Every online homeschool forum that I belong to eventually gets around to the question of teaching grammar. Parents are concerned about what to teach, how to teach it, and, the biggie, at what age to begin formal grammar studies.
For our family, the answer to these concerns differs with each child, but one resource that has become a staple for this subject in our homeschool is English for a Thoughtful Child by Mary F. Hyde (revised and edited by Cynthia A. Shearer). No matter the age my student is when we begin using this text, I enjoy the relaxed, yet thorough approach.
In this slim volume, you will find basic grammar lessons along with dictation, oral composition, composition, memorization, and picture lessons. At a glance that might seem like an overwhelming amount of ground to cover. However, with just 62 very gentle lessons, this book can be easily completed in an average school year. For younger children (6-8 years old), I would even suggest completing only one lesson a week and using the textbook over a longer period of time. I refer to this a textbook, but there are also reproducible pages for many of the exercises.
The age and abilities of my child dictate how we approach this book. My now 25-year-old daughter was in upper elementary grades when she worked her way through English for the Thoughtful Child. Because she was already familiar with most of the material being presented, we took an informal approach by working through the book together- most of it while sitting together on the couch. She did not need to complete every exercise; I just wanted to be sure that she had covered basic grammar concepts. My next daughter, who does not agree with my philosophy of “better late than early”, was ready to get down to work when she was just seven years old. She loved “writing assignments”, so she completed most of the exercises and had a grammar section in her notebook where she wrote down all rules that are introduced in this text. I am on round three, this time with my boys (ages thirteen, ten, and eight), and I am modifying our approach yet again.
So many grammar books are drill, drill, and more drill. Where is the love of language? This book revels in it. I also enjoy that other disciplines are included. It is easy to put off picture lessons and memorization when I have to go to a separate source. Having it all in front of me makes it easy to follow through on these valuable disciplines that are often considered “extras”.
-Lori Duquette is mom to 7 children and a grandma of 2. Her family is beginning their 19th year of homeschooling. You can read more about their homeschooling adventures at Keeping It Simple.