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Wildschooling is the basis of our education. I truly believe that we need nature in our lives. We’re also strongly child-led, willing to leave behind structured teaching to pursue passion at almost any moment. There are some things, however, that we do teach as an educational basis. Language Arts is one of them. My educational philosophy highly runs in the direction of “If you teach them to read, to love learning, they will teach themselves everything they need to know. If you teach them to communicate, they will build a community that can overcome anything.”
We still don’t stick to a strict schedule, but we’ve found resources that are engaging enough that even without the structured schedule, the children will often bring me the curriculum anyway for lessons. This means it might take two years to progress through a single grade level…or three months. We’ve done both. As they grow older, they create their own schedule by breaking the lessons down into the calendar that they create. Time management isn’t something that comes naturally to free spirits like ours so being able to set an open schedule that still holds you accountable is helpful.
Our primary curriculum is The Good and The Beautiful. There is no commission given for the following endorsement. It is AMAZING. The kids are engaged from kindergarten to high school and it teaches things in bite sized amounts that makes it easy to learn. There is also a ton of repetition so if your child doesn’t understand something the first time around it isn’t the end of the world. It works really well with our traveling, wild lifestyle. It doesn’t require loads of space and is easy to integrate with a living education.
I taught my two oldest kids to read using the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. As the name implies, this book is heavy on phonics and the visual process of blending sounds. It doesn’t cover handwriting nearly as well as my children craved, nor did it cover much in the way of grammar fundamentals.
We also loved the Sonlight curriculum and used it for many years. Sonlight is heavy on the reading…so heavy that you get an entire library with each grade level. We LOVED this! Unfortunately the grammar and spelling with this program didn’t click with the kids. Which is a shame because the books, science, and history are phenomenal. Still, we might have figured out how to make it work if time (teaching four at the same time is intense!), space, and expense hadn’t been an issue. If you only have one or two children and unlimited bookshelves this might actually be a fit for you. For us…we were still looking for the perfect fit.
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That’s when we found The Good and The Beautiful. It was a fairly new curriculum so I was hesitant to take a chance on it. For any of you who have curriculum hopped you know it gets expensive very quickly. The amazing part was, they had the entire curriculum online for free to download. I didn’t have to order it to touch it, feel it, try it out. You can find the free downloads for Language Arts Levels 1-5 here. They have since added History, Science, Math, and even High School!
It was quickly apparent that this was what we had been looking for. Geography and art are woven throughout the language arts program while addressing all of the fundamentals of grammar and spelling. It even inspired a joy of sentence diagramming in my older kids. Unbelievable!
When it comes to teaching reading, The Littles are enthralled by this program and I wish it had existed when I was teaching The Bigs. Most of the time it is still taught from my lap, just like Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but this covers so much more than that humble tome. The girls engage in phonics, spelling, handwriting, basic grammar, and study art and poetry on a daily (well… individual lesson) basis. They have beginner books that are actually enjoyable…
And of course we also add in read alouds as a family.
Percy Jackson, anyone?
The big kids continue with all of that, adding in more complex spelling rules and grammatical concepts. Sentence diagramming, vocabulary, Greek and Latin roots. Plus geography and literary studies. They don’t just read classic literature, they study the authors to understand the emotional and historical basis of the writing. They also begin journaling and formal writing studies. My previous writing-resistant kids are not only writing their assignments, one of them is now writing and illustrating an entire series!
I can not rave about The Good and The Beautiful enough and plan on a future series reviewing each level that we have used. We also have tried their history and science programs. I do recommend buying the pre-printed material if you decide that this is your curriculum. Our brains process things differently when we look at a book rather than a screen. I’ve never tried printing off and binding the free version because the pre-printed versions online are so incredibly reasonably priced.