Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum

 

A necessary component of each child’s education, the language arts homeschool curriculum that is available offers a myriad of options. There are many methods and ways that language arts can be taught and there are curriculum offerings that match each method. Many parents buy a complete homeschool kit.  If a kit is used, it will contain all the language arts components that you need.

Parent Led Language Arts Workbook based:

As mentioned before, two very tried and proven homeschool curricula are ABEKA and Bob Jones University Press‘ Heritage Studies. Both of these are available in optional formats. ABEKA can be used on DVD or online video streaming. BJU is available through a satelite program. Parent teaching responsibility is lessened because the instruction is given via the video teacher. These have performend well over several decades, meet most state standards, and come in a kit form. If you “do it by the book” without video or satelite there is alot of work for the parent to do as “teacher.” Another newer but very well organized language arts curriculum is the Training for Triumph Character Quality Language Arts. It is put together to include spelling, writing, phonics, and grammar into one book… nice.  This is great when you have several children that you are teaching at once. They have levels that correspond with each other on a specific character quality.  They will also let you download a month’s worth of lessons to give it a try – before you buy. Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind is also a good curriculum. This curriculum does require parental “teaching” to some degree,though it includes a “scripted” parent book. Another good Language Arts workbook based curriculum is the Shurley English Series. It also includes a “scripted” parent text, but comes with a student worktext, test book, and audio CD for “jingles” that help the student remember certain facts.

Workbook based Language Arts:

Language arts workbook based curricula include Alpha Omega’s Lifepacs and Explode the Code Series. If you are trying to prepare your student for college a great language arts worktext is Jensen’s Grammar.  This curriculum has been used widely for many years, is fast paced but in depth. There are also several free online language arts courses of study.  One of our favorites is Grammar Bytes. This site includes online activities as well as printable handouts/worksheets. The Web English Teacher includes many teacher based lesson plans…not really worksheet/workbook based, but a good resource.

Computer/Internet Based Language Arts:

A great computer based language arts curriculum is Time4Learning. It is a standards based curriculum, and is very popular with children PreK-8th. This curriculum is great as a stand alone course, or as supplement to a workbook series. Another curriculum that many homeschoolers enjoy is the Switched on Schoolhouse. It is a good curriculum, but is more like a computer based workbook. Students read the text and answer questions on the computer. This is available as individual subjects or a complete grade kit.  Alpha Omega does have their new online program Monarch available.  I have not tried it first hand, but have heard that it is better than the Switched on Schoolhouse.

Some free internet based resources for language arts include: Rainbow Resource Center, Kid’s Place by Houghton Mifflin, and Fun Brain by Pearson. A subscription service that I use alot is Edhelper.  There are multitudes of printable worksheets that you can make to your specifications.

Literature Based Language Arts Programs:

Many homeschooling families enjoy using the Charlotte Mason method of teaching language arts. There are several language arts curricula that incorporate this methodology into their course of study.  Here are a few that I would recommend. Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola.  This is a very practical literature based language arts program, based on a book by Charlotte Mason. A Journey through Grammar Land is a book written by the author of Jensen’s Grammar. This is a story based approach to teaching grammar. We use a “Classical Approach” to several of our subjects, and have used Prima Latina and Latina Christiana to introduce grammar to our children. We also loved Brian Cleary’s series of books on the different parts of speech.  Even our littlest one loves these!

I hope that you are able to find something that will work for your very own homeschool! Let me know through comments if you have used other language arts program that performed well.

Homeschool Bible Curriculum

 

I know that not every homeschool family uses a Bible curriculum, but we do. So, I am going to start there. Bible is the first subject that we do in our home school.  We have used a few different types of Bible curriculum over the past several years, but most recently we have begun using the Positive Action for Christ Bible Curriculum. We enjoy this curriculum – it seems like it is really “down to earth” in equipping the children to face real life challenges.  This year we used the Wise Up! study in Proverbs.  It has been great – even though it is written at a middle school level, we used it for all 6 of our children to teach one Bible class at once.  Even our five year old was remembering the lessons. It has accompanying student workbooks available, and even overhead transparencies if you were using it in a classroom setting.

We previously used ABEKA Bible at different grade levels.  This is a great curriculum and since we are Baptist it was very compatible with what we believe the Bible teaches. However, as more of my children began schooling, it became a great burden to try to teach each one a different Bible lesson. Also, the Bible lessons from Abeka frequently repeated year after year.  We wanted something different and helpful with “real life” applications.

We have also used the Bob Jones University Press Bible curriculum. This had a nice student workbook that was colorful and easy to use.  However, it got pretty bulky and demanding to do separate Bible class for each level I was teaching.

We have thought about trying this Homeschooling Bible curriculum, but haven’t had the opportunity yet.

So, what is your Bible Curriculum… please comment and let us know!

Other related links include:

Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum

Homeschool Math Curriculum

What’s your homeschool curriculum?

I know every homeschooling family has “their” curriculum. That is the unique priviledge of homeschooling. Yet, as a homeschooling parent I realize that sometimes things just don’t work out with the curriculum I’m using.  So, I begin to look for something new. I want to know all of my options and how well each of those options perform for other homeschooling families before I make a decision.

