English Should be Free, A d.i.y. Solution.

We take a fairly relaxed approach here focusing on read alouds and conversation but I know sometimes I’ve felt I might want to be a little more deliberate in teaching English. I’ve been on a  tight budget and I haven’t wanted to spend hard earned dollars on an entire programme that I might only use a handful of times, so why not just d.i.y.? It is actually easier than you think.

Read aloud everyday and from a variety of genres.

Listen to audiobooks using Librivox . Some narrators we have found quite good are Karen Savage, John Leider, Laurie Ann Waldon, Laura Caldwell (a little sing-songy), Sibella Denton, Kalynda,  Phil Chenevert (sing-songy), Mark F Smith,  Abigail Rassmusen, Kara Shallenberg, Ann Howlett (not a favourite reader, but she reads Understood Betsy), Elizabeth Klett, Mark Harris (he reads several G.A. Henty books, sounds a bit like a news reporter).

Let the books you or they read inspire them. Be careful to choose great books. Let naturally inspired moments happen. If you notice they are keen to construct a boat, research an animal, write their own story (don’t worry about spelling right now, you are just happy to see them writing a story!) draw, learn a new skill let them hit while the iron is hot. Don’t stop them to do some copywork, because you can tackle that later. Let them be inspired, self-motivated and intrinsically learn and be aware enough to capture the moment. Take a photo, be interested without taking over, let them know what they are doing is important to you. Inspiration will give you an amazing narration.

After reading Old Blue by Mary Taylor dear daughter made her own nest and eggs, reliving the story of protecting the little birds on an island off New Zealand.


Have conversation!

Copywork your favourite quote and draw a picture. Keep a book of quotes perhaps.

Now, here’s a BIG HINT … if you are going to ask your child to do this they probably won’t like it, and don’t expect them to, but they will do it anyway because you ask them to, right? Ha. Do it with them. Yep, have your own exercise book and learn and practice with them. It gives you an appreciation for how it feels and you are in fact encouraging and mentoring them.

Here is an example of what I did with a few times with Aesop’s Fables. Do what is comfortable for you. Day 1 and day 2 might be enough on their own and as a child is ready you could add day 3 and day 4. This is not something you need to do all the time just now and again.


  1. Read aloud a fable by Aesop. The Aesop for Children by Milo Winter
  2.  Ask child to copy a favourite selection of the fable.


  1. Pick out one or two words with which they may be unfamiliar. Maybe write these down (and maybe a brief definition if needed) or have conversation about it.
  2. Ask: ” What other sayings or phrases can you think of?”
  3. Ask: “What is the message or moral found in the fable?”


  1. Underline the prepositional phrases. (these unify words)
  2. Put a box around the nouns (naming words). Ask “Why is ______ capitalized?”
  3. Highlight the verbs. (doing words)
  4. Ask: “Which words describe the nouns (naming words) you underlined? …… Those would be adjectives (describing words).”
  5. Ask: “Which words describe the verbs (doing words) you highlighted? …… Those would be adverbs.(modifies the meaning of) “

Day 4

  1. Write the fable or a selection of the fable from dictation.
  2. Ask: “Look at the original, can you see any errors in the dictation.”  (just rub out error and write in the proper copy)
  3. Add any misspelled words to a post-it note and put it somewhere it will be seen (like the back of the toilet door?) or add to a running spelling list, using your favorite spelling method to review the words. The post-it might stay for and hour, a week or longer and can be taken down when your child has nailed it.



2 thoughts on “English Should be Free, A d.i.y. Solution.

Add yours

  1. Another great read thanks to you Renelle! I am always amazed at how you are able to write and make your readers feel that they are just talking to a friend. Keep writing please!


  2. You are sweetness Aquila. Well, I hope you feel welcome at my virtual dining table, sharing a cuppa and talking homeschool. Please feel welcome to drop in on me again. I’ve got a few drafts sitting there waiting for me to finalise and publish so hopefully I can get myself cracking into a regular blogging rhythm. May you week be filled with peace.


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