There is a stage where the gap between the ability to read and the ability to write is enormous.
Of course, early efforts are so precious and endearing! What cold-hearted person could discourage such amazing beginnings, and yet…
…I have observed that, if not corrected early-on, some habits of poor grammar and spelling can become like permanent marker on the walls of a young child’s mind. Even though I agreed heartily with the idea that children learn spelling and grammar best by reading and writing, I found that my own children needed more specific instruction. However, I was not willing to overburden them with a complete English program in every grade, often repeating the same information year-after-year and causing them to feel as though language was a laborious, boring enterprise.
I needed to find a program that was:
Something I could put on “auto pilot”
Quick (for kids who already had trouble sitting still for reading and math)
Cheap and easy to put together (not too much printing, cutting, pasting, etc., etc., etc.)
I searched for years for a suitable solution, and early-on I discovered Simply Grammar, an expanded version of Charlotte Mason’s First Grammar Lessons. However, the work was meant to be done orally, which was a bit cumbersome and time-consuming for me, especially while I was juggling so many at different levels and tiny ones who needed my attention.
Finally, I stumbled upon Dollar Homeschool in The Old Schoolhouse magazine. This company specializes in collecting school books from times past and making them available in digital form for modern use. These materials were written before the Progressive education movement in America, a time before humanism and its psychobabble began to rule the way children were taught.
Included on one of the CD’s from Dollar Homeschool was a collection of grammar books, and in particular two which I found very interesting. These were written by a person by the name of C. C. Long and were entitled New Language Exercises for Primary Schools part one and part two (I like to refer to them as “Long’s Language”). As I read through them I became more and more excited; this was finally the answer, the tool that would help fill the gap and turn my beginning readers into confident, competent writers!
For one thing, the first lessons are not about nouns and verbs. There is actually very little mentioned in the first book about grammar at all, although grammar is the subject. Instead, children are asked to write about themselves, where they live, etc. The lessons present sentences as “statements” including a subject and a predicate without ever mentioning the words and then build on that. Within the first 50 lessons, my little ones have been able to write short paragraphs that describe familiar objects such as a ball, a cow, etc.
For another thing, the lessons are oh, so short! The instructions are usually one or two sentences long, and the exercise is not more than six to twelve short sentences (that follow a formula, so there is not that much thinking involved). If a child is focused, which is easy to do because of the simplicity, the longest lesson takes less than 15 minutes to complete!
Besides all this, the work is mostly self-directed. The learning is gradual, no great leaps are expected from one day to another, so little instruction or oversight is necessary. This is certainly a win/win for us moms of many! My children come away from the lessons feeling accomplished and energized without feeling frustrated. Before I realize it they are well on their way to being successful writers!
All I needed was a physical copy of the books (they are short and easy to print out either from the Dollar Homeschool CD’s or from the Internet–see the links below) a pencil and a composition book and we were on our way!
Here are some more samples to whet your appetite:
*Note: Some of the lessons use Spencerian script, so you may have to read and/or write out the information. This is not negative, but can be an opportunity for helping youngsters get used to reading cursive handwriting.
Here are the links to the free versions online. All you have to do is download the pdf version and then print!
I hope this simplifies things for you and blesses you!