When it comes to language arts, there are as many teaching philosophies as there are curriculum options. It’s enough to make any parent’s head spin! Many of these philosophies and the accompanying curricula focus on one or two aspects of language arts training while considering other aspects to be of lesser importance. The key is to remember that being well-rounded and teaching to your student’s learning strengths is more important than following this philosophy or that.
Tips for the Learning to Reason Stage
During the high school years, a solid foundation in grammar, comprehension, and coherent writing skills will pay off as the focus shifts toward reasoning-based assignments. Now is the time to focus on interacting with literature and expressing thoughts and opinions in coherent written or spoken form.
- Continue to emphasize good living books during these high school years. Although your student will mostly engage in independent reading, continued read-aloud time is a great way to initiate discussion and keep relationships strong.
- As your student progresses toward reading more challenging books, alternate between comprehension questions, discussion questions and topics, and response papers to ensure that he or she is truly engaging well with the subject matter.
- If your student did not have solid grammar training in the Getting Excited and/or Beginning to Understand stages, make sure to incorporate formal grammar lessons into the high school years to facilitate solid writing and prepare for the ACT and SAT.
- Incorporate some form of speech or debate training in the high school years.
- Assign at least one form of response – written or oral – for every book read to provide writing and speech practice and to initiate opportunities to discuss opinions, ideas, and comprehension.
- Assign a wide variety of writing assignments including essays, opinion papers, news reports, fictional stories, biographical or non-fiction stories, and poetry. Encourage your student to strengthen weak areas but also allow him or her to practice favorite writing styles frequently.
- Grade papers in two stages. Especially in the first half of high school, have your student submit a rough draft of every writing assignment. Talk through clarity of topic, organization and flow, engagement of style, and overall development separately from grammar and mechanics. This allows you to praise strength and progress in one aspect, even if there is an abundance of “bleeding” in another aspect.