The Literary Homeschooler: Reading Classic Literature From a Christian Perspective, Part 1 in the 

  TOS October 2012  


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October 31, 2012

Language Arts in the Homeschool



Deborah's  Picture
Deborah Wuehler and family


What exactly is Language Arts and what should it cover? Basically, we break the whole down into all the mechanics involved in these areas: reading, writing, and speaking. To cover all that is necessary in those things, you will specifically teach your children how to read, how to spell, how to evaluate excellent literature, evaluate reading comprehension (do they understand what they are reading or are they just going through the mechanics of reading), grammar (normally for the higher grades), vocabulary, writing book reports, creative and research composition, and essay structure. The goal would be to understand what is read, and then to be able to articulate that in writing and speaking.


There are many ways to teach these subjects. Here are some examples of how to teach Language Arts:

  • You can do a "box" approach and cover all in a good Language Arts curriculum package, or use several products to cover spelling, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, etc. and Rainbow Resource are good sources to research. If you can't afford a whole program, all you need is your Bible, a library card, and a little creativity. There are tons of free resources on the web.
  • You can read good books aloud and have the children narrate portions back to you. This covers comprehension, and thinking and speaking skills among others. The Charlotte Mason philosophy covers this very well. Karen Andreola  has written a Charlotte Mason column every month in our digital magazine since January. (The TOS magazine is FREE!)
  • Children can write what they remember of a portion of a read aloud, using strong verbs, and good vocabulary. Institute for Excellence in Writing offers much help here. (Andrew Pudewa of IEW also writes a monthly column in TOS!)
  • Children can present book reports to your family or homeschool group.
  • As children read a good book, they highlight vocabulary they don't understand and look up the meaning and writing down the definition.
  • You can choose words out of their reading or science or history books and use those as their spelling words.
  • Use their reading of biographies, classics, science, or history books as prompts for writing assignments.
  • Use the words they misspelled in their writing as their spelling words for the next week.
  • You can take the unit you are studying on any subject and have them write about what they are learning and doing in their hands-on world of unit studies. Science can include lab reports. History can include time-lines and small bits of information learned.
  • Children can prepare a science or project fair type board with bits of facts that they have collected on a subject, as well as write a report about their subject to go with their board. They can present this to family at the end of the year, or to your homeschool group on presentation days. And if your group has a project fair, they can enter their project board.
  • Whatever subject they are interested in, have them write about it and speak about it. If they love to bake, have them write about the process, take pictures, and come up with a small booklet of favorite recipes they have made. Animal husbandry, artists, scientists, missionaries . . . whatever the topic, write and speak about it.
  • offers excellent classes in Language Arts among a myriad of other subjects such as film-making, history, art, music, science . . . Kim Kautzer from WriteShop is one of our many amazing teachers!

Why is reading, writing, and speaking so important? Because God is a writer, God is a speaker, and His Words are our life breath and must be read daily. We are created in His image and made to read, write, and proclaim His glory and gospel in a compelling and understandable way. Let's become like Him as we become better readers, writers, and speakers. All for Him and to Him and through Him!



TOS Senior Editor  




Laurisa White Reyes


During the eight years I taught creative writing to homeschooled students, the most common question parents asked me was "How do I get my child to write?"


While some children seem naturally drawn to writing, others struggle to put even a few words down on the page. Some parents describe their efforts to teach writing skills as a constant battle. Fortunately, this is one battle parents can win by following these five simple suggestions:

  1.  Know Your Objective: Writing is a form of self-expression and communication. The primary goal, then, isn't to complete a particular writing assignment. Instead, it is to help your child discover the joy of writing.
  2. Utilize Technology: Some children are truly averse to the act of putting pen to paper. These kids often thrive, however, when allowed to use the computer. If they can't type, they can dictate their essay or story to you, or record it on a digital recorder.
  3. Allow Choice in Writing: The quickest way to turn children off to writing is to require them to write about something boring. Instead, encourage them to select topics that interest them.
  4. Allow Choice in Reading: Just like with writing, children need to choose books that engage their interests. Forcing a child to read a book he doesn't like will turn him off to reading, and a child who writes is a child who reads.
  5. Make Writing Fun: To help children fall in love with writing requires flexibility and creativity on your part. If your child is resistant to writing an essay, try something different, such as writing a family history, short story, comic book, or different forms of poetry.

Remember, teaching your children to write does not need to be a struggle. Try these ideas at home and discover how fun writing can be.



Laurisa White Reyes is a homeschooling mom of five and the author of THE ROCK OF IVANORE.


THE ROCK OF IVANORE, Book I of The Celestine Chronicles. A new fantasy adventure for ages 8 & up.


