View Full Version : I hate Language Arts...help!

11-16-2013, 07:30 PM
I hate it. I hated it when I was in school, I hate it now, my kids, especially my 12 year old, hates it.

Is there such a thing as an online LA course for elementary/middle school age kids that is fun and more "real life" type learning (don't know if that's the right term I'm looking for), instead of "this is a verb, now, name several other verbs, this is a preposition, blah blah blah". I guess I'm looking for something more organic in nature...and fun, did I say that already?

I just hate the drills, they hate the drills, my 12 yr old doesn't learn by drills.

Fun, or at least not boring and dry...anything?

Also, is it TOTALLY necessary for my kiddo to read all these "suggested" readings for their grades? They don't like most of the books, so why bother. Can't they just read for fun???

11-16-2013, 08:05 PM
I'm no expert, but we are using Moving Beyond the Page (full curriculum) and all of us seem to enjoy the LA. It isn't boring, it ties into the story, etc. Both kids had a good foundation of grammar, so that helps, I am sure.

good luck

11-16-2013, 09:06 PM
We have never drilled for LA. We do it more organically, while they are writing papers. But, we do use MBTP. LOL

11-16-2013, 09:29 PM
What are you even drilling for language arts? Is it grammar facts or something? Vocabulary? Don't. Just... don't.

There's a lot of research to show that grammar knowledge doesn't equal good writing. I think that having a good understanding of grammar can help a child enrich their writing so it's something I think is good in an ideal world, but if it's soul-crushing, then stop. Let it be instead through evaluating the work, like Teri said. Do a mini-lesson on comma usage when it gets bad, that kind of thing.

I know that T4L has an online writing class... But I have to say writing is one thing I think would be hard to do as an online class unless the parent was also a part of the equation, at least before high school. It just demands so much interaction to improve and if kids are struggling writers, then they're likely not to be able to participate fully in most online formats for classes.

If you want something more "real world" then do writing assignments like writing Amazon reviews, submitting letters to your local paper, writing up lab reports for science, entering essay contests, etc.

As for books, there is no one definitive "read this!" list for kids. I think the books that tend to be on such lists and on award winner lists do tend to be of higher quality, but no one will like all of them and that doesn't mean there aren't other high quality books. And some kids just don't like fiction so much. I think it's important for college bound kids to be exposed to literary criticism and read some fiction, but you can focus more on other types of writing if that suits you. Sometimes if a kid is into genre fiction, that can be a way in instead. Don't worry about being exactly right. To be culturally literate, it's nice to have read a smattering of "the classics" but not every kid is going to become a future English major. So don't sweat it too much.

For programs that are less dry, you can do the MBtP lit units on their own, I believe. MCT is grammar focused, but not dry. And, of course, you're on a forum with a bunch of Brave Writer nuts and it's fully of whimsy. :)

11-16-2013, 10:42 PM
Wait, how did Farrar respond to an LA post and not mention bravewriter? Maybe because its kinda hard to implement without loving LA? IDK - but the bravewriter approach is definitely a 'less is more' approach. She doesnt even recommend doing specific spelling or grammar, but to pick that up through copywork. Partner writing?

the purpose imo of language arts is to make sure your child can write well by the time he's done with school. the best way to get him engaged with writing is to get him to write about what he cares about, even if that's video games. The best way to get him to love reading is to only make him read books he loves. I do torture Raven a little w spelling, because it was really awful and he wouldnt write because he wanted to know how to spell the words first. and i will start making him write more. but we do very light language arts, trying to keep it from being torture

11-16-2013, 11:08 PM
What are you using right now?

11-16-2013, 11:15 PM
Yes, I think they can just read for fun. We don't actually follow any structured L.A. program. I try to incorporate a writing assignment every week or two. We have never done grammar. Mostly, we read books and talk about them. I make an effort to find books that are just a bit of a challenge to read, but interesting enough to make it worth the effort. I still read aloud so that they can be exposed to material that is above their reading level, and so that we can discuss things like foreshadowing, metaphors, vocabulary, etc... Keep it simple.

11-17-2013, 01:23 PM
I would break Language Arts down into parts and concentrate only on the areas that you feel are important and find resources for those areas. I don't think any of it has to be done by drills and your child can read anything you want them to read.

We use Wordly Wise 3000 workbooks for vocabulary. Dd likes it.
We don't have a spelling or grammar program. We don't currently have a writing program.
I choose certain books to read with dd. Dd can read any book she chooses.

If your dc doesn't know if things are verbs or nouns, you might play around with mad libs.
You could try some games like You've Been Sentenced (http://www.amazon.com/McNeill-Designs-5511848-Youve-Sentenced/dp/B000EVLZ9U/ref=sr_1_34?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1384710633&sr=1-34&keywords=fun+language+arts), Scrabble, Balderdash, Hangman, Once Upon A Time (http://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Games-AG1250-Once-Upon/dp/1887801006).

Real-Life Writing Activities for Grades 4-9: Cherlyn Sunflower: 9780130449795: Amazon.com: Books (http://www.amazon.com/Real-Life-Writing-Activities-Grades-4-9/dp/0130449792) I haven't used this but it might give you some ideas of real life types of things you could have your child practice writing even if you only look at the product description.

11-17-2013, 01:27 PM
My son's writing skills have improved so much since he has started playing Minecraft. He gets on skype with his friends and they all play together. Great for writing. We also love the animated lessons on time4learning.

11-17-2013, 06:20 PM
I guess the biggest issue is that I was horrible horrible horrible at LA in school. If you grilled me, I probably couldn't name most parts of speech. I never could remember. I can give you basics, nouns, verbs etc... but ask me to find the interjection, conjunction, preposition, I couldn't do it. I never ever have been able to . (thanks working memory deficit! lol) I was never really good at writing, I don't like it. It's the reason I didn't become a nurse because there was a 20 page paper that I would have had to have written, it's that bad.

