*I receive the BookShark curriculum in exchange for sharing our Homeschool journey with you. All opinions are my own.*
I’m a lover of worksheets! When I was younger, the more worksheets you gave me, the better. Writing, letters, sentences- I loved it all! Maybe that’s why I became a writer? But, my son- he struggles with lots of writing. He’s good at it, but he absolutely hates it. Language Arts became a big struggle for us, because anytime he had to write, he threw a fit. And school would become an argument instead of a learning experience.
BookShark takes a natural approach to Language Arts. They use ‘multi-sensory approaches to teaching letter sounds, phonics, spelling, dictation, and a complete creative expression/pre-writing program.’ This means that they use lots of different methods to teach your child about writing- without having to write every single day. I LOVE THIS! Language Arts doesn’t have to be such a big fight anymore.
4-Day Language Arts
BookShark Language Arts (we us the Level 2 intermediate) is broken up into 4 day school weeks, just like the rest of their curriculum. On the first day of each week we learn a new spelling rule and introduce our spelling words. My son reads a few pages in one of his readers and then does a copywork passage from that day’s reading. So, yes on Mondays he does have to write a few sentences. But, it’s a gentle approach. It’s only 2 or 3 and then he’s done!
On the second day of the week we expand on what we learned the day before, and use the previous day’s copywork passage as a jumping off point to learn even more. This is called Copywork Application. The curriculum really builds on itself and you learn more and more in little sips. It focuses on a new goal each week. Maybe it’s recognizing a new spelling rule, conjunctions, a new type of writing…but each week focuses on one thing. Like this week- we’re talking about contractions and the proper use for apostrophes. We’re also using these tips to learn how to write a persuasive letter.
The 3rd day of the week is really spent brainstorming what we’re going to write on the 4th day. This is where we gather all of our ideas together. A lot of times, this doesn’t even mean that your child will be writing. This is a gentle discussion on what you’ll be doing the final day. This allows my son to know- “hey, we will be doing a writing assignment tomorrow, but let’s gather our thoughts and get them all in one place so it makes the writing easier.” A lot of times I just write all of the things he comes up with on our white board or a sheet of paper so that he can use it as reference on his big writing assignment. Other days we use a flow chart or Diamond Notes (more on these in a moment).
The 4th day of the week is the big writing assignment for us. Where he takes all of his ideas and puts them together to form, usually a paragraph. Yes, this day takes him the longest. But, he knows what I expect of him- there’s even a rubric that you use to grade how well they do their assignment. Sometimes I even show my son the rubric so he knows exactly what I’m looking for in his writing. While writing a paragraph can be a struggle- sometimes I make it easier by helping him. We’ll figure out what he wants to say and I’ll write it on the white board for him to copy. This makes it a little easier for him to keep his thoughts chronological. It’s totally okay to take your curriculum and make it work for you!
One of my favorite tools that we added to our Language Arts this year was the Diamond Notes. They are a tool used to help your child in their writing by breaking up their paragraph into smaller sections, using a baseball diamond. On the pitcher’s mound they write the subject/main idea of what they’re going to write about. On the 3 bases they place their 3 supporting ideas, in order of importance. You start by doing something like, “Ice Cream Flavors” on the pitcher’s mound. Then they’ll place their favorite flavors on each base in order of their most favorite to least. It expands from there. Eventually these bases will become whole sentences supporting the main idea. Finally, the home plate summarizes the whole paragraph.
By looking at what they’ve written on the Diamond Notes, your child can use each piece to write a whole paragraph when it’s put together. It’s just a fun way to teach your student paragraph structure without being too technical. And my baseball loving little boy is a huge fan! I’m so thankful that BookShark introduced us to this writing tool, because it has made Language Arts time so much less stressful!
There are a lot of skeptics when it comes to a more natural, gentle approach to Language Arts. But, I have to say it is working wonders for us. Language Arts has gone from a fight to a mostly pleasant experience. So, if you have a struggling writer like I do- give BookShark’s approach to Language Arts a try!
What are some ways you help your struggling learners?
You may also like: Why We Homeschool.