Language Arts

Bravewriter inspired me to make more of a language arts routine, and we’ve been slowly implementing different elements of that.  It’s mostly things we were doing already, but having more of a routine for some elements has really helped me feel like we’re moving forward and “doing something” for writing, in particular.  I’m sure it doesn’t hurt either that both Mushroom and BalletBoy have reached a sort of tipping point with writing fluency and, in BalletBoy’s case, spelling so they can easily write a full page in their composition books.

Language arts is such a gooey, mushy concept with so many different pieces that it’s enough to drive someone crazy.  There’s handwriting, spelling, vocabulary, poetry, literature, reading mechanics, reading comprehension, creative writing, and the list could go on.  There aren’t a lot of programs that cover all the elements together, making it feel like you have to have a dozen different things for it.  I like that Bravewriter has helped me calm that instinct down a great deal.  As of now, we have Spelling Plus, which I have mostly on hold, though we’ll pick it back up again before too long.  Both kids are finishing up formal phonics learning with Explode the Code (though BalletBoy should finish the last book before the autumn).  I might do MCT’s Grammar Island for a short term grammar study in the fall.  But other than that, we’re just following a routine.

Here’s what language arts looks like around here lately:

Monday: copywork or dictation
Tuesday: writing projects
Wednesday: poetry lemonade social
Thursday: written narration, usually for history or science
Friday: freewriting

Everyday: evening read aloud chapter books, independent free reading
As it occurs: Mad Libs, movies, new vocabulary from books, audiobooks in the car, casual discussions about literary elements and plots

As we’ve eased into this schedule, I’m feeling good about it.  We’ve been alternating copywork and dictation mostly and I’ve been taking the passages mostly from our current read alouds.  It’s the thing that is most likely to meet with resistance, though both kids are improving at it.  We’ve been uneven with projects.  Bravewriter suggests one per month and we haven’t quite done that, but both kids are engaged in writing fan fiction (for The Mighty B strangely enough in Mushroom’s case) and have started small blogs about their passions.  Because of our schedule, Wednesday works better for poetry for us, and we’re not really tea drinkers so we have lemonade in wine glasses, which is about as fancy as I can muster.

A picture the Husband snapped of our poetry lemonade social. With brownies. We don’t have nice china, but I do bring out the nice napkins.

One thing I’m trying to work on for myself is bringing conversations about literature and story into a more casual, book club style.  We’ve run through a slew of novels with strong first person voice lately (The Great BrainOur Only May Amelia, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg…) so I’ve been pointing out a lot about voice lately, trying to get the kids to discuss.  And I’ve been trying to let myself pause more and allow Mushroom to share his joy when he recognizes foreshadowing (he’s quite good at realizing that ominous things are about to happen in a novel) and then to name it as such.  I feel like this is the way the kids will really learn how to appreciate literature, by talking about it and learning how to do that in a casual way.

When I wrote a few months ago about Bravewriter, I said I was definitely still in the honeymoon phase with it.  I can’t say if I still am or not, but if so, at least it’s a long honeymoon.  I’m at last feeling like language arts is something that is fun and easy in our homeschool and not something I need to worry about so much.

4 thoughts on “Language Arts

  1. Bravewriter has been a fantastic find for us! I knew I would be interested in it when I read the following quote on Julie’s website… “A mother asked us at Brave Writer if she was doing enough writing with her child. She told us that her son wrote in his journal on Monday, wrote a poem on Tuesday, crafted a short three paragraph essay on Wednesday, sent a thank you note to his grandmother on Thursday and polished a written narration on Friday. Was that enough writing for her 11 year old? she sincerely wondered. We responded, “That’s more writing than anyone should do in a week!”” Since I have a late reader (dd9) and a reluctant writer (ds11), I loved the idea that there could be TOO much writing expected!
    What I enjoy most about BW is the fact that it can be a lifestyle. It isn’t a scripted writing program, which has never worked well for us. It is a rhythm, a routine. And the flexibility is fantastic. Glad you are still enjoying it!

  2. Just found your blog and will be back! I need to do a similar schedule for language, I love yours! Haven’t heard of brave writer…must research…

  3. Hi! I’m curious to know how Bravewriter is continuing to work for you and the boys. Your posts have helped clarify a few questions I have as I try to figure out if Bravewriter would be a good fit for us.

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