Spotlight On: Language Arts
Does the thought of homeschooling language arts make you cringe? For many parents, this is the one subject they either excel at or despise. It’s so all-encompassing which means it’s important to have a well-rounded curriculum program and a solid plan for teaching it. How can you make sure you’re giving your homeschooler everything he or she needs for language arts?
What to Include in a Homeschooling Language Arts Program
When homeschooling language arts, there are specific aspects you’ll want to cover. The extent to which you cover those aspects will largely depend on the grade level(s) you’re teaching. For instance, many grammar concepts are introduced in the elementary years. Those same concepts (and many more) are taught again at the middle school level and repeat at the high school level.
So, just what are the aspects a solid language arts program will cover?
Language Arts Teaching Methods
If you’re new to homeschooling, it may surprise you to learn there are different approaches to language arts. Seasoned homeschoolers have probably tried the various approaches and, perhaps after a lot of trial and error, have settled on a way to teach language arts. In the early years of language arts, it’s important to pick a method and stick with it. Before you can do that, you’ll want to know a little bit about the two main methods:
- Phonics-based approach: Homeschooling language arts using the phonics-based method involves teaching children the letter sounds and blends as well as how they come together to form words. Rather than having your children identify whole words, phonics breaks words down into patterns, consonant digraphs, and vowel digraphs (known as “special sounds” in some curriculum programs). Children come away from this method knowing the rules of phonics and understanding the patterns behind spelling words.
- Whole-language approach: Homeschooling language arts using the whole-language method means teaching your children words both in and out of context. The words students are taught are known as “sight words” or “high frequency words.” These are words students are likely to see all the time. Children often come away from this method ready to read books during or before Kindergarten. As long as they can spot the key words you’re teaching, this method promises to produce early readers.
Homeschooling Language Arts Curriculum
We’ve collected some information from veteran homeschoolers who’ve used various curriculum options for homeschooling language arts. Some of the top programs recommended by homeschoolers are below:
- Time4Learning: Time4Learning is an online curriculum provider that offers a complete, well-rounded program for PreK to high school! The ease at which this company provides curriculum is amazing. Honestly, if Time4Learning excels in one area, it’s definitely language arts and this is especially true in the middle and high school levels. The language arts program covers everything from basic phonics in the younger grades to whole novels in the upper grades. Grammar, vocabulary, reading, and writing are all available through their language arts program. If you would like even more focus on writing, check out their teacher-led Time4Writing program. Certified teachers spend a couple of months teaching your child aspects of writing. It’s an amazing program available for homeschooling language arts!
- If you’d prefer to put together your own program, you might be interested in something your children can do on their own such as Writing Strands and Easy Grammar. Both of these programs allow students to work independently. Writing Strands has several levels but the levels do not correspond to your child’s grade level; they correspond to performance levels. Easy Grammar starts in the lower elementary grades and goes all the way to 12th grade.
- ABeka Book: ABeka offers a complete language arts program starting in Kindergarten (K5). ABeka teaches reading from a phonics-based perspective so your children learn the rules of phonics immediately and begin applying them right away. The language arts program includes spelling, reading, and grammar. There isn’t as much creative writing as other programs, but you can always supplement if you don’t feel it’s enough. Like Bob Jones, ABeka started out offering its materials to classroom teachers. Later, they decided to create a “homeschool” version of their curriculum. The only difference between the classroom version and the homeschool version is in the Curriculum Guides (lesson plans).
Language Arts Resources for Homeschoolers
In addition to homeschooling language arts with your children, you may find it helpful to supplement with language arts resources. Some of our favorites include:
- VocabularySpellingCity.com – This website literally has it all! From spelling and vocabulary practice to spelling tests and games, you’ll find everything you need. One of the best parts of the website is how easy it is to align it to your curriculum. For instance, if you’re using ABeka for spelling, you’d just do a search on the VocabularySpellingCity.com website for “ABeka 2nd grade list 12” and choose “import.” Instantly, the list is placed into your account and you can assign the list to your students!
- Vocabulary.co.il – If you have students who do vocabulary work, this website is for you! At the website, you’ll find games that focus on specific topics such as antonyms, contractions, idioms, homophones, and even SAT words. Furthemore, your students can take their vocabulary learning to the next level by practicing a foreign language.
- HomeschoolLiterature.com – Love finding great book lists to add to your library list or book basket? HomeschoolLiterature.com has exactly what you need. The search feature on the site is perfect for finding book lists related to specific topics. Then, you can choose from amongst the books listed and decide what to use for unit studies, book baskets, book clubs, or just family read aloud time.
- LearningGamesforKids.com – No matter what topic you’re looking to supplement, this website definitely has games to cover it! Looking for history games to add to a Presidents’ Day unit study? They’re here! Need a full-blown typing program offered at different levels? You’ve come to the right place! It truly has learning games that cover all subjects and just about any topic you have in mind.
- ABCMouse.com – if you’re homeschooling younger children, this is a wonderful site for language arts and all sorts of topics.
Homeschooling language arts is a critical component of your homeschooling program. You have several options for homeschooling styles but no matter the style you choose, language arts will always be something you’ll teach. Have fun with it in the early years and keep in mind that the skills you teach your children in language arts (such as critical reading and comprehension) will be applied to all subjects.
Tasha is a homeschooling mom to 5 and has been homeschooling for 14 years. Currently, her children's ages span from toddler to young adult. Tasha has a Bachelor's of Science degree in Social Sciences from Florida State University and is working on her MBA through SNHU/Berklee School of Music.