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  1. #11

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    I have to say, I think ETC and AAS is redundant and I think ETC can be busywork for sure - though I also have seen many people who feel it was the program that helped their kids learn to read, so it definitely depends. But I don't think that otherwise, it looks like busywork at all. Draw Write Now would be if they had mastered handwriting, but most first graders need a handwriting program still and that's a good one. FLL could be if you don't believe in regular grammar instruction... but if you do then it's absolutely not. And it's working for them right now and it's a pretty simple thing to do, so I wouldn't call that busywork.

    Language arts is a mushy, big subject for sure. There are a lot of components and the components change over time - most first graders do need handwriting and don't need composition, most seventh graders don't need phonics and do need literature. Sorting through all that to get to your goals is absolutely a good idea in part because you can't do it all unless your kids turn out to be incredibly fast workers or otherwise gifted. I mean, vocabulary is a great example - do you devote part of your week to a specific vocabulary program at some point or do you just not have time for that?

    There are a lot of "big questions" in language arts instruction - some of them are pretty well answered in research. We know that phonics works better than whole language on its own or sight word instruction for the vast majority of kids. We know that reading aloud and letting kids choose their own books for independent reading both bolster reading ability. But there are a lot of unanswered questions that really boil down to what you want for your kids and what you believe about writing and literature. And different kids may need different approaches. For example...
    * Does good writing come primarily from formal grammar instruction and understanding or is it "absorbed" from reading good literature and practicing writing voice?
    * Is the best path to learning writing by practicing emulation and learning skills first (copywork, oral narration, grammar and spelling instruction) or is the best path by simply doing (freewriting, writing projects, invented spelling, learning through doing)?
    * Is it better to learn spelling, grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary through context in literature or have it explicitly taught?
    * How important is the brain body connection with handwriting? If you think it's very important, then you'll probably believe that cursive is an essential skill. If you think it's less important, then you might believe that typing instruction relatively early on is a good thing.
    * Should kids be forced or pushed to read "the classics" or even just a list of preselected works or should they choose their own reading material?
    * Is reading literature or reading a lot of literature essential or is it more important to be able to read nonfiction texts?
    * Should language arts be its own subject or should it be done primarily across the curriculum?

    A lot of those questions don't need to be answered for a first grader. Most of them are on a continuum. But some of them - particularly if you believe that explicit grammar instruction is necessary or not - are things that you can definitely be thinking about now. Because if you decide that really kids don't need grammar or only need it every few years, then you can definitely trim off FLL.
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  3. #12

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    I can't thank you all enough. You've given me a lot to think about, great advice, and I'm going to rethink what we are doing. My girls both have special needs (high functioning ASD for one, ADHD and sensory issues for the other) and my current schedule isn't working all that great so this conversation is good timing.

    My girls lose interest when switching between so many subjects, even if those subjects are short. I'm going to drop ETC, and perhaps FLL, and focus more on trying to get them to love reading. Because they were required to read for X amount of minutes in PS (with pre-assigned books) reading comes across as a chore to them.

    I am definitely intrigued by BW. I love the idea of poetry teas and I think my girls would as well. I'm going to browse through some of her Youtube videos today and try to figure it all out. It gets great reviews so it's worth investigating.
    Last edited by tdbates78; 03-21-2017 at 07:05 AM.

  4. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdbates78 View Post
    ....My girls lose interest when switching between so many subjects, even if those subjects are short....
    It is great that you are noticing this and it is so annoying that most curricula/programs/schedules/classes are based on the assumption that x-grader's attention span should be y minutes.

    My oldest has always struggled with it. Even when she was in a part-time preschool, she would come home in tears because kids and teachers in her class would switch activities every 10-15 min, as had been prescribed for preschoolers, and it took more than that for her to just get settled in.

    Nowadays, we do a big chunk of just one thing every day. If it's a math day, we start with warmup/review, go on to learning a new topic, and finish off with some cooldown/extra practice. It might take us an hour or two, but no other formal learning is expected of her for the day. And I still manage to sneak in a lot of reading, because she is expected to read every word on her math pages.
    mom to 3 girls: DD9, DD8, DD5

  5. #14
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    I used Plaid Phonics for the eldest and the second child I did a little bit of Plaid phonic and then nothing else.

    We used Moving Beyond the Page from the beginning. I've never added anything else to to consistently. We used no reading program at all. I think my youngest did a round of Hooked on Phonics from the library. But nothing else.

    Keep it fun. And keep moving they have plenty of time to learn things. My biggest regret is pushing for too much too soon from their younger years.
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Language Arts for 1st - 2nd Grade - I'm Confused!