I haven’t posted in awhile with our busy life. I have a dd 13 and dd 10 that I’m having concerns about. We have been using the Charlotte Mason approach for about a year or so and the dd’s are still struggling with spelling and writing. We are currently using Spelling Wisdom and using Language Well book 2 (dd13). We also implemented a writing program for dd13 and she still has trouble with putting it all together. I’m struggling how to help her. Iv’e changed things up and curriculum but this isn’t helping. I’ve tried many spelling programs and they spell them right for the test then in their writing it all goes down hill. Sometimes I think its laziness and their penmanship is horrible. I’m about at my wits end. I cant afford to keep changing programs and my dd13 will be in 9th next year and she is clearly not ready. Any help on this would be great. Should I ditch CM and go back to text book approach, but then not sure that would work either. We did switch up our math and that is going great. Also, any suggestions on what all they should be accomplishing in a day?
Here is my dd13 books we use:
Spelling wisdom book 2 with Learning Language well
Online Math Teaching Texbooks
Science reading Sir Issac Newton and a spine by Tiner ( The world of Physics) both girls are doing this
Cm History Early American (both girls)
Literature with 1 narration a week
Essentials in Writing ( which im ok with) not my favorite
Bible ( woman of the Bible)
Math (Teaching Textbooks 4)
Science with her sister
Spelling wisdom book 1
HIstory Cm with her sister
Literature ( Little House) 1 narration a week
Are/were they doing written narrations at all? Why did you feel the need to add the writing program? Was there something about narrating that wasn’t working? Sometimes I think that writing programs make writing more confusing and complicated than it needs to be (this was especially true with my oldest son and why I quit using writing programs completely after that).
As for spelling, there is nothing unusual about a 10yo doing fine in spelling lessons and then spelling atrociously while writing. I have had a few kids like this. At that age, it is a lot to focus on when they write. Sometimes they are so focused on getting their thoughts down that they can’t think about spelling or other things at the same time. This should improve with time and experience.
For the 13yo, I wonder if letting her type her writing assignments and use the spell checker might help her. Some people are never good spellers at any age, so then just helping as much as you can might be all you can do, but I would probably continue with a spelling program as well. Of course, only you can determine if this is the case with her.
As far as penmanship goes, can they write decently if they try? Is it just impatience that makes their handwriting poor? I know some of mine don’t write very neatly unless they really slow down and try. If it’s really bad, like I can’t read it, then I sometimes make them do the assignment over again with better effort. If it’s a matter of not knowing how to make the letters, that’s something else entirely.
The list of subjects you are covering with both girls looks fine to me. My rule of thumb is math and English every day, which it looks like you are doing, and then science and history 3x a week or so (depending what program you use), and extra things like Latin also a few times per week.
I hope something here was helpful. 🙂
It was hard for me to patiently trust the CM method for language arts, especially when it had been several months with no real improvement. My daughter is now 12 and this is her first year with dictation. We had tried several times over the past two years and it was too difficult for her, so we spent over a year focusing only on copywork and then eventually added written narrations. Allowing her to type narrations helped so that any misspelled words were underlined in red, immediately bringing her attention to it. When we started this school year and tried dictation again, she was finally ready and confident and has been doing well with it. She still struggles with spelling but the improvement is there and it is noticeable.
I am not familiar with the writing program you are using so I can’t say whether it is helping or hurting. Spelling lists are basically useless, once the test is over then the words and their spellings are forgotten. Our brain was trained to memorize them temporarily, that’s not real learning.
Try focusing on copywork, dictation and grammar if they are able to do them without trouble/tears, and written (or typed) narrations for the 13yo. Even though my daughter is able to do dictation, I still assign copywork a couple days per week because she does need the practice and it does improve her spelling.
My 12 yo has greatly improved her spelling the last year or so with consistent copywork. We started prepared dictation from Spelling Wisdom this year. She has an electronic talking dictionary, as well as a paper dictionary. She seems to care more now and that has helped, too. Three or four years ago, we tried Sequential Spelling and I think it helped for a season. She learned to slow down and look closer at each word. I also correct some misspellings in her written narrations. I don’t correct all the misspellings so as not to mark up the whole paper in red ink! But she takes note for next time. Reading outloud might help them slow down and pay more attention to word spellings in their readings, too. Or they can follow along in a book with the audiobook. But really, I think the daily copywork has been the best help for spelling. They pick up grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, writing styles, and more with a variety of consistent copywork.
