SCM and CM Newbie with doubts and lots of questions

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  • Ellen

    I have a 1st grader and 5th grader this fall. I started thinking about using CM curriculum when I read “Pocketful of Pinecones.”  This will be our 5th year of homeschooling and every year we have used different styles and somewhat different curriculums, mostly unit studies.  They never quite worked for us I felt because I could never get everything done or I didn’t feel it covered enough.  I really feel that CM is the style for us and I love how SCM has planners to help make it easier!  We are using the Enrichment Studies Volume 1, and Genesis-Deuteronomy – Ancient Egypt this fall. I am already using AAS and English for a Thoughtful Child for my 5th grader.  My 5th grader likes it sometimes, but sometimes she finds the writing too much.  She doesn’t like writing in general, but otherwise we have liked English for a Thoughtful Child and she loves AAS and doesn’t want to switch from it.  I was only thinking about switching because I wanted to use more Charlotte Mason curriculum and a reading program. I wanted to ask though for other’s opinions if I should be using a separate reading program?  We haven’t used any since we gave up on Sing Spell Read and Write in first grade.  My 1st grader has been using SSRW and liking it more than my oldest daughter but she still can not read. So I am also thinking about switching her to a different curriculum and trying to decided between AAS/AAR, The Good and Beautiful or SW/ULW.   We have always used Math-U-See, and loved it except my oldest has struggled with completing the worksheets and struggles with math in general. My 1st grader is doing well with Math-U-See in the Primer.   This summer my 5th grader tried Teaching Textbooks and likes it but I’m not sure I do.  I wish I would have had a Charlotte Mason Math approach for her sooner, I think she would like math and doing better than she is, she had just started using Math-U-See Gamma in the spring.  I am happy about the SCM choices that we will be using, but I am still having doubts about our other curriculum choices.  I would welcome opinions and thoughts from more seasoned homeschooling moms and CM Moms.  Thank you!

    Tamara Bell

    Hi Ellen,

    I’m excited that you are going to use the Enrichment Guide and Genesis-Deuteronomy.  I’ll be using that guide this year as well.

    You mentioned thinking about using Spelling Wisdom and Using Language Well but I’m not sure if that was a thought you had for your 1st or 5th grader.  SW and ULW are meant to be started in 3rd grade if your child is ready.  Not before that.  After teaching reading, a reading program is not necessary to a CM education.  I’m partial to SW and ULW to teach spelling, quality writing, and grammar.  🙂

    As for your daughter disliking reading.  In a CM education, in 5th grade, her writing would consist of dictation 2x a week, a Book of Mottoes daily, written narration 1-2x a week, and a science/nature journal.

    I have not used Math-U-See so I am not sure what the worksheets look like (quantity of questions).  SCM recommends that if you use Math-U-See, that you do so in a more “CM” friendly way which does not include a mountain of daily written problems.  🙂

    I’m not sure if you have seen the Subject by Subject series on the blog but it’s a fabulous resource.  It helped me freshen up a bit on the individual subjects in a CM education.

    You’ve got this Momma.


    Hi Tamara,


    Thank you for your help!  I was happy to hear you are using Genesis. – Deuteronomy!  I was afraid it might be too much for my 1st grader to absorb. I was thinking about using Spelling Wisdom and Using Language well for my 5th grader.  I was just concerned because she likes AAS and I like how it giver her the phonic rules. I only dictate the sentences at the end of the lesson, she doesn’t like doing it. She does like reading, (what she wants to read), she just didn’t like the Sing Spell Read and Write curriculum because the reading was boring and it had to much writing/worksheets. She also would panic and freeze on spelling test days. I switched to AAS because it explained the phonic rules and had no worksheets. I only dictate the sentences at the end of the lesson. A few things I should mention about my 5th grader. I had her tested in between 2nd and 3rd grade for any developmental or learning disabilities. I had pulled her out of a private school after kindergarten. She did not like school and was bored and easily distracted. She doesn’t have ADD, she scored above average on memory and everything but processing. She scored below average on processing..  The test also showed that she could not be rushed to complete a task.  So she is not at 5th grade level on spelling (AAS 3) or math (multiplication).

    I do want her  to practice her handwriting. I  have bribed her with the Good and handwriting book because it rewards her with letting her draw at the end of a lesson. I will have her look at the method you suggested for 5th graders, though I am worried she hasn’t practiced her cursive handwriting enough

    She still doesn’t like school and is dreading the coming school year. I am praying that the CM method will teach her to love to learn.  And I will be able to teach it properly.

    One more question?  I plan on having my 1sr and 5th graders do the same length lessons except math and English (which my 1st go won’t be doing the English.). I know by this point Charlotte recommended longer lessons for the th grader, but because she doesn’t like school I think it’s a good idea to keep her lessons shorter. But what do you do when you are teaching the same lesson to different grades for the lesson length?


    Thank you so much for your help!



    Personally, if you and your DD like AAS, and it’s working for her, I wouldn’t switch to dictation.  I try to go by “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”.  It’s not uncommon, judging from forum posts, for people to use a non-CM spelling curriculum with otherwise CM materials.

    I’d suggest AAR for your non-reading 1st grader.

    For enrichment/elective-type subjects I do all my kids together regardless of age (K-7th grade this year) and don’t worry about longer lessons for older kids.  With others, like history, we may do the same spine and some read-alouds but the oldest has additional assigned readings so her overall time spent on the subject is longer.

    Katie Thacker

    Hi Ellen!
    We did the Genesis study when my girls were in 4th and 1st grades and it went really well for us 🙂 I do want to try and address all of your questions so here I go!

    As Tami mentioned, there is no specific reading curriculum for CM after learning to read. The books and narrations are the reading education 🙂

    As for spelling and language arts, I feel like you have a few options. You could try SW/ULW for your 5th grade, but I would look closely at the samples to get an idea of where she should start. The first half of Book 2 is typically recommended for 5th grade, but it’s more important to put her where she’s comfortable than to keep up with recommendations. You could also stay with what she’s doing, but also know that as she gets comfortable with oral narrations you’ll want to start adding in some written narrations and you don’t want her to end up too overwhelmed.

    The Delightful Reading program could be a wonderful option for your 1st grader. I mentioned that in another post 🙂

    We did start with Math-U-See and struggled, but I think if we were to go back now I would do it having read and watching the Living Math set. I’ve been working through it recently and it is completely changing my perspective on teaching math, and really can change how you would approach any curriculum.


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