My curriculum switch to My Father’s World last year pretty much brought an end to “traditional” (text-book based) education in our house.
I grew up with “traditional” homeschooling and loved it! However, our family hit a snag with our curriculum about eighteen months ago, and I began researching other styles of education.
Charlotte Mason methods appealed to me because of the free-style and organic “feel” they lend to learning. I tend to be a stickler when it comes to lesson plans and schedules, but I realized that no homeschooling method is one-size fits all. It was time for us to think outside the box!
Today, I want give you a peek at how we tackle Language Arts “outside the text book”.
We do use books (I’ll share a list of my favorites in a minute!), and I loosely follow My Father’s World’s scope and sequence for our yearly studies.
I’m not suggesting that what works for us will work for everyone; only you know what is a good fit for yourself, your children, and your season of life.
Here are a few things that are working beautifully in the Language Arts department at our house:
1. I highlight my oldest daughter’s articulate nature.
Charlotte Mason homeschoolers will recognize the term “narration”, but in case you’re not familiar with what it means, I’ll explain:
Narration is having a child “narrate”, or tell in their own words, what they are learning. In most cases, narration replaces questions-and-answers and even tests.
My ten year old daughter is highly articulate, and narrating comes easily for her. Even prior to our switch to My Father’s World and Charlotte Mason homeschooling, Miss A would spontaneously share about whatever she had learned that day to the entire family at the meal table.
When I began reading about “narration” in A Charlotte Mason Companion, I immediately recognized the importance of this exercise because my daughter was already doing it!
Miss A detests busy work and fluffy assignments, so I don’t push a lot of “writing” with her. I feed her a steady diet of “living books” (more on that in a minute) and challenging projects, and then rely on her innate ability to verbalize what she is learning.
At ten years old, she’s a great conversationalist, uses a broad vocabulary, has great reasoning and critical thinking skills and is a proficient reader. While grammar and spelling aren’t Miss A’s forte, I have confidence that we are heading in the right direction with those subjects, as well.
2. We focus on quality literature.
A Charlotte Mason Companion introduced me to the world of “living books”, a phrase with which I was very unfamiliar.
“Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style.” quote: Simply Charlotte Mason
For example: instead of reading a history textbook and taking tests along the way, our homeschool regimen will include a a dozen or more “living books” relating to historical people, places, and events.
A steady diet of good literature will provide many opportunities for a well-rounded Language Arts program, including-
- introducing new words
- sharpening spelling and pronunciation skills
- increasing a child’s attention span
- encouraging ideas and imagination
- reinforcing proper use of words and good grammar
My seven-year old daughter isn’t a proficient reader yet, but is very creative and has a huge imagination. I’m honing in on her creative skills and working to build confidence and skill in areas where she’s lacking.
3. We integrate real life and learning.
I’m not a huge fan of artificial or “practice” learning. If my girls are learning about the proper way to write a letter, I want them to write a real letter and address the envelope themselves, not just practice in a work book.
Here are a few other ways we mix learning Language Arts with “real life”:
- Both my daughters keep a diary. When they write in it is entirely up to them, but I’m excited to see them learning the art of journaling!
- My oldest daughter frequently takes notes in church during her Daddy’s sermons. This is a great way for kids to practice “dictation” and develop a good attention span!
- I encourage my girls to write poems or short stories, especially when it pertains to a person or topic we are studying.
- We make use of a dictionary and thesaurus!
While our eclectic homeschooling isn’t centered around textbooks, we certainly use a lot of books, including work books and other “school” books! Here are a few of my favorite resources for Language Arts; this list includes everything we’ve used recently for spelling, English and grammar, handwriting, and creative writing.
- Spelling Power
- A First Thesaurus
- Writing Strands
- Language Lessons for Today (from My Father’s World)
- Intermediate English Lessons (also from My Father’s World)
- Write Through the Bible
I’m currently supplementing my seven-year old daughter’s Language Arts program with April Printables for Kids. It focuses on creative writing and vocabulary building activities, and she is loving it!
I also enjoyed and recommend:
What are your favorite Language Arts books or resources?
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.