"Reyes' debut novel is a gripping fantasy just right for younger readers who clamor for adventure but are not quite ready for Lloyd Alexander's 'Grey King' or J.R.R.Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings." ~Deseret News



Barnes & Noble




The Familyman

Todd Wilson
Todd Wilson

Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries 

After a warm two weeks down south, I'm writing this from a chilly Walmart parking lot in Nashville, TN. One more day and we'll be home. After being in the RV for a month, it always sounds good to stretch out and use a regular bathroom. 


Now as far as I'm concerned, "Language Arts" is just some learning expert's words for . . . reading. Growing up in the public school system, I did plenty of language arts as a kid, but I hardly ever just read. My kids, on the other hand, have hardly done any language arts but read all the time. So my encouragement to you is to spend less time worrying about language arts and just have your kids READ. 


This is a great segway into our newest Christmas product. We partnered with Master Storyteller Jim Hodges to provide all six of the Familyman's Christmas Treasury read-aloud books (including our newest story Gladys Remembers Christmas) in audio book format.


Your children are going to read and/or listen to these wonderful stories dozens of times in the coming months, and each one reinforces the true meaning of Christmas. 


Be sure to check out these great new Christmas audios and read-alouds as well as all our other Christmas products, including our prepackaged crafts ready for your children to assemble during the Advent season. For more information about family Advent nights and to view our other Christmas products, click here.


I gotta go. Be real,



At 4 She's Reading at 3rd Grade Level 

Your child can be reading one, two or three years beyond present age level...even if a "poor" reader now. Order Listen and Learn with Phonics Reading Program, a simple inexpensive program that actually makes reading fun. Contact info: 847-949-0011,

Relational Homeschooling  

Diana Waring
Diana Waring


Dear Friends,


It's probably a function of this sabbatical season that I'm in at the moment--intentional resting--but when I looked at today's topic, I did NOT think of grammar or research writing or any of the normal concepts associated with "Language Arts."


Instead of picturing children working diligently (perhaps resistantly) in workbooks and curriculum, a different and delightful image drifted into my brain, like one of our lazily falling autumn leaves. Rather than language arts, I began to think about the art of language. 


When I say art, what does that conjure up for you? Does art speak personally to you of creativity and mastery and beauty? Are there thoughts of quiet and solitude to gaze intently upon a masterpiece? Do you picture light and dark emphasized in brilliant colors? Do you see pastels or oils or watercolors?  Perhaps Renoir or Rembrandt? Do you delight in humorous art, majestic art, profound art, homemade art?


Now that you have thoroughly envisioned ART, combine that with LANGUAGE--its stunning power, its ability to wield words to bring healing or hurt, its gifts of shaping hearts and families and cultures. As an author and story-teller, I have a rapturous love of words . . . well-conceived words and flowing essays, turn-of-phrase witticisms and eloquent speeches . . . poetry, drama, literature, apologetics, biographies, humor, fiction, stories, epics. And with more than half a century of delightfully playing with, working with, and persuasively using words, I am pondering the topic behind the topic. While it is helpful to ask "How do I teach language arts?" perhaps a more foundational and life-shaping question to ask is "How can I give my children a love of language?" From that starting point, the journey is much more obvious.


Before we begin to teach grammar or delve into what makes a good essay, let's give our children a love and delight in words!  One of the best ways to do that is to read out loud on a regular basis. We read to our children the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Anne of Green Gables series, the Hank-the Cowdog books, along with Gene Stratton Porter, Brother Andrew and A. W. Tozer. We laughed together, cried together, listened eagerly to what came next in a story, discussed theology and worldview and whatever came up as a result of the reading.  (It was a bit messy since the kids would sometimes beg us to continue reading until we finished a book-one time it was after midnight!)  But, oh, how rich those experiences were . . .


Don't just be a hearer, though. It is also critical to be a doer. Play with words. Make up your own puns, limericks, and Tom-Swifties. Our kids wrote parodies, new verses for sea chanties, and wild songs like the "Round Trip Ticket to Samoa." They wrote poetry, short stories, dramas, research projects, and emails.


Give your kids a love of words. And, best of all, of The Word.


Remember, stay relational!





Reading for Fun Is the Natural Way to Learn!


20% off with this code: TOSN1012 

Schoolhouse Freebie

This week's free resource is a list of history resources. You'll find a wide variety of lessons, activities, and printable pages in


Raising Real Men  

Hal & Melanie Young


Reading and writing are critical life skills that help us to learn from past generations and to leave messages for future ones. So how can you teach "Language Arts" in a boy-friendly way?


Read aloud a lot and don't stop once they're reading. The desire to enjoy the world of books is a huge motivator in learning to read and reading for pleasure.


