Welcome to the 1st week of the 2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair for homeschoolers. This week’s topic:
Playing with Words: the Language Arts
This theme can include phonics, reading, writing, grammar, spelling, speech, literature, etc., etc., etc. Latin and foreign language studies could also go here.
Before I reflect upon changes in our house this year for learning language arts, I wanted to point out my post from last year.
I talked about our use of All About Spelling, which we still use.
I also talked a bit about my high schooler using Write at Home for his writing last year. While I appreciated not having to be the ‘heavy hand’ when grading, we both walked away from that experience less impressed than I had hoped. Talking with other parents who use that service, the experience is definitely tied to the instructor. Both P and I felt like her suggested ‘grade’ using a rubric was sometimes a higher score than I would have given or he would have expected.
However, I do feel like it gave him the accountability to an outside source that we both needed. And, for his instructor, he did dig a little deeper and write more on the page than he’ll do for me. We aren’t using them at the moment, but I’m seriously considering going back next year with him and possibly R.
Now to the current ‘state of affairs’ in our homeschool…..
Building Blocks to Learning Language Arts (Reading)
This year, I decided to give Sonlight a go for our main curriculum. For the most part we are enjoying this literature based style of learning. If you are not acquainted with this program, the idea is that you read living books for both history and reading. There are mapping and timeline activities in the teacher guide for each selection as well as comprehension questions.
The boys each do their own mapping pages for the selection we are reading. Although, I don’t typically do the individual pages when there is only ONE place to map for the entire book.
As for the comprehension questions, I do these orally with my younger boys (4th and 7th grade) while my high school student writes out his answers. He is the ‘master of minimalism’ when it comes to writing and even has opted to write IDK if he doesn’t know the answer. Sometimes, when I’m grading his work, I’ll call him over for further explanation or to dig out a deeper answer for those questions that are there to make him THINK.
Mechanics of Learning Language Arts (Spelling and Grammar)
As I mentioned already, we are continuing with All About Spelling for my younger boys. It works for us and I see no reason to change it now.
For my older son, I had set aside spelling for a while as he seemed to be a natural speller. However, for the second semester this year we are going back to some spelling as he’s lost the touch lately. Sonlight actually has an alternative spelling list and we are going to use that to boost his abilities. I will most likely incorporate Spelling City for some of the drill work. (Here’s more about why I like Spelling City.)
Otherwise, I’ll be using their suggestion schedule of pretesting on Monday, having the student study Tuesday through Thursday, and then test on the word list on Friday. I am seriously contemplating adding a vocabulary component to that word list as that’s a crucial skill for the upcoming standardized tests (ACT, PSAT, and SAT.)
Pulling It All Together when Learning Language Arts (Writing)
This year, I have the Institute in Excellence in Writing’s U.S. History Based Lessons Volume 1 which I started with P. They began with some poetry, which he was convinced was something he hated. So, he hid the book for a while. I’ve got it dusted off and will be starting back with it when the second semester begins for us in just over a week.
I contemplated using the same material with the other boys. However, we are working through a review product from last year instead ~ Write Shop Junior, Book D.
They like the ‘fun’ components to the program. We just haven’t been diligent in using it throughout the fall. So, like their big brother, we are dusting off the books and getting back on track soon.
How do YOU approach learning the language arts in YOUR homeschool?
This post is being linked up with other homeschoolers as part of the Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds.
Visit other responders tackling the topic of Playing with Words: the Language Arts.