One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.
To this end, we thought we’d spend the month of September launching discussions on all things curriculum.
I confess, when in school myself, grammar didn’t seem important to me. Why did we need to learn what a noun is? Did it really matter if we could break down a sentence into diagram form? As long as we could form correct sentences and get our point across that was the important thing, wasn’t it?
Here I am, years later, listening to my littles make the same arguments to me. Funny how God works, isn’t it?
Before beginning our studies in grammar, perhaps we should consider these principles found in Grammar to Enrich and Enhance Writing, by Jonathan Bush and Dr. Constance Weaver:
- Teaching grammar divorced from writing doesn’t strengthen writing and therefore wastes time.
- Few grammatical terms are actually needed to discuss writing.
- Sophisticated grammar is fostered in literacy-rich and language-rich environments.
- Grammar instruction for writing should build upon students’ developmental readiness.
- Grammar options are best expanded through reading and in conjunction with writing.
- Grammar conventions taught in isolation seldom transfer to writing.
- Marking “corrections” on students’ papers does little good.
- Grammar conventions are applied most readily when taught in conjunction with editing.
- Instruction in conventional editing is important for all students but must honor their home language or dialect.
- Progress may involve new kinds of errors as students try to apply new writing skills.
- Grammar instruction should be included during various phases of writing.
- More research is needed on effective ways of teaching grammar to strengthen writing.
The study of grammar itself might not make your child a better writer, but it will give them a better understanding of how language works and help craft better sentences. It will cause them to become more effective writers.
Language changes over time. Grammar allows us to apply timeless rules which aid in communication. Grammar gives positive advice on avoiding errors. While rules are never 100% accurate and sometimes oversimplify, they are meant to keep us on track.
May we use our lessons to deepen our children’s understanding of the English language and assist them in becoming more effective writers.