How do I handle the not so delightful lessons? I do it with focused learning sessions that we have a few times a year. They usually last about four to six weeks at a time.
Some things we have learned in focused learning sessions:
Grammar: I teach grammar twice. The first time is around fourth or fifth grade and then again in eighth grade. I use a good grammar workbook like Abeka. Any book will do as long as it has proper grammar usage. I have seen some cheap workbooks that had improper grammar. Be careful about this. For six weeks we plow through the lessons, and after this we are done. In eighth grade we repeat with more depth. The rest of the grammar they learn comes from reading books, speaking with proper language, School House Rock, and writing activities. The purpose of the focused session is to put names and proper usage to things they have already been using. All grammar lessons outside of the six week sessions are taught casually. It works for us.
State Capitals: We memorized the state capitals over about four weeks. We played a game using a PopTart box that was labeled on each side with a state. We tossed the box back and forth and we had to name the capital of whichever state was facing us when we caught the box. At first I allowed them to check the map if they were not sure, but by day two they did it by memory. Every other day we changed the six states that we were working on. We did twelve states a week this way, and I quizzed them each Friday and again at the end. This hands on learning made it more fun and effective. They still know their state capitals.
Spelling: I don’t teach a lot of formal spelling, but I have done some spurts of Sequential Spelling for a few weeks at a time. Instead of doing one list a day for the year, we do several lists a day during our focus time. To save time, I skip to the words and patterns they need to work on. I usually start this around fourth or fifth grade and go back to it as I see the need. This helps them make some mental connections and greatly improves their spelling. We use chalkboards, tablets (to type), dry erase boards, spelling bee style, drawing words in the carpet, etc. Most of their spelling is still learned from reading books. (This may not work for my very tactile 10 year old. I may have to find something else for her.)
These are just a few of the types of lessons we learn in spurts. It works for us because we can be very focused on it for a short time and then leave it behind for something else more interesting.