Language Arts is a big term that includes multiple essential skills – reading, writing, spelling, literature, and grammar.
You can buy a boxed curriculum that tries to include it all, but it is likely not going to do everything well.
It’s also probably going to be laid out in a traditional school style – list of 20 spelling words to learn on Monday, crossword puzzle on Tuesday, write sentences on Wednesday, and so-on, until you have your big Friday spelling test. Didn’t actually know half of the words? Oh well, new list starts on Monday!
We struggled for quite a few years to find a good fit in all these areas.
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Now that my oldest has reached high school and I have the benefit of looking back at failures in what we did and some successes, I have a better idea on great recommendations.
My youngest is starting kindergarten next year, and this is how we will structure her Language Arts learning from K-8th.
Tips at this stage:
- Keep it simple.
- You can teach your child to read without any formal curriculum.
- Nurture a love of reading and story by reading aloud to your child a lot!
All About Spelling tiles
Lots of library books!
What we love about AAS: After leaving several spelling programs in the homeschool curriculum graveyard, we have settled on AAS and love it. You can work on words and word families until you master it. No moving on to a new list every Monday. You are learning the rules and reasons behind the spelling, not just memorizing words. It works with multiple learning styles and strengths, especially with the colorful letter tiles. Kinesthetic learners love this!
I might be old school, but I think there’s still value in learning grammar and diagramming. It is especially helpful if you plan on studying foreign language or writing well.
First Language Lessons: levels 1-4 cover approximately grades 1-4. It is scripted for the parent, and the repetition and spiral approach keep adding on depth as you go. I buy the student text and the teacher text, but have reused them both. My fourth son is currently in the last level of this curriculum and I have one more child to go!
Analytical Grammar: my middle schoolers use this independent curriculum to firm up their grammar skills before high school, when their writing assignments will assume they have a firm grasp on parts of speech and proper writing techniques. I also purchase both the student and teacher texts. These are not reusable.
What we like: Both of these curriculums are grab and go without preparation for the parent. With 5 kids to homeschool, I’d rather not have to fiddle with lesson plans each evening! Plus, FLL is reusable.
I access book lists here and here. But for the most part, I gave up trying to find a textbook publisher’s approved list of books for this and that grade. Most of my kids read well above grade level, and I try to make sure they’re also reading plenty of classics. But who says it’s wrong for them to lose themselves in a series they absolutely love for hours each day? I think the love of reading is more important at this state than filling out reading comprehension sheets.
Have you read The Book Whisperer yet? It totally changed my vision for my homeschool reading.
Now, I do use Abeka Reading Comprehension sheets at the lower elementary levels mainly because they were given to me and I like to be thrifty like that. But, they are solid, and they help me assess whether my kids are understanding what they’re reading.
Keep reading aloud! We loved reading through the Little House Books when the boys were just very little, then Hardy Boys mysteries, then the Chronicles of Narnia. (By the way, these box sets make great Christmas gifts from grandparents!)
Writing with Ease: K-4
Many elementary writing programs and writing prompts assume kids will naturally know how to write. Most don’t! This is a skill that needs taught and not muddled in with another subject.
What we love:
- Reusable curriculum
- Scripted for the parent
- Teaches a skill (writing) on its own without combining it with another subject (grammar)
- Doesn’t assume kids naturally know how to write (they don’t)
- Starts basic (narration)
- Sets a necessary foundation for middle school and high school writing
- Uses wonderful literature as it instructs
Writing With Skill: grades 5+
I think Writing With Skill by Susan Wise Bauer is one of my favorite programs of all time! I can’t say enough good things about it.
Check out Susan Wise Bauer’s recommendations for grade levels here.
What we love:
- Teaches middle & high schoolers to be independent and responsible for their learning
- Scripted out
- Teacher guide book for helping when they get stuck
- Reusable curriculum
- Teaches sequential skills
- Builds from foundations to more advanced
- Doesn’t frustrate the students
- Just excellent curriculum – I wish I had this type of writing instruction when I was in school!
So that is the path that most of my kids have traveled in Language Arts from K-8th grade.
Remember these two things:
- Your most important job in schooling your kids at the K-8th levels is exposure, not mastery. No one will master a subject at this age. But if you focus on the main tools of learning – math and language – your kids will excel as their education advances. You can do it!
- Use this post as inspiration for what might work in your family. You have to find your groove. And it may look very different from this plan. And that’s okay! You’ve got this.