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Since our first official day of the 2019-2020 school year starts tomorrow, I am posting a quick overview of how to teach your child reading, writing, and arithmetic using chalk, a slate, and a few vintage books! This also covers how to use Webster’s Speller, since you can teach any child to read with Webster’s Speller!
How to Teach Your Child to Read and Write
You can use Webster’s Speller, the New England Primer, and the King James Bible to teach reading and writing. First, teach alphabet mastery (sounds, names, etc.) with an alphabet page, until they can tell you the name of every letter and its sound. Then, teach them to sound out the syllables and spell syllables, teaching phonics/spelling rules at the same time. Move slowly through the syllabary. Then, teach spelling by having them learn to spell orally by syllables and spelling rules. After syllables, they can start the Primer.
While working through your Primer, do daily cursive letter formation, cursive words, and finally, cursive sentences, so that by the end of the Primer, they can spell by syllables, recite the spelling rules, and write full pages of cursive. Then, they move on to reading and memorizing. After the Primer, your child can begin on the King James Bible. Start reading slowly, working up to full, polysyllabic words. For more syllable practice, use the Scottish Psalter. It is a slow process; expect it to take up to two years. By the time they are done, you can expect full pages of copywork in cursive, and reading fluently enough to tackle any book in English. I do ask for oral narration for a while, to ensure comprehension.
Around age 10, they learn to analyze and diagram sentences, and then practice diagramming sentences in English until they start Latin, Greek, and German. Diagramming sentences is the best way to learn grammar in any language. If you need a good grammar handbook to learn sentence diagramming, try Harvey’s Elementary Grammar, but Webster’s Speller has a grammar handbook at the back. Don’t teach grammar, or rewriting sentences and improving sentences and paragraphs until after they can copy full pages in cursive, read fluently, and have started math.
To improve writing, after learning to diagram sentences, begin rewriting sentences. Start by substituting words and parts of speech. Then, go on to reducing a sentence to a couple of words and rewriting it from your hints. Then, do the same thing with whole sentences. Finally, begin to work on style. Imitate beautiful language, like the language found in the King James Bible.
If you want to learn other languages, you will need to follow the same system. A Bible in the language you want to learn, a grammar, and a basic glossary, and you can learn any language. You DO have to diagram sentences, though.
How to Teach Your Child Math
To teach math, you can use Ray’s Arithmetic Series, which goes all the way through calculus. Start by teaching numbers, and what they represent, the same way you taught the alphabet. Teach them what each number looks like, and use counters to show the quantity of things it represents. After they know what every number looks like up to 100, begin teaching math facts. Teach arithmetic facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, up to AT LEAST 12. Then, you can use Ray’s Arithmetic, or you can teach it from your head. This is my best list for what your child needs to learn in basic math:
- Counting to twenty, then one hundred
- Counting backward from twenty
- Addition facts to 12
- Subtraction facts to 12
- Adding two, then many digit numbers
- Subtracting two, then many digit numbers
- Multiplication facts to 12
- Division facts
- Multiplication of many digit numbers
- Long division.
- Fundamental idea of fractions
- Adding and subtracting fractions
- Multiplying and dividing fractions
- Fractions as decimals
- Adding and subtracting decimals
- Multiplying and dividing decimals
- Fractions to decimals to percentages
- Negative numbers
- Adding and subtracting negative numbers
- Multiplying and dividing negative numbers
- Negative decimals, fractions, and percentages
- Money and business math
- Measuring and conversions
Other Things to Teach Your Child
Of course, most people want SOMEONE ELSE to take over at Algebra. Ray’s Arithmetic is excellent for self-teaching through calculus, and even continues to astronomy, surveying, and navigation!
There are other great things to add, like encouraging your child to approach science by keeping a field journal and making collections of bugs, pressed plants and flowers, or rocks. Or music, and singing psalms, hymns, or folk-songs. Or art. Drawing is a great skill. Memorize nursery rhymes, poems, or prayers. Tell Bible stories and fairy tales at bedtime. Practice copying maps until you can draw whole continents and label them from memory.
You can also use a pencil and composition book, instead of chalk and slate. You can add a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a globe. And, you can encourage jump rope or making a doll and playing house. You can teach cooking, cleaning, sewing, gardening. But most importantly, you can teach your child with almost nothing at hand. Just teach them the basics, and talk to them as they learn. The time you spend working next to your child is the most important time.
All of the books I mentioned can be found on archive.org, and you can print and bind them easily. This method works with Robinson Curriculum (you can read about how I use Robinson Curriculum here), as well. It also works as a secular method. But most importantly, if all you have is a Bible, you can still achieve literacy at the level that allowed us to write the Constitution of the United States! This is everything you need about how to teach your child the basics!