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My daughter is in the 4th grade and we just began formally homeschooling. She was in Catholic school last year. 

I thought that she was struggling because her grades slipped last year. She grumbled about reading and writing. The teacher would send notes home about how my daughter wasn't completing her work in class. Because I thought she was struggling I planned to begin with reviewing phonics and using the Bravewriter Arrows to make things more fun. 

But now I don't think that she's struggling. She's read everything I've given her with ease. We started with the syllables program from the Phonics Page and my daughter got a little indignant because it was so easy for her. She does need to practice reading so build up her stamina. 

Catholic school appears to have given her a thorough understanding of grammar at a 3rd grade level. She knows the 8 parts of speech. However, her understanding is very rule based. She can identify the parts of speech but does not understand how that relates to what she is writing. 

She hated writing in school. Now she's telling everyone she wants to be an author when grows up and she keeps starting stories. Her writing is actually pretty good. She is not thoughtful about spelling or grammar. Her grammar is correct. Her spelling needs some work. But her language is interesting. It is not stilted and she uses action verbs, adverbs, and adjectives to make it more interesting. She is is not intentionally doing this. It seems natural to her. 

We started with AAS to help with the spelling and we both hate it. She does not like memorizing phonograms. She was taught to read using phonics but I don't think that's how her brain works. Phonograms are a mystery to me also even though I've tried to learn them to help my daughter. I don't think this is the right approach for her to learn to spell better. 

I've read that there are spelling programs based on morphemes and other programs based on patterns. I think both of these approaches would help her. Is there a program that uses both approaches that isn't too tedious? 

What about grammar and writing? I think she needs grammar instruction in the context of her writing. What programs do that? She needs some help with paragraphs. They taught her in school that paragraphs were 6 sentences so she chunks her paragraphs in groups of 6 paragraphs. I envision something that is writing first and then discussing grammar rules that apply to what she has written. 

 

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Actually....

What about not really doing any grammar or spelling instruction right now? Let her delight in writing for her own pleasure for a while. That's brilliant, and many of us only dream of having our children enjoy writing.

After a few months, you could consider looking into Bravewriter, which might be a good approach for her.

You could also consider the MCT series if she's loving playing with language.

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Isn't it kind of the truth that kids who are bright sometimes shut down in school because of boredom? :smile:

She might enjoy Writing Tales or another progymnasta-based approach. They would bring grammar study into her writing, yes.

Around that stage I used some really basic workbooks on writing paragraphs with my dd. (think Scholastic, something like that, maybe Paragraph Writing Made Easy...) But now adays I'd use the expository organizers from https://mindwingconcepts.com/products/thememaker-magnetic-snaps-1?_pos=2&_sid=f18ec19b9&_ss=r  They have all kinds of stuff free on their blog including this gem https://mindwingconcepts.com/blogs/news/46846209-expository-my-research-cut-and-fold-booklet?_pos=10&_sid=78dbe4a60&_ss=r

For spelling, there's a workbook that does want you want and the name is totally slipping my mind. You can do word study, sure. Also, had you thought about dictation? My dd got a lot of mileage from dictation. She needed to see it spelled correctly. Make it kind of a team effort and reward her (with m&ms, whatever) for asking for help. For my dd that self-monitoring was an issue, stopping and thinking whether she knew the word or needed help. https://www.amazon.com/Dictation-Resource-Book-Susan-Anthony/dp/1879478218/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=spelling+dictation&qid=1565230773&s=gateway&sr=8-1  This has good dictation. I found it late, but really it's very practical. I was using the Wise Guide from SWR, which doesn't sound like it would please you at all. 

 

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7 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

My daughter is in the 4th grade and we just began formally homeschooling. She was in Catholic school last year. 

I thought that she was struggling because her grades slipped last year. She grumbled about reading and writing. The teacher would send notes home about how my daughter wasn't completing her work in class. Because I thought she was struggling I planned to begin with reviewing phonics and using the Bravewriter Arrows to make things more fun. 

But now I don't think that she's struggling. She's read everything I've given her with ease. We started with the syllables program from the Phonics Page and my daughter got a little indignant because it was so easy for her. She does need to practice reading so build up her stamina. 

Catholic school appears to have given her a thorough understanding of grammar at a 3rd grade level. She knows the 8 parts of speech. However, her understanding is very rule based. She can identify the parts of speech but does not understand how that relates to what she is writing. 

She hated writing in school. Now she's telling everyone she wants to be an author when grows up and she keeps starting stories. Her writing is actually pretty good. She is not thoughtful about spelling or grammar. Her grammar is correct. Her spelling needs some work. But her language is interesting. It is not stilted and she uses action verbs, adverbs, and adjectives to make it more interesting. She is is not intentionally doing this. It seems natural to her. 

