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View Full Version : Are phonics & spelling & grammar essential, or even important?



Avalon
11-13-2012, 07:24 PM
I've just been wondering about this. Lately, I've seen other people post about the phonics or spelling programs their kids use, and I realize that I never really did. My son mostly learned how to read by himself. He played on Starfall a lot, and we read to him a lot, but I don't recall ever sitting down and having "reading lessons" with him. Sometime around age 4 or 5, he could just do it, and he definitely doesn't know any phonics "rules."

He's never followed a spelling program, either, and he seems to be coming along okay in that department, too. Slowly, but fine. I wonder if he's missing some essential bit of information or some basic knowledge. I don't know any of those rules, and I feel like I'm functionally literate. It seems like those methods are one way to learn, but obviously there are other ways, right?

I'm not really planning to change anything, but I'm curious what other people think. Is it essential, or even important, to learn phonics rules or spelling rules or even grammar rules?

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
11-13-2012, 08:07 PM
Phonics: depends on the kid. Both of my kids learned to read without much phonics instruction. They picked it up the same way your son did.

Spelling: I think formal lessons speed up the process. My kids progressed a fair amount just doing copywork in their k/1 year, but they were constantly asking me to spell words when they wanted to write their own stuff. I started Sequential Spelling our second year and I feel like it's rapidly expanded the number of words they can spell.

Grammar: Definitely! The age to start doing grammar is up for debate, but I think that the ability to write well requires a knowledge of grammar.

I don't want my kids to be those people who write things like, "Their are five dog's chasing alot of sheeps.":_p:

Stella M
11-13-2012, 08:38 PM
What AMM said for phonics and spelling.

Grammar - no, not imo, at least not beyond the basics. I firmly believe good writers grow from exposure to 1000's upon 1000's of well-written words, sentences, stories, articles...that one absorbs the correct use of grammar through exposure to good writing.

I mean, I think it's fine to study it if you find it interesting, but one does not need to be able to parse a sentence to write a good sentence, edit a sentence, recognise a good sentence.

farrarwilliams
11-13-2012, 09:01 PM
What they said mostly.

I think that for the majority of kids, a small dose of phonics, a little spelling to speed things up and a bit of basic grammar are enough. If a child reads and is read to, then that's plenty for many kids - probably the majority of kids - to pick up the internal structure of English. The stats on reading methods say that something like 60-70% of kids can learn to read without any organized phonics instruction (through whole language or sight word methods). That's a lot of kids and I would guess it's similar for spelling and grammar - most kids can simply pick it up and internalize the rules and you can just come along after and help them pick up the bits they didn't get with a worksheet or an explanation here and there.

But if you think about that statistic, that means that there are 30% or so of kids out there who need at least some phonics and some smaller percentage who need a really in depth phonics program. So I think there are a good number of kids for whom reading, spelling and grammar simply do not come naturally through everyday learning. I think some kids need phonics broken down for them, need the spelling rules and patterns explicitly and painstakingly taught, and need grammar thoroughly outlined or they'll struggle to construct decent sentences. And you won't know which camp your kid is in... until they're behind their peers.

We didn't do a thorough spelling... and now I have one kid who spells fine and one who is a disaster. I kept thinking he'd pick it up and it didn't happen at all. So I went back and have recently gotten a program. And I'm fine with that because I'm okay with him being in a bit of a different place - other people don't feel that way. Overall, I think people are better off betting on the middle ground. Drill, drill, drill of these things will turn most kids off of language arts, but tackling them in an organized way that isn't too heavy as you go along seems like a good idea to me.

CatInTheSun
11-13-2012, 09:12 PM
Some kids can learn reading and spelling without any formal program, others can't, many can but benefit from some structure, esp for spelling. I'm dubious about learning "the rules" since I recall being taught them as a kid and for me at least I could never learn a rule until I already understood it in practice, and yet it seems like the rules are taught first, so it's like teaching someone to drive by reading a manual. The manual is helpful but only after you've logged some time behind a wheel, hopefully with a good driver next to you!

As to grammar -- I think learning the rules is mandatory, at least in the US. You are more often to hear and read bad examples of english than good ones. For example, few adults seem to be able to use correctly subject and object pronouns, let alone understand WHY you use one versus the other. You don't need to study grammar for 12 years, but you should plan on some sort of systematic study during the late elementary to middle school age spread over a few years.

