We’ve established that you may not feel like Back-to-Homeschool this year, but you’re committing to homeschooling. You’re not ready to throw the towel in yet.
Still, it would be nice to have some easy ways to get school accomplished. Ways that aren’t too hard on you and that the kids would like too. There are some!! Today we’re going to focus on Language Arts (and we’ll look at the other subjects later this week).
When I started looking at ways to simplify our homeschooling this spring, it was at the same time I was working on two reviews for the Crew that greatly influenced the way that I’m approaching language arts in our house.
The first thing that really influenced me was listening to an Andrew Pudewa lecture called “Nurturing Competent Communicators.” It’s a free lecture on their website, so go download it and spend an hour or so learning more about simple methods to help your child build language patterns.
Pudewa shares two major things that can help your child in this lecture, and I realized that one of them was something that we had been doing in our house an gotten away from. We had somehow dropped our read-aloud time from our day. This is tragic on so many levels Here are some things a good read aloud time does for your homeschool:
- You can introduce new worlds to your child. My children would not choose a book, such as Little House in the Big Woods, Tales of Ancient Egypt, or The Boy in the Alamo on their own. Never. Not once. They choose books about fairy tale worlds, vampire bunnies or training dragons. So, read-aloud time is a time for me to influence their ears and open their minds to new ideas in a way that is very gentle.
- Read aloud time gives the children and me time to bond together on the couch and cuddle. Even a ten year old likes to sit close to his momma when she’s reading aloud from a really suspenseful book. We also bond through the shared memories and experiences that we have as we read together.
- It allows you to model new vocabulary and for your children to absorb new sentence structure. Choose quality read-alouds, stop and define unknown words, and watch the learning happen in a very low-key way.
- It often provides the impetus for further learning as the children want to learn more about Egypt, make pancake men like Ma Ingalls, or build their own model Alamo to have play battles.
Choosing to read-aloud to your children is choosing to step off the path of the to-list and to just enjoy part of your day with your children. For those of us who still want to see a production element associated with our children’s intake through reading, I have a very easy and flexible solution–Literature notebooks.
The second major influence that I had as I made the decision to streamline our homeschool was a review I was doing for Successful Homeschooling Made Easy. In this course, the author has new homeschoolers begin their homeschooling by establishing a “literacy hour” in their home. In this hour, you would begin by reading to your child and having them work in a notebook. Gradually, you could begin to add curriculum pieces into this hour as your style and your child’s needs dictated.
I feel like I can mention this because you can sign up for a sample and download part of that first lesson (If you decide that you want to sign up for that class, I highly recommend it. I’m on week 22 right now, and the whole class has been calming and highly instructive for this recovering perfectionistic homeschooling mama.)
So, every day in our homeschool, I have a chapter book time for the older two children while the little kids play legos or color. Later in the day, I have a second read aloud section that is made up of picture books and stories or poems from the Book of Virtue or The Moral Compass. After we’ve had our picture book time, we spend some time writing in our notebooks.
I do not require any specific output for the literature notebook, but I find that my children to respond to literature in the following ways in their notebook:
- Copywork from the book
- Drawings and written narration of a piece of the story
- A completely new story based on the characters we’ve been reading about
- A completely new story that the child has gotten from a television show or their playtime
- Drawings and journaling about themselves: The things they like, what they’ve been doing, etc.
You can use this writing time also as a time to teach/reinforce grammar, spelling, letter formation, sentence structure, etc. with each child individually based on their work if you feel so inclined. You could also, if you notice a pattern of mistakes use them to point you in the right direction for teaching a mini spelling/grammar lesson.
Another fun way to learn is to use games such as scrabble, bananagrams, story cubes, hangman or any number of apps to practice language arts concepts.
Of course, if you feel compelled to add in curriculum, there are a couple we’ve used that are quick and easy. You can use them and still have plenty of time to do more fun stuff. A couple that I can recommend are:
- Spelling You See: We’ve used about 1/3 of level B with Rose and found it to greatly increase her confidence in attempting to spell and sound out short words, and it only takes 15 minutes a day.
- Fix-It! Grammar: We’ve used parts of Level 1 (The Nose Tree) with Firecracker and Rose. We’ve found it to be ten minutes a day to use, and fun. It’s the only grammar we’ve ever used and had no one complain about.
- Dynamic Literacy: We’ve used parts of Foundations Level 1 with Firecracker, and it’s vocabulary building in 15 minutes a day.
Sometimes simple is good enough. Sometimes simple is joyful. Sometimes I stand amazed at how hard my children will work and how much they will learn when I take the pressure of a big curriculum off of them.
Tomorrow, I’m going to be back showing you guys what a week back-to-homeschool looks like in our house. In the meantime, don’t forget to go and check out the other Back to Homeschool Posts by the other talented bloggers writing in this series!!