I’m participating in the Virtual Curriculum Fair at Homeschool Heart and Mind again this year because I can’t get enough curriculum talk!
This is our 10th year of homeschooling and during that time we’ve used a lot of different resources for language arts. Some I’ve used with more than one child, other things have been just what one particular child needed. I’ve linked to reviews of the products that I’ve written. Other links are to ChristianBook.com where you can see the price. (Those are affiliate links, so I will make a small amount of money if you make a purchase.)
Let’s start with Phonics!
With my oldest son David, we used Alpha Phonics. He was ready to learn to read and this simple book was all he needed.
When my daughter Anna was ready to learn to read, I bought Phonics Pathways. Honestly there was no reason to switch from Alpha Phonics except that I like curriculum and Phonics Pathways was recommended (at that time) in The Well Trained Mind.
Both of these books are very similar with one major difference. Alpha Phonics teaches with word families cat, bat, fat, rat while Phonics Pathways starts at the beginning of the word and teaches starting syllables – ba, be, bi, bo, bu and then adds letter to the end making bat, bet, bit, and but.
Then came William. He has had a very difficult time learning to read. I tried both of the above resources with him with no success. I had some limited success with Happy Phonics, but what has been by far the single most helpful resource for his reading was All About Spelling. Yes, I know it’s a spelling program, but it seemed like it was just the thing to help him to understand decoding words in reading.
With Lizzie I have been blessed. She has learned to read without me teaching her! Some of it was her older brother and sister working with her and some of it was working on various on-line programs like Starfall, Reading Kingdom, and Reading Eggs. But I think a lot of it was that she was ready to learn.
It’s still too early to predict anything about my just turned 2 year old. But if interest in letters and liking to be read to are any indications of ease in learning to read, he will be a cinch!
What about Grammar?
With my 2 older children I have used identical resources for grammar study. They both started out with First Language Lessons and followed that by several years worth of Rod & Staff English. They’re both finishing off their English grammar studies with Analytical Grammar. It’s a rigorous program, but I love the philosophy of the author. She contends that grammar is a content subject with a body of knowledge to learn. So rather than learning and relearning the same things every year, why not learn all the grammar and be done with it? It is very heavy on diagramming of sentences. I won’t lie and say that my children love this program. BUT they do love the fact that they don’t have to do daily grammar lessons all year long. They do their intensive lessons, occasional review, and they’re done.
With William I have been very slowly working through Rod & Staff. I can’t see him doing well with Analytical Grammar, so we will probably continue with Rod & Staff the whole way through. The repetition and review that made my older children long for Analytical Grammar will probably be a great help for him.
I have been working through First Language Lessons some with Lizzie this year, but I’m finding it a bit more repetitive than I remembered. We’re often going over 3 or 4 lessons in one sitting. One new resource that I’m really enjoying is StoryTime Treasures from Memoria Press. It is covering some grammar along with reading comprehension questions.
Don’t forget Latin!
We have been studying Latin for a long time in our homeschool. Maybe too long.
Do I regret starting early with my oldest?
Could he have learned as much starting later?
David used Classical Academic Press curriculum for Latin. He started with Latin for Children and completed A, B, and most of C. Then he moved on to Latin Alive. That didn’t go as well. He made it through book 1 and about half of book 2, but he really was struggling with the material. Part of it was my fault and not being more strict about drill. Part of it is his personality. He really is just not that interested in Latin. But this year I have found a course that he is enjoying much more: Visual Latin. We didn’t start all the way at the beginning, but we did back up a bit to insure that he got a good review.
With Anna, it has been completely different. She started in Latin for Children, but when I receive Latina Christiana to review, I switched her to that. It turns out that she thrives in the drill-heavy Memoria Press programs. If you’re trying to decide on a Latin program, you might find this comparison helpful.
If you’ve made it through my lengthy post, congratulations! Don’t miss reading other tips for teaching language arts. Here’s a list!
By Kristen H.