Halfway through the school year and it’s a good time for some self-assessment, right?
What I am a doing a good job with teaching, what do I need to improve and teach more of?
In the past the answer was usually science or history because we were pretty good about getting math and language arts done. But this year we have good science and history curriculum and this year the only area of learning I’m really concerned about is.. duhduhduhhhh.. language arts.
Of course, if I were really honest, I’d admit that I’ve never REALLY been 100% happy with our language arts.. I suppose I’ve just reached a point in the evolution of our homeschool where I can and need to re-vamp our language arts work. More writing, more spelling, more grammar – OH MY.
Don’t get me wrong, I start off every school year saying that we’re going to step up our game with those things… but then I go the free route and I think, “I don’t need to buy a curriculum, we can just ‘do’ language arts. More reading, having them write every week, giving them lists of spelling words, teaching grammar through it all… how hard can it be?” And then… I seriously lack on the follow through.
One thing I’ve learned about myself (and my kids) is that we do much better when there is a worktext that has a certain number of lessons sitting there just waiting to be completed. We’re good at filling things in and checking things off our lists.
So we should go with that flow, right?
Despite our more classical-ish, Charlotte Mason-ish approach with science and history (reading, hand on activities, notebooking…) I think it’s time that we take an approach for language arts that we know works well for us… workbooks. At this point, I feel like JUST DOING IT is more important than trying to find the fanciest, bestest (I know that not’s a word), snazziest, most perfect piece of curriculum.
You get better at reading by doing it.
You get better at writing by doing it.
You get better at spelling by doing it.
You get better at vocabulary by doing it.
You get better at grammar by doing it.
JUST DO IT.
Language Arts isn’t quite like the other subjects. Like math, it kind of builds concept by concept, but unlike math it’s not quite as strictly a linear progression. Unlike science or history, it’s not categorized by topic (world/American/state history or physical/earth/chemical science.) Language arts is a lot of the same over and over again, just a little harder and a little harder. The biggest thing you need for language arts, it seems to me, is practice.
Practice and practice and practice.
So that said, I’m making a few changes around here for the 2nd semester. No more skimping and doing the bare minimum on language arts. No more letting math muscle into our spelling or grammar or writing time. This school year isn’t over yet and there’s plenty of time to make a change!
So here’s what we’re going to do.
- Keep using the grammar workbook I have for Princess. Pick up a low cost grammar workbook for Drama Queen, she’s used up all the grammar sheets that came with a multi-purpose workbook.
- Ask the girls to write, write, write! Also, pick up a couple of writing workbooks for structure.
- For now: I’m going to print and USE the free McGuffey Speller. It’s old school, but it worked for them (and spelling ability was higher back then!) This doubles for vocabulary because there are less common words used in these lists. I may supplement with extra vocab some days if I need to. If we do well with that, we can stick with that for the rest of the year. (If not, spelling & vocab workbooks!)
- We also have some random workbooks we’ve acquired here and there.. a reading comprehension book, a couple of phonics workbooks, we can use those up and get those in for extra practice. They’re buried around here somewhere.
- Each of the girls have spiral notebooks labeled “Language Arts” (that are basically empty.) I’m looking at those like workbooks, waiting to be filled in with spelling lists, copywork, writing assignments, etc. Do you think we can fill in a whole spiral notebook in one semester? ;0)
I’ve already got the 3 workbooks I need added to my Amazon cart, mostly paid for with Amazon earnings and a $5 gift card from Swagbucks, just waiting for payday so I can pay for the other 6 dollars.
Until then, we can get a move on with spelling and just writing, writing, writing.
JUST DO IT, right?
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