free stuff and thought it was the best. I plan to utilize it much more this year.

That's all for today.  Next week, we will talk about handwriting and writing which I felt go hand in hand and needed a post to themselves. Until next time......

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