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When I think about language arts, I have the basics pop to mind. Younger students are focused on phonics so they can become readers. Slightly older students begin to do more comprehension and vocabulary work on their journey to becoming more proficient readers. And, finally, when they reach high school, the students are moving beyond basic comprehension and reading further into the literature they are reading.
Intertwined with all this reading are the other essential language arts skills such as spelling and grammar so that the student can express themselves through the written word in an eloquent and persuasive manner.
At least, that is the end goal I have in mind when approaching language arts in our homeschool.
Here’s a break down of what we’ve done and what we are currently doing:
Building Blocks (Reading)
P got all of his phonics and basic reading skills when he attended school. R started on the same path (using Houghton Mifflin materials), but then learned in our home using Catholic Heritage Curricula’s materials. D used the same materials to a degree, but also enjoyed Hooked on Phonics that had been passed down to us. They also used the Houghton Mifflin books for 2nd and 3rd grade we were given by other homeschool families.
Once the boys are reasonably proficient readers, we move more towards reading full novels rather than reading anthologies. However, I still like to have them available. D is currently using the 3rd grade Houghton Mifflin books. R is using the 6th grade Mirrors and Windows in spurts and P has used both the 9th grade Mirrors and Windows as well as Excellence in Literature this year. D and R have also been using Raz-Kids the last few months. P is also participating in a literature circle with other high school students to get that group discussion experience. All of the boys are reading a wide variety of selections as well. Discussions with me or brief book reports are how I evaluate them for our submitted grades.
Mechanics (Spelling and Grammar)
The first few years we homeschooled, I used the spelling and grammar books from Catholic Heritage Curricula. P finished up early for spelling. After a failed attempt to use Lingua Mater, we switched to Analytical Grammar. That worked for a while, but as the parsing and diagramming became more complex it became evident that we didn’t need to invest so much time in formal grammar.
R is the one that had me reconsidering our approach to spelling. While the CHC materials had the wonderful intertwining of our faith in them, he struggled with spelling. All About Spelling entered our house and has stayed the duration. Both R and D use the materials at their own pace. I love how everything is scripted for me as the teacher and that there are no more tears happening over spelling. R might never be a great speller, but he’s improved with this program.
Here’s a photo of our spelling white board:
Grammar and vocabulary are topics we cover through Latin studies as well.
Pulling It All Together (Writing)
Reading is a crucial skill that opens so many doors. But, the other skill of being an effective writer is key as well.
This is an area where I still but heads with the boys at times. In the past few years, we’ve used Student Writing Intensive from Institute in Excellence in Writing and Writing Tales.
This year, P is doing Write at Home with much better results than the past few years with me. He needed the outside accountability for assignments and I needed for someone else to do the evaluating of his work. They do not give an official grade, but rather provide ratings on several key areas using a rubric. Much to our surprise, P’s completed assignments have ranked higher than we expected for three out of four.
Given our experience with P, I am already considering if R will do Write at Home next year. For the meantime, though, both R and D are using the Writing Tales we began last spring. They also use Time for Learning to cover some of the basic mechanics and free writing.
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.
- On Learning to Spell by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
- Reading on Time by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family
- Playing with Words: the Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy
- Reading and Beyond: Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World
- Language Arts that Work for Us by Melissa @ Grace Christian School
- Learning Language at Our House by Jessica @ Modest Mama
- Virtual Curriculum Fair: Language Arts by Christine T. @ Our Homeschool Reviews
- The Learning of Language by Dawn @ tractors & tire swings
- Reading and Spelling: Modifying the Magic by Pam @ Pam and Everyday Snapshots
- An In Depth Look at All About Spelling by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings
- Virtual Curriculum Fair: Let’s Talk About Words by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
- Why We Love Classical Conversations Essentials (and how I know that is not a complete sentence!) by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
- Virtual Curriculum Fair—Playing with Words: the Language Arts by Angie @ Petra School
- Whole Language vs. Phonics by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic
- It’s All About the Art of Language by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning
- Watching Movies for Language Arts Class by Debbie @ Debbie’s Digest
- Only 5 Spelling Tests a Year! (Can we do that?) by LP @ justpitchingmytent
- Playing with Words by Chrissy @ Learning is an Adventure
- Language Art at Our House by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
- Virtual Curriculum Fair Week One Playing with Words: the Language Arts by Leah Courtney @ The Courtney Six Homeschool Blog