FINALLY, here is a compendium of the strategies for a home education as shared by our online community at Edn-in-jpn@yahoogroups.com:


First Language Lessons is a complete beginning grammar and writing text. Parents can assure their child’s success in language arts with this simple-to-use, scripted guide. First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind uses picture study and other classical techniques to develop a child’s language ability in those first two all-important years of study.
The book covers a wise range of topics including parts of speech, forming complete sentences, beginning writing, and storytelling and narration skills.


The lessons are relevant to the child; she learns from her own world. For example, the child practices letter-writing by writing real letters to real people; she learns how to capitalize and abbreviate by using the names of her own family members; she names objects in her own home and neighborhood when studying nouns.

Parent/child scripts provide a flexible framework for each lesson, both saving time and lending confidence to the parent. The scripted exercises also train the child’s ear so that she uses correct grammar.

Original, up-to-date , clear illustrations make picture study both engaging and effective. To view an online sample, visit the WTM website.

“First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind” by Jessie Wise? We are doing it this year with dd6. The first part is supposed to be for first grade, and the next half is supposed to be done for 2nd grade.

I’ve heard people who love the book/lessons. We find it too repetitive and too “scripted” so I modify it a bit. We accomplish more if dd thinks we’re not learning anything formally. But the repetition and the script are exactly what other people like about it.

In Lesson 17, for example, the instructor is supposed to say, “Say the definition of a noun with me.”
Together: “A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing, or idea.” Instructor: We have learned about the names of people.
Now let’s learn about names of places. What room are we in?
Child: We are in the ______. (Example response.)
…and so on and so forth…

Aside from learning parts of a sentence, Ms. Wise also encourages narration and memorization. Some of the material covered in the first grade section of the book are nouns, pronouns, abbreviations (name initials and in addresses), action verbs, capitalization of I, oral composition, introduction titles of respect, writing dates, introduction of sentence types, memorizing poems, narrating stories.

Material for the 2nd grade level seems to go at a much faster pace and seems to cover more like state of being verbs, linking verbs, commas, contraction,
conjunctions, prepositions, antonyms, introduction of written composition (ordering ideas), etc.

We have been homeschooling full time for the past 2 years using suggestions from The Well Trained Mind (Susan Bauer, Jessie Wise ). But for this fall we’re going with Sonlight Core 2 with intermediate and advanced readers for the oldest one, and doing BJU Bible (1), IEW for writing, Rod and Staff Grammar, etc.
We decided to put the younger two in a Montessori school this fall but will continue “schooling” them at home using a variety of things. Then 2nd one will
continue with homeschooling for 1st grade. – Ivy

I did English for the Thoughtful Child with my oldest child who seems to learn on his own. It can be a workbook but isn’t really designed as such. I had my son write the answers on a seperate piece of paper and in some cases just tell me the answers. One lesson, for example, explains about Nouns. You can have a younger child go and put nouns (items) in a bag to bring back to you and an older one can write down some examples. There isn’t any “fill in the blanks” or “write 20 nouns” type of directions. It is easily adapted for different learning styles and such. It is not a comprehensive grammar program but a gentle introduction to grammar.

My youngest isn’t really up to the writing or the abstract concept of some of the things this year. The Learning Language Arts through Literature is covering some basic grammar and writing so I probably won’t do the EFTTC with her. We’ll have to see where she is next spring.

Each child has a bit of a different focus based on their goals, needs, personalities and such.

Our oldest (10) is bound for a science/engineering career so beyond his basic studies we focus on skills he’ll need to succeed in this field, like math (he loves math), writing (hates this but knows he’ll need to write reports telling others about things he discovers or whatever), English/grammar/literature fit in the same section as writing (he needs to sound intelligent when he writes or no one will want to read what he wrote). Our youngest focuses on the basics of her education, reading is center stage right now as we believe it will hold her back in other areas until she can read well, math, writing (she loves to express herself this way and is frustrated because she doesn’t know how to write all the words yet).

We also encourage PE for both kids. This means some type of physical activity, for DD it is rhthymic gymnastics, DS it is Karate and scouts (they do tons of canoeing, hiking, etc.) We read lots and then try to find things in our world that bring to life what we have read. Traveling is another great way to do that.
We’ve done some “local” travel to Aomori and Kyoto and visited castles and other historic places. Made learning about the samurai and the Shogun much more real and interesting when we had walked through their castles.

