Jan 9, 2017

Use Your Words

Welcome back to the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair! This fair is a group of homeschool mom bloggers, led by Susan from Homeschooling Hearts and Minds, who are writing every week in January to offer encouragement and inspiration. Last week, we talked about How We Learn, this week, our topic is Playing with Words.

If you know us at all, you know we are not that great at numbers. (Well, except for one random kid who IS and we don't really know how that happened.) What we love are words. Books, stories, lists, facts, conversations, deep discussions, lots and lots and lots of words.

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Even so, Language Arts in our schoolwork has not always been the easiest thing to line out for us. It took us years to figure out what worked best for us when it comes to learning Grammar and Spelling.
(I talk about our discovery of Fix It! here, and we have come to love All About Spelling for spelling.) Three out of four of my kids struggle with writing by hand and one of those is beyond a struggle and has entered an all out war.

It is interesting to me that while we love talking, for some of us, there can be quite a disconnect between saying what we want to share and physically writing (or typing) it out. I have come to the conclusion that for my youngest three kids, this is simply an organizational skill that they have not developed. When they tell me what they are thinking, none of us are really looking at that hard at grammar, punctuation (I have a couple kids who don't use any when they are truly passionate about the subject they are talking about), paragraphs, or even organizing their thoughts into proper order. They just chatter and I listen. But when they write stuff down, especially if it is for school, then that is where the trouble comes in.

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Now, I do have one kid who just does not do well with the physical act of writing by hand. For him, we are trudging along with lots of practice and attempting some hand strengthening exercises. But that is only a small part of the point of this post.

We have used several different curriculum in an attempt to teach my kids how to write. Even though none of them have been the perfect fit we were looking for, I do not regret a single one. And it's not just a matter of "learning from our mistakes" because I can not honestly think they were mistakes. We have learned from each and every one that we have tried. And when I say "we" I mean, the kids have learned something about how to write, and I have learned something about how to teach writing. Both of which are quite valuable. I think.

But now (and this is really the point of this post) we are going to try something new. My oldest, a 14 year old girl, who writes stories for fun, is just going to keep on working her way through One Year Adventure Novel. But the other three are going to just practice writing.

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For the 4th and 5th graders, I am going to let them chose whatever they want to write about. I will start with expecting a couple sentences a day. We are going to follow the IEW idea of introducing a concept and then expecting them to use that concept. Since they are flat out beginners, I am going to start small and simple. We are going to begin with the idea of what a sentence is and what you have to include in one (capital letters, punctuation, no fragments, etc). I know that will be super easy for them, but I want to start with super easy so they build confidence quickly and we can move forward to the harder stuff rapidly.

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My 7th grade son, who has had more experience with writing, will be given assignments such as "Choose a dog breed to research and then write a report about it" and "write a report on the history of Pokemon" and "write a persuasive paper on the benefits of letting kids use technology".

These are the kinds of topics that interest him, since dog breeds, Pokemon and technology are his current passions. Since I have his interest right from the start, he will be more willing to work with me as I hold his hand through the process.

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My goal for him (and the younger ones, also, but more long term for them) is to learn how to write Narrative, Descriptive, Persuasive and Expository essays.

So those are my goals, but I admit that I am holding them lightly in my hands. I often have grand ideas about teaching my kids and sometimes they work gloriously. Other times, they are a dismal flop. But, like I said before, we learn from our mistakes, so I am not too worried either way. At least they will all have a little more practice and experience using their words.

Click on the links below to see what other bloggers have to say about Playing with Words. And if you want to join in with a post of your own, link up on the linky at the bottom!

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are writing about Playing with Words this week:

All posts will be live by Monday, January 9th at noon EST.
Delight Directed High School English by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Act Your Part Well- 2017 VCF by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
The Search For Language by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays
Our Top Picks for Language Arts by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Multiple Approaches to Language Arts in 2017 by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
How We Cover the Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Use Your Words by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
The Art of Perfecting Macarons by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life
Loving Languages Every Day by Jen K @ A Peace of Mind
Speech Therapy & Elementary Latin by Yvie @ Gypsy Road
The Readin' and Writin' Part of Homeschool by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Children Who Love Books by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Customizing High School Language Credits by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
A Poetry Feast by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Teaching Language Arts without Curriculum by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
I know your pain and it is worth it! by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Language Arts: Our Style by Annette @ A Net in Time
Words! Words! Words! by Lisa M @McClanahan 7
10 Wonderful Word Games (+1) by Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Finding the Right Words by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
What About Reading Comprehension? by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
Teaching Grammar and Writing Through Discussion by Chelli @ The Planted Trees


Annette said...

I think your plan has merit... it sounds very workable. Hoping it works well for you. :)

Amanda H said...

I would love to check out One Year Adventure Novel! I just need to find a child who will use it! The only one old enough to use would not! So, I wait patiently!!

Susan said...

Good luck with your writing plan---I have found that meeting my kids where they are at and working on one area at a time works best. If you work on just one type of writing, all their writing will improve. I found this to be the case even in college (I was an English and philosophy major and I found that even when my effort was in improving my creative writing, my essay writing also improved and vice versa).

grtlyblesd said...

Learning from our mistakes is one of the perks of homeschooling. :) I love having the freedom to change what's not working for us.


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