@Wings2fly – tell me more about the electronic talking dictionary, please. I think that would really help my daughter.
Sure, Jamie! We have Franklin KID 1240 Talking Dictionary. It has a few basic games, too: Hangman, Tic Tac Toe, and Jumble. She likes the memory list that she can save a word in to find it again. She uses it mostly with her creative writing in her free time. The screen can show manuscript or cursive. The audio “talking” gives correct pronunciation. You can connect headphones. She tries to type her word and it gives a list of possibilities. When she can’t find her word, she goes to the paper dictionary. For any word, you can press the rhyme button for a list of rhyming words. I bought ours new in the package on eBay about four years ago. HTH.
I was reminded today of my daughter’s poetry memory work. I think this has helped her spelling as well. We also keep a Scripture memory box.
She selects a poem of her choice and copies it down in her book. I check her spelling. After she corrects it, she reads it aloud with feeling. Daily, she reads it out loud to memorize it. Once she can recite it, she selects a new one. We review periodically. This expands their vocabulary. But I think seeing words in context regularly, and saying it slowly, helps the correct spellings to stick in their minds. Then I think their spellings in their writings improve. It has helped my daughter.
Thanks for all the advice. So my dd13 and dad 10 can they do more than Spelling wisdom for copy work? What all do you use for Science? I love the idea of living books and so do they. But when do you say it’s time to do a curriculum? I am not good at text books and am a lover of reading to my kids. My dd13 is having issues with her grade as well. She feels that all her peers, mostly church friends are asking about her grade. My husband and I are new to the church( he’s a youth pastor) and that transition is always hard. I don’t feel she needs to share but I know it bothers her I have her in doing 7th grade work and some 8th grade work but I don’t feel by next year she will be ready or me for high school I’m not fond of her graduating at 161/2 or 17. We’ve graduated 2 early and it was a huge mistake. This is just my opinion. Sorry for the long message lots on my heart tonight. Already planning for next year.
They can use any of their books for copywork including Bible, poetry, literature reads, quotes they like. Your older child might like to start a Commonplace Book/Book of Mottoes.
I use Sabbath Mood for science for both of my kids, 12 and 15. They were both previously in public school and we still do not want to use textbooks. Perhaps in 12th grade to prepare them for college, but for now I wish for them to still enjoy learning and they are not able to do that with textbooks. Sabbath Mood uses living books and also has a guide that not only schedules the readings, but also schedules experiments, extra readings, etc. There has been some concern over the evolutionary content in the living books, but I have found that the guide balances that out with giving the creation explanation. The content is usually a mention of millions/billions of years and we are able to tune that out.
Older kids are expected to read their own books once they are able. That was hard for me since I enjoyed reading to mine, but my son is older and needs to move at a faster pace than his younger sister.
Is your daughter having issues with not receiving grades like other kids, or for what school grade she is in? My daughter never remembers what grade she is in. I think that is a part of homeschooling.
I’m with you on not having them graduate early. I don’t have that issue since mine fell a bit behind in the transition from public to home school.
Thanks everyone for the help. I think we will be implementing some of these ideas. As for when i mentioned the grade issue it was for what grade she is in. Sabbath Mood always has looked good, just worried about the evolution part of it. Do you all use CM History? Looking for a change maybe for next year. We’ve been using this for a long time. Do any of you use Queens Language lessons? SO, if you dont use a writing program then how do they learn to write and do composition?
For their grade, we just say the grade they would be in based on their age and birthday. But in learning, they are where they are.
For science, we use nature study, videos, field trips, and living books with oral or written narrations until grade 8. Then we use Apologia science texts. I did have him use an elementary Apologia science text with lab experiments the last half of grade 7 to help prepare for the switch in grade 8 for Apologia General Science. He did not finish the text though. He is using Apologia Physical Science and the Physics 101 dvds for 9th currently. I still add in a living book or nature study once per week. He is reading Rascal by Sterling North now. He still gives oral or written narrations on most of his readings in every subject, every day. For living science books, we used many that were on the old SCM book list:
I really think consistent, daily copywork and narrations are at the heart of your CM writing program. This is how they learn to write and do composition. Sonya’s book Hearing and Telling Reading and Writing explains this better than I can. Could you tell us how you are using Spelling Wisdom and Using Language Well and how often? How many written and oral narrations are you requiring each day? Would you care to share samples of your daughters’ written narrations?
