Topics

Language Arts Table of Contents
Language Arts Curriculum

Language Arts encompasses all of the disciplines and skills necessary to master the English language. Many of these skills are subparts of another subject. For instance, under learning to Read, your child will study Phonics, Word Roots, Spelling and eventually handwriting. We have arranged our Language Arts section to include every subject that is so related. These topics are:

Reading Programs (book-based or DVD-based)
Phonics
Word Roots (from Latin, Greek, etc.)
Spelling
Grammar, Punctuation
Handwriting
Reading Skills
Remedial Reading Programs & Materials
Special Needs Reading products
Writing, Essay Skills

Concerning Language Arts

by Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET, Board Certified Educational Therapist

One of the Greatest Joys and Gifts you can give your child is the joy of reading. When you teach your children to read you open the world to them. They can be transported to any place and any time through reading. This is one of life’s true adventures! And, as a homeschooling parent, YOU get to be the lucky one to open the world to your child.

As a parent it may seem like a big responsibility to you at first, but reading can be taught by anyone and everyone CAN learn. The important thing to understand when you begin this wonderful journey with your child is that even though there are many components involved, just like putting a puzzle together, it isn’t hard when you take one piece at a time. The first thing I want you to remember is that you CAN DO IT! Remember: Knowledge is POWER and POWERFUL!

Whether your child is in kindergarten, 5th grade, 9th grade, or any in between, the process and the opportunity you have as a homeschooling parent is the same. You have the opportunity to have the most special bond with your child when you open the world of print and writing to them. You open the world of success to them.

                    A Few Simple Rules:

            1. Keep it simple, and make it fun.

            2. Do the lessons daily.

            3. Additionally, read to you child/children.

            4. Let your child/children see you reading and enjoying it too. Our children watching us reading a book speaks volumes to them. They will want to read themselves when they see how much you enjoy the written word. This establishes the habit in their mind that reading is fun. 

            5. Play with language…whether is a formal game or finding letters or words on billboards while you are driving around town, have fun with language.

                    A Brief Overview of Language Arts

Language Arts is a broad term that encompasses a variety of skills and disciplines from reading to spelling to writing to study skills.  I’m going to explain the specifics of Language Arts to you. As you go through these specifics, I want you to know that there is an easy way to combine them into a very effective language arts program that you and your child will both enjoy. Then I will show you how to pull it all together in about a 1½ hour block of time.  Finally, we’ll provide you with a list of products and resources that incorporate the different components of language arts.

                    Nine Basic Components to Reading and Language Arts

There are nine basic components that comprise reading and language arts.

  Language Arts includes the following:

•     Phonemic awareness [Reading and Spelling Programs, usually K-3]

      The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds – phonemes – in spoken words.

      1. Phoneme blending. Children listen to a sequence of separately spoken phonemes and then combine the phonemes to form a word. /d/ /o/ /g/ is dog. (This is the process used in decoding words.)

      2. Phoneme segmentation. Children break a spoken word into its separate phonemes. There are four sounds in truck: /t/ /r/ /u/ /k/. (This is the process used in spelling words phonetically: “invented spelling.”)

      3. The most important forms of phonemic awareness to teach are blending and segmentation, because they are the processes that are centrally involved in reading and spelling words.

•     Phonics [Reading and Spelling Programs, usually K-4th]

There are 6 steps involved with phonics. From Less Complex Activities to More Complex Activities, the steps are: rhyming songs, sentence segmentation, syllable segmentation and blending, onset-rime, blending & segmentation, blending and segmenting individual phonemes.

•     Fluency [Reading Programs, usually K-3 (can be done at any grade level)]

      Reading fluency is talking about retrieval automaticity. To be an efficient reader, you need to be able to retrieve words automatically. When you retrieve words efficiently your reading is smooth and you typically understand what you have read. When you read slowly or have to sound out many words in a passage, you often miss what the passage is actually about because so much of your energy is spent with decoding the passage.

                    Four components that need to be addressed in reading fluency.

