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Plans for a 1st and 2nd grader transitioning to Classical Writing later?

Annie Laurie

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If you were going you transition your kids to CW in 3rd grade, what would you do with them in the meantime?


I already plan on copywork and working on narration skills. My dd who is in K will do some phonics review during 1st grade, but she is already reading on a high 2nd grade level. My ds is currently in 1st and I don't feel he needs phonics anymore since his reading level is 4th grade and he reads on his own without effort.


I am pretty laid back with little ones and we've been mostly unschooling- we've played around with parts of FLL and SL LA 1 and 2, but mostly I read aloud to them everyday and they read something to me everyday. We also have a sustained silent reading period everyday.


Other than that, we play math games, we play outside, and kind of do whatever tickles our fancy at the time. My ds though has a personality that is happier with structure, so we have gone back to doing explode the code and a math workbook everyday too. (He is picking it back up with ETC 5, which is really review for him but good handwriting, spelling practice too).


If you're still with me :), what I want is to slowly transition to more structure without being overwhelming for them and still having plenty of time for free play and board games together, time outside, or whatever we want to do. I want to lay a good foundation right now for writing and reading on a deeper level starting in 3rd grade.


So on the Classical Writing website, they recommended for 1st and 2nd grade:



beginning dictation


reading and phonics



What is a good resource for good copywork passages that I could have on hand?


Dictation in 1st and 2nd grade- really? (We do this informally when they ask me how they would say something or spell something and I dictate and they write in in their notebooks, so can I eliminate this formally? trying to keep it simple.)


Spelling. Again, really? I've never believed spelling is necessary until 4th or 5th grade, then they've read a lot and built up a mental "word bank." Is there something they'll be missing by not doing spelling? Should I stick with ETC? Try a spelling workbook?


Reading we have covered, and phonics.



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If you have or can get a copy of WTM, it details how to approach writing, copywork, dictation, etc. for 1st and 2nd and will be excellent preparation, putting you right on track for CW. I think before starting CW, a dc should be able to comfortably write his own narration, a skill WTM has you shoot for by the end of 2nd. It's also why you have to consider spelling so early. If your kids spell well from the phonics they've done, no problem. If they're writing and are finding their spelling skills inadequate, then you'll need to do spelling. We've done spelling since K5, so it never occurred to me not to. I know some people wait, but like I said, the earlier you have them writing, the earlier spelling skills become an issue. I didn't want my dd to rearrange her narrations or writing to fit her limitations on spelling. Of course not every dc needs a lot of formal spelling. In our house, I keep an open door and encourage her to ask while she writes, which seems to work for us.


Literature dictation gets them into more complex sentence structure, punctuation, etc. and is worthwhile, not to mention enjoyable, so yes I'd do it.

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If you want something laid out for you so you're not always searching for copywork and dictation on your own.... have you looked at the sample of the new writing workbook that accompanies SWB's Writing Book, The Complete Writer? The samples on Peace Hill Press's website are for level 1. My understanding is that level 2 may be out this spring/summer as well? If most of your schooling is laid back, unstructured, adding this in might not be much of a burden.


As far as spelling goes - try to evaluate whether you have "natural spellers" or not. ETC helped my ds's reading, but did not help his spelling. I ended up finding something else to use for spelling. You might not need to.


Just some inexperienced thoughts :)

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