4quivers
11-13-2012, 10:22 PM
For us spelling and grammar are musts. I do have a niece who got her GED and can't spell anything at all. It drives me nuts to read her fb page "cuz dis di way we spek" Well as pop culture is teaching kids these days, "It's cool to be stupid"

Phonics is dependent upon the circumstance. I didn't think it was important because seriously, how can you have any rules at all when ir,ur,er, ea, and or all say ir!!! stir,turn, corner, yearn, and parlor And how could you, would you, should you, say OUCH! would wood wud you please explain it to me!!

We speak different just one state apart. However, basic skills like short and long vowels; as well as a few rules can really help a struggling learner. (and your sanity)

dragonfly
11-13-2012, 11:18 PM
What AMM said, and others.

I think grammar is important, and is so often misused that I cannot imagine being able to pick it up without instruction. I've read plenty of books--some of them good books, by respected authors--that didn't use grammar correctly. There are times when breaking grammar rules makes sense in the context of a written work, such as for informal dialogue, being ironic, making plays on words, etc. However, one must know what the rules are before they can break them.

Stella M
11-13-2012, 11:54 PM
I'm honestly bamboozled by the idea of learning grammar through specific grammar instruction!

To me, grammar is a descriptive 'language' that one may or may not enjoy learning, which merely labels what one already uses.

Don't we learn our grammar along with our speech ? I can see a need for remediation for children in print and language poor homes, but not for a child who has exposure to adequate amounts of language.

I'm all for sense, regardless of rule.

MrsLOLcat
11-14-2012, 12:09 AM
Grammar isn't always a natural thing, even for a voracious reader. I still get confused sometimes about subject/verb agreement in sentences beginning with words like 'all' or 'either,' just to give one example. Having a firm foundation in grammar gets me through those puzzles and helps me write better... and I've been reading constantly since I was 4. Plus, having a firm grasp of grammar can help you learn other languages when you're older, if you aren't lucky enough to know a native speaker or be involved in an immersion program. So grammar is something that is important to me to teach.

We do spelling, but it's not intense. Mostly we do it to enlarge the kids' vocabularies and help them learn those tricky spelling rules that English so often involves.

We've never used a phonics program, and at this point, we won't, but I can certainly see where some families would find it helpful. I've been lucky that my kids have just picked up reading with time and practice, so phonics never had a great deal of importance to us.

Everything's relative with education, anyway... one kid who benefits greatly from phonics education might have a sibling who doesn't need it. That's the beauty of what we do, isn't it?

Stella M
11-14-2012, 12:20 AM
Hmm. The second language thing makes sense.

I teach my kids to use their ears with language. Reading a sentence aloud will nearly always let you hear grammatical errors. Rephrasing for heard sense and clarity helps develop grammar skills.

Mind you, we've studied grammar at various times. And Latin. I don't hate grammar study!

dragonfly
11-14-2012, 12:31 AM
Possibly because it's often misused, especially in informal speech, sometimes the incorrect grammar sounds better than the correct.

For example: Yes, it was us. Or: Yes, it was we.

To my ears, the first sounds better. The second is actually correct.

It's probably a regional thing too--local slang and dialect sound more familiar than proper English sometimes.

MrsLOLcat
11-14-2012, 12:36 AM
It's true. I have been known to actually type the phrase "all y'all" every now and then, and Zeus only knows *that* isn't grammatically correct!

Stella M
11-14-2012, 01:14 AM
Yes, but I give precedence to that which pleases the ear over that which is 'correct'!

Grammar is a servant of language, not a master. And the ear is our best tool for assessing its use.

cyberbones
11-14-2012, 01:21 AM
I am with the majority, the need for phonics and spelling is dependent on the child. I have one son who simple absorbed the rules, one boy who required very direct phonics based reading intervention to even begin to read, one boy who is a voracious reader and who may bankrupt me soon with his need for new books every other day but can't seem to spell even the most basic words, and the youngest has a huge sight word vocabulary but when he hits a word he doesn't know he is clueless on how to decode it so we have recently started a phonics program along with working on context clues.

Grammar is a different thing entirely. It needs to be taught at some point. Somewhere along the middle grades a year should be take for fairly intensive grammar course. I say middle years because the basics (commas in series, quotations, end punctuation) will have been covered by that point, and reading/writing should have a reasonable level of fluency. In high school and college the reading and writing will become more scholarly and demanding, knowing those rules will make it all the easier. One year at the appropriate point all probably be enough.

