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Monday, May 4, 2009

Language Arts Curriculum- Not!

On one of my groups someone recently posted questions asking "What language arts curriculum do you use? What do you like/not like about it?"

So, with a little editing, here is my response.

Reading /"launguage arts" is one thing I've never doubted with unschooling.  We've never used a curriculum and never felt the need for one.  Early on I did buy "Phonics Pathways" and my oldest liked the word pyramids and my middle thought it was stupid.  (Youngest is still working on the alphabet, so we'll leave him out for a bit)

What we do is READ READ READ. Everything you need is at the library. I've read whatever they wanted when they couldn't read for themselves - even the dreaded Capt. Underpants and the yet worse Sonic the Hedgehog (shudder). When they were able to read on their own I drew the line and said no to the stuff that I really don't enjoy but still read stuff I love or at least can tolerate. (Really, I'm tired of dinos and Eyewitness anything (yes, I know they're great books, I've just read them all so MUCH) but I still read them because the kids love them.) We also listen to lots of books on tapes (my voice gives out reading aloud too much! Plus I'm lazy.) By hearing the written word they've gained vocabulary, a very real sense of sentence structure, the elements of plot, setting, characterization, etc... It's all there just from exposure. I could go on and on, but it's covered better than I can do in other
places. Here's some, I'm sure there's lots more:

She went on to write "My kids think grammar is boring"

Um, ya.  I get that.   :-D 

I haven't bothered much with grammar. I suppose I'm biased because we're more of a techie family, but honestly I don't quite see the point. I learned more grammar learning German than I ever needed in English. (And I actually did better in language than math and science, even if I got my degree in engineering, so it's not sour grapes.)

A friend gave me this link. Maybe playing the audio while driving would be fun?

You might also check out books from the library like "Nearly, Dearly, Insincerely, What is an Adverb?" (there's a whole comical series on parts of speech) or the kid version of "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" about punctuation.

OK, if anybody has actually used diagramming a sentence in real life, now is the time to tell me! Seriously, I'm clueless as to why I'd want to do this.

About spelling:

Just reading a lot will help him "see" if a word is spelled correctly or not.  From there he can decide if it's a word used often enough to memorize, or if he's ok using spell check or a dictionary to figure it out.  My oldest keeps a list of words he wants to know how to spell but doesn't yet.  When he need to know that word he goes there first, and if he doesn't find it, adds it.  Eventually he doesn't need to look up the
word anymore.

Struggles with writing:

So he loathes the physical act of writing?  Plenty of kids (especially techies and artsy ones) don't like this.  I like to draw, but not to "write" long hand.  Learning to type really helped me with that.  Now I just need to use handwriting for lists or short notes, but can use a computer for anything of length.

Or is it the process of coming up with a story or report? I would say that most kids like telling stories, and describing what they know to an appreciative audience. If you can type it out for him as he speaks, he can probably learn a lot just from editing his own work. If he's just not ready to let you know what's on his mind, .... hmmm... I've never experienced that. What's it like?

I was lucky that this friend was able to take my response in the way I intended. Not as an attack for not doing it my way, but as a description and explanation of what we do. As I wrote to her:
I completely respect and support a parent's choice of approach.  I know unschooling
just isn't a comfortable fit for a lot of people, just like a curriculum would be like an itchy sweater to me. I have my own loud opinions, but I don't want others will feel judged when I speak out. :-)

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