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Mimicoto

Help me design a targeted language arts program for 8 year old

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My 8 year old DS was an extremely reluctant writer and it was one of reasons we came around to homeschooling.  He is a voracious reader and has a fantastic vocabulary - but he is lagging in writing, grammar and spelling.  By grammar I mean basics such as capitalization, punctuation and by writing I mean the ability formulating a sentence independently.  He does copywork, but is still writing in manuscript.

 

He is ready for more of a challenge...he is willing now.  And I need some help in targeting our efforts as to be honest, we've wasted a fair bit of time by being inconsistent with his lessons.  Really inconsistent.

 

What I would like is something (or somethingS) with few bells and whistles - it needs to be straightforward and allow us to stay focused on skill building.  He WANTS to spell and is constantly asking me to give him words to spell.  He is very expressive verbally and narrates very well.  We need tools that are simple and unencumbered....just for a short season, mom and son have to stop getting sidetracked by all the beautiful books!!!

 

Can you help?

 

Here is what we have on hand for materials:

 

Spelling: 

 

*  RLTL - but to be honest, I'm intimidated by the phonograms as it is a new system to me

*  Spelling Power - have started with the assessments but have not followed through

 

Grammar & Writing:

 

* ELTL - love it to bits, but am thinking of putting it aside for a little while so we can concentrate on some matters of grammar and handwriting in a more 'intensive' way....ELTL is slow and gentle, and sometimes I think we get too bogged down in the stories and poetry and end up passing on the 'meat' of the lessons.  He reads a ton as it is - and perhaps we could keep going with the reading list, but find a targeted tool to work on grammar basics
 

Handwriting: 

 

*  HLTL - I have it but have never printed it or used it

*  Getty-Dubay Italic Book C (the one that transitions to cursive).  It is getting used, but he is still printing.

 

Any suggestions would be appreciated - including materials, schedule, frequency etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Of the spelling options you have on hand, I would choose Spelling Power. Another cheap option is Rod & Staff spelling. My 8 year old 2nd grader is doing Grade 2 and it's super easy to implement.

 

For Language arts, I might not be much help. I would stick with ELTL. Are you doing the memory work as mentioned in the TM? You are supposed to use a card file and practice each definition 3 times per day and hen slowly down to once per week I believe. It is outlined in the introduction. I mention this because I failed to see it until someone on here mentioned it. In addition to ELTL, we are using Growing with Grammar's workbook. It gives her extra practice on what she learns in ELTL. If I had to choose one, I would pick ELTL. :) GWG is super short so it's not overwhelming to add on.

 

For handwriting, I would finish the italic book and then decide what direction to take. I'm looking at HWOT more than likely for my pencil phobic daughter.

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Of the spelling options you have on hand, I would choose Spelling Power. Another cheap option is Rod & Staff spelling. My 8 year old 2nd grader is doing Grade 2 and it's super easy to implement.

 

For Language arts, I might not be much help. I would stick with ELTL. Are you doing the memory work as mentioned in the TM? You are supposed to use a card file and practice each definition 3 times per day and hen slowly down to once per week I believe. It is outlined in the introduction. I mention this because I failed to see it until someone on here mentioned it. In addition to ELTL, we are using Growing with Grammar's workbook. It gives her extra practice on what she learns in ELTL. If I had to choose one, I would pick ELTL. :) GWG is super short so it's not overwhelming to add on.

 

For handwriting, I would finish the italic book and then decide what direction to take. I'm looking at HWOT more than likely for my pencil phobic daughter.

 

We've crossed paths on the 3rd Grade Writing thread :-)))

 

I do love ELTL....and no, we haven't been doing the memory work...so I'm excited to take a look at Growing with Grammar ....that would be great reinforcement.

 

HWOT - is that Handwriting Without Tears??

 

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    For grammar, I really like the curriculum called Easy Grammar.  The program includes a student workbook and an instructor's book with answers and tips.  The instructor's book corresponds exactly to the student workbook, so the lessons and correct answers are easy to find in a jiff.

 

   What I love about this program: 

 

-- It makes sense!!!  the student (and teacher, if you're like me) starts off learning prepositions.  Once prepositions are identified, the rest of the sentence elements are easy to recognize and name.  I'm a college grad and only truly understood grammar after using this program with my kids.  Diagramming?  Me?  No way!  Until now!  : )

 

--Not complicated.  No prep work.

 

--Does NOT focus on diagramming parts of sentences with lots of slanted lines, etc like so many traditional programs.  The student learns to identify and use parts of speech, but without the extravagant graphing.  Big relief for me and the kids!!!

