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AO Language Arts Scope and Sequence AmblesideOnline.org

Ambleside Online Scope and Sequence for Language Arts

This may look a little different from the usual scope-and-sequences you will find, but it is based on the methods of Charlotte Mason, combined with the practical experience of Advisory members. No one should feel "locked in" to doing exactly what is in the scope and sequence. You may choose to use curricula not mentioned here to achieve the same goals. However, this scope and sequence provides an overview of the way language arts, as a whole, are covered in a Charlotte Mason.


Grades 1-3  |  Grades 4-6   |   Grades 7-8   |   Grades 9-12


Grades 1-3

Phonics/Reading instruction: (There are suggestions on the AO website, and you may choose any curriculum that meets the needs of your child. Ruth Beechick's methods, as described in her Three R's series, are excellent.)

Oral Narration (oral composition) of various subjects--literature, history, picture study, and so on: This is absolutely foundational to the entire Charlotte Mason method. Allow your student a year or two to develop into a fluent narrator, but do not neglect this part of language arts.

Copywork: (This will expose children to the form of written sentences on a page, and be the beginning of learning to spell, as well as covering handwriting practice. You may choose to use a handwriting curriculum as well, but be careful not to burden young children with too much written work. Less is more, and children should write only as much as they can write perfectly.)


Grades 4-6

Reading: Children should begin reading most of their schoolbooks for themselves during this time.

Oral Narration of various subjects. (This continues to be an important part of "composition.")

Written Narration begun around age 10-11. (Handwritten or typed narrations are fine. You should accept most written narrations without attempting to correct all the mistakes. Becoming proficient with written narration will take a couple of years. Begin with one written narration per week, and increase to 2, then 3, as your child is ready to do more writing. Once a month, perhaps, you may want to edit and correct one narration.)

Beginning Grammar. (Once the child is writing, he has more use for grammar. You may choose to use a purchased curriculum, such as Simply Grammar, but it will also be sufficient during these years to teach more informally, limiting instruction to the eight or nine parts of speech, the four basic types of sentences (declarative, interrogative, imperative, exclamative), and a couple of simple punctuation and capitalization rules.)

Dictation. (This exercise will improve a child's spelling, but it does take time. You may choose to use a spelling curriculum, but many parents find that a child's spelling improves dramatically after a year or two of dictation.)

Typing (A typing program such as Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing can prepare your child for written narration, and will remove the burden of handwriting from the process of composition. Charlotte Mason didn't advocate this, but she never had the option. If a child learns to touch type--speed is not important--during the year that he is nine, he may find written narration much easier at age 10 or so.)


Grades 7-8

Formal Grammar may be done at this time, preferably with one comprehensive book. (After the course is completed, a grammar handbook will be useful as a reference tool to polish and correct grammar flaws that appear in written work.)

Oral Narration. (Again, this will always be an important part of a Charlotte Mason education.)

Written Narration. (You will gradually be increasing the number and length of your children¹s written narrations during these years. You should also be helping your child perfect the mechanics of writing and begin learning to edit and correct their mistakes. Doing this with one narration per week is fine, and it will reinforce the grammar and punctuation that is being studied separately. )

Dictation (You should expect to see much better spelling during these years. If a child continues to use poor spelling, you may want to address the subject separately.)

Copywork, if you desire. (As the child becomes busier with written narration, it is more important to keep dictation in the schedule than copywork.)


Grades 9-12

Grammar: (If you did not complete a formal grammar program, do that in grade 9. Otherwise, use your completed curriculum or a grammar handbook to address grammatical problems that arise in writing. You may wish to do a short review of formal grammar before a child graduates, but most grammar instruction--and there should be some--ought to take place within the context of the student's writing.)

Oral Narration (This is important, even at this age. You may occasionally wish to ask a student to give an oral narration in a formal way, such as a speech or presentation.)

Written Narration/Composition (At this point, written narrations can become more focused, and the student can be introduced to different types of formal writing. In fact, you should make it a point to expose your children to different formats and allow them to structure their narrations in various ways. Books that address the subject of writing and style, such as Strunk and White's Elements of Style and William Zinssar's On Writing Well should be read and applied to the student's writing.)

Dictation (If your child is an excellent speller, and you do not feel the need to work on handwriting, this subject could be dropped, although it would be beneficial to continue once or twice per week, or use dictation in your foreign language program.)

Copywork, only if you desire.

(See a discussion about AO and high school English here)




This scope and sequence, if followed throughout the school career, will produce children who can write well, because they have something to say. They will learn handwriting, grammar, and spelling, within the context of writing, not as discrete subjects. No formal composition curriculum is recommended here, but you may find one useful to introduce you and your child to various types of formal writing; however, you should be careful not to let a writing program supplant the natural growth as a writer that will occur if oral and written narration are used consistently across many years.

If you are beginning a Charlotte Mason education with an older child, you should allow as much as two full years of oral narration before beginning written narration. If the student is old enough for written narration in general, you may wish to tape an occasional narration, and have the child transcribe it in writing, but the mental discipline of oral narration needs to be established before it can be transferred to written narration.

~ Karen Glass

A couple of basic grammar sites online:
Oestar
English Chick