We really try to make learning interesting and meaningful. If it doesn’t have some purpose we don’t do it. Thankfully here we have the freedom to do this. – L

The Amazing Writing Machine CD Rom (6-12) has templates for stories, poem, essays and journals and clip art gallery, paint tools and dictionary of rhyming words $59.95 from Broderbund

A REASON FOR WRITING (by Concerned Communications). Scripture-based K-6th penmanship program that helps children master handwriting and spelling while promoting the values your family cherishes.

For older kids:
Writers Inc; School to Work A student writing handbook that includes business letters, resumes and other writing skills needed in the working world.
Wordsmith Craftsman by Janie B. Cheaney takes a student through every day writing such as note taking, letter writing, business reports as well as the essay including descriptive, narrative, expository, and persuasive. Includes many fundamentals and writing style tips with exercises for practicing specific writing skills in the Language Power section. Excellent program for senior high years. Peguis Publishers, 100-318 McDermott Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3A OA2,
 (800…. ISBN 1-895411-87-4. Email: peguis@peguis.mb.ca

Comprehensive Composition is a thorough and methodical writing curriculum for grades K-12. Strength of curriculum is in its flexibility – the user can
select topics such as “The Paragraph”, ” The Essay”, “Choosing a Topic”, “Notes and Outlines”, “Descriptive Writing”, “Taking Notes”, “Persuasive
Writing” and “Expository Writing”. Actual instructional material provided.
The writing activities proposed cover the basics of composition and are suitable for use with any curriculum and concepts are demonstrated with
clear illustrations, drawing from a variety of sources (including some Biblical texts. No answer keys mean that user must possess some confidence
.

It is from the Institute for Excellence in Writing www.writing-edu.comThey had a somewhat structured approach to writing that I thought would also help with not taking and studying habits and how to focus on key points. If the web site doesn’t give you enough information to judge please email me privately and I will give you more information from the book I have or if it is feasible I could meet you and show you the book I have. The other thing was that I thought this video program could be used at just about any age and built upon as your student moved forward.

We’ve used Levels 2-4 of Golden Books “Road to Writing”, and these have been enthusiastically received, but I want to do a little more work on planned writing in English. I’m hoping the planning skills will help with Japanese too. Golden Books cheap little “Road to Writing” booklets, which starts with writing your name or drawing things in response to written instructions, and moves up to editing your own journal. Home-made individual worksheets DTP’ed (MS Publisher) and printed in color are also popular. – contributor unknown

I have been using Gruesome Grammar by Scholastics and English Grammar for Students (Learners Publishing) by Anne Seaton, written for students aged between 9 and 12 — as my own guide — which I like very well, plus “in English” by Peter and Karen Viney which has very interesting exercises and visual pictures that inspire the practice of parts of speech or vocabulary.

My lessons always begin with a quick 5-10 minute explanation or examples of the point of grammar or language. This is then followed an exploration of that point by a reading of a piece of literature, usually a Five-In-A- Row book or funny poems. The kids then do pair-work shouting out/identifying the parts of grammar. Sometimes, they are given a quiz or point-scoring game. We have tried to use real books to explore how language works, role-plays for exercises and question-answer structures. I have avoided workbooks, but will use the occasional exception for large-print sheets. We work mostly via white-board/read/verbal instruction-communication.

And we usually end class with a creative writing exercise(that can become homework). I usually find a picture-book with a good writing style or phrases that I’d like them to emulate. Last week, I gave the kids a map with a maze and a mission in which they were to use adjectives to describe each obstacle or place of the journey they had to imagine their hero going through.

