This is the hardest area to get right for me. It is probably Sam’s weakest area but the most crucial in being able to get over all the tickbox requirements of later academic years and it is the one area I feel that I need to have him ‘school ready’ just in case he ever chooses to go. Writing is pretty much essential for all aspects of school.
I have to walk a balance between providing enough practice in basic skills to help him improve (he does better with practice) and not getting carried away and going too far and putting him off.
What appears to be working is a set of short tasks focussing on particular areas. The improvement in his handwriting in the last 12 months is amazing.
We’ll continue working through Writing With Ease. We’re on Level 2 and should complete it before the end of the year. It’s an approach that works well for us, we like the use of extracts from real books and the 4 day week aspect of the structure fits well with our routine.
While Sam was liking the Collins Focus (possibly because I kept 3/4 of it verbal) I’ve got doubts about the depth of learning he was getting from it. Problem of a lot of UK resources I feel. They go too fast.
Decided instead this year that having got used to WWE by now I can live with the scripted aspect (by not using the script) of it’s sister publication First Language Lessons. I’ve picked up level 2, which on reflection is considerably below what Sam should be able to manage but I’d rather go slow and build confidence.
The aim is to use this 3 days a week.
This is where we failed last year. My plan to include it every day as part of regular programme was too ambitious. We didn’t have the time and the resources didn’t excite us.
At various points last year we put aside regular language work for a few weeks and did some creative work, in particular writing scary stories in run up to Halloween.
I would like to keep more routine this year so one day a week instead of grammar we’ll look at creative writing. I intend to focus on Fantasy stories all year using Scholastic’s guide and story starters site.
With the improvement in Sam’s handwriting and the fact that both WWE and FLL include copywork this is no longer such an important part of our English routine. So the idea is 10 mins a day (4 days a week) of ‘skills practice’. We’ll start with 2 days of handwriting, 1 of spelling and 1 of vocab. Do as much of the book as you can in 10 mins.
Handwriting we will continue with Getty Dubay since it’s served us so well. I have really struggled to find a spelling programme we like, I’d wanted something fun and ideally on line but nothing seemed right. We like the Collin’s books. I don’t feel we need intensive teaching in this area (hence dropping Spelling Made Easy), the copywork element of WWE seems to help. So the fun practice should suit. Vocabulary book looks okay despite having Carol Vorderman on the cover!
Depending on how we go I may drop handwriting to one day a week and replace it with Bond’s No Nonsense English, which I found on our cupboard and like the look of but can’t see a way to fit it in.
Sam enjoys reading, reads lots and with increasing variety. All I plan to do is keep feeding the habit and encouraging diverse tastes. He’s looking forward to a new Rick Riordan series coming out and I’ve mentally logged the Chronicles of Prydain as ones that may appeal.
Hoping to get into the habit of reading aloud more. Possibly make use of bus journeys as we start venturing out to groups more. Planning to read some fantasy books to go along the creative writing element. Thinking Alice in Wonderland, Arthurian Legends, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, The Neverending Story … too many really. Might reread Narnia, we love Narnia.
The whole session should take between 40 mins and an hour depending on whether we’re doing creative writing or grammar (I hope). I may set an hour aside and let him fill the time with Reading Eggspress, I’ll see if it’s a one day wonder before subscribing though.
What this plan lacks is any comprehension besides the narration part of WWE (unless we include the Bond book). This is fine to me. I hated comprehension in school, picking apart a text destroyed it for me. I’d far rather that Sam loved reading than could tell me why so and so might have said such. That element can wait for a few years and we’ll see if he needs it. In the mean time narration gives him practice at pulling out the key points in a piece of text.