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Language Arts Homeschool Curriculum Advice

Language Arts

What do you like to use to teach language arts – grammar, writing, reading, vocabulary, spelling, phonics, dictation, poetry – is there a simple curriculum for all of those pieces together?

For poetry a friend suggested this book, “The Harp and Laurel Wreath: Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum“.

For grammar she suggested Easy Grammar for the younger two, and Primary Language Lessonsby Emma Serl, for our 8th grader.

Anyone have thoughts on these?

Thank you for your help!



  1. I don’t know of a curriculum that does all those pieces together well.

    Poetry- I haven’t used Harp and Laurel Wreath, but I’ve read many good things about it. We use IEW’s poetry memorization program.

    Grammar – PLL by Serl is for grades 2-3 and wouldn’t be appropriate for your 8th grader. It’s a very old book so you can find an ebook of it for free to look through if you’d like. For grammar, perhaps Growing With Grammar would be a good bet. It’s a bit more thorough than easy grammar and includes diagramming which we’ve found to be a good visual. For your 8th grader, perhaps start at level 6 to be sure to cover anything he might have missed before. For the younger 2 you could use lower levels of GWG or First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise. This is a scripted program (so easy to implement) and also includes copy work and dictation.

    Writing- IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) is good and pretty straight forward to implement, but the start up costs can be a bit. They have an awesome lifetime no-questions-asked return policy so at least you wouldn’t be stuck with it if you didn’t like it. For the younger 2 Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer is good, thorough, and includes dictation. You could use WWE4 or Writing With Skill for your older depending on his writing experience and ability.

    Spelling- Spelling power is a good program that you could use with all your kids. There are placement tests in it to make sure each one starts off where they need to be.

    Phonics – if you are teaching your younger one how to read, I would suggest Reading Pathways or Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. If he already knows how to read, then you might want to use Reading Pathways.

    Always be sure to look at sample pages where available to get an idea of the curriculum.

  2. We’ve used and LOVED The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading by Barbara Beers. She has 4 levels to the Phonics Road and then you move onto the Latin Road. It is based on the Orton-Gillingham method for teaching reading, and encompasses reading, writing, spelling, grammar and composition. I’m a huge fan of the program!

  3. When the kids were younger we followed the recommendations in The Well Trained Mind (which have changed some now, as Susan Wise Bauer has written some great material herself for elementary grades. is the site that her language arts and history stuff is available on, but I think also Sonlight provides that stuff as an integral part of the literature and social studies/history (which is also tied in together), so later, when we switched to Sonlight I didn’t have separate stuff for that.

    When they were in elementary and middle school, I really liked Spelling Workout for spelling–it’s phonics based, which was very helpful as I was working on learning to read with my son. It also teaches other skills such as proofreading, along with proofreading marks (I still use those marks, even when I’m helping my daughter proof college papers) and dictionary skills. Spelling workout is just consumable workbooks (athletics themed), so they’re also pretty handy.

    Do you have a Rainbow Resource catalog yet? It is the “queen mother” of all homeschool catalogs–as big as a city yellow pages–seriously! They carry a ton of stuff for each subject, mostly at a discount, and have really nice descriptions of everything! The catalogs are free (go to their website: and request a free catalog).

  4. I’m brand new to your site, but thought I would chime in. provides all of this, with history rolled in. In a very simple package and with literature that kids (generally) love. And it’s free! Another bit of advice, this summer, anytime you go someplace fun or do something they enjoy, remind them that this is now “school”. Good luck and enjoy the ride!

  5. No opinion on the book listed, but we use workbooks for grammar. Other than specific, structured lessons for grammar and writing, I use a variety of resources for exposure to various forms of creative and non-fiction writing.

  6. First off, congratulations!! You won’t regret it. There will be times you want to scream, but it is worth it. I am currently homeschooling our 10th grade daughter and 7th grade son. We pulled them out of the public school system 2 1/2 years ago.

    For LA, there are so many options! I agree that amblesideonline has a GREAT list of books to use. We are using sunlight for our son and Veritas Press Omnibus for our daughter, but we add ambleside book ideas in the mix.

    We use Spelling Power. More expensive up front, but you use it for all kids for all ages. One purchase. The kids like it because you only study the words you miss on the pre-test.

    Poetry – Sonlight integrates it. We have also used Grammar of Poetry.

    Grammar – Shurley English. Very comprehensive.

    Writing – I have heard nothing but rave reviews of IEW for the youngers. We use Lost Tools of Writing, which is similar for high school level. It is very common to use IEW then follow up with Lost Tools.

    Best of wishes to you! I am so excited for you!

  7. Wow! I knew you would end up homeschooling someday. I just hear the love of your children through your posts! :) I put together my own curriculum. I LOVE Seton for English. It is very thorough in Grammer. Here are two reasons I like it: First, it teaches how to diagram a sentence. My teacher in grade school tried to teach me and now I know how! Along with my children, of course! Second, each grade level teaches about a saint as you figure out verbs, adverbs, nouns, etc. My children enjoy the stories along with the grammer. English is usually the first subject they complete each year!

  8. Learning Language Arts through Literature and Total Language Plus lit guides are super. We used Five in a Row with our younger kids, did Kindergarten and First grade of Rod and Staff phonics and reading, then just took off reading and discussing together. The kids all write extensively now. Take a look at Nanowrimo and the junior version.

  9. Tapestry of Grace covers writing, reading/literature, poetry and some vocabulary in their English category. And the whole family can work together but at different levels.
    I really like Easy Grammar!
    Sequential Spelling seems pretty good, but each kid is very different.

  10. Disclaimer : my oldest chd is going into 5th grade so this is my choices

    Poetry. We used harp & laurel wreath but really anything by Robert louis Stevenson is great for elementary memorization.

    Phonics. All About Spelling by Marie Rippel. Very hands on and helps with different learning styles.

    Spelling. My Catholic Speller from catholic heritage curriculum (CHC)

    Writing. Handwriting without Tears. Again uses lots of hands on stuff for the younger kids.

    Grammar. Primary language lessons and interdicted language lessons are really good. I also like CHC’s language of God workbooks.

    Reading. I have lots of books at home, but we use the library a lot. A week visit is part of our routine.

  11. My hands-down favorite grammar guide for middle-schoolers is Cathy Campbell’s Giggly Guide to Grammar. It teachers the complex grammar middle schoolers need (versus other curricula that I have found water it down) while making it ROTFL fun. Lots and lots of giggles. After that curriculum, they are ready for college-level materials like Diana Hacker’s Writer’s Reference (with workbook) and Strunk & White’s Elements of Style, which I usually introduce in 8th and 9th grade.

    Good luck!

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