English language arts is the overarching title given to a variety of learning subjects, including spelling and phonics, reading and comprehension, and writing and grammar. Here are some ways to integrate ELA learning in your homeschool.
Spelling Practice and Phonics
As your child learns new words, take the opportunity to get them off to a good start with their spelling. Consider keeping track of their tricky-to-read words in a personal word journal (also on TPT).
Put spelling and phonics into your daily live. When you are in the shopping mall with your young child, look at the names of the stores and spell them aloud, then sound them out. Especially when you’ve just learned about a phonogram or letter sound, point it out to your child. Do this often and in a way that makes it feel like a game to them. Children become excited with what we are excited about, so have fun and enjoy yourself and the enthusiasm will spread.
If you notice that your child has misspelled a word in their own writing whether inside or outside of homeschool time, don’t make them feel bad about it. By criticizing incorrect spelling, you inadvertently stifle creativity in young writers. Did you know that spelling creatively (instead of asking “how do you spell….?”) is a strong indicator of critical thinking skills.
Do find an opportunity to later bring up the incorrectly spelled word later. You may want to bring it up during a seemingly unrelated incident where you appear to notice the word coincidentally, giving you the opportunity to spell the word aloud to them. If you are already spelling many words aloud, this extra step will not appear contrived. Doing so will continue to encourage your child to keep writing and being creative.
One of the absolute most important things you can do to help your child with their English skills is to read aloud to them. From the time your child is in the womb, you can help them develop a love of reading. Make reading a regular part of bedtime, and read books with complex use of language.
Don’t shy away from books that seem too sophisticated, even classic books with lots of big words. Encourage your child to ask questions about any words they do not recognize, and give them a definition with enthusiasm for each new word they inquire about. This will strengthen their vocabulary quickly. For more information about reading to and with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, check out my book Baby & Toddler Literacy: Helping the Youngest Ones Learn Line upon Line in Kindle or print formats.
I mention this here as a part of ELA because sometimes we think that once kids can read, they no longer need to be read to. But this is not true. Kids can learn a lot of vocabulary and reading comprehension skills by reading with a reader who is stronger in vocabulary and fluency than they are.
Using Enriched Vocabulary
Use large words in your everyday conversation as well. Don’t feel that you have to use baby talk all the time, even to your little ones. If you use more complex words in your ordinary conversation, your children will acquire a long vocabulary list in the most natural way. There have been many studies on this concept throughout the years.
Even as your children get older, continue to expand your conversations and their conversations. Have days where you ban certain words in your home. On the list of banned words, include any mundane and overused words, encouraging your children to find more interesting words to take their place. For example, the words “good,” “like,” “hungry,” and others like them could be put on the list. The word “hungry” could be replaced with anything more descriptive, such as “famished,” “ravenous,” or “voracious.” Even you will learn new words this way! They will begin to create into your
Writing and Grammar
As I mentioned the other day, it’s important to keep a writing space for your kids to creatively explore what they have to say, whether it’s a formal story, a list, or a letter to a friend or sibling. Likewise, encourage them to write throughout the day. When kids have something they want to communicate and you are busy, tell them to write it down or even draw a picture. Have little ones dictate stories to you when you can.
In addition, when children speak incorrect grammar, respond with the correct sentence or question rephrased to show you understand. As they hear the correct grammar, they will learn to incorporate that into their own speech. Again, it’s better not to hamper children’s expression with correction all the time, but as they hear you modeling the correct phrases, they will learn from daily life. For the most part, grammar is not needed at young ages. Children will learn as they grow and self-correct simple mistakes.
Keep English Supplies Around
Let your home be one where your children can find the answers to their questions. Keep suitable study materials for all children, no matter what grade they may be in. Be sure to include a dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia. Encourage your children to use them, and let them see you using them as well. Check out my Amazon ELA materials list for ideas on what you can stock.
Helping your child study language arts at home does not have to be a complicated task. With just these few suggestions, your child will grow their skills in this area even without a specific English curriculum. Help your child become an English enthusiast for life.