Sharing ideas, teaching tips and resources for the homeschool journey.
When you first begin planning your English curriculum it is normal to feel a little at sea. Most of us have the school methods of teaching locked into our brains and that is what we think we need. We look for spelling tests, comprehension lessons, grammar worksheets and creative writing assignments. However when you homeschool you can use a far more natural method for teaching this subject.
Charlotte Mason believed the teaching methods and literary content of a child's curriculum were extremely important in achieving a good education or outcome.
The new Australian National Curriculum (and NSW Syllabus) does not stipulate the content of the materials to be used, or the teaching methods, except for the requirement to incorporate Australian literature, including some Torres Strait and Aboriginal literature, into its syllabus. However it is quite detailed in explaining what outcomes (or achievement standard) it wants you to have at the end of each stage of learning.
These two ideas can be combined to give a comprehensive educational programme that can incorporate many ideas of Charlotte Mason and still satisfy the educational outcomes desired in the Australian National Curriculum and NSW Syllabus.
Our Graded Curriclum Guides gives specific content suggestions and outcomes.
The National Curriculum "is built around the three interrelated strands of Language , Literature and Literacy...Together the three strands focus on developing students’ knowledge, understanding and skills in listening, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating.” Australian National Curriculum
The Charlotte Mason method teaches in these three areas. Her methods for teaching English are simple to implement in the homeschool because it's logical, enjoyable and practical.Charlotte Mason believed living books should be the basis for all English lessons. From a good book handwriting, spelling, literature models and literacy were all taught.
Can I encourage you to read more about Charlotte Mason's methods for teaching English by following the links.
1. Use living book for lessons (not textbooks) and no twaddle (busy work or silly books).
Outcome: This exposes children to a wide variety of literature and gives them an appetite for good quality literature.
2. Reading aloud is fundamental to her method.
Outcome: This encourages listening skills and allows books to be used beyond the level of a child's reading ability.
3. Reading lessons are a combination of basic phonics and sight words. Children are encouraged to read their own books when able.
Outcome: This develops reading skills quickly and helps children to begin to read on their own without being bogged down by spelling rules.
Outcome: Children produce texts in the desired handwriting font from good models. Basic spelling and punctuation rules are used when reproducing different texts. Vocabulary is increased with exposure to different texts.
5. Dictation is the main way spelling is taught.
Outcome: Encourages use of commonly used words and develops spelling skills. Increases vocabulary as words are used in context. Identifies different text structures and punctuation. It also reinforce other literature that is being studied in other subjects.
6. Composition is taught as a separate skill to writing. Written narrations are the main form of composition. These are begun around age 10. Children are required to narrate on a wide variety of topics such as retelling a story, describing a picture, or explaining how something works.
Outcome: Children's writing lessons are often their copywork and dictation lessons and they are not required to write creatively until they have the necessary writing skills needed to compose their own work. Narrations give children the content that they needed in order to write a good composition. This eliminates the frustration of children being required to think of something to write before they have the necessary knowledge.
NOTE: Creative Writing
Charlotte Mason's method of writing allowed children to write creatively within the context of the topic that they were reading about. It gave them the content and got them interested in a subject so they would have something to say. Children were not required to just make up a story from their heads with no direction. Some children will want to make up stories and others will not. If this is your child by all means write down their stories if you desire but if your child doesn't want to then I suggest you save yourself the agony and leave this skill to develop naturally at a later date.
Ruth Beechick discusses this topic in her book A Strong Start in Language. She says, “Our society is so obsessed with creativity that people want children to be creative before they have any knowledge or skill to be creative with.”
The National Curriculum doesn't require our children to produce creative (imaginative) writing texts until Year Four.
7. Storytelling and Narration is a comprehension skill that also helps with retention of information. It is done orally with children until they can confidently write.
Outcome: This encourages organisation of material to be presented orally. It also increases the confidence of children to communicate on a variety of topics.
8. Poetry recitation and memorisation. Shakespeare plays are also read in the later primary and highschool years.
Outcome: Increases confidence in oral presentation. Demonstrates to children that literary texts can be presented in different ways. Exposes children to classic literature.
Note on Viewing: Today we can also view many of the great literary works as plays, movies and mini series. This requirement is easy to achieve. As a family we love to watch many of the BBC classic English novels.
Emma Serl Language Lessons combine Charlotte Mason’s methods (and more) into an easy to follow English resource. They includes oral lessons, picture studies, poetry, narrations, letter writing, grammar and more.
Primary Language Lessons is her first book used for Years 2 - 3
Intermediate Languages Lessons are used for Years 4 - 6
Australian Book Traveller (Free Download) - This is a literature based unit study using quality Australian picture books while studying Australian history and geography.
Teaching Handwriting the Charlotte Mason Way is a good introduction to handwriting, spelling and grammar.
Blinky Bill Alphabet Copybook - (Free Download) - A free handwriting resource that will allow your child to begin to produce letters in the handwriting style you choose.
Classic Copywork Classic literature passages in an easy workbook style for your children to follow.
Downunder Copywork Australian and New Zealand literature passages in an easy workbook style for your children to follow.
Downunder Dictation and Teacher's Guide Dictation passages and ideas to help you make dictation effective for teaching spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Briefest English and Punctuation Guide Ever This simple to use guide was written for Australian students.