Learning Language Arts ~ 2012-2013 School Year

Welcome to the 1st week of the 2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair for homeschoolersThis week’s topic:


Playing with Words: the Language Arts

This theme can include phonics, reading, writing, grammar, spelling, speech, literature, etc., etc., etc. Latin and foreign language studies could also go here.

Before I reflect upon changes in our house this year for learning language arts, I wanted to point out my post from last year.


Reading and Beyond: Language Arts in Our Homeschool


I talked about our use of All About Spelling, which we still use.


I also talked a bit about my high schooler using Write at Home for his writing last year.  While I appreciated not having to be the ‘heavy hand’ when grading, we both walked away from that experience less impressed than I had hoped.  Talking with other parents who use that service, the experience is definitely tied to the instructor.  Both P and I felt like her suggested ‘grade’ using a rubric was sometimes a higher score than I would have given or he would have expected. 


However, I do feel like it gave him the accountability to an outside source that we both needed.  And, for his instructor, he did dig a little deeper and write more on the page than he’ll do for me.  We aren’t using them at the moment, but I’m seriously considering going back next year with him and possibly R.


Now to the current ‘state of affairs’ in our homeschool…..


Building Blocks to Learning Language Arts (Reading)

This year, I decided to give Sonlight a go for our main curriculum.  For the most part we are enjoying this literature based style of learning.  If you are not acquainted with this program, the idea is that you read living books for both history and reading.  There are mapping and timeline activities in the teacher guide for each selection as well as comprehension questions. 



The boys each do their own mapping pages for the selection we are reading. Although, I don’t typically do the individual pages when there is only ONE place to map for the entire book. 


As for the comprehension questions, I do these orally with my younger boys (4th and 7th grade) while my high school student writes out his answers.  He is the ‘master of minimalism’ when it comes to writing and even has opted to write IDK if he doesn’t know the answer.  Sometimes, when I’m grading his work, I’ll call him over for further explanation or to dig out a deeper answer for those questions that are there to make him THINK.


Mechanics of Learning Language Arts (Spelling and Grammar)

As I mentioned already, we are continuing with All About Spelling for my younger boys. It works for us and I see no reason to change it now.



For my older son, I had set aside spelling for a while as he seemed to be a natural speller.  However, for the second semester this year we are going back to some spelling as he’s lost the touch lately.  Sonlight actually has an alternative spelling list and we are going to use that to boost his abilities.  I will most likely incorporate Spelling City for some of the drill work.  (Here’s more about why I like Spelling City.) 


Otherwise, I’ll be using their suggestion schedule of pretesting on Monday, having the student study Tuesday through Thursday, and then test on the word list on Friday.  I am seriously contemplating adding a vocabulary component to that word list as that’s a crucial skill for the upcoming standardized tests (ACT, PSAT, and SAT.)


Pulling It All Together when Learning Language Arts (Writing)

This year, I have the Institute in Excellence in Writing’s U.S. History Based Lessons Volume 1 which I started with P.  They began with some poetry, which he was convinced was something he hated.  So, he hid the book for a while.  I’ve got it dusted off and will be starting back with it when the second semester begins for us in just over a week.


I contemplated using the same material with the other boys.  However, we are working through a review product from last year instead ~ Write Shop Junior, Book D

They like the ‘fun’ components to the program.  We just haven’t been diligent in using it throughout the fall. So, like their big brother, we are dusting off the books and getting back on track soon.


How do YOU approach learning the language arts in YOUR homeschool?




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This post is being linked up with other homeschoolers as part of the Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds.  


Visit other responders tackling the topic of Playing with Words: the Language Arts.

Nurturing Novelists = Building Strong Writers by Susan Anadale @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Building Blocks of Education–Learning to Read  by Kristi Kerr @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Finding Our Way Through Language Arts by Christy @Unexpected Homeschool

How Does a Unit Study Teach Language Arts? by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Our Language Arts Adventure by Linda @ Homeschooling6

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words: The Language Arts by Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road

Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words byKaryn @ Teach Beside Me

Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts by Dawn @Guiding Light Homeschool

Writing Help in a Critical Thinking book? by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Foreign Language Immersion in the Homeschool by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch

Formula for Reading by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness

Words and Learning by Annette @ A Net In Time

A Custom Designed High School English Credit by Tech Wife @ A Playground of Words

Virtual Curriculum Fair 2013: Still Loving Language Arts by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

Word Play by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Loving Language Arts by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Learning Language Arts ~ 2012-2013 School Year by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Virtual Curriculum Fair – The Language Arts Department by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy: The Story of Our Life

Playing with Words:  Language Arts by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs and Curriculum

What Language Arts looks like in our house – Are we doing it right? by Hillary M @ Our Homeschool Studio

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A Catholic mom to four boys, Laura has been homeschooling since 2005. Currently, one son is in school while the others are at home. When not 'working', she is enjoying life up in Alaska.


  1. My approach to language arts is to make it part of what we do when we study our units of study.

    anyways, just stopping by from the VCF, just finding it interesting seeing what everyone is doing. :)

    • Annette,

      I always enjoy seeing how others approach things. In some ways, Sonlight is close to a unit study with a focus on particular history and the literature fitting with it. So glad we’re doing the one year American History with my boys, though, as one of them just commented that we’d spent weeks on the American Revolution and he was ready for something ‘new.’
      Laura O from AK recently posted..Rich and Creamy Ham and Kale CasseroleMy Profile

      • interesting indeed, I’ve looked at Sonlight and have never seen it from that angle. I’ll have to talk to fellow local homeschoolers and see if they would see Sonlight that way. Intrigues me that. :)

  2. Stopping by from VCF and fellow Crew member. We love IEW, too. We love poetry- have you checked out IEW’s Language Aquistion through Poetry Memorization? One of my fav programs of all time!
    Lisa recently posted..Word PlayMy Profile

  3. We are returning to a living books curriculum for our history, as well, and I can’t wait!! I think that it makes history and geography so much more ALIVE for the children!
    Kristi recently posted..Our Word of the Year in 2013My Profile

  4. I always enjoy seeing Sonlight on a blog post. I used it for three years when the children were younger. I miss it at times.
    I love AAS too but can’t seem to make it work here at Homeschooling6. I am not getting rid of the books though, I may try again 😉


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