Tips for Teaching English Language Arts at Home

Whether you are having your child learn from home through Zoom or braving the world of homeschooling, fostering a love of reading and writing in them can be difficult. Without previous training in education or in English Language Arts instruction, many parents find themselves confused and frustrated. But don’t give up yet! I’ve put together 4 simple ways to help you teach English Language Arts from the comfort of your home along with sharable graphics to show your fellow homeschool friends.

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  1. Have them write in their journal for at least 10 minutes.

This method is used by many ELA teachers in order to develop students’ writing. The only way to get better at writing is to write! Give them a choice of prompts, but don’t be afraid to challenge them with hard topics, too. Kids can surprise us with how insightful they can be when given the chance to express themselves.

That doesn’t mean it will go well the first time or even within a few weeks. Writing and being willing to write is a skill that needs to be developed over time. Let your student have days where they can write on any topic they would like and add pictures to illustrate their prompt.

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2. Have them read a book of their choice for 25 to 30 minutes.

Reading for 25 to 30 minutes a day can drastically improve reading comprehension. But the key is to let them read what interests them, whether it is a typical book or graphic novel. They can also read short sets of articles.

To find books for low to no cost, consider taking your child on a trip to a local thrift store, discount book store, or the local library. You can also download apps such as Overdrive or Libby, which both connect to your local library system, to check out e-books from the comfort of your home.

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3. Use audiobooks and podcasts.

Listening comprehension is equally as important as reading and writing comprehension and helps to engage reluctant learners. Like books, there are podcasts and audiobooks on a variety of topics your child can choose from and enjoy.

Subscription services such as Audible are great for audiobook options, but for cost-free options, consider downloading OverDrive, which in addition to regular e-books also have audiobooks to borrow for free to any device.

For podcasts, browse various streaming services or download podcast apps such as Castbox to find appropriate titles for your child. Some focus on a broad topic such as sports or true crime while others may be more focused and in a storytelling format.

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4. Let them have unanswered questions.

One of the biggest pitfalls that parents fall for is to never let a child struggle with an answer or not give them space to work through a problem by themselves. This can lead to a heavy level of dependence and more difficulties in their learning journey down the road.

This isn’t to say let them struggle all of the time, of course. It can be hard to let kids struggle, but if they don’t immediately know the answer, encourage them to think it through or do some research. This helps build critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Still need guidance? Reach out to me for consultations or virtual tutoring services.

Want bite-sized, shareable tips for teaching English Language Arts? Check out the graphics I designed based off of this piece:

Social Commentary: The Secret Life of Bees

*Note: First appeared on Quail Bell Magazine June 28th, 2015. Image by Andi Chrisman.

The Secret Life of Bees  is a favorite among book clubs and English classes for its themes of motherhood, spirituality, and racial tension during the Civil Rights Era.  But the book also addresses problems we still see today: hidden biases.

Though Lily, the fourteen year-old white protagonist, has grown up with her black mother-figure Rosaleen and is considerably kinder to her than her father T. Ray, she still falls victim to the thinking of her time. When she meets August, one of the three beekeeper sisters that Lily and Rosaleen find in Tiburon, SC, she is shocked to discover that August is in fact, very intelligent and well-read.

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Essay: Sophie Scholl and the White Rose (Die Weisse Rose)

Note: First appeared on Quail Bell Magazine April 1st, 2015 in honor of National Women’s Month, as well as GirlSense and Nonsense, MCXV, and in Her Plumage: An anthology of women’s writing from Quail Bell Magazine.