Friday, June 21, 2013

Classical Mamas Read - The Well Trained Mind: Ch. 5

Welcome back to Classical Mamas Read.  I'm excited to be here with you again this week after taking a break last week to talk about The Classical Preschool.  Today we will be discussing chapter 5.  If you missed the discussion last time,  take a minute to read about chapters 3 & 4.

Ch. 5 - Words, Words, Words: Spelling, Grammar, Reading, and Writing

This chapter breaks down everything you need to know about all things 'language arts.'  They also share great resource suggestions to go along with each section.  I found the suggested time allotments for each subject to be very helpful.  I'm sure I don't/won't follow them exactly, but guidelines are always nice.  

The goal of the grammar stage is to help your child read, write, and speak easily so they are prepared for the dialectic stage.

They suggest keeping a 3-ring binder, divided into sections, to keep all of your child's work.  I started doing this last year, but found that the work soon didn't find it's way into the binder and ended up being a mess.  I recently took the time to prepare copywork, dictation, and notebooking pages ahead of time and bind them with my favorite spiral binder.  Now all I have to do is tell my son which page to do in his notebook and it is already there and will stay there!  

How do you keep all your child's work together and in reasonable order?  Do you use 3-ring binders or some other method?



I think the most important thing about spelling is that you teach your children the phonograms and spelling rules.  I started this way with my son, but realized that I haven't kept up the teaching part of this since he reads very well.  I am definitely going to get back to this in the fall because his spelling is not great when he writes and also because his sister is beginning to read, so it will be the perfect time!

How do you teach your children to spell?  What method/curriculum/books do you use?  Do you spend time each day working on spelling?


  • Grammar lessons will begin orally, then progress to written.

    • I did this with my son and wondered if it was ok.  We use Primary Language Lessons (affiliate link) and at the beginning we would just sit and talk through the lessons.  I wondered if I was starting him to soon even though the concepts were find for him.  I was happy to read that this is normal and good!
  • Narration - have your child tell back to you the story that you just read.

    •  We do this often and have for a while.  It was not easy at first, but I have seen my son make great strides in his ability to comprehend.  

  • By the end of the grammar stage, your child should know the parts of speech, rules of capitalization, punctuation, dictionary usage, etc.

    •  I've been thinking about increasing the scope of our memory box for next year, and I'm definitely going to be adding these grammar items!


During the first four years of education, you have two purposes: to get the child to read quickly, well, and habitually; and to fill his mind with stories of every kind... (page 57)

Here are a few notes I wrote down:

  • Read simplified versions of classics to get your child familiar with what they will be encountering later.

  • Continue to read aloud to your child even after they are able to read for themselves.

  • Keep a list of books that your child has read (or that you have read aloud).  Keep this in the reading section of your notebook/binder.

  • Require structured reading as well as free reading time.

  • Have your child read out loud to you so you can catch errors, discourage guessing at words, help him decode unfamiliar words, and gain fluency.

  • Stay away from books that have short sentences, simple sentence structure, easy vocab, etc., because they are the television equivalent of cartoons.

Do you let your children read these 'fun' type books (they mentioned Goosebumps, Sweet Valley High, etc. though I'm sure there are more current equivalents).

I read this type of book continually when I was elementary age.  I was never discouraged from this or encouraged to read anything 'better.'  I always thought I was a great reader, but I see now that my reading 'taste' was not very refined =)


Your child doesn't need to be coming up with original content at this point.  If they show creativity on their own, let them peruse it, but this stage is for giving them the tools they need to express their original content later on.

  • Copywork - pick sentences from your history lessons, science lessons, the literature you are reading, etc. and write them down for your child to copy precisely.

  •  Dictation - Once your child acquires some basic spelling and grammar skills, you can include dictation.  This is when the parent reads to the child what they are to write, but the child doesn't see the word (has to write it from memory).

  • Letters to family and friends - this is a great (and fun!) skill to teach your child!  We do this with thank you notes, and have recently started sending some 'just because' notes.

 What are your favorite resources for teaching your children reading, writing, spelling, and grammar?

Next week we will be discussing chapters 6 and 7 which talk about grammar stage math and history.  Hopefully it won't be to much for one week, but I don't want this book to take all year to go through, so we will try!  It looks like a lot of pages, but a good chunk of it is resource suggestions, so I think we should be ok.

If you don't have the book already, you can look for it at your library or get it on amazon. (The Well Trained Mind affiliate link)

If you are behind, feel free to still comment on chapters 1 & 2 or chapters 3 & 4.  If you want to be emailed when someone makes a comment, make sure to click "Subscribe by Email" right under the comment box (right hand side), so you won't miss out on any discussion!

Classical Mamas Read Link-Up

Did you write about these chapters on your blog?  Have you been reading and blogging about another book (for you, not a children's book)?  Do you have a book club going on at your blog (once again, not for a children's book)?  I'd love for you link up here so we can all be encouraged by each other and maybe find another great book to read!

I think I'm going to keep this link-up ongoing since there aren't going to be a huge number of posts and then anyone new will be able to be encouraged by the other book reading ideas and discussions.  If the number of posts gets too large, I will fix it.

Please note, all posts must be on topic (about a book you are reading) and appropriate (think family friendly).


  1. I've spent quite a bit of time with this chapter the last few months, since we were preparing to start first grade. It's nice to see it summarized. :)

    1. I can totally see how you could spend month on this chapter! Glad this discussion is helpful for you!

  2. Earlier in the year we were doing most of our work in exercise books, but then I got a crazy idea about moving over to binders, wow, what a lesson I learnt. So much more mess and work. LOL Oh well, at least I know which way we are going next year. :o) { I'm slowly moving back to exercise books already. }

    Spelling: agreed, the phonograms and rules. I'm a bit of a slacker I guess that I know these things but I haven't been that diligent with the spelling rules. I've also had to go back and do some more work on the phonograms since we left them when I should have remained reviewing them.

    I think some of the reason is that there is just so much to try and fit in each day and so I tend to drop things.

    Grammar: Rod and Staff; copywork.

    Reading: I try to get the girls to read every day. At the moment I have two girls on Rod and Staff nurture readers, and one on a CLE reading program. I've dropped the workbooks.

    I read a bit to the girls as well. Lately we've been reading more illustrated classics. This week we are in 'A Tale of Two Cities'.

    Writing: I have all the girls still on copywork.

    Loved your notes. :)

    1. It really is hard to fit everything in, isn't it? I know that I need to remember how important reviewing is. Luckily, I'll be starting with the rules and phonograms in the fall with my daughter, so it will be easy for my son to review right along with us.

      I love copywork ;)

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these subjects!


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