When you have a first grader, the main focus of the language arts program has to be reading instruction until that milestone is met. Our program is no exception.
In fact at the beginning of this school year I was pretty concerned about Olivia's reading ability. While she seemed to be average for a student entering first grade, I was frustrated by the lack of progress -- we just seemed stalled -- and my own insecurities in teaching her to read. I was very excited when I heard that Bravewriter was coming out with a new reading program for this year and signed up for The Wand as soon as it was released. I love the Bravewriter philosophy of a relaxed approach to language arts focusing on kids writing about what they enjoy and delaying intensive grammar instruction until after third grade.
While there are many aspects of The Wand we like (and when I say we, I really mean me -- my daughter is not keen on reading, writing, and spelling instruction at all), I have been a bit surprised at the nature of the curriculum. I was expecting something a bit more cuddle and inspiration from BW. That said, I am not unhappy with the program, but we have been modifying it a bit to meet our needs.
What we have liked:
- The books. Olivia really loves the book choices and so do I. From Fox in Socksto Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea, so far there has not been a bad one in the bunch. She is eager to read them even though they have jumped quite steadily in difficulty throughout the program. We often begin a book doing shared reading, but by the end of each unit she is usually reading the entire book or the majority by herself.
- The copywork discussion. Olivia has learned so much about usage just from our little conversations over the copywork. Why letters are capitalized, quotation punctuation, end punctuation. She has not done reams of worksheets, but is solidifying these rules just from our conversations and the copywork practice.
- The rules. I have little experience with spelling or phonics rules. I am glad The Wand breaks them all down for me and gives a scripted method of teaching them.
- The speed. This program is very meaty (in fact the website says it is advanced for 5-6yos) and has moved very quickly for my reader. We have slowed the pace to allow time for extra practice with the concepts to be sure she gets them and can retain them.
- Variety of activities. There is a dearth of new and interesting ways to reinforce the material. I was hoping for some more kid-friendly approaches in this curriculum based on BW's history of kid-friendly writing approaches. I would love more provided games and activities and ways to work with a student who is reluctant or bored with spelling rules.
|My semi-reluctant reader and very reluctant speller.|
This is one area I am excited for in the new year. Our Christmas present for our homeschool was a new iPad. As a result, I have lined up a number of apps that will aid us with our language arts program. We will be using Sound Literacy as a replacement for the sticky notes used in The Wand. Simplex Spelling Phonics 1 and Phonics Genius will provide extra reinforcement of spelling and phonics rules and Word Wizard will allow me to make practice spelling tests using our own words each week for extra independent practice. I can't wait to try these out with my technology-loving girl and see if they breath a little life into her reading and spelling practice. I'll keep you posted.
Finally, I have a hunch that Olivia is a read-by-sight kind of girl. She does not like to sound out long words, but instead prefers I tell her what they are. After the first or second time, she has them. Unfortunately, like her mama, she does not seemed to be blessed as a natural speller. That is why I continue with the phonics instruction at this point. I can't see beating a potentially dead horse forever, though. As her reading fluency increases I imagine we will employ a variety of non-phonics based methods to reinforce good spelling from proof reading exercises, spell-check practice, and keeping lists/memorizing commonly misspelled words in her writing.
Check out what is happening with Language Arts for all the other participants:
- Reading on Time by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family
- Playing with Words: the Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy
- Reading and Beyond: Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World Language Arts that Work for Us by Melissa @ Grace Christian School
- Learning Language at Our House by Jessica @ Modest Mama
- Virtual Curriculum Fair: Language Arts by Christine T. @ Our Homeschool Reviews
- The Learning of Language by Dawn @ tractors & tire swings
- An In Depth Look at All About Spelling by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings
- Virtual Curriculum Fair: Let's Talk About Words by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
- Why We Love Classical Conversations Essentials (and how I know that is not a complete sentence!) by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
- Virtual Curriculum Fair---Playing with Words: the Language Arts by Angie @ Petra School
- Whole Language vs. Phonics by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic
- It's All About the Art of Language by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning
- Watching Movies for Language Arts Class by Debbie @ Debbie's Digest
- Only 5 Spelling Tests a Year! (Can we do that?) by LP @ justpitchingmytent
- Playing with Words by Chrissy @ Learning is an Adventure