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mymommy1

Too Many Moving Parts LA (xpost)

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We are having trouble getting all of LA done - spelling, writing, copywork, grammar, etc.  Dad does homeschool and has difficulty with lists and all the parts, but he is literally blowing up chem lab with the 5th grader.  The kids read lots and listen to lots of audiobooks and take history and other classes at a little co-op. 

I need something simpler for LA that the kids can more manage themselves. For my 6th grader next year, I want to try AOPS prealgebra.  I'd like to have one thing for him to work through for LA + a reading list and free reads.  Ideas?

 

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If possible, I'd first consider rearranging your schedule and *how* you're doing LA and see if an adjustment there helps you get it done. Example: schedule 60-90 minutes (depending on how many kids and what ages) each morning for your "Language Arts Power Hour".  Then muscle through, however it works best for your crew:

Everyone is at the table together, with homeschooling parent right there redirecting children back on task and answering questions, and everyone does the same subject at the same time like in a classroom:
5-10 minutes = copywork
10 minutes = spelling
15 minutes = grammar
5 minute snack and stretch break
30 minutes = writing
If someone finishes before the "time period" for that subject ends, they pull out a solo-working educational time filler that is easy to pick up/set down -- critical thinking puzzle book, coloring page, etc. If someone needs more time, either "loop" the lesson to be finished the next day and then start the new lesson (so flexible about not needing to do complete lesson each day), OR, they finish it later, in the scheduled 30 min. "catch-up" period at the end of the school day before moving on to free time.

Or, if children need more more 1-on-1 time try a 90-minute cycle, set up three 30-minute time blocks, one for copywork / spelling / grammar, another for writing, and a third for reading. Take a 5 minute snack & stretch break between each subject/time block, and to facilitate children switching to their next subject. Schedule it such that 2 of the children will need less help with their LA subjects in that time block, leaving more time for helping the 3rd child 1-on-1 during that 30-minute time block.
 

Just a reality check: many many students under the age of 12 do not do well staying on task without a parent right there, and some tween- and teen-aged students just don't learn well being sent off to do work solo, but need interaction, or at least living bodies in the same room, lol. YMMV. That said, these are programs that combine some of the LA areas, and/or are more independent working:

Workbooks are usually pretty independent, and if getting all of them from the same publisher, there is a similarity in approach that makes them easier to do, even if each subject is a separate workbook. Ideas:
   Spectrum (secular) -- Language Arts (Grammar & Vocabulary) + Writing + Spelling
   JacKris Publishing (Christian) -- Growing with Grammar, Winning with Writing, Soaring with Spelling

If the student doesn't have LDs or special needs for learning LA, doing workbooks for each LA subject from a different publisher might work:
   Writing: Jump In -- or, if the student enjoys creative writing: Cover Story
   Grammar: Junior Analytical Grammar
   Spelling: Spelling Workout

Learning Language Arts Through Literature and Total Language are "complete" LA programs -- literature, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary. Workbook-like, so a good portion of it can be done mostly independently by the student. I personally found the one guide I used to be very light, and my DS was all over the place with "fit" -- above DS's working level in some areas, behind in others.

Time 4 Learning (secular) -- online, self-paced, self-grading; it is all subjects, but I suppose you could just use the LA portion; $20/month for first student, $15/mmonth for each additional student

ACE Paces (Christian) -- computer, self-paced, each subject has a set of units on computer CD; can purchase just one subject; the 6th grade English pack is $35


BEST of luck in finding what works best for your family! Warmly, Lori D.

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My first thought is that the schedule Lori D proposes there would have been a disaster for my kids. Transitions always take them forever. It never mattered if I was sitting right there or not. So another take on that would be to focus on different things on different days. A day for spelling, a day for literature, a day for grammar, etc. Or to take that even wider - a month to focus on different aspects or types of projects or even different curricula entirely.

Language arts does have a lot of moving parts and aspects. But one of the nice things about it is that it inevitably spirals. You will keep circling around.

In addition to the workbooks Lori suggested, I'll toss in that we used Evan Moor's Daily Paragraph Editing and Daily Language Review at those ages and found them to be useful. Critical Thinking Company's Editor in Chief would be another option along those lines.

Finally, your older two might not need spelling anymore. If you need to remove a piece, that might be able to go.

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2 hours ago, Farrar said:

...another take... would be to focus on different things on different days. A day for spelling, a day for literature, a day for grammar, etc. Or to take that even wider - a month to focus on different aspects or types of projects or even different curricula entirely.


