Your state’s curriculum requirements for homeschool English are a necessary source for you to consider as you plan. Because different states treat English differently, you may find curriculum for English under other names, such as ELA (for English Language Arts or Language Arts, or you may find it divided into subgroups, such as Literature, Reading, and Writing, in which case, you may need to get hold of several different curricula to plan the whole area. The United States Department of Education site: nces.ed.gov/ will help you to locate the appropriate documents on your state’s website if you haven’t yet gotten hold of them. This article will provide some additional information and tips that will help you to plan your course.
The National Standards and Homeschool English
The national standards for English, available here: ncte.org are prepared by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association (IRA). The national standards are not divided into categories or grade levels. This signals the presentation of English as a unified field of inquiry, with the elements all being necessary and inter-related. The standards refer to “print and “non-print texts,” which indicates the inclusion of websites, videos, podcasts, etc. as well as books, magazines, newspapers, and other print media as subjects of English courses.
Here is the gist of the twelve standards. Students should:
- adapt their use of language to fit their contexts
- apply diverse and appropriate strategies to the broad array of texts they read
- apply diverse and appropriate strategies to the broad array of texts they write
- conduct and share research
- employ their understanding of conventions and customs for communication as they engage with and about texts
- participate competently in various literacy communities
- read across periods and genres
- read widely in a variety of texts
- understand and respect diversity in language use
- use diverse technological and information resources
- use language to accomplish their own purposes
- use their first language to acquire competence in English, if their first language is not English
References for Homeschool English
Here is a list of some useful references for the study of English:
- One or more dictionaries, including specialty dictionaries as needed, such as slang, rhyming, proverbs, idioms, quotations, misspeller’s dictionary, etc.
- One or more thesauruses
- Appropriate style manuals for different kinds of writing: MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), Chicago Manual of Style
- Style, Grammar, Usage, and/or Syntax references
- Complete works of Shakespeare
- Manual for whichever Word Processing software program you have
- Several different versions of the Bible
Supplies and Tools for Homeschool English
English is not a subject for which one generally thinks of needing tools, but these may be of use
- Franklin Speller for orthography assistance
- Spell and grammar check programs
- Word processing application
- Tape recorder so student can hear self speaking
- Video recording to record speaking
Projects for Homeschool English
- Write and produce a play or screenplay.
- Write a poem for a special family occasion.
- Interview family members to collect family history, everybody’s favorite jokes or works of literature, differing perspectives on the same topic.
- Conduct a survey on some topic of interest and write it up.
- Make a private poetry anthology (respecting copyright as appropriate).
- Write a letter to the editor on a subject that moves you.
- Record and analyze advertising posted in your community.
Web Resources for Homeschool English
There are a number of writing references online, as well as writing labs. One can find dictionaries, thesauri, and explanations of grammar rules, etc. Here are some:
- The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): http://owl.english.purdue.edu/
- Bartleby.com has the American Heritage Dictionary, Bartlett’s Quotations, all of Shakespeare, Fowler’s King’s English, Strunk’s Elements of Style, World Factbook, King James Bible, the Harvard Classics, etc. http://www.bartleby.com/61/
- Merriam-Webster Online: http://www.merriam-webster.com/
Field Trips for Homeschool English
Homeschool fieldtrips for English can include visits to the library, bookstores, museums housing documents and books, and printing presses to see how books are made. Here are some other ideas:
- Visit a book publisher and learn more about the process of print production.
- Go to author presentations at bookstores, or author “appearances” online.
- Watch movies based on books.
- Watch movies from which books were written.
- Go to poetry readings or slams.
- Participate in poetry readings or slams.