Any Homeschoolers Use Shurley English?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Karen, Feb 25, 2004.

  1. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm starting to think ahead to next year. I am considering using Shurley English for 3rd Grade. It is very pricey for what I really was originally prepared for so I want to be sure it is for us. I would really appreciate any and all comments, experiences and thoughts on this program. My son hates, and I mean hates, writting. I'm trying to encourage him to write more. Would this program help or hinder that in him?

    I'm also posting this on other appropriate forms because I am finding out the homeschoolers are pretty spread out all over this site and not frequenting all the same forums; therefore, if you posted on one of the other forums, not to worry about repeating yourself in one of the others. I'll see it. Thanks so much in advance for your help and input!
     
  2. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Yick to Shurley.

    :no:

    I've never used it to teach kids, but I've seen the results at the college level.

    :no:

    And I know it's Shurley because I've asked class after class what methods were used to teach them. Shurley shows up among way too many of the ones who are skirting functional illiteracy.

    Trust me, it's a real pain to teach college students what a sentence is because, by the time they reach that age, their brains REALLY rebel against it. It may be a pain to teach grammar, etc., to kids --- but it's doable, not to mention at least you'll be assured they achieve some degree of literacy.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to writing and grammar, there is no easy solution. You just got to do it. Whether they like it or not.
     

  3. Our church school has had great success with using Shurley Grammar, and began using it on recommendation from a home-schooling mom in our satellite home school program. Our fifth graders just took a test (which I moderated - I work in the library and the teacher was out for a bit.) These kids already know much more grammar than I graduated college with. They also can identify parts of speech which we were taught to use correctly (through editing) but never truly understood.
    The rub is that this would be a kind of instruction requiring the teacher to be involved and reinforcing much of the lesson. Shurley Grammar has memorized "patterns" which entire classes can recite and benefit from. However, just one student and one teacher reciting around the kitchen can get a bit dreary - especially for a third or fourth grader. But you are asking about their writing program.

    Our school uses Shurley English for part of its writing, and I think it is very fill-in-the-blanks. The paragraphs are all generated from simpler to complex, but the forms stay pretty much the same.
    The kids have benefitted from it, though - at least their writing is easier to grade!

    I wish I had had access to one of these newer imitation-style writing programs for my reluctant writers. I homeschooled my four for part of their education, and can see how rewriting one of Aesop's fables or The Three Little Pigs could have really helped.

    Good Luck!
     
  4. RAC

    RAC Guest

    Karen, you might want to check out a copy of "The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home" by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer from your library or at your bookstore.

    It lists several resources for reading and writing, as the classical method is very steeped in both. Warning: they are not big on "unschooling" or "interest-based" learning--they are very much into a regimented homeschool environment.

    My personal favorites for grammar and punctuation (as far as being both entertaining and educational) are the Karen Elizabeth Gordon books, "The Deluxe Transitive Vampire" and "The New Well-Tempered Sentence", but they're a bit on the racy side--you would probably want to re-write sentences for younger children.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    I thought about this today while teaching grammar AND writing :rolleyes: .

    And the simple truth is, language teaching is intense, time consuming, labor intensive, difficult work. In particular, there is no easy way around how labor intensive and time consuming it is. And I think the Shurley Method might work to alleviate some of the sheer labor involved ... BUT it cannot replace the simple doing of the work, both for the teacher and the student. As evidenced by my all grown up students who barely know what a sentence is and are trapped in repetitive, formulaic writing patterns. :no:

    Unfortunately, grammar is difficult to teach and to learn, AND writing --- any kind of writing --- is such a very personal task that it is easy to crush young writers, which makes them aversive to the very doing of it.

    So I guess my point is, Shurley would be okay as an adjunct to the actual teaching process. Your best bet, though, is to get your son excited about reading - reading ANYTHING - get him writing as a result and use the writing process to teach him grammar. In general, kids who read a lot fare much, much better than those trying to dive into it cold. :no:

    And protect him best as you can from the formula writing. :no:
     
  6. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Yes. Yes. A million times yes.

    Toss the theorists out the window and just set yourself down to do the work the old fashioned way. Give Shurley the boot and dig in to do some work.

    Because ... doing the work works!

    And no matter how many times the theorists protest it doesn't have to be that hard ... well, it IS hard. But you just have to do it.

    Great suggestion, RAC! :)
     
  7. Well said!! So many parents/teachers of both public/private and home schooled kids want to find an "easier" or "better" way of teaching. What they need to do is WORK. I'm not wanting to sound mean or harsh but I say if your son or anyone elses doesn't like writing and grammar...too bad!! Make him do it, kids have to learn young that there are some things you just have to do, even if you hate it. Making him do an hours worth of grammar and then read for another hour will pay off for him in the long run. WORK'EM HARD!!
     
  8. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think you all misunderstood. I'm not opposed to working hard and, he does do any work I require in school. I'm not looking for an easy way out, by any means. I'm not an easy way out type person and I make him work, but I am also know when it is just too overwhelming for him. He is also a very avid reader and I would like to build off of that. He just hates writing and I just wanted to be sure this program won't be a daily issue, but one that will cause him to look forward to writing! I just wanted to be sure it isn't totally writing drills but includes other aspects as well.

