What we are using

16 February 2008

Why I think grammar is more basic than I had thought.

I am the byproduct of a classical high school education. I diagrammed sentences and belabored grammar from seventh through twelfth grade. *

Part of raising kids is trying to overcome your own issues. When I started homeschooling my son in middle-school, I was determined that I would not do grammar overkill. I believed that most grammar could be taught in a natural way without diagrams and years of learning rules.

Fast forward to writing college application essays. My son is a very talented and creative writer. He has a wonderful voice in his writings that I have never been able to achieve. However, he struggles with mechanics. He is not using passive voice or having subjects and verbs disagree. He has an intuitive sense of what is good grammar thanks to years of being forced to read well-written books. He simply lacks confidence that his grammar is correct.

I have come to a realization that grammar, like math and handwriting are skills that need to be taught through direct instruction and repetition. Social sciences are well-served by exposure, reading, and discussing. I used to think that grammar could be learned by simple observation - read beautiful literature and learn what is and is not proper language. That is a great start and a great reinforcement, but I don't think that it necessarily translates into mastery and confidence.

I want a simple grammar program that tells my kids that this is where you put that and this is why. I also want something that includes writing so that our writing is integrated with the mechanics of good writing. I am planning to order FLL3. From the samples, it seems to have what I think I want - strong grammar, basic diagramming, copywork, dictation, narration, and poetry memorization. Once I have it, I will be able to tell if it is what I need. I am also scouting for a short, good high school grammar review for BB so that he can get a good dose of grammar before he runs away to college.

*And thanks Ms. Thomas for all the years of teaching high school English and grammar to ungrateful kids.

No comments: