The Stages of Learning Language Arts

Here’s a simple overview of the learning and teaching stages for language arts. Remember that the ages given are approximate, and students usually pass from one stage to the next in order. Some begin early and pass quickly through the stages, while others take much longer. As long as you keep pouring in good literature, they’ll eventually make it through all the stages.

Five stages of language arts learning.

Stages of learning language arts

  1. Infant through preschool: Read-alouds and pencil play.
  2. Preschool through early elementary: Penmanship, copywork, narration, reading instruction.
  3. Age 7-9: Silent reading; vocabulary from Greek and Latin roots; spelling.
  4. Age 9-12=/-: Composition, one year of grammar, vocabulary.
  5. Age 12=/- and up: Classic literature and composition.

Above all, choose good books and read. Read aloud, read silently, listen to audiobooks, and talk about what you’re enjoying (and what you’re not). I think you’ll be amazed at what kids learn and retain just through great books and conversation. It’s part of a pattern set in scripture — to teach at home and away, when you lie down and when you rise up (from Deuteronomy 6:4-9) — throughout all of life, in other words. When a child is steeped in language that is used clearly and properly and books that convey important, meaningful, or delightful things, that child’s mind will be furnished with the ingredients necessary for communication, and teaching language arts will seem surprisingly easy.

You might enjoy these book lists from my Excellence in Literature site:

Historical Fiction: A List of Favorites for Family Reading

Books Boys Like

4 Responses

  1. Shelley says:

    My child is in the 10th grade in an honors and AP curriculum. Last year was our first year of homeschooling, English was not a success. He is a good writer and fast learner. Our goal is to have him ready for AP English (writing/composition, literature, vocabulary, grammar) by 12th grade. Using your Excellence in Literature program, would you recommend the Excellence in Writing programs to go along with your programs?

    • It sounds as though you’re building on a good foundation. I tend to lean toward not doing another writing program in addition to EIL– the writing there is focused and designed to move them toward college level thinking and writing. The IEW programs are excellent, though, if you feel he needs it. I’d be more inclined to enroll him in debate, which builds all the language arts and thinking skills in a slightly different way than EIL. When you choose something like debate, you’re building so much more than you’d be building by just practicing writing skills. Debate involves research in specific and valuable content areas, writing, higher-order thinking, rhetoric, and more. It’s a high-value addition to an honors curriculum. I hope that’s helpful!

  2. Lois says:


    I was looking over your website and the many interesting subjects you cover. My eye catcher this time was an article on literature. You see, I am homeschooling a 10th grader. Kinda lonely sometimes. I have tried to find classes in the area (we moved here several years ago) but have found very few.
    I would like to do a literature arts class with someone but since this has not worked out, would you have any suggestions for someone who is illiterate in literature. We only have two and a half years left, do think we should concentrate on writing or literature. Any input would be appreciated. Lois

    • Hi, Lois,

      I’m glad you stopped by. Homeschooling can be lonely when you don’t have a good support group. I don’t know if you’ve tried it, but I’ve seen homeschoolers post notices on library and grocery store bulletin boards, seeking others to study with. Many state organizations also maintain a list of groups that might have someone for you.

      Writing and literature are both important, and you can do them together so that it’s not overwhelming. There are many co-ops that use the Excellence in Literature curriculum, but really, it’s designed to be self-directed so that parents don’t need to know literature to use it. If you would like someone to help evaluate papers, I always recommend Connie Schenkelberg, the author of Grammar Made Easy. You are welcome to message me if you’d like her contact information.

      I hope you have a wonderful year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.