 

--The book includes capitalization, punctuation, correspondence rules, but places those lessons at the back.  The instructor chooses to integrate these lessons with the grammar sections, use them intermittently, or wait, following the book straight through, and tackling them at the end.

 

--**Solid** program, but without a drill-n-kill approach.  You can choose to do a little or a lot each day/week.  We started with the 3rd level and worked our way up.  Each level reviews and expands on the previous one.  Each level also provides some review throughout the year through unit tests.  If your student needs more review, use Daily Grams or various parts of the unit test throughout the chapters.

 

--Supplement or mix things up with Daily Grams, which are excellent corresponding books that provide practice and/or review via quick exercises.  Emphasis on capitalization, punctuation and sentence combining.  Great tool.

 

*****************

As far as Handwriting goes....give yourself and your student a break and don't sweat it right now!!!!  Let your student concentrate on other subjects, then come back to handwriting later.  Really.  Boys, especially, often prefer to print, even into adulthood.   My son learned cursive when he was in 5th grade or so.  That's when he was ready, mentally and physically.  He's a teenager now and doing quite well!

 

I used to lose sleep over so many things that seem unimportant now.  Truly, don't sweat the small stuff.  It will all fall into place.  That's one lesson I learned the hard way!  : )

 

There are 2 handwriting programs I like (everyone has her personal favorites!  YMMV)

 

--Handwriting Without Tears (printing and cursive programs available)

 

-- New American Cursive (Memoria Press uses this one)

 

 

Both these programs are easy to implement.   Geared toward getting the job done with simplicity and ease, these programs are good for students who struggle with interest and/or motor skills.  Letter formation is student-friendly and unfussy without looking "unattractive".  : )  In my personal opinion, New American Cursive is the "prettier" of the two and the program that appealed most to my kids.

 

*****************

Spelling is a tough one.  Some kids are natural spellers, others struggle no matter what the program or approach.  Spelling has **nothing** to do with intelligence or knowledge, but is an important skill nonetheless.

 

If your son still struggles with the phonetic concepts many spelling rules are based upon, I'd suggest trying Explode the Code Workbooks.

 

My natural speller has had great success with ETC, Sing, Spell, Read, and Write, and later with Building Spelling Skills by Christian Liberty Press (very affordable, extremely traditional, rote, old-fashioned, easy to use, challenging material).

 

My struggling speller now uses Building Spelling Skills, too, after trying numerous programs.  She's doing adequately.  : )  Good enough!

 

Many kids like MCP Spelling Workout (didn't work for us).

 

Lots of moms swear by Sequential Spelling (didn't work for us, either!)

 

 

I like both these programs, but my student flailed, fussed, and showed little progress no matter how hard we both tried (and cried!).

 

I remember trying Spelling Power briefly, but it felt too intimidating for us.

 

All About Spelling is one program that looks interesting and worth a try if your student learns best with a multi-sensory approach.

My youngest may be using this one when the time comes.  : )

 

**********************

 

Just one idea about formulating sentences and writing....One way to help ease a kid into writing is through narrating/dictating.  Have him narrate a sentence about (fill in the blank).  Correct his grammar gently, if necessary, through the modeling and repeat approach.  Ask gentle questions to get him to add a few details.  For example:  He says, " The bird flew."  You say, "what color is the bird?"  He says, "black".  Then you say, " The black bird flew."  Then ask where the bird flew.  He says, "in the sky."  You say, " The black bird flew in the sky."  Then ask him **how** the bird flew (provide suggestions if he blanks out; did the bird fly fast? weakly? crookedly?).  He answers, "crookedly."  At this point, he may add that the bird is a klutz or something else.  Just go with it.  Then repeat his sentence back to him, emphasizing any new or interesting parts: " The black, **klutzy** bird flew crookedly in the sky."

 

Compliment him on ***his*** sentence that *he* just *wrote*.  Then write his sentence in a notebook (use large writing, with plenty of spaces).  Have him copy this sentence in his own manuscript writing.  Emphasize that these are HIS words, this is his sentence--he's the creator--and all you did was take dictation.

 

This is a gentle, effective way to get kids to write original sentences.  It takes time and patience, but it does work. 

 

Hope this helps a bit!  Good luck and enjoy the journey!  You're doing great, both of you!

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A lot of your resources I'm not super familiar with. And some recs may vary depending on what specific problems there are. All my recs are based on him being NT.

 

Handwriting daily: 15 min, probably 6 days per week if you're wanting to catch him up. This should be just practicing handwriting. Script practice or print if you're still working on that but copy work only. Discussion of grammar/punctuation incorporated may be considered but I'd personally focus on one new rule. Like using commas or whatever. I like HWT -handwriting without tears - fine for mechanics. Likely if he's progressing then what you have is fine. Consistentcy is key. Those 15 min should be spent learning to write neatly, with good age sizing, and fluency. Once mechanics are covered (how to write), you can probably progress to dictation but I'd limit harder spelling during handwriting time, or excessive grammar, etc (IMO but maybe a NT kid can do those all at the same time).

