From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


8/2/2007 4:15:04 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School Newsletter--August 2007

HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School Newsletter--August 2007
Components of a Solid High School English Course

Dear Friends,

August finds some families vacationing and others finishing up those
last projects before beginning a new school year. To help you look
forward with enthusiasm to September, we encourage you to take some
time now to put those final touches on planning, ordering curriculum,
and mapping out your school year. As you go over your plans, let's
zero in on English and talk about what constitutes a solid high school
English course of study. We offer the following suggestions that can
easily be tailored to your individual child and circumstance.


The first component that comes to mind when thinking of English is
literature. Before being able to fully enjoy good books, it's
important to teach your child how to analyze them by introducing and
discussing the literary devices the author uses such as setting, plot,
theme, etc. Providing opportunities to practice picking out these
devices through a variety of genres (drama, prose, poetry) will
encourage your child to better comprehend what he is reading. When
choosing literature curriculum, consider buying the teacher's guide
for a refresher on these literary techniques, questions to ask, and
background information on the author and reading selections.

You have many teaching options available when choosing an approach to
literature. One is the textbook approach which lays everything out for
you including literary selections (usually just excerpts of novels),
suggestions for composition assignments, and quizzes and tests.
Another is the integrated approach to literature which primarily uses
full-length novels and ties together literature with related periods
in history, thereby combining the study of many different subject
areas. Whichever approach you lean towards, we've listed a number of
literature suggestions under "Curriculum" in the HSLDA high school
section of its website:

To entice your student to read, we suggest you choose an assortment of
books at different levels including those above her current reading
level--this will stretch her thinking, vocabulary, and comprehension
abilities. A good source for great books (always use care in choosing
books from any list) is the College Board at Also provide her with
selections to read purely for enjoyment along with those she will be
required to read. The May 2007 high school email newsletter provided
many helpful resources for reading list suggestions.

If you would like to give your student the option of choosing her own
novels to study, you may want to have her select 5-6 books (at the
high school level), and order study guides to help you direct
discussions. Progeny Press and
Total Language Plus have good
assortments of high school level novels from which to choose.


Reading is enjoyable and comprehensible because authors use good
grammar. Likewise, it is important for students to apply correct
grammar skills so they will be able to express their ideas clearly and
concisely when speaking and writing. Grammar builds in difficulty and
detail, so do not neglect to continue providing grammar instruction
through the high school years. Again, in order to retain this
knowledge, application of it is necessary. The easiest way--you
guessed it!--is through writing assignments and public speaking
practice. There are many good grammar courses available from major
publishers as well as from curriculum providers who specialize in this
area. If, however, you choose not to use a workbook or specifically
designed curriculum to teach grammar, then be focused and deliberate
in checking and correcting all written compositions for good grammar


Knowing how to spell and having a plethora of words to use will mark
your child as being a well-educated and articulate individual. Whether
your teen's plans include college, a career, the military, or a
vocation, he will use these tools every day. Building his vocabulary
is also necessary for taking those college admissions tests (SAT and
ACT). In addition, it will aid him in understanding what he is reading
for both his literature course and his future goals. An example of a
resource to build vocabulary in a structured way is Vocabulary for
Achievement Or, in lieu of a
vocabulary workbook, you may simply direct your child to write on a
flash card any new word he discovers from his reading, as well as the
meaning of the word, and its use in a sentence. If you choose this
method, be sure to have your child systematically review these new
vocabulary words and encourage him to use them in his conversation and


Learning to speak in public can never begin too early. Encourage your
children to memorize and recite poems or passages of Scripture to a
family audience. Oral book reports provide another opportunity to
practice speaking in front of people. In high school, your child can
prepare speeches on issues she has an interest in or cares about
deeply. Public speaking does take courage and requires the child to
take a risk, but practice will make it easier. Michael Farris says,
"No matter what your career...the ability to present what you're
trying to say in a cohesive fashion is very good for your job...."


We've saved writing for last because we know it is the section of an
English course which gives many parents the most angst. But, it is
this component which unifies and uses all the parts we've mentioned.
Being a good writer begins with good mechanics--spelling, vocabulary,
grammar. Reading good literature by many authors teaches your child
how to express an idea or twist a phrase in a way which captures the
reader's attention, or interest, or emotions. Having the right tools
for the job makes it easier and more enjoyable.

Introduce your child to different types of writing such as creative,
analytical, essays or poetry. All use the same tools, but in a
different way. Do not become discouraged with your child's writing
skills, but praise him by pointing out what he has done well and how
he has improved before suggesting any changes or corrections. Teach
him to edit his work, checking for grammar, spelling, and content
before submitting it to you for grading. Remember, in order to
improve writing skills, provide a lot of time for practice. In
addition, encourage him to write for pleasure (not for you to grade or
necessarily to read).

You may feel you need help in this area, especially if your child
resents you critiquing her work, so consider looking at some outside
resources. We have some suggestions in the individual curriculum
portion of our website at

Also, in a recent issue of the Court Report Magazine, Dianne Hurst
wrote an excellent article on this very subject which you will find
encouraging for the many helpful ideas she offers. You can access it

Patrick Henry College offers a writing mentor program which matches
your high school student with a PHC student or graduate who will
mentor your child in fiction or nonfiction writing, assist with school
assignments, give students writing exercises and tips, or edit papers.
To learn more about the program or to receive an application for the
fall 2007 semester, visit or
email Rebekah Ries at

Other resources may be people in your church or community who are
trained or gifted in this area. They may be willing to work
individually with your child or provide a short course for your teen
or a group of teens.

Reading and writing well should be the foundations of your high school
program. As you design your English course, including the five
components--literature, grammar, spelling and vocabulary, speech, and
composition--remember that there may be some years when you emphasize
one component over the others, based on your child's strengths and
weaknesses. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "If we encounter a man of
rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads." What a
blessing it is for you to be involved in choosing the books and
materials that will help to shape your child's intellect.

Next month we will be highlighting the average homeschool high
schooler. If you have a wonderful, precious, average child--you'll
find you are not alone! Average is what most of us are--even though
the exemplary or outstanding homeschoolers usually make the news.

Our high respect for a well-read man is praise enough for literature.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Winding down the summer with you,

Becky Cooke & Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Coordinators

SAT/ACT Offer:
If your high schooler will be taking the SAT or ACT college entrance
test this year, check out the special offer to help in preparing for
these tests:

Upcoming Conference:
Come meet us on September 21, 2007, at the Indiana Foundation for Home
Schooling Map Your Future 07, Indianapolis, IN (Becky and Diane)

Contest Update:
This fall, HSLDA will announce all four of its contests at once, each
with different submission dates. So be sure to keep checking the HSLDA
contest webpage ( throughout August for the
latest information!

PHC Distance Learning Courses:
HSLDA member families receive a 5% tuition discount. Classes are open
to high school students ages 16 and over or adults interested in
personal development. There are still openings for the upcoming fall
semester, which begins August 20, but apply soon to ensure your place.
The class list and application are available at Please direct questions to
Daniel Burns by email at or by phone at 1-888-338-1776
(toll free) or 540-338-8760 (direct).

-> Are you "organizationally challenged"?

Finding the time to organize your home, your schedule, and your
silverware drawer is difficult enough. We have something that will
take the pressure off as you organize your homeschool.
Home School Minder will help with your schedule, lesson plans,
grades, transcripts, and much more . . . everything except those
missing socks. Free to families who join HSLDA for two years.

More reasons to join HSLDA...

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