I homeschooled my two boys from elementary to middle school. They then did dual enrollment, online classes, homeschool, and a NAUMS school.
Building an English Curriculum at Home
My least favorite subject in school was English, but it is the most important subject your children need so they can teach themselves whatever they want to know for the rest of their lives. I used the most diversified curricula for this subject. Some of it was fantastic, and some of it was very difficult for me to use. There are so many different categories of English, so I narrowed it down to these areas:
- Phonics, reading and comprehension
- High school English
1. Phonics, Reading, and Comprehension
Abeka - They have a wonderful learning to read program. Their phonics program is fantastic. From the basics of phonics to early readers to more advanced readers including comprehension questions. My oldest son took very well to this curriculum. He was an early reader and loved every minute of it. However, my younger son had a more difficult time starting out with this curriculum. Once he got a little older we did switch back to this and as time went on he did very well.
Hooked on Phonics - This is the curriculum that helped my younger son get started in reading. It was a little more basic. I wouldn’t consider this as the best curriculum for a good strong foundation. I just think my younger son just was not ready to read yet. Most schools start teaching phonics in kindergarten now but I have found that some children are just not ready for it at that age. We started in kindergarten as well but then we took some time off because he would get so frustrated. I just read to him every day so he could enjoy it. Then we went back to the Abeka and took it slowly. In reality, he was behind in reading until about second grade, and then he tested above average from then on out. He still doesn’t love to read unless it is something he is very interested in.
Total Language Plus - I loved this. With this curriculum, you pick a chapter book from their list and order the workbook that goes with it. You can always get the chapter book at the library or you could buy it from them. The workbook has vocabulary, spelling, reading comprehension, a little grammar, and usually a book report at the end. The workbooks start at about grade 3. Once your child is ready to read the chapter books they can do a lot of the work on their own. I usually read the chapter books as well so I could ask questions and make sure they were keeping up with their work. The chapter books that are used are very popular and grade-appropriate. There is a good list to pick from. The grammar portion of these workbooks is very weak so you will need a grammar book as well.
Thematic Unit Studies - Unit studies may be chosen for a subject other than English. I usually chose them for Science or History. However, you can pull most of your English lessons from these as well thus combining subjects and saving time. The Unit Studies give a full list of related Fiction and Non-Fiction books you can pick from. They use a couple of the books as the main theme of the unit study and then you can add on any of the other books to add to your Science, History, or even English lesson. The books my boys read here are some of the best books I’ve ever read. Some of our favorites Thematic Unit Studies were:
- Revolutionary War
- World War I
- World War II
The actual Thematic Unit Studies are hard to find so search by the exact name and topic you are looking for. They are very inexpensive and you can borrow the reading books from your public library.
Bob Jones English - This company has the teacher book, text book, test book and test key that you can purchase, making this more expensive curricula. I thought this was a great grammar book and I used it for a few of the elementary years. It was very thorough and I felt my kids were getting everything they needed and more. It also included some writing projects at the end of each chapter.
Easy Grammar - after a few years of Bob Jones English I felt my kids had a good handle on grammar so I switched to this. This is very repetitive in some ways but it really drilled in the basics of grammar to carry them into the middle school years. The student breaks down each sentence into noun, verb, infinitive, direct object, indirect object, etc. Lessons were less time-consuming than the Bob Jones curriculum which I felt was all they needed at this time. It is a less expensive curricula since it is just the student book and teacher answer book.
Sadler Oxford - This was a very difficult curriculum. I don’t remember how I learned of this but I did have to jump through hoops to order the book and teacher's book. I had to submit the homeschool approval letter to the company before I could order it. The boys did not like these books but we used them for a couple of years. Many schools use it to help prepare students for the SATs. I preferred to work on the vocabulary they came upon in their reading and always felt the more they read the bigger their vocabulary would be anyway. I am not big on teaching huge words to students just to teach them huge words.
Spelling Power - This is a very easy curriculum to use and it covers all grades. The student takes a test to see where they fit in the curriculum and that is where they start. You then quiz the student every word on the list until they get ten wrong. At that point they go through those ten words by writing them out, speaking them, etc. in order to memorize the words. The next day you start with those ten words and you continue adding words until they have a total of ten wrong again. Very good curriculum, easy to use and very organized.
Jump In, Write Shop, Etc. - I tried many writing curricula throughout the years. In the elementary years I used the writing prompts from Bob Jones English, did book reports from Total Language Plus and just had the kids write their own creative stories. Jump In and Write Shop along with other writing curricula were attempted but I never found anything that I liked. This was partly due to the fact that I didn’t feel real confident with grading a paper once they got into middle school. Most of the curricula I tried was very complicated.
Write@Home - This is an online course. I used this for my oldest child in middle school (they also have high school classes) because I wasn’t confident enough in grading his writing. (He is now an English/Writing major in college and takes the time to edit my articles.) This is a great online company with a lot of talented writing coaches who help your child through three drafts of each paper that they write and grade them on the final draft. They go through all the different types of writing, like persuasive, expository, book reports, etc. Very well organized and easy to upload and download lessons and papers. A little more costly than just teaching them yourself but well worth it.
6. High School English
This article is lacking in the High School English curricula because at this point I sent them to classes for English. They were very blessed with an amazing High School English teacher at a NAUMS school who not only challenged them every day but also pushed my youngest to try to love English. My youngest never ended up loving English but he did love his teacher and is acing his college English 102 class and even did a Dual Enrollment class for English 101 at a local college while he was still in high school. This teacher passed away when my youngest was still in high school. Many students traveled hours from their colleges, etc. to his memorial service. It was a true testament to the lives he had touched through his love for teaching.
We ended up doing two English classes for high school online.
Landry Academy - Creative writing through blogging - This was a very good class. My son had to write a blog on the schools website through out the semester and comment and ask questions of his fellow students blogs. This helped him not only learn how to set up a blog and organize one but it also helped him to research the topic of his blog which is now his college major of Movement Science.
Brigham Young University Independent study - English - This was an online class that my son could do mostly on his own. He followed the syllabus provided and read short stories and poems online, answered questions and wrote papers and poems throughout and took tests. At the end of the semester he submitted his full portfolio of writing for grading.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Carolyn LaCroix