CM approach and Grammar


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  • Marsha

    Here is my question: At what age does Charlotte Mason say to begin grammar? Next year my ds will be 8 and 7 years old. I am feeling like maybe this is still to young to introduce grammar but I’m really not sure. Ds8 has speech problems and could use some help with use of pronouns and basic, simple sentence structure. I bought First Language Lessons two years ago and just started using it this week just to try it out. Too early to give an opinion about it. What is recommended on this board? I have looked at Language Lessons by Queen Homeschool. Any opinions on this one? Should I just continue with FLL? I don’t want to do anything very formal or time consuming. Thanks.



    I am a writer and my oldest child is 10. We have yet to start a formal grammar program. I intend to begin toward the end of this school year.

    In my opinion (and others have different opinions, I know), it’s best to study grammar after a child is writing on his/her own. If your sons are writing stories on their own, perhaps you’d like to introduce some basic grammer like capitalization, punctuation, etc. What I’ve seen happen when formal grammar is introduced early is the children get concerned about the technical aspects of writing and their writing becomes stifled. It’s far more important to be able to communicate in an interesting and clear way rather than have a piece of writing that follows all the rules but is stiff and lacks life. Once a child is comfortable creating written communication, the technical rules will be useful to him.

    I also consider narration as a tool for teaching writing. Oral narration is difficult and teaches the student to organize his thoughts and express them clearly. These skills will be valuable when the time comes for writing stories, essays, reports, etc. Just because there isn’t a pencil on the paper or fingers on the keyboard during narration, the children are still learning how to write. I’m thoroughly impressed with how narration lays the foundation for good writing later.

    In my experience, and in my gut, I think that reading quality literature is the best beginning of grammar. Developing an eye and ear for good writing is an excellent skill to possess. I really think reading, narration, and copywork at the age of your sons is enough. I advise patience.



    Eight is about when I start giving simple little lessons in conjunction with our copywork. The child copies a sentence. First I introduce types of sentence–“Is this sentence asking a question? Is it telling something?” Then we gradually talk about ending punctuation marks, and I have the child start circling it and telling me what it is and why it was used. Then we move on to very simply identifying parts of speech. First we teach ourselves to find and underline the verb. Then the subject. Then we add in other parts gradually, but we are not in a hurry! At this point, we start playing MadLibs. 🙂 Great reinforcement but nobody suspects it is educational.

    This is all very useful because I start Latin at about 10. Then the child will learn a LOT about grammar very quickly (and be thankful that English grammar is as simple as it is!!!)

    I agree with Esby that lots and lots of good literature is critical; I think foreign language study is critical as well. I could literally, when I was in grad school, pick out the kids who had learned at least 2 years of a foreign language–they never made agreement errors or other mistakes like that. And looking back on my own education, I did get a teacher who really stressed and drilled grammar–but none of it stuck until I needed it to figure out my foreign language work.

    Then in junior high we do a fairly quick grammar course.

    For help with the younger ages, Ruth Beechick’s Strong Start in Language book is where I got the initial guidance for what to do with our copywork sentences to teach the basic stuff, but I start a little later than she recommended.

    So, yes, you might want to consider gentle lessons for your oldest. You can use a book or you can just gently use the copywork lessons, keep it easy and simple, and don’t stress.

    Michelle D



    I have so far waited till 10 and use Easy Grammar. Very easy and for the most part doesnt take more than about 15 mins a day for grammar.


    I am going to go with my gut feeling which is to wait some time until I introduce formal grammar. I do agree my kids should be writing on their own before I do start something formal. It only makes sense, at least to me. I thought a grammar workbook might help me son better understand how to use and speak in complete sentences.

    Michelle, we are already doing much of what you suggested except for foreign language. Copywork is something ds8 enjoys. We have discussed punctuation and capitalization but not nouns, pronouns, or verbs. Because of my son’s speech delay we are working on who, what, How, when, and where? He doesn’t fully understand who, how, or when. He also gets his pronouns confused. God is calling me to be a teacher and speech therapist. His speech is probably what needs to be the focus as of now.


    Rachel White

    I just started using Primnary Language Lessons by Emma Serl this year (w/the newly reprinted teacher’s guide) w/my 7 yr.old as well as making use of the Theacher’s guide with his Elson reader, book 2. I don’t have him write as much as either one requires, mostly oral but he has enjoyed it and between the two there is great and gentle foundation in grammer(I’m learning, too!).



    I have been using First Language Lessons vol. 3 by Susan Wise Bauer with my dd8. She loves them! This is our first official grammar year–we did a little Easy Grammar last year. There is oral practice (we like this because a lot of writing bogs her down), dictation (one or two sentences and usually optional), and poetry memorization. It does a lot of diagramming, but takes it really slow at the beginning. We are enjoying it!

    I also just received Spelling Wisdom, and I cannot wait to get going on it! It looks like a great program, and it has gotten so many good reviews on this forum.

    Faith 🙂

    Here is my question: At what age does Charlotte Mason say to begin grammar?


    Not until age 10

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