Curriculum Reviews - Language Arts

Are you planning for next year as well?  For our homeschool, I have finished reviewing what has been working and determining what needs changed for next year's curriculum.  At times, it has been quite tedious as we use a variety of resources and methods.  Truly our homeschool is eclectic.  There is no one style we can strictly adhere to, nor would we want to. 

Since I have just finished critiquing the curriculum we use, I thought I'd share what works for us and why.  As we use a multitude of resources, I will only share the basic resources for language arts, math, history, and science.  Today, I will cover anything in our homeschool that falls into the Language Arts category.  For us, this includes grammar, writing, spelling, phonics, vocabulary, reading, and literature. 

Grammar ~
We have used a variety of grammar curriculums, but the one we definitely like and prefer is published by Rod and Staff.  These grammar books are rigorous and challenging.  Though they are made for the classroom setting, I have found them easy to adapt to our homeschool.  Simply by working with the child through the lessons with discussion and demonstration (when necessary) I can easily grasp how much practice they need.  Depending on whether the concept is new or review, the lesson may take up to 20 minutes to finish.  The child then does assigned written work from the text.  I never {well, almost never} assign all the available problems as this curriculum has more than ample practice problems.  Additionally, we use a separate writing course, and therefore, we only do some of the writing assignments. 

Writing ~
Though we have tried three different writing programs on the market, we have one that we can definitely attest to its success.  Institute for Excellence in Writing, or IEW, works for our children!  What I like about it is the simple approach to writing.  Finding key words, outlining stories, and banning over-used words are some of the methods used.  We prefer the theme based writing guides.  This year, our oldest is using the U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons, Volume 1.  As it coincides with our history studies nicely, he will continue through with Volume 2 next year.

Handwriting ~
Our children learn to form letters with A Reason for Handwriting.  We love the Scripture based lessons and the ease of transition from manuscript to cursive, which we generally start in first or second grade.  Another handwriting course we loved was Pictures in Cursive from Queen Homeschool Supplies.  This series offers beautiful works of art, handwriting practice, and art appreciation in just minutes each day.  Our children also use the copywork books from Queen Homeschool Supplies.

Spelling ~
For learning to spell, we use more than one curriculum.  Our oldest uses Building Spelling Skills, published by Christian Liberty Press.  He learned to read quickly at an early age and has an innate ability to spell well.  He has progressed through the levels rapidly.  Our daughters use a more intensive phonics approach to spelling with Spelling Workout published by Modern Curriculum Press.

Phonics ~
Again, we have used more than one method or curriculum for teaching our children to read.  One resource that I used {will use} for all of children is The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington.  This one book teaches phonograms easily and in a logical order.  Our children have all benefited from the lessons in this book.

For each child, we have also used Explode the Code workbooks.  I was actually a bit sad to start our youngest on these workbooks this year.  It was our last first time.

Vocabulary ~
After the phonics instruction is complete, we continue with vocabulary development using Word Roots by The Critical Thinking Co.  These vocabulary workbooks teach prefixes, roots, and suffixes in a logical manner.  Starting in either third or fourth grade, our children typically complete two or three pages a week, completeing one book each school year.

Reading and Literature ~
Our family reads a lot.  I read aloud chapter books and picture books to the children daily.  Each child reads just as frequently.  The youngest, who is still learning to read, is read to by myself, my husband, or one of the other children multiple times each day.  We don't have a specific curriculum or book list we follow.  Instead, we chose a variety of books {genres} about topics from other subjects or specific interests.  These we integrate into our school lessons.  We do purposefully develop reading comprehension, but our main hope is to grow a love for reading.

Tomorrow, I will share a bit about what works for us in math and logic.

1 comment:

  1. I love to read about what does and doesn't work for other homeschoolers. It helps when I am looking for something to supplement in a specific area, so thanks for sharing your opinion.

    I agree with your hope to grow a love for reading. My dyslexic daughter finally began making improvements in her reading once she fell in love with reading. It has made all the difference. She still has problems, but she truly loves to read, or at least truly loves to read what she is interested in! :)

    Jackie, a blogging homeschool Mom who believes the way to get ahead is to build vocabulary skills.


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