I talk a lot about writing and shared my thoughts on teaching little kids to write here. I have mentioned that it only takes 30 hours to teach a child to read here. But, you might be wondering, “Well, okay. All that sounds great, but what about when they are ready to read and they do have enough background and skills to write? What then?” Below is a round-up of favorite language arts resources to help you. There are many more out there than I have listed, but I can only recommend what I have personally used.
Resources for teaching kids to read
I do not recommend teaching children under six years of age to read unless they are showing signs that they are ready. Usually this means that they are constantly asking about letters and sounds and trying to sound out words themselves. They show great enthusiasm about learning to read. Do not force a young child to learn if they are not ready. This will cause them undue stress and anxiety and, because it will inevitably be hard for them, they will learn to hate reading. Besides, who wants a four-year-old reading newsstand headlines at the grocery store and billboards on the side of the road these days?
Phonics and early spelling
Learning Language Arts Through Literature by Common Sense Press. Both of my daughters learned to read with this program and it played a large role in teaching my sons as well. What I like about this program is that it is developmentally appropriate and, like Bob Books, uses little readers to teach reading. I also liked that the daily lessons were varied, short, and fun. Sometimes we skipped the cut and paste activities, especially with my sons, but those are not necessary to the reading lessons, anyway.
Delightful Reading by Simply Charlotte Mason. I used this a little bit with my younger daughter and I used it with one of my sons. There are some similarities to LLATL above, but it uses tiles and there are no cut and paste activities. The lessons are short and very relevant. It teaches word families and some spelling skills as well as the reading.
Rocket Phonics. This program was especially designed by a dyslexic for dyslexic students. It is a very unique program that appealed to my older son because it uses movement, color, games such as bingo and treasure hunts, and breaks the English language down into key sounds instead of letter groups. It relies heavily on visual memory at first, which is usually a strength of children with dyslexia. Later, it teaches phonics and spelling.
Sight words and spelling
Picture Me Reading. This is another unique program that is designed to teach the 100 most common words in the English language. Since these comprise 70% of what we read, my older son used this program with great success to learn his sight words. It uses a pictorial approach and integrates games and movement activities to cement the learning.
Spelling Wisdom by Simply Charlotte Mason. These books were an effective and contextual way to improve spelling skills. No repetitious spelling lists to memorize out of context. This series helped my children learn to spell well using passages where the words actually appeared.
Resources for teaching kids to write (composition)
Handwriting is separate from composition. Once they can read well and are choosing chapter books on their own, many children will begin trying to compose their own work. These may simple little stories, recipes, instructions, or letters. Technology may influence this, depending on the rules of your house. Usually, children don’t do this until they are at least eight years old, but often it is much later. Formal instruction in grammar might begin at age ten and instruction in writing at age twelve. I will not talk about writing prompt books or websites. There are plenty of those and I also have some here and here.
Favorite grammar resources
Mad Libs. These are a great activity to supplement learning. The goofy stories help cement adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and such in kids’ heads.
Editor-in-Chief by Critical Thinking Press. This is my favorite resource because it teaches grammar in a relevant way. Students learn to find the errors in real stories and articles. Concepts are explained before each section of practice. They also tell students how many errors they are looking for, which helps them to carefully go over the exercise. It is fun to pretend to be a real editor and kids learn how everything fits together.
Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola. This is a gentle grammar course that covers one concept at a time.
Queen Homeschool Supply. We have used their Language Lessons series and their Printing/Cursive with Pictures series. These lessons are short, relevant, and beautiful. If you like Charlotte Mason, the language lessons are modeled after her ideas.
Favorite writing instruction
One Year Adventure Novel. Video-based instruction that teaches a teen how to write a novel. This program is very engaging, relevant, and at the end of it all, your teen has a book! This program is unique in that it is taught by an award-winning writer and helps your child write fiction. There is an online community that can give feedback and critique his writing and there are contests, too.
Cover Story. This is a program for middle school students taught by the same company as One Year Adventure Novel. This program covers shorter writing: essays, poetry, short stories, and the like. Everything is built around a themed magazine of your teen’s choice. My teen wanted to create a magazine that was about food, so all the assignments were related to food somehow. This is also a video-based program.
Other resources for writing
National Novel Writer’s Month. Look up NaNoWriMo and there are tons of resources for writing and your teen can sign up for the yearly challenge that takes place in November. Can she write a novel in one month?
Illustory kits. Write and publish a children’s picture book. These kits are available through Lulu and many toy stores. Use the included pages and markers to write and illustrate a book. Send everything in and they will send you a hardbound book!
Again, there are many, many quality resources out there. This list will grow, too, as I try new things with my younger two children.
I do not receive any compensation from any of these companies or websites. I do not necessarily endorse one over another and I share these as a resource, not as an expert on your child. Please do your own research.
Please add your own favorites below. I’d love to hear about new products or ideas!