I came to my love of writing late. I was a math/ science kind of kid and hated writing, but as an adult I have discovered that I love writing and telling stories. My lack of competence in grammar is causing issues. I tend to read aloud what I have written and adjust punctuation that way. I really need to go back and do a remedial grammar course. I would have been much easier if I had just learned correctly from the beginning.

rueyn
11-14-2012, 07:04 AM
For us, reading time seemed to not only teach reading, itself, but also spelling and grammar. My son was able to point out comma problems, tense disagreements, and typos even before we started talking about what nouns and verbs are. Some of this is his perfectionism - he likes order and demands it from the rest of the world ;)

I think every kid has a 'natural' subject in which they need little help. For the other subjects that need an extra push, use whatever works and is necessary!

farrarwilliams
11-14-2012, 11:40 AM
It's funny to me that so many people think grammar is in a class by itself. I think it's just like spelling and phonics. Some kids pick up and internalize the basic rules of spelling and phonics from reading... others don't. Ditto grammar. Phonics is the rules of how the letters go together. Grammar is the rules of how the words go together.

Avalon
11-14-2012, 04:41 PM
I was in French immersion for 10 years, and we covered A LOT of French grammar. I think it's very useful for learning a second language, because you need a way to describe how the second language works and to compare it to the first language. My kids don't know much grammar, but they both seem very good at picking out errors in sentences.

This topic inspired me to pick up Sequential Spelling with my son. I did quite a bit of it with my daughter because she was a TERRIBLE speller and it helped a lot. My son seems to be a natural speller, but maybe this will speed up the process for him.

farrarwilliams
11-14-2012, 04:47 PM
I also learned English grammar from learning French. Learning a second language is one of the things Julie Bogart suggests for grammar in The Writer's Jungle. I did have a seventh grade teacher who made me learning diagramming and was very grammar focused. She was quite a character overall, actually. She ate McDonald's for breakfast and smoked a cigarette in her classroom every day before the kids came in. The remnant smells and greasy trash were there to behold. But she wasn't a bad teacher. She was certainly memorable.

Sobeknofret
11-14-2012, 04:51 PM
Mine needs direct intervention for all three. We're still working on phonics with him and he's a very late reader. Spelling is something that we've just started working on.

Lorraine
11-14-2012, 05:44 PM
I wonder how much spelling, grammar, and phonics kids are learning in public schools these days? I attended public school in both Canada and the United States (80's and 90's) and don't have any memory of these topics being covered. I couldn't parse a sentence to save my life. Spelling and phonics were just taught by repetition, not by learning any rules. That seemed to be how everyone my age was taught, because when I got to Senior "Honors" English in high school, my teacher was so disgusted by our lack of grammar knowledge that he spent almost an entire semester teaching us the proper use of a comma. I think it may have been too late for me.

Little Brownelf
11-15-2012, 03:21 AM
I think phonics depends on the kid. Monkey 1 needed very little but monkey 2 has definitely needed it. To me, spelling is introductory vocabulary. So for us, it is used to introduce new words and practice words. But grammar... Ah that's something I want to focus on. Even though I have a post graduate degree, I feel my grammar lacks. It wasn't until college level French that I began to understand English grammar. Right now I'm not just teaching grammar to the monkeys but re-learning it. I never encountered diagramming or parsing and often wonder how necessary they are. Monkey 1 is using MCTLA Island and we do enjoy the 4 level analysis.

MrsLOLcat
11-15-2012, 12:24 PM
I wonder how much spelling, grammar, and phonics kids are learning in public schools these days? I attended public school in both Canada and the United States (80's and 90's) and don't have any memory of these topics being covered.

I went to school during the same time frame, and we got a thorough grounding at our school in all the topics (though I skipped all the phonics stuff since I was already reading fluently). As an 'honors' student, I did get to stop spelling after the fourth grade, but I remember my classmates getting extremely irritated that the 'smart' kids didn't have to have giant vocabulary lists like they did. I know most kids today still do spelling, because I've talked to parents who have agonized over the lists and how to help their kids remember all the rules, and I know most of them still have to go through phonics in some form or fashion. Grammar is the one I'm not sure about, but I'm sure they're still covering the basics if nothing else. I doubt many students could pick out a participial phrase or define a gerund, but those are things that I don't consider as necessary as picking out a subject and verb and making sure a sentence is a sentence, not a fragment.

