Saturday, December 11, 2010

Language Arts Questions

We officially began our Christmas holidays yesterday! But, my academic wheels are always spinning. While I am wrapping gifts, making grocery shopping lists, and planning out our days, in the back of my mind, school is always lurking. As I reflect on the semester we just finished, I am evaluating--what worked, what didn't work.

I used Sonlight Language Arts for the first time with Leah (1st grade, Core K), Julie (8th grade, Core 5), and Clay (6th grade, Core 5). It has not been the best fit for our family. The assignments are too easy for Julie (I really expected that), and really too vague for Leah and Clay.

I plan to let Julie continue with the weekly Sonlight writing assignments, but I have already dropped the dictation and worksheet portion of the program for her.

Clay will begin All Things Fun and Fascinating sold by IEW. He has done IEW for the past two years, and he really needs more practice in this type of writing instruction. I have been pleased with all of the various IEW products I have used in the past. I have dropped the Sonlight dictation and language worksheets for him too, but I am interested in doing dictation with Clay. I also plan for him to begin daily copywork again. I used daily copywork with my oldest two girls for years, and I really think it is beneficial. He will be doing his copywork in both print and cursive (alternating days).

Leah will drop most of the Sonlight Language Arts. I plan to occasionally use the worksheets, but none of the copywork, dictation, or writing assignments. Leah will do the same type of language arts activities that my other three children have done in first grade: journal, story starters, letter writing, and doodle-loops (I draw a squiggle or two on the page, and the child finishes the drawing and then writes about it). She will also do daily copywork, and I want to incorporate dictation with her too.

So here are my questions. If you use dictation (meaning the parent dictates something to the child to write), please share with me how it works.

  • What is your source for dictation?
  • Do you dictate a passage that they have previously copied?
  • Do you assign copywork every day?
  • Do you assign dictation every day?
For the first week or two in January, the children will be writing thank-you notes daily. By late January, I hope to have a concrete language arts plan in place.

Thanks in advance for all of your great ideas!


  1. The only dictation we are doing right now is with my 4th and 6th grade boys. They do sentence dictations during each word list in Megawords so it occurs only about every other week.

    I am using IEW's Ancient History Writing program this year with my boys and LOVE it. This is my first year using any IEW program and I will definitely be using an IEW writing program again next year.


  2. I have really liked Sonlight's LA program for my kids this year, but I don't especially care for their dictation exercises. I like Spelling Wisdom for dictation. I'm new at giving dictation so I read up on it in a Charlotte Mason book this summer. How it's done, depends on their age and experience. Ideally you will be able to say the sentence and only repeat it once and they will write it exactly including correct punctuation. My kids weren't ready for this so I started by letting them look over the sentence for a minute or two. Encourage them to visualize the correct spelling and punctuation or even write it in the air or if they're really struggling have them write it on paper first. Then read the sentence to them and have them write it. My 9 and 11 yr olds can write dictation correctly after looking at the sentence for a minute. My 7 yr old always had to write it several times on her own first. Good luck and I love Spelling Wisdom volumes 1 and 2.