My Favorite Homeschool Language Arts Resources

I love language arts- reading, writing- even labeling and diagramming sentences. Out of all subjects in school, it was one I always looked forward to. As I began homeschooling my own children, I wanted to share my love for all things language arts.

Originally, I was going to use a fairly structured, textbook-based curriculum because it was one I had used in the Christian school where I attended school and then taught before having children. We took off with this curriculum. But I was not seeing this love of all things language that I had hoped to see. Learning to label sentences and write them with correct grammar and punctuation wasn’t fun for my children. It was laborious. And I began to come to the idea that perhaps this wasn’t the best way to go about cultivating a love of literature and writing.

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Then I was introduced to the ideas of Charlotte Mason. My older children were early elementary school aged still. I began to see that perhaps this very structured focus on grammar and writing wasn’t appropriate at this age. And I already knew from my own experiences that children responded better to “real” books than to little readers written to teach reading to children. I latched on to Charlotte Mason’s ideas about language arts, and I scrapped the structured textbooks. We dove in to real reading and to learning grammar and writing skills in context. I’ve been so glad we did.

As the children have gotten older, we’ve done more formal study in grammar and writing. It’s an approach that has worked well for us. Today I’m sharing some of the great resources I’ve found along the way. I think that the best language arts programs combine reading great books, writing, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and other communication skills. But there have been a few resources we’v used that focus on a particular area of language arts.

IEW writing curriculum

It may seem strange that I list this resources first since I just said that I moved away from a structured, isolated curriculum. But if you’ve ever had a look at the resources from Institute for Excellence in Writing, you’ll probably understand. The philosophy of the program is based on a love for reading great literature and developing thinking and communication skills.
I resisted the pull of their writing program for some time because I didn’t want to use a structured rule-based approach. But when I had the opportunity to try it out in a Crew review, I was more than impressed. What’s more- it works! Using their writing method of teaching students step by step and modeling good writing has helped my children tremendously. I’ve watched and learned from the teacher/parent instructional videos and then I’ve used the methods with three of my four children with great results.

Homeschool literature unit study

This is another curriculum that I was introduced to through a Crew review. The company offers literature-based unit study curriculum that you can use for history, science, and literature study. You can buy a complete curriculum for the year or just purchase units individually. You can order print workbooks or use their online resources and print what you need for every child who is using it.
I love Moving Beyond the Page because the curriculum so nicely ties in literature and history or science; they use great books; and the comprehension questions, vocabulary, and activities don’t just cover basic, rote memory but really give opportunities for kids to think and explore.

Homeschool grammar instruction

This is another more structured resource, but it’s one that fits perfectly with my thoughts about formal grammar instruction. The basis of the curriculum is that formal grammar is not taught early on. Their original curriculum is meant for high school, although they also now have a Junior version for upper elementary/middle school. When I began using Charlotte Mason principles, I dropped formal grammar instruction. I picked this up and began using it for Kathryne and Charles when they were 7th and 8th grade. I’ve started Ashlyne and Rachel a little earlier with the Junior books, using them in 5th and 6th grades.
The curriculum teaches formal grammar in a progressive way, building on prior knowledge. Students begin by identifying one part of speech, but when they move on to another part, they continue to constantly practice previously learned parts of speech because they are constantly labeling whole sentences. Diagramming is also taught as they go along- not as an isolated skill, but as a visual way to see how the parts of speech fit together.

Literature unit study

I love the literature guides from Progeny Press. We’ve used a variety of guides at all different levels. They include vocabulary, comprehension, and thinking questions. Like Moving Beyond the Page, I think they do a good job of going beyond the basics to really facilitate good thinking and discussions about the reading.

Spelling You See

Homeschool spelling curriculum

When I dropped formal grammar, I also dropped traditional spelling instruction. I had always hated those lists of words kids memorized with no context. I used them as a teacher and as a new homeschool teacher because it was just “what you were supposed to do.” But I was happy to drop them when I began using Charlotte Mason’s methods.

I still wanted to teach some spelling skills, though. And I think there is value in helping kids to see how letters combine to form traditional English spelling patterns. I wondered if there were any kind of program that could help me to teach this without the isolated, meaningless spelling lists.
I came upon Spelling You See on a Crew review. It’s published by Demme Learning- the Math-U-See publishers. With this program, the kids study a passage all week. They look for and mark particular spelling patterns in the passage each day, and they copy the passage- or a part of it- each day. At the end of the week, I dictate the passage and they write it. I love the fact that they are learning to be aware of spelling patterns, but they are learning it in the context of well-written passages. And I love the use of copywork and dictation of a whole passage instead of just writing lists of words multiple times each day.
I could probably list more and more great language arts resources I’ve used and loved. These are just a few of my favorites. Do you have any favorite language arts resources I haven’t listed here? I’d love to see them.

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