Dear Homeschooling Parent,
Grade 7 and 8 in our curriculum are rich and challenging for your emerging adolescent. Your children will discover adventure, a sweep of history, and time to craft his own learning. Grade 7 consolidates books and skills from the earlier years and offers new landscapes of people, events, and ideas in preparation for high school and beyond.
You will be surprised and (we think) pleased with our book plan. As you know, not all teens and pre-teens are alike. Children bloom at their own rate—if allowed to do so. One reason why we homeschool is to meet the emerging adults needs of a teen for meaning and purpose and God’s calling for their life.
Seventh grade bridges the gap between youngster and preteen. Age-wise, most seventh grade students are in a stage that educators refer to as Middle School (or Junior High) and psychologists call Late Childhood. We call it transitional because some children are still in middle childhood, while others have moved into adolescence. By the way, adolescence is not the time of stress, turmoil and strain that it has been typically presented – actually you can look forward to increasingly good parent-child relations during the high school years.
At this stage children are discovering who they are – they are developing their self-esteem, their global evaluation of self-worth or self-image. They are also increasing their self-efficacy; the belief that they can master situations and produce favorable outcomes based upon their ability.
Perhaps the greatest role for a parent is to help in the development of these key emotional issues. Why? Because the consequences of low self-esteem include anxiety, depression, overweight and obesity and delinquent behavior. A consequence of low self-efficacy is hopelessness and the belief that “I can’t” as opposed to “I can”.
If you feel your child would do better at a slower pace, Grade Seven and Eight can be spread over three years (Grades 7-9) Since there is a significant amount of reading, a third year may be ideal for some. The work is well above any high school level work in traditional school.
WHAT IS GRADE SEVEN LIKE?
Living Books Curriculum Grade Seven continues the pattern of using living books, habit formation, and life experiences begun in the earlier years. Grade Seven involves more written work, independent reading, and sometimes a longer period of study.
The areas of study for Grade Seven include studies in the Christian Faith, an extensive language arts program, science, nature study, picture study, American history, world history, and composer study. Because fluency in oral language is as important as fluency in written language, storytelling remains a key language experience in the Living Books Curriculum.
Planning for Learning™
LBC uses a 36-week schedule divided into four terms. Each term is eight weeks of instruction, with the ninth as a “flex” week. The flex week permits the student to complete unfinished work, the teaching parent to assess learning through end-of-term narration questions, and also allows time for field trips.
Charlotte Mason taught that correlated studies enabled greater exploration of ideas but ought not to result in “busy work” (A Philosophy of Education, p. 114, ff). To correlate means to bring one thing into a complementary relation with another. To correlate studies means to bring one subject, such as history or science, into a complementary relationship with other subjects, such as art or nature study.
In the LBC curriculum, we have designed the major subject areas, i.e. the histories, sciences, language arts, to correlate with work in other areas, such as copy work, poetry, Bible study, and so on. Your student will greatly benefit by integration of the lessons in this manner. It also means that, while there are a number of “subjects”, in fact the amount of work is very manageable and enables a homeschooling family to spend the afternoons in outdoor activities and life skill training.
Journals and Notebooks
A Grade Seven student utilizes several notebooks for narrations and a Nature Journal. Your student has the option of incorporating all of them in one large, three-ring binder with subject-divider tabs or using individual notebooks. One notebook that should be separate is the Nature Journal.
The Enrichment Reading List
Enrichment Reading List for Grade Seven provides titles of other books that will enrich the study of history, science, composer and picture study subjects. All of the books listed can be borrowed from your local library, through inter-library loan, or purchased directly from book distributors.
End-of-Term Narration Questions
Each term in the LBC curriculum is an eight-week period with the ninth week as a flex week. The flex week is included to complete any unfinished work and to assess your student’s learning with end-of-term narrations or in other ways. The questions provided are meant to be suggestive; you may want to formulate questions that more closely reflect the work your student has done during the past term.
