Marvelous Monday- ENGLISH and GRAMMAR

I am a grammar fanatic. The truth is, I just love language, whether it's English, Spanish, French... I love the feel of words as they roll around my mouth and I have favorite words that sound like musical phrases to me. Conversely, incorrect grammar grates on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. "I seen" instead of "I saw" is currently at the top of my grammar hit list.

I am not, however, so blinded by my own love of language that I mistakenly believe that my children will embrace a grammar text with the same enjoyment I do. That's right-- I enjoy grammar texts.

We began with Rod and Staff, going from Phonics to their English texts, but somewhere around second grade I decided to go with English for the Thoughtful Child instead. I can't really remember now why, but I know I learned of EFTTC from The Well-Trained Mind. I like both Rod and Staff and EFTTC, but each are quite different. EFTTC is gentle, slow, and not text-like while Rod and Staff English is gentle, rigorous, and definitely a text book format.

Now, here's where personal philosophy comes into play. While I love grammar and all things word-related, I do still feel strongly that later is better for the majority of children. Certainly children need to have a basic understanding of punctuation, capitilization, and sentence structure. Those things can be introduced naturally through copywork and reading. English for the Thoughtful Child does this nicely as well, as do the Pathway Reader workbooks if you're inclined to use them with your early readers. My children have loved the Pathway series and I see good fruit in the simple, straight-forward daily exercises which cover vocabulary, word usage, spelling, phonics, and reading comprehension.

We have used the wonderful series of Ruth Heller books in our Circle Time. I read a page or two depending on the flow of the text and everyone thinks of a sentence using the words we are studying (ie verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc.)

Eventually, a thorough and comprehensive study of grammar is necessary, and for that we have used Rod and Staff English, Grade 8, Preparing for Usefulness. If your student has never studied grammar formally, Rod and Staff English 8 will cover everything: parts of speech, punctuation, capitilization, sentence diagramming, note taking, outlining, paragraph construction, letter writing, proofreading, outlines, story writing, and poetry. There are copious exercises for practice and reviews every chapter.

Our current 8th grader isn't a natural writer so I've had him using Rod and Staff English 8 this year. His compositions have improved in such a way that I am once again affirmed by our choice to use this text. As with my previous Marvelous Monday review on Math, I feel that Rod and Staff puts out timeless, thorough, and proven texts.

We did use Daily Grams for several years, but I did not see that my children retained the information over the long haul. Again, this is where the idea that later is better plays a part; because an 8th grader in our home is writing so much for the Veritas Press Omnibus, they need to put all of this grammar study to good use. Daily Grams seemed to teach snippets out of context; there was simply a disconnect between the short daily exercises and the writing they were instructed to do for Omnibus.

If you want to improve your own grammar and have a good laugh at the same time, try Spogg.

And, of course, don't forget to visit Cheryl's blog to see her Marvelous Monday post, too!