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ENGLISH LANGUAGE English Explained 1 (grammar and composition); Schonell spelling lists; poetry techniques 3

LITERATURE Norse Myths; Medieval: Beowulf; Sir Gawain Selective narration and poetry study

Moving on in literature,

ages 9-11

When your child is happy with writing and it isn’t a chore introduce the habit of choosing at least one of the books he is reading and getting him to make notes on various aspects of the text. This isn’t the kind of ‘book report’ you find in American syllabi, it’s a very simple record which children used to be encouraged to keep of the books they had read. On a piece of paper (which could be used as a bookmark), he would write the title and author of the book and the date he began to read it. As he progresses, he could note the setting (time and place of the story) and the main characters (spelled correctly and perhaps with a brief character sketch of each). Whilst reading he could note down any words or phrases which are unknown, or which particularly strike him. Finally, when he has finished the book he could write a short summary. If he keeps all these notes in a folder, he could look back over what he has read in the year. At around 10 or 11, you can introduce the idea of simple textual analysis. This would consist simply of taking a particularly striking or memorable passage and actually trying to work out what it is that the author has done to make it so effective. Here you would begin to look at vocabulary use, syntax etc. (are there any unusual words? Are the words in an odd order? How do the characters speak? Does the length of sentences vary in a particular pattern?). At the same time, if you’ve been working on poetry composition in your English Language lessons, then your child will probably be interested in doing some closer study of well known poems. Children of ten are quite capable of studying a poem to identify techniques such as verse-form, rhythm and rhyme, structure etc. If they are keen, help them identify similes and metaphors, alliteration and so on. If they are trying to write their own poems, knowing these terms might help. And, of course, you are laying an excellent foundation for later work in the teenage years.

The Famous Five problem… What if your child doesn’t want to read ‘good’ books? What if he’s keener on ploughing through the whole Famous Five series, or Beast Quest or Artemis Fowl…or any other popular series he’ll find in the local library? Unless you’re going to put your foot down and say no, you’ll have to work the more ‘classic’ books in side by side. If you read a lot, and your children are used to having good books read to them, they won’t baulk at your suggestions; and, as long as the books you suggested are really good books, there shouldn’t be too many complaints! Classic books really should be great to read, not something we have to trudge through just because a book list tells us it’s a worthy thing to do. Children of this age don’t usually have much time for that sort of thing – and, so long as they are prepared to put in the effort reading, they should be free to dislike a book even if it’s highly recommended (my own husband is very well read yet can’t abide Dickens or Austen, with the result that no-one around here except me reads these authors much…).

Recommended books

Fairy stories, myths and epic tales 9-10

The King Arthur Trilogy by Rosemary Sutcliffe. Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books. If your child likes fairy tales, you’ll want to invest in a few of these. There are several, all named after a colour: here is the Blue Fairy Book. These are not about the sweet sorts of fairies with wings – they are often of the dark and mysterious ‘faerie’ tale genre. Beowulf. There are various editions for children: Beowulf: Dragonslayer, by Rosemary Sutcliffe. Typically reliable, well-written with simple but effective black and white illustrations, by Ian Serraillier. A well- regarded verse version from the 1950s, with simple b&w illustrations Beowulf, ill. by John Howe. If your child really gets into this tale in a big way (as ours have: we have eight or so versions of it), you can’t beat this one for superb colour illustrations Beowulf by Penelope Hicks (Kingfisher epics). This one has very modern eye-catching illustrations and appeals visually, but I think the text is a bit too plain to be very inspiring.


Move onto cursive if you want to from 7/8 onwards. We use Christopher Jarman’s ‘The Development of Handwriting Skills’ text . A cheap, consumable workbook such as Lett’s Hilarious Handwriting is much less thorough but might provide some light relief.


When the children are pretty secure in these letter combinations I just move onto a regular spelling book such as Schonell’s Essential Spelling List. After all the grapheme practice, you’ll find your child whizzes through the first few levels (in fact I tend to find mine are about a year ahead of their age-appropriate list).  With older children, when you’ve finished working through a standard text like Schonell’s, it’s a good idea to keep a list (or rather encourage them to keep a list) of words which are misspelled in any subject, and practice them until they are learned correctly.


Literature 9-10
Read aloud and own reading
Selective narration and poetry study

Language 9-10
Spelling: Schonell spelling lists as needed
Grammar and punctuation: English Grammar exercises 2
Composition: Copy work and self correction at paragraph level
Language use:
  poetry inspirations

YEAR 5 (2)


Read Wide Range Readers (publisher Oliver and Boyd) and associated workbooks.

Grammar and comprehension work, Junior English 3.

Composition every week.

Practise handwriting once a week, New Nelson book 2.

Dictionary work, A First Dictionary, with exercises (publisher James Nisbet).

Thesaurus Work, In Other Words, (publisher Schofield and Sims).

Spelling test every week Schonell.

Effective Comprehension book 3.

Springboard English workbook 3 (publisher Schofield and Sims).

Topic work





– handwriting book (Getty and Dubay Handwriting from Ichthus resources), Italic Handwriting from same series

– Copy work and dictation from child’s prayers, poems and reading books

– Narration

– grammar from book, First Language Lessons, by Jessie Wise.

To ensure the children are reading well and are developing their reading skills by listening to them read aloud to me each day and to provide books for them to read that will challenge them.

Regular library visits.




Handwriting Getty and Dubay Handwriting from Ichthus resources), Italic Handwriting

Grammar Scofield & Simms

Spelling Scofield & Simms


-speaking and listening



Classical literature


Poetry- read aloud once a week, memorize and copy work

Read aloud from book lists, use narration techniques.

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare Ken Ludwig


Unit studies.

Use unit studies to incorporate and integrate subjects regularly. It is ok to take a break from the set courses to enjoy immersion in a topic that we find interesting. Unit studies should incorporate independent research, outings to relevant museums or activities, discussion, sharing of ideas, critical thinking and logic, passing on new found knowledge to others in varying formats (retelling, plays, art work, project books, lap books, computer designed newsletters)

Ideas for unit studies:




British wildlife

Jesuit saints

A local famous person

Space exploration


Country study

Tudor Life



Topics the children may cover in English over 2 years include:

  • Myths and legends
  • Adventure and mystery stories
  • Poetry
  • Stories with an historical setting
  • Stories in imaginary worlds
  • Stories from other cultures
  • Significant authors
  • Classical novels
  • Drama
  • Newspaper and magazine articles
  • Information texts
  • Persuasive writing
  • Biography and autobiography
  • Read new words independently
  • Understand themes, plots and ideas
  • Recognise the use of language and figurative language
  • Use structure
  • Compare different writing styles
  • Find information in a piece of non fiction
  • Paragraphs
  • Punctuation
  • Connectives
  • Clauses with commas
  • Adverbs
  • Possessive apostrophes
  • Direct and reported speech
  • Active and passive voice
  • Performance skills
  • Improvisation
  • Speaking to an audience