How to Select a Homeschooling Language Arts Curriculum

Language arts covers a wide variety of topics including learning to read, learning to write, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, poetry, literature, and composition. When purchasing a complete curriculum these topics are usually covered in a progressive grade level fashion. When purchasing a subject specific curriculum these topics may either be grouped together in a grade-level package or sold as individual pieces which you can put together to create an even more tailored curriculum.

Most parents new to homeschooling believe they must follow a complete curriculum for every subject in order for their child to learn effectively. While a ready-made curriculum can certainly help achieve this goal, it can be expensive and not necessary. Libraries are full of books, the internet full of content, the television full of streaming services, outdoors is full of nature and the basements and closets of many homes are filled with arts and craft supplies and toys and games which can be put together to form an even more tailored effective curriculum. Just know that there are many options and homeschooling doesn't have to be regimented and expensive to be effective.

Most language arts curriculum have separate resources for studying grammar, spelling and writing. In all levels and facets of language arts development it tends to be beneficial for the student to separate writing lessons from spelling and grammar. In other words, children tend to be more enthusiastic about writing interesting content when free writing is encouraged. If spelling and grammar are corrected too often during the context of writing lessons, children will gravitate towards writing with simpler sentences and less-interesting words. For this reason most companies offer separate resources for grammar, spelling and writing.

Age and skill level should be a major factor when selecting a language arts curriculum and each skill level should contain several different consistent activities to be a complete language arts curriculum. In children preK to 2nd grade, the curriculum should incorporate learning to read, learning to write and listening to someone read. In the traditional approach to education the curriculum may consist of workbooks for developing writing skills, simple phonics books and pre-selected stories; where as in a Montessori approach the curriculum could look very different consisting of letter and phonics manipulatives, paper letters to trace and non-fiction books to read with the child. There is a wide variety of language arts curriculum available.

For children in grades 3rd-5th the language arts curriculum should focus on transitioning from  beginning reading skills to proficient reading abilities. Most complete language arts curriculum for this age will come with books to be read by the child and read to the child as well as lessons involving spelling, grammar, poetry and writing.

Children working at 6th to 8th grade levels should begin using their language arts skills to gain knowledge and continue to develop their love of reading. They should be actively researching while  developing their writing skills and building their vocabulary. Depending on the student's knowledge from previous studies, the language arts curriculum may include more study in grammar and spelling.

Language arts curriculum for students in grades 9th through 12th tends to become more specialized. Some programs will spend an entire year focusing on literature alone followed by a year of composition studies. Other programs will continue to combine the topics into a comprehensive form of study. Programs may include studies in vocabulary building which may or may not include the study of Latin. Some programs, especially those aligned with a classical approach to education introduce the arts of logic and rhetoric for writing and analyzing written works.

It is surprising how much variety exists in language arts curriculum and the plethora of options available. Most homeschoolers tend to change language arts curriculum from year to year because each curriculum benefits the student in a different way. In addition, there are many language arts curriculum that are meant to be covered in one school year by a small range of grade levels.

I am no exception to this rule in that I have used a variety of language arts curriculum throughout the years. I tend to select curriculum that builds intrinsic motivation which inspires more than rewards kids to write. I like curriculum that offers a lot of room for the children to influence an assignment as opposed to very specific assignments. Over the years I have used the following language arts resources.

Highhill Education Approach - My Favorite Language Arts Curriculum

Learning Letters and Words - No curriculum - We learned these skills with plastic letters and play which I will write more about in a future post.

Leap Frog Videos (The Letter Factory, The Word Factory, The Complex Word Complex) were a huge hit with my kids for learning to read as these videos were the only television my kids were exposed to. Watching these videos along with some structured game-like play and phonics activities was all my kids needed to learn to read. The process took about a year of repetition of the videos and activities, so it wasn't instantaneous, but it was effective and motivating.

Five in a Row - This is a PreK-6 level program in which a high-quality children's literature book is selected each week and read once per day for five days in a row. After the daily reading an interesting activity associated with the book is completed.

Brave Writer - When we used Brave Writer it was more of a philosophy than a curriculum. As a professional writer, the creator of the Brave Writer curriculum explained how to inspire children to write and improve their writing skills. Now Brave Writer offers a variety of grade level books which teach using the Brave Writer philosophy. In addition, there are on-line Brave Writer classes.

Essentials in Writing - Not to be confused for the Institute for Excellence in Writing which is listed below and hugely popular with homeschoolers, we used the Essentials in Writing Program for one year of our homeschooling journey. This program was by far the most structured language arts program we have used and incorporates daily lessons which cover grammar and writing. The company also has programs for literature, but we did not use them.

Logic of English - This is the single best book for explaining why the spelling of English words is so inconsistent. There is an easy-to-read chapter book which explains all of the rules as well as an entire curriculum developed for many grade levels. Amazon Link

Word Roots - As we have never used many workbooks in our family this one was an effective way to build vocabulary. There are five books for grades 3-12 designed for building vocabulary. Amazon Link: Beginning Level, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4.

Royal Fireworks Press - I found this curriculum in 2018 and love it. There are seven levels designed to span K-12. Each level takes roughly one year to complete so there is plenty of time to try out other language arts curriculum on off years. Each level contains a series of books in topics of poetry, grammar, writing and language building. We have studied poetry as suggested with so many homeschooling philosophies but never understood it so well. I just love the way grammar, writing and the origin of words is broken down and explained in a way that makes sense.

Did you notice that Reading was barely mentioned on the above list? That's because free reading is a daily requirement. In addition, reading has been greatly developed through the study of history, science and geography studies.

Language Arts Curriculum

My top picks may not be a good fit for your family. Don't worry. There are many options. Here are even more language arts curriculum options that come well recommended from other homeschoolers who have used them. Most companies who sell full curriculum packages also sell their curriculum in subject specific pieces so be sure to check out the full curriculum providers whose methods align with your homeschooling style.

Complete and Semi-Complete Language Arts Curriculum

Learning to Read

  • All About Reading - secular, preK-2nd grade, books, manipulatives, activities
  • Bob Books - secular, preK-2nd grade, small books with progressively more difficult words
  • Explode the Code - secular, K-4th grade, on-line and workbooks, phonics based
  • McGuffy Readers - Christian, preK-2nd, beginning reading books
  • Reading Eggs -secular, preK-2nd, online, game-style, phonics, grammar, spelling, reading
  • Leap Frog Videos - secular, preK-2nd grade, videos

Learning to Write


  • All About Spelling - secular, preK-6th, books, manipulatives, activities
  • Logic of English (listed under full language arts curriculum above)  
  •  Spelling Power - secular, Traditional Approach, Complete spelling curriculum, PreK-12





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