Thursday 28 March 2013

The Art of Language in High School

The idea of teaching Language Arts at high school level can evoke many emotions in home school circles.  I think that too often as home school mom's we rely on our understanding of language arts through the memory of what we did at school and we waste many tedious hours comparing what we are doing or think we ought to be doing in comparison with what students are 'covering' at school. Two of the main factors that will influence your journey are: Your strengths and the strengths of your child/ren in the language arena.

Language Arts generally covers three main areas of study: Composition, Literature/Comprehension (to be covered in October 2013),  Vocabulary/Spelling/Grammar and Public speaking.

Over the years I have come to realize that Language Arts in high school starts with the art of Narration and an excellent foundation in spelling and twaddle free literature.
What does your language arts program look like?
When Mr T and Miss J were in high school we used the high school core's from Sonlight and worked through their language arts program's. Sonlight have aligned their approach with Ruth Beechick and Charlotte Mason. We read excellent twaddle free literature, did composition, worked our way through the entire set of Spelling Workout books and did copy work.

What influences your choices/selection?
At the time that T & J were in high school choice was limited in the home school environment. I trusted Sonlight implicitly that they were have it covered. I felt that with out a good grounding in spelling anything else was a waste of time and energy. An excellent grasp of self expression was important too because if your student can't speak it they can't write it either.  I armed myself by reading The 3 R's by Ruth Beechick and the The Art of Narration chapters in A Charlotte Mason Companion (CMC)

In the Future
Looking back I now realize that I need to start as I intend to finish it's too hard to change mid stroke and in the high school years depending on the students personality it can really become their undoing.

Mature self expression begins with the art of narration which in itself is the cornerstone of public self expression. Public expression does not only mean standing on a stage but encompasses speaking to any one any where. With this in mind we will be working on improving narration for the next few years. Narration Adheres Vocabulary to the Mind - CMC Page 167. There are many benefits to narration one being that narration strengthens and challenges all the powers of mind. Attending, remembering, visualizing, comprehending, synthesizing (seeing the whole from the parts), and articulating. - CMC Page 115

Spelling is the servant necessary to be successful in all the areas of written language arts. We will be using copy work and once we have completed Explode the Code book 3 we will be working our way through Spelling Workout. It is important to complete all the levels of which ever spelling curriculum you choose in order that your student is well equipped to express themselves with the pen.

Never underestimate the power of Copy Work.  I remember when one of my children was six years old and doing copy work they proudly came to me one day and exclaimed: "Mom I can spell circumcision now!" We have started copy work this year and will be building on this. Copying excellent literature helps a student to recognize and incorporate punctuation, reinforces correct spelling and enlarges vocabulary.

Some time later this year I am looking at joining up with some home school families once a fortnight to practice public speaking. We will be learning poems or something of interest and build from there.When we reach the beginning of the teen years we will be looking for a public speaking group and attending regularly.

Vocabulary is not synonymous with spelling and is often times missed in language arts programs and deserves equal mention and attention. Twaddle free literature introduces new words in context to the student. Do not make the mistake of only choosing literature that your child can read to themselves. This is where read alouds serve you well. In a read aloud your student figures out meaning via context. Actively choose words to enlarge their vocabulary. As a student gains ability create lists of words not to be used in written communication or composition (eg said, walk, talk,). Classical literature is a good friend to any home educating family, because the words used in them are not in use in today's society. Often times we have had to have a dictionary on hand to look up a word.  I remember when we read The Little Britches Series and had to look up the word victuals and from that day it became a family favorite.

Poetry enlarges a students language ability and teaches the clever use of words in self expression.  With this in mind we will be enjoying poetry together.  As Sir N gains confidence in public speaking we will add in poems to learn and present with expression. We will try different types of poetry until we find some that we like and then explore it further.  Poetry comments on all human experiences, it is comprised of everything  from war poems and epics, to psalms of worship, to love sonnets, to delightful nonsense verse that trips off the tongue, to nursery rhymes - CMC Page 220

Grammar Programs

Spelling Programs
Narration & Copy Work

On the www

This post is part of the Home school High School Carnival.  Don't forget to pop on over to Jimmie's Collage to read what others are saying about this topic. (Carnival will be live in April).

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  1. "Mature self expression begins with the art of narration"-true!
    I have been impressed with the way that my little ones have picked up words from read-alouds but yes, language arts in high school do seem much more scary. The part that I find most difficult is marking a child's creative writing. This year, we've chosen to send our 12 year old's creative writing out for marking. This is helpful for a second opinion but difficult to receive marks and comments from an unknown person.

    1. I was always fearful of marking my students creative self expression. That's one of the reasons I really enjoyed using IEW's products and watching the DVD lessons with my students. I knew from the lesson what to expect and was able to grade accordingly.
      Institute for Excellence in Writing

  2. I used to stress quite a bit about the high school language arts, but I think I'm relaxing a little more as the years go by. I now mostly focus on the composition part in the form of essays, and I'm keen on them reading - a lot.

    As for the younger girls, we will also be doing some copywork with them.

  3. Glad I stopped by your blog this morning, I didn't know there was a highschool link up!

  4. I think I need to find the Charlotte Mason Companion and give it a read this summer.

  5. I love that you mention public speaking. It's such an important form of communication and a great skill to accomplish. I used to be terrified as a kid, but with practice in various forms it is less terrifying. I can do it, not great, but I can at least do it.


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