Planning help for 4th grade writing

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  • Grace

    I need help planning writing for my soon to be 4th grade son. He is finishing up print to cursive proverbs. He does not like the physical act of writing nor cursive. I am also a little confused about how to teach writing. I am wondering if there is a writing curriculum that will allow my son to learn the mechanics of composition and the different types and allow him to write about what interests him. So …

    1. What is the next step in cursive writing? Should I require him to write in cursive? I was thinking about more copywork in cursive.

    2. Where should I start for composition? I don’t want him to just do history narration but write about what interests him.

    3. It seems like CM composition is just having him do written narration is that correct?

    4. I also want to teach him to type and have him type narrations. How did you teach your kids to type?

    Thank you,



    1.  One of my kids has automatically switched to cursive on her own.  My older ones type or write in manuscript.  I keep going back and forth on whether to require it or not!  We currently use Pentime, but I think SCM has some copywork in cursive…maybe their Hymns in Prose?

    2.  We use Writing With Ease and love it so far!  My kids and I have needed more help with composition.  WWE focuses on copywork, narration, and dictation, so I feel it isn’t far off from CM’s methods, but it does have its differences.  We are going to use a creative writing program by the same publisher, and I’m hoping it goes well.  My older kids use Writing With Skill by the same author.

    3.  Pretty much just narrations.  You add in formulaic writing and poetry down the road.

    4.  BBC Dance Mat typing is really fun (and free) for elementary ages.

    Rachel White

    Many boys don’t lije writing,  but IMO, and frpm experience,  it’s a mistake to back off from it, because later, it becomes harder to learn and apply.

    1. Yes, requiring it in daily copywork is good.

    I discourage learning to type until his cursive is second nature. Typing requires less effort and so, you may be inviting conflict and a resistance to write upon yourself.

    A voice for requiring cursive here.

    1. If you don’t learn it, you can’t read it. This limits a child socially and inter-generationally. Also, limits ones ability to read historical documents, particularly our own. High school and certain careers require reading primary documents. My view: if it limits personal first-hand education, which in turn limits personal freedom, then I’m against it.

    Some articles:

    American Cursive by Memoria Press is very basic for those not wanting to write.

    Another option is Handwriting Without Tears. My dd had several developmal delays, including in writing when younger,  so she used HWT. She was successful and later developed her own more attractive style.

    Rachel White

    #2. Do both. Require written narrations from a different subject each day. A mix of this helps in training to except that in life, you do well in both things you do enjoy and things you don’t. Writing about a literature or leisure book or he’s enjoying, a comic, or even a TV show. Perhaps a Friday writing choice?

    #3. By the early teens, CM writing doesn’t only mean  summary-based narrations.

    #4. See above. I think learning to type is important,  but aftet cursive becomes second nature.


    My 8th grader prefers manuscript.  So I still have him do cursive copywork once or twice per week.  I don’t want to force his style, but I think he needs to keep up the skill of cursive.  If he were to switch his writings to cursive, I would drop the cursive copywork.  He will learn typing next year.  In 4th grade, cursive copywork was assigned 4 days per week.  It was a struggle for a while and he was very slow.  I suggest using a timer.  See how long he can comfortably go at a good pace now and gradually increase the time.  Maybe add a minute every few weeks until he is up to where you want him to be.  Drawing is helpful in building up the same muscles and skills as writing.  We have used Draw and Write Through History.  I find much of our cursive copywork at Currclick.  We use a variety, including Bible Scriptures and Presidential Penmanship.

    We have found the writing handbook by Brave Writer, The Writer’s Jungle, of help.  The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op offers discounts periodically.  It also supports CM methods of copywork, dictation and narration.  Included are ideas to help you encourage and help your children with writing projects.  In our home for junior high, we write weekly entries in a journal, Friday Freewrites, science notebook, and history narrations.  We still do some oral narrations too.  The Writer’s Jungle helps you help your child transition from oral to written stories and find their writer’s voice.  We have creative writing projects, about one every month or two.  The length of their writing gradually increases with more practice.  We started with half a page, then one full page, etc.

    Another great book to help you be able to help your child with language arts is the SCM hand book, Hearing and Telling, Reading and Writing.

    Karen Smith

    1. It is your choice if you want your child to continue writing in cursive or not. The next step in cursive writing would be Hymns in Prose Copybook, if your child still needs copywork practice. Usually by grade 3 or 4, students are ready to move from copywork to transcription and then dictation. If your child is ready for that move, use Spelling Wisdom Book 1 and Using Language Well Book 1. It is your choice if you want your child to write his exercises in cursive or manuscript.

    2. and 3. Composition with the Charlotte Mason method is narration. As the child gains experience in narration and as he matures, different types of narrations are asked for. You can read more about the different types of narrations and what age to introduce them in our Raising the Bar blog post from our Narration Q&A series.

    Usually a grade 4 student would be required to do one written narration each week. Most of his narrations will still be given orally. Ask for narrations from history, Bible, and science.

    Another component of composition is creative writing. Karen Andreola’s book, Story Starters, is an excellent resource for helping children with creative writing.

    4. You can begin teaching typing around grade 4. We schedule it for twice a week for grade 4 in our Individual Studies, Grade 4 lesson plans book.

    A good big picture overview of language arts in the Charlotte Mason method is our The Natural Progression of Language Arts video from our Learning Library.

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