I am one of those homeschoolers who really dislikes twaddle, or work that is just given to keep children busy. I find that most handwriting and phonics programs are difficult to tie into the rest of our lessons. In a home with six children all ages ten and under, we really don’t have time for busy work.
This year I came across a handwriting software that has literally blown my socks off. Startwrite, is software that allows you to make custom handwriting worksheets for each of your children. You can customize the worksheets by font, type of lines, all the way to the size of the text to even having targeted lines showing the student how to form the letters. To begin you install the software on to your computer, then open the program. I type out what text I want them to copy or even trace, then print it off for them. I am now tying in history, spelling, science, Bible, into our handwriting lessons. Thus preventing the usual handwriting burn out, we had been experiencing. I am really liking this software for my dysgraphic student, as I can print off as many practice pages as needed for him to use. There are many fonts on the software to choose from, we are using Italic and Italic cursive. Startwrite is my handwriting of choice now, as for $39, I was am able to make any and all worksheets for all of my students and never having to buy another handwriting workbook that is just letters and words and sentences that really don’t tie into our other studies. My students now know that their handwriting is more then just busy work. I am training them that there is joy in writing by having them always write something that will be used in one of their notebooks, not stashed away as completed work like most handwriting workbooks.
I have not found a way to incorporate phonics into our other lessons. However, I have found a phonics program that we enjoy. Seven years ago, when I attended my first homeschool convention, I set out to find a preschool phonics curriculum that would not overwhelm our little guy. I stumbled, blindly upon
Explode the Code
. It appeared to be fun for the child, easy for the teacher/parent, and reasonably priced. I was eager to get started when I got home and quickly found that he was not quite ready for formal phonics instruction. We waited almost an entire year before reintroducing it. At this point, he slowly started to grasp the beginning phonics skills he would need to begin reading. However, I felt the progress was too slow and decided to try a different curriculum, picking one at my second homeschool convention. This only caused more problems, it required more handwriting and longer lessons, which only frustrated our little guy more. We quickly went back to Explode the Code and worked hard. By the end of second grade he was reading chapter books and now in fourth grade he is reading at an eight to nineth grade level. Our first grader is moving right along and reading many short books as we near the end of her first year of formal phonics instruction using Explode the Code.
Explode the Code
is consumable, but the workbooks are only about $5-$7 each, making it a fairly affordable phonics program.
Want to learn more about our curriculum choices? Check out part one, handwriting, spelling, math, language arts, science, history and our record keeping ideas.