Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Language Arts Curriculum

Today I am going to discuss my favorite school subject: language arts. Yes, call me crazy, but I love the English language. I'm a stickler for proper grammar and good spelling. Autumn has been teasing me all day long, knowing what today's post was going to be about. She feels that I am obsessed with the language arts curriculum that I use. Obsessed is a strong word. It certainly does not preoccupy my every waking thought. Perhaps enchanted would be a better word. It really does delight me.

So, what is this curriculum that I find so endearing? Shurley English. This curriculum is really not sold by a certain grade. Rather, it is sold by level. There are seven levels in all, and you certainly could start in first grade, and end in seventh, but this program is advanced, and could definitely take you through high school as well. I have heard several people say that they use one level for two years as their children get older.

What do I love so much about Shurley English? Everything. Seriously. Each lesson is divided into five days. The lessons are scripted, so you, the teacher, can learn right along with your student if need be. You learn the parts of speech: nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, interjections, and conjunctions. The student learns to identify each word in the sentence. They learn what makes a good sentence, and about different types of sentences: simple, compound, complex, etc.

Each weekly lesson has eight vocabulary words. These words are to be looked up in the dictionary, written down with the correct meaning, used in a sentence, and mastered. You could use these words for your spelling list if you wanted to.

The first three lessons of the week focus on sentence structure, parts of speech, and vocabulary. The fourth lesson is always a test. The fifth lesson is a writing assignment. Writing assignments can be writing letters, expository paragraphs, persuasive essays, and more. Again, everything is scripted so it takes all guess work out of the teaching.

I also really like Wordly Wise for vocabulary. This booklet too, is divided into five lessons a week. The one thing that Shurley English does not do is assign reading. We are a family of voracious readers, so I have no problem with this.

Yes, I have tried other programs. I tried ABeka for one year. I had used Shurley English, switched to ABeka for a year, and went right back to Shurley. I mentioned yesterday that we do Switched on Schoolhouse for most of our curriculum. What I should have said was that we do the complete five subject curriculum in Switched on Schoolhouse, PLUS extra grammar and math. (Remember my more is better philosophy?)

I have heard good things about Jensen's Grammar , but I have not used it myself. I've also heard good reviews on Bob Jones, Rod and Staff, Easy Grammar, and Learning Language Arts Through Literature.

If you are looking for just a writing program try The Institute for Excellence in Writing. I've heard nothing but rave reviews of this product.

I've wondered whether I should discuss foreign languages. Now would be a good time to do so. I admit, this is an area of weakness for me. I long to have my children learn a foreign language. Finding time for everything is a problem, as I'm sure it is for some of you. When we lived in a bigger city and belonged to a co-op, my children took Latin. They liked it, but I didn't keep up with it when we moved. We have used Power Glide for Spanish with some success. I'm considering Rosetta Stone. Anyone care to give me some ideas on this? Latin is still a possibility, I just need to decide what to use.

So, does anyone else have a favorite that they would like to tell me about? Suggestions for foreign language? I'm all ears! Tomorrow is Arithmetic!


Karen said...

I will check out your recommendations. We currently use Easy Grammar.
The only experience I have with foreign language is The Learnables that Ashley used. She was not fond of it at all.

Ash said...

Oh, I completely disliked language arts. It was one of my worst subjects in school. I am much better at math. I don't really know why, I think I just never really grasped it. And referring to my Mom's comment.. No, I was not fond... AT ALL!

Christie Belle said...

This sounds like a good curriculum that you are on. Language arts was one of my favorite subjects in school:)

Kendra said...

I used Shirley grammar when I taught at a classical school. But, at home with my first grader, I've been using Jessie Wise's First Language Lessons. The lessons only take about 5-10 minutes each day. Toward the end of the first grade she knows what a noun, pronoun and verb are. Plus she's memorized about six poems, learned the months of the year and practiced her narrating skills.
I think that it uses a very nice, natural approach to learning language which I prefer for these primary years.

Tracy said...

Thanks Kendra! I've never heard of this one before.

Anonymous said...

I've heard it said that you're either an English person or a Math person. I'm definitely an English person and would have **loved** to use indepth study guides, etc in our home school experience. My daughter however is *most definitely* a math/science person. We spent great amounts of time in those subjects and doing the basics plus a bit more for English. Daily Grams, Format Writing, coop composition classes, parent led spelling/vocab, etc. She can write an excellent essay or research report but it's a challenge. She does math problems as a hobby and has gone through 3 Apologia science courses (physical, biology, chemistry) plus an anatomy & physiology course...in 3 years.

I'm rambling. Sorry...