Last week I attended the BCHEC Homeschool conference in Kelowna. Come September, my children will be entering grades 4 and 6. Naturally, I found myself searching the curriculum floor at said conference for appropriate 4th and 6th grade material. One of the things I went searching for was a grammar program that actually bridged grammar skills with writing skills. I looked at various grammar programs only to come up: empty handed.
When my children were younger I used programs like English for the Thoughtful Child, First Language Lessons, and copywork, narration and dictation exercises in the style of The Well Trained Mind. I used these programs quite successfully, then somehow we ended up on the workbook train. This grammar workbook train did not do much to further my children’s learning about the mechanics of writing – in fact it seemed an awful lot like (gasp) busywork.
A friend of mine, also on the same monotonous workbook train and looking for the nearest station to get off, asked me if I had heard of Queen’s Homeschooling. Queens Homeschooling looked very appealing to me. Finally, something that looked like the previous programs I had used but for higher grade levels. It struck the Charlotte Mason chord in me. I did in fact, almost order it. I was only prevented from doing so by a gut feeling – a feeling like I was missing something.
I gave up thinking about it and went a sat down with a cup of tea and my newest Ruth Beechick book that I had picked up at the conference. A book called You Can Teach Your Child Successfully. I opened to the section on writing lessons, only to find myself face to face with something that looked like the perfect grammar program lying withing the pages of this wonderful little book. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Ruth cleverly takes literary passages from various sources, then suggests several activities that can be gleamed from said passages. There are nearly 20 pages providing at least 50 language lessons that can be catered to individual learning styles and grade levels. As quoted in the book by Ruth herself:
The following lessons integrate grammar, puntuation, spelling, writing, and thinking, for a well rounded approach to language learning….Each topic can be studied for a week, but if they don’t work out that way, adjust in any way you wish. Some activities can be developed into long projects, such as writing a play, and if interest is high, you should not cut the project short just to keep up with a schedule.
For example, in one exercise students are asked to either copy or write a literary passage from dictation. They are then asked to proof their own work and compare it against the original. What words did they spell wrong? Did they get the punctuation in the right place? Did they indent the paragraph? Are the capital letters in their appropriate spots? They can then progress to memorizing a line or two from the same passage and try writing it again – continuing to proof their finished work against the original. Among other things, they are taught to identify personal pronouns, search for adjectives, and discern whether to create simple or compound sentences in the context of a well written paragraph.
Both copying and dictation require close attention to detail, and that is why they are effective.
There are many, many more ideas within these pages, but best of all, the book only cost me $12. If you have the opportunity to check out these lessons, by all means do so. Even if you find the lessons aren’t the fit your looking for, the book itself is a tremendous resource. It certainly provided me with a great tool to marry grammar with writing – finally.