What You Really Need to Know About Language Lessons for a Living Education
When my oldest was going into 3rd grade, the hottest language arts curriculum in the homeschool market seemed to be Language Lessons for a Living Education.
I noticed a ton of chatter and reviews from blogs, vlogs, and other places all centered around this workbook that just came out from Master Books. It seemed like the perfect fit for us at the time, and I decided to dive into it and give it a try!
I am excited to throw my own Language Lessons for a Living Education review into the mix and help homeschool moms out there decide if this curriculum is the right fit for them.
Be warned: I am brutally honest and very detailed with our experience. I hope you expect nothing less from a fellow homeschool mom in the trenches of curriculum buying.
In this review, you are going to find out what the curriculum is, exactly what a week of this curriculum looks like, what we loved about it, what we didn’t love about it, who this curriculum works for, and who this curriculum probably won’t work for.
What is Language Lessons for a Living Education?
Language Lessons for a Living Education is a Charlotte Mason based language arts curriculum from Master Books.
It follows the continuing story of Micah and Claire (homeschooled twins), who get to apply everything they’re learning in real life application scenarios!
You will need to buy one workbook and the corresponding 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible for your student.
Here is a full description from the Master Books website:
- A Charlotte Mason flavored approach to elementary language arts
- Convenient daily schedule — saving you lesson prep time
- Short, engaging 20-30 minute lessons
- Story-based approach with character-building themes
- Slowly build handwriting stamina for younger students
- Instructional blend of stories, copywork, oral narration and hands-on experience to bring concepts to life
- 6 levels targeted for 1st – 6th grade
Language Lessons for a Living Education: Exactly What a Week in this Curriculum Looks Like
Language Lessons for a Living Education has a very predictable routine throughout the week.
I think my child really enjoyed knowing what to expect and what was coming up.
I am going to show you how a typical week would run using Lesson 8 from Language Lessons for a Living Education 3.
****Of course there are some variations as different concepts are taught throughout the year. This is just a snapshot of one week.
Monday: Reading, Narration, Memorization (Exercise 1)
There is a selection to read along with your child. You read the regular text, and your child reads the orange highlighted text.
At the end of the story there are reading comprehension questions to go through with your child, suggested scripture to memorize, and an observation assignment that includes reading skills.
Tuesday: Grammar Lesson (Exercise 2 – Possessive Nouns)
A grammar concept is introduced by writing instructions to the student at his/her reading level. The student has 2 workbook pages to practice the new skill.
Wednesday: Grammar Lesson (Exercise 3 – Subject and Predicate)
Another grammar concept is introduced and practiced over 2 workbook pages. Included in those 2 pages is a short writing assignment incorporating the grammar lesson just taught.
Thursday: Copy Work and Sketching (Exercise 4)
Every Thursday your child will be asked to copy a verse from “101 Favorite Stories From the Bible” and then memorize that verse.
The child will also be asked to sketch the picture from the story and copy the caption underneath the picture.
Friday: Spelling (Exercise 5)
Your child will have one worksheet to do that will go over 10 spelling words. It may be a word search, guided journal entry, word scramble, or other such activity.
The child is also asked to write the spelling words on note cards and create “right-brained” flashcards. There is also the option to create your own dictionary using a printable in the back of the workbook.
What We Loved About Language Lessons for a Living Education
1. One Stop Shop
The big plus about Language Lessons for a Living Education is that everything is rolled into one: Reading, Writing, Grammar, Spelling, Copy Work, Handwriting, Memorization, and Picture Studies.
It really packs a lot into one workbook!
You can easily purchase separate grammar, spelling, writing, and reading curriculums, so this is a huge savings to have all of them in one place.
2. Serious Time Saver
When you have all of those subjects covered by one workbook, it saves a ton of your homeschool time!
Normally, you would have to shift from one subject to the other as you go through your spelling curriculum, writing curriculum, etc.
With Language Lessons for a Living Education, you just have to do one lesson! Throughout the course of a week, you will cover all of these areas.
3. Short Lessons
As you saw above, most of the Language Lessons for a Living Education are 1 workbook page (front and back). Occasionally, you will have 2 work pages.
Now sometimes that 1 workbook page can be a little dense with copy work, but usually a child can complete the pages in 10-20 minutes.
This is an intentional, of course, use of a Charlotte Mason technique of teaching.
4. Opportunities for Independent Work
The workbook instruction is written to the student in simple language. You may encourage your child to read through the lesson and start working on their own, especially after they understand the rhythm and routine of how the lessons work.
At this age, I would still hover closely to be available to your child, but it is still nice to have something they can do on their own. The more children you have, the more important these independent curriculums are to helping you get through your day.
5. Minimal to No Teacher Prep
As stated, there is no teacher’s manual to read through or lesson to prep.
It is truly open and go!
There is a section in the back of the book with games and other extra support that you may want to use if you find your child is struggling in an area.
6. Full of Scripture and Bible Stories
Language Lessons for a Living Education is definitely a curriculum with a Biblical worldview.
The stories that my child read on Monday were about a Sunday school teacher and his class. Scripture memorization was assigned throughout the week. The copy work was from a book of Bible Stories: “101 Favorite Stories of the Bible.” And the picture studies are of famous moments in Biblical history.
