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When we stop breaking down language arts into “subjects” and lean more into organic learning, then it is easy to unschool language arts to your comfort level.

When we think of education, we often think of reading, writing and math. The 3 tenets and building blocks of what we need to know. So, how do you unschool language arts (aka reading and writing)? 

 “Language arts” was adopted by schools for use when describing a curriculum involving language skills, not just reading or English.

It might seem overwhelming to know how to do it. But honestly, there are so many ways that our children can learn to read and write. Don’t start thinking about “But I have to teach grammar and spelling and vocabulary and punctuation and, and, and…….” It will only start leading you down a rabbit trail of what ifs. 

I do believe that spelling, grammar, vocabulary and the other mechanics of writing are very important. But I do not like to separate them into almost separate subjects. They don’t need to be. And they shouldn’t be.  Do you remember spelling lists, vocab lists, etc? Did they really help you in mastering reading and comprehension?

When I started teaching 6th grade here in the US, it was the first time I had ever heard about diagramming sentences. I suddenly had to teach it. Yikes. Two teaching degrees and years of teaching, and then I had to go and separate another piece of English. I still don’t think that knowing how to diagram a sentence helped my students, or myself, to get the most out of reading and writing. 

When we stop breaking down language arts into “subjects” and lean more into organic learning, then it is easy to unschool language arts to your comfort level. 

colorful letters

HOW DO YOU UNSCHOOL LANGUAGE ARTS?

  • Have a language rich environment
  • Read aloud as a family (both fiction and non-fiction)
  • Model reading and writing
  • Introduce phonics through games at a young age
  • Imaginative play
  • Work on verbal communication
  • Discuss the books you are reading. Be more engaged in the reading

ACTIVITIES FOR UNSCHOOLING LANGUAGE ARTS

Here are some ways that you can learn spelling and grammar:

  • Texts and emails
  • Pen pals
  • Write poetry
  • Playing Mad Libs
  • Writing shopping lists
  • Making signs
  • Creating a weekly food plan
  • Making or writing out recipes
  • Writing a story and making your own book
  • Journaling
  • Create a comic book
  • etc
girl reading book on a bed

WAYS YOU CAN LEARN TO READ WITHOUT FORMAL INSTRUCTION:

  • Street signs
  • Shop and restaurant signs
  • Menus
  • Letters from friends and family
  • Instructions
  • Recipes
  • Being read to
  • Games
  • Labels on boxes and cans in the pantry
  • Magnetic letters
  • Texts and emails
  • Historical markers
  • Comics
  • Subtitles
  • Word games (book form, on tablets or phones)
  • Video games
  • etc

When it comes to reading aloud, make sure you are using a variety of reading material – fiction, non-fiction, comics, magazines, newsletters, websites. Start with what your children are interested in and try not to impose what YOU think they should read. If your child is currently only interested in trains, then read everything you can about trains – both fiction and non-fiction. Their interest can change and therefore so will their books. 

Introduce chapter books early. Enjoy them as read alouds. What we like to do, in our family, is to pick a book that might have a movie based on the book. We then do a theme night where we make dinner based on the book, watch the movie and later discuss how it was similar and how it was different. 

You can also go to the theater, explore drama and music. All of this assists in the organic learning of reading and writing. 

girl writing

APPS FOR LANGUAGE ARTS

  • Teach my monster to read
  • Word search
  • Word scrambles
  • ABC Mouse (use it as a supplement not the entire curriculum)

HOW TO TEACH PHONICS

Here are are some ways that you can “teach” phonics to your children. Though, it is best if you don’t think of it as “teaching” but ways to incorporate it into daily life. Really they just need practice.

  • Introduce the sounds of the letters early
  • Play games like “I Spy” using the sound of letters
  • Make up lists of words beginning with certain sounds. Make it a game.
  • Use alliteration in silly sentences
  • Read rhyming books and practice rhyming
  • Go for walks and point out different letters. Ask you children to make the sound and give you a few words with that beginning sound
  • Play memory match with sounds and words that begin with the sounds (example: “a” and “ant”)


Here are other videos on how to unschool other subjects:
How to unschool math
How to unschool science

Michayla Best

For over 30 years I have worked with children in a variety of capacities, whether as a teacher or tutor, a babysitter, a camp leader, or family advocate. I have always found a way to connect with children, to help them understand themselves and the world around.

I am Mummy to trinational twincesses who keep me on my toes with their questions, their commentaries, their shenanigans and acts of spontenudity.

Wife, world traveler, musician, crafting queen and self-proclaimed nerd; I love to take what I see, glean, know and help families to find their groove and be successful.

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