Friday, April 13, 2012

How We Do Language Arts, Part 3

This post is Part 3 in a series that gives a snapshot of what Language Arts looks like in our home right now, with a first grader who is reading well.

You can find the other parts here:
Part 1 - Intro, Literature, and Narration
Part 2 - Handwriting, Copywork, Reading, and Spelling

Today's Installment - What we Don't Do, and Helpful Links

What you’ll notice we aren’t doing….

Creative Writing, or Tons of Written Work in General
CM didn’t advise much written work for young children.  Gaining ideas from living books (something to write about), oral narration (organizing thoughts and ideas), and copywork (the mechanics and conventions of writing) all lay the foundation for future written work, however.   Michelle often chooses to write on her own – letters, lists, etc – which I encourage, but I do not require at this stage in the game.   I like how in her book, Writing with Ease, Susan Wise Bauer has laid out a path to begin by practicing all of the skills of writing separately (through reading, narration, and copywork) and then gradually bringing them together so that by 4th grade or so the student has the tools to begin writing original thoughts on her own.  We don’t follow the suggestions from this book exactly (Susan Wise Bauer is writing from a classical education perspective, rather than a CM perspective, and her take on the purpose and method of narration are a bit different), but I found her sequence of 'baby steps' really helpful to see the big picture of the skills that a child needs to develop in order to become a proficient writer.  As per SWB’s suggestions, once a week or so I will record one of Michelle’s narrations and have her use a sentence or two for copywork as an introduction to putting her own thoughts onto paper.

CM also didn’t recommend a study of formal grammar for young children.  She maintained that grammar study will be more meaningful to a child who has already gained experience with reading and copying from good models.   As such, we won’t study grammar formally until 4th or 5th grade.  In the meantime, we take a few minutes each week to point out some simple grammar and mechanics functions in Michelle’s copywork selections:  when to use a capital letter, what all the different punctuation marks mean, etc.

More Resources for CM-style Language Arts
If you are intrigued by the CM language arts methods and what to read more in detail, here a couple of good links to get you started….

SCM Discussion Forum Threads on Living Books, Narration, Copywork and Composition, Dictation and Spelling, and English and Grammar

Wildflowers and Marbles Language Arts Series

Hope this has been helpful for those looking to implement a Charlotte Mason education in your home.

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