I am once again sharing what makes our homeschooling great during the Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted by Homeschooling Hearts and Minds. Today's theme is Playing With Words: Exploring the Language Arts.
There are tons and tons of curriculum out there for reading, writing, phonics, grammar, etc. I don't have jut one "go-to" curriculum per subject in this area. What worked for one kid might not work for the others. I recently abandoned a curriculum I used for six years because I was so tired of teaching it and I found a much easier approach for my kids to master the same material. Although I have already taught the three older boys to read, I switched phonics curriculum this year with Margaret to match the curriculum we use at our homeschooling academy.
Primary Art of Language (PAL) reading and writing is one of the best programs I have found for teaching kids to read. It uses a multi-sensory approach, meaning that students are doing many different things to master the material. They are studying poems, practicing writing, playing games, and creating. In 30 lessons Margaret has achieved more than she did with a whole year of instruction with another phonics program. It's not a cheap program, but you'll save money in the long run when you don't have to purchase several curriculum to get the results this one will give you.
While you're on the IEW website, poke around a bit and see what else catches your eye. We've used several of their programs with success including: Student Writing Intensive courses, Teaching the Classics, Fix-It Grammar and Editing (first book only), Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization, and several theme-based literature units. Overall I think their products are well-developed and worth the money.
So I've used all those in the past, but what are my homeschooled kids using this year? For grammar and spelling we love the series from JacKris Publishing: Growing with Grammar and Soaring with Spelling. I love that these are self-directed and require very little support from me. Sounds selfish? Well, I am trying to homeschool three kids at different levels, plan and teach eight classes a week and a homeschool academy, help a traditionally-schooled kid keep up with his homework, chase a two-year old, and keep up a house. These books are exactly what I needed to make sure they are developing necessary language arts skills.
We are so fortunate to have our homeschool academy where my kids get individualized writing and literature instruction twice a week. I still have them occasionally complete lessons in another self-directed writing curriculum called Essentials in Writing. This video instruction course covers all the basics of grammar and writing and has a nice work book component for kids to practice the skills taught.
What works for my family might spell disaster for yours, and vice-versa. I think it is so important to remember that even if you as the teacher love the curriculum, if it's not a good fit, it's not a good fit. I have sighed many times when something I was over the moon about has brought nothing but tears to my learners. Homeschooling, like everything in life, is not a "one size fits all" or a "One size fits most." I think it is more the needle in the haystack. When you find what works, it's one in a million.