Lamp + Light Homeschool : Language Arts

by Jane

I wanted to create a one stop place for all things related to how language arts is conducted in our Lamp + Light Homeschool Curriculum. It seems to be the most commonly asked topic. We do not teach a hard core grammar and writing course in Lamp + Light Homeschool because it is not necessary to do so.

How Grammar is Taught :

From grades PreK through middle school, grammar is taught naturally through many forms. We use frequent exposure of various writing styles through reading, copywork, dictation and narration to teach grammar. Learning parts of speech every single year starting in 2nd or 3rd grade is highly unnecessary. Who wants to repeat this process year after year as their children forget it each summer or break? It’s like being on a never ending ferris wheel.

There’s a much simpler way. After the exposure to proper grammar has been established through the above methods, it’s a very simple few lessons to teach parts of speech or even sentence diagramming. If you wait until your child’s brain has developed and matured, a simple few lessons in middle school or high school is all that is needed. We have resources on our Reading List [FREE Download] for simple grammar reference guides.

How Spelling is Taught :

You won’t find traditional spelling lists in Lamp + Light Homeschool. For high school [or middle school if you would like to start then] we have dictation sentences. These are pulled from Scripture and contain commonly misspelled words. We felt this was a way to get extra Scripture in [often proverbs that are so valuable to daily life] while learning grammar and spelling.

While scheduled in most weeks of Lamp + Light, we also provide a list of all of the dictation sentences so that you may easily used them with a middle schooler, or progress at a slower or quicker rate. Just follow the pace of your student.

The other way that spelling is taught is through reading. Whether you have a dyslexic child, a 2nd grader or a high school student, they all can use a spiral notebook to write down words that are in their readers or recreational reading that they do not know. A simple reminder to older students to have their spiral notebooks with them while they read so that they may jot down any words they are unsure of, is all that is needed. We focus on 3-10 new words per week. There’s no rule here, just spelling words specific to your child.

Use the words in their McGuffey Readers lesson, words they struggle with while using The Good & The Beautiful readers or words they don’t know while they are reading other books during reading time. These could even be words that come up in their narration that they misspelled during science or history activities!

How to practice spelling : We like to switch it up to keep it from becoming monotonous in the younger years. My eldest prefers to just write the words 5-10 times each but will sometimes play with letter tiles just for fun and to change it up. Possible Options : letter tiles, scrabble tiles, wooden letters, fridge magnets, write them out in a tray of flour or sand. Take the spelling outdoors and use sticks, rocks, acorns or shells for spelling out those words! You can use phrase and letter magnets to make silly sentences on the fridge! Get creative and think outside the paper and pencil box. It doesn’t have to be rote!

How Vocabulary is Taught :

I hope you’re beginning to see a pattern here. We learn vocabulary best through exposure to all types of reading material. Have your child write down new words from science, a word they don’t seem to recognize from the history read aloud or a word they don’t understand from a reading lesson into their spiral notebooks. Then look them up together in a dictionary. Teaching them to use the dictionary is a valuable skill.

When I was a kid, I would ask my mother what a word meant while I was reading, and she would never tell me. She always made me get a dictionary to look them up. Often I would also have to look up one of the words in the definition. It was annoying to me at first, as a child, but it taught me a valuable life lesson : If you don’t know, look it up. I remembered far more by doing the work myself than if she had just told me what it meant.

How Writing is Taught :

Copywork, from great works, is one of the best ways to start writing. Children naturally copy. They copy your actions and words and are amazing mimickers. Lend that into writing and it will set a solid foundation on how to write properly.

If copywork is one of the best, I would say that reading is THE best way to teach writing. It exposes them to different genres : poetry, hyperbole, narrative, research, opinionated blog posts, news, fiction, non-fiction, song lyrics. They all teach us about language and communication. It becomes easier to find your own writing style by being exposed to all kinds.

