Topic | LA plan for elementary – please share what you do!

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
  • momma_pajama


    We are in our 3rd official year homeschooling and I am currently considering major change for next school year.  I have always had  CM influence (coming from MFW) but have been too scared to really dive in!  But 2013 will be the year!

    What scares me the most is language arts.  When I see the plans listed on SCM it seems quite simple… up until 4th grade all that should be happening is copywork, oral narrations, and “light” language lessons (either through EFTTC or PLL). 

    Where I start to get worried is when I see CM blogs or messages on forums like this and almost nobody seems to follow that guide.  I’m constantly seeing extra writing programs, spelling programs, etc in the early years.  

    I KNOW that all kids aren’t the same and each situation is different, but I just wanted to know if you would share exactly what you teach for each of the elementary years.  It will give me peace of mind!! 




    I have an 8yo (3rd) daughter and an 11yo (6th) son.

    This is what we do for LA:


    M-F: McGuffey’s 3rd Reader (read aloud) and Literature Selection (1 chapter per day aloud)

    M & W: Copywork using this website  (M: 1 cursive and W: 1 print worksheet using the Spelling Wisdom lesson from the week)

    T & Th: Spelling Wisdom Book 1 (1 lesson per week T: Study the passage & Th: Dictation), we started this early because she was ready.

    F: English for the Thoughtful Child 2 (we do this orally only)



    M-F: Independent Literature Selection (at least 1 chapter per day)

    M & W: Jr. Analytical Grammar (We use the Spelling Wisdom Book 2 Exercise and apply the JAG Method we are working on)

    T & Th: Spelling Wisdom Book 2 (2 Lessons per week)

    F: Journal (for Handwriting) & Mad Libs (fun Grammar)

    Both Children do a written narration with a sketch after each literature selection is completed as well as oral narrations throughout. We also do a poetry selection every day and Shakespeare using Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb once a week.



    This was exactly what I wanted to see!!  Thank you so much for sharing My3Blessings!



    I understand where you are coming from in saying that the CM Language Arts is scary! I think that is what kept me back from going ‘all the way’ with CM for years. These past few months I have changed things, though, and the kids are ALMOST completely CM. My boys still use Rod and Staff Spelling books and have a spelling test each week, b/c I do see improvement in their spelling with those.

    I would say the most difficult thing about trusting the process is that it is very difficult to guage the results until they reach 4-6th grade. That can be unsettling when you are talking about something as important as Language Arts.

    Here is what I have observed with the kids since I started using the CM method more this past fall:

    1. Much more comprehensive oral narrations – they seem to be able to follow their train of thought and add detail more and more each week. Their narrations are well organized now and they seem to be able to understand the main ‘point’ of a passage or reading.

    2. Improvement in vocabulary and word usage.

    3. Better spelling since we started dictation – and they enjoy it much more than the spelling workbook.

    4. Increased desire to read with my reluctant readers.

    An overarching result of living books in their education is an ability to discuss a point or make an argument very coherently. And it is gratifying to hear a preschooler recognize a classical piece of music, or a middle schooler recognize a great work of art!

    What CM has done for my kids (by putting them in touch with great ideas through living books) is give them a HUGE worldview and the ability to express themselves. They can ‘think through’ a fallacy or an opinion and express it. And I do see that in their writing now that they are old enough to show it. I think that is more than worth cooperating with Charlotte and trusting the CM process :)!


    I did not use a phonics curriculum once the kids had a good foundation of sight words and could sound out words. SCM recommends the Rod & Staff (or Pathways) readers for that stage, and that is what we have used, along with beginning reading books – as non-twaddly as I can find and keep them interested in. Oh – we also do a beginning reader’s Bible. I like them getting the Bible through their own comprehension as soon as possible.

    It sounds like you have been doing a great job with him :). I would suggest that continuing with real reading, oral narration, and copywork would be all he needs at this stage!


    I also have a 5.5 yo daughter (K-1)

    We Use McGuffey’s First Reader.

    The lessons list all new words at the beginning of each one. (The actual reading lessons also include previous words used.)

    I make flashcards with the new words (I just hand write them onto 3×5 cards)

    She will try to read each word first by sounding it out phonetically. Then she “builds” each word using letter tiles (we use the bananagrams tiles, which are sorted alphabetically in a bead sorter). Then she uses a dry erase board to write the word (this gets her “copywork” in). She then reads the story and usually can read all the words the first time. When she misses a word we go back to the flashcards.

