Today's Wisdom

Monday, January 2, 2012

Language Arts Curriculum That Works For Us

During the month of January, Susan at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds is hosting a virtual curriculum fair.  Basically, several homeschools have volunteered to show and discuss what is working for them.  I have decided to join up and show some of the curriculum we love and what is working for us.

Our favorite homeschool curriculum that we love in grammar is Classical Conversations Foundations & Essentials programs.

In Foundations, you memorize English Grammar facts for 24 weeks for three different cycles. Most facts are memorized to catchy tunes and it amazes me how the kids can recall facts learned last year in week 1 without any review! Although, I have recently come up with a memory work binder to begin more review.  Currently, we are in Cycle 3 - week 12. Each year is a different cycle so next year we start over with Cycle 1.

Here is a sample video of Cycle 3 - Week 1 English Grammar memory work.  It is so simple but it really works!

The Essentials program is where you apply the facts that you've memorized by diagramming sentences and seeing how the facts you've memorized actually apply in a sentence and that leads to writing.  

Typically, the Essentials program doesn't begin until 4th grade so for grades 3rd and under we love First Language Lessons.  This program falls pretty much in line with what is taught in Classical Conversations. The definitions of terms may be a little different but overall, the skill is the same.

We have used Abeka, Primary Language Lessons, and Intermediate Language Lessons and none of those really worked well for our family.

We have also tried different spelling curriculum including Abeka, All About Spelling, and Spelling Power without success.  So, we just go over spelling in writing assignments as they come up and learn to spell our new vocabulary words in our IEW writing course (see below).

Our all time favorite reading curriculum is definitely Sonlight! The kids love their books and I love the questions in the Instructor's Guide (IG).  I also love the schedule that is laid out for me in the IG.  To save in cost, I try to buy used and combine the levels.  For instance, this year in Classical Conversations we are studying American History.  So, I chose Level D readers - Introduction to American History for both Stephen (5th) and Sarah (3rd).  Stephen follows the advanced reading schedule and Sarah follows the regular reading schedule included in the IG.  Many of the books are the same - it just has Stephen reading them at a faster pace than Sarah.

I must tell you that our favorite curriculum for Latin would be the Latin for Children series.  We have tried just about all the Latin curriculum choices there are and this is still our favorite go to along with the memory work that we learn in Foundations during Classical Conversations as well.

Our favorite here would definitely be Intitute of Excellence in Writing (IEW).  Both of my boys struggle with writing and IEW has broken writing down step by step so it is not so intimidating for them.  You can read my review here for more information.  

There are so many great choices out there but these are our favorites!  As you can tell, we are very eclectic in our curriculum choices.

Be sure to check out what other homeschoolers choices are for Language Arts by clicking the links below.


  1. I'm always looking for ways to improve on our Language Arts... especially grammar. Thank you for posting I'll definitely take it under consideration!

  2. I am considering Classical Conversations for next year for my oldest four children. I would love to email you about your experiences as I look more into it.

  3. IEW seems to be a theme in the writing department for so many, lol! I need to seriously consider checking it out. Thank you for joining the Fair. ;0)

  4. Absolutely - I'd be glad to help in any way I can!

  5. Thank you for such a great idea! I love seeing what works for others!

  6. Schooling in the SunJanuary 3, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Always nice to see a fellow CCer! Really love your blog!

  7. I've never heard of the Foundations & Essentials program, sounds very interesting. Thanks for sharing!


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