Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Language Arts Thoughts

Language Arts is one of the more challenging subjects for me to plan. The reason it is difficult for me to plan is because I want them to enjoy this subject. Unfortunately, this subject requires many different materials, at least for us. I have never found an all-in-one Language Arts program that I like. Neither of my kids are at the same level for all aspects of the subject. Plus, my kids actually need different approaches for different aspects of the subject. So, in order to plan this subject, I need to plan each aspect separately. While both kids love reading, they have never been overly fond of writing. Dea fights quite a bit about required reading, or even suggested reading. Jay has been just fine with required reading. Spelling is a bit of a challenge for both. Their vocabularies have always been exceptional. Grammar can be insanely boring, for both kids. I have to take all of that, and more, into account when planning Language Arts.

Required Reading/Literature:
For Dea, it is Literature. She's in high school, and we have already chosen the reading selections for the Literature part of her high school English courses. In other words, there is nothing for me to worry about planning here.
For Jay, it is required reading. This is the first year we have done required reading for Jay. He is doing very well with it. He has enjoyed all of the books he has read so far for required reading. Since he is not fighting about the required reading books, I would like to continue with it. The book list for this year started at 21 books. We are only 3 weeks in, and I have already had to double the list to make sure he has enough to get him through the year. As I start planning the book list for next year, I am thinking I will make a list of approximately 100 books. The books will be at reading levels between 5th & 10th grades. I will mark off any that he reads throughout this year, as fun reading. That will hopefully leave enough books for me to finalize a list before 5th grade starts.

Spelling:
This one is easy. We will continue to use All About Spelling.

Vocab:
We like a mostly informal approach to this. The kids have always had large vocabularies. This makes formal vocab programs unnecessary & boring for the kids. It also means that most programs are below their level.
At most, we do a "word a day" thing, where they are introduced to a word they don't regularly use, every day. They are then encouraged to use the new words in their writing & conversations.

Grammar:
Ugh. This is one of the most challenging areas. Most Grammar programs are boring. The more bored the kids are with the material, the less effort they put into it & the less they retain. In my experience, Grammar programs are often dull & repetitive. This year, we are using Giggly Guide to Grammar for Dea. She is enjoying it much more than anything else we've used. Jay's Grammar is pretty informal this year. We are using Mad Libs, worksheets I print, and a few books from the library. For next year, I want something a little more formal than this year, but still more likable than in the past.
I'm thinking Jensen's Grammar for Dea, supplemented with the high school level of Caught Ya! Grammar With a Giggle series. Jensen's is supposed to be comprehensive, and GWAG should add in a little fun.
Adventures of Genius Boy & Grammar Girl sounds like a good program to use as the main grammar work for Jay. I plan to supplement with the lower levels of GWAG. We will also include Mad Libs, as well as the game You've Been Sentenced, for both kids.

Writing:
This is the other part of Language Arts that is challenging to plan. Neither of the kids particularly likes to write. I looked into Brave Writer, but have ultimately decided against buying it. I am, however, getting some ideas from the site & blog. There are some ideas that I really like & plan to implement (actually, am already starting to implement, since we didn't really have much planned for Jay for Writing & Dea could always use a bit more writing work). We have started doing the weekly Poetry Tea. We are also starting a weekly Freewrite. We will also try to add in some fun writing assignments/games. We will continue with daily journals. Every month or so, we will have a more academic writing assignment. These will start (for Jay) with focusing on proper paragraph structure & work up to reports & essays. This way, they are not just doing creative writing, but also working on the kinds of writing that are required in high school & college.