Help with Language Arts

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  • bwelling5511

    Hey!  I’m looking at Using Language Well and Spelling Wisdom  for my third grade level child. I am new to the Charlotte Mason method still and just want to make sure I understand correctly. So with CM method at this early stage we simply use copying and dictation to help the child learn correct grammar and spelling. The “normal” method of teaching multiple rules about grammar, spelling, and parts of speech are set aside. Then when the child is older and has a good concept of grammar and spelling, that is when we work on parts of speech etc. Is this correct? Just trying to make sure that I understand! This method is so very different from anything else I have seen and I am very excited to get started!

    Karen Smith

    You are correct that the Charlotte Mason method uses a different approach to spelling and grammar than the traditional textbook approach.

    In grades 1-2, as children are learning how to form their letters and write words, copywork is used. Copywork is when the child copies letters, words, or sentences directly below the model of what is being copied. At this stage, the child can be asked to spell a word or two from his copywork lesson after he has finished copying it. Once a child no longer has to concentrate on how to form the letters and he can write with relative ease, then he moves on to transcription, usually around grade 3.

    Transcription is copying the model on a separate sheet of paper, starting with looking at one word in the model and copying that word without looking back at the model and gradually working up to several words without looking at the model as they are written. Transcription is the transitional step between copywork and dictation.

    In the first half of Using Language Well Book 1 the child transcribes the exercises from Spelling Wisdom Book 1. Using Language Well Book 1 will also teach your child punctuation, alphabetizing, synonyms, antonyms, contractions, compound words, and more. English usage and grammar are taught with guided discovery, which helps the child remember the rules of English usage and grammar better than just being told what the rules are. The first half of Spelling Wisdom Book 1 and Using Language Well Book 1 are recommended for 3rd grade.

    The second half of Using Language Well Book 1 and Spelling Wisdom Book 1 introduce prepared dictation. English usage and grammar are continued in the lessons, but now, instead of transcribing the Spelling Wisdom exercises, the child will study the passage and then you will dictate to him, a phrase at a time, the passage or a portion of it. He no longer gets to see the model as he writes. We recommend the second half of Using Language Well Book 1 and Spelling Wisdom Book 1 for 4th grade.

    Learning the parts of speech begins in Using Language Well Book 2, which we recommend for 5th and 6th grade.

    You can see a list of what English usage and grammar concepts are taught in each of the three Using Language Well books we currently have available.

    We have several articles in our Learning Library that explain language arts using the Charlotte Mason method.

    From the Language Arts in the Charlotte Mason Method series, you may find Copywork, Transcription, and Dictation and A Charlotte Mason Approach to English Grammar useful.

    You may also find the videos The Natural Progression of Language Arts and Grammar from the video section of our Learning Library useful.


    We are third grade here also.  I wouldn’t say everything is set aside but more integrated.  Our son is thriving this year with Spelling Wisdom and Using Language Well. Recently, we learned about contractions and exclamation points while following the process.


    Thank you both so much for your responses! This answers all my questions!

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