Friday, December 7, 2012

Primary Language Lessons by Emma Serl

This beautiful hardback text, will remind some of you of Granny's old fashioned school book, and indeed, that is what it is!  This book was written in the early 1900's and uses Charlotte Mason's methods of teaching English.  This is an unhurried, very natural approach to English.  This method ensures that the student learns various skills as he/she writes and copies, and it is more effective and better remembered than workbook exercises.  The book will be used for two years, recommended for about Grade 2 and 3.  I suspect some children will need to older, so use the age as a guideline.

The book is re-usuable, it is not a workbook, so your child will not write in it, and you may save it for your younger children. Currently at the price of R154 from Loot, this is a real saving. This book is not intended to be used too early by primary school children, I would say well into Grade 2 at the earliest.  Parents can judge how ready their child is by scanning through the book and seeing if the child would be able to cope with the tasks.  The book requires narration and copywork, which most children really only get into close to the age of 9 or 10, though there are exceptions.  The beauty of this book is that many of the exercises can be done orally, and so that lessen your childs workload.

Simple, practical grammar, such as correct use of language, and punctuation and writing are covered, but not intense grammar as seen in other programs.  You will not see parts of speech and diagramming;-)
The lessons are interspersed with black and white reproductions of famous paintings, which are presented as picture study lessons.  If you have access to the internet, you could look up the original in colour and show your child.

Although the publisher does provide a teacher guide, I have not found in neccesary at all.  At this level the answers are simple enough.  Some of the exercises rely on knowledge of crafts, machinery and occupations from by-gone days, these could either be substituted with more modern examples, or you and your child could look things up and so learn more.

My only criticism of the book is that it does not lie open flat.  We resorted to using a big office clip to keep it open.  However, the hardcover binding is a welcome addtion in a large homeschool family, as it can be used repeatedly by many children.

The book also contains letter writing, dictation and composition lessons, which I think are more than adequate for a Grade 2 child.  Another wonderful aspect of this book is that it covers poetry, and encourages memorization of poetry.  With the addition of phonics/spelling and regular reading, this would complete your English curriculum.

As the parent, your involvement will be on a moderate level, in other words, most days, you will be required to go over the lesson with the younger child, and then the child could be left alone to complete the lesson.  Occasionally you will be required the whole lesson, such as on dictation lessons.

From a South African point of view, there is quite a bit of American content, however, this can easily be adapted, and is still a welcome addition to the South African homeschooler.  We substitute South African bird and animal names, towns and presidents wherever possible;-)  We even replaced a poem or two.

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