Beyond writing, We have as our goals, not bilingualism but bi-literacy. So at present, our kids are in the Japanese public school system – we have focused very much this year on improving our eldest Japanese language writing and reading skills which are supplemented once a week by a friend who reads to my son (and has him read) Japanese library books. In exchange, I have her son along with another two kids plus my own daughter, work on their English speaking, writing and grammar or general language skills. Apart from the current focus on language skills, our aim is really to develop a large vocabulary in two languages in all disciplines. I have used an eclectic incremental (spiral?) approach over the years that predominantly involves working on an area/theme through good children’s literature or tradebooks plus hands-on or life experiences. For example, from age three, I started the eldest (our youngest is now beginning) with the series of science readers by Franklyn Branley. If we picked a topic say “volcanoes”, we would progress after a Franklyn Branley book to a higher level book on volcano with a little more info and then to the next level reading such as a DK Eyewitness book expanding on the same topic. Our goal is indepth encyclopedic knowledge of any topic. We would also try to pair the English readings with an equivalent book in Japanese from the public library. Though homeschooling families use thematic units and focus on the topics intensely, I don’t have such tight schedules, but may introduce the same topic again a week on, a few months or even a year later (though my son tends to focus intensely on a small range of topics for a few years – we are child-directed in that way). You can find many excellent reading lists (see our BOOK ROOM on the right hand column) particularly those focused on thematic units.

It’s hard to articulate the approach to home education that we use in our home. I should probably start by saying that at the very beginning, I drew up on a large mahjong sheet of paper a sort of 6-10 year theme plan based on the curricula of a number of excellent hsling programmes (Sonlight / Charlotte Mason / Well-trained Mind, etc) plus those of well-known private schools overseas. Armed with this “loose” plan, my eclectic method has worked well for us with very little stress. We just cover the plan topic by topic at each child’s pace. In many areas, my son has gone “beyond” my plan and deepened his knowledge of his own areas of interest through watching National Geographic or Discovery Channel or by research on the internet and knows way more than I do on his favorite topics. We try as far as is possible to take him out on holidays that have some educational value, but really most days, he is quite able to devise his own experiments and observations out in the many parks here in Japan. We have also worked very hard on math this year, trying to get the operations, multiplication & division tables-learning into high gear this year – which seems to be alright – and we are supplementing with Singapore Math on top of the worksheets he gets from public school. On literature, we have been through
most of the readings from Five-in-a-row (FIAR), Charlotte Mason, some from Sonlight and next year, we will begin more readings in the historical way
(though we have covered Greek and Roman empire a little). Pretty much everything we have ever used or intend to use for home-educating our kids is
listed at the BOOK ROOM (see right hand column for links). We rely on internet resources a lot too:

Writing prompts websites: Enchanted Learning ; ABC Teach.com; JC Schools.net; Sabine’s site ; WRWA.net; Centennial; TUSDSTATS

For picture prompts try these resources: storyit.com ; Web Archive.org; ETTC;SXC clipart site)
Resources for gifted writers discussed
here and here which encourage the use of empowering writers approach http://www.empoweringwriters.com
For Writing rubrics click
here, here and here.
A long post with lots of suggestions on writing curriculum may be had at
Proteacher.net Writing Comprehension helps here.
Homeed Directory for English writing

Lots of homework helps, lesson plans, resources, teacher helps at the links below:
Enchanted Learning (one of my favourite sites); This one looks set to become one of references as well Learningpage.com; The Educator’s Reference Desk
Lots of printables at http://www.education-world.com/

The Homeschool Learning Network offers daily thematic units, a homeschool search engine, a curriculum library, and many more features! Visit www.homeschoollearning.com to learn more.

Top Educator Sites glavac.com
Discovery School’s Homework Helper
Lesson plans from Discovery School.com
here
The
A-Z Teacher Site may be useful for those who teach using themes
The Mad Scientist library

ESL Lesson Plans and more (you need to pay about $30 for 6 mths) to be had here but the lesson plans are nifty and so are their e-books
Cool handwriting generator. Easy no fuss.
Language Arts Warmups at
about.com

If you’re looking for music for tots look at this product although Kumon’s CD and card set (available in local bookstores) has twice as many songs (including all these) are really well sung and done and go for about 1,000 yen.

Cram Web offers lots of geography and math games and quizzes.


If all that wasn’t enough, here’s the longest list you’ll find of teacher-sites here

A collection of links for science experiments Megasearch This site has nice science kits.

