Learning to Read

I don’t have much of my own to add at the moment, so I’ll pass along a short article about learning to read from “Teacher Tom”. My sons learned to read in their own time and without pressure from us. We read to them. We answered their questions. There were things to read around us. And eventually, all our children read. My husband’s daughter read around 4 years old, our oldest son around 5 years old, and our youngest son around 7 years old. They read and write as well as anyone I know that went through years of schooling. In a world filled with the printed word, it’s kinda hard NOT to learn to read! The simplest and cheapest reading program around is to pick up any book and read it to your child, point to the words on the page now and again, and answer them when they point to letters themselves.


Does anyone still learn Latin? I was surprised when my then thirteen-year-old asked me about learning Latin. He thought it looked like it would help him understand English better. I think he read somewhere that it would be a good place to start learning other languages. He really enjoyed the program we got because it wasn’t just learning the words. It had a lot of history along with it.

We bought the online version that you could print the pages you needed as you went along and really enjoyed that. My son was always overwhelmed at the sight of a large book of print when he was younger. He knew he didn’t need to complete it. And he knew that it was up to him how long he wanted to stick with it, but he having the book there in his sight made him feel anxious. He didn’t even like coloring books when he was younger because he felt compelled to complete them even though he didn’t really like coloring. I’m happy to report he grew out of that. He’s almost sixteen now has large books sitting on his nightstand that he reads a bit from every night. And he is perfectly capable of taking apart a big project and doing a little at time. But I digress! I was able to print out a couple pages at a time this way and it gave him a chance to practice writing a bit as well.

The program we used was called Lively Latin. The author of the program was a homeschooler herself. I met her once at a homeschool conference after my son had been using her program for about a year. She was so friendly, one of those people you feel like you already know when you meet them.

Here are some articles about why you should, or should not learn Latin. Do some research and decide for yourselves. I know we had a great time learning it together! It’s come in handy learning other languages and at museums. And it’s entertaining to harass each other about using Latin words in games like Scrabble!

7 Reasons Why I’m Learning Latin And Teaching My Kids Too

Don’t Study Latin

Kissing the frog: Our Latin Curriculum Hunt and What I Learned

Grammar Check

My sons are sticklers about words being spelled correctly and general grammar. I’m not sure where they got it, but it’s actually a pretty nice skill to have around the house. Whenever I am writing something that I really want worded well, I pass it over to them for a quick check. They catch mistakes that I never would have noticed and re-word things in much better ways.

Yesterday I heard them talking about “Grammarly”. They were writing an email to an online vendor about exchanging a pair of pants they had bought. When they ask me what they should say, I generally say “Something quick and simple, like ‘I want to exchange a pair of pants. What do I do?’ ” Apparently that’s just not good enough for them. After some time, they sent this.

“I would like to exchange some TLD pants that are too big. Also, in the same order I bought a Sunline shifter for a 2001 yz125 and I’m afraid that it does not fit, so I would like to return that, if possible.”


“I would like to exchange the pants for the same ones, just a different size. I installed the shifter on my bike, and it appears that the splined hole that goes around the shift shaft is too large. No matter how much I tighten the bolt, it wiggles and can move side to side on the shaft.”

And then,

“I have attached a video showing how the shift lever does not fit. In the video, it is torqued to 90 lbs-in, which is 2 lbs-in tighter than the stock value. I would like to exchange the pants for a size down, 36″.”

I’m just showing you what he wrote, not the vendor’s replies, mostly because I’m always amazed at how well they write and converse with others. We’ve never had “language arts” in the traditional academic sense. We’ve read together. We’ve written some things. We’ve played a lot of word games like Mad Libs and Scrabble. Here they are writing emails to people, commenting on videos and Facebook posts, and answering and asking questions on online forums.

That’s when I heard about Grammarly. The younger one said he uses it all the time and it’s great because it actually finds things that spellcheck doesn’t. The older one said he didn’t use it until now because he thought it just did the same thing as spellcheck. I asked about it and they showed it to me. We are all amazed and still wonder how in the world it works.

And no, I didn’t ask them to proofread this…but I may ask Grammarly!

Sentence Structure?

I don’t think anyone invented language. I pretty sure that it naturally evolved. No one had an “ah-ha” moment about putting the noun before the predicate. “Mr. Norton walks.” So why do we torture children with diagramming sentences and picking out verbs, nouns, and adjectives? Someone at sometime (probably a word-nerd, someone fascinated with semantics or linguistics) heard all these words and sentences we naturally use, noticed a pattern of some kind, that most people used them in certain way, and decided to write down all these “rules”. Anyone that hears people speak regularly can pick this kind of stuff up naturally without ever knowing what a interjection is. But now we feel we need to sit young children down and explain these rules whether they are interested or not, as if they wouldn’t know how to speak or write if they didn’t know them in an academic form.

If you are fascinated by the rules of language, by all means study them! But you really don’t need to harass people of any age about it. If your children hear people speak in the dialect and form you desire, they will learn that language naturally. You can hear language in multiple ways. You can listen to conversation, watch TV or movies, play online role playing games, or read books. Just like learning to walk, your children learned to talk. They don’t speak like Native Americans in a old Western movie, do they? So why would they write that way?

Here are a couple links to get the juices flowing in your mind!

Sandra Dodd’s page about “Language Arts”

Unschool Rules!