Those are more good options: to alternate several of the LA subjects (for example, we never did Grammar or Handwriting more than 3x/week (and didn't even start it until 3rd/4th grade) and did fine) -- or to do a focused study / unit study on 2 LA elements, and then the next month or the next semester focus on the other 2. I can't remember who it is, but someone on these boards says they only hit Grammar about 3 times before high school -- something like grades 4, 6, and 8.

Another option is to drop one LA subject each day: write down 5 of the LA components -- Handwriting, Writing, Spelling, Grammar, Vocabulary -- each on an index card, and each day a student draws a card out of the hat, and that is the LA element dropped by everyone for that day. That reduces the total # of LA elements/moving parts each day, but all LA elements receive attention 4x/week.

Combining, dropping, and delaying are also possible options:
Combine all 3 students and do Vocabulary as a 5-minute out-loud together activity as part of the morning "power hour" or circle time or whatever you call it. 
Drop Spelling for the 13yo, unless still needed.
Delay starting Grammar for the 7yo until he is 9-10yo.

BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.

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Lori D and Farrar, thank you for your thoughts.

I think I would like to do what Lori said, but for one of my son's and my husband, it's difficult.  

Maybe I can do curriculum I'm comfortable with between semesters. (I teach at college). Then better choices for my husband.

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11 hours ago, mymommy1 said:

We are having trouble getting all of LA done - spelling, writing, copywork, grammar, etc.  Dad does homeschool and has difficulty with lists and all the parts, but he is literally blowing up chem lab with the 5th grader.  The kids read lots and listen to lots of audiobooks and take history and other classes at a little co-op. 

I need something simpler for LA that the kids can more manage themselves. For my 6th grader next year, I want to try AOPS prealgebra.  I'd like to have one thing for him to work through for LA + a reading list and free reads.  Ideas?

 

Rod and Staff for English (includes writing and grammar) and spelling. Bam. Done.

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17 hours ago, mymommy1 said:

We are having trouble getting all of LA done - spelling, writing, copywork, grammar, etc.  Dad does homeschool and has difficulty with lists and all the parts, but he is literally blowing up chem lab with the 5th grader.  The kids read lots and listen to lots of audiobooks and take history and other classes at a little co-op. 

I need something simpler for LA that the kids can more manage themselves. For my 6th grader next year, I want to try AOPS prealgebra.  I'd like to have one thing for him to work through for LA + a reading list and free reads.  Ideas?

 

 

This jumped out at me. 

If you're inclined to use copywork as a part of your language arts teaching, it isn't done for it's own sake. The copywork (which slowly becomes dictation), coupled with narrations, oral and written, *is* the language arts curriculum. That's how you learn spelling, grammar, and composition. This little booklet is about that, and it is one of my favorite homeschooling things ever. 

So drop that right off the bat. OR drop everything else. 

Your kids are in fifth and sixth grade right now?...or they are fourth and fifth graders going into fifth and sixth next year? Is it just the two of them?

What have they used so far? Where are they right now with LA, and what is their general attitude toward LA school work? Are they receptive to watching a dvd, doing some writing, then having their work checked by a parent?

Edited by OKBud
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Next year, the boys will be 2nd, 6th, and 9th.

2nd - focus on finishing MP first grade reading, cursive, spelling alternating subjects between husband and myself

6th-has had FLL 4, some spelling, some IEW; narrates very well; needs to get narration on paper with increasing length and accuracy; quick learner, but dislikes writing by hand

9th - very low processing speed and attention level, but dictation and writing speeches for his co-op class are most helpful this year; He doesn't learn well with a dvd; he needs to hear it a thousand times.

I think the middle one could most easily use a DVD and learn from it. The oldest needs the most side-by-side because of neurological challenges.

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11 hours ago, mymommy1 said:

Next year, the boys will be 2nd, 6th, and 9th.

2nd - focus on finishing MP first grade reading, cursive, spelling alternating subjects between husband and myself

6th-has had FLL 4, some spelling, some IEW; narrates very well; needs to get narration on paper with increasing length and accuracy; quick learner, but dislikes writing by hand

9th - very low processing speed and attention level, but dictation and writing speeches for his co-op class are most helpful this year; He doesn't learn well with a dvd; he needs to hear it a thousand times.

I think the middle one could most easily use a DVD and learn from it. The oldest needs the most side-by-side because of neurological challenges.


IDEAS:

For the 2nd grader -- that age still needs mostly all 1-on-1 with the parent. Consider delaying starting Grammar or Dictation and a formal Writing program until 3rd/4th grade to reduce # of LA topics to cover. Vocabulary can be just learned in context of reading -- no need for a separate component there.

