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shakeisha
06-18-2010, 06:18 PM
We are new to homeschooling and have found great secular choices for Math/Science, but I'm still floundering when it comes to choosing a good secular Language Arts/Reading/Writing curriculum. Any ideas? I've heard that SonLight is good, just void out the religious stuff. Thoughts on this too? Thanks!!

elkhollow
06-19-2010, 09:09 PM
Writing: I just received The Writer's Jungle and although we havent' used it yet I am impressed with what I have read (I'm about half way through it). The author seems to be a religious person but I didn't find it problematic and it wasn't part of the planned curriculum. The Writer's Jungle is more like a lifestyle guide and a way to help us parents encourage the creativity in our children and to help them not be intimidated by writing. There are planned curriculums, however, segmented by age, starting at age 8, which are also available on the site. It appears to be a very different approach from "other" writing programs. You can read more about it at bravewriter.com if you're interested. We are also using Writing With Ease, which I do like but it focuses more on the technical aspects (punctuation, memory work) rather than the creative aspects.

I don't know how old your children are, but here goes on reading: I taught both of my children (ages 7 and 4) to read with a combination of www.starfall.com (free website) and the first 3 sets of Bob Books. Once they got through those I used www.readinga-z.com. That site is rather expensive (about $70 a year, I think) but I found it to be one of the best choices I've made. It is a complete, thorough,phonics based reading program. The site is chock full of both decodable texts(based on rules of phonics they learn) and leveled readers from A to Z. (Level A is for approximately ages 4-6, and it gets progressively more challenging with each level). There are lesson plans for every book, reading comprehension sheets for every book, loads of other assessments, and 2 benchmark books for each level so you can test your child to see if they are ready to move up.Another thing I like about it is that I can print off books for my children. I believe that having one's own books is very important to instilling a love for reading, and both my children have been very glad to have these. They color them and re-read their favorites. I have been using this site for 3 years and I am very pleased with it (other than the one book we read which pictured both penguins and polar bears in the same location, LOL.) There are cheaper programs out there, but I know that there will not be any gaps (as long as they go through all the levels) and that any problems that arise can be identified and addressed quickly before they become very difficult to reverse. (My dd was having some minor trouble and I was able to isolate what was happening through their assessments so I could focus on it before it became a major problem). I bought OPGTTR for my son because, well, it was new and I was curious. I used it for about a week and it has been on the shelf ever since. It's not bad, I think it's just a matter of preference. It is completely scripted which seems to put at ease those parents who are nervous about teaching reading. Starfall, Bob Books, and readinga-z are completely secular.

For handwriting I can vouch that Handwriting Without Tears is secular and a good program and one I highly recommend, especially for kids who struggle with this skill (like my dd did). I also ended up investing in a program called StartWrite because I felt like she needed more practice. I would let her pick a sentence from a book we were reading or I would pick a song she liked, whatever, and I typed it into the program. The program then creates a handwriting page with dotted letters so they can just trace. This made the task fun for her. I continued to use a combination of the two up to the beginning of first grade. She is entering second grade now and she is writing confidently and very nicely. FWIW, I prefer separating writing and reading rather than using a program that combines the two because these two skills develop separately.(Although my dd struggled with handwriting she was two to three years ahead of her public school peers in reading. Keeping them separated allowed her to go to town with the reading and not be held back by her fine motor skill delay.)

We are using First Language Lessons for language arts, and it is secular as well. I can't compare it to anything else because it is all we have used. It is scripted and very thorough. Best of all, my dd responds well to it. It covers the material well. If you use both FLL and WWE you'll get a bit of overkill, though. I have handled that by ignoring the copywork and narrations in FLL.

You didn't mention spelling but we have used Spelling Workout, All About Spelling, and we will be using Spectrum Spelling for the first time this year. All are secular. AAS is a scripted, parent-led lesson. It requires prep time and your attention through the entire lesson, and is very good for struggling spellers/readers. SW and SS require less parent time but I think they are more successful with kids who are natural spellers and don't need alot of extras.

These curricula work great for us but may not suit your needs. The good thing is that we have so many secular choices these days!

Best of luck!

camaro
06-19-2010, 10:16 PM
This past year we used Learning Language Arts Through Literature, which is non-secular but has very little Christian content in the Grade 2 level we worked on. It wasn't too bad but we're giving it up for a couple of reasons. First is that is has quite a lot of cutting and gluing which didn't appeal to us. We also found it didn't really concentrate on anything too long so lessons were very short, especially if we skipped the cutting and gluing activities. Spelling seemed to be an afterthought as well since they only gave four or five new words per week which Mitchell had usually already learned in Grade 1 in public school. The last thing I didn't like was that it seemed to require more parental guidance than I liked while I wanted Mitchell to learn to work more by himself.

