Three Important Reasons for Your Homeschool Writing Curriculum to Teach Grammar, and Vocabulary in Context

Does it really if your homeschool writing curriculum teaches grammar and vocabulary in context? Why is this important? Keep reading to find out. And don't miss the awesome giveaway in this post!

There were just so many books! As I unpacked the book set for our first year of homeschooling, I noticed that the language arts program had so many books. And, looking back to my own school days-where I had used curricula from this same publisher- I knew it had been the same then.

Our vocabulary lessons were usually focused around a particular prefix, suffix, or root word. Our grammar books consisted of disconnected lessons. One week we learned about complex sentences. The next week we were diagramming infinitives. Our writing assignments sometimes related to what we were reading in literature, but often they were just about seemingly random topics. “Write a persuasive essay about which presidential candidate you’d vote for if you could vote.” 

And our literature consisted of reading a selection of poetry, excerpts from classical novels, and a few full novels. These readings might all be related in a vague way-all British authors, perhaps; but typically, they were all on different topics. I loved my English classes. I’m an avid reader, and grammar and writing skills come fairly naturally to me. So, at the time, I didn’t really care that we were learning each different component in a random, unrelated way. 

homeschool writing curriculum

Disclosure: I received free curricula in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are always my own. In addition, some links are affiliate links.

When I began homeschooling my own kids, however, they weren’t so accepting of language arts curricula that was all disjointed and unconnected. I learned through teaching my own kids that they seemed to learn much more easily when the material presented to them was connected, taught in context.

It’s especially helpful to learn language arts in a connected, contextual way. When vocabulary words are related to material kids are reading, when grammar skills are practiced in the context of writing assignments, when writing assignments connect with a particular theme, language arts instruction is more effective. Here are three reasons I’ve found this to be true and information about a homeschool writing curriculum from IEW that combines vocabulary, grammar, and writing instruction in context.

A homeschool writing curriculum that teaches vocabulary words in context helps kids remember and use the words much better than words memorized in isolation.

Do you remember memorizing lists of vocabulary words in school? Chances are that you would memorize them and remember the meanings just long enough to take a test on the words. Then those words would shuffle right out of your mind. And if you read them in an actual book, you weren’t likely to remember what they meant. From my days of classroom teaching when we used a spelling/vocabulary curriculum like this, I know that that’s how it works for most kids.

In contrast, think about reading through a book, coming across an unknown word, and looking up the word’s meaning. I’ll bet that you remembered the meaning of that word as you read on. And in remembering it, you’d be more likely to use it in writing-especially if you then had a writing assignment that tied in with what you were just reading.

The purpose of learning vocabulary should be to increase reading comprehension and writing skills. But when your homeschool writing curriculum teaches vocabulary words in isolation this isn't always the result. But learning vocabulary words in context can help with this.

A homeschool writing curriculum that has kids practicing grammar skills while writing makes much more sense than having them learning random grammar rules.

When I began homeschooling, I used the textbook/workbook-based curriculum that had used in my traditional school classroom. Nothing about the curriculum was in context, including grammar, which was taught by having kids complete workbook pages to practice different grammar concepts. My son, although not really a fan of language arts instruction, could complete his workbook pages with fairly high accuracy. But if he ever had a writing assignment, his grammar was atrocious. He didn’t use any of the skills he’d had to practice in the workbook.

I’ve found this to be true in teaching many kids over the years-in a traditional classroom, in homeschool co-ops, and in my own kids. Just because kids can accurately complete a grammar worksheet doesn’t mean that they’ll use those grammar skills in their own writing and in editing their writing. But when I’ve worked with kids on grammar concepts using their own writing, they’ve been more likely to internalize a grammar rule and begin to use it more consistently in writing.

Homeschool writing curriculum IEW

A homeschool writing curriculum with assignments focused around a theme allows kids to dig deeper and learn more about the thematic topic.

Ah, the writing prompt. Have you ever thrown out a writing prompt to your kids and had them look blankly at a piece of paper while they struggle to come up with something to write about that topic? It can be a painful process. And even if kids can come up with something to write about this week’s topic, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to come up with something for a new, unrelated topic next week.

In contrast, when writing is in context, kids are learning about the same topic for an extended length of time, and writing about the topic, they aren’t going to need to struggle to come up with something to write. They’ll have a context, a framework, and knowledge about the topic to inspire their own writing. As a bonus, they’ll be learning more and more about the topic that they’re reading and writing about throughout the entire curriculum.

Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons from IEW

I’ve shared our experiences using IEW’s Teaching Writing Structure and Style previously. Three of my kids have used that basic IEW curriculum to some extent. And it’s pretty popular among homeschoolers. But IEW also has some themed curricula that cover writing, vocabulary, and grammar. And I was excited to have the opportunity to review one of these-Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons. This curriculum, intended for 6th-8th graders, follows the same basic principles of IEW's Teaching Writing Structure and Style, but everything is themed around Medieval history.

Medieval History writing curriculum

About the Curriculum

The curriculum is a thirty-one-week curriculum with a suggested schedule that breaks each lesson down into a four-day week. The lessons follow the framework of the basic IEW Teaching Writing Structure and Style, and it is assumed that the teacher/parent has taken that course and knows the principles of IEW’s writing curriculum. 

The curriculum follows the nine basic units that IEW’s writing program uses, and the source texts are all related to Medieval history. The lessons include vocabulary words, writing assignments, and grammar skills. All of these are used in connection with one another and in the context of learning about Medieval times. This could be a great choice for writing curriculum if you’re using a history-based curriculum and learning about the Middle Ages because it would allow you to tie in your writing lessons with your core learning.

Curriculum Features

~ The material is recommended for 6th-8th graders (the B level in IEW’s resources).

~ There is a teacher’s manual sold separately that gives teaching information for each lesson.

~ The student book includes vocabulary cards at the back that go along with the words used in each lesson. These can be cut out for the student to review.

~ The student manual and teacher manual both have a suggested scope and sequence and schedule at the beginning of the book. They also propose some options if you don’t have the same number of weeks in your school year or if you’re teaching more experienced or less experienced writers. All of this makes it easy to be flexible and use the curriculum in a way that fits your family.

~ There are also instructions for the teacher who might be using this curriculum in a co-op or classroom setting.

~ There are some free included downloads that are listed at the beginning of both the teacher and student manual. You can access these when you purchase either.

Learn More

You can find out more about IEW's homeschool writing curriculum here. And you can learn more about Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons here.

Homeschool writing curriculum


From Sunday, August 14 – Monday, August 22, 2022, you can enter to win a $25 gift card from IEW. You can use it on the Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons or any other curricula from IEW! Enter here today!

IEW Giveaway

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