We include end-of-term narration questions for two reasons. First, our research of Charlotte Mason’s syllabus for the Parents National Education Union (PNEU), used for over eighty years, showed that each term ended with “narrations” as a means of assessing student progress. Second, teaching parents who are using Living Books Curriculum have asked for assessment tools for their own planning and to demonstrate learning, where necessary, to state and local school officials.
LBC Book of the Centuries
Charlotte Mason recommended using a “Book of the Centuries” throughout the elementary and junior high years.
The Timeline of History is for use in Grades 7 and 8 (and Grade 9 if you use an extended plan) and provides you and your student with a high-quality, easy-to-use Book of the Centuries that will be a treasure for years to come. LBC has provided images of most of the persons studied in Grade 7 and 8 on CD for you to print out.
The use of narration is the most important aspect of Living Books Curriculum. It is the means by which students take up the ideas presented in living books and make them their own. A student of Charlotte Mason expressed it this way: “We read; we narrate; then we know.” If your student is new to the use of narration, begin with very short narrations. The process of using narrations effectively is described in Telling Back: The art of narration.
Charlotte Mason did not recommend a program of writing instruction (she called it composition) until the student was in his early teens. This was to allow the student to learn by imitation of great writing. It is a truly amazing process to watch as your student writes well and with a truer sense of meaning by using this method.
Written narrations provide ample exercise in writing. Miss Mason’s warning against “writing programs” did not mean that a student should not learn the standard forms of grammar usage. She meant that a “program” produces a stilted form of writing; whereas imitating great works produces high-quality writing. Your student should be doing 1-2 written narrations daily.
Charlotte Mason on history and living books:
It is a great thing to possess a pageant of history in the background of one’s thoughts. We may not be able to recall this or that circumstance, but ‘the imagination is warmed.’ Philosophy of Education, p.178
We must read history and think about it to understand (that) …we owe a great debt of gratitude to the historians … who call in Imagination to picture for them the men and events of the past…so that everything seemed to take place again before their eyes, and they were able to write of it for us. But their seeing and writing is not of much use to us unless, in our case, Lord Intellect invites Imagination to go forth with him, and we think of things and figure them to ourselves until at last they are real and alive to us. Ourselves, p.37
History scope and sequence for Grade Seven and Eight
Grades One to Six explored history from Creation to the 20th century (World History) and the early explorers to the 20th century (American History). In Grade Seven and Eight, your student will revisit the previous epochs in a two-year period. He will use books that have a clear overview of the time period, as well as tell a good story. As often as possible we use original source material.
Not all books can or should be narrated, but all books should be responded to in some way, whether through a Literature Journal, History Notebook, Book of the Centuries, or the narration questions provided in the Flex Weeks.
See the study of the time period as an integrated whole, making use of the stories, poetry, histories, and artwork provided.
Use the Grade Seven Enrichment Reading List to add more reading in areas of interest for your student.
American History: Overview—Early Explorers to the Civil War
This year and in Grade Eight your student will be reviewing all of the American history studied to date, starting with the earliest explorers and concluding with the 20th century. This has been done to help your student take past learning and consolidate it. Your student will not be reading the same books, but rather the books will be at a much higher level of comprehension appropriate for a junior high student. The primary books are:
This Country of Ours and The History of US: Sourcebook and Index: Both of these books will be used again in Grade Eight. This year your student will read about 400 pages in This Country of Ours. In addition your student will be reading the first forty-one sections of The History of US: Sourcebook and Index. There is less reading from this book (about 180 pages). Your student may find the sourcebook slow going. As the title implies, your student will be reading original material, written by the men and women whose actions and thoughts put into writing shaped our nation.
The sourcebook is part of an eleven-volume set by Joy Hakim. Since we use living books, not textbooks, we have not used any of the other ten books. The reason for including this book is that is provides original documents in one place with sidebar annotations to help the reader with unfamiliar or unclear concepts. This book begins with a small section of the Magna Charta (1215) that sets up the rationale for the later American Revolution (1776). Other documents range from the grisly notes of early Spanish Conquistadors, to the early documents establishing the basis for liberty, to the simple, profound truths of Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac.
