Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Subject Study for Summer: Grammar ~

Grammar for us was probably one of the hardest areas of our home learning to address. There are so many programs out there and allowing yourself to read all the reviews and listen to everyone's experiences and opinions can be quite overwhelming, at least it was definitely interesting for me.

We tried a few different programs, but I just couldnt find what we needed. Out of complete desperation, I decided to purchase a few good solid English and Grammar Resources and use these as my spine to help guide me along our way.

I completed on my own a grammar sequence page.(this can be found here you will see it list on the left) Quite extensive and weeks of work and research.. at the end I was quite pleased with my work.

Because our MOTL 5 a days for math worked so well I decided since math can be somewhat sequentially taught and built upon then I may be able to attempt to do the same with Grammar. So I made a Grammar in "5" template to use for daily practice of new concepts, much like we did for math.

This worked considerably well and along with our daily reading I would make copies of excerpts from their books and they would label the different parts of speech and work on usage right from their reading.. this was where I realized I found something that might actually help and create an integrated learning and above all a more natural way for them to do their grammar that they were struggling to understand.

I was later recommended a book by Ruth Beechick, (which I have mentioned a time or two before) "You Can Teach Your Child Successfully". While reading this book and understanding how Dr. Beechick explained teaching Grammar and Usage, I became so excited ~ :) I felt like someone was talking "my language", if that makes any sense at all. I finally found it, ( ch. 6 You Can Teach Your Child Successfully)our way to learn Grammar and realized I had chosen several things that Ruth Beechick recommends and had never even heard about this wonderful educator.

In Chapter 6 Dr. Beechick gives examples of how to take an excerpt from literature and explains how to teach from that excerpt that integrates, spelling, writing, grammar, punctuation and thinking skills. I tried this and it worked so perfect for them, even for the first time.

Here is an excerpt that really struck me while reading Chapter 7 Mechanics of Writing; " For a child who misses more than an occasional punctuation mark, dictation exercises are extremely helpful. Dictate a paragraph, sentence by sentence, for the child to write. He should listen carefully to your expression and decide by that what kind of punctuation to use. After writing, spend time comparing the child's writing with the original and analyze differences in punctuation. For wholistic learning, you should also look for problems in spelling, capitalization, indenting and anything else." ~ Dr. Ruth Beech, "You Can Teach Your Child Successfully".

When we first started this I began very slowly since the boys had never really done much dictation. In school this was never taught. I would only do sentences in the beginning and short paragraphs for my older son so as not to overwhelm them.. I reminded myself that I wanted this to be a gentle way to teach and more will come in time. Something magical happened. They finally began putting the pieces of grammar and punctuation together. We were finding success.

I decided to find out as much as I could about Dr. Beechick and I still refer back to her book very often to remind myself of certain key methods I wish to continue to use to teach the boys.

I then decided to jump in and begin teaching grammar and usage the best way I thought would work through books. Real books and literature.

I heard about a program this year that seemed to be mentioned often while speaking of grammar and Ruth Beechick. That program was

Learning Language Arts Through Literature.

LLATL is written by several authors and was edited by Dr. Beechick herself. After speaking with Debbie Strayer, one of the programs authors, I had to have this program. I explained to Debbie how well my boys had been doing with what I had tried and she helped me decide where to place them in the program in lieu of their learning disabilties.

We are starting this program this Fall and I had finally had a chance to look through it and cannot get over how comprehensive the program is. I love the short daily lessons and integrated reading activities.

I found this program to be the first program of its kind. One that I could pick up look it over and add it to their cubbies. That is that.. it is all there and I had to smile of my great choice I have made.

I am sure there will still be some struggles in the area of grammar, but with patience and consistency and allowing them to work at their own pace as we move along, I believe we will find success and even enjoy Grammar learning in our home.





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