Here at Sweetness and Light we like to mix it up a bit when it comes to Language Arts so as not to get caught in a language arts rut (mostly mine, not the dc's) or to become bored by the same old workbook-style fill in the blanks type learning! Don't get me wrong here as we do use some workbooks occaisionally, but for us, we try to sweeten the pot with variety, as it truly is, the spice of life! OK, I'll quit playing on words, and tell you the nitty gritty's of what we are using and why it's working for us!! Before I do though, let me expand a little on why we like to use a variety of materials in our Language Arts programme.
Much of what we consider Language Arts can be learned just through reading good literature and doing narration, copywork and dictation. Thus, Charlotte Mason didn't really advocate heavy Language Arts until age ten or so, after the child had ample experience to develop narration skills. Doing regular copywork and dictation in the earlier elementary years (age 6-10) lends itself to natural language arts development including learning proper sentence structure, spelling, punctuation and later composition.
What we have enjoyed using over the years:
- Primary Language Lessons & Intermediate Language Lessons, both by Emma Serl
- Lingua Mater (for 6-8th grades) by Margot Davidson (Hillside Education)
Matthias does 1-2 lessons per week in this. Violet uses Intermediate and is responsible for up to 5 lessons/week, but so far has only managed around 2, which is fine for now. What I particulary like about both of these books is that they work with the "short" lesson in mind and they work on a progression that is not lost if you skip a lesson a two, you know, "not beating a dead horse."
This is a beautiful and gentle compilation of poetry, art appreciation, and ideas for beginning creative writing exercises. Violet worked through many of them last year and Matthias will now add them to his LA for this year. I LOVE the gentle and simple approach to this and it doesn't even seem like a language arts book :) I also think this is a great lead in to Brave Writer and her ideas for Free Writing!
- Simply Grammar, by Karen Andreola (originally compiled by Charlotte Mason)
This is an oral language arts program that has been very efficient at delivering the necessary progression towards more difficult English. There is no pressure to fill in the blanks with this one and the calm methodical approach verbally has been an excellent reinforcement. (Recommended to start after age 10, but Violet started this last year as well and will continue this year)
Here are the workbooks of which I spoke that are great for reinforcing penmanship and can be used for extra copywork. Writing Can Help Handwriting workbooks from CHC and Emmanuel Books. Violet is now on their Calligaphy book and Matthias is tackling beginning cursive. We like them for their simplicity to progress at their own pace and effort.