Language Arts Help

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  • Brooke Lerman

    I’m having a difficult time figuring out what books and levels to pick for a few subjects for my children. Meanly reading, grammar and spelling. This current school year we are using the enrichment lesson plans and Genesis through Deuteronomy history. The rest of our lessons we have been doing are not CM curriculums. I am wanting to change over all our subjects to CM. I would love any advice as to where to place them in each subject.

    My oldest is 9 (10 in August) and in 4ththis year. He is currently doing:

    Writing: IEW’s Student Writing Intensive A & Copywork out of the bible

    Grammar: Fix it grammar 1

    Spelling: All About Spelling, Level 6


    Plans for next year (5th grade):

    Writing:  Just copywork?

    Spelling: Spelling Wisdom, book 2? Is it overkill to do spelling wisdom if he’s done almost all of the AAS books?

    Grammar: Using Language Well,  book 2 maybe?


    7-year-old (8 in September), currently in 2nd grade. This year he is using:                                                                                                                      Reading: All About Reading Level 2

    Grammar: Language lessons for today grade 2

    Spelling: All About Spelling, Level 1


    Plans for next year (3rd grade): 

    Reading: Hymns in Prose for Children with teachers book? Delightful reading 3?

    Spelling: Spelling Wisdom, Book 1

    Grammar: Using Language Well, Book 1

    I’m not sure what reading to put him into. He cannot read on his own. He doesn’t know too many sight words and has not leaned all the phonograms. He is reading what he has learned well. I’m not sure if I should keep using AAR so he doesn’t miss any concepts, but I am trying to simplify our lives and cut down our school days as we have been doing school for WAY too long each day. I love the simplicity of CM.

    I’m planning on using the Individual Studies lesson plans for each child by their grade level. I’m sorry this is so long. I appreciate you taking the time to help me.

    Karen Smith

    I am not familiar with what is taught in the various curricula your children have been using for language arts. However, based on other details you gave on each child, here is what I suggest you do.

    For your older child:

    Written narrations and prepared dictation (Spelling Wisdom) would be his writing. If he narrates well orally, then have him write one written narration each week. If he is still learning oral narration, wait on assigning a written narration until he is comfortable giving oral narrations. You can learn more about narration in our Narration Q&A series from our Learning Library. Also, our The Natural Progression of Language Arts video may be helpful to you in understanding language arts using Charlotte Mason’s methods.

    For spelling and grammar, look at the descriptions and samples of Spelling Wisdom Book 2 and Using Language Well Book 2 to determine if they are suitable for your child. Can your child spell every word in the sample of Spelling Wisdom Book 2? If so, then move up to Spelling Wisdom Book 3. Has he already learned the material taught in Using Language Well Book 2?  If so, then have him complete a curriculum like Analytical Grammar. (We are hoping to have Using Language Well Book 3 available sometime this year.)

    Each Spelling Wisdom and Using Language Well book is meant to be used for two years. For example, a student starting Spelling Wisdom Book 2 and Using Language Well Book 2 would use the first half of each book one school year, then the last half of each book the next school year.

    For your younger child:

    Because he is not reading well yet, you should concentrate on teaching him to read. From your description of his reading ability, he would need either Delightful Reading, Level 2: Words I Can Build, or Delightful Reading, Level 3: From Words to Books. Look at the sample and description of each level to help you decide which one is appropriate for your child.

    Spelling Wisdom and Using Language Well should not be started until reading is firmly established. You can have him do some copywork, but even that should wait until he is reading. Copywork is used for not only penmanship but also for teaching the child to carefully notice how words are spelled. If the child can’t read, that second purpose of copywork suffers.

    One important thing to note for both of your children is that the grade levels given on our materials are suggestions. Some children will be right on target with those suggestions. Other children will be a bit behind or ahead of those suggestions. That is okay! We recommend that you teach your child according to his abilities, not to the suggested grade level of any curriculum. We frequently use the phrase “Teach the child, not the curriculum” to remind parents of the importance of this idea.

    Brooke Lerman

    Thank you Karen for your advice. I appreciate you taking the time to write to me, it was very helpful.


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