The great thing about homeschooling is having control of the type and kinds of curriculum you want to add to your child’s lessons. The bad part is having to research, weed out, and find the perfect curriculum. And even if you do find a great resource, there are no promises that it will work for you child(ren). This was the case for our 5th grade English curriculum.
Using the Charlotte Mason Approach for 5th Grade English
For the past two years, we have used BJU Press’ 5th Grade English/Language Arts/Writing Curriculum. This year, I wanted to get away from this textbook/workbook format. I recently learned about the Charlotte Mason (CM) approach and wanted to give it a try.
So what is the CM approach? To understand this method in detail, I suggest visiting SimplyCharlotteMason.com. Sonya Shafer does a great job of explaining this approach. In short, the CM approach does away with textbooks and relies more on ‘living’ books and a hands-on approach to learning. I love this idea. In fact, I was already using this approach with our science curriculum.
For the boys’ 5th grade English/Language Arts/Cursive/Spelling Curriculum, I purchased Spelling Wisdom Book 1 and Using Language Well Book 1 from SimplyCharlotteMason.com.
These books contain 140 excerpts which the boys are expected to write as I dictate. These excerpts, quotes, and sayings expose children to proper grammar, spelling, and language mechanics as they copy and write them down. They also get to practice their cursive as well.
The boys were excited about this new curriculum because it eliminated three separate curriculums. Now, they could do their spelling, English/writing, and cursive in one.
Jack did very well. His copywork was near perfect and his handwriting was improving. Josh, however, was having a hard time with this method.
Josh has always had trouble with spelling. Not only does he have trouble distinguishing between different vowel sounds but he also doesn’t understand the difference between vowels and consonants. He has to constantly remind himself what the 5 vowels. This makes narration and dictation almost impossible. And as the excerpts increased in size so did his frustration.
Three months into this curriculum, I felt like there was something lacking in their curriculum: a chance to create their own writing. I wanted the boys to practice writing a book report or a friendly letter, perhaps even an essay on a historical person or event.
I decided to end Simply Charlotte Mason’s curriculum and reverted back to our previous curriculum, BJU Press’ 5th Grade English. What I like about BJU is that it not only covered language arts but every other chapter is a writing assignment. Now the boys would create their own work but this would fulfill their cursive and spelling practice.
Good thing about homeschooling: picking out the curriculum you want; the bad part: having to pick out the curriculum.Click To Tweet
Please don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed using the Simply Charlotte curriculum but it just was not for our family. As I said, Jack did well using this curriculum; however, I felt he was not being challenged enough. He even stated that he would rather copy work then have to come up with his own. Hmm.
As for Josh, I just keep thinking about Temple Grandin’s frustration with learning the French language. “Why is there so much fish in France?” If you have never seen the movie, Temple has a hard time with the language and mistakes the French word ‘ils’ for ‘eels’. I believe this is somewhat the same for Josh.
This was a great lesson for me as well. Being a perfectionist, I hate not finishing something and then starting anew in the middle of a school year. However, I had to choose what was best for my boys. After making the switch, I was happier, Josh was much happier, and Jack, well, he wasn’t so much happier but he got over it.
Having to switch sucks but like Jack I got over it! So don’t feel you have to stick to a curriculum you feel isn’t a good fit for your family. Give it a chance, have a back up plan, and by all means, stop using it if it’s not a good fit for your family.
If you have questions or comments about this post, please feel free to enter them below in the comment section.
Also, check out my other 5th grade homeschool reviews and curriculums below:
- 14 Awesome Resources You Should Add to Your 5th Grade Homeschool
- 5th Grade History Curriculum Reviews
- How to Teach 5th Grade Homeschool Science Without a Curriculum
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