Language Arts has been a sticking point for me for years now. I have a BA degree in English and I am a voracious reader. I like to think I am a competent writer as well. So, it stands to reason that I would want an above-average language arts curriculum, doesn't it?
However, despite lots of looking, I could not find an effective curriculum that would accomplish my goals, meet my children's needs, and not be a drag at the same time. Every now and then, I'd find something that looked promising, but upon closer inspection, I'd find something about it that wasn't what I wanted.
So, I've basically pulled together my own curriculum using different components instead of an integrated curriculum. I'll give you a list of the materials and then discuss how we use them.
- Spelling Power, beginning around age 8-9
- Grammar workbooks from no particular series, starting in about 5th grade
- English From the Roots Up, beginning around the same time
- Rummy Roots, to go with English from the Roots Up
- Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) for composition, just discovered it, but using as soon as a child's language skills allow them to read comfortably and write 2-3 sentences
- Handwriting, plain old Zaner-Bloser
- Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
- Journal Writing
- Reading real books
- A Beka reading comprehension speed drills
- Writing letters to real people
Grammar - I don't think early grammar instruction is useful or beneficial at all, unless the child specifically requests it. I think all the grammar that is generally taught (and retaught and reviewed and retaught) in the elementary grades can easily and more effectively be taught in one junior high school year. In this opinion, I am referring to the mechanics of writing more specifically known as parts of speech, sentence structure, and punctuation. I think all of these concepts are better learned in the elementary years by modeling and practice during actual REAL writing instead of endless boring worksheets and drills. (Sorry, Easy Grammar users!)
So, even though I have an twelve-year-old son, his first study of grammar was last year when we did a short workbook from the teacher store. (Frank Schaffer, I believe) It was a basic introduction, and generally worthless, if I am being truthful. He was in fifth grade. This year, in sixth grade, he is doing another cheap basic workbook, probably because I feel a little insecure in my convictions about this, having never actually used this method all the way through before. He does a page a couple times a week or so, so it's not a major component of our language arts curriculum. We do Mad Libs from time to time also, so this helps with identification and understanding of parts of speech.
I would really like to peruse Analytical Grammar to see if it is workable for us. The philosophy behind the program seems to fit with mine. Anyone have it that I can look at? It's pricy or I would have ordered it by now. Probably next year will be David's Grammar Year.
Ok, this takes forever! lol I'll work on the other components another time. Stay tuned!