Crabby Lioness
11-15-2012, 01:50 PM
Children who read a lot of well-written books will pick up a lot of grammatical examples, but expecting children to learn the rules of grammar just by reading sentences is like expecting children to learn the rules of math just by watching a cashier all day. There's a lot going on, and you need to have someone break it down for you.

That said, no one can ever read too many beautifully-written sentences.

Stella M
11-15-2012, 03:18 PM
Have to disagree. My kids all speak and write/narrate lovely, grammatical sentences - indeed, it used to be a family joke when they were younger that the girls spoke in prose - any small issues as they transitioned to formal writing was easily picked up by ear and self corrected.

And that is the power of the gazillion hours they have spent absorbing the language - the five years of daily hours of being read to, sung to, talked to - then the daily hours of reading, listening to poetry, discussion.

It has nothing to do with spending a few months working through Simply Grammar.

Maybe my kids are the exception, not the rule, but I'm sure there are others for whom it holds true.

Stella M
11-15-2012, 03:26 PM
OK, about to get off the hobby horse, but first -

I think people should study grammar beyond the basics if they find it enjoyable, or have extra time in their schedule or plenty of cash for another program.

If you don't...your time, money and mind would be better spent on more books, to read alone and read aloud. Especially to read aloud.

Iamka
12-03-2012, 09:36 AM
Both myself and my son taught ourselves to read at a very early age. Phonics confuses both of us. Occasionally, he will mispronounce a word, or ask for the correct pronunciation if unsure. Once he has heard the correct pronunciation, he remembers. The same holds true for spelling. He seems to simply know when a word does not appear to be correct. I am the same way.

We basically fudge our way through the phonics, grammar and spelling requirements of the curriculum we use. There have been a few times when we've both cracked up laughing at some of our curriculums suggestions for ways to help kids learn spelling, grammar and phonics. These same suggestions might work really well for another family though. I'm just relieved that DS seems to learn in a similar way to myself.

wendygrace
12-03-2012, 01:36 PM
I agree that it depends on the child. My daughter would probably be perfectly ok without a formal program. She'd be an easy unschooler. She just learns everything naturally by doing and exploring and observing. My son on the other hand needs to be taught things very specifically. Other kids I'm sure are somewhere in the middle so I would say it totally depends on your kid.

Jeni
12-03-2012, 10:13 PM
Both my kids needed phonics lessons. Neither one of the big kids picked it up on their own and that is with lot of online play and reading to them since they were born.

Spelling isn't top of my list of super important things, but that's mainly because I can't spell. We do have a spelling list and it is helpful.

I am learning grammar with my dd. I knew the basics (noun and verb, subject, etc) but she is learning all sorts of things I never did. Like past and present participial, I've never even heard of that. It's a lot easier to get now that I'm older and not trying to cram loads of crap in my brain 8 hours a day 5 days a week. That being said, I was a pretty good writer even without knowing all that stuff. But knowing it, I could have been a lot better.

ETA: I think some kids just don't get it. It's not a reflection on parenting. My kids are read to daily, several times a day. Our house is full of music and conversation. Both kids talked clearly and held conversations with adults long before their peers. But they still needed a lot of guidance in the language arts department. It's just no something they naturally pick up. Dd's bff though, I know her mother didn't put in half the time with her kids (different parent style and choice of schooling) and she's reading adult level books in 3rd grade, acing every spelling test. She's just naturally gifted in that area and picked it up with little effort from her folks.

snowpeople5
12-03-2012, 11:04 PM
Can't comment about how to teach kids (mine are still young) but wanted to share my own story to kind of prove Stella's point. English is not my 1st language. I learned to read pretty early when I was a kid and read A LOT!!!!! I was always pretty good at grammar, simply by "feeling" the sentences, their structure, etc.

Fast forward to when we came to US, I was a teenager and had to learn English. I kind of did the same thing - just read A LOT. I have never taken a formal grammar class. When I took GMAT I did much better on Eng part than I did on Math part, which was shocking to me, since where I am from, you study Algebra, Geometry, Calculus by the time you are in 6-7th grade. Somehow I just "knew" it.