My middle one, haaaaates to write. He's like me, short and to the point with questions. I never could go into detail and "explain why" on questions that were asked, especially on things that were not factual. I can explain why you need magnesium in great detail, but I can't tell you what I think this author means by this certain passage.

I am a stickler on not sounding stupid though. I do correct their grammar during talking and such as well as writing.

I am doing a program called wordbuilder to help them understand how words are formed and how to decode them. I'm not doing anything at all right now for parts of speech and punctuation etc. I'm just kind of doing corrections as I see them. I honestly don't make them write much at all. It's just not enjoyable for any of us. But I feel like I'm doing them a disservice.

I do like the idea of doing things like reviews, I may be able to get my kids to do that. Especially because they'll be able to see it on the internet, which to them is crazy cool. haha

I kind of like the short daily language reviews through evan moor. It just seems like something we all can handle and being that they are short mini practice lessons I feel like they'll be able to remember them better.

I have BW, I hate it. I can not even get through the part where I have to read. Maybe it's because I hate to write. I need bullet points, not a book to read on how to implement it...anyone have that?!? Like a #1 do this, #2 do this kind of thing.

I have LOE and am slowly implenting it for the spelling issues my 12 year old has.

Thanks for the tips and such. I do feel better knowing that some don't even use a "curriculum" per se.

Ugh, just ugh

11-17-2013, 08:51 PM
I thought I remembered that ADHD was part of your homeschool. I think you're on the right track with having them write reviews & other stuff they are invested in. As for teaching grammar, I would use a program like Easy Grammar or Evan-Moor that breaks stuff up into small chunks and comes with a lot of review. Visual aids, such as flowcharts they can easily reference, might also help. There's all sorts of stuff on Google.

Here's an example: 8 Parts of Speech- Flow Chart by Kelsey Ray on Prezi


11-18-2013, 10:10 AM
Brave Writer does offer online classes. Just a thought. Or there's IEW - that's video-based. I'm using Growing With Grammar to reinforce grammar stuff with my son. He does it on his own, and it's just simple worksheets. Takes him 10-15 minutes a few days a week. *shrug* For spelling, I'm just making up lists and putting them on Spelling City. We do a bunch of writing but not all of it gets polished. For the next couple of weeks, for example, the kids are making their own continents and they're writing down the details. Today they're telling me about their human and animal populations (including unicorns, I am given to understand), but nothing's going to be edited. Ain't nobody got time for that!

11-18-2013, 11:06 AM
Creating your own continents has to be one of the coolest ideas ever, Sarah!

11-18-2013, 12:07 PM
Wow, Sarah! I love that idea! You could save them for the next time you do "earth" science, and make up your own planet. My DH-the-science-teacher did that to teach plate tectonics ("Planet Zog," he called it). Sorry for the hijacking, OP!

11-18-2013, 02:37 PM
Heh, don't give me the credit... it was in the BW Partnership Writing book!

11-18-2013, 03:12 PM
Just a random thought - i hated history in school. I found a way to do history that I liked and they . . tolerated. Maybe thats what you had to think about, how can you interact with your kids and LA every day in a way that you kinda like?

11-22-2013, 08:01 PM
As far as the "fun" part, I would definitely say Time4Learning lang arts. My son giggled all the way through middle school...particularly the language arts part. It really does take the dry parts out and put in a lot of humor and interactivity. Plus, there is a nice blend of grammar and writing, which I appreciated.

11-24-2013, 01:11 PM
I made a password protected blog for my opinionated daughter to write. I was thinking she could write some posts to practice grammar and writing and we could share the password with extended family. Maybe even turn it into her own family newsletter sort of thing. My daughter hated the whole thing, but maybe it might work for your child. My daughter would rather correct someone else's grammar as a way to learning grammar. She likes the Editor in Chief books from the Critical Thinking Company for that.

There is also NANOWRIMO, which technically is supposed to be done in November but you can still download the workbooks and do it on your own. They're free and I think some people here are into that and can give you more information on them. You could go over grammar as your child writes a story.

MCT is a favorite choice for some for grammar. We liked it, but didn't stick with it. It certainly isn't dry but it might be too whimsical for some.

12-31-2013, 07:24 PM
reading lists - I look over lots of them and then try to get the kids to read the ones I enjoyed, or that I think they might enjoy. Charlie, now 13 read ALL the wizard of oz books a couple of years ago. I didn't even know there was more than one! We both read all the John Carter books and they're available free as ebooks since they're older and since they're by Edgar Rice Burroughs they are classics and certainly count for literature. My kids have a book club with friends where we meet at Starbucks or Panera Bread once a month and they each talk about a book they read - they don't have assigned books. Its basically a way to find new interesting books to read and they're doing oral book reports (though they don't realize it).

We quit spelling and grammar a long time ago. They are in a Druidawn club and the mom that runs it does little lessons, like similes, metaphors, sentence openers, etc at the beginning, but its mostly creative fun. They have to write words to gain points to level up and have their characters get more powerful.
I hated English classes as well but have always been a reader and my kids read every night, they do public speaking through 4H and write articles for the 4H newsletter. The 10 year old has been keeping a journal for a couple of years and he looks up every word he doesn't know when he reads so he's doing his own vocabulary lessons. I'v decided that its easier to look at what they're doing and label it language arts (talking, writing, reading) then try to force organized lessons down their throat. Which is why I did enjoy reading brave writer - the one English curriculum that made me feel like what I was doing was ok.

12-31-2013, 07:34 PM
Oh, we're doing the creative writing curriculum from teh druidawn ppl - its a $21 pdf and we're loving it - BOTH boys like it!