Intentionally Building Vocabulary with my Older (Independent) Learners

I want my kids to be independent.  The classical model has worked well for us in teaching my kids how to study for themselves.

My two older children (fifth and sixth graders) do the majority of their schoolwork on their own.  They work through their math (reading the text book on their own).  They read books.  They write their essays (usually one a week for Essentials).  They study their memory work on their own (poetry, AWANAs, CC memory work, and CC grammar charts for Essentials).  They watch youTube how-to videos and put them into action.

It’s quite a relief to the mom of five kids. The classical model has given them the tools they need to study for themselves.  They are owning their schoolwork.  It’s great!!

But I have noticed now, I have to be intentional in conversing with them about what they are learning.  One particular  area I am choosing to focus on now is vocabulary and pronunciation.

They read books  on their own, and this year they are reading Lyrical Life Science, with a lot of anatomy vocabulary.  They read their math text on their own.  They study the vocabulary from Essentials on their own.  So, what are they missing by not having the classroom instruction?

Pronunciation.  They might understand a word from the context or the written definition, but because its not a word used in our common vernacular, they don’t know how to pronounce it.  Words like “reciprocal” or “atrophy” or “Achilles” or “regeneration.”

So, I am intentionally focusing on vocabulary building.  I started a spiral notebook to put lists of words for us to go over at lunch or snack time a few days a week.  So far the list is mostly vocabulary words from the Lyrical Life Science, but I will also include other words as we encounter them.


We go over a few words (5-10) a few days a week and review previous words.  Now, even my little children are learning bone names.  The older children are memorizing words with definitions.  Because we review, they are really learning the words rather than just seeing them once or twice in a book and moving on.  (Again, why I don’t love text books.)

Yes, there are probably great curriculum out there that teach pronunciation rules and that build vocabulary, but I don’t own any of those.  So, I am being intentional about building a few minutes a week to have conversation with my kids, building their vocabulary, filling  in the gaps that exist because I don’t use a boxed scope and sequence type curriculum.

My intentional time with my independent kids helps create vocabulary connections, making it relevant to them.


  1. Holly Gomez


    Great ideas for stretching the vocabulary into context. What are your plans for the second half of Cycle 3 Science? Are you still working out of Lyrical Life or switching to a Chemistry book?

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