Language Arts has to be Nico's least favorite subject. I don't blame him, I hated it too in grade school. However, in 7th grade I had the best English teacher. Not only did she help me in my grammar she helped me in my handwriting!
We have jumped around through the years with language arts programs. We started with First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. It was great for Kindergarten, but he and I both got tired of doing nouns very quickly. I then moved onto Learning Language Arts through Literature from Common Sense Press. It also worked for one year. I found it not to have enough reinforcement and again, just doing the same basic thing every day. Finally in 4th grade I found Voyages in English Grammar and Writing. FINALLY, I found one we liked. Each unit focuses on a form of writing (ie: descriptive paper, personal letter, etc) and a part of grammar. It has exercises in the book, a workbook, and pre and post tests. I have to admit, I am learning more myself. I also don't get too frustrated when Nico can't remember what past participle means because I never really understood it myself, until NOW. I mean, I know how to speak correctly and use the correct words, but to say, what is the past participle in the sentence....never, until now and now it is helping us in Latin. It is like the light bulb went off in MY head! Sad, but true and I am not afraid to admit it.
Speaking of Latin, that is one of our 'electives' this year and will be our foreign language for the next few years. The plan is to then move onto Spanish. Classical Academic Press, Latin for Children Primer A, is what we are using for Latin.
No, I do not speak Latin myself, but I have taken Spanish and Italian in my highschool and college years. Thus, Nico and I are learning it together, but lucky for me, I know a few extra things, like verb conjugation. We have made it through one complete chapter and ready to move on. There is a CD and DVD that comes with the books. The CD has the chants that we learn on them so we can listen to them in the car or in the house. The DVD has a 'teacher' on it. It is a man teaching Latin to his kids. This was a must for me so I can be sure to get the pronunciations correct. I found it funny when Nico and I started our chant and Luca started singing right along! As a matter of fact, I asked Nico to conjugate amare, suddenly Luca started chanting it. I have decided to go ahead and start Luca on Song School Latin which is the early years Latin. He is loving it, but he enjoys singing whereas Nico hates to sing. Both boys are doing well and it is something new and fun for us.
Another elective we added this year and for the next few years is Greek Mythology.
This is the book we are using. There is also a workbook. There are tests included, but they are quit in depth. I have decided to create my own tests basically focusing on the vocabulary and the stories. This has been a lot of fun for us to read together and discuss. The pictures in the book are great!
You are probably wondering why the heck I would want to teach these. We are turning toward a more classical education. I am trying to make my children as well rounded as they can be. Nico has stressed an interest in being a vet. Latin is used widely in medical terms. It will also help expand his English vocabulary as many of our words are derived from Latin words.