World History: Overview—Ancient World to the Middle Ages
This year, and in Grade 8, your student will be reviewing World history from ancient Greece to the Modern Age. As with American history, this has been done to provide a comprehensive overview. The books used are living in the way Charlotte Mason meant and present history as story and provide original source material.
Terms One, Two and Three will explore Greek and Roman history. This is about 900 pages of reading, but we have divided it up so your student will read about 50 pages per week. Term Four has a bit more reading involved but the living ideas contained in them are presented in a vivid and engaging way.
Term Four begins with “invaders from the North” in the book The Story of the Middle Ages. The last four weeks will focus on the people who were the movers and shakers of this epoch—Heroes of the Middle Ages.
Geography correlates well with World History. The primary text is A Book of Discovery. Each chapter is the biography of an explorer who added to our knowledge of the world
Most American students do not know much about their world. If you have used LBC up to this point, your student should have a good sense of American and world geography. This year will consolidate previous learning and provide a foundation for studying people and cultures in High School.
Christian Faith Studies
Charlotte Mason called this part of your student’s study “Religious Knowledge”, but such a term today is not specific enough, since one could ask, “Which religion?” In her time it was a foregone conclusion that such a term referred to the Christian faith.
This year your student will read Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel in the Old Testament, and John in the New Testament. The rotation of readings comes from the PNEU syllabus of Charlotte Mason. The hard work of discovering what was read during which grade was completed by Victoria Waters and can be viewed at her Web site. We are grateful to her for making them available.
We strongly suggest the teaching parent read Charlotte Mason’s writing on the reading of Scripture.
Here is an excerpt:
Children between the ages of six and nine should get a considerable knowledge of the Bible text. By nine they should have read the simple (and suitable) narrative portions of the Old Testament, and, say, two of the gospels. The Old Testament should, for various reasons, be read to the children. The gospel stories they might be read for themselves as soon as they can read them beautifully. It is a mistake to use paraphrases of the text; the fine roll of Bible English appeals to children with a compelling music, and they will probably retain through life their first conception of the Bible scenes, and, also, the very words in which these scenes are portrayed. This is a great possession. – Home Education, p. 248
When we visited Ambleside, England, to study the works of Charlotte Mason, we discovered that “practical work” in Bible Study was required of a student in the PNEU curriculum. Practical work meant putting one’s faith to work in practical ways, such as visits to a shut-in or writing letters to a missionary.
The grammar book for Grade Seven is The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy to Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes. This book is an excellent review of all the rules. The author’s Web site has a number of free resources and additional quizzes that are also helpful.
Storytelling is a unique feature of the Living Books Curriculum. It is included because fluency in storytelling directly relates to a student’s ability to excel in reading, writing, comprehension, narration, and creativity. Each term your student will have a storytelling opportunity assigned that will build confidence in public speaking, enhance expressive language, and improve writing (yes, writing!).
By Grade Seven, most children are fluent in cursive italic. If your student needs further work, we recommend purchasing Italics: Beautiful handwriting for children.
Copywork is the transcription of a favorite passage by the student into a book reserved for this alone. The copybook can be a spiral notebook or lined pages put into a three-ring binder. The passage should be from high-quality literature so that your student is always learning from examples of good writing. Each week, your student will be directed to choose the passage he prefers.
Charlotte Mason wrote of copy work (which she called transcription):
Children should transcribe favorite passages. —A certain sense of possession and delight may be added to this exercise if children are allowed to choose for transcription their favorite verse in one poem and another. This is better than to write a favorite poem, an exercise, which stales on the little people before it is finished. But a book of their own, made up of their own chosen verses, should give them pleasure. (Home Education, p. 238)
Dictation is the transcription by your student of a passage read aloud to him. It can be either studied or unstudied.
A studied dictation is one in which the student is shown a paragraph or two selected from the assigned readings in science, either of the histories, or another subject. The selected paragraph(s) is shown to the student early in the week. The student is then asked to “study” the material in preparation for a dictation by the teaching parent later in the week.
An unstudied dictation is one in which the student has not seen the passage previous to the dictation. LBC recommends unstudied dictation as part of end-of-term assessment. The value of this approach is to assess learning in a specific area, not to “catch the student doing wrong”. If more work is needed, it will become apparent through the dictation.
The study of Shakespeare’s works began in Grade Three and continues through Grade Eight. Shakespeare is a master storyteller, and familiarity with his plays gives the student a rich experience in character study and expressive language. After Holy Scripture, Shakespeare’s works are considered the greatest in the English language.
Homeschooling families sometimes wonder why it is important to study the works of this playwright. Terry Glaspeys addresses this issue in Great Books of the Christian Tradition:
Shakespeare presents us with the same dramatic tension we recognize in a study of Scripture: that of good vs. evil, the need for courage in the face of adversity, and the reality that God is moving in and behind the scenes of human action. Whatever the circumstances of his personal life, it is unquestionably true that Shakespeare wrote from a Christian worldview. His insights on human will, guilt, forgiveness, and the search for truth should be required reading for every believer. His grasp of the human condition is perhaps unmatched in literature.
Can elementary and junior high age students enjoy Shakespeare?
The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” The plays do require some preparation, but not much. For example, if you and your student have not yet read Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit, we highly recommend it. Once your student understands the action of the play and a little bit of how a play is put together, his (and your) ability to understand Shakespearean English will improve quickly.
Twelfth Night; or What You Will
The play for this year is Twelfth Night. Produced for the first time in 1601, Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s later comedies. It is a wildly improbable, hugely entertaining play of mistaken identities of two sets of identical twins. And yet, as with other of Shakespeare’s plays, just beneath the surface are life’s truths: evil is exposed, good is rewarded, and there is a universe and a God who rules it.
Each year the Living Books Curriculum includes at least one book of poetry. This year your student will be enjoying Jabberwocky: Poetry for junior high. This is an LBC exclusive designed to appeal to junior high and to challenge them to reflect on ideas and types of poetry. There are writing prompts and points of discussion.
Charlotte Mason felt that children learned to spell well by reading quality literature. Those words which are misspelled, in a written narration for example, become part of the following week’s spelling list.
Charlotte Mason called recitation “the children’s art” and that all children, even a student whose parents have little background in literature, may be taught the fine art of beautiful and perfect speaking. Throughout the year your student will be asked to memorize certain pieces for recitation. If your student is new to memory work such as this, begin slowly.
This year we present another LBC exclusive: Best-loved Literary Fairy Tales, a collection of well-known stories that have a mythic or fairy tale quality. You may want to read these together as a family as they are a delight for all ages.
The first six grades of our curriculum were a structured adventure into basic science concepts using living books and were designed to prepare your student for upper level work. For junior high, LBC launches into science studies using the Apologia Creation Science curriculum. Grade Seven will use Apologias Exploring Creation with General Science plus the Solutions and Test Manuals. There are sixteen modules in the book. We suggest four per term, or one module every two weeks.
The goal of nature study is careful looking. Albert Einstein said, “All great science begins with a close observation of nature”. Nature Study is one of the keys to a Living Books education because it develops keen powers of observation. Charlotte Mason taught that time spent in the outdoors is a “balm and a blessing” for children, not only when they are young, but also when grown and must deal with the stresses and strains of adult life.
Each term has a focus for study. The choice of study is drawn from Handbook of Nature Study, which is used from kindergarten to eighth grade. The topics are only meant as a guide. If something interesting is happening in your backyard or nearby woods, by all means, spend time on that subject.
Focus for each term of Grade Seven:
- Term One—Fishes
- Term Two–The Brook, Insects of Brook and Pond
- Term Three–Cultivated Crops
- Term Four—Trees I
A regular and important aspect of a living books education, as recommended by Charlotte Mason, is the study of great works of art. In Grade Seven your student will study the works of the following artists:
- Term One: Edgar Degas
- Term Two: Claude Monet
- Term Three: Auguste Renoir
- Term Four: Winslow Homer
This year your student will review some familiar and some new composers. There are seventeen composers in the book Meet the Great Composers. That works out to four composers for three terms and five in one term.
