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Language Arts for Homeschoolers

by Becca Evenson

Education…has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.

George Macaulay Trevelyan

The Language Arts label covers a large chunk of curriculum. Learning to read, write and communicate well allows for doors to open that would otherwise remain closed. Spending time with words that edify and enlighten feeds the sould and helps to create a reserve on which you can draw in times of challenge or solitude.

The English Language is an adventure! Explore it with your children. Read, write, play games with words, have fun. Learning phonics and grammar will build the scaffolding; the construction continues with vocabulary; literary ideas and exposure, and self-expression. As you study history, read the literature from that period of time. The myths, poetry, stories and folklore will give a much deeper insight to the people af any time period and what they held most dear. Are there things you never read and always felt you should have? Now’s your chance! One word of caution-not all literature is created equal. Some is inspirational, eductional and worthy of emulation. Much is depressin, dark and without morals or direction. Some uses the intricacies of the English language with skill and precision. Much caters to a desire to read quickly, think minimally and finish hurriedly.

Do not allow twaddle in your home! Twaddle encourages the habits of limited attention to reading, small vocabulary development and a need for short sentence structure; these habits will be very difficult to supplant and precious learning time can be lost. Also, as the parent it is part of your stewardship to know what media is coming into your home and by whom. Do no allow questionable content in the name of a child’s freedom of choice. We are to teach and protect. Sometimes that means we are the bad guy. We can choose what comes into our own homes. My husband and I police what enters ours. (Books that encourage belief in a higher law, individualism, logical thinking, hard work, optimism; loyalty to family, God and country; respect for life are gems. Books that contain relativism, negativity, false principles or focus on dark topics are generally to be avoided.)

Also keep in comind no book is loved by everyone. If you are reading something and no one is enjoying it, put it away. The timing may be wrong or it may simplyh be a book you family is not going to take pleasure in. That’s alright. There is more wonderful literature in this world than any of us could read in our lifetime. Move on; try something else.

The written word is one of the few things passed to those who come after us. Our priorities, dreams and personal interests can be shared through writing. Learning to write clearly is an art lacking in today’s “hurry up” society. Clarity in writing is greatly sought after by college professors and employees alike. There is a need to learn thorough research skills and to write what has been learned. Humanity needs more uplifting, elevating, morally-rich literature and poetry to fill the voids created by life in the twenty-first century. A modern-day Paul, George Washington, or Jan Addams will need to defend correct principles on paper as well with the spoken word.

Penmanship is a word we rarely hear any more. With the onset of the computer age, handwriting is becoming a lost art form. Learning to write legibly and spell correctly should still be a priorty for those who would consider themselves well-rounded. Recording great quotes and poetry feeds the mind and heart.

Discovery level

Memorize quotes, scriptures and poetry

Handwriting is done by copying thoughts from a master copy. (Small neat chunks are preferable to large sloppy ones.)

Begin a basic journal.

Read great literature together as a group or one-on-one with Mom. This can include picture book, chapter books, poetry, you name it.

Have them narrate back to your orally. Remember-these are literal thinkers. Do not ask for more than the facts.

Learn phonics when ready. Some brains are not developed sufficiently until 8 or older! (No one would guess which of my children did not read confidently until they were almost 10!)

Play word game; get silly

Do Mad-Lib

Read some more