School at our House: Reading, Writing and Grammar

This week we’re running through what I use here at home for schooling our children.  If you’re interested, you can read about a major curriculum change I made at the beginning of this past year or read yesterday’s post about math and science.

I’ve taught every one of our (currently literate) kids to read using the book The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading.  Andrew just finished it up a few weeks ago.  I like the simplicity of it; the lessons progress through the vowels, the consonants, and then through the typical rules of phonics in a logical way.  It’s taken all of the kids just shy of two years to complete the whole book, assuming they had about three lessons each week.

SPOILER ALERT:  The final few lessons are entitled “Building Your Reading Muscles” and have the students read four- and five-syllable words.  The very last lesson has them read just one word:  a selection from a rather famous movie about a plucky British nanny.  If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious.

We use the Getty-Dubay Italic system for handwriting.  The system begins with printing and then moves on to cursive in the middle of second grade.  They kids have also dabbled in typing practice here and there; I plan to work some more of that in this summer.

This past year we began more rigorous writing instruction for the older two boys using resources from the Institute for Excellence in Writing.  This program has suited me as a teacher quite nicely, partly due to the fact that it is similar to the way I learned to write in school.  It just makes sense to me.  It’s so nice when that happens.

Lastly, for grammar instruction in the past we’ve used English for the Thoughtful Child.  This was a fine resource, but I needed a change.  I can’t put my finger on why…I just didn’t take to the book.  Instead, this year we’ve been using a free online resource called KISS grammar.  The author is a teaching instructor and everything on his site is FREE.  For the sake of introduction, I used the third grade book for Ben and the sixth grade book for Cameron.  KISS teaches grammar in context.  It uses selections from famous children’s books and has the student dissect the passages grammatically.  So far, so good with this one.

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