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How to homeschool language arts

How to make your homeschool language arts experience enjoyable for you and your child, top tips from a certified English/Language Arts teacher.

Whether you’re a seasoned homeschooler or just beginning to explore the option, planning how to teach the core subjects effectively is an essential part of your journey. One of those core subjects is language arts.

Mirriam-Webster defines language arts as the category of subjects such as reading, writing, spelling, and grammar that work to increase a student’s comprehension and understanding of the English language.

A good foundation in language arts sets the stage for your child to effectively interact, evaluate, and communicate with the world around them. These skills will serve learners well for years to come as they forge their careers and future.

This article will walk you through how to make your homeschool language arts experience meaningful and enjoyable for you and your child, written from the unique perspective of a certified English/Language Arts teacher with years of experience working at the middle school level.

If there’s one key to success in learning, homeschool or otherwise, it’s that learning should be fun. By fostering your child’s interests, you can build motivation that nurtures eager learners. Although homeschooling language arts may seem like a daunting responsibility, you are not alone. At Outschool, we support you in your homeschool journey each step of the way. This guide breaks down how to navigate the task of teaching language arts in a homeschool setting so you can feel confident as you watch your child grow to love learning the ins and outs of the English language.

Choose your curriculum

The first critical step to homeschooling language arts is to pick a quality core curriculum. Look for a base curriculum that fits your family’s needs and educational goals. A good fit in the core curriculum will help you stay on track, build on your child’s knowledge, and meet academic milestones. 

Choosing a curriculum can be challenging for busy homeschool parents who want nothing more than to see their children succeed. It may be helpful to reframe the struggle of comparing materials and, instead, see the beauty in the flexibility of choice. As you decide on a curriculum package, consider your child’s unique strengths, weaknesses, and learning style.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the selection of homeschool and online language arts curricula, check out our step-by-step guide for choosing the best homeschool curriculum for your family

Whether you decide on an online or a more traditional program, Outschool is here to support you.

Key language arts concepts to cover

Let’s break down the sub-topics under the language arts umbrella. A comprehensive language arts curriculum will cover each of these categories. Keep in mind that, as a homeschool parent, you have the option to focus your efforts on the areas that tailor to your child’s needs best.

Reading

Reading instruction begins with phonics. Phonics helps learners develop the basic decoding skills of turning letters into meaningful language. As those skills build, instruction shifts to reading comprehension. Comprehension focuses on developing these strategies:

  • Deciphering context clues

  • Summarizing the main idea of texts

  • Making inferences

To improve reading comprehension test scores, many schools will take a “skill and drill” approach in which students repeatedly read short texts and answer multiple-choice questions. Although formative assessment has a place in education, relying on this strategy to improve reading comprehension is not usually conducive to fostering an inquisitive, intrinsically motivated learner.

Capitalize on your flexibility in homeschooling to forge an engaging learning environment and increase motivation. Foster a love of reading. You can choose reading material centered around a topic your child is interested in and supplement reading strategy instruction with your child’s favorite activities. 

For example, if your child is interested in space and astronomy, supplement or substitute your curriculum with texts set in space to accomplish the same learning goals while boosting buy-in from your child.

Need some extra support in the reading department? Check out Outschool’s reading tutoring reading class, and reading assessment options for individualized help in reading instruction. 

Writing

If reading is the key to opening doors of opportunity, writing is the first step through the door.

You can gift your child the ability to communicate effectively through written text and know that your gift will serve them well throughout their life. From crafting sentences and paragraphs to authoring full personal narratives and essays, your child will formulate their voice and opinion as they create their own writing.

An excellent foundation in writing requires a focus on smaller parts that come together, including:

  • Organization: Planning out the writing piece and organizing thoughts into paragraphs.

  • Focus/thesis: The purpose or central message of the piece.

  • Voice: The author’s personal experience and engagement with the audience.

  • Word choice: Choosing thoughtful and colorful vocabulary.

If you feel intimidated in guiding your child’s writing with constructive feedback, use a writing rubric to conduct a writer’s workshop to evaluate the rough draft together.

If you’d rather get outside help in the grading process, join a weekly writer’s workshop class, join a class that uses a writing curriculum such as IEW, or learn to diagram sentences on Outschool and let a certified teacher guide your child through the writing process. As your child continues the course, they can also participate in a peer writer’s workshop to improve their writing and help peers evaluate theirs.

If you have a reluctant writer, you can find specialty writing classes to engage different learning styles and needs. From early childhood sentence-writing classes to creative writing and journalism, you can find a class to fit your learner’s interests.

Spelling

Support your child in learning to spell with focused spelling instruction. Spelling often takes a back seat in today’s education, considering computer-typed words come with integrated spell checkers. However, research shows that focused spelling instruction increases reading comprehension by improving phonemic awareness

Rather than memorizing a weekly spelling list, quality spelling instruction includes focused lessons that break down spelling and pronunciation tactics for the English language. Specifically, they cover the phonemic symbol-sound correspondences and give targeted instruction on sound irregularities. 

Outschool teachers provide tiered spelling lessons for both early and more advanced writers. If your child thrives on competition, pair these lessons with an Outschool spelling bee for a spirited peer contest.

Vocabulary

Vocabulary improves reading comprehension and writing skills. By recognizing new, complex words, your child can develop a robust vocabulary. Rich vocabulary instruction focuses on teaching skills to decipher the meaning of unknown words rather than memorizing lists and definitions. 

Customize and streamline your homeschool language arts curriculum by choosing your vocabulary words from texts used in the week’s other subjects. Teach your child skills to decode the meaning of new words from context clues and by looking at word roots and prefixes. 

Get creative and make vocabulary instruction meaningful. Encourage your child to listen for and recognize the new words in daily life, such as on television or on the radio. Invite them to find a way to use the word when socializing with peers. 

When your child encounters a new word in text or media, stop and provide meaningful instruction regarding context clues and jot down the word to follow up later with further instruction. Another flexible option that homeschooling offers is allowing your child ownership in selecting vocabulary words to study.

Vocabulary instruction is not just for the new reader. Vocabulary expansion is a skill that continues to grow throughout a lifetime. Find targeted vocabulary instruction on Outschool for all ages, from early learners to high school.

Speaking

Often an afterthought for language arts instruction, the art of verbal communication is also vital to cover. Writing a thoughtful and engaging speech that conveys meaning or persuades others is a real-life, useful skill. 

Your child may balk at public speaking for an audience of one, though. You may consider outsourcing your public speaking instruction to a homeschool group or co-op. 

For an online option, consider Outschool’s public speaking courses.

Tailor your homeschool language arts program to match your learner

If you’re struggling to get your learner engaged in online language arts, making small adjustments to your homeschool technique may do the trick.

For example, here are a few ideas to capture your learner’s excitement by teaching the five elements of plot in their own style:

  • If your child loves art, have your child write a story and create a comic strip to illustrate the five stages of plot.

  • If your child loves music, challenge your learner to find a song that tells a story and find the five stages of plot within the song.

  • For the technology lover, use an app like Canva or Wixie to create a digital storyboard of the five stages of plot for a loved short story.

You know your child best. As a homeschool parent, you have the unique advantage of having the flexibility to cater your curriculum around your child’s unique interests, which increases motivation and promotes engagement in learning.

Need some support? Which path of the homeschooling journey are you on? Regardless of where you’re at, we’re here to support you. 

Whether you want a new approach, extra help, or to outsource your language arts teaching, Outschool is here to help. 

Catie MacDonaldCatie is a freelance writer with a passion for words and the drive to exceed expectations. As a certified Language Arts educator, she has years of experience teaching children to love reading.

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