Madsen Method Update #2

"He SPEAKS; He HEARS what he said; He DOES what he heard; He SEES what he did!"

The Madsen Method, a method of instruction based on how our forefathers were taught and on 1915 literacy standards, is:
“ a complete, fully scripted, evidence-based, field-tested, non-consumable, penmanship, spelling, grammar, composition and reading, use-it-with-all-students curriculum based on systematic and explicit phonics taught via neurological response instruction.”

You can read more about the Madsen Method and our experience with section 1 in my introduction post.

Section 2 is all about teaching "beautiful handwriting." The 8 lessons in this section cover how to locate and name the "four Official Paper Checkpoints," the Title Line, First Base Line, Base Lines, next Base Lines, how to draw the eleven short lines, the five long lines, how to name and draw the "four Official Circle Checkpoints" and more.

We completed lessons 1-3 in this section in 1 hour 25 minutes. (I keep track of the amount of time we spend on each lesson in the manual, as well as what I read to the kids).

We then proceeded with lessons 4-5 and completed the lessons in 1 hour 15 minutes.

My 4 year old sat in on the lesson and was able to follow the directions exactly. The script teaches children to write with oral prompts. Then they must say what they are doing as they write.

For example, when teaching the "Short Line Placement" #1, it looks like this:
  1. I begin on the Dotted Line.
  2. I pull a short line down to the Base Line.
  3. I STOP.

According to Sharon Madsen,
The purpose of Lessons 5 through 9 is to give students experience with neurological coordination - the mental gymnastics necessary for whole-brain learning. The process we use is Describe and Draw. The result of this exercise is two-fold: it develops multi-sensory direct instruction skills and it prepares students to draw English symbols.
The handwriting that is taught is called block printing. It is the type of print you would read in a book. I think the Say and Do method really works; however, I did not want to teach block printing to my children since we use a different style. I also happen to think that my children already have beautiful handwriting. At first I thought it would take more time and work than I wanted to take to adapt the script and I debated whether or not to teach it as is. I finally decided to adapt the script. We worked on it together and were able to come up with the oral prompts necessary to teach to our handwriting style.

According to Sharon Madsen,
In our program, knowing is an objective, observable, verifiable fact. A student proves his knowing by his ability to verbalize a concept as he performs the written art.
My questions was this: if my child cannot verbalize a concept, does that really mean he does not really know that concept? They certainly know how to draw an italic O, (from copywork) but if they can't teach someone else verbally, does that mean they don't know how to draw one?

It began to make a little more sense to me once we learned to verbalize how to draw the letter O in our style. It was really kinda neat that we figured it out. If anything, it will give them a refresher course and improve their handwriting.

I also learned that the style of handwriting is not what is important. To quote Joe Madsen:
You have reached the goal of teaching your students to describe and draw, which means they can teach another what they know. Our letter style doesn't have to be the only one. I repeat, the describe and draw or "Say and Do" in an explicit way is the only way to teach . . .
Section 3 covers how to name, describe, draw and read the ten English Numerals. We adapted the script for this part as well. We made an English Numerals Chart, learned that all the English numbers are made up of the 9 English numerals and we made a class calender. (I do not feel the need to rehearse the date with my children daily, but can see how that would be a benefit with young children). We finished up our review and test and are ready to move on to Section 4.

In Section 4 I will teach the seven Circle Letter Phonograms, the first of 25, being taught in Part One. This is the start of 1,750 English Speaking, Spelling Patterns that are taught in the Madsen Method program. These 1,750 patterns will enable the student to master all English Spelling patterns.

Up until this point, I feel that this program has been very slow for the amount of time we have invested in it. I feel like time is so short and I want my children to be doing more than this. I realize that we have to start at the beginning, but I wish there was a crash course for older children. Some days, I feel this is a waste of time. And other days, I feel like we are on the verge of something great - just wish we could get there faster.


  1. Part 1
    I have used this program with 6 of my children. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I LOVE the results, but I hate the boring, tedious procedure. If you hang in there it is well worth the time investment! It takes one long year for section 1 of this program.(5 parts) At the end of that year, you feel like your child is behind, especially if you didn't start it till 1st grade, but in the long run it gives a solid foundation unlike any other program I have ever taught! Once they get through this foundation they are on a solid foundation and the quickness of picking up everything else is amazing, even if you don't continue with section 2.

    We have 10 children. The first four I didn't have this program till the 2nd oldest was a senior. Long story short I heard things about it that made sense to me and I knew I had to use this program with my 2nd son, even though he was a senior. He is a hands on audio learner and always had a hard time in school. I did this program with him and two of his sisters. One daughter was a freshman, the other in 7th grade. After I finished section 1, my son said, "Wow, I wished I had known this method before this." It is the method that you learn that you can apply to life in all area's even in your bible study. The short of the method is say and do. He needed to tell out loud himself what he wanted to remember. Joe has a saying, "What the teacher says doesn't count, what the student says to himself does." The 9th grader is what Joe calls a gifted learner, she just naturally teaches herself the method. But her handwriting did improve! The 7th grader learned the attentive piece in the curriculum. This taught me alot too! She was always the happy, child, but when asked what I just said, she didn't have a clue. Everything just floated over her head. This program taught me how to make sure you have the attention of your child and how they learn through the 4 neurological learning pathways. More importantly it also teaches the child how to teach themselves!

  2. Part 2

    The 5th and 6th child I taught with just section 1. It took way too long because I kept stopping because I hate the process. But when we finished section 1 I jumped into readers and taught them the phonics as we went. I was amazed how quickly they picked up and within months they were up to level and quickly surpassed their grade level! The seventh child I am almost done teaching section 1. I have been wavering about using this method with the rest, but everytime I do my research I KNOW this is the best method, but I hate the process! So today I took the 8th child and taught her the first four sounds of the Bob books. She had them down very quickly. I then proceeded with the Bob book. She did quite well, but it brought back a flood of memories of sounding out, looking at the pictures etc. I just shook my head. You have none of that with the Madsen Method. It is lays such a solid foundation that is incredible. Looks like my experiment proved what I already have known. If I can just struggle through that first year of her scripting and teaching the child to teach themselves it gives them such a solid foundation. I have not even told you all the things it teaches so beautifully. Lets just name a few. It teaches attention and discipline. It teaches how to properly do handwriting. It weaves the sound and writing together and cements it in the childs mind. No sounding out! It teaches spelling and reading together. The way she teaches your child has a solid foundation in spelling, period! When I got looking at it, it looked like more of a spelling program than a reading program. But it does all three beautifully when your finished the first section or year. (writing, spelling and reading)

  3. Part 3

    As I said, a love/hate relationship. LOVE the solid results, but hate the process of getting there. If you can make it through, it is well worth it!!!!! I have then taken the method and incorporate it in their other subjects and continuing on in their reading instruction. I have started section 2 with 5 of the kids. Almost finished it with the three oldest. Only did part of it with the 5th and 6th child and then abandoned it. I have been extremely happy with the foundation of completing only section 1 and continuing the method in their other studies.