Since the afternoons should be relatively free of academic studies, this is the time to teach your student handicrafts. Which handicrafts you choose depends on your student’s interests, your interests, and your budget. Most boys and girls enjoy activities such as sewing, woodworking, gardening, and cooking. These are skills every student should know. You may have a skill or craft you want to teach, or you may want to invite someone to teach a skill.
Charlotte Mason gave guidelines for handicrafts:
- The habit of perfect execution each time. To make sure this happens, each task must be small enough so the student can learn it easily.
- Finishing one’s work. Acquiring the habit of finishing projects is a highly desirable trait. Unfortunately, crafts have a way of being left half-finished. Choose only one activity on which to concentrate each term and oversee your student’s work to the finish.
In a Living Books Curriculum day, the morning is devoted to academics, and the afternoon revolves around outdoor exploration, sports and handicrafts. Allow children unstructured time. You will often be tempted to stay indoors after lunch to finish work. Keep such times to a minimum, allowing your student to play outdoors.
Physical education is a crucial part of a student’s optimal growth. Junior high is often a time when team sports and specialized instruction such as gymnastics, martial arts, or swimming can be part of a student’s experience, but they should not take the place of free play.
FOREIGN LANGUAGES, LATIN, MUSIC LESSONS
LBC does not provide a mathematics program because each family is unique in its learning styles and needs. We do recommend the following company for seventh and eighth grade: Video Text Interactive Mathematics.
Charlotte Mason recommended that each day have lessons in a foreign language. Her teachers taught both German and French. We highly recommend including at least one language in your homeschool. Choose a language that is appropriate for your family and of interest to your student. Spanish is useful in every area of the U.S. Plan to continue the same language over a period of years to make it most beneficial for your student.
Latin is technically not a foreign language but rather a root language, the knowledge of which improves a student’s abilities at every level—reading with greater understanding, clearer thinking, facility in learning a foreign language, and recall of information. There are many fine programs available; one we like is Latina Christiana.
Lessons in a musical instrument are a life skill and a source of pleasure and beauty. If the cost of lessons is too much for your budget, we recommend your student learn to play the recorder. Penny Gardner has an excellent book, The New-Note Recorder Book, available at her Web site.
Often Asked Questions
- What if I want to teach multiple children with this teaching guide?
- What are the books and subjects covered in Grade Seven?
- Why do you use storytelling in your curriculum?
- When should I begin narration?
Is it too late to start a Charlotte Mason education?
Mothers ask me that from time to time. They see the value of a living books education and want if for their child. It is never too late to begin! Children are wonderfully resilient and they know the genuine article (living books) when it is given them. To give you and idea of what a day looks like, have a look at my article on “Planning a CM Day.”
What is a living book?
“…We owe it to every child to put him (or her) in communication with great minds that he may get at great thoughts…and the only vital method of education appears to be that children should read worthy books, many worthy books.” A Philosophy of Education, p. 12.
Living Books Curriculum uses books considered “living” according to Charlotte Mason’s guidelines because they “warm the imagination, nurture thinking, and communicate knowledge mind-to-mind”. Children require books that are living in order to develop mind and hearts to fullest capacity. The high quality of thought expressed in great literature creates like thought in the child. When the books are many, varied, and living, the child is able to adopt the ideas just as a plant takes nutrients from the soil.
Here to help
We’re here to help. Living Books Curriculum fully supports our curriculum though an online community forum. We invite you to join the growing community of parents using this wonderful way to home educate. Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best,
P.S. 100% of the proceeds of your purchase help us help children in Africa receive a living education. Jim and Sheila Carroll’s non-profit, Worldwide Educational Resources, has seven schools at this time, educating nearly 750 students. The Carroll’s non-profit was founded in 2000. Learn more.