Friday, April 13, 2012

Exemplary Reading Teaches Grammar Naturally

I had a company contact me last week with an opportunity to share my ideas on grammar. They asked if I would like to write a blog post, add a link to their grammar checker website and they will compensate me. Well, this sounded wonderful! I'm not beneath taking a handout for my gift of gab. Then the niggling doubt started moving around in my head. Do I even know anything about grammar? I mean, we've used various programs, some with degrees of success. What the heck could I share that would be helpful? But I've decided to forge on through and see what spouts out of my brain. You be the judge of if its helpful or not.

Grammar in our family comes a bit natural. This is probably why I don't feel qualified to talk about it. We haven't had significant struggles trying to learn it all. But we do discuss it all the time. Someone will say an odd sentence and a head will pop up, 'Is that how you should say that?' Then a good-natured discussion will ensue and grammar rules will be Googled, and definitions of words will be looked up. Not all the time and more about definitions and spellings than grammar sometimes (although punctuation is a big hit around here) but it is a frequent occurrence.

In my opinion grammar should be naturally learned. Everyone should discuss the rules in normal conversations and when reading books. Good literary books. Although, some of the newer books which don't feel the need to use complete sentences do afford us great discussions on what the 'proper' way to write them might have been. Grammar is three things; Capitalization, Punctuation and Parts of Speech. All three can be learned easily from a chart, books and discussion, but most of all from exemplary books. In fact, the more a child reads and is read to, the greater the improvement in their grammar, writing, and vocabulary comprehension. Children absorb more than we think.

We've used Easy Grammar and Daily Grams the most although my youngest did enjoy the Rod and Staff program we used in 3rd grade that I had picked up at a garage sale. Honestly though, kids should be able to get a couple years of grammar in sometime between grades 3-7 and then they don't need constant daily instruction in the subject. It will be in their heads enough to help with reports and higher learning endeavors. As they grow older and have harder subjects they will probably need to refresh their memories, that's why I'm happy to have heard about this new on-line Grammar Checker.

By the way, I wrote a wonderfully convoluted post on grammar and then decided to go pop it in the company's website, (I have since written this completely new post you're reading now!) For all my talk about loving grammar and words and such, the program found about 10 mistakes. What?! From me?! But I'm perfect! A perfect homeschooling teacher! I can't make mistakes! But if I'm being honest, I got over the initial shock and was so happy there is a website like this, that can make me sound even more intelligent without my having to do all the heavy lifting. Think of the uses for this program. Kids can have help with writing their reports and research. It frees up us homeschool moms in the checking of grammar errors, punctuation or capitalization mistakes. I think it even has a plagiarism button as well. I could not be happier with the program!  What do you use for your grammar needs?

** Okay, I'm off to plug in THIS post and see how much it offends the Grammarly program. I'm hoping I did better this time! Cross your fingers (and stop pointing out all my mistakes!!)...**

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Semi-Wordless Wednesday

Thankful that homeschool allows for varied interests and Wii exercise before school starts!

Studying for Apologia Science test. Dd says drawing pictures helps her remember.

Love this homeschool life we have!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ignorant or Blessed?

I was talking with hubby last night about how we need to be careful with our youngest now that she is the only child at home. When the teen lived here we had two children to deal with. Our teen is a fabulous child but we had growing pains working with her on rules, responsibilities and growing up. You know, normal teen stuff. Now that only the youngest lives here, hubby worries too much about her wild schemes and crazy ideas that he's sure makes the neighbors think we're crazy (she's built 2 'shanties' in the back yard, complete with lighting.! lol Yesterday I caught her in jammies, with silk scarves tied around her waist and practicing ninja moves out by the garden, waving a thin white plastic pole like she was Kung Fu Panda!) Up until now she's had more freedom to just be her while we were navigating ourselves through teenager landmines. But now, we notice everything.

I told him we had to just allow her to be her, to make mistakes, within reason (no, you can't play with fire from the firepit!) I briefly discussed unschooling with him and what it could look like. I know I'm not brave enough (or haven't been up to this point) but I can see that she would thrive at it. She's lazy sometimes but she really is a curious soul. Hubby worried that children who were allowed to learn this way would be ignorant of the things that don't interest them. This stopped me in my tracks. Is this true? Does it matter? Do we have to know all about everything if it doesn't interest us? Would it be a crime if she never learned who the dictator of China was or how to dissect a frog? Even today hubby asks if I knew what a Rube Goldberg machine was? I replied no, he explained ihews like the mousetrap game. One thing leads to another in succession. I don't think my life has been hindered not knowing the name of those machines! Dd has other interests. Heck the child is currently listening her way through a COLLEGE Ancient Egypt lecture series, FOR FUN!!! She knows more about Egypt, Greek and Norse Myths and American History (from listening to History of Us by Joy Hakim) then I'll ever know and I graduated from college!

I don't think school has to be a series of boring forced subjects that we don't care about and won't ever remember anyway. This is one of the reasons we homeschool so we can study what we like, when we like. But I do find myself picking up more textbooks as we move into more Jr. High and I already see a lot of sighing and sadness associated with forced boring learning. I keep rethinking my choices and decision to not unschool. I wouldn't really be scarring her for life would I be??

Just to share: Read this article on Seth Godin and Homeschooling. Very enlightening. So glad I'm on the homeschooling team.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Reading Plans & Summer Break

DD has several books we keep running at all times. I'm using the Sonlight program (we're doing Core 100 right now for 7th grade) its mostly all reading. Okay, it could probably be so much more but we only seem to find time for reading the books and I do make a point to ask her what she learned in the book. After a roll of her eyes and my thoughts of 'maybe a book report would be better' I ask her what she thought was interesting in the book that I should know, since I haven't read it yet. I tell her not to tell me anything boring! lol When asked in this fashion I hear all sorts of great things I would have never heard about had we stuck with a boring written report. In this way we are actually doing narration in the Charlotte Mason method and hey, I thought I had let that fall by the wayside! Yay me!

In letting DD plan her own schooling and what she covers each day of the week based on what I assigned for the week, she has been splitting her reading books up like this:
Understood Betsy Bk (11 chapters), read M-S, 2+ chapters a day
Red Badge of Courage Bk (24 chapters), read M-S, 4 chapters a day
I think this is a great way to chart and make sure you get the reading done as well as making it seem not so overwhelming. Now if one book gets particularly interesting she continues on in that book and does less of the other for that day. Just as long as she's reading 6+ chapters a day.

I had an epiphany the other day. I keep getting lots of books from the library but somehow never 'have' or make the time to read them. So I sat Monday and made a list of the books I want to read, split them up by chapters (and lengths of books since I try to read a certain amount of pages a week and didn't want to put 3 800 pages books in one week), charted how many chapters to read a day, and voila'! A workable plan! I'm very excited. I'm actually making time!

I've already been working on our reading list for next year's history program, Sonlight Core W (One Year World History). I added several to the the regular list and am having her read 2 books a week during the summer. Do you have your kids read in the summer or am I the only child torturer?

I was reading an article about how public schools send home summer reading lists and expect them to be completed when kids return, some even have tests about the books when the kids return. I think that's outrageous! Yes, I require my child to read during the summer but if we get busy or off on some adventure, I don't sweat it. I just put that practice into play to cut down on the TV time she thinks she might be having all summer...

Do you think kids should mandatorily read over summer break?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...