Composition, the HomeGrownKids way

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Originally posted in Jan, 2006

Writing Strands, Write with the Best, Institute of Excellence in Writing…do we need a text or curricula in order to instill a love of writing in our children? Do we need to use it every week, every year? Surely there’s an easier way?

A lot of homeschool curricula available turns writing into a totally separate, and sometimes scary, subject, where one is asked to write on topics such as, “My Summer Holiday” or “A Pencil”. (And I’m not kidding!) When I was in grade school, at the beginning of each new school year, I was supposed to turn in a paper titled, “My Summer Holidays”. Well, I couldn’t even remember or talk about something so broad and vast, let alone write about it. Consequently, I was often told that I ‘couldn’t’ write. Many years later, I have found that this simply isn’t true! I know that now but it has taken me years to realise that I love to write, when I have a topic that I’m interested in. I certainly do not want to burden my children with similar experiences. I write because I want to – I feel I have something to say (whether or not you agree with me, the point still stands eh?) A child has to want to write!…

Shakespeare Study, the HomeGrownKids Way

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To study, or not to study Shakespeare: that is the question:

When I first read Charlotte Mason’s writings I was thoroughly blessed. The CM series gave me some valuable tools that I could use to enrich our home and family life. I had never read or viewed any Shakespeare play until about eight years ago! We didn’t read or study any when I was at school and I confess I thought it was very outdated. However, once I became a parent and desired that my children learn to speak well and appreciate books of a good literary standard I knew that at some point, I would like to introduce them to Shakespeare. When and how were what I didn’t know. But the CM series taught me how I could introduce my children to the world of Shakespeare.

The girls and I shared a few Shakespeare stories. First, we read the version by Arthur Mee, then the next week I’d read another story version by Charles and Mary Lamb and then Edith Nesbit but our favourite retellings are those by Leon Garfield.

I would have the girls write out a few paragraphs of the story for copy work. Then, I’d also have them write out a few selections from the play.…

Appreciating Poetry

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I didn’t grow up with a love of poetry…and to be perfectly honest I still don’t fully appreciate poetry, mainly because I don’t fully understand it. Nevertheless, I try to foster a love and appreciation of poetry in the hearts of my children as much of the Bible is poetical so I want them to desire to read these areas and not shy away from them.

A few years ago, we started doing poetry appreciation using Charlotte Mason’s methods, which is to study one poet per term. I found that by reading all the poems aloud together over morning tea was enjoyable and enriching but this practice also depended upon me to do the work and as my girls got older I wanted them to be more independent so I started adding the poetry to their schedule but it never seemed to get done. Maybe this is because it is small and bite-sized that they’d leave it till later…but it didn’t get read at a rate that I was happy with. I think that every child should have heard the poetry of R.L. Stevenson and A.A. Milne.

Then, I printed out the *should-read* poetry list from Ambleside Online.…

English Lessons HomeGrownKids Style

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We still use a spelling list. (We like the lists from PocketBasics.com) I have found it easier for me to teach the various spelling rules when we have followed a list. I can easily review what rules I have and haven’t presented to the child…and set about continuing on with that. If I feel that a child does not grasp a particular spelling/grammar rule, then I will search for a passage or selection of work so that they can specifically write it out for copy work.

Copy work is preparation for dictation

The reason I have used a spelling list is also because I haven’t been as diligent with the practice of dictation as I would have liked, but that’s life eh! I do believe that the CM method of education is full and rich and thorough if adhered to…which is where I fall down.

The Lessons

We would do a passage for copy work on Day One. I read the passage aloud to the children once or twice. I would review any of the spelling and grammar rules that are applicable and I would then teach new concepts from the passage. I tell the child that they can spend time and take care with this selection as they will be writing it for dictation soon.…