Friday, September 9, 2011

Another Homeschool Year - English Edition

First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 2 (Second Edition) (First Language Lessons)First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind. We're in year 2 for Tigger. We use the first edition book (where the first two years are together) because I bought it back when Polly was starting out. Apparently, these are selling for quite a lot on Amazon these days (because of the new editions, one pictured above) but I'm not going to be selling mine. I plan to use it with Sweet Pea and Lili first. {wink}

Advanced Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level OneFor Polly I plan to use Advanced Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 1, except it hasn't been released yet. Until it is (sometime in January) she's doing Grammar with Tigger as a review. (She also does a lot of grammar with our Latin curriculum but that's another blog post.)

Each girl has a pen-pal (in Polly's case she has two) and we're trying to be (ahem) more faithful letter writers this school year.

New ESSENTIAL LEARNING PRODUCTS HANDWRITING SKILLS SIMPLIFIEDFor Penmanship we're using Essential Learning Products Improving Handwriting (for Tigger) and Pentime Cursive Book 4 (for Polly. Apparently you cannot buy this from Amazon. I picked this up at the Rainbow Resource booth at our local Homeschool convention.) Handwriting is one subject I've changed over the years. When Polly started I just used worksheets printed off the 'net (such as those available on the Donna Young site) but whether because of that or the fact that she's left handed or something else, Polly has wretched handwriting to this day.

Hey, maybe she'll grow up to be a doctor. I'm not sweating it. But I do buy actual workbooks now (and for the past few years). Tigger, who has always used ELP workbooks has much better penmanship. Maybe she would anyway (although she is also left handed), but whatever. This works for us now.

We do not use a special curriculum for Writing (as opposed to penmanship) yet. I haven't seen the need so far, which is not to say I won't change my mind in the future.

For Spelling (prepare yourself for educator heresy): I do not use a spelling curriculum. I've talked about this before, in this post. I think memorizing random lists of words is a nefarious scheme of the Whole Language types to force children to memorize more words out of context (don't get me started...).

Anyway, my compromise is as follows: Using our phonics book as a guide, Polly and I make lists of words following phonics rules (and we include "sight" words as well, listing them as such). She keeps these in a copy book. We don't do this every day, although we try to make 2-3 lists each week. Tigger does phonics worksheets similar to the Explode the Code books although I simply use workbooks I picked up at Target (!) for a quarter a piece for this purpose.

We also do not use a purchased Vocabulary curriculum. My vocabulary curriculum: read a lot. Then read some more. Look up words you're not familiar with in a dictionary. Repeat.

The girls each have a list of poems to memorize. We do a "Shakespeare story" every week (I plan to cover this in more detail in another blog post). Polly has enjoyed reading the kid version of Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. Both girls read the comics in the paper every Sunday. They do word searches and cross word puzzles. They write pretend menus; notes to me, their dad, and each other; they have diaries (and no, I do not read these); in other words, they're getting well rounded English educations.

How do you teach English and Grammar? What do you think about Spelling as a separate subject? Want to sing the praises or bemoan the weaknesses of a particular curriculum? Fire away in the comments!

1 comment:

"Gram" said...

You might like "Spelling Power" if you decided to use a separate program because it is multi-level, multi-sensory, and totally ungraded. The student starts wherever he/she needs to start. It can be used from the early reading years through adult.

If you ever wish to try it, you may do so. I have the book and the corresponding activity box. I suspect the girls would enjoy some of the activities very much.

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