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The Language Arts in Our Homeschool and Everything Relating to it

It is time for the annual Virtual Curriculum Fair. It is two month later than usual, but it is here. I hope you will enjoy the posts this year and glean some helpful tips and help as you read about what we all are using. Our hosts this year are Day by Day in our World, Sunrise to Sunset and Every bed of Roses.

This week, as usual, we are exploring the world of Words.

Language Arts is a very important and foundational element of any education. Without words one cannot express himself. Moreover, one does not only need words he also needs to know how to use them well, in a manner that he can be understood and make a point.

Language Arts has always been a big part of our homeschool routine. Now that the boys are in grade 7 and 5, though it is still a big part of it, I have changed the focus for it.

After having a light grammar year last year, I have finally started Zach on Analytical Grammar as a review and enforcement of what he has learned so far. I am planning for him to use this for the next three years and then be done with Grammar. I am having it do the first part in an accelerated fashion, as he is pretty familiar with it, that is Nouns, adjectives, adverbs etc. The way this program works is that, there is a written lesson that the child is supposed to read followed by 3 exercises and a test. I only require him to do the first 3 questions of each exercises and the test. It is pretty straight forward and easy to use, though I have found that there are slight difference with precious Grammar programs we have used. That said, I am sticking with what he has learned with First Language Lessons and Michael Clay Thompson, programs you can read about in my previous VCF's posts.

For Johann, I am using a review product from Classical Academic Press that is yet to be release this Spring - Well-Ordered Language. I won't say much about it yet as I do not want to blow my wand, but I must say it is thorough and what I expected from a classical company.

In the past, I have not done much with Literature. This year I made it a point to make use of the literature element of our History curriculum - Tapestry of Grace. This year he participates in an online co-op for both the History and Literature portion. This has proven itself very beneficial. It forces him to finish the load of reading assigned to him every week, as he has to get a worksheet ready in time for the class. He has learned quite a bit in literary analysis and terms, given that we had not touched much on this in the past.

So far he has read:
Dangerous journey
By Right of Conquest
Tragedy of Hamlet
Poetry for Young People
Almost Home
Men of Iron
Canterbury Tales
Coming up in the next few weeks;
Robinson Crusoe
Gulliver's Travels
early Thunder
Johnny Tremain
Justin Morgan
When it comes to Spelling, I was really glad to have been chosen for the Crew review round of Phonetic Zoo. I have to say Spelling Zoo is really great. You go through lists of words and keep repeating that list until you master it. Every list highlights a spelling rule. My boys have definitely shown improvement in their spelling using this program. Check out my Phonetic Zoo review.

On the writing side, we are still using Writing and Rhetoric, which is a program I really like. I love its incremental aspect as well as its classical bent, using the great classic works to teach kids proper writing skills. You can read my review of it. We are also trying Here to Help Learning writing curriculum with Johann. This is a review product that I am actually liking, which puts me in a difficult situation since I really like using Writing and Rhetoric. You can read my review of it here.

This  year I have foregone any Latin or Greek teaching, as I did not think it would have fitted in the schedule. Both boys have done 1 or  2 years of Latin, and I think I will leave it at that.  They both have good Grammar basics and good vocabulary, which are the best benefits  of teaching the Ancient Languages, beside nurturing rigor.

Lastly, what do we do for foreign Languages. As I have mentioned several times on this blog, being a French National, I desire for my kids to know French. I have a hard time doing it the easiest way, which would be speaking it to them on a regular basis. We have reverted to Duolingo, which is our main French outlet. My goal is to try to speak it to them as much as I can, which really comes down to me remembering to do so! The other sure way for them to learn it is to send them to my parents in Martinique for a summer..... Hopefully before they turn 18!

On top of these school subjects, the boys listen to a lot of audiobooks and 1 hour of reading is required of them daily (which of course does not always happen - but we try our best to enforce it). They do enjoy reading, it is just that a lot of other things compete with that love....

There you have a glimpse of what the world of words is made up in our homeschool. Make sure to check the other post participating in this year's Virtual Curriculum Fair!


Kym said…
That's a great reading list to have completed before finishing middle school! Very nice! Thanks for sharing what you're working on.
DeliveringGrace said…
I'm using Duolingo myself, at present, and love the accessibility of the programme. I hadn't thought of using it with the children can see that the short burst of learning, on a daily basis would work well.
Annette said…
interesting to read what you are doing. you've given me ideas for the future. :)
Gale said…
I remember some of those books from my own Junior High and High School (and a few from college). Loved Dangerous Journey, liked Hamlet, and wanted to pull my hair out from bordom from Johnny Tramain.

Leah Courtney said…
I didn't make it to the Virtual Curriculum Fair this year, but I love seeing what others are using. We love Analytical Grammar, and we're still really enjoying Here to Help Learning!
Unknown said…
I don't teach formal "grammar" until middle school. We discuss it in regards to punctuation and capitalization prior to that, but not parts of speech. I've heard great things about Analytical Grammar and my try it with my 2 youngest kids.
Anonymous said…
I love to see what other homeschoolers are up to! We're still years away from grammar and literary analysis, but these are great resources to draw from when my kids get older.

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