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MCT--Which level/components to start with?


Tracy
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Okay, I am pretty sure that we need to go with MCT. I had thought that I would start with Island in 4th grade. I heard that the poetry and the writing were challenging, so I thought I would wait a bit to start so that we could get the most out of it. But then I read that some people were just doing SI first and skipping the rest of that level and moving right to town. Others have suggested that doing Island writing before WWS would be ideal. And to muddy the waters further, I have read that some people waited to do island and found it ridiculously easy, while others would not want to miss Mud.

 

I am only vaguely understanding the different positions here, I am wondering if y'all could share your thoughts with me. I am trying to decide whether to

  • Start with the full Island level next year (3rd grade), with the understanding that we may have to just talk through the writing assignments.
  • Wait until 4th grade to start Island
  • Skip Island and start Town in 4th grade
  • Skip Island and start Town in 5th grade

Thoughts?

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We did full island level with my fourth grader. He's always been strong in language arts, so I briefly thought about starting him in Town, but I'm glad we didn't. If you enjoy MCT, it would be a shame to skip this level, especially at this age. There's plenty of time to do the higher levels, no need to rush it. Just our experience.

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This is such a YMMV thing. I don't think there is one "right" answer because it depends on your budget, your child's ability and what programs (if any) he/she has completed prior into MCT, whether you are okay with doing other programs in between MCT levels (since there are BIG jumps in the writing), and so on.

 

With "island", the grammar and the vocab are very light, the writing book is good, and the poetry I didn't bother getting since I knew it would go over my DS' head and it would all be repeated in Building Poems.

 

My oldest I'm glad I started in "town" when she was working at about a 4th or 5th grade level because "island" would've been far too easy for her. I started DS in "island" once he was a fluent enough reader and just have gone slowly. It is looking like it will take 3 semesters to go through "island" plus Grammar Town. I'm going to hold off on the rest of the "town" level until he's ready for the writing portion, but I do want him to do Grammar Town because I'm planning on using Killgallon Sentence Composing for Elementary and I think that will go more smoothly if he has done GT first.

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I am doing MCT Island with my 3rd grader this year and so far it has not been overly difficult, with the possible exception of certain sections of Music of the Hemispheres book. He completed GWG 3 last year which prepared him well for Grammar Island. He has found the story of Mud to be very entertaining and he now happily picks apart the parts of speech and parts of a sentence just for fun.

 

Sentence Island builds on Grammar Island by reinforcing the need to use correct grammar in writing, including writing in complete sentences. It also stresses using strong nouns and verbs rather to solidify an idea rather than depending on the use of excessive adjectives and adverbs. The story of Mud keeps the lessons entertaining. You can pick from a multitude of mini writing lessons. I often will start doing a lesson with my son orally. Then I will write the first sentence or two on the white board for him to copy. He then finishes the assignment himself on paper. If your child can write multiple sentences without struggling to make each letter you probably will be OK with Sentence Island but you know your child best. On a side note, we also use WWE and Check the Deck for writing in addition to Sentence Island.

 

Building Language is fairly straight forward. It doesn’t cover that much vocabulary but it does delve into the interrelations between various languages and the idea of root words, stems, prefixes and suffixes.

 

Then there is Music of the Hemispheres. This is a marvelous book, but I have to admit I had to really study it myself prior to reading it with son. As I child I recall studying Haikus and perhaps a simple rhyme in school, but even in college my study of poetry never came close to this book. That said my son found Music of the Hemispheres fascinating. We both gained a new found respect for poets! While we read the book together, I focused on the concepts of rhyme, alliteration, personification, metaphors and similes. I spent less time on meter and foot as I felt that at this stage I was looking for more of an introduction to these complex topics rather than mastery. I am sure as the years go by, we will revisit these poetry concepts again so I am not concerned that he understand every last detail the first time around. What I do want, is for him to gain an appreciation for poetry and the beauty and complexity of language.

 

I think you will be fine in whatever you choose to do. You could always start in 3rd grade and then if you find that Sentence Island and/or Music of the Hemispheres is to difficult you could push those books to fourth grade. Since MCT doesn't suggest starting Paragraph Town until after you have completed Grammar Town you would have some time in the beginning of fourth grade to work through Sentence Island and Music of the Hemispheres.

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Thank you all for your replies! And especially to Thejourney for your extra-thorough response.

 

I had originally decided that I would wait until 4th grade and start with island, but recent threads had me questioning that decision. I think I will stick with it and let dd have that time to herself for another year. (She is never without some sort of project going on.)

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I did the Island level with my 9 and 7yo and both did fine. My 9yo had previously completed K12s 4th grade LA program, so most of the grammar was review, but it was the first exposure for my 7yo. Would I have chosen to do Island with my 7yo (end of 1st grade/start of 2nd) if not for her sister? No. But as long as you meet them where they are it is fine. We did it in a cuddle on the couch sort of way, just a page or two a day. Always leave them wanting more of Mud. :D Grammar became their favorite subject, my 9yo was jealous that her sister got to learn grammar this way, and by the end both were enjoying diagraming (4 levels) and writing assignments really exploring word play. They way MCT introduces the ideas -- such as how a sentence's heart is BROKEN when the verb and subject number do not agree, is so vivid. We would read the little stories and just sit their quietly, soaking it in. Awesome.

 

Just the other day my 9yo asked if we could do more grammar. I guess it is time to order Town level.

 

I will say that I loved all parts of Island EXCEPT Building Language. Nice in concept, it just didn't seem to fall flat compared to the rest of the program. I think I would have rather waited until the Caesar's English components in the higher levels.

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