For the next few weeks, I am going to explore some of those options.  I have been asked countless times about “good” homeschooling curriculum by parents just starting on their homeschool journey.  Whether it be math, language arts, bible, history, science, or art we all need some help now and then. Some of you may have already formed strong opinions about certain curriculum that you have tried.  If so, please share with us…we want to know what works – what are parent favorites, and what are student favorites! 

I hope that everyone will feel free to ask questions and share their experiences!

Do “perceptions” influence school achievement?

That is truly a debatable question… but I believe they do.  For most children their thoughts about something are influenced by their success or failure or even by their parent’s opinions.  Children will often think they can’t succeed in something simply because their parents didn’t.  Recently, I have been working with my son – trying to get him interested in reading for pleasure.  He reads… when he has to.  I asked him why he didn’t want to pick a favorite book and get comfy on the couch and read.  He just flat out responded with a “I hate reading.”  Wow… that broke this homeschool mom’s heart… so I asked him why.  What he told me next really made me think.

“Daddy doesn’t like to read because everytime he opens his book he falls asleep, and reading is for girls.”  Oh… my… goodness… I was shocked. I had no idea that he had been feeling this way. Yet, this proved that what he “thought” about reading affected his desire to read.  He saw my husband (really tired from working all day) fall asleep reading, and saw his sisters with their noses in books all day and assumed that reading was not for him.  We are currently working on changing this perception… but I do remember tutoring a little girl who hated math.  I asked her why she felt this way, and she told me that her mother did not like math and never did well in it, so she didn’t like it either.  After I worked with her for a while, she started enjoying much success in math.  The success brought her confidence and eventually she began to really enjoy math.  Her thoughts about math changed from hating it – to liking it.

So do our perceptions or thoughts about something affect how we achieve? What do you think??

Highschool math blues…

Does your highschool child breeze through math?  or do they struggle and need help at every turn?  I have noticed recently that many highschoolers  seem to struggle with secondary math.  Even those who were very strong in math in elementary school, often find themselves in a quandry in high school.  This very same thing happened to me.

As a child I was strong in math during elementary school, I went to Jr. High school and seemed to get most of Pre-Algebra, but the cracks really were beginning then.  Ninth grade math found me with bigger cracks and by the mid term the cracks were so big I was falling through them.  I had a terrible Algebra I teacher – he would put a few problems on the board and then sit down and tell us to work quietly.  I got NOTHING from that class.  My parents transferred me to a private school before the new year. It was amazing, but the private school was using the same book and was in the same chapter that we were at the public school.  The difference soon became obvious that I had a TOTALLY different teacher.  My new teacher spent time with us.  Each child was asked if they understood the section, and time was taken to make sure that we were able to complete the assignments. It wasn’t long before my F became an A.

Same book – same chapter.  What was the difference?

Some may say it was all the teacher – and to some degree it was. Yet, I believe it was the approach the teacher took. She presented each new concept in a straightforward manner. She explained it in as few terms as possible.  In essence, she streamlined it!  Along with her making sure we understood through almost a mastery learning approach.  It completely changed my life.  If it wasn’t for that teacher – teaching that way – I would not be where I am today.  She taught me math so well, and made such a huge difference that even then I wanted to share that experience with others who may have had the same struggle. I loved math so much after her class, that I went on to complete a Calculus course in high school, and then to minor in math in college.  Today, that is what I do – every week I tutor students who are struggling in math. Who are in the same situation I was in at the public school… and I have the opportunity to do what my great math teacher did. I guess you could say, I am “paying it forward.” I love it  – and am reminded every day of what a priviledge it is to be able to help these students.   

My recomendation for – homeschooled, private schooled, or public schooled…. pay attention to your children. Notice when they seem to be struggling, and get them the help they need.  It may take a completely different school- or it may just take some extra help.  You may just be changing their lives forever. Mine sure was…

Reading and the Butterfly…

I had forgotten just how amazing it is when a child learns to read their first words. Today, I remembered the joy I had at teaching little ones how to read! – I am so thankful that I have had the priviledge to give this priceless gift to so many little people when I taught preschool.  But today, what joy! I was able to finally give that gift to my own little preschooler.  She smoothly and effortlessly began reading her own simple sentences! It always reminds me of the caterpillar –  so ugly in its little brown cocoon. Then at a time when we least expect it – out he comes as a beautiful graceful butterfly.  I have seen this process and it is so amazing that it takes your breath away!  That is just how I felt today – watching this little person come into the beauty and grace of reading that she had been working so hard towards for the last few months. I know a few months back I posted on how frustrated I was with her.  I never thought we would make it to this point just a few short months later.  I am so thrilled and so happy – and so excited.  My heart always rejoices to tell them when they finally learn to read – that now you can read the the Word of God all by yourself!