We started with AAS to help with the spelling and we both hate it. She does not like memorizing phonograms. She was taught to read using phonics but I don't think that's how her brain works. Phonograms are a mystery to me also even though I've tried to learn them to help my daughter. I don't think this is the right approach for her to learn to spell better. 

I've read that there are spelling programs based on morphemes and other programs based on patterns. I think both of these approaches would help her. Is there a program that uses both approaches that isn't too tedious? 

What about grammar and writing? I think she needs grammar instruction in the context of her writing. What programs do that? She needs some help with paragraphs. They taught her in school that paragraphs were 6 sentences so she chunks her paragraphs in groups of 6 paragraphs. I envision something that is writing first and then discussing grammar rules that apply to what she has written. 

 

Clearly she doesn't need AAS. 😉

Not all phonics methods use "phonograms" the way AAS and other similar methods do.

You say that her spelling "needs some work," not that it's really bad. Maybe something like Rod and Staff Publishers' Spelling by Sound and Structure would work; it doesn't just have a spelling list each week to memorize, but it includes work on dictionary skills, adding prefixes and suffixes, and more. It isn't exciting, but it is very efficient.

I abhor writing instruction that does things like make up random rules such as paragraphs having to have at least six sentences. That is so absolutely not true in real-life writing at all. In fact, I prefer writing instruction that doesn't focus on writing paragraphs at all, but begins with helping children...write. The original Writing Strands and Understanding Writing teach that way.

I don't actually teach grammar until the children are 10 or 11ish, and then I use Easy Grammar.

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19 minutes ago, Ellie said:

Clearly she doesn't need AAS. 😉

Not all phonics methods use "phonograms" the way AAS and other similar methods do.

You say that her spelling "needs some work," not that it's really bad. Maybe something like Rod and Staff Publishers' Spelling by Sound and Structure would work; it doesn't just have a spelling list each week to memorize, but it includes work on dictionary skills, adding prefixes and suffixes, and more. It isn't exciting, but it is very efficient.

I abhor writing instruction that does things like make up random rules such as paragraphs having to have at least six sentences. That is so absolutely not true in real-life writing at all. In fact, I prefer writing instruction that doesn't focus on writing paragraphs at all, but begins with helping children...write. The original Writing Strands and Understanding Writing teach that way.

I don't actually teach grammar until the children are 10 or 11ish, and then I use Easy Grammar.

I bought R&S Sound and Structure and then put it aside because I thought we needed to work on phonics. I might try it. 

I've been going back and forth about grammar instruction for years. It's a subject everyone seems to do. But why does it matter whether a child can identify an adjective? Doesn't a native English speaker instinctively know most grammar rules? Can't most children draft a sentence without knowing what a subject and a predicate are? IDK. I can see how a teacher and a subject need to a shared understanding of grammatical terms so they can discuss the student's writing. 

Her spelling is okay. I think she needs to practice and be more careful about it. 

 

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2 hours ago, Kiara.I said:

Actually....

What about not really doing any grammar or spelling instruction right now? Let her delight in writing for her own pleasure for a while. That's brilliant, and many of us only dream of having our children enjoy writing.

After a few months, you could consider looking into Bravewriter, which might be a good approach for her.

You could also consider the MCT series if she's loving playing with language.

We've started our first Arrow. I don't think we've found our groove with it yet. I've read the Writer's Jungle and plan to do some of the writing projects from the Faltering Ownership stage. 

I have Grammar Island and Sentence Island. We used them off and on last year for afterschooling. I have mixed feelings about MCT although I can't put my finger on it. 

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We used Sequential Spelling and I liked the pattern approach. My son wasn’t a natural speller, although a very strong, advanced reader, and it worked well for him and didn’t take much time. I’ve always thought random spelling lists were a waste of time and a nonsensical approach to spelling. Dictation was also helpful for both spelling and grammar.

Since I thought 12 years of grammar instruction was the biggest waste of time in my own education, I used Analytical Grammar for two years only in middle school. My son hated it at the time, but thanked me many times during college while taking honors college humanities classes for making him do it. Now he asks for grammar books for gifts and reads them for fun. I know it’s not writing based, but it’s very thorough and efficient. Having him read his own writing out loud in a monotone was also very effective for him recognizing his own grammar and punctuation mistakes and self-correcting.

I never used a formal writing program until late middle school, just had him do all sorts of different types of writing, primarily non-fiction, as that is what he preferred. I read different books about writing to get ideas, but that’s about it for elementary. It’s great that your daughter loves writing and seems to be a natural!

Edited by Frances
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On 8/7/2019 at 11:34 PM, Ordinary Shoes said:

I bought R&S Sound and Structure and then put it aside because I thought we needed to work on phonics. I might try it. 

