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Ideas for elementary language arts curricula?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

My son and I have really been doing much better this week with our homeschooling. I am so thankful that I have (re)discovered this board!!

I am changing some things, and one of the subjects that hasn't been working for us is language arts. He's a good reader, but is often hesitant to start reading for some reason. One thing I have discovered this week is that he still LOVES to be read to, and that, when I start reading to him, he also really likes to take over and read to me instead. We made it through Oliver Twist this week (an abridged version of course, the Early Classics for young readers version, but still), and he's really enjoyed our reading sessions together. We probably each read about half of the book to each other. I'm actually enjoying this time together too. After discussing the book together for a couple of days (not just about what happened, but making links to character building as well), we just started The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, from the same series for young readers today. 

 

He seems to thrive on this, but here's the catch, I have no real curriculum for language arts for him right now. I bought "Learning Language Arts through Literature", the orange book, and while he loved reading The Boxcar Children, he absolutely hated the workbook work! It's just way too easy for him, and he kept calling it stupid. After he finished that section, and after that fiasco of almost getting him into Connections Academy, I just gave up on that book! 

Last year we did Voyages in English for 3rd grade, which he actually seemed to like ok. We never quite finished the last chapter - diagramming sentences, mostly because it was too hard for my daughter, so he's working on that now, and is nearly done with that chapter (in 1 week). He also did 2nd grade of Voyages in English, but flew through it, skipping a lot, because it was very easy for him. The 3rd grade book seems quite advanced to me, but he seemed to like it ok, better than any other language arts so far. I've tried several with him, and he hated every single one of them; just seemed to be very bored with them. 

 

The one thing that I don't like about this program is that it doesn't teach much in the way of spelling. But he is a pretty good speller overall. So far I've just added some worksheets (mostly wrote/typed them out myself), and he seems to do fine so far that way. 

 

Is there a curriculum out there, similar to Voyages in English, that has spelling included? Or should I just get him 4th grade of that one and stick with what he has liked ok, or at the very least, has not hated? Don't worry if it's advanced; he doesn't seem to fight anything that's hard, just things that are "boring", i.e. too easy.

I'm starting to figure this kid out. He gets things really easily, and hates repetition, so I let him only do a few exercises out of each chapter/page for a lot of things now, and he's liking that a lot more! If he ends up forgetting something, we can always go back and do another few exercises of what he forgot.

 

Voyages in English is really the only one he's ever been willing to stick with. I've tried a few others, mostly more public school type curricula, and he never made it past the first 1/4 or so of those. We did quite a bit Handwriting Without Tears, and he finished Hooked on Phonics, but not much other than that, besides the Voyages. He writes very well in cursive, and obviously reads at least at a 4th grade level.

 

Thanks,

 

Edith

post #2 of 4

Well, I'm of the belief that curriculum is one possible way of addressing a need. Sometimes a very good way indeed. But ... what's the need here? That's what I would ask yourself as you seek out resources. Because I don't think "having something organized and school-like for language arts" is a need per se, other than possibly a parental need to feel proper and serious about homeschooling. 

 

We've tended to use very little in the way of curriculum for Language Arts. Instead we've created an environment, rhythms and routines to encourage independent reading for pleasure (a comfy armchair in the bedroom, with a side table for herbal tea is our secret these days!). I've done lots of reading aloud to my kids, well into the tween/teen years. Lots of natural discussion about what we're reading, about themes, plot devices, moral issues, writers' styles, etc.. Exposure to word play, story-telling (verbal, pictorial, multi-media), plays, film, letter- and story-writing, and so on. Nothing structured, just life-learning. They are strong, insightful readers with strong spelling and grammar skills. I figured why fix what ain't broke? My older three kids all eventually entered high school, and excelled in English, creative- and essay-writing despite having had very little direct structured teaching previously.

 

When there were specific skills my kids wanted to work on we found specific tools to help them do that. For instance, two of my kids worked through the Getty-Dubay (Portland) Italic cursive handwriting workbooks. Two enjoyed Editor-in-Chief books to learn to recognize grammar, punctuation and word-usage mistakes. And this year my youngest is asking for help learning short-essay-writing. So far we're just working on that on our own, but it's possible we might find a piece of curriculum to structure it.

 

Miranda

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
 

Well, I'm of the belief that curriculum is one possible way of addressing a need. Sometimes a very good way indeed. But ... what's the need here? That's what I would ask yourself as you seek out resources. Because I don't think "having something organized and school-like for language arts" is a need per se, other than possibly a parental need to feel proper and serious about homeschooling. 

 

We've tended to use very little in the way of curriculum for Language Arts. Instead we've created an environment, rhythms and routines to encourage independent reading for pleasure (a comfy armchair in the bedroom, with a side table for herbal tea is our secret these days!). I've done lots of reading aloud to my kids, well into the tween/teen years. Lots of natural discussion about what we're reading, about themes, plot devices, moral issues, writers' styles, etc.. Exposure to word play, story-telling (verbal, pictorial, multi-media), plays, film, letter- and story-writing, and so on. Nothing structured, just life-learning. They are strong, insightful readers with strong spelling and grammar skills. I figured why fix what ain't broke? My older three kids all eventually entered high school, and excelled in English, creative- and essay-writing despite having had very little direct structured teaching previously.

 

When there were specific skills my kids wanted to work on we found specific tools to help them do that. For instance, two of my kids worked through the Getty-Dubay (Portland) Italic cursive handwriting workbooks. Two enjoyed Editor-in-Chief books to learn to recognize grammar, punctuation and word-usage mistakes. And this year my youngest is asking for help learning short-essay-writing. So far we're just working on that on our own, but it's possible we might find a piece of curriculum to structure it.

 

Miranda

I think my need for curriculum stems more from my insecurities in my ability to teach everything they need to know, well, he needs to know now (since my daughter is now at public school - somehow I'm still getting used to the idea of only having one kid being homeschooled anymore). I am always worried that I'll leave big gaps in his education that will be difficult for him to fill later on. I'm sure that the fact that so many people around confirm that. My father-in-law for instance is convinced that Keenan is not getting as good an education at home as he would be getting at public school. And my husband is obviously not very convinced about it either, the way he reacted about Keenan's enrollment at Connections Academy. Anyway, I do feel more comfortable having a curriculum, to make sure we don't leave any gaps. I think we'll just continue the way we did a while ago, letting him do a few exercises of each new concept, until it's clear that he gets it, then we go on to the next thing. He seems to do very well that way. And then if he finishes 4th grade early again, we'll just do some fun projects instead of diving right into the next grade level. I think being one full grade level ahead is enough! There is a good chance that he might finish his curriculum books early again if I let him skip the easy stuff though. 

Anyway, that's my strategy for now, and if I find that that doesn't work out, I can rethink it again. LOL

Thanks for all the great advice. You're a great resource for me, having been through it, and with musical kids too!

 

Edith

post #4 of 4

Most of the spelling / vocabulary comes from general reading and conversation but as far as curriculum type resource is concerned, we have used Junior Great Books for reading and AAA Spelling for spelling / vocabulary.  

AAASpell.com Spelling Lists

AAASpell.com Vocabulary Lists

 

These  also come in handy when we have to prepare for our county review. 

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