We have no rigid schedules and read to our kids at bed-time or at breakfast or during weekends as suits our constantly changing lifestyles. Aileen

Here are a few more of our favorites for the middle-school ages:

The Princeton Review, Smart Junior series: American History, Archaeology, Astronomy, Geography, Grammar, Math, Mythology, Word, Writing. These are presented as adventure stories following the same characters through each book. Ideas are clearly explained and Q. A. “quizzes” follow each section. The books have received the Parents’ Choice Awards for 1995 and 1997.

For literature and art, you can’t beat the Cricket Magazine Group.
Babybug for 6 months to 2 years. Ladybug for ages 2 to 6. Spider for ages 6 to 9. Cricket for ages 9 to 14.

Other periodical I recommend are: National Geographic World and Explorations (put out by the Smithsonian Institute). When my kids were younger we used the topic approach. I used a lot of worksheets from www.learningpage.com because they cover the same topic preschool through 3rd grade. Now we attend a topic based English class similar to what I used to do.

While keeping everyone on the same topic is helpful, they still all need different kinds of help at the same time. A month ago we discovered www.time4learning.com and it has been a life saver. It is an internet based curriculum grades K-8 for $19.95 a month. I can have one or two children working online while I help the other one.
T4L has been great for their vocabulary. Our youngest loves the science and the math has been great for learning all the English words for the concepts they already know.

Yochien through grade 2ish we bought Benesse’s program or something similar so I knew what was expected in school. Our third son doesn’t use those types of programs because now I know what is needed for school and he doesn’t seem to need the review. We also have required only English spoken at home except when friends come over.
Now that our oldest is homeschooled we have become more relaxed about that rule, though I am sure that doesn’t help the two younger ones.
They watch mostly Japanese tv, but hardly at all.

The English class we go to is called English Blast. I think there are other groups that do this. They have a website, but I am not sure of it now. We meet once a week for 2 hours and the mother’s take turns teaching English through topics. Right now we are studying about shells. The kids do reading, writing, reports and hands on activities related to the topic as well at 30 minutes of book work. It is nice to see my kids aren’t the only ones who say, “goed” at age 9!

We have gone through several curricula trying to find what fits them best. We have had success with Letterland and Sonlight. We haven’t been able to keep up with all the Sonlight reading though our homeschooler still uses it, but I am tired by the end of the day and we don’t do much with the other two kids now. We used Sonlight as a reading list to make sure the kids got exposure to lots of vocabulary and different topics. I have followed their language arts program and that seems to work for us. The Explode the Books have been great as they move rather slowly, are funny and have enough review in ensure mastery of phonics. The Bob books have been successful and I paid for a year subscription to Reading A-Z one year which was nice for nonfiction
readers.

Saturday school has evolved through the years. When they were all younger we would do short unit studies. I would read books on a topic and they would color, dictate stories and make posters. We played a lot of language games and still do. At family holidays I have always made them recite a poem, read a report or tell a joke related to the holiday. We know some great turkey jokes!! When they were younger we used learningpage.com a lot because they have topic pages for different age levels. www.starfall.com is also a good free site as well as www.quiz-tree.com

Our lastest Saturday schools have revolved around history, but since we have started this English class we are expanding the topics they do in class and they have homework related to the topic. We haven’t done as many units recently.

Our daily work really has dwindled due to after school activities. They kids try to do (or I try to get them to do it) at least 15 min of kanji and 15 of math before dinner so that after dinner we can do English.
Right now for English they read, do phonics workbooks, write in a journal or dictate a story and they have a reading comprehension workbook…not all on the same day.

It’s really hard to balance time and kids especially since they are tired after school. We are working through handwriting, phonics, math skills and kanji. They can do those on their own while I help the others. – Juli

We are eclectic (secular unschoolers perhaps?) homeschoolers living in Fukushima, and I think it’s really just a way of life. So, we go on daily discovery walks, talk about a variety of topics, and experience as many things as possible. I have a basic curriculum chart with the days of the week on top and subjects on the side, which I fill in as we touch on each subject.
Nothing strict, but it gives me a good idea of what we need to work on each week. So, as an example, last week …
Science: our science kit topic was flight, so we did lots of experiments about air and made some flying “machines” (see:
Young Scientists Club)