If your child already loves to write :I wouldn’t add a writing curriculum. You’re already winning! Just give them a notebook or journal to write their thoughts. We have assignments already for the Joy & Wisdom Journals, but let them just go crazy with it if they want to! Let them keep that joy without bogging them down with rigid lessons.

If your child hates writing : focus on short copywork, lots of reading to them and free writing whatever comes to them. Julie Bogart of Brave Writer is an expert on this! We scheduled some free writing in Lamp + Light Homeschool but you may do them whenever you like! We linked some idea starters on our Lamp + Light Links PDF [included in the curriculum digital and print] but there is no limit or wrong way to do this.

They could write a list of things they enjoy doing, places they would like to visit or favorite movies! They could even write about how they hate writing! No matter what, they’re writing and they’re in charge of their own thoughts. That is why we don’t recommend the use of writing curriculum except for in specific circumstances and even then it’s not required!

The special cases : A dyslexic child, ONLY ONCE THEY ARE READING WITH MORE CONFIDENCE, can benefit from Essentials in Writing [EIW], due to the short lessons that combine some grammar with sentence and paragraph formulation. I noticed that this helped my dyslexic become very confident in writing. You do NOT have to use EIW with a dyslexic. We also do free writing and all of the above methods with dyslexics, you just choose what works best for your child.

The other special case is if you feel like your high school child would benefit from knowing the proper formatting for specific types of papers for college. It is not required nor entirely necessary for the majority of students. The first college class in colleges across the United States already teaches this as if it’s the first time they have written papers. Many public and private school children go off to college either not remembering how to write a proper paper or having not learned how to write a paper well. So college starts at the beginning with formulating those papers. That’s why we don’t make EIW a requirement for the high school years. It’s solely up to what you prefer.

High schoolers can benefit greatly from free writing and you can add research papers to any assignment or subject in Lamp + Light Homeschool. You can have them write a paper for Bible class, Science, History or even Art/Music! Don’t let yourself be limited by what is written in Lamp + Light Homeschool. You have freedom!

How Reading is Taught :

I feel like the might be the part where the most confusion occurs. So I am going to try to break it down for different scenarios.

Even if your kids don’t like McGuffey Readers, I strongly encourage the use of them because they work. The lessons are blissfully short which keeps the grumbling to a minimum. These printed books have been around since the 1830s. They are also available online for free [which is linked for you in the Required Book List]

If you have a dyslexic or a child just learning to read : Start with book 1. No matter the age of the dyslexic child. If you think they will breeze past the lessons, use the free online versions to first assess where to start before purchasing a book.

If you have a child reading way above grade/reading level : If this child is in the Kindergarten or 1st grade, start with Book 1. Even if they are reading at a much higher level. You can do the same assessment online with the free versions to see if they can read all the way to the last lesson in book 1. If they can read it all the way to the last lesson WITHOUT missing a word, then move to the very next book and do the same thing. It’s not going to hurt them to read the lower level books.

They might read at a higher level but these are still kids in the age range of 5-7. The traditional schooling method is to push children to read but it’s not only unnecessary it can backfire in burnout, or them developing a dislike for reading. Take it slow, there is no reason to rush. This young age is so quickly flying by.

My son started reading whole books at age 2. TWO YEARS OLD. I still started him in Book 1 and he flew through that one and book 2. He still learned and actually loved the stories. Because he flew through the reading, it made him so confident in reading. He calls himself “The Reading Master!” and I love it!

When it is recreational reading time, give them whatever interests them! Way above reading level? Go for it! We have a reading list you can Download Here. Skip them to the next age/grade level reading list section if they are beyond what is for their traditional age/grade.

The goal isn’t to push them harder, the goal is confident readers.

If your third or fourth grader finishes the McGuffey Readers or can successfully read the last lessons with zero stumbling : Awesome! Put them in the 5th-8th grade language arts bracket in Lamp + Light Homeschool OR just give them more books to read of any kind that is challenging for them. Don’t overthink this, simply giving them more books IS enough.