    What I want is a program that teaches all the basics. So many programs are just almost totally literature or totally grammer or totally writting journals or stories. I'm wanting a well rounded program that includes good grammer useage and improving writing skills -- but also includes literature, and things like improving dictionary skills, oral communication, etc. and is also fun and encourages children.
     
  9. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    If he's an avid reader, he's on his way. :) It's my experience that readers have a much, much easier time acquiring good grammar and writing skills, and are more moved to write ... in due time. :)

    Did he spend any time in public schools? I know that some teaching methods in the public schools can kind of traumatize kids (esp. boys), in terms of writing.

    I don't know of any existing prorams for homeschooling which integrate reading-writing-grammar. But that kind of integration is a good way to go about it. And it's the good old fashioned way, too.

    And BTW ... just to let you know ... I wasn't suggesting you weren't working hard at it. But as someone who has taught English, other languages AND ESL courses over the years :rolleyes: and as someone who has compared my workload to other instructors :rolleyes: :no: , I know firsthand any kind of language teaching is the most labor intensive and time consuming of them all. I guess I was giving you kind of a heads up. :D

    Believe me, I've looked for easier ways to go about it and have yet to find one which actually works. :rolleyes: It's as simple as this: the only thing I've ever found that works is ... the good old fashioned way (make them read a lot, make them write a lot, GENTLY make them study grammar, quiz them on grammar then make them read some more and write some more and ad infinitum over and over and over again :rolleyes: )
     
  10. RAC

    RAC Guest

    Karen, for the writing can you try some unusual assignments such as being a "scribe" for a shut-in, or for someone who perhaps has broken a writing hand and needs a little help for a few weeks? Also it helps at least at his age to stick with writing about subjects he's interested in.

    My personal feeling on "creative" writing is that the schools are starting it WAY too early--I see it in kindergarten now, and gee, children still have problems with the physical aspects of writing. I can see practicing the art of copying letters and sentences for practice, but until a child can read well, creative writing shouldn't even be attempted until at least 3rd grade or so. Also, they seem to be encouraging more use of computers for writing, and I'm not wild about a child suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome at 7 years of age.....:-0
     
  11. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    countrygrrrl, I knew what you meant. :D Thanks for the info. My son is a very hyperactive child who just hates to sit still and concentrate. I think that might be his problem with not wanting to write. Writing, for him, involves intense concentration. Spelling, complete sentences, punctuation, etc. all take concentrating on the task at hand -- it seems to overwhelm him that there is so much to it. The good news is that when he finds something he likes, he is very intense into it. If I could get him to the point where he realizes that writing is just the "necessary mechanical" part of something much more exciting (like having to use his hands to change a Transformer into to transport mode...LOL!) then I think he will not mind at all. I just can't find the right thing, or process, or something or another for him to "get" that point yet.

    Rac, your absolutely right about pushing creative writing skills too early. It is a chore for most children to just draw the letters - which, for many children, takes all the concentrating skills they have, let alone what they are writing about. I have been wondering if that is the problem with my son. Maybe he just isn't ready? Although he can write his letters fine, it just seems to be more going on to writing that he either can, or is willing to do. For him, it is a huge task! I have even tried eliminating one or two factors (such as not worrying about spelling so much; we go back and correct that later), etc. Trying to eliminate some factors so that he can get the "good" part of what writing is about. I just don't want it to turn into a habit!

    For some reason, writing does not excite him in the least! I'm not exaggerating on this one. For him, to write a couple of sentences is like his most dreaded chore of the day! I keep trying to explain to him that is not a "chore", it is a wonderful thing. In some instance, he will even genuinely cry because he hates it so. When I ask him to try to explain to me what bothers him about writing, he just says he just hates doing it, it is boring and is too hard. I can't seem to pinpoint it other than it is too overwhelming, and I'm not sure why since it isn't something I push or make an issue over. I don't make him do big assignments, but rather small ones (one paragraph tops!) in which he can see and feel success. He is a very bright 8 yr old child with vocabulary and reading level of a jr. high student. He loves Science and Math. He doesn't even dislike English in the least and grasps all the concepts easily -- just as long as he doesn't have to write it. Orally, he can rattle off a story in record time and with proper sentence structure. It is like his mind works fine for talking (he is the world's most avid talker and drives us nuts because he never shuts his mouth for a second until he goes to bed at night! LOL! :eek: ), but when it comes to writing, he can't think. I'm stumped! :confused:
     
  12. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    *sitting here going on my 9 billionth hour of grading* :waa: :waa: :waa:

    Karen, that is such a common scenario for boys. It's a rough one, too, because on the one hand, it's a reality (boys often do much better in math and science than girls), but it also creates problems for boys in public schools (the perception that ALL boys have problems with writing, but are good at math and science).

    It might make you feel better to know I have 24 year old "boys" :rolleyes: who are exactly the same way. Girls, too. :D

    I don't know, it sounds to me like you're on the right track. Just keep doing what you're doing. As long as he isn't genuinely dyslexic --- which, if he's an avid reader, he probably isn't --- as long as you keep encouraging the writing and are working on explicit grammatical instruction --- it's likely things will work themselves out.

    Give him time, keep working on it and don't quit working on it, and I'll bet your situation resolves itself. :)
     
  13. Dreams30

    Dreams30 Lady Rider

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    Karen,

    What if you tape recorded him telling you a story and then let him sit down with the tape recorder and write the story while playing it back? It's just a thought. It might work.