Language ~ My Method


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When I left off, I was talking about our CC group. Now back to my revelations on schooling this summer. We typically do three 12 week sessions, one in the fall, one in the winter, and then another in the summer. Our summer session is mostly math and reading. I don't know if this schedule will always work for our home, but it has the last few years. We need breaks after CC, but by the middle of summer break, we're ready to stay inside for a couple of hours because it's so hot outside. So we school. During the summer, I also get ready for the coming fall session. This summer, I've been doing lots of reading, and like I said, have been convicted and am willing to change accordingly. I think God is working to redeem our homeschool, and that's exciting.

I read things by Andrew Kern that got me to think about our goals for our kids. How do we want them to think? What do we want them to know? Kern says, "Our role is to prepare them to be humans, Americans, community members, family members, and virtuous persons." (source, this is a long forum topic, but if you really want to be inspired for your homeschool, read the whole thing and check out the links.) To do this, I can use language, mathematics, and perception of truth. I'll break those down, and explain what I'm doing with each of these.

Language is huge for me. I studied Greek and Hebrew in college, and those studies showed me how language works. It's really fascinating, how humans can communicate. And when you look at these languages, like Greek, that are thousands of years old yet more sophisticated and can say more than modern English can, you start to understand how little we know (even though we think we know so much more). Evolutionary theory has done too much for our self-esteem.

So I know language, I love language. And I want them to know and love it too. Language is our opportunity to communicate with our fellow human beings, and to understand what our fellow human beings mean to say, even the ones who have long since passed. The way I see it, with Andrew Kern's help, is that language can be broken down into these parts of study: mechanics, beauty, grammar, and representation.

Mechanics of language is the ability to read what is written. I use a book called The Writing Road to Reading. This is a whole teaching method really, that begins with learning to spell, rather than learning to read. It has worked well. They learned the phonograms, or sounds that letters represent, and rules for spelling. Very early on, I can say a word and they can sound it out and spell it. But they also need practice actually reading, so we are using the McGuffey readers McGuffey Readers. Both kids love these books.

The beauty of language is what has been done well. Classics, poetry, etc.; this part of our lessons is to expose the kids to beautiful writing. We'll read books, poems, rhymes, Shakespeare, and much more.

Grammar is how language works. I've been using a curriculum that has just been a waste of time as far as teaching grammar to the kids. They aren't yet at the point of understanding. What they can do best with grammar is memorize the definitions to be used for understanding later. So I'm backing up from hoping for understanding, to reinforcing our CC memory work with extra practice and review. Much easier and no more banging my head against a wall!

Representation of language is handwriting and spelling. I already covered our spelling lessons. The Spalding method also teaches handwriting with the phonograms. But I also want the kids to learn to write beautifully, so Eowyn is also learning Spencerian Penmanship. Gideon will learn this once he accomplishes manuscript. This takes a lot of practice and repetition. A little bit every day. We also use copywork to practice writing well. Copying language that has been expressed beautifully will teach the kids how to write.

Language studies will also involve Greek and Latin, using the same methods. Learning the sounds of the letters, reading and memorizing the vocabulary, and memorizing declensions and conjugations. This will set them to begin understanding the languages easily and smoothly later on.

Our language studies will need notebooks, books, flashcards, readers, and Writing Road to Reading. And that's it! The teaching is up to me. I'm studying several books for this purpose including Climbing Parnassus, From Homer to Harry Potter, How to Read a Book, and Henle Latin 1, because I need to know Latin in order to teach it. For Greek I will use my old Basics of Biblical Greek book. More on those later! For now, what's your method for language studies?

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