Language Arts for dd9…too much too soon?

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  • LindseyD

    I purposely delayed some subjects for my dd, who will be 9 shortly before our school year starts in August. My son was ready for dictation when he was 8 and has done beautifully with it. But I “held her back” in that area, knowing it would be too much since she was finally starting to do her copywork well. She is also still doing oral narrations. She does creative writing once per week and has excelled at that.

    Since she will be 9 next year, I’m realizing that starting written narrations, dictation, AND JAG might be too much for her all at once. She started typing this year, and I plan to continue that as well. And it will add a considerable amount of time to her school day, maybe too much. Plus, she will be doing everything her brother is doing, and he will be 10.5.

    Should I leave anything out, and if so, what? I really had hoped to do JAG as a family subject, and she’s had EFTTC 1, so it’s not going to be totally foreign to her. Dictation seems like a natural thing to start with her next year, and so does written narrations. I don’t know how to choose what, if anything, to leave out. But I also don’t want to overwhelm her. 

    She does give excellent oral narrations, which is why I think written narrations would come easily to her. Aaaaaahhhh, I’m just so torn over what to do! 

    Any advice would be most welcome!





    If she does well at oral narration, I would start written, but slowly. Maybe have her do one written narration per week for awhile, then two, etc. My boys are 10 3/4 and just turned 10 but the youngest was adopted from China four years ago so he is not nearly at the level of my other son. I will only teach grammar once so I will wait a year or even two if necessary to do formal grammar with them both. It doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things when we do it. They are still exposed to good grammar through reading, copywork and dictation (which I haven’t started with my youngest either.) As for dictation, it won’t hurt at all to put it off or start very slowly. My opinion is that each of these is a tool to equip our children to be good communicators. Waiting until they are ready to tackle a particular tool will only enable them to be stronger at it in the long run. My son may be able to handle a hammer at age 10 but not until he is comfortable with many other skills will he be ready for a jackhammer…so to speak. 🙂


    You know her best.  If you think all of it would be too much, then pick which aspect you feel would be the smoothest transition.  Then, if you feel she’s ready, add another.  You don’t have to do it all at once, or even all every day.  Pick and choose, she is still young and you have plenty of time.  🙂



    I would tend towards waiting on the written narrations until you have done some dictation….  but that is just me.


    You also don’t need to start everything at the same time.  You could start a few dictation exercises at the beginning of the year, and then introduce written narrations in January.  Or the other way around.  Or do one or the other each week for a while.  Or whatever combination of the above works best.  I know I’ve read many times that dictation and written narrations start about age 10, so you don’t even have to do either this year if she isn’t ready. 

    We did start dictation this year with my 8yo, but language arts is currently her strongest area (learned to read early, writes journals and notes and newspaper articles and stories for fun all the time.)  We just do one exercise from Spelling Wisdom a week.  On Monday she copies it.  Then we’ll discuss the spelling of tricky words another day, and dictate on Friday.  It doesn’t have to be a big deal, especially at the beginning because the exercises are so short.  I expect my DS will be closer to the 10 mark before he starts.  Math is his thing right now.


    HI Lindsey…I feel your pain a bit, as mine are 10.5 + (11 in July) and 9.5;  with kids this close in age, I love the idea of combining subjects or at least keeping my kids somewhat on the same schedule/goals (for ease of adminstration on my part).  I aim for as many family subjects as possible, but truth be told, in Language Arts it just doesn’t seem to be possible for us.  I attempted to “join” them in various L.A. areas at least 4 times in the past two years.  Each time, the eldest was clearly being held back and the youngest was struggling to keep up.  Looking back, I’d go so far as to say that the strategy actually slowed down my (at the time) 8.5 year old…we went through a wee lack of confidence for a period of time.  I stopped doing L.A. as a group subject (which was easy) and tried very hard to erase from my brain “what eldest had been doing” at such-and-such age (that was more difficult) so that I wouldn’t be encouraged to keep child #2 on the same set of “goals” so strictly.

    Based on what you’ve written in your post, I’d be tempted to take on JAG in the August timeframe, thereby granting your desire for a family study…see how she keeps up.  Watch carefully if she seems frustrated or fatigued or lost at any point.  Personally I would not take on written narrations or dictation at the same time as starting JAG, especially given her age.  Adding three extra/different subjects at age “just” 9 is a LOT more work and a pretty hefty adjustment.  It needs to happen of course, but I’d be more inclined to do it over the span of 6-12 months.  I found my children at age “just” 9 were completely different in maturity and abilities, diligence and critical thinking than they seemed to be at 9.5 or 10.  (granted all children are different and I have boys…) If you divide your year into “terms” you could always plan to start one subject (I’d probably choose dictation) next year after Christmas break or then add one written narration per week, starting in your Spring term.

    HTH, blessings, Angie

    You could start transitioning in some dictations now, just to introduce that and see how it goes. That won’t be a “new” thing next year then, and might help you gauge her readiness for written narrations as well. And/or start in on doing blended oral/written narration yet this year.


    I think staggering it and introducing one new thing per term is a fantastic idea! On another thread, I posted that I’m a very black and white, all or nothing kind of person. In my mind, I had to do them all or none at all. I think it makes much more sense to start gently with one new thing, like JAG and do that for a term. Then introduce dictation or written narration. I suppose there is not reason why I can’t see how she does with written narrations now.

    Y’all are the best!


    A few weeks ago, I asked my dd8 to write her narration while I planted potatoes in the garden. Language is her strong area and she writes in a journal often, but I was unsure of asking her to do this with no prior instruction. We had somewhere to go that morning and I had to get the potatoes in the ground before we left. She cheerfully agreed and amazed me by writing a great narration! It was not as detailed as it would have been orally and there is room for improvement, but I was extremely pleased. She enjoyed it as well so we have been doing one per week since. I had built up written narration in my mind to be some huge difficult thing that we would herald in with much fanfare (at least a trumpet or two *smile*), but for her it was just the logical next step. Just wanted to share…

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