    *I don’t think the “rules” are important at this age as long as they are reading well. Fluency will come with time and practice 🙂

    We also read a lot of books from the Early Years list as well as some of our favorites.

    I used the same system with my now 8yo and had good success. When my 8yo started to read the cards without having to “build” or “write” the words I just started having her read the McGuffey lessons aloud and worked on any areas that I noticed her struggling in. She still is reading aloud daily to improve fluency.


    Here is our current LA:

    10yo: Informal journal writing with assigned topics (just a couple sentences), Intermediate Language Lessons, McGuffey readers for practice reading aloud, dictation, independent reading, typing

    8yo:ETC, Primary Language Lessons, McGuffey readers for practice reading aloud, copywork, journal writing

    5yo: Just finished ETC primers and started McGuffey readers, will add ETC 1 after she’s gotten the hang of reading

    At the moment, I have their weekly schedule set up so they have 4 tasks each day (including math).  Some things are done every day and some are only done 2-3 times a week.


    ServingWithJoy, you perfectly explained just what I was trying to say about the “scariness” of CM LA.  Just like you said, this fear has kept me from going staight CM these few years.  But this time I’m going for it!  Thanks for your thoughts.


    Thanks for responding HollyS!!  I’m thinking my line up will look very close to yours.  🙂


    This is what I have done with my dd from ages 5-7, (she’s 7 now):

    – We did phonics/reading lessons as long as they were ‘necessary’ for her (most of the year that she was 5) (I used a hodgepodge of resources, so no particular recommendation there). She now reads fluently and so mostly reads on her own. I still have her read out loud to me a couple times per week to help her develop oral reading skills (reading clearly and with expression) and to spot check areas of phonics that might still be troublesome to her. Some of her independent reading is just for fun, but I do have her come narrate the Christian Liberty Nature reader and the Bible to me later. This coming year she’ll be reading several of the D’Aulaire biographies on her own to narrate to me as well (we’re doing AO).

    – Copywork, daily. After completing a print handwriting workbook during her K year, we started copywork at about 2 words per day and now doing 1 long or 2 short sentences. This past year we did cursive by her request. I rotate between copywork selections of my choice, her choice, and something from a narration that she has dictated to me.

    – We did the first level and a half of All About Spelling, which I thought was helpful as a foundation for her, but then she started complaining about it being too easy to we dropped it. In the new year I’m planning to move to a more personalized approach (look for the words/sounds that are troublesome to her), and do some AAS style word building to piggyback off of that. I’m also encouraging her to do transcription with her copywork – meaning looking carefully and copying the whole word at once rather than letter by letter, which is what CM recommended as a transition from word building (as part of reading instruction) and full dictation.

    – Oral Narration – a huge thrust for us this past year was working on oral narration. We read an narrated an Aesop fable every school day this past year which was very, very helpful for her. As the year went on, I started expecting her to narrate her other readings as well. Once or twice a week I transcribed one of her narrations, and she would copy a portion of it.

    – We haven’t done any true grammar yet, and I don’t plan to for another year or two. I do point out various punctuation marks in her copywork selections and she’s picked up a lot of punctuation that way. I know a lot of people like Primary Lang. Lessons or English for the Thoughtful Child at these ages, but when I looked at them I felt like they would be too redundant to what we were already doing.

    – And of course we read aloud lots of good literature and poetry, across all subjects. =) We memorize a couple of poems per year too.

    I had a hard time wrapping my mind around CM style language arts, because it does seem ‘too simple’ and do different from what I was used to growing up in PS and then teaching at a private school, but I have been really, really pleased with my dd’s progress (and pleased that we aren’t getting burned out or busting our budget with lots of workbooks.)

    A few articles and links that may be helpful:

    – I did a LA series on my blog awhile back…most of this is still applicable, except for that we are dropping AAS as I mentioned above.

    – This is another great LA series written by an experienced CM mom, which I refer back to often:

    – AO’s LA page:

    – I liked this article from Child Light USA as well – basically, CM style LA isn’t meant to stand on its own, but it functions together with the CM method as a whole:

    Happy reading!



    Thanks for all the links, Jen!  I agree that my prior experience as a public school teacher is a hard mental hurdle to over come!  🙂 

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • The topic ‘LA plan for elementary – please share what you do!’ is closed to new replies.

Free basic shipping on USA orders over $75!