Having homeschooled multiple children over many years, I have
experimented with several different grammar programs and different
styles of teaching. I have drilled students through the classical
method and eased students through the Charlotte Mason method, knowing
that both had their merits but never content with the programs
I found. The classical method programs we used gave me impressive
1st graders, but the material didn't stick with them very long
and had to be consistently re-taught. The Charlotte Mason materials
seemed to swing to the opposite extreme and simply had no direction.
There was no apparent benefit to either method before my students
reached third grade, when their minds were more capable of grasping
concepts rather than just memorizing them, particularly since third
grade grammar programs begin with the basics again anyway.
I had decided that the best method would be to wait until students
were older to begin grammar introduction, until my daughters came
along and insisted otherwise. They both started writing stories
almost as quickly as they learned to read stories. I knew they
would not benefit from any of the grammar programs I had used before.
But their stories were beginning to make me cringe, and I knew
some direction was needed. Even if it wasn't necessary for formal
instruction, I decided that I still wanted to introduce them to
the beauty of language earlier than third grade, and reading good
books just didn't seem to be enough. At the rate they were learning
and writing, I was concerned they would become too familiar with
poor grammar habits and have to unlearn things later.
Happily, I discovered a Charlotte Mason method that is beautiful
and gentle yet methodical and thorough. Language Lessons Through
Literature was created by a talented homeschool mom who experienced
similar struggles in her search for an effective grammar program
for the early years. As a result, Kathy Jo DeVore compiled a work
that includes grammar studies, literature studies, poetry memorization,
and even art appreciation! It is a two-year course designed for
1st and 2nd grade levels, and it comes as a textbook with downloadable
workbooks that can be saved and printed for multiple students.
Lessons are brief and easy yet very enjoyable for students and
teacher. Each lesson includes a reading session from a favorite
classic, such as Peter Rabbit or The Wind in the
Willows. The books chosen are in the public domain and available
for free online. Many of the Peter Rabbit stories are even available
on YouTube. After the reading session, a portion of the story is
examined for the purpose of learning a grammar concept, such as
capital letters or quotation marks. Students are then given a copywork
assignment that practices the new concept. An Aesop fable is included
for reading, as well as periodic art appreciation and poetry selections.
The workbooks are available in multiple handwriting fonts to match
whatever handwriting method you might be using, such as Handwriting
Without Tears, D'Nealian, Italics, and classic Ball-and-Stick.
The workbooks are an optional addition to the lessons. The book
alone gives everything a teacher and student would need. The recommended
copywork sentences are given in the book and teachers can write
these out for students on any paper. However, the workbooks contain
the art selections, poetry with room for drawing, and copywork
selections so nicely that the convenience makes them worth every
penny. This is especially true when you consider that you can choose
your favorite handwriting method and that you can print as many
copies as you need for as many students as you like.
This has been a favorite lesson for my daughters and I to do together
each day. We do most of our lessons on the couch together and then
take turns with copywork. I supervise one writer while the other
draws a picture of the story we read. There is a space provided
on the copywork page for drawings. This gentle yet thorough program
is intended to be taught three times per week for 36 weeks, totaling
108 lessons per year in the two-year course. However, my daughters
beg to do extra work each week, and I usually agree. I enjoy it
every bit as much as they do!