I've been going back and forth about grammar instruction for years. It's a subject everyone seems to do. But why does it matter whether a child can identify an adjective? Doesn't a native English speaker instinctively know most grammar rules? Can't most children draft a sentence without knowing what a subject and a predicate are? IDK. I can see how a teacher and a subject need to a shared understanding of grammatical terms so they can discuss the student's writing. 

Her spelling is okay. I think she needs to practice and be more careful about it. 

 

Phonics and spelling are not mutually exclusive.

If your dd is reading well, then she doesn't need phonics.

If her spelling needs some improvement, then she needs spelling, not phonics.

I don't believe that native speakers of English need to study their own grammar for 12 years. Children will model those around them when they are learning to talk; if their role models have poor grammar, they will, too; I hear people using poor grammar all.the.time, and I know these are people who spent many years in school, presumably doing at least some grammar, but their role models at home trumped the grammar instruction at school.

I think some grammar instruction is helpful, as it can tidy up mistakes in general, and knowledge of grammar terms definitely does help with discussions of a child's writing. I just don't believe in 12 years of grammar study. There are only eight parts of speech and some thingummies like gerunds; how long should it take to learn those?

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On 8/7/2019 at 3:45 PM, Ordinary Shoes said:

We started with AAS to help with the spelling and we both hate it. She does not like memorizing phonograms. She was taught to read using phonics but I don't think that's how her brain works. Phonograms are a mystery to me also even though I've tried to learn them to help my daughter. I don't think this is the right approach for her to learn to spell better. 

BTW, if you purchased directly from AALP, you can return AAS even partially used--they have a 1-year guarantee.

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On 8/8/2019 at 12:34 AM, Ordinary Shoes said:

But why does it matter whether a child can identify an adjective? Doesn't a native English speaker instinctively know most grammar rules? Can't most children draft a sentence without knowing what a subject and a predicate are? IDK. I can see how a teacher and a subject need to a shared understanding of grammatical terms so they can discuss the student's writing...

I agree with @Kiara.I and @Slache, in that your daughter and you deserve some time together to ease into homeschooling by letting her enjoy writing on her own for awhile (and with lots of great read aloud childhood literature).   Also, I think Fix-It would be good!  Here is a thread discussing Fix-It https://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/642671-is-fix-it-grammar-really-enough/

For writing, I am a diehard IEW fan.  And, my understanding is that is helps gifted writers organize their writing and practice new skills.  Many do not like it at all, though.

She seems like a budding natural speller (a natural writer and speller??  How did you get so lucky?=).  The natural spellers in this family thrived with this simple process:  they had a personal spelling notebook, where I listed the words that I found as errors in their writing - spelled out correctly only, for them to study.  I kept my own notebook of these words.  The pages of my notebook had three columns: daily/weekly/monthly.  Each day I quizzed the words in the daily column by dictation.  When the student spelled the word correctly three days in a row, that word was moved to the weekly column.  Once a week, in addition to their daily words, I dictated the weekly words and followed the same process.  Ditto the monthly words.  The natural spellers here appreciated learning these words, since they were their own and were oft used, and they were annoyed by any other method of spelling instruction.  

Finally, I wanted to tell you how vital grammar knowledge is to the college bound student.  I know so much of it seems so pointless since it is ‘only putting names/terms to what happens naturally’.  But, good natural writing has its limits, and being able to analyze or understand why different writing voices work or to get the most out of advanced writing instruction, basic grammar knowledge is important.  Also, very importantly: college entrance testing will depend on good grammar skills.  The tests use nuanced differences between answers and problems to separate the students who kinda know their grammar from those who have it solid.  Knowing the basics solidly going into test prep (all of high school IMO) will make it much more possible for those students to get super high marks on those tests.  You don’t need to use an intensive grammar program, just one that progressively solidifies the knowledge of the parts of speech and parts of a sentence and how they affect each other.  

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So for spelling, my approach has varied by child:

Near perfect natural speller-nothing. Point out the odd spelling error. Now that he types, spell check does that. 

Struggling, unnatural speller (just like her mom)-Apples and Pears

Average to better than average-Rod and Staff-fast, easy for me, quick for them., mostly painless 

Writing/grammar. I like Rod and Staff grammar just because I have so little instruction myself in those areas and I need something independent. I also really love the BraveWriter approach to reading and writing. Love the Writer's Jungle, and your daughter's about the right age to adapt those ideas. I use the Arrow booklets which have a limited amount of grammar, copybook and short writing exercises in conjunction with R+S (I will skip the grammar sometimes). Didn't love the straight up Bravewriter writing programs, but I know that many people do (I think they were a bit time intensive for me). We do some of the Braverwriter lifestyle, and the kiddos LOVE Poetry teatime and Freewriting. They adapt really well to many of different ages. 

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