BOC and BOM, ages?

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  • kellywright006

    I know there is a LOT of information on this site, but sometimes I just have to find answers QUICK. Not sure how to do that sometimes.

    Quick question.

    What ages do you start Book of Centuries and Book of Mottoes?
    I have a 7th and 5th graders….that I am considering it for. The 7th is gonna do it, just not sure about the 5th.

    The 5th graders really does not have good handwriting……whcih will lead me to my next post

    Thank you kindly


    Charlotte recommended around 9 or 10 for BOC and a bit older for Commonplace. IMO, copywork is better for younger because to ask the child to write what struck them from their reading is a bit abstract for younger ages. Commonplace becomes copywork for older kids. My dd13 began both this year in 7th. DS10 may begin his own BOC a bit earlier though. We have kept a family one.


    Thank you CHristie! I always get so excited when you respond! I guess I just enjoy your responses!

    When you say you keep a family one, are you talking about Commonplace (is that what Book of Mottoes is called)? Can U explain further? I always thought each would have their own, to write what strikes them. You have different people write in one book? Actually, I can see that sounds like a good idea? Will you please clarify…..


    I’m sorry for being unclear. I meant that we keep a family BOC. My kids, well just my oldest right now, have their own Commonplace. However, a family BOM (aka Commonplace) could be interesting, I think.

    Thank you for your sweet words, too.



    My ds 10 will start a book of time and book of mottoes for 5th grade. I feel he is ready for it. We have done a family timeline for 4 years. He draws well and has nice penmanship. We are starting back at Ancients for history. He enjoys history and would enjoy writing some favorite historical quotes in a BOM, commonplace book. But I do not expect it to really take off for a year or two. The family commonplace book is a nice idea.

    Book Of Mottoes starts at grade 4 Language Arts here:


    I mentionned in another post that my oldest wrote one quote in his BOM last school year. It was a quote from Wayne Gretzky! What can I say, he is a sporty kid.

    He doesn’t find anything particularly striking, he is the type to just get his school work over with as fast as he can. Not pondering much!

    How do you do you encourage to write more in it?


    I had a similar question in an older post, petitemom.  I started my own BoM in a 5 subject notebook…but never got into the habit of using it.  But I do take extensive notes in a single subject notebook or a journal when I am really studying something.  But that is not quite the same, so it may not be encouraging to my children.  I think keeping one as a family (as stated above) is a great idea for getting started.


    petitemom – That is the reason that I suggest waiting until 7th and beyond. Even my dd13 who is very well read and has done written narration since age 9 was slightly stumped at the beginning of this year. It was simply to vast an ocean to float around in.

    Her first entries from – 

    Oliver Twist:

    Oliver cried lustily. If he could have known that he was a orphan, left to the tender mercies of the churchwardens and and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder.

    Phantom Stallion:

    The blue roan stopped long enough to scream a challenge. He held a grudge against the Phantom and this time he wouldn’t run.

    Lord of the Rings:

    And there was also a strange Elf clad in green and brown, Legolas, a messenger from his father, Thranduil, the King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood.

    The Cat of Bubastes:

    After the ceremonies were concluded the procession moved in order as far as the house of the chief priest.

    Notice how none of those chosen passages really have a lot of meaning. The “best” one is from Phantom Stallion, the least literary book IMO. We discussed this and went over again that this was a book to store favorite lines and passages, words of wisdom, etc.

    Here are some later additions:

    The Hobbit

    Far over the misty mountains cold

    To dungeons deep and caverns old

    We must away, ere break of day,

    To find our long-forgotten gold.


    Chip the glasses and crack the plates!

    Blunt the knives and bend the forks!

    That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates –

    Smash the bottles and burn the corks!

    Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!

    Pour the milk on the pantry floor!

    Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!

    Splash the wine on every door!


    Many, many more faves from The Hobbit were added!


    William Cowper on Habits –

    “Habits are soon assumed; but

    when we strive to strip them off,

    it is being flayed alive.”


    Little Women

    You see we don’t believe in making children miserable by too many rules, and too much study.”


    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe –

    “A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”


    Sophocles – “Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.”


    Winston Churchill – “Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”


    Ralph Waldo Emerson – “No change of circumstance can repair a defect of character.”


    Duke Ellington – “I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.”


    Charlotte Mason – “Never be without a really good book on hand.”


    All great things are simple, an many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. – Unknown


    I share all this to remind you that this is a growth process and many, well likely most, kids won’t have things that strike them at age 10. Boys especially can struggle in this. It’s a thinking, growing thing. If your kids are ready earlier, go for it. Don’t be afraid to back off and wait and continue choosing copywork for them for a time. I tried this dd13 with a commonplace book in late 5th or early 6th because she is a true lierary girl. She wasn’t ready. She is now and she’s soaring.







    @Kellywright – Focus on good, quality penmanship with learning to form the letters properly. Once done, choose the copywork for your child, she will grow into a BOM soon enough. There is no rush. Be encouraged!


    I distilled my thoughts above into a blog post. I’m not a writer or frequent blogger, but I thought I’s post this to share with others.


    Thank you for sharing your personal experience with us, Christie.  Do you know why the free curriculum guide suggests the BoM starting at grade 4?  Is that when Charlotte began her students with it?  Do you think our children today are not as prepared as the children she taught?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on why there is a discrepancy.


    Wings2fly – I’m unsure about the SCM guide here. Maybe Sonya will pop in and answer. From my reading of Charlotte and other research, it looks like she began this around age 13. There could be places that contradict this, but this is my recollection. My reason for staring this year in 7th was simply because it failed earlier and I learned that Charlotte recommended later. Profound, no?Wink

    It’s late and I’m off to bed, but here are some links that may be helpful.


    Christie, those are some pretty profound quotes for a 13yo to choose. Think I’ll go add some of them to my own commonplace book. 🙂


    Thanks for sharing Christie! My son just finished 7th grade, maybe it just takes longer w/boys.

    Maybe I’ll try to do a commonplace one instead, that would mean I would be the one to write it?

    Perhaps they’ll find more inspiration if it doesn’t require extra work!?!



    Petitemom – commonplace and Book of mottoes are used interchangeably. The child writes typically. However, you could try writing for him for a bit. And yes, I think boys take longer.

    RobinP – I agree. Once she got the idea she took off.

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