Art: we attended 2 workshops, hanga and photography (and met a local, semi-famous photographer) Literature: (English) we read a book about the Wright brothers and (Japanese) lots of library books We also read our monthly magazines (Ladybug(lit), Click (science), and Abricot (French))
Writing: DS wrote a letter in English to his cousin and a fax in Japanese to his aunt.
Math: We use Singapore Math workbooks, but also lots of math in cooking and “engineering”.
P.E.: Daily dog walks, in-line skate to the grocery, soccer practice, bike/catch with neighbor friends And filled the rest of the week out with lots of play time (imaginary play, legos, etc..)
Priorities for us are to raise creative kids who are confident in both English and Japanese and curious about the world around them. I also like that I have a really good gauge of what DS knows and doesn’t know, so we can go from there. It’s also nice to be able to spend time on topics we’re excited about instead of switching gears with the  school bell. – Jennifer

Keeping up with English for us has been very hard and time consuming. When they were younger we read a lot to them (we still do), did a lot of English games and watched videos. We had them keep journals where they would dictate a story to us and draw the picture. Slowly they would copy sentences themselves. They used their journals as reading books. What really help us was to buy a program and stick with it. The pace was very slow, but better than not at all. When they started first grade we stopped a lot of extra study until we were confident they were doing well in school. Then we picked up the pace. As the years passed I found setting a day a week after school as “English study” really help. Just like piano or swimming they couldn’t play on those days.

Yochien through grade 2ish we bought Benesse’s program or something similar so I knew what was expected in school.
The English class we go to is called English Blast for foreign kids. It has been really great and I wish I had found it earlier.I think there are other groups that do this. They have a website, but I am not sure of it now. We meet once a week for 2 hours and the mother’s take turns teaching English through topics. Right now we are studying about shells. The kids do reading, writing, reports and hands on activities related to the topic as well at 30 minutes of book work. It is nice to see my kids aren’t the only ones who say, “goed” at age 9! We have gone through several curricula trying to find what fits them best. We have had success with Letterland and Sonlight. We haven’t been able to keep up with all the Sonlight reading though our homeschooler still uses it, but I am tired by the end of the day and we don’t do much with the other two kids now. We used Sonlight as a reading list to make sure the kids got exposure to lots of vocabulary and different topics. I have followed their language arts program and that seems to work for us. The Explode the Books have been great as they move rather slowly, are funny and have enough review in ensure mastery of phonics. The Bob books have been successful and I paid for a year subscription to ReadingA-Z.com one year which was nice for nonfiction readers. When they were younger we used learningpage.com a lot because they have topic pages for different age levels.

www.starfall.com is also a good free site as well as www.quiz-tree.com. We also have Saturday school. Saturday school has evolved through the years. When they were all younger we would do short unit studies. I would read books on a topic and they would color, dictate stories and make posters. We played a lot of language games and still do. At family holidays I have always made them recite a poem, read a report or tell a joke related to the holiday. We know some great turkey jokes!! Our lastest Saturday schools have revolved around history, but since we have started this English class we are expanding the topics they do in class and they have homework related to the topic. We haven’t done as many units recently.

Our daily work really has dwindled due to after school activities. They kids try to do (or I try to get them to do it) at least 15 min of kanji and 15 of math before dinner so that after dinner we can do English.
Right now for English they read, do phonics workbooks, write in a journal or dictate a story and they have a reading comprehension workbook…not all on the same day.– Juli

For those interested in formal curriculum, this is our eclectic mix for Kindergarten and/or 2nd: Math: Singapore Reading: Reading Reflex, ABeCeDarian program, Reading for All Learners readers and various other readers Little Books, Primary Phonics workbooks (have also used previously Reading Made Easy, Every Parent’s Guide to Reading)
Spelling: Sequential Spelling
Grammar: First Language Lessons, Scott-Foresman online grammar and writing handbook

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears

Science: unit studies and Real Science 4 Kids.
Previously loved Stratton House Home Science Adventures. Other books we like:
EarthChild 2000, Head to Toe Science, Pop Bottle Science

History: units studies from this site based on Core Knowledge Curriculum, Story of the World

My older son was pretty fluent in Japanese until around age 4, but became very much a passive bilingual after that. Meanwhile, he was going to a private school in NYC and had started on some basic reading in English in kindergarten.

