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"If the English Language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers."  - Doug Larson, Author

The English language seems to have more exceptions than rules, multitudes of letter combinations that produce the same sounds, masses of words that have more than one meaning, verbs that possess different tenses, and enough grammar and punctuation guidelines to overwhelm any reader! These are the same reasons that the English language is also very difficult to teach.

For the younger set, the most effective way to begin teaching the rules and structure of the English language is by example. Adults should aim to model proper grammar, clear diction, and a varied vocabulary. This will go a long way toward building a solid foundation for your learners. The exposure to this verbal modeling trains your child's ear to distinguish proper from improper grammar. Similar to a musician who listens to a prodigy's interpretation of music to improve his own playing, your child's verbal (and consequently, written) language will improve as he listens to correct speech patterns.

For older learners, specific practice exercises are needed as the students learn more complicated language patterns. Reading House games and activities can help children practice many of these skills, but repetitive written practice of each skill is a necessary component to learning. Although some educators frown upon utilizing worksheets as a teaching tool, I believe they serve an important purpose when used as follow-up practice to regular instruction. However, a heavy reliance on workbook exercises as a main instructional technique may have a negative effect on a child's enthusiasm for reading.

For many educators, Language Arts is a broad topic used to describe the majority of skills children need to master to become independent readers. The Reading House breaks out skill groups more specifically and focuses on the following categories as the basis for our Language Arts games and activities:

Grammar – parts of speech, types of sentences, pronouns, verb tenses, etc.

Punctuation – capitalization, commas, apostrophes, quotation marks, etc.

Composition – writes stories, paragraphs, descriptions, summaries, etc.

Study & Research Skills – dictionary, thesaurus, taking notes, outlining, etc.

There are so many Language Arts skills to share with children and ideas can be gleaned from a variety of sources.  To get you started, I encourage you to try some of the following activities: Silly Noun-Verb Sentences, Order Up Some Story, and Mine and Yours, But if you are currently in need of a game for a specific skill, try the DIY Language Arts lesson to get you pointed in the right direction.

A complete understanding of the many rules of the English language takes significant time and study. It's important to not only teach these skills, but to also show the relation of the skill to the reading process and how it aids in comprehension.