Several years ago, Janice Campbell used my grammar book (Grammar Made Easy: Writing a Step Above) with her sons. Recently, she contacted me because she wanted to include it in her online store.
We occasionally receive correspondence from parents with questions about grammar instruction. One of these questions and our answers are given below and were taken from Janice’s blog at www.everyday-education.com.
How Many Years of Grammar Do You Need?
Posted on July 29, 2008
Filed Under Grammar, Homeschool, Teaching Writing
A mom e-mailed to ask: “Does this course seem to cover all the grammar you need to teach your child through the twelfth grade? I am not certain how complete it is and whether or not I would need to continue with another grammar course when this course is finished…”
My (Janice’s) response:
Thank you for writing! I’m going to give you my opinion, but I’m also going to forward your note to Connie Schenkelberg, the author of the course. I think she will have even more insight on all the course covers.
If you’re familiar with my writings (on the website and my blog) about the learning lifestyle and teaching your student to write, you probably know that I have what I would consider a relaxed Charlotte Mason/Thomas Jefferson approach to schooling.
Grammar Made Easy was all future writing, as well as for foreign languages. Based upon my own education, extensive reading, and the education of my boys, I believe that once the grammar foundation is laid, further grammar study should be done contextually through writing and the study of foreign language.
It seems that the only truly effective way to make grammar “stick” is to actually use it. It’s not necessary to remember all the grammar terms– just how to use the language properly. Through regular reading, consistent writing practice, and steady use of correct grammar in other academic studies, your student will gain proficiency in English.
I firmly believe that grammar should be fully learned before high school, and once through is good enough for most* students. To go even further, it’s my opinion that yearly workbooks are a waste of academic time that could be much more profitably used in content studies (e.g. history, literature, science, etc.). I hope that helps with your decision!
*When I say once through is enough for most students, I am including students who consistently hear and speak standard, grammatically correct English. If your student is frequently exposed to non-standard English, he or she may need extra exposure to formal grammar. Even then, it is often more effective to include plenty of audio resources, such as audiobooks and classes, in your curriculum, rather than adding more workbooks. Audio resources help the student hear and internalize well-spoken English in a memorable context.
Connie Schenkelberg’s response:
First, I’d like to thank you for being interested in my grammar book. I’m honored. Second, Janice did a really good job answering your questions. I would only add this:
While in elementary school, children need regular grammar lessons on regular/irregular verbs, subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, etc. Once the student reaches sixth grade, you can forgo that instruction and make minor adjustments (corrections) as necessary. Around 7th or 8th grade, a good, functional grammar course that has immediate, practical application is best. Then, as Janice said, you don’t do grammar in high school.
Something Janice did not mention is that in addition to being a home school mom, I am also a former public school teacher. What I said in the above paragraph is what you would have found in my middle school last year. We simply didn’t teach grammar. I was a “dinosaur” for teaching Grammar Made Easy; that didn’t bother me because my students wrote so much better than most 7th graders.
Also, having taught high school in the past and having friends in the high school now, I know that grammar isn’t taught in the public schools at that grade level. I know that as homeschoolers, we’re not particularly concerned about how things are done in the public schools; however, it might reassure you to know that you are indeed giving your children a good foundation.
Regardless of the way you go, blessings to you and your family. If we can be of service, please contact Janice or me. Thank you again for being interested in Grammar Made Easy.