Tuesday, June 4, 2013

First Language Lessons Graduates

Cue the Pomp and Circumstance! I've successfully completed the First Language Lesson series (Levels 1-4) with two kids! I have little to compare it to, as we've only used one other elementary grammar program (Anna used Rod and Staff because there was no FLL 3 or 4 when she was in those grades), but I believe that sticking with a program for six years counts for a lot. Here are just a few things I love about the FLL series:
  • Easy, yet effective. It's a scripted curriculum, so there is little planning involved. I've rarely had a problem staying on track with FLL because it's so easy to follow, lessons are quick, and lessons are written in a manner that allows the child to master the material quickly.
  • Follows the classical approach. Well, that's kind of a duh statement, since FLL is written by Jessie Wise, the mother of the queen of classical education, Susan Wise Bauer. Nevertheless, I cannot tell you how much it has helped Ryne to have a solid foundation in grammar now that he's in the junior high years. Memorizing the key grammatical definitions and lists is a great way to start out a child's grammar education.
  • Sentence diagramming. I'm biased because I love sentence diagramming. I do it for fun. It is an excellent method of teaching how the parts of a sentence work together. Yet, not many grammar programs today employ this method.
  • Poetry memorization, dictation, and narration. These are all aspects of our homeschooling that would not be as strong if they weren't included within our various curricula. Plus, the poems my kids have memorized through FLL are delightful and worth committing to memory. Although we don't review our poems from previous years nearly as much as I'd like, the kids remember most of them. We are friends with a 95 year old woman from church who still remembers poems she learned in grade school. I hope my children will be able to do the same.
I wish I had done this with Ryne, but to celebrate Grace's completion of the curriculum in April I recorded her reciting her poems. If you don't want to listen to all of them, just go to 4:15 to watch the last one -- you'll see why we call her the drama queen of the family.

How about some grammar definitions and lists?

If you made it through all of that, bless your heart! You're probably related to us. ; )

I'd also like to mention that for the last two years we've enjoyed using Michael Clay Thompson's Grammar Island and Grammar Town books to complement (not supplement) First Language Lessons. In my opinion, we would not have enjoyed the MCT books as much if we didn't already have the foundation of FLL. The MCT books, however, teach grammar in a much different manner -- first through a narrative approach and then through four-level sentence analysis exercises -- and I find the two programs work very well together. For more information, please read Heidi's post at Mt. Hope Chronicles; she is the one who inspired me to add MCT into our mix. She describes her language arts mix as a symphony: "Many magical notes working together to produce something beautiful. Complex, interwoven, and harmonious." This has been our experience as well.

Finally, one of the most asked questions I hear is what to do after FLL 4. I think some people are frightened off from the program because they don't know what to do when it ends. I think Rod and Staff is an excellent grammar program, for most kids. I've written a schedule that helps with the transition from FLL 4 to Rod and Staff 5, which you can read about here. (And if you find that helpful I also have an unpublished version for Rod and Staff 6). I added the for most kids part, however, because Rod and Staff turned out not to be a good fit for Ryne. Whether that's an autism thing or an individual thing, I don't know. Instead, we used Analytical Grammar this past year and I've been very pleased with the transition.

Finishing the First Language Lessons series is a mixed blessing for me. We've enjoyed it so much, but it also means we're just that much closer to saying good-bye to the elementary years, which means my baby is growing up, which means I need to go crawl up in a ball somewhere. {sniff}


  1. Congratulations, not just to Grace, but to you, too!! What an accomplishment! I have to say, she has a gift with words. : ) I do believe we might see her on the big screen some say!

  2. Thanks, Melanie! After seeing The Taming of the Shrew at Anna's school this spring, she has her heart set on being in the school play when she's in high school, but we'll see... : )

    1. Ooopps! Old google account! Haven't seen that picture in several years! : )

  3. Bravo! Encore! Encore!! All four of us watched every second of both videos and loved it all. Congrats on graduating to Grace and to Mom on a job very well done. :)

  4. Lol, careful what you wish for! We also recorded our history and Bible memory work. ; )