 

This was an added blessing, for today in Bible we were studying the fruit of the Spirit, not only the ones in Galatians, but the ones listed in II Peter 1:3-9. We were going through each of these mentioned, and came to “knowledge.”  I asked all of the children what they thought Peter was saying when he included “knowledge” in this list?  One of them answered that to gain knowledge and seek knowledge was a fruit of the Spirit.  Wow!  This was an open door for me to have a little “family talk.”  Each of the children had been battling with all of the work of school and to be honest – with a bit of laziness.  So, as we wondered and studied why knowledge was listed – I was able to show them how this was all a part of our being “conformed to the image of Christ.”  Each of the fruit of the Spirit is listed to show us what those characteristics and qualities are that “should” come from a heart that belongs to the Holy Spirit.  I think they were kind of suprised that knowledge would be listed among others such as gentleness and brotherly love.  But why would our Creator have made a world full of amazing things and given each of us amazing inds –  if we weren’t supposed to study and learn and gain knowledge and understanding? I never cease to wonder at our God – and how He “hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.”

 

II Peter 1:3-9“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that perain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Ande beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Part 2: Grade Equivalent Scores

Welcome to Part 2 of our Standardized Test Miniseries. We hope to explain Grade Equivalent Scores in an easy to understand – English speaking – plain word – way. In my experience as an Elementary School Administrator, the grade equivalent scores seemed to be the ones most misunderstood py parents. Our school was a private school that used the ABEKA curriculum. Typically schools using this and other similar curriculum across all grade levels have higher SAT scores than the average public schools. This is great for the child – they are challenged and seem to achieve by leaps and bounds. However, when the parents receive the score reports and automatically think because their fifth grade child scored a Grade Equivalent of 6.8 they should be advanced to sixth grade – – we have problems.

Having a grade equivalent score above the child’s actual grade is not uncommon. However, the grade equivalent score simply tells us how an average student would do on that fifth grade work. So, if your fifth grader made the score 6.8 (which means sixth grade eighth month) – that tells us that an average sixth grader in the eighth month of school would do just as well as your child did on that FIFTH grade test. The comparison criteria or reference here is the TEST that the child took.

So you see, the “Principal, I think my child needs moved up a grade…” mindset just won’t work – the child has not encountered sixth grade work on his Standardized test – besides the other ramifications of social maturity, etc., etc., must always be considered. Again, the importance of examining many aspects of a child’s achievement are important in assessing the child. Don’t over-rely on one test score.

Benefits of Blogging for Children… and adults!

Do your children struggle with creative writing? At our house, there is a constant on- going search for opportunities to motivate creative writing skills. About a year ago, I decided to try blogging as a creative writing MOTIVATOR. We started out by getting each of the two older girls (9,12) a blog on Homeschoolblogger.com. This is a nice starting point for children because there are restrictions in place that protect them. The two older girls responded beyond my wildest dreams. It became more than just an assignment from mom to get them writing – they loved it and it wasn’t long before they were hooked!
I watched this with interest – watching them learn not only writing skills but computer and techonolgy skills as well. It was absolutely thrilling to see them enjoy writing. My stab in the dark to motivate them to write really paid off this time! Whooohooo!
As I watched their eagerness over growing their own personal corner of internet, I began to think of joining them. I took my time though – I am typically not one to commit to something (blogging – among many other things :)) unless I know that I can do it right. I finally joined the blogging “masses” by taking a blog writing course this past fall. I am not sure what I expected from the course when I began, but I have to admit I was shocked at what I learned. In the course of 8 weeks I created a blog that I was proud of and had even built up a small audience. The teacher was wonderful and as students we had a great time encouraging one another and helping each other think through things. They are about to start another Blog Writing Course 101. They even offer a free blog Pre-Course  to whet your appetite for blogging!You may want to check it out – you never know just what you might walk away with!

Homeschooling….Mainstream?

Have you ever felt alone on your homeschooling journey? Well, I sure do. There are days that I feel like normal is no where around. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to encourage a homeschool martyr syndrome. Yet, the feeling of being alone can be very real. Even family can alienate you,  and after 5 years of home educating some members of our family still think we are pretty “out there.” All that aside, I used to try to defend our position, but recently I have decided that it really isn’t worth the trouble. We believe it is the right thing for our family, and trust that in time people will see the difference in our children.

That is why I was so encouraged when I read an article this week by Dr. Ray from the National Home Education Research Institute. Dr. Ray says that homeschoolers total almost 2 million in the United States alone. Can you believe it? I was so suprised. He also said,

“Homeschooling – that is, parent led home based education – is an age old educational practice that a decade ago appeared to be cutting edge and “alternative” but is now bordering on “mainstream” in the United States. It may be the fastest growing form of education in the United States.”

WOW… Could it be possible? Homeschooling bordering on the mainstream? I sure would like to let a few people in on that one! But for now, I am thrilled to know that homeschooling is growing fast. That means there are alot of others out there just like me! That helps dispell the loneliness, but sometimes we need interaction on a more personal level.  I know there are the tried and true methods of homeschool support groups -but  ours is pretty small and we don’t do too many activities. So for me, I have looked into online alternatives. There are online support groups and even homeschool forums. I have been getting involved in some of these, and it has helped me to see the “big picture.” There are so many wonderful home schooling families out there. If you are feeling “alone” in the home education world – try one of these.  You’ll soon begin to see that homeschooling may be “bordering on mainstream” after all.

Interested in a homeschool forum? Try this parent forum.