We do not use one specific curriculum for teaching English but rather pick and choose from the available resources. Curriculum we have found helpful are:
TATRAS (The Great Saltmine & Hifwip Reading Program) — this is a vertical phonics program that incorporates printing and spelling as a child learns to read. We purchased this program and attempted to use it with Delightful because she was begging to do school. Delightful was able to learn the sounds of the first 8 phonograms in the program but struggled with blending them together to make words. As a result, we switched to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We still hope to use the TATRAS materials when Delightful is older, however. TATRAS does promote some materials like a children’s Bible with images of Jesus in it, so a parent will have to use discretion as to what to purchase from the company. Overall, we think TATRAS is an excellent program for an older child (age 6 or so) to learn to read.
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons — this book teaches the DISTAR method of phonics, which may not work for all children. We used this book with Delightful at age 4 because she was showing an interest in learning to read. We had previously tried TATRAS but were unable to progress beyond the initial pages of the program’s primer because Delightful was having difficulty grasping the concept of blending. This book was perfect for us because it incorporates a lot of games to teach the skill of blending, which Delightful struggled with. By about lesson 8, Delightful informed us that she was going to read us a story and read us all of Lesson 1 from the Christian Liberty Phonics Readers!
McGuffey’s Readers — a later version of these readers is included in the Robinson Curriculum but the readers deserve a special mention of their own. McGuffey’s can be used to teach phonics, reading comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary. The stories in the readers are of high quality and promote moral values. We love these readers. Here is a blog that may offer additional ideas on using McGuffey’s: The McGuffey Readers.
Puritans’ Home School Curriculum –this reformed curriculum gives many good suggestions for reading materials from K-12. We especially like their high school literature selections, although we plan on reworking the materials into a unit study format. We were never able to study these sorts of materials while being educated in the public school system and we are thankful our children will have a chance to use high quality materials from a reformed perspective.
Robinson Curriculum — this curriculum incorporates many of the most recommended books in Western literature. These books include, for example, Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, and Ivanhoe. We use a lot of selections from this program and will continue to rely on it through high school.
The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura M. Berquist — this is a collection of poetry, dictation exercises, and poetry analysis lessons that we have used for memorization and oral recitation. The downside of this book is that it includes some materials promoting Catholic doctrine. We simply skip those materials and use what is in keeping with our perspective.
Here are some other helpful literature links:
Printing and Cursive Writing:
Printables from Donna Young. Donna Young has worksheets for different styles and also keyed to the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
Typing Instructor Deluxe worked perfectly for my older children. We like that this program incorporates dictation and classical literature into its exercises. Our older two children were able to type over 40 words per minute by the end of Grade 8 using this software.
Understanding Writing by Susan Bradrick. This by far the best writing program our family has used and we have tried several resources. Mrs. Bradrick explains the mechanics of writing in an easy to understand manner. Despite using a highly rated program for about 8 months, our children still struggled in Grade 7 to write a decent paragraph. After a few lessons from Understanding Writing, they could write a fantastic paragraph in a matter of minutes! Another huge positive about this program is that it covers grades 1-12 and is inexpensive compared to other products on the market.
Grading: Here is a helpful guide for grading writing assignments: How To Evaluate Students’ Writing by Fran Santoro Hamilton
Professor Klugimkopf’s Grammars — these consist of a primer and grammar text that are included in the Robinson Curriculum. These are the best grammars we have ever used and our children are proceeding through the texts with little to no difficulty. This is the first time our children have ever enjoyed talking about the parts of speech!
Learning English With the Bible Diagramming Guide by Louise Ebner — sentence diagramming is included in Professor Klugimkopf’s grammars, but this resources is also very useful. It explains diagramming in a very understandable manner using Bible-related passages.
Spelling and Vocabulary:
As Ruth Beechick says, not all children need to have spelling and vocabulary taught as separate courses. Many pick up proper spelling and vocabulary just through reading and writing. Unfortunately, our children are not among that group and so we do incorporate vocabulary into our program. For this we use:
The Robinson Curriculum — this curriculum has literally hundreds of pages of vocabulary and exercises in addition to a computerized vocabulary game. The vocabulary is keyed to the books in the program but children do not necessarily need to study the two at the same time. Our children are working at a lower level in vocabulary than they are in reading. Generally, our children master one vocabulary list a week.
McGuffey’s Readers — these readers have vocabulary words after every lesson in the text. After our children have read a selection, we ask them either to tell us the meaning of the listed words or to spell them. This has helped our children learn to decipher what an author is trying to say.