For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Monday, January 7, 2013

Virtual Curriculum Fair 2013 - The Language Arts Department

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds Virtual Curriculum Fair ButtonLast year, around this time, I participated in a Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts and Minds. I found it very profitable in assessing what we were using in our homeschooling, and to read about what others where using. So, I am quite happy to participate again this year in the second run of this fair. It is going to run the whole month of January, as last year, focussing on a different topic every week.

Week 1 focusses on The Language Arts - Playing with Words

When you hear language Arts you should think phonics, spelling, writing, reading, grammar, literature and handwriting. These are the main tenets of what we usually put under the umbrella of Language Arts. How is this subject taught in our homeschool? Well when it comes to Language Arts I am more of a classical homeschooler - at least would like to be. What does that mean? Language Arts is important, and Language Arts must be taught well.

To that end Reading and Grammar have always been a priority. Praise God I did not have to teach my boys how to read, they just picked it up. That said, I did have to teach them phonics along their natural reading ability. Unfortunately, with my oldest the fact that he learned how to read on his own, handicapped his phonemic awareness which I am working on fixing now (this is where the value of good phonetic teaching comes in). He is a good speed reader with good comprehension but decoding words sometime is tricky for him. Don't ask me how that work? He is child full of paradoxes! How am I working on fixing this problem, read on.

On the writing and spelling front, this is where I did not do much with the boys, one reason being that they both hate writing. So, up to this year I have only required from them minimal writing, as I read that boys in general tend to not like writing and it is ok to wait until they are ready, so this is what I did. I worked on their penmanship but with no pressure. This school year I have seen an improvement in their willingness to write and I am thrilled. One change I made last year was to switch Zach to cursive and he seems to enjoy that much better (still not in love with writing but less whining and complaining - the penmanship looks much better too!). Joho wants to try cursive too so I will get him to start it sometime this year. I picked Handwriting Without Tears Cursive when I switched Zach and love it. I will keep using this.

At the end of last year I came across The Logic of English and just fell in love with the methodology and philosophy of the curriculum. I have a copy of it and have started it at the beginning of December. Watch out for a review of it toward the end of the month or early February. It is a great curriculum. It is filling in the lacking in phonics, phonemic awareness and teaches spelling in a way that makes sense: phonetically, and logically. Interestingly enough the boys are not even complaining too much about it, that's the best part! and I know they absolutely do not like spelling.

Writing instruction has completely been absent at our home. My boys are good story tellers but do not ask them to write anything. At one point I would type their stories out but that became too much for me so I stopped. Just a few weeks ago though, Zach has taken up writing out history essays all of his own. He loves History, he loves lecturing and he found an outlet: my tablet!

This year I have planned to start some writing instruction using Michael Clay Thompson  (MCT) Writing program starting with Paragragh Town. We will get to it in a couple of weeks time. I have enjoyed their grammar curriculum which we are still using but mainly with Zach. Poetry is going to be done with their program as well, just like last year. You can read my post on language Arts from last year  Virtual fair to read more about MCT.

When it comes to Grammar I really enjoyed First language Lessons and now, as I just mentioned, use MCT Grammar program, except I found it did not to be a good fit  for Joho, he is not as grammar or Language Arts wired as Zach, so I have been struggling a bit for him, as FLL was not such a good fit for him either. He is more of a worksheet kind of guy and I am very picky when it comes to workhseet. So I have been piecing worksheets together for him from the wed and teaching him from FLL and MCT ressources. I am holding out to get him started on Junior Analytical grammar in the next couple of years. I am considering just starting him back on Writing with Ease and just do with the Grammar that the Logic of English also provides.

I did not mention anything about reading, but it goes without saying that reading is a vital ingredient of our homeschool. At the present the boys are slowly making their way through The Hobbit.

So this is a few paragraphs what Language Arts looks like at our home for the moment. There are plans for Literature and Latin but for now, there is no room, so it has to wait.

You can read about what other 20 homeschoolers do when it comes to Language Arts:

Nurturing Novelists = Building Strong Writers by Susan Anadale @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Building Blocks of Education--Learning to Read  by Kristi Kerr @ The Potter's Hand Academy

Finding Our Way Through Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

How Does a Unit Study Teach Language Arts? by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun 

Our Language Arts Adventure by Linda @ Homeschooling6

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road

Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me

Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts by Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool

Writing Help in a Critical Thinking book? by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Foreign Language Immersion in the Homeschool by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch

Formula for Reading by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness

Words and Learning by Annette @ A Net In Time

A Custom Designed High School English Credit by Tech Wife @ A Playground of Words

Virtual Curriculum Fair 2013: Still Loving Language Arts by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

Word Play by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Loving Language Arts by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Learning Language Arts ~ 2012-2013 School Year by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Virtual Curriculum Fair - The Language Arts Department by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy: The Story of Our Life

Playing with Words:  Language Arts by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs and Curriculum

What Language Arts looks like in our house - Are we doing it right? by Hillary M @ Our Homeschool Studio

Getting lost and finding our way in Language Arts by Piwi Mum @ Learning and growing the Piwi Way


Annette said...

just stopping by from the VCF, good to see what others do and their reasoning for doing so. :)

Annette @ A Net in Time said...

Stopping by from VCF and fellow Crew member. I'll be checking out the Logic of ...that sounds right up my ally ; ).

Kristi said...

I have one who is super worksheet oriented, too. The Bridge to the Latin Road is working well for him, it might be worth a look! I've heard wonderful things about MCT's resources. I'm glad they're working so well for you.!

Homeschooling6 said...

Most of my boys have had trouble with learning how to read. My dd on the other hand just picked it up.

I have been interested in MCT stuff but never took the plunge.

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