We did use Queen Language Lessons one year when I needed them to be more independent that year. It is mostly copywork. But there are some nice CM components included of picture study, poetry, dictation, grammar lessons, and creative writing projects.
In grade 4 or 5, we have used Writing Tales. And we still take an old tale or fable and re-write it with our own creative ideas, like changing the setting or characters. We have fun sharing our new stories with each other. We do this for fun a few times per year. I help edit and they write a final copy neatly in a composition book to keep. I have picked up some creative writing ideas from Brave Writer’s The Writer’s Jungle, a handbook for teachers. I think a more formal, format writing can be used for one semester or one year in high school, especially for teaching the research paper.
Since mine were originally in public school, we just continued forward with the grade they were in and then bumped up the grade when we started our new school year. So they are currently in the grade they would be in if they were still in public school.
We use SCM’s history modules and are on our third module. We started with the Genesis/Egypt module and have moved forward chronologically, placing us in Matthew/Rome this year.
We also use SCM for language arts: Spelling Wisdom and Using Language Well. It is a beautifully gentle approach and I believe is the reason my daughter has made such great progress with her spelling. The CM method has also greatly improved her reading.
Hi there, we are using Spelling wisdom everyday and so she copies the text and then does the assignment in the book. I am a little confused on how to use I it so we are doing what I think is right. may not be and they may be the struggle. I am having her do a written narration a week. usually it from our History reading. I have been trying so hard to implement CM for 4 years now and not sure if I’m doing something wrong. Iv’e been struggling through as I go. My daughter want to stay together for most of there stuff even though the age is different. I’m not a fan of Apologia as my sons have used it and it was very heavy. She wont be going into a Science field. I love the living book idea and why could she just use that through high school years? Not sure I will stay with CM for History next year because there are no test to know what they have learned. I see that Ambleside has a schedule of exams for the students but the reading is super heavy. I am not a text book person per say, but wish I had someone to hold my hand for a bit.:) I don’t mind printable sometimes to change up the day, but not a go to. Sorry this is so long. Trying to plan for next year and not sure what to do. DD13 will be 14 in May and all her peers from public school here start their 9th grade year at 13-14 and not sure i want her too. Whats others opinions? Thanks for the guidance on this.
sorry i dont know how to put her narration on here.
For Spelling Wisdom, you said she copies the text so that is copywork which is great for helping improve spelling. Do you also dictate the passage to her? If she’s still struggling with spelling then you may want to dictate easier passages. The passage should only contain 3-4 words that she doesn’t already know how to spell well. My 7th grader does dictation from spelling wisdom book 1 and then copywork from book 2.
Both of my kids, 7th and 9th, have worked up to one written narration per day. I slowly worked up to this, starting with one per week and then gradually adding another one per week until they got up to daily.
Have you read the blog posts from SCM? They are extremely helpful for implementing CM.
SCM’s history guides do have exams at the end of each term and that is how we can see what is being learned and retained. You can also ask for delayed narrations each week to see what else is being learned.
My 9th grader is using living books for science through Sabbath Mood and so far our plan is to continue that throughout high school. What yours are currently reading are a good study with living books. The guides from Sabbath Mood include experiments which is where their benefit is, but you could continue using living books and find a lab kit or book to go with it.
As far as beginning high school, both SCM and Sabbath Mood have the same schedule for 7th-9th grades so that would allow her to work on high school work but likely not overwhelm her. SCM history would have both your girls in the same time period but possibly on different individual books (they would still read the same family assignments). If you wanted to try Sabbath Mood they would be in different levels but could still study the same science subject.
My daughter will be 13 in May and is currently working in 7th grade based on when she started public school. So technically she should start high school after turning 14 and finishing 8th grade. I feel like late birthdays like theirs make it tough to stay on “grade-level” with their peers and it definitely concerns me.
Have you been in prayer for your concerns? We tend to overthink things and stress ourselves out unnecessarily. Whenever I worry and then pray about it, I always have clarification and peace.
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