Language Arts are a core piece of your homeschool’s curriculum. Reading, understanding what you’ve read, and writing are vital life skills that require a lot of time in any student’s schooling. Using that time to also explore your child’s unique strengths is a smart way to homeschool.
In traditional schools, the reading list is set for not only an entire class of students, but often for many classes of students throughout a school or district. Likewise, writing assignments are chosen to try to teach the faceless masses who will occupy the chairs in multiple English classrooms. In your homeschool, you can choose books and writing assignments that will speak to your child in a personal way, and help him uncover his strengths and prepare for life after school.
Here are some ideas for tailoring your Language Arts to a discovery of strengths for your student:
1. You know your child. Start with what you already know really interests her. Is she a people-person? Make sure there are some biographies or autobiographies on her reading list. Look for fiction that is character-driven rather than plot-driven.
2. Your child knows himself. If he is wired for literal thinking, if he likes data and facts and numbers, allow his reading list to reflect that. When he needs to read some fiction, find a book that has a puzzle to be solved in it, or a science fiction novel that includes a lot of food for scientific thought.
3. Include others in your Language Arts. We often think of reading as a solitary activity, and for a bookworm that’s true, but for kids who are less drawn to words on a page cooperating with other students who are reading the same book at the same time opens the door for lots of cool discussion.
4. Include the arts. Many books have inspired dramatizations, movies, music, dance or visual art. For a student who is artistic, use the internet to find artistic interpretations of literature you are reading. Instead of always assigning written work after a book has been read, assign an art project inspired by the book instead. Ask your budding musician to write a song in response to the book he read. Make arrangements for your young actor to script a scene from a book and make time to rehearse it with a friend or two, or even present the material as a monologue at a family gathering.
5. Is your child good with her hands? If she has a knack for putting things together, for building things, allow her to build a model of something from a book, and then write up the instructions for how she did it as a tie-in if you need more writing assignment ideas.
6. Remember how important technical reading and writing are. Some students will grow up to be involved in careers that involve very little fiction and lots of reading directions; they are students who need to be encouraged to embrace that strength in themselves, that attention to detail and desire for precision. Reading instruction manuals and putting together a piece of furniture, assembling a computer, etc. are valid types of reading, and we often overlook them in our homeschools.
7. Journalism is sometimes neglected in our reading and writing. If your child has trouble staying with a long book, instead read some essays, some articles, some professional journals in an area of interest. Then assign articles for his writing. Allow him to try writing in the style of one accomplished journalist or another. When he reads about an event in history, have him follow it up with an article written for a newspaper as if it were happening in the news right now.
Our homeschools should stretch our children to attempt difficult things that do not come naturally to him. We want the educational experience to be well-rounded. Don’t neglect exploring and building on their obvious strengths as well. Just because a child is not the next great novelist doesn’t mean she can’t find her writing voice and explore ideas that interest her in a variety of unusual ways. Reading and writing are two wonderful tools for exploring a student’s strengths.
Download the FREE Career Exploration Questionnaire to get you started looking closely at your child’s unique gifts and interests. At $9.99, Vicki Tillman’s Career Exploration Workbook is an affordable way to equip your homeschool for life-success in adulthood.