Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Homeschooling High School - Language Arts (& History!)

When our girls were little, including Language Arts in our day was easy. Read a few picture books, work on printing their names, and watch Grammar Rock! Simple. Easy. Fun.

Now that they're both in High School, including Language Arts is not as simple, and sometimes not as much fun. However, just because it is necessary doesn't mean it has to be boring! 

What do you think about when you hear Language Arts for High School? Diagramming sentences and writing essays? Reading Dickens and Shakespeare? Perhaps even speech? The dictionary definition of language arts is: (noun) the study of grammarcomposition, spelling, and (sometimes) public speaking, typically taught as a single subject in elementary and middle school.

That doesn't really help you plan out High School does it? 

Let's start with where your child is today. Are there areas where they excel? Areas where you think they're falling behind? Just because they're a teen does not automatically guarantee that they can spell correctly or write coherently. High School Language Arts needs to be less focused on what everyone else is doing and more focused on what your child needs to succeed as an adult.

If you've got a student who does well in Language Arts, you might have transcripts with lofty titles like Composition, British Literature, and Advanced Speech. If your student needs more overall basic help, or, you're too busy teaching to care what its called, just list it as English 9, 10, 11, & 12.

Our two daughters are vastly different. Vastly! While they both like to read for fun, that is where their Language Arts similarities end. This has led to a variety of Language Arts curriculum and learning choices in our homeschool. One thing they have both done is take a group Literature class with some local friends. A huge Thank You to my friend Linda who has taught this class! Having the girls do Literature in a group setting with discussions, reading a play, and talking about story charts has freed me up to work with them individually on other areas.

One daughter, who shall remain nameless, is quite wordy. She needs to be challenged to focus those words into positive channels, so she gets to try out almost everything under the sun that the Schoolhouse Review Crew can gather. The other daughter prefers to talk one on one, or write for herself only, and often needs to be reminded that spelling IS important, and it helps if we can read her handwriting. Her options are often what an outsider may see as "easier," yet they stretch and teach her how to overcomes in her struggles.

We have often had years (before High School,) where there was NO formal grammar taught, and the only writing assignments were for history or science. 

During High School we have continued to focus the writing assignments on other subjects, instead of writing simply to write. Both girls have enjoyed using Diana Waring's History Revealed curriculum, and often chose one of the writing assignments or mini-book options to complete the units. As they study science, the girls take notes and are often required to write out what they have learned in their own words. These assignments make sense as a time to correct spelling and work on paragraph structure.

There are certain areas each girl needs to continue to work on improving. For these, we have been blessed to use those multitude of resources we've reviewed. One of the best part of reviewing curriculum is finding out what works best for each student, and then actually continuing to use it.

Homeschooling High School, Language Arts

To make it easy, the links below will take you to our reviews of the various Language Arts programs we've used or are currently still using. From the basics to advanced, you're sure to find something that can help your High School student.

The Logic of English

IEW's Fix-It! Grammar

Analytical Grammar

Writing Fiction in High School

Illuminating Literature

Greek Morphemes

Fortuigence- Essay Rock Star 


Prescripts Cursive Passages

Lightning Literature- American 19th Century

Lightning Literature - British 19th Century  


History - what's not to love? 

We adore Heirloom Audio Productions, and enjoy watching documentaries on various time periods. Often we'll find something on Netflix, or at our local library, that we can watch together for History. Both of our girls volunteer at a living history museum, so there is never a shortage of things to learn. I know there are several quality history curricula out there, you just need to do some searching to decide what would work best for your High Schoolers. Some students want a textbook, other learn best from source documents or G.A. Henty novels. 

The choices about what to study in History are so vast, it helps to have a plan before you begin. 

Many, many homeschooler like to study world history in 3 or 4 year rotating cycles. That has not really been our style. 

The girls have studied Ancient History with Diana Waring's curriculum, but they also love her American Folk Music series. What about the Revolutionary War? WWII? American Indians? They study it all at various times during High School, but not always in order. That's ok. Really! There is no homeschool book that states everyone must start history with the Ancients. Choose as a family what to study, then decide if your High Schooler is going to join in with the rest of the family, or if they're going to be doing independent research for History. Either choice is great - if it fits YOUR student!

Homeschooling High School - History

Reading independently and watching documentaries can be a great way to get through High School history class. Have your student keep a list of each book read and each movie watched. At the end of each semester (or year) you can tally it up and decide where they should focus next. 

One thing that bugs me a lot is when I hear or read about homeschoolers who feel the need to separate EVERY SINGLE SUBJECT. How about some integration here? If your son is really into science, let his history be focused on inventions over the centuries. Then let him write a report about it, or draw pictures for Art. History and science credit for the same study, maybe even Language Arts - it's allowed people!!! If your daughter falls in love with medieval history, let her study the food, medicine, tapestries, and politics of those years all at the same time. Some people call this a Unit Study - I call it smart planning. Plan to let your children enjoy High School. We need to stop thinking that our children's High School experience needs to mirror our own. It won't. And if you went to Public School - it shouldn't! If you want your High Schooler to receive the same education you did -send them to school. If you want to offer them something different? Educate them at home - or on the road, at the battlefield, in the catacombs, at a pow-wow.

High School is so much fun when you think outside the box! Life is a Field Trip, let's enjoy it together!

Want to find out how others include Language Arts in their High School Homeschool?

Tess from Circling Through This Life shares Teaching High School Language Arts: Resources
Michele from Family, Faith and Fridays shares Language Arts
Wendy from Life at Rossmont shares Highschool Language Arts
Erica from Be the One shares Language Arts Resources
Kym s from Homeschool Coffee Break shares History in the Form of Stories
Debbie from Debbie’s Homeschool Corner shares Teaching High School English
Laura from Day by Day in Our World shares How to Teach High School Language Arts Without Tears

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you about integrating subjects! Especially in high school, my students' writing assignments are usually based on their History or Science studies.