Thursday, 18 May 2017

Sources of home education inspiration: English

This is the second post with resources for home education. I don't pretend to list every resource. These are either programmes/sites which I have used, referred to or seriously considered using. The comments are my personal views.

  • Early years: we loved the picture book based curriculum, Five in a Row which has ideas around picture books. Even if you don't use the books, it is worth checking out the book lists. Branch Out World has a similar type of idea but produces unit studies around UK based picture books.

  • Learning to read. Opinions on learning to read vary and some children seem to learn with very little instruction. For the rest, programmes which teach synthetic phonics seem to have evidence based approval. We have used Jolly Phonics but found that there wasn't enough repetition nor explanation of some difficulties. 
  • I have written about reading programmes for children who need more instruction. If I were starting to teach a child to read now, I would use either All about reading or Dancing Bears. Reading Eggs is a popular on line programme. It is helpful re-enforcement for other reading instruction as is Nessy.  The latter is particularly useful for learners who find reading difficult.

  • For spelling, we use All about Spelling. This is a methodical, teacher intensive programme with plenty of review built in. In the past, I have used Schofield and Sims spelling workbooks with an older child. These are a cheaper alternative for children who don't struggle with spelling. 
  • I haven't used but was impressed with Alpha to Omega which would cover reading and spelling. Again, I haven't used the Structured Word Inquiry but this sounds a fascinating way to help children with spelling. I haven't been able to find a book about this-I'm sure that someone should write one or tell me where one exists! Nessy is a painless way of re-enforcing spelling.

  • Creative writing. There are an enormous number of programmes around and even more views on how to teach creative writing or, indeed, on whether it should be taught at all. Anyway, we have used WriteShop which has clear instructions; Bravewriter which has somewhat less clear information about what to do but plenty of encouragement for helping reluctant writers and a set of books: . Pie Corbett's books are helpful. I have used the Key Stage one book, How to teach story writing at Key Stage 1, and also Jumpstart: Literacy games for 7-14 year olds. A helpful set of books are published by QED and called How to write. 

  • Grammar, punctuation, comprehension. We don't do as much grammar as schools seem to be doing for the year 6 stats testing. We tend to use the Galore Park books for this part of English although we have the older edition. The newer edition seems to include more grammar. Jumpstart, by Pie Corbett, has some games which can be used. This year, we have used Writing with Ease which has worked reasonably well for one child and not at all well for the other. This is sold as a writing course but includes copy work, dictation and close style narration. I find the narration questions similar to the comprehension questions in Galore Park. The premise of this book is that creative writing is not necessary at a young age. I struggle with this idea so wouldn't use Writing with Ease alone for writing.

  • Handwriting. We have used several programmes: Schofield and Sims (we liked this but my children need more than two thin books worth of practice), Getty Dubay (this worked well until we reached cursive which looked too different to UK script), Morrell workbooks. I have wondered about Handwriting without Tears but rejected this as the cursive was unlike most UK styles. Please let me know if you have any recommendations. Ideally, I would like something which can be done for a short time daily.

  • ExtrasShakespeare week has plenty of resources for introducing younger children to the bard. Don't forget the local library for books. Recently, I have used the library online search more and more rather than just looking at random when I arrive. 
Please do write about your favourite resources and let me know if I have left out some major area. 

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  1. We've used Haydn Richards Junior English 1-4 for ages 7-11 which covers a variety of English exercises including comprehension, grammar and punctuation.
    Nelson Handwriting could provide daily handwriting practice.

  2. Hi Sarah, thanks for this, the Shakespeare week looks great! As far as cursive goes, I downloaded a free font and make my own worksheets using the Ambleside Online copywork yahoo group files. This was a helpful thread: