I have always been intrigued by Charlotte Mason. I found her method of homeschooling a little later in our homeschool journey – after we had already begun homeschooling. We have dabbled in it a bit, but I never thought that it would totally work with our two youngest. Since they are on the autism spectrum and one has small motor difficulty and the other has developmental delays I thought that the journaling and writing aspect would be difficult for them. When we were chosen to review Sheldon’s New Primary Language Lessons published by Brookdale House, I didn’t realize that it embraced the Charlotte Mason approach and wondered how we would do with it. I have used it with my middle child, Joshua, who has Aspergers Syndrome and small motor problems and have we have enjoyed it. I haven’t used it totally, exactly, how it is supposed to be used, but the adjustments have worked for us. First I’ll tell you all about this great language curriculum and how it is supposed to be used, then I’ll tell you how we used it and why it is working for us.
Sheldon’s New Primary Language Lessons really isn’t “new” at all. It is a revised version of a set of 96 lessons from a classic language book. Most of the lessons are the same as the original but a few have been updated or omitted. It is described as a “gentle” introduction to grammar for elementary students and is recommended for grades 3-6. Although Joshua has had some grammar lessons, it is something that he struggles with and I struggle with teaching, and I really liked the “gentle” sound of things. After receiving it I found that it really is gentle. Each lesson is not more than three or four pages long at the most and very often just one page. Also, most of the lessons can be done orally which really helped us a lot. The first half of the book deals primarily with punctuation and capitalization with a few other things thrown in such as contractions, days of the week and month, and the proper way to set up a letter and address an envelope just to name a few. Parts of speech are covered in the second half of the book. Although there is quite a bit of copy work and dictation, it is true that many if not most of the lessons can be done orally. As I mentioned before it is truly a gentle approach. For example, the first lesson is about statements. The student is shown a picture of a boy running and flying a kite with a dog running beside him and his brother and sister following along behind. Four statements are made about the picture and then some oral questions are asked in such a way that when the student answers he is making a statement. Then there is an explanation about what a statement is and the proper punctuation and capitalization for a statement. That’s it! It is all on one page. The next lesson was one page as well and was based on the same picture but covered question marks and how to write a questions sentence. Other lessons may be fill in the blank, passage or poem memorization, dictation or copy work. the copy work in Sheldon’s New Primary language Lessons are all in cursive. Anything the teacher (or parent in a homeschool case) has to say is in a text box and anything that is supposed to be read or done by the student is outside of the textbox so there is no teacher manual. The answers for the questions are found at the end of the book. It is all very simple and uncomplicated. I really love the lessons and the approach.
Joshua likes the approach as well as it is very uncomplicated and I have adjusted it so that he doesn’t have to do much writing. Thankfully much of the book can be done orally and even is encouraged to be done orally. Joshua, as I mentioned has a very difficult time writing, and although he needs the practice, it is best that he practices in a non-stressful situation. Dictation would be very stressful for him, so we usually skip that. Also, the copy work would not work for him because we have not started cursive with him yet.
This is a keeper for us. I can envision using this with Jacob as well when he is able to read and write just a bit better. As I have said many times, the gentle approach of this book really works with Joshua. We have found by experience that a lot of tedious questions and doing problems over and over again do not work for him. If you have a child that hates tedious work, I would really encourage you to look into Sheldon’s New Primary Language Lessons. We really give this two thumbs up! To find out more about this awesome book and about all of the curriculum that Brookdale House publishes click on any of the highlighted links above. Many of the other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed other books published by Brookdale House including a really neat looking geography curriculum that I want to try with Joshua, and you can find what they have to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!