We’re a couple months in now, and we’re still on a learning curve – figuring out what works and what just doesn’t. I had selected Queen Language Lessons as our main language arts program, and then I also had Pathway Readers and Queen Pictures in Cursive to do on the side. After doing these for awhile now, here’s what I think about them.
Queen Language Lessons: These are very pretty, well-thought-out books, but they don’t seem to give us enough to do. I know, I know. It’s enough once it’s all added together (is what I’m told). I don’t like the fact that for the last 2 weeks, my 4th grader has done nothing but write one-half of a stanza of a very simple poem each day. I believe we’ve covered capitalization and how to accurately write your initial. We’ve looked at some gorgeous artwork, and she’s been able to talk about what might have happened in each picture. Otherwise, it’s been copywork – and SHORT copywork at that. Is it enough? I’m not convinced. While I don’t believe in busywork, this just seems way too laid back for me.
Jacob, on the other hand, has a hard time writing. His workbook consists of writing letters, recognizing letters, listening to poetry, looking at artwork, and drawing pictures. He’d pretty much rather die than draw a picture, so that goes out the window. I’m not any good at reading poetry to either child. (Too much a realist I guess.) His eyes glaze over when I ask him about the artwork and what “might” be happening in the picture. The lines given for him to write his letters on are too small, and really, he needs to be able to trace – not write freestyle yet. So, it’s pretty much a bust for him. However, I am using it as a guide as far as how long to stay on each letter and what to introduce next.
For the Pathway Readers we’re doing, Jacob is in “Before We Read,” which is basically a bunch of left/right, pattern, matching activities. I really think it’s quite good because it’s really having him examine things closely, which he doesn’t seem to mind to do. We ran into a snag one day when the designs he needed to match were very similar, and he could not carry the image down the row of 4 other images. He’d forget what the original looked like…it was just too confusing, so I cut the design out, cut the strips of designs out, and then had him place the original along the top and move it along the row so that he could match it correctly, and that worked perfectly. We do about 2 of these activities per week.
Evie’s Pathway Reader program is going well too. Some of the exercises are a bit archaic, so I do have her skip those. For instance, writing the pronunciation guidelines for different words (ar with 2 dots above the “a” for instance) isn’t a skill I think she’ll need. 😉 Other times, they’ll want her to find the page number and paragraph number where something happened in the story, and I don’t care so much about that either. I like her to do the vocabulary, and about two-thirds of the grammar I have her do. The reading comprehension is hit or miss depending on the activity. I usually just ask her to narrate back to me what happened in the story, and she does this quite well. I think she has a photographic memory really. I like the stories she’s reading. They are good, moral stories. She likes them too, so I think that’s a good fit.
I also purchased Pictures in Cursive (and Printing with Pictures) by Queen Homeschool, and I have been having Evie do the cursive practice. Again though, it’s just not enough. There will be a picture with 5 short 3-word descriptions. Her job is to copy 1 of the 3-word descriptions per day. That’s 3 words. Period. I don’t know…it just doesn’t seem like she’s going to get enough practice that way. I also picked up a freebie at a homeschool group I’m in, and that’s giving her some more practice with her cursive. It has fun activities in it that she likes to do, so win-win. The Pictures in Cursive book is beautiful, but I just don’t think it’s enough. Maybe it picks up much more down the road? Not sure.
Printing with Pictures (for Jacob) hasn’t even been picked up yet because he is not ready to do anything but trace. The lines on the pages are also not conducive to him being able to write very well anyway at this point.
Tomorrow (or whenever I manage it), I’m going to discuss what I’m doing to fill in the blanks with Jacob. He really needs a lot of visual activity and less writing activity, so I’m doing some fun things (all free) for him. He’s not fighting me on any of them. I did purchase a pre-writing program for him, but really even THAT is too hard for him with his hands the way they are. However, he DID learn how to hold the pencil properly (thank you LORD)! And that’s a huge step. We just have to tighten up the grasp with shoulder girdle strengthening and finger activities (I think).
I’m also thinking of creating my OWN language arts program for Evie. I really want something based in literature. Learning Language Arts through Literature sounds great, but it’s really not when you get up close (at least for me). I’d like something like that but more thorough and actually rooted in literature. I’ve been kicking that idea around a bit in my brain. Because I always want more to do. 😉