 Reading as a family builds family unity through shared interests and experiences and allows them to hear what more complex language sounds like before they're ready to read it themselves. That makes their comprehension soar. Audiobooks are great, too, for the same reasons.


Don't limit writing by handwriting. We've written many articles and several books, but hardly ever written any of it by hand. Composition is a different skill than handwriting. Many boys struggle with penmanship in the elementary years. Make sure they don't start thinking, "I can't write!" by letting them dictate some, if not lots, of stories and essays to you. They'll be amazed at the sophistication of what they can write when they aren't held back because their small motor skills aren't there yet.


Make spelling visual. Some of our boys didn't even need spelling at all, while others fought to learn every word. Our friend Dianne Craft taught us to make the words more mentally "sticky" by adding colors, patterns, and pictures to them. We'd draw each word big on a sheet of cardstock. This has been a lifesaver for our struggling spellers.


Avoid busywork. Boys have little tolerance for work that has no good reason and it's not just the handwriting struggles. Ask yourself, "Does this serve any real purpose?" and remember that you are the teacher - you don't have to assign work the publisher just put in there for classroom control while the teacher works with other children.


Don't despair! It's amazed us to see boys who struggled with learning to read, or spell, or have decent handwriting, become real scholars in high school. Protect your son's love of learning through the early learning years and watch him shoot ahead as he becomes a young man. What a blessing!


By His grace,

Hal & Melanie


PS.Want to make Christ the center of your Thanksgiving celebration and build great memories, too? Get our gorgeous, practical E-Book, We Gather Together: Sanity and Celebration at Thanksgiving.


Free E-Book: How to Homeschool with the Best Resources


Download this booklet written by a veteran homeschool mom who shares her favorite homeschool tools. Learn the tips and tricks to use to buy only the resources your children will need--and how to find them at the best possible prices!



Music and Composers
Time: November 29th 7pm (4pm Pacific) 
"Joy Sikorski speaks on Voice 101: the crucial need for quality vocal training and what you can do about it." 


Joy Sikorski is an award winning film composer, author, conference speaker, performer and teacher. She raised her three children (now adults) in a log cabin she helped build in Alaska and was one of the pioneers of homeschooling in that state, flying to remote areas to give parents and students the knowledge and encouragement they needed to succeed.
  Visit Joy's sites, 
and  for tips and insights about the importance of your voice and the voices of your children. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~   


We will have a vendor workshop from 
New Song Music Studios. 
Music for Little Learners is a curriculum created with the homeschool parent in mind. Creative teaching tools make learning fun!  Innovative lessons open doors to literature, math, writing and more. Your children will know how to 
read notes, play songs and identify music symbols. Come 
to the Expo to see our lessons in action. Visit for more information. 
Join our Free Online Schoolhouse Expo on 
Thursday, November 29th, at 7 p.m. EDT! 

(6 p.m. CDT, 5 p.m. MDT, 4 p.m. PDT) 


Check out all the details at


Reserve your FREE seat now---only 1000 available! 





Creation Revolution     


How would six generations of Painted Lady Butterflies know what route to fly without any guidance from other butterflies? 


Find out in the article 9,000 Miles and 6 Generations--The Migration of Painted Lady Butterflies.


 Enjoy bountiful benefits from reading together. 
Virtual Science

Learn what reading will do for your family 

in the article . . .


The Engaging Homeschooler: Read! Read! Read! Capture Your Child's Minds with Exceptional Literature 


 in the latest issue of

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.
Contest Corner 

For the month of October, 2012  


King Alfred's English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do


King Alfred's English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do was written by Laurie J. White as a way to bring the history of our language to students in grades 7 through 12 in a fun and engaging manner. Laurie fell in love with the history of the English language after taking it as a college course; it made the study of key parts of history, English, and even foreign languages come alive. King Alfred's English looks at how the growth of the English language through four key invasions, or as Laurie puts it, "language altering tsunamis," both broadened and simplified English into the language we speak today.


Further, Laurie discusses how the advent of the printing press was not only a boon to language, but helped with the dissemination of the Bible to the common people aiding the Protestant Reformation and molding the vernacular. She explores the work of Wycliffe (pre-printing press), Martin Luther and Tyndale. As the book marches through history, the reader learns that many of the words with the SK sound come from the Old Norse, ph comes from Greek, how the advent of printing solidified spelling, why the Great Vowel Shift changed pronunciation, and the lasting effect of Greek and Latin on the "roots" of English. Answers to why we spell knight with a kn and other mysteries of spelling are illuminated. So that's why our spelling is so strange! (. . .)



Read the rest of this post and see all the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviews here.


You can win this book!



Email Deb ( with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "King Alfred," for a chance to win* the App for your homeschool!

Schoolhouse  Apps


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