Customer Service Answers: Primary Arts of Language

Sep 07, 2017 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


Beginning your homeschooling years can feel very intimidating. After all, those early years are when you craft the strong foundation for future educational success. Specifically the three Rs— reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic—can generate the greatest amount of angst. While we can’t direct you to the perfect math program for your young elementary students, we are happy to say that we have a wonderful curriculum that will help you build a firm foundation in reading and writing—Primary Arts of Language (PAL). Read this first post in a series of two to learn more about it.


What concepts are covered in the Primary Arts of Language (PAL) program?

The PAL program covers the bases for English language arts for your enthusiastic (or not so enthusiastic) primary student and is broken into two parts: Reading and Writing. The reading component can be started whether your child has no idea what the letter A is or even if they know their entire alphabet. It covers phonics in four different sections: Foundations, Activities, Discovery, and Library. These four sections teach and reinforce the phonics rules while simultaneously introducing whole language, thus taking a blended approach so that by the end of the curriculum, the student is able to read independently.

The writing component begins by teaching proper stroke formation to print letters and numbers and then introduces the Story Sequence Chart. Next, it moves on to teaching copywork, stylistic techniques, and spelling rules. Once the above mentioned skills have become automatic for the students, Part 3 of the curriculum will start them writing formal compositions. As you’re sitting at your dining room table trying to shuffle through various curriculum options, you may find watching Where and how to begin with your Primary Arts of Language (PAL) materials helpful as you decide if the PAL program is the right choice for your primary student. The video is brief, encouraging, and helpful.









How long does the PAL program last?

In general the PAL program takes one to two years to complete. Typically, if you start the program when your child is in kindergarten, you can plan on finishing it over a course of two years by completing about one to two lessons per week. Doing this will allow you more time to linger over the phonics games and enjoy them with your child. It also allows you to keep your instruction time to a shorter length each day. If you’re starting with a first grader, you may find that tackling it in one year is more doable. First graders, by virtue of being a year older than kindergartners, may have the maturity to focus for slightly longer periods of time, allowing you to spend a little more time with them playing the games, listening to the stories, and enjoying the poetry involved in the Primary Arts of Language. The important guideline to remember is to meet your child’s needs regardless of his age.

Breaking PAL into a daily schedule, you should feel free to adopt a pace that works for you and your child. The program was designed to be flexible. Break up the day and teach short, focused sessions. While we do offer a suggested schedule in the book, it is just that: a suggestion. If shorter lessons work best for you, simply mark where you stop in the book and then begin the next session right where you left off. If you work through all the activities in the full program, you shouldn’t find that your total instruction time for both reading and writing occupies more than about an hour per day.

PAL: Reading will in general take about thirty minutes’ instruction time each day you cover it plus some additional time supervising your child as he works on his daily agenda items. Some of the supervision can even be done while you are folding laundry or grading other papers, which enables you to knock out two birds with one stone. Incorporated into the program are a wide variety of activities, all of them designed to engage children with language. Activities include enjoying poetry, practicing phonics by reading words and sentences, working on their agenda items, and touring the Phonetic Farm. This allows you to break up your day and spend a few minutes going over the various parts of the lesson.

PAL: Writing also takes about thirty minutes a day, but the schedule is easily adjustable. While you may find completing one lesson per day possible, feel free to adjust the lesson to meet your child’s needs. Take the time you need to allow your child to gradually master the material. In other words, consider the lessons as a road map. Travel as quickly or as slowly as your child’s needs dictate. The lessons include a brief discussion of a story every day, but they will also work with any story you may already be enjoying together. Other activities in the program include contributing to a class journal, printing and copywork, and taking a informal spelling tests.


Do I need the complete package for both PAL: Reading and PAL: Writing?

That all depends on where your child is on the road to reading and writing mastery. If he can put simple one-syllable words together but still needs to master phonics, then you will want to use PAL: Reading along with PAL: Writing as the two work concurrently. If your youngest is already reading short chapter books and has the basics down, then you are able to just use PAL: Writing without the reading program. But don’t try to do it the other way around—PAL: Reading without PAL: Writing—as there are components taught in the writing course that are needed for the reading course.


Can I start a student at Part 2 or Part 3 in the PAL: Writing Package?

There are three parts to PAL: Writing. Part 1 introduces printing and verbal story summaries to your child. In Part 2 students are introduced to copy work and style. Additionally Part 2 begins formal spelling instruction with All About Spelling. Part 3 ties it all together when students begin to write compositions incorporating IEW’s Structure and Style™ methodology. Assignments are based on IEW Unit 1 (Key Word Outlines), Unit 2 (Summarizing from Notes), Unit 3 (Retelling Narrative Stories), and Unit 7 (Inventive Writing). PAL’s goal in introducing writing is to help primary students internalize IEW’s structural models. To that end, help your child as much as he needs. In doing so you are laying a foundation for future independence.

If your child’s printing skills are solid, you may find that you are able to move directly into Part 2, but it is worth taking the time to confirm that he is able to write his letters using the correct strokes with a proper grip. If he is, it may mean you only need to do a brief refresher of Part 1 before beginning Part 2. Have your child spend a week or two revisiting proper stroke formation for each letter as that is of critical importance for future penmanship success.

Allowing your child to pause, practice, and perfect his letter formation will also serve to build his confidence. Keep in mind that Part 1 is the first time the Story Sequence Chart is introduced. For that reason you may find it helpful to spend at least a little time there before moving on. Nevertheless, if your child has the actual formation of letters down and that process has become automatic, you are more than able to move ahead.


Is there any instruction available for me as the homeschooling parent? I don’t know how to get started with the program.

Yes, absolutely! Upon first look, the PAL program can appear overwhelming. But this program becomes easy as pie with the plethora of parent/teacher helps we have available.

First, when you receive your PAL packages, you will receive two DVD-ROMs: one for PAL: Reading and the other for PAL: Writing. These DVD-ROMs include instructional videos as well as audio talks and student books. (For those of you who like to set eyes on what you might be getting before you decide, you can see a sample of the Student Book on the main PAL: Writing page.) Secondly, Andrew Pudewa and PAL author Jill Pike took a day to sit in Andrew’s office and create a Where and how to begin with your Primary Arts of Language (PAL) materials video to break down and explain the curriculum. Last, but not definitely not least, take advantage of our Learn to Read and Write with PAL (Primary Arts of Language) free webinar with Jill Pike, who shows you each part of the PAL program plus many tips and tricks for you to use when teaching your children.


We hope this post has answered many of your questions about PAL. Look for the second part of this post to follow soon, when we will answer more of your questions. And in the meantime, if you have any questions about the program that we haven’t answered, please contact us. We are always very happy to help you find the right resource for your educational needs.

Structure and Style is a registered trademark of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, L.L.C.

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