 

Spelling - 10-15 min per day x 5 days. Have about one week per phonetic rule. For instance we're doing ee spellings this week for long e words. Plus 3-5 sight words. I modify AAS, but any programs with basically a list of phonics rules that builds on itself is good. Random words I would skip. Otoh phonetic zoo is self driven. I know nothing else about that program.

 

Grammar- no personal experience. I have an Evan moor grammar book. It's comprehensive and sold per grade level, does a lot of examples, and probably could be self taught. Honestly we're in the mad libs stage right now. Just describing parts of speech and names for groups of words. So no help there yet.

 

Eta - because of my DS I'm always quick to jump the gun to recommend testing for learning disabilities. If there has been ideal teaching for 3-6 months with still minimal or no improvement I'd recommend testing. If progress is coming along once consistency is established I'd just try to cover as much as possible to catch him up.

 

Maybe incorporate a creative writing daily activity. It sounds like he wants to do that, and it would help him practice without it being a burden. No handwriting corrections or spelling, just creative outlet. There are daily workbooks that give ideas. Like write for ten minutes about X topic (maybe orange aliens that landed in the backyard?), idk.

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I actually came to this board asking for grammar recs recently for third grade, but for now we're still finishing up a 1st grade Spectrum book. I would recommend the book. We got Mad Libs, but for some reason the one we have doesn't say "noun" "verb" etc. under the blank, but rather a symbol that stands for the part of speech. It drives me nuts! Here is the Spectrum book we are using: http://www.amazon.com/Language-Arts-Grade-1-Spectrum/dp/076968131X/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1454649043&sr=8-14&keywords=Language+arts+spectrumAmazon says they revised it, but we have the green cover one. We've also been slowly working our way through The Sentence Family. We took a break from it. If you google it you will see one or two places to download it. I don't know if it will help at all, but we got a Children's dictionary this year and periodically look up words that ds comes across that are new to him. I just wish the children's dictionary didn't lack so many of the words we find :/

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We haven't been doing formal spelling, grammar or phonics studies this year. I'd love to say it's because my students are awesome at all of those things, but alas, it's because they have fell by the wayside in favor of reading, science, math, and pet projects.

 

What we have been doing is keeping lists posted on the wall of what we call Mystery Words. Mystery Words are words that we don't know, have questions about, or are just fun or unique for whatever reason. Mystery Words get looked up in the dictionary or Google. They get written down in their notebooks. They (and their definitions) are often copied down in the copywork book. Every few weeks, I take down the lists and we start over again.

 

Sometimes I have my kids make booklets of their words, with illustrations. DD really likes doing that and DS2 will sometimes do it as well. It's a relaxed approach that is probably more supplemental than formal, but it works for us. It's encouraged them to hone their phonics skills and led to discussions about parts of speech, word structure, etymology, and plenty of other things.

 

Mystery Words also sometimes make a guest appearance as a category on our Learning Jeopardy game days. Now that DS2 is old enough to participate, we actually have three contestants lol. Basically, I try to make grasping the concepts and mechanical workings of the English language fun and memorable. I think that is probably the most gentle approach for us prior to delving into formal studies. Next year I plan on introducing grammar as a subject with DD and DS1, and probably some formal writing as well.

 

Maybe this helps? Maybe I'm just rambling.  :001_smile:

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It sounds like you need a simple open-and-go program that you can feel confident you'll be able to get done regularly. For me, CLE's language arts has met the bill for that beautifully. The lessons aren't exciting, but they're extremely thorough and provide lots of review. And, they include spelling, handwriting, grammar, capitalization, and reference skills all in the one workbook. CLE's been really helpful at building my son's schoolwork stamina and teaching him that sometimes you have to sit down and just. do. the. assignment. 

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It sounds like you need a simple open-and-go program that you can feel confident you'll be able to get done regularly. For me, CLE's language arts has met the bill for that beautifully. The lessons aren't exciting, but they're extremely thorough and provide lots of review. And, they include spelling, handwriting, grammar, capitalization, and reference skills all in the one workbook. CLE's been really helpful at building my son's schoolwork stamina and teaching him that sometimes you have to sit down and just. do. the. assignment. 

 

Katie - your son is the same age as mine, so this sounds interesting.  And yes - open-and-go is where it's at right now!  We looooove all of the meandering we do with literature and poetry, but DS and I can easily get blown off course....I am going to take a look at this, it sounds right up our alley....and possibly something we could do while not dropping our beloved ELTL...

