This is the second part of our homeschool curriculum review. Earlier we focused on math, while today I’m sharing a language arts curriculum review of materials that I use with my rising third grader and kindergartner. These materials, which cover phonics, handwriting, and grammar, are perfect as part of a homeschool or as after school reinforcement.
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Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum Review: Elementary
Our method is (mostly) based on the philosophy of classical education; however, we are also a bit eclectic and focused on finding what works best for each child! The materials below weren’t sent to me to review – they are the actual materials my soon-to-be third grader and kindergartener use for their lessons, after trial and error with other workbooks and methods.
My 5 year old has been working his way through the Evan-Moor Basic Phonics Skills for Grades K-1. They are fun, bite-sized worksheets that help them learn basic letter sounds. It has cute pictures and activities that kids will enjoy even as they are challenged to learn new skills.
My oldest really struggled with handwriting when he was younger and would fight me on any attempts to get him to write. Enter Handwriting Without Tears! When he was in kindergarten a teacher recommended this book for him, and it was a game changer. It breaks handwriting down into simple strokes and makes it more fun for kids to practice. I’m not sure if it was the visuals or way the strokes were explained, but he would no longer protest practicing his handwriting. We easily finished the entire workbook (versus others that we had given up on partway through!) If your child is struggling with handwriting, I highly recommend Handwriting Without Tears.
The Complete Writer, Writing With Ease with the accompanying Workbook for Writing with Ease is great for older children who are ready to start copy work. In accordance with classical education, it uses living texts as the basis for its lessons. In other words, students copy lines from great (age appropriate) works of literature, such as Charlotte’s Web and Caddie Woodlawn.
I love its gradual progression to longer, more complex sentences, and even within each lesson you can choose between a shorter and longer sentence for your child to copy. It also incorporates reading comprehension, as students listen to a passage and have to answer questions and give a summary in their own words.
Among classical homeschoolers, First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind (and the accompanying Student Workbook) are very popular. This language arts curriculum is a great way to teach children grammar rules through repetition and memorization. I should say, however, that my oldest son found it rather boring, though I could tell it helped him get a better grasp of grammar. However, I plan to use it with my younger son, who is a very different kind of learner and I think will benefit from this approach.
If you have a child like mine who hates sitting down learning grammar rules – or just want to give them a little more practice – then you will love Easy Grammar: Daily Guided Teaching & Review. Each day your child does one short lesson (one page) – quick, painless, but effective! The daily repetition helps them really get the grammar rules without tiring them out with a long and potentially boring lesson.
Classical education typically calls for children to learn Latin. Since we are already studying Spanish and French, I didn’t want to add another language, but I still wanted my kids to get the benefits of learning those word roots. If a child knows how to identify the roots of a word, it will give them a real advantage in parsing out new words they may encounter, especially if they plan to enter a scientific field. Word Roots Beginning: Learning the Building Blocks of Better Spelling and Vocabulary is a great way for children to learn the meaning and spelling of word roots, prefixes, and suffixes commonly used in English. Even better, it can be done in sessions of just one or two pages, so it’s easy to add into your language arts curriculum.
What materials do you include in your language arts curriculum?