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We have a relaxed way of doing things in our homeschool and language arts is no exception. It’s not that we never do a grammar worksheet, but they don’t take center stage.
But first, the term language arts is somewhat nebulous and can refer to many skills, but it traditionally includes reading, writing, grammar, and spelling.
Why Relaxed Language Arts
We live in a world flooded with words. Never before has communication been as easy yet as relentless as it is today.
There was a time when people would wait weeks for a letter from relatives across the country or only call once a month because of the high cost of long-distance calls. Now, your brother on the other side of the world can text you and expect an immediate response.
For an introvert like me, who sometimes just refuses to answer the phone, this constant connectedness can be exhausting.
But let’s step back and examine this for a moment.
The usage of language, both written and verbal, has become such an integral part of our culture, it’s impossible to escape.
So why not use this to our advantage in our homeschool?
So here are some easy ways to explore all facets of language arts in your homeschool without a red pen nor a sentence to diagram.
Language Arts Fun and Games
Fun and grammar are rarely used in the same sentence, but there are many ways to explore grammar and composition without feeling the need to gouge your eyes out. Here are a few we have enjoyed:
- Madlibs (parts of speech)
- Scrabble (spelling)
- Once Upon a Time & Nanofictionary games (composition)
- Consensus Jr. (parts of speech, vocabulary, and correlations)
- Charades (communication)
- Headbandz (asking meaningful questions and deduction)
- Boggle (spelling)
- Appleletters and Bananagrams (spelling)
- Crosswords and Word Searches (spelling and vocabulary)
- Breakout games (reading and deduction)
These are just a few; I’m sure there are more.
Games can require various language arts skills such as reading, the organization of thoughts and deduction. Wouldn’t most kids prefer a silly Mad Lib where they think up nouns rather than circling all the nouns on a worksheet?Their rich play lives are what led to our relaxed homeschool.Click To Tweet
Just yesterday, my girls played two games they made up that required language skills.
First, they created a Breakout Basement game. Each pair took turns creating clues needed to find the keys to escape the basement. They were writing, reading, using logic, and drawing conclusions.
Second, they had a poetry slam/comedy club last night. They created silly, humorous poems and performed them for each other. They even named their venue, which was quite funny, but they would be upset if I told you.
Look in that game cabinet and see what you can find to make language arts more enjoyable.
Technology and Language Skills
As I said earlier, technology has dramatically expanded our need to communicate both in writing and verbally.
However, all that has seemed to do is make everyone stress even more about writing as a skill that has to be taught.
But our world is saturated with communication. These skills have become so necessary and ordinary they’re impossible to escape.
My 7-year-old texts her grandmother almost every day. The other girls email and text friends. I send my oldest articles to read through email or Pinterest. I have them send texts for me or read them to me when I can’t.
Now, of course, a text isn’t the same as a term paper and I for one, am happy for that. But isn’t it a stepping stone on the writing journey?
Composing a simple text is perfect for a 7-year-old.
I’m not advocating unlimited access to technology because I still have motherly reservations. But I do see the value in today’s technology and communication mediums to encourage the development of language skills naturally.
Language Development Through Film and Television
Aren’t movies and TV just a waste of time?
Isn’t the movie always better than the book?
I think that movies and TV can sometimes be a waste of time and a time waster may be exactly what you want. However, not all films are useless, and there is much we can learn from them.
First, is story structure. A film can help you learn what you need for a good story whether it be a book, movie, or stage. They all have individual differences, but at the heart of all lies a good story.
Second, perhaps watching a movie will inspire your children to read the book. There are so many movies that could spark this interest such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Little Women, or The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Third, you can compare the book to the movie. Yes, we are often disappointed with the movie, but this just means we recall the book in such a detailed manner that is impossible to be contained in a 2-hour film.
Some of the best comparisons could be made with Disney movies and the actual fairy tales and books. Have you read Pinocchio? Nothing at all like the movie. Original fairy tales are quite dark at times and didn’t always have a happy ending. These comparisons could lead to deep conversations about why the tales were altered for a modern audience.
So don’t automatically discount film and TV, there can be a lot of value there if you encounter it with a different mindset.
Language, Communication, and Play
Beyond games, my children have also used language and communication in their play. Whether it’s writing a menu for their restaurant or creating cards for their pretend library, they’re always asking me to spell something or creating a list
Their rich play lives are what led to our relaxed homeschool.
When they were younger and had such vivid imaginations, they could play for hours, I had a hard time pulling them away to do book work.Worksheets could never live up to the complex and creative world they imagined.Click To Tweet
This intense play also requires communication and negotiation.
Who has the store first? Who is the customer in the restaurant? Why should it be set up a certain way?
This includes not only language arts skills but life skills, such as conflict resolution and building a persuasive argument.
Worksheets could never live up to the complex and creative world they imagined.
Language Arts All Around
Perhaps we should be more open to the everyday language arts experiences we encounter. We’re so conditioned to think that learning must look like school, we discount those common occurrences for our children to develop communication skills.
One last story, as I was writing this post I noticed my 3-year-old saying he needed a fork and looking in the drawer. Once he opened the drawer he asked me where were all the forks?
Isn’t that interesting, he knows at the ripe age of three that a fork means one fork and forks mean more than one fork. It didn’t take me defining the meaning of plurals nor him filling out a worksheet.
His immersion in language daily has already taught him that there is a difference in singular and plural.
Relaxed Language Arts
So relax a little, a completed grammar workbook every year may do nothing but deaden any desire your child has to write.
Forcing a journal won’t guarantee your child is a competent communicator.
And not completing a book report doesn’t mean they’ll never make it through college literature.
If that were the case, the internet would be full of insightful, grammatically correct, and coherent comments.
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