So that would leave the 2nd grader with LA topics of Reading, Cursive, and Spelling, with possibly Phonics (although that is likely bundled with your Reading), and possibly Narration if you want. If you do Narration, consider doing it just 1-2x/week to reduce LA load), and then use that narration spread over 2-3 days as the Cursive practice.
__________________

For the 6th grader -- he could drop handwriting/copywork and start learning to type. Once he is up to speed with touch typing, it will make Writing so much easier. At 6th grade, esp. since he already narrates well, I would suggest dropping narration and moving to a Writing program.  I would suggest switching to more independent Grammar, Writing, and Spelling (if still needing Spelling) than what you're currently using. Ideas for Writing:
Wordsmith Apprentice (gr. 4-6 level) -- workbook-based; informal, written to the student; covers 4 writing types (Descriptive, Narrative, Expository, Persuasive); very gentle but great for reluctant writers -- it has a fun "cub reporter theme" and is very do-able independently; there is a suggested schedule, but it's also easy to break it into smaller "bites" and spread it out if needed
Jump In (gr. 6-9 level) -- workbook-based; informal, written to the student; covers 4 writing types; focuses on thinking of what to say/organizing thoughts
- Winning with Writing (by grade level) -- workbook-based
- Essentials in Writing (by grade level) -- $87; DVD-based lessons; includes a lot of Grammar, so this could do double-duty next year for Grammar; if you try EiW and find it to be a good fit, starting in 7th grade and on up, EiW offers a scoring service to grade/comment on papers for an additional $97

That would leave the following for the 6th grader's LA topics: Reading, Writing, Grammar, and Spelling if still needed, with Handwriting dropped in favor of solo-learning Typing, and Vocabulary learned in context of Reading (learn words in the moment of the reading).
__________________

For the 9th grader -- that's tough. With LDs, that means needing to be right there and often means having to spend even MORE time on the subject at older ages. For my own DS#2 with LDs, quality vs. quantity, and making everything do "double duty" as much as possible helped a little bit -- so writing speeches would count not only as Speech/Debate, but would also count as Writing -- no need to do more. Next year in 9th, any writing done towards Science (lab reports), History (research paper), etc., can also count for Writing.

Also, you'll likely not need any more Grammar next year -- most 8th graders are finishing up formal Grammar instruction and in 9th grade they move on to actually putting Grammar to use in the context of their Writing and in learning a Foreign Language. If still needing a bit of Grammar review, that can usually be done in about 15 minute bursts 2x/week. Perhaps The Chortling Bard might work; it is a paragraph a day that all add on to a story (3 humorous retellings of Shakespeare plays), that works on proof-editing practice, grammar concept review, and learning 2 new vocabulary words per paragraph. You could just photocopy the paragraph a day from the book, have DS mark the proof-editing errors and make corrections, then discuss the grammar review concepts and learn the vocabulary

The typical high school English credit -- which is usually about 1/2 Literature (reading, discussing, analyzing books/short stories/poetry/plays) and 1/2 Writing (can focus on essays, the research paper, or use things like prep for Speeches; can also focus on Creative Writing or Journalism). Vocabulary can be learned in context of the Literature (learn words in the moment of the reading).

So hopefully, that reduces your LA load for your 9th grader to just Writing and Reading (plus time with parent for discussing). If still needed, possibly a little Grammar and/or Spelling -- possibly alternate days. With our DS#2 and his LDs, we had to do the bulk of our Literature as out loud reading ("popcorn reading" -- "you read a page, I read a page"), and discussed as we read (about 45-50 min./day), and I had to sit right with him for a huge part of the writing (30 min/day). We also did a 10 min. Grammar review 2x/week, and spent about 15 min/day 4-5x/week on Spelling due to his LDs. All that to say that parent time for a 9th grade English credit with your DS with neurological challenges will likely still be pretty lengthy. However, the Reading could happen in evenings and on weekends, so you have a bit of flexibility. And you may only need to Read and Write so that reduces the LA topics to cover with that DS.

BEST of luck in finding what works best for your family! Warmly, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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Christian Light Language Arts is all-in-one. It is in workbook format and designed to be mostly self-teaching. There are samples on their website.

Susan in TX

 

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3 hours ago, Susan in TX said:

Christian Light Language Arts is all-in-one. It is in workbook format and designed to be mostly self-teaching. There are samples on their website.

Susan in TX

 

I was going to suggest this! It can be a bit advanced regarding grammar, so careful with placement. Many do it behind grade level. 

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