The books have been slightly updated and improved to varying degrees by various publishers. Specific grammar and composition lessons are intermixed to create a very balanced approach to language arts. Artwork reproductions in black and white are used as the basis for a number of lessons as are myths, legends, fables, fairy tales, historical vignettes, biographies, Bible stories, and nature lessons. Like many school books written around the turn of the last century, they include occasional mention of God but none of Jesus that I found.
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Just for Fun Educators and parents are slowly rediscovering the beauty of economy. The stripped-down approach popular at the turn of the 20th century is gradually coming back into vogue, primarily through the republication of many texts used in the late 19th century by schoolteachers and education theorists.
Among these was the teacher and writer Charlotte Mason, a British woman whose methodology was built on reading "real books" rather than textbooks , taking dictation, and observing nature. The "Charlotte Mason approach" is gaining swift ground among homeschoolers, who realize that knowledge without context is meaningless, and that kids need more than just facts in their heads to be well-educated.
How Do These Work? However, these problems are relatively few, and the advantages of this course far outweigh the difficulties it presents.
Primary Language Lessons is for grades in lessons, and Intermediate Language Lessons covers grades in lessons. The important thing is mastery, so that kids thoroughly know and understand the material before moving on. In Primary Language Lessons, students are mostly just introduced to the concept of language and communication.
The first lesson has a picture of a bird and two squirrels kids look at, after which they verbally answer questions concerning what they see. Lesson two combines copywork and dictation; the third lesson is an is-are fill in the blank. Some of the lessons have kids read a brief story, then retell it in their own words; others provide simple information, like abbreviations for days and months; and there are poems to be memorized, conversation skills to be mastered, and letter-writing formats to be learned.
Things become more challenging in Intermediate Language Lessons. Both volumes are sturdy hardcovers, non-consumable, and illustrated handsomely in black and white.
These guides can be helpful and cut down on teacher time, but neither are essential. Parents can simply sit down with their kids and present the lessons on the fly, or they can read ahead and prepare something beforehand.
Again, the emphasis is on mastery. Take as long as you need, or zip through, just make sure your kids are getting the information down pat and able to use it on their own. Because the lessons are short and not very complex, students can acquire the needed skills much quicker and with less frustration, giving them a strong foundation on which to build.
English for the Thoughtful Child and Simply Grammar are very similar to Emma Serl Language Lessons in content and approach, but both are from our perspective inferior. First Language Lessons by Jesse Wise is similar in some ways, but more unnecessarily complex and teacher-intensive.
That these little volumes accomplish so much in such little space is no doubt a great part of their appeal. Some people prefer workbooks, and for them, the folks at PrimaryLanguageLessons.
A good program to switch to in middle school would be Put That in Writing, a course focused solidly on composition. Review by C. Hollis Crossman C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. Read more of his reviews here.
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Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons
Specific grammar and composition lessons are intermixed to create a very balanced approach to language arts. Beautiful artwork reproductions in black and white are used as the basis for a number of lessons as are myths, legends, fables, fairy tales, historical vignettes, biographies, Bible stories, and nature lessons. Like many school books written around the turn of the last century, they include occasional mention of God but none of Jesus that I found. Bible stories are presented in the same vein as other selections, so I would consider these books Christian-friendly but not overtly Christian. The books have been reproduced almost exactly as originally written. One exception I noted was that addresses for envelopes and letter writing are mostly but not all updated to our present post-office-approved state abbreviations.
Emma Serl's Language Lessons from Living Books Press