1.   The phonological [a combination of phonemic awareness and phonics e.g. vowel and
       consonant combination in the English language]

2.   The perceptual - both visual closure and visual tracking [the ability to read smoothly
       without skipping, repeating, or substituting words]

3.    Automaticity [being able to automatically retrieve words without having to ‘sound
        them out’ and then to be able to do that faster]

4.    A record keeping device so that kids and parents can see their improvement daily.

•     Vocabulary [Reading, Word Study, and Vocabulary Programs, usually 4th-12th]

                    How Vocabulary is Learned

1.   Indirectly. Children learn the meanings of most words indirectly, through   everyday experiences with oral and written language--e.g., through conversations with adults, through being read to, and through reading extensively on their own.  

2.   Directly. Children learn vocabulary directly when they are explicitly  taught both individual words and word-learning strategies.

                    Teaching Word Learning Strategies

1.   How to use dictionaries and other reference aids to learn word meanings and to deepen knowledge of word meanings.

2.   How to use information about word parts (affixes, base words, word roots) to figure out the meanings of words in text (structural analysis).

3.   How to use context clues to determine word meanings. 

                    Text comprehension [Reading, Writing, Study Skills 1st – 12th]

 Without text comprehension all you have is word calling with no meaning.

Text Comprehension is a critical component of reading. One of the best ways to comprehend is to utilize the information you have read. That is what we will be spending our time with today: comprehending through note-taking, sentence writing, paragraph writing, and essay writing.

Research suggests that the process of re-organizing material in a visual context enhances cognition and recall for students of all ages. Graphic organizers are great for this. An additional benefit to using graphic organizers is that kids then just have to ‘fill-in-the-blanks’. This is much easier for them to do than to stare at a blank sheet of paper and be expected to write. Using graphic organizers reduces kid’s fear of writing and increases kid’s confidence.

                    Steps of Writing include:      

1.   Sentence Level [Start at 1st grade]

2.   Note Taking [1st graders usually dictate notes, 2nd – 12th write notes]

3.   Paragraph Writing (Rough Draft) [3rd – 12th]

4.   Paragraph Writing (Final Copy) [3rd – 12th]

5.   Essay Writing (Rough Draft) [5th – 12th]

6.   Essay Writing (Final Copy) [5th – 12th]

Grammar and Punctuation need to be addressed along with writing so the writing will be understood.

Penmanship also needs to be addressed so you and your kids can read their work.

                    Pulling it All Together and Making it Easy:

There are nine basic components that comprise reading and language arts. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to address these nine components is to combine them into four groups, since many of the areas overlap. The first three are usually combined in your daily spelling/phonics lesson. Then I do fluency practice. Vocabulary, comprehension, and writing are combined with text reading. We finish up with grammar and penmanship.

For instance, you can break your language arts into 9 easy steps followed by game time:

1.   Spelling [You are often also addressing phonemic awareness and word

structure: the 8 ways we put letters together to make words]. (10 – 12 minutes)

2.   Phonics or word study workbook. (8 – 10 minutes – do 2 to 4 pages)

3.   Fluency practice. Studies show that short 5-minute sessions done 3 to 5 times a week       work best. [This is one of the most ignored parts of teaching reading.] (5 minutes)

4.   Read a passage or story [Vocabulary and comprehension are addressed here]. (5 – 20       minutes depending on the grade level)

5.   Take [write or dictate] quick notes about the passage they read. [Comprehension and       writing are addressed here.] (10 minutes)

6.   Do the comprehension questions that go with the selection or write a summary of the       selection from your notes. [Comprehension and writing are addressed here.] (10 minutes)

7.   Vocabulary work [either before or after the selection that your kids read]. (10 –20   minutes depending on the grade level)

8.   Grammar and Punctuation [5 – 10 minutes – do 1-2 pages of each]

9.   Penmanship/Drawing [Kids need to have explicit instruction in the formation of writing       letters and word spacing. This can tend to get tedious, so I would also suggest combining       penmanship with drawing instruction, which will also improve their handwriting.](10       minutes)

      Game time:  End your language arts time with a game. I like to do this at least a few times a week. [Playing language arts games increases skills as well as confidence.] (an additional 10 – 30 minutes)

Lastly, remember, this is such a wonderful time for you and your kids. You have the Power to open up the world to them through reading and writing. If you are stymied and unsure of what to do, we are just an e-mail away.

________________________

Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET, Board Certified Educational Therapist

Author or numerous books, games, and guides to make learning easy, successful, and fun

www.bonnieterrylearning.com

 


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