The Well-Trained Mind recommends the following as a complete language arts program, beginning in the elementary grades.
- Grammar: First Language Lessons 1, 2, 3, or 4, then Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind workbooks in middle-school
- Writing: Writing With Ease text and workbooks 1, 2, 3, or 4, then Writing With Skill texts and workbooks in middle-school
- Spelling: Your choice, we recommend Spelling Workout, by Modern Curriculum Press
- Reading: The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading for phonics and then your library card (when a child finishes the OPG, he/she is reading on a 4th grade level).
First Language Lessons (FLL) and Writing with Ease (WWE) are designed to be used together (but do not have to be used together). First Language Lessons covers grammar, punctuation, and mechanics; Writing with Ease covers actual writing skills (narration, dictation and copy work). The two books are structured so that the exercises in Writing with Ease reinforce the concepts learned in First Language Lessons.
First Language Lessons includes dictation and narration exercises with some lessons. If you are using Writing with Ease, you may choose to skip these exercises in First Language Lessons (especially for a child whose fine motor skills are still developing). However, if your student needs additional practice in dictation or narration, the exercises in First Language Lessons can act as a supplement to Writing with Ease.
For First Language Lessons, start a first or second grader in level 1. Start a third or fourth grader on grade level because those levels repeat everything found in the previous year(s) and introduce new concepts.
The books for First Language Lessons Levels 1 and 2 are for the instructor to use in teaching the student; there is no student workbook at Levels 1 and 2. In Levels 3 and 4, a writing component is introduced, and so student workbooks are added to the curriculum.
For Writing With Ease, if you are not starting with a first grader in Level One, use these diagnostics to determine which level in WWE to start your student at. You should see a picture of hands holding a pencil. This is a copy of the pages found in the WWE Instructor Text. Scroll down, and you will see the first diagnostic evaluation. Start with that one and if your student passes it, move on to the next one and so on. A student will not necessarily be in the same level of WWE as FLL, so it is important to use this diagnostic tool.
Susan Wise Bauer has written updated guidelines for using our writing program based on the first years of customer feedback.
Dr. Bauer has also written an article about the importance of teaching phonics.
Finally, Chapter 48 of The Well-Trained Mind, 4th Edition is called, “The Final Word: Starting in the Middle." You might find more extensive help in this chapter.
Well-Trained Mind Press books and books by Susan Wise Bauer are available on our web store.