I personally loved being able to teach my kid a curriculum that supported what we are already teaching at home.
7. Affordable to Try
This language arts curriculum is a huge savings compared to many others.
When I say huge savings, I mean in the hundreds of dollars – if you consider all of the separate curriculums you are not buying.
Not to mention, you don’t have to buy a teacher’s manual, which can be very pricey.
Click here to check the price on Amazon today.
What We Didn’t Love About Language Lessons for a Living Education
As you’ll see, we hit some challenges with this curriculum.
I don’t enjoy sharing the things that we didn’t like, especially because this workbook was written by a fellow homeschooling mother.
But I do feel burdened to share my experience and honest review with other homeschool moms out there who need to make a decision about purchasing Language Lessons for a Living Education.
1. Spelling Was Not Enough
I’m just going to be honest here and say that I was shocked to see how spelling was addressed in this popular curriculum.
It almost felt like an afterthought to me.
On a Friday, the child is asked to do a word search or some other similar worksheet with a list of spelling words…and that’s it.
There is no discussion of spelling rules, phonics, or anything else to help a child – in one day – learn all of their words. The instructions literally say: “Learn to spell these words.”
There may be kids out there who can write a word once and memorize it for life…but none of them live in my house. I tried to adapt and start teaching the spelling words all week long, but it was not working out.
I realized we needed to purchase a more rigorous spelling curriculum to cover this important core subject. Specifically, one that taught spelling rules, phonics, and grouped words in a way that is logical for a child to learn.
2. Not Enough Review of Grammar Concepts
This was a huge disappointment to me. The curriculum would cover a topic such as possessive apostrophes for one day.
That was it. And the workbook page would only have a handful of problems to practice the new skill.
The subject would not be revisited again until the quarterly review, which is every 9 weeks. That was just not enough for my daughter to internalize and truly learn a grammar rule.
Picking up on that, I started making up our own review as a warm-up before our language arts lesson every day. I would write out practice sentences on our whiteboard and go through multiple grammar rules at a time.
I know the Charlotte Mason technique is all about “less is more,” but in this area, it felt like not enough.
3. Lack of Larger Writing Assignments and Teaching of the Writing Process
The writing assignments in Language Lessons for a Living Education 3 looked to me to be more like journaling. There was no discussion of the writing process (drafting, revising, editing, and publishing), and no larger writing assignments such as book reports or (age-appropriate) research papers.
There was also no teaching to improve the journal entries, such as encouraging the child to use interesting adjectives, strong verbs, or descriptive clauses. The focus seemed to stay on making sure the child used appropriate punction and capitalization, which is the same focus of my 1st grader’s writing curriculum.
4. Did Not Enjoy the Art/Copywork on Day #4
I think many children probably enjoyed the Thursday sketching, but my daughter would beg me not to do it.
Her talents are in other areas, and she found the drawing aspect boring, frustrating, and unnecessary. I still assigned it, but eventually let her skip that part.
5. Too Much Scripture Memorization for a Child
I like the idea of memorizing one scripture verse per week – that is plenty for most kids! Language Lessons for a Living Education 3 has assigned multiple verses on Monday and then asks the child to memorize other verses on Thursday.
That is just too much for a kid to focus on, in my opinion. Especially if you are already teaching Bible in a separate part of your homeschool.
Language Lessons for a Living Education Might Be Right for You If…
You don’t mind supplementing
You want a gentle language arts curriculum
Are short on time and need quick lessons
Your child is a strong speller and doesn’t need extra help
You love the Charlotte Mason teaching techniques
Your child often learns a concept quickly and doesn’t need much further reviewing to remember it
You value memorization skills
You need something that is at least partially independent for your child
You are a Christian homeschool family
Language Lessons for a Living Education Might Be Wrong for You If…
You want a rigorous language arts curriculum
You aren’t interested in supplementing
You want to invest time in core subjects like reading, writing, and spelling
You like lots of built-in review
You are interested in a more classical style of homeschooling
You already have a structured Bible curriculum in your homeschool
You are a secular homeschool family
Recap Language Lessons for a Living Education Review
Well, I warned you that this review would be brutally honest, Homeschool Mama.
This curriculum is probably the last remains of Charlotte Mason based matieral in our homeschool. It just doesn’t work for us and isn’t how I want to handle core subjects.
I hope my experience and details help you make a decision that you feel confident about for your homeschool though!
No curriculum is a good fit for every homeschool, so I invite you to share your experience with this Master Books curriculum in the comments – good, bad, or ugly!
Masterbooks really isn’t as “Charlotte Mason” as it claims. For example, in CM, spelling is supposed to be learned through copywork and dictation. The idea is that a child will copy an appropriate amount (it can be as little as a letter or as much as a page, depending on their age and ability) from something they’ve read. If they read a book and a line sticks out to them, that’s perfect.
Later on, say once a week, the parent reads the sentence to the child, and the child writes it. Then they work on any words the child spelled incorrectly.
The Charlotte Mason method is arguably “gentle,” but it’s not as lacking as Masterbooks makes it seem.
Thank you! I needed your post.
Now I know for sure this won’t work for us.