I’ve struggled for years to find a language arts program to love. Reading, handwriting, grammar, spelling… it’s all been a major source of home schooling frustration for me.
Here are some options we’ve tried:
- Recommendations straight from a “How-to-Home-School” book. This is a classic new home schooler mistake, and we made it. After many tears and not very much learning, we moved on to…
- Nothing. That’s right, folks. We dropped language arts altogether and decided to visit museums for a while. It’s a drastic option, and not one I’d quickly recommend, but it gave me a chance to relax and re-evaluate.
- Literature-based curriculum. I may revisit this, because I don’t remember why we switched to something different.
- Shurley English. This is… thorough. It’s also pedantic. As in, “I’d rather be running my fingers across a chalkboard than using this book”, pedantic. (I wish I had seen Flat Tire(d) Homeschool’s review of it before I bought it. She raves about it, but her comparison with Saxon Math would have sent me running the other way. We don’t do well with the spiral approach here.) However, it is what we’re using for my fourth grader* this year, and we added sentence diagramming to keep me happy. Any grammar curriculum that doesn’t use sentence diagramming doesn’t stand a chance with me. And for our ninth grader, we’ve settled on…
- The eclectic approach. This year, for the first time, we gave up on the one-size-fits-all dream. Instead, she has a collection of books that together cover the spectrum: The New Oxford Guide to Writing, How to Read a Book, English Grammar for Students of Latin, and Spelling Power. I won’t add my review to the countless reviews available online, but I will say it’s working better than any other approach we’ve tried.
- Speak to your children.
- Listen when they speak.
- Listen to what they’re reading.
- Applaud their writing.
*Note to self: I do not have a fourth grader anymore. She’s in fifth grade this year. I can never remember what grades my kids are in without asking them, “Honey, what’s the number on the front of your math book?”