When I first starting homeschooling over 35 years ago, there were only a few curriculum choices. All of these choices were originally developed for traditional classrooms and relied on workbooks that contained a fair amount of busywork.
For language arts alone, each of my children had a separate book for spelling, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and reading. Multiplied by three children, that meant 15 workbooks.
On good days it would take us from two to three hours to complete them.
I noticed that while the workbooks might be filled in correctly, what was being taught did not make it into their actual writing. Fortunately, in my fifth year of homeschooling, Dr. Ruth Beecheck’s book You Can Teach Your Child Successfully was published.
How To Teach Language Arts Through Literature
Because I felt like a failure as a teacher, the word “successfully” really caught my attention. Recently, I picked up my old copy and flipped through, reading highlighted portions. Lines like “Children who read a lot are better writers,” and “Remember that reading poetry and fiction is every bit as educational as reading nonfiction.”
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This spoke to a discouraged mom who wanted her children to love literature and writing but found most of their “school” time was spent slogging through workbook pages full of time-consuming, disjointed exercises.
Dr. Beechick’s book contained several example lessons of an integrated approach to teaching language arts through literature. It showed how you could teach spelling, grammar, vocabulary, writing mechanics, reading comprehension, and creative writing all in one lesson.
I tried them out, and this is what I learned.
How can I help my child with language arts?
First, good books act as models for children so introduce your children to great literature both by reading aloud to them and providing personal reading time each day. Reading, not busy work, strengthens language arts skills. It naturally reinforces spelling, vocabulary, grammar, etc. and serves as a model for developing writing skills. Encouraging your children’s love of reading is the best investment you can make in their education and their future.
Next, choose an interesting, short passage from a book and dictate it to your student.If dictation is too hard at first, have your student copy the passage and then proofread what they have written. This activity requires close attention to details. The mistakes made in spelling, punctuation, etc. will reveal what writing mechanics your student needs to learn.
Use a good English handbook to help you teach those rules.
Writing is so closely related to reading. In addition to teaching the mechanical details found in the passage, look for ways your student can express their thoughts relating to the passage as well. This will strengthen their writing and critical thinking skills as they learn language arts through literature. For example, if the story is written in past tense, rewrite it in present tense.
Take what is taught in information passages and have them write it in outline form. If it is a poem, rewrite it in prose. A story can be rewritten in play form or a play can be rewritten as a story. If you are teaching a rule that is followed in the passage, have the student write the rule in his own words.
The list of activities is endless.
Teaching language arts through literature
Several positive things happened when I started using this integrated approach to teaching language arts. Most of the resistance that I was experiencing with my children disappeared.
More importantly, its effectiveness was evident in their improved writing skills. I also found that because we were not wasting time doing busy work, lessons did not take hours to complete, leaving more time for pleasure reading and creative writing.
With Ms. Beechick’s examples and my love of literature, I began writing my own lessons, which became the first book in the Learning Language Arts Through Literature series.
This program is a good choice for those who are too busy or lack the confidence to develop their own language arts lessons.
What is the best language arts homeschool curriculum?
Learning Language Arts Through Literature is a wonderful option for you! It is a complete daily language arts curriculum that is budget-friendly and can be covered in less than an hour a day. This affords you the flexibility to individualize the curriculum to your child’s needs.
For example, if your child needs more writing practice, you have the time and resources to add a supplement. Perhaps most importantly, Learning Language Arts Through Literature is a literature-based program.
After finishing the entire curriculum your child will have been introduced to hundreds of classic literary works which will challenge their thinking and enrich their lives.
Check out our homeschool literature curriculum!
If you would like to see sample lessons, scope and sequences, or reviews of our
curriculum, visit our website. During the entire month of April, use the coupon code “TCC2020” for 15% off your entire order!