The language arts curricula I picked out at the beginning of last year didn’t work the way I wanted it to, and now I’m looking forward to the fall and making some decisions about the things we will use. My daughter will be in 5th grade, so as a Charlotte Mason educator, that means I need to introduce grammar officially, move through it, and then simply reinforce in later years. My son is starting to move into learning how to read right now, so he needs a language arts program that will support that. I have so many options that I’ve picked up at used book sales very inexpensively, and I love things out of each of them. I need to iron this out, and writing is the best way I do that, so bear with me here!
Narration – I’ve been doing oral narration all year with Evelyn, and she does really well with it. This year we’re going to do one written narration per week with oral narration for the other times. I’ve just started to research what it means to do written narration. My thoughts right now are that I will ask for her oral narration as usual, write down a few highlights in outline form on a whiteboard, and then ask her to write down what she just told me. I’m sure it will take some time to get things going just right. Then I’m going to have her read it to me. I won’t correct her writing or spelling at all, and I expect about a paragraph. Most likely, she will begin learning how to type so that she can type up her written narrations.
Copywork – Jacob will do one or two words of copywork a day – most likely the words he is learning to spell and read. He’ll work on his name, our names, our address and phone number, months, days, etc. I’ll use Penny Gardner’s Beautiful Handwriting program in italics for penmanship during this time.
Evelyn will continue with copywork once a day. For starters she’ll be doing George Washington’s Rules for Civility and Decent Behavior. Here is a copywork link to a PDF. I’ll expect her to also use italics from the Beautiful Handwriting program, and she might need a time of instruction on how to form italics printing and cursive. I’ll also have her copy hymn and folk song stanzas, Scripture, poetry, etc. This will probably be about 2 sentences in length each day.
Grammar – (Evelyn only.) Here is where things get dicey. I have 3 programs that I really like. I’m going to start out using all of them and see which ones don’t work out. I have Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl (also available free online here). I have Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola. I also have English for the Thoughtful Child 2. Right now I’m thinking we might do SG once, EFTTC2 once, and ILL twice a week. (Remember we do a 4-day school week.) Some things in ILL will probably be skipped or done orally instead of written. SG is only grammar. EFTTC2 has some grammar and lots of creative writing prompts. ILL has a little bit of everything – picture study, creative writing, grammar lessons, poetry, readings to study, etc. My favorite of the 3 is ILL right now. We’ll see how it all pans out as the year gets going though.
Elocution – (Evelyn only.) Is this something Charlotte Mason advocated? I am sure she had her students reading aloud in the classrooms. I’d really like my kids to be comfortable reading in front of others. I plan on using the McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers for this (Revised Edition). The readings are short. There are a list of words before the reading that may be difficult, and we go over those first. I have her read it over silently and then aloud to me. I will probably have her do this only a couple times a week.
Phonics – (Jacob only.) We have been working on sounding out words. I use letter tiles (from Bananagrams), sugar in a pan he can trace in, and a floor mat with the alphabet on it that he can hop around on to spell words. He also traces them in the air. Blending the words still takes him longer than I’d like, so right now we’re “frozen” until he’s comfortable doing that quicker. CM advocated teaching reading and spelling together (sort of). So, when he learns how to sound out the word “rat,” he also has to spell it using the above methods. This won’t continue with bigger words really – just the basics. I’ve been using Joyful Shepherdess’s blog plan and word lists for this. I also have some of the Bob readers and the I See Sam books online. He was able to read a Bob book successfully, and he thought that was pretty cool. So when it works out, we’ll do that too. Once he’s ready to move to the next step, I’d like to use Easy Peasy’s method of reading the McGuffey primer. Of course, by that time we’ll see where he’s at and reassess things.
Spelling/Dictation – (Evelyn only.) This will also be the first year of Charlotte Mason inspired spelling here. I’ve purchased Spelling Wisdom 1 for us to use. It advertises we will “Learn today’s 6,000 most frequently used words presented in the writings of great men and women of history.” Sounds good to me! I’ll plan on doing this twice a week. (Hey, maybe we can do elocution on the other 2 days!) The instructions are all laid out in the book for how to do it, and you can read that portion in the sample on the site.
Well, that wasn’t so hard now was it? I had it all swirling around in my brain, and it was nice to finally get it all down! I hope it helps someone else. 🙂