Early in my homeschool mom career, language arts caused a lot of confusion for me. There are so many subcategories within the subject – I just didn’t know where to begin.
Handwriting, reading (including phonics and sight words), spelling, grammar, composition, poetry, literature, public speaking…. What do I teach when? And how? Ahhh! ?
Over the years, I’ve been able to make better sense of it all. My curriculum shelves, however, still reveal the winding journey of trial and error I’ve gone through in the search for language arts resources for my kids.
I’m a right-handed mom with two left-handed kids. When I figured out my two oldest boys were both lefties, I was totally unprepared to help them navigate the left-handed-person challenges they’d face in this life.
In my righty “this-world-was-made-with-me-in-mind” ignorance, I figured scissors and can-openers and garden pruners were one-direction-fits-all kind of tools. I just never really realized the annoyances lefties deal with on a daily basis until I tried teaching my own two left-handed kids.
A lot of homeschool bloggers like to post their yearly curriculum choices (like I’ve been doing in this series) for their readers. Over the years, I’ve found it incrediblyhelpful to see what other families are using.
But sometimes these “what we’re using this year” lists give the impression that choosing curriculum for the year is a once-and-done kind of thing.
When my oldest son had some pre-writing work under his belt and was ready to start learning how to write letters and words, I researched the depths of the internet in the hopes of finding the one right, best method for teaching handwriting.
Long story short, there’s no such thing.
Some experts say cursive first, others say manuscript. Some say lower case first, others say upper case. They all seem to have an opinion about which letters to teach first and which font style is the best for beginning writers – D’Nealian, Zaner-Bloser, Palmer, Getty-Dubay, Wingdings (ok, probably not that last one). What size should the primary lines be for which grade level? Will tracing ruin my child forever or is it a great first step toward handwriting success? And on and on and on…
One of the beauties of homeschooling is that kids can work at their own pace based on skill mastery rather than age or grade level. This is helpful for all subjects but especially ones with physical coordination aspects like handwriting. Kids are all over the map when it comes to physical development.
Is your kindergartener’s printing better than your spouse’s? No need to hold them back with a “kindergarten” book! Does your older student need extra printing practice before tackling cursive? No worries! You can use whatever resources meet him where he’s at based on ability, not necessarily grade.
At the end of the day, the goal is to have kids who can write neatly (or at least legibly) to communicate in written form.