This next year we'll be using the Plaid Phonics and Spelling Workout for sure (Mitchell is familiar with them from public school) and but haven't yet decided what will go with it for reading, grammar, etc.

dbmamaz
06-19-2010, 11:46 PM
Shake, it really does help if you indicate the age/grade levels. for more advanced kids (4th grade and up, probably) i'm a fan of MCT - michael clay thompson. Very unusual but rigorous system. I used HWOT for my 1st grader, but we didnt actually finish it - hopefully we can do better next year, handwriting is something you need to know! I'm not doing any formal language w my 1st grader (i guess he's a 2nd grader now!) but just getting books around his level and making him read them for practice! I plan to do some mad libs w him soon for parts of speech.

Snoopy
06-20-2010, 01:26 AM
Once they got through those I used www.readinga-z.com. That site is rather expensive (about $70 a year, I think) but I found it to be one of the best choices I've made.

I love Reading A-Z.com Just a heads-up, although it won't help you this year, but every year around Mother's Day time, they open up their sites for a whole week for teachers, one site for a day at a time (scienceA-Z.com, vocabulary A-Z.com, and so on and so forth..) and let you download stuff for free. In previous years you could download however much you could so I spent whole days just downloading and downloading... but now they restrict it to a set number of downloads per day. They don't really tell you how many you are allowed to download though, but it warns you when you reach 50%. I think that for Reading A-Z it was 40 downloads this year? So you could do 20 books and 20 sets of worksheets, or 40 books and skip the worksheets. Don't quote me on those numbers because they might be wrong. So if you peruse the site in advance and make a list of what books might be useful to you (I use the leveled readers to supplement our history and science studies), you can download at least a part of what you need for free. As I said though, you're out of luck for this year, sorry.

Oh, and their home page mentions a 7-day free trial right now (http://www.learninga-z.com/special/summertrial/).

Snoopy
06-20-2010, 01:36 AM
I plan to do some mad libs w him soon for parts of speech.

Here are some online (and free) MadLibs-type of activities:


http://www.madglibs.com/
Mad Libs Jr online activities: http://www.funbrain.com/brain/ReadingBrain/ReadingBrain.html
http://www.eduplace.com/tales/
http://rinkworks.com/crazylibs/
http://www.gamequarium.com/madlibs.html
http://www.itsamadlibsworld.com/

mommykicksbutt
06-20-2010, 02:08 PM
What is the age(s) for wish you seek information for? Pre-readers? High School? Big range there.

shakeisha
06-20-2010, 06:00 PM
I'm new to this sorry!! We have three boys and will be homeschooling our 4th grader next year, after next year we start homeschooling our oldest who will then be going into high school, and our youngest is 3, which we will most likely homeschool from the start.

I picked up a used Shurley English Level 4, but after really going through it, I found it to be a bit confusing. I also picked up a used copy of Learning Language Arts Through Literature (The Orange Book, grade 4), and my husband and I really think this might work best for us this year, coming straight out of public school, it's similar to how he's already been learning, and it may be a good transition for us. For the vocab. I was able to get my hands on a brand new (but still used price) "100 Vocabulary Words Kids Needs to Know by 5th gr.", the pages are bright and colorful and we can go through it as we need too.

Thanks for all the great choices. I felt like I didn't have a direction to go in before and now I do!

Shakeisha

callie
06-30-2010, 08:48 AM
I'm sorry to hijack your thread, but I am trying to find Language Arts for my 12 yr old. I am mainly looking for a workbook that he could do on his own, and it needs to be low cost. That should be easy to find. :)

camaro
06-30-2010, 11:03 AM
I'm not sure if it would meet your needs, Callie, but Modern Curriculum Press' Word Study (http://www.amazon.com/Word-Study-Level-E-MCP/dp/0765200252/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277909678&sr=1-7) might be what you're looking for. It's part of their popular 'plaid' series and is workbook style. It's what I'll be using for our boys this year. Mitchell used their phonics books for K and Gr.1 in PS and liked it well enough. Level E might be appropriate for a 12 year old.

StartingOver
06-30-2010, 11:09 AM
I'm sorry to hijack your thread, but I am trying to find Language Arts for my 12 yr old. I am mainly looking for a workbook that he could do on his own, and it needs to be low cost. That should be easy to find. :)

LA covers tons, one book that is self directed for word study, writing, grammar, etc. Will be much more difficult.

callie
06-30-2010, 01:03 PM
LA covers tons, one book that is self directed for word study, writing, grammar, etc. Will be much more difficult.

Sorry, in my head it was very clear what I needed. I really just need something that covers grammar and punctuation. He does a lot of reading and his writing is usually tied to that and vocab/spelling is easy to find.

SunshineKris
06-30-2010, 01:20 PM
I have nothing new to add. I just wanted to say, Shakeisha, that I LOVE your avatar pic! VERY cool!

StartingOver
06-30-2010, 02:12 PM
Sorry, in my head it was very clear what I needed. I really just need something that covers grammar and punctuation. He does a lot of reading and his writing is using tied to that and vocab/spelling is easy to find.

Easy Grammar would be very easy and cover what you want. Junior Analytical Grammar (JAG ), or Analytical Grammar, the writter of this was my teacher in school, she is great. There are tons of options, but these would probably be the easiest for self study, and easy for you to check on.

sallymae
08-01-2010, 09:48 PM
Abecka English and language is great