Topic | New to SCM….needing help with LA and time period

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  • WhitneyA


    I am considering switching over to SCM this year for my family but I need some help in navigating the LA materials and also deciding which time period to start in.

    Some background:  My children are newly-turned 13 DS, newly-turned 11 DD, and newly-turned 8 DS.  We have always had some CM influence in our homeschool but have not fully committed to it (Some HOD in the past, a semester’s worth of AO, copy work, some oral narration here and there, currently the older two are using Queens LA books, reading whole/living books…)  But I’ve never had a solid plan to work off of.

    I’m intrigued with SCM because I’d like to get everyone on the same page with history & bible and I’d like a more guidance with their LA.  I am ultimately looking way ahead into their high school years and trying to foresee what we’ll be doing then.  I like the idea of SCM in that capacity as well.  But I need to figure out how to do it. 🙂

    I feel like my older need to start strengthening their LA skills.  My DD11 especially struggles with even remembering the parts of speech, however, capitalization and punctuation are her biggest problem areas.  I was already considering AG for both she and DS13 this year.  So could they each start AG and then do their respective Spelling Wisdom books?  The addition of the Using Language Well book throws me for a loop since for 6th grade it says start with book 2 but I know my daughter needs the information in book 1 as well…..but then doesn’t AG cover all that??  Should she only do Using Language Well 1 & 2 and not do AG now?  I’m confused.  Do I need both grammar resources or is it a pick and choose option?  And is the Using Language Well book a year long study or 1/2 year?  Ack!  So many questions…I’m sorry!

    About time period placement – if I were to use this through the high school years, where is the ideal place to start on the history cycle?  Basically my older two are separated by one grade (dd entering 6th, ds entering 7.5 <- is that a grade? lol).

    Whew! Ok, I’ll stop there for now but I know I’ll have plenty more…if that’s ok. 🙂



    Yep, I knew I’d have another question….

    How well does SCM work with college admission requirements?




    Sonya Shafer

    WhitneyA, I’ll be happy to try to answer your questions.

    First, regarding SW, ULW, and AG. (Aren’t initials convenient?)

    Analytical Grammar is usually spread out over three years, completing a set number of units during several weeks each year. The final unit during the third year focuses on punctuation as it is tied to grammar.

    Using Language Well does cover the basics of punctuation and capitalization in Book 1. Additional punctuation guidelines are introduced in the following books as well. Books 2 and 3 (when released) deal with grammar—parts of speech and analyzing a sentence—but do not go into as much detail as AG and do not teach sentence diagramming; AG goes into more detail and teaches diagramming.

    So you can decide whether your student would find his/her best fit with just ULW, just AG, or both. ULW spreads out the teaching and reviewing by doing only two days per week all year long. AG is designed to be used every day for several weeks, but not all year.

    If your 11yo is struggling with capitalization and punctuation, ULW and SW Book 1 would probably be a good fit, because AG won’t get to that until the third year of units. Each ULW book is designed to be used over 2 years, so you might do something like this:
    11 and 12 yo: SW and ULW Book 1
    13 and 14 yo: SW and ULW Book 2 (with AG seasons 1 and 2, optional)
    15 and 16 yo: SW and ULW Book 3 (with AG season 3, optional)
    17 and 18 yo: SW and UWL Book 4 (which will focus on composition)

    For your 13yo, you might go ahead and do AG. That would give you a good idea of what is covered, how it is covered, and how quickly, and you could make a better decision about whether to add it in for your younger daughter when the time comes. Then you could keep a spelling component by adding SW or other prepared dictation a couple of times a week.

    Next, regarding history time period.

    If your oldest is entering 7th grade, you could start with Genesis through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt and get all the way through before graduation. I like to lay out my options in a little list of upcoming grades for all the students, like this:

    Students in Grades — time period
    6, 7 — Genesis through Deut. & Ancient Egypt
    7, 8 — Joshua through Malachi & Ancient Greece
    8, 9 — Matthew through Acts & Ancient Rome
    9, 10 — Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation & Epistles
    10,11 — Early Modern and Epistles (+ 1/2 Government for 11th)
    11, 12 — Modern Times and Epistles, Revelation (+ 1/2 Government for 11th)
    12 — Government or studies of personal interest

    Third, regarding college admission requirements.

    In the back of each of our lesson plan books we give suggestions toward calculating high school credits for those subjects based on the assignments given in the lesson plans.

    I hope these ideas help a bit.


    Oh, yes!! This is extremely helpful -thank you so much!  I think I understand better about the language arts now.  And how things might plan out for high school.

    I think dd would probably do better with the SW and UWL than the AG at this point.  I think applying the grammar concepts in “real writing” vs fill-in-the-blank, marking, or circling might help her to cement them better.

    Is it possible to do SW 1 and UWL 1 four days per week through the summer since I’m planning a lighter schedule for that time?  Basically, having her focus more of her energies in this area that she is so weak in.  And then move back to 2 days per week in the fall?

    About the 1/2 credit for Government in the 11th grade…is that a part of the SCM schedule or would that be from an outside source?

    Thank you again!


    Sonya Shafer

    If you do SW and ULW four days per week, I would not recommend doing all the transcription and dictation portions. That would be a lot of studying and writing each week. You could do four ULW lessons per week, I suppose, if you think moving through them quickly is the best way to help your dd absorb and really understand. Just be careful you don’t subject her brain to grammar overload. 🙂

    We recommend that you add a government course either during 11th grade or during 12th grade or split half-and-half over the two years. We don’t know of a truly CM government course, but we recommend Notgrass’s Exploring Government because it goes through the Constitution line by line. Feel free to adapt the study methods to be more CM.


    Thank you again, Sonya.  Most, most helpful!  🙂

    Ok, maybe just one more question for right now about SW and ULW….if the child transcribes the SW lesson, aren’t they transcribing it again in the ULW lesson, therefore doing it twice?  Trying to wrap my head around how these work together…

    Sonya Shafer

    The ULW lesson tells the child how to use SW. So it would not be a separate entity anymore when combined with ULW. You would simply follow the steps in the ULW lesson, which tell your child which SW passage to read, what things to look for and discuss, and then transcribe. Think of ULW as a guide to using and getting the most out of SW.


    There’s my “A-ha!” moment!  Now I get it.  I was thinking of them as two separate subjects.  Thank you for clarifying!

    And for ds13, he would do just SW 3 as studied dictation?  He does need a grammar program as we haven’t done anything formal yet so I’m still trying to decide on that.  I like the idea of AG but I worry about the concepts being spread over 3 years vs a more traditional program that introduces all the concepts early and simply reviews them more in depth over the years.  Lots of decisions here….

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