We put him in yochien here, and it was a bit hard for him at first, but he started to pick up Japanese again and is now fairly comfortable. I wanted to take advantage of the fact that yochien has no academics and work on his English at home. We started doing a lot of phonics work at the end of spring and by the end of summer he is now reading fairly fluently, reading long easy readers with confidence – so that’s all progress he made since coming here. I also kept up his writing as best I could by asking him to write a journal page every few days, or having him write letters to people back home and then xeroxing them into his journal notebook. We also have some first grade workbooks that I have him do (I brought tons of workbooks over and just pick and choose what areas he seems to need reinforcement in) so we can work on grammar and spelling. I actually also got some homeschooling materials for other subjects as well – history/social studies, math, and science – just to try to keep up with what he might be getting at home. We only do about 15 minutes work 4-6 days a week, although he is now more excited about just picking up a book at random and trying to read it. I’m actually pretty glad he’s made so much progress in such a short period of time because at least it means that he is not stagnating right now. he’s also attempting to learn hiragana on his own, and we’ll keep working on that before he enters shogakko next April. I’ve also been told it’s good for him to be able to do some simple math in Japanese before he enters. I am using a real hodgepodge for our ‘curriculum’. later I will try to jot down what we’re using so far. – Christine

WRITING IDEAS FOR CHILDREN Copyright 2001/2002 Rachel Keller Ideas for writing practice involving grocery shopping and meal preparation:

1. Have your child help write a grocery list.
2. Take your child grocery shopping. Have him find a certain
item on the shelf.
3. Have your child put away groceries. Encourage reading
of labels, box tops, and packages.
4. Read ingredients from a recipe.
5. Prepare a meal together and let them take needed items
from shelves and storage areas.
6. Talk about the steps in preparing a meal.
7. The purpose of reading is to get meaning from the page.
By using reading skills to prepare a meal, children see
positive results from reading.
8. Praise efforts.

Creative writing ideas:

1) Ask child to dictate a story to you.
2) Keep a journal.
3) Don’t be overly concerned with misspellings.
4) Have your child write about what she reads.
5) Make a book of your child’s writings. Illustrate and add a cover.
6) Make your own dictionary.

–Rachel Keller is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom of three young sons. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Masters degree in special education. Visit Rachel online

Writing Strands also has an individualized online program that you can use with more than one child, as long as you don’t send more than one submission per day.

Sonlight curriculum (www.sonlight.com), Calvert School (and I know others here will too) — the former comes in various modules Language and writing modules; Math; Science and history is its backbone. They use mostly children’s literature (some of it Christian selections though), hence flexibility as bedtime readalouds and such.
Calvert is a good secular program that now comes in separable modules as well, and I think you have heard the recommendations quite recently.

Absolutely. We do a 10-minute phonics lesson before breakfast, and it is going very well. We use Phonics Pathways which is easy to adapt to the child’s pace. We might stay on the same page for several days, but it doesn’t become tedious. You can get the book by itself at major bookstores including Amazon. We got ours including a bunch of games and other reinforcement activities straight from the company Before we started the book, we spent several months just messing around with alphabet cards that I got from FBC. So, she already knew the letters and their sounds before I tried to teach her to read.
Also, we are skipping the writing portion of PP because dd’s not ready for that yet. – Elizabeth

We are setting up a general framework for an online program (which we are calling the Bilingual Kids Web Club) and are hoping to find five or six families with Japanese/English bilingual children between the ages of 8 and 12 to join the program in Fall 2001. Children would need some reading/writing ability in both languages (it does not matter which language is stronger) and access to a computer with Internet and email.
Enthusiastic parents are essential!

We are planning that the children (and their families) would work together to make a monthly online bilingual newspaper, which might include places for the children to:

* describe aspects of life where they live, such as school, holidays or family life

* write stories and poetry

* read on a topic and discuss it on the bulletin board

* display projects they have made for school

* put their puzzles, jokes, cartoons, etc.