 

I'm heading over to take a look....what level / book are you using??

 

ETA:  I've just found their LA diagnostic test online, so I'll take a look at that.  Thank you!!

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I started my son in it last year, so he did the 200 level last year and is working through the 300 level this year. (One thing to keep in mind besides the diagnostic tests is that the 200 level series begins with manuscript and then gradually teaches the cursive letters. So if you want to teach cursive, you'd probably want to start no later than the middle of 200.) 

 

It's Mennonite, so that's another factor to consider depending upon your religious background. There are quite a few references to farming and Bible verses, along with women wearing head coverings in the illustrations. 

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Hi Katie - I'm looking through the units and this looks like exactly what the doctor ordered!!!  We will do the diagnostic test to see where he fits best, but I am officially heaving a big sigh of relief...  :o  Having everything in one place so we are SURE to cover things off on an ongoing basis is key - our life needs a bit of simple right now.

 

I'm fine with the religious content - we used CLE math for a time, and enjoyed the gentle spirit those references lent to the lessons. 

 

Huge thank you!!!

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Hi Katie - I'm looking through the units and this looks like exactly what the doctor ordered!!!  We will do the diagnostic test to see where he fits best, but I am officially heaving a big sigh of relief...  :o  Having everything in one place so we are SURE to cover things off on an ongoing basis is key - our life needs a bit of simple right now.

 

I'm fine with the religious content - we used CLE math for a time, and enjoyed the gentle spirit those references lent to the lessons. 

 

Huge thank you!!!

 

We homeschool moms can all use a bit of simple! I hope it proves to work out as well for your son as it has for mine. :) 

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My 8 year old DS was an extremely reluctant writer and it was one of reasons we came around to homeschooling.  He is a voracious reader and has a fantastic vocabulary - but he is lagging in writing, grammar and spelling.  By grammar I mean basics such as capitalization, punctuation and by writing I mean the ability formulating a sentence independently.  He does copywork, but is still writing in manuscript.

 

He is ready for more of a challenge...he is willing now.  And I need some help in targeting our efforts as to be honest, we've wasted a fair bit of time by being inconsistent with his lessons.  Really inconsistent.

 

What I would like is something (or somethingS) with few bells and whistles - it needs to be straightforward and allow us to stay focused on skill building.  He WANTS to spell and is constantly asking me to give him words to spell.  He is very expressive verbally and narrates very well.  We need tools that are simple and unencumbered....just for a short season, mom and son have to stop getting sidetracked by all the beautiful books!!!

 

Can you help?

 

Here is what we have on hand for materials:

 

Spelling: 

 

*  RLTL - but to be honest, I'm intimidated by the phonograms as it is a new system to me

*  Spelling Power - have started with the assessments but have not followed through

 

Grammar & Writing:

 

* ELTL - love it to bits, but am thinking of putting it aside for a little while so we can concentrate on some matters of grammar and handwriting in a more 'intensive' way....ELTL is slow and gentle, and sometimes I think we get too bogged down in the stories and poetry and end up passing on the 'meat' of the lessons.  He reads a ton as it is - and perhaps we could keep going with the reading list, but find a targeted tool to work on grammar basics

 

Handwriting: 

 

*  HLTL - I have it but have never printed it or used it

*  Getty-Dubay Italic Book C (the one that transitions to cursive).  It is getting used, but he is still printing.

 

Any suggestions would be appreciated - including materials, schedule, frequency etc.

I love Spelling Workout and you don't need the TM.

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We homeschool moms can all use a bit of simple! I hope it proves to work out as well for your son as it has for mine. :)

 

Indeed!  Quick follow-up - do you use the Teachers Guide??

 

 

I love Spelling Workout and you don't need the TM.

 

I think I have this on hand (oh goodness, all the tools I have that have not been used!!  :blushing: ).  Thanks for the reminder!

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I have it, but I hardly use it. It's mostly just an answer key, with a few very basic teaching suggestions. I usually just correct the work without needing the manual. But if you're pressed for time, you might like to have the answer key handy. 

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I have it, but I hardly use it. It's mostly just an answer key, with a few very basic teaching suggestions. I usually just correct the work without needing the manual. But if you're pressed for time, you might like to have the answer key handy. 

 

Thank you!

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Closing the loop here....we've decided to go with CLE for the 'core' LA skills training and continue with ELTL on the side for literature study and narration.  Will also keep plugging away on the Getty-Dubay and work torwards beginning cursive soon.

 

BTW, I was amazed at how decent DS's spelling was in the assessments!  We've never done anything formal - just a ton of reading and copywork.....go CM go!! :-))

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