All that being said, I already told my DH that I am too nervous not to teach formal grammar to our boys and since I don't really know the rules, he would have to do it.

crunchynerd
12-03-2012, 11:53 PM
It does seem to depend on the person.
DH and I were effortless "naturals" at spelling, grammar, reading.
Our DD needed help with spelling, and doing spelling lists wasn't helping.
The Logic of English is what is working for us.
Oddly enough, I am enjoying learning some reasons behind why things are spelled the way they are, that I never knew before (even though I could spell them, without knowing the underlying reasons behind the conventions). Go figure.

gonyere
12-07-2012, 03:27 PM
I was unschooled from 4th grade on and am now starting to unschool my kids. I've never taken a single grammar class or course in my life, yet have been told since high school that I'm a good-great writer. I think I know more about grammar now because of the year I spent in Spain learning Spanish.

Spelling for me is pretty much the same - I don't recall ever taking a formal spelling class after 3rd grade, and yet I can spell fairly well. Certainly well enough for spell checker to pick up the problems. There are a handful of words that I know I spell wrong every. single. time. but that's why I keep spell checker around :)

As for phonics... IDK, I suppose I probably went through a standard phonics course in school - what will we do going forward? IDK - DS1 is 5.5 and can already sound out and read a good many words, but we'll see :)

Bev Diaz
03-21-2013, 09:10 PM
I'm so glad I've started to read some of the back threads in this section. I've been thinking of doing Moving Beyond the Page with my daughter and they encourage you to supplement for reading. So I've been looking at a lot of things and getting frustrated because I just don't think they'll work for either of us. I haven't done any real reading instruction to this point and she's pretty much getting there on her own just with me reading to her, talking about the stories, picking out letters, practicing spelling (i.e. look M-e-r-i-d-a means Merida), etc. Now, we live in a bilingual family, so I actually think I'll do grammar in the years to come (not now), but this thread has really reassured me that I can probably let reading and spelling evolve organically for a while and see where it takes us.

Now my younger daughter ... I have no idea. She's not ready for education yet. When she is I may need to go a different route with her. My first daughter wanted books, books, books, and more books, but my second daughter throws books in my face if I try to get her to hang out for a story!

Teri
03-21-2013, 09:23 PM
For the MBTP issue, if your child is reading and you don't need the reading instruction, don't add it.

For us:
Spelling: No, we have never done a formal spelling course. I correct spelling as we go.

Phonics: No, with the exception of my daughter who has dyslexia. She had to have intensive phonics instruction.

Grammar: Yes. We do cover grammar.

I grew up in the 70/80s. I had extensive Spelling and Grammar courses in elementary school. Grammar was covered in middle and high school. I was diagramming sentences for YEARS, probably half of my public school career. My kids do not diagram sentences, although at least one of them would probably like it.

crunchynerd
03-22-2013, 06:47 AM
For the MBTP issue, if your child is reading and you don't need the reading instruction, don't add it.

For us:
Spelling: No, we have never done a formal spelling course. I correct spelling as we go.

Phonics: No, with the exception of my daughter who has dyslexia. She had to have intensive phonics instruction.

Grammar: Yes. We do cover grammar.

I grew up in the 70/80s. I had extensive Spelling and Grammar courses in elementary school. Grammar was covered in middle and high school. I was diagramming sentences for YEARS, probably half of my public school career. My kids do not diagram sentences, although at least one of them would probably like it.

This speaks to me, as I also grew up in the same era, and have also had my assumptions challenged because DH and I were both "naturals" or at least, all that Electric Company and Sesame Street might have been just enough to make our reading, writing, and spelling instruction in school, easy. So of course I went into this homeschooling thing under the impression that all a kid really needed was to have things read to them, and then demonstrate, Sesame Street-style, how to "sound it out", and poof, they'd take it from there.

When my daughter had problems with letter reversals and transposing of letters, whole word reversals like mirror writing, (or as I like to think of it, an amazing ability for mental rotation) and her reading was strictly sight-reading, with apparently no inherent ability to break things down into sounds or syllables, and thus she was helpless with any large or unfamiliar word, we went looking for phonics, and got Logic of English, and things have improved a great deal for her. But there went my comfortable assumption that kids don't really need formal instruction. It depends on the kid.

As for diagramming sentences, I only had one teacher ever teach us that, and she was my language arts teacher for 6th grade. I actually liked it, because it made sentences so sensible. Not that I had trouble with structure before, but seeing the way sentences had a structure that was logical, was nice. But it wouldn't have been nice, to do it year after year. I will teach it to my kids, but not to the point of overkill.