Our interest in this project comes from trying to help our own children (we both have ten year old boys and five year old girls) read and write in both languages. In my case, two years ago my family moved to Britain from Japan.
When we were living in Japan, I often felt that I was fighting an uphill battle in motivating my son Kaita to work with me on reading and writing English. (In fact, when we moved here he insisted that, as he was only willing to stay in England for one year, it was not at all necessary for him to use English in the British school.) To my amazement, after just an afternoon in his new school, he came home and said, “Teach me English! I want to do what they are doing!” I’m sure a large part of his change of
heart was due to a really nice teacher and classmates (fortunately it is a very friendly school!), but I was also very impressed by – at least in Kaita’s case – what a  difference peers make. Quite naturally, in Japan he wanted to do what the kids there were doing, and here he wants to do what the kids here do. Now, of course, we have the same problem with developing his Japanese. There aren’t any children who have a background with Japanese nearby and Saturday schools in London are both too far away and too expensive. I had taught CALL classes in Japan, and started wondering if being part of a community of online peers might provide a way for bilingual children to link up to develop and extend their languages.

Reiko and I have been trying some activities with Kaita and her son Rick.
Initially, we thought that perhaps having a sort of online after school program to develop biliteracy might be a good approach. The children chose Space as a topic and we prepared some materials/activities around that topic. They seemed to find the work useful and interesting, so we went on to another topic, Dinosaurs, this time getting a bit more serious and putting assignments up on a website. What we discovered very quickly was that

a) they liked the topic and the readings, but after the novelty wore off they found it all too much like school, and that at the end of a busy day they did not want more school-type work,

b) although they have similar educational backgrounds, their learning needs are quite different (Rick finds English harder and Japanese easier and Kaita is the opposite),

c) they were VERY interested in planning the website,

d) they were both frustrated and fascinated by using the computer, and having templates for some of the activities helped them,

e) they like the idea of having friends in cyberspace, and

f) they also like the idea having their work posted on the website for the world to see. We then started thinking that working with the children to create an online newspaper might be something to explore. My hope is that before we start, parents (and children) can exchange ideas about what types of things might be useful and interesting and what we would like the club to be.

For more information, please write to me at acarlson@supanet.com Andrea Carlson
Christ Church University College

P.S. I am working on a PhD in IT and language learning in Britain, and am interested in looking at the learning opportunities provided by an online bilingual collaborative reading and writing program, particularly in terms of examining the impact the program will have on children’s motivation and attitudes to developing their reading and writing skills in the language they are not currently being schooled in. Reiko Furuya teaches at Nagoya University and is interested in bilingual education.

Resources we have used:

Developmental Mathematics (by L. George Saad, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Long Island University) 1993 Level 1 (diagnostic test included) Ones – Concepts and Symbols A lot of big pictures for counting; great visuals! Spaces for drawing in pictures (i.e. – 2 things). Teaches the beginning stages of addition.
God’s World (A Beka Book Science Series) 1987 Lots of colorful, fun pages explaining science in fascinating and simple ways.
Bob Jones University Books (the curriculum we’re using)
K5 Beginnings Flip Charts (phonics charts) 1989 and K5 Beginnings for Christian Schools 2 reading and writing worktexts, both level C, but different books.Teach reading/writing, a little advanced, vowel and consonant blends, etc.
Word Wagon, and Reading Railroad.
School zone publishing company, a FAST FORWARD book.
Great visual pages for learning, reinforcing basic reading skills (not beginner). Intended for use in coloring.
– Cheryl

I’m already re-evaluating our curriculum after just under two months. We hate Spelling Workout, recommended by The Well-Trained Mind, our base. We have discovered a unit studies program based on “The Little House on the Prairie” series of books. We will start that in September. For the little ones, I’ve purchased “Before Five in a Row.” I also bought “Peak With Books.” We are using The Story of the World for history, which dd tolerates. What she really likes is the Usborne Internet Linked history book (can’t remember the exact name). It is colorful, and after our readings and exercises we hop on the Internet and play games, etc. at the sites linked by the book. – Joan

Janina recommends: using “Units of Study for Primary Writing” by Lucy Calkins and Abby Oxenhorn or something based on that. It is fun. I have used elements of it in classes with fluent English speakers here in Japan and it still informs my teaching, but I haven’t used it for a while. I’m tempted to dig it out again for April now. You can get a feel and download some lesson plans from here: http://www.unitsofstudy.com/toc_lc_ao.asp