Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Our Curriculum this year - Languange Arts

This year for Language Arts, we have 4 separate components: Handwriting, Phonics, Oral Reading (both that the children read to me from simple readers and that they listen to good literature that I read aloud to them), and the Riggs Program (which includes memorizing phonograms, spelling rules and spelling words).  Since reading and writing are foundational skills to master for learning and neither of my children are proficient yet, working toward independent reading and writing is one of our primary goals for the year.  For this reason, we begin and end our school day with Language arts.

After our opening Calendar activities, we begin with Handwriting. We chose to use Handwriting without Tears for William last year and I was really happy with the program so we continued with the 2nd grade book this year.  I also ordered the kindergarten text for Miriam.  She is speeding through the text so next year, and maybe even later this year, I'll be exploring other options for her.  We ordered the wood blocks and letter cards for Luke and he is doing great as well.  He loves their wet, dry try chalk board practice and does amazingly well at writing his letters for a three year old. 

I help Luke and Miriam learn to form their letter of the Day while William works on his writing. Then Miriam works in their Phonics book (MCP Book A), while William reads to me and then works in his Phonics book.  I chose MCP phonics simply because I was already familiar with it from when I taught kindergarten.  I find it helpful to reinforce phonics practice with William since he really struggles in this area and the book has a variety of fun activities to practice phonics.  I bought one for Miriam because she enjoys doing the pages.  There are other options out there but I feel this is a helpful resource though neither of my children can complete the activities without help at this time.

This is a video of William reading last year - he's reading much better now but I haven't video taped him lately ;-)

At some point, I listen to Miriam read a "Bob book" and read with Luke as well.  William and Miriam are working their way through the Bob books, Luke just has to do everything that his siblings do :-).  We originally would check these simple readers out of our Library and the kids enjoyed them well enough that I decided to order them for daily reading practice.  I really like that the books are phonetic readers that gradually build in difficulty and both children have enjoyed mastering the various books.

In the afternoon, we have a story time where I read aloud to them.  Right now we are reading The Swiss Family Robinson (Illustrated Family Classics).  There are many suggested books that tie in with our curriculum and I use the Well Trained Mind and Laura Berquist's books to choose read alouds throughout the year.  I also often just go through and request books online from our library so it's quick and easy to pick them up when we go to the library.  We finish the day with a phonogram/spelling lesson from the Riggs Writing and Spelling Road to Reading Program.  I use this program because I was trained in it as a kindergarten teacher and find it a very helpful tool for teaching reading and phonics and English grammar/spelling rules.  It does take a bit of time to learn how to teach this method so it may not be the best fit for many homeschoolers, but if you really want a strong foundation in Language arts it's worth looking into.  However, if you just want to teach your child to read, there are plenty of other highly recommended user-friendly programs out there. 

We work on the Riggs at the end of our school day because it is nap time so the house is quieter for William's sake. William's most challenging subject is Phonics. He is a very strong visual/spacial learner and has no problem memorizing words and the isolated phonograms but it is very hard for him to blend sounds together to decode a new word and to break a word into sounds. To avoid as much frustration as possible for him, we have focused more on learning words (whole language) while still plugging away at the phonics and we are making headway but he is just beginning to gain proficiency in reading.  Miriam, a strong auditory learner, is well advanced for her just beginning kindergarten stage and does quite well with Phonics and reading the simple "Bob books.".

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