Logic of English combines spelling, phonics, and grammar, so yes, we cover all of that. It has really helped my daughter, and that, plus learning cursive (which I ought to have taught her first instead of print, if I had only known then what I know now) has helped with her reversals, etc, and she got the pleasure of other kids being impressed with her nice-looking cursive and her writing ability in general, when she went to Theater Camp this year.

For the real nitty-gritty on cursive, Peterson Directed Handwriting was an amazing resource, and we never even ordered their materials, but when I watched the instructional videos it was a revelation. I had no idea just how ineffective the handwriting instruction I got in school was, and had no idea that cursive can be effortless and fluid, for anyone, but the other hand and the paper are just as important as how you hold the pencil and how you move your arm (not your wrist).

Jen Law
03-22-2013, 07:44 AM
we live in a bilingual family, so I actually think I'll do grammar in the years to come (not now),

Actually bilingual children tend to be more aware of grammar naturally than their monolingual peers. They are able to identify gramatically incorect sentences from a much younger age and are more able to explain why it is incorrect.

dottieanna29
03-22-2013, 09:00 AM
My son learned to read mostly on his own. All the phonics and even spelling I attempted to do, he was always ahead of me.
My daughter needs deliberate phonics instruction. It has been slow going with her.

I do a little spelling with my son but mainly it serves as an introduction to new words, and a little bit of grammar since our spelling also covers things like contractions, synonyms, homophones, etc.
I will start spelling with my daughter when she is reading slightly better. I think AAS will really be good for her to reinforce the phonics.

I think some grammar instruction is necessary, especially the early stuff. Neither of my kids were going to pick up the rules for capitalization, punctuation, etc. on their own. I don't know how much detail I think is necessary.

I was always able to do very well on standardized tests and writing assignments basically going by what sounds right (don't go by my writing now, I'm much more lazy than I used to be). I always read a lot and I do think that made the biggest difference in both my grammar and spelling.

farrarwilliams
03-22-2013, 10:11 AM
Actually bilingual children tend to be more aware of grammar naturally than their monolingual peers. They are able to identify gramatically incorect sentences from a much younger age and are more able to explain why it is incorrect.

Yes, that's certainly what I've always heard and it seems like it would be true. Certainly studying a foreign language - especially a related language like Latin, French, Spanish, German, etc. - is a good way to learn English grammar.

quabbin
03-22-2013, 07:52 PM
To *know* phonics, spelling, and grammar--in the sense of being able to use them correctly in reading and writing--is essential. To *study* them is only necessary for some people some of time time. The less you read, the more you need to study.

BTW not everyone is using "grammar" the same way. Grammar is the naming of words/sentence parts and their functions (e.g., "Grammar" is a noun used as the subject), but the term is also widely used to include usage ("She and I speak English," not "Me and her speak English."). Children who read a lot and grow up with standard-English-speaking parents need very little instruction in usage, while grammar is useful for having a head start on foreign languages and explaining the reasoning behind usage rules for those who want to know.

I am/will be teaching DS these subjects explicitly, but at as fast a pace as he can comfortably go and only until he knows them well.

CatInTheSun
03-23-2013, 01:26 PM
To *know* phonics, spelling, and grammar--in the sense of being able to use them correctly in reading and writing--is essential. To *study* them is only necessary for some people some of time time. The less you read, the more you need to study.

BTW not everyone is using "grammar" the same way. Grammar is the naming of words/sentence parts and their functions (e.g., "Grammar" is a noun used as the subject), but the term is also widely used to include usage ("She and I speak English," not "Me and her speak English."). Children who read a lot and grow up with standard-English-speaking parents need very little instruction in usage, while grammar is useful for having a head start on foreign languages and explaining the reasoning behind usage rules for those who want to know.

I am/will be teaching DS these subjects explicitly, but at as fast a pace as he can comfortably go and only until he knows them well.

Good point about being clear about what grammar is -- often what we mean by "grammar" is really what others call GUM -- Grammar Usage and Mechanics.

I think 12 years of drill-and-kill is overkill for most kids. However I don't think that proper (formal) usage can be learned by immersion -- we are bombarded all day by examples of bad usage and mechanics all day, in writing, in speech, in music, on the tv... Immersion is good for learning colloquial language, not formal language. I think to expect a child to pick up the rules of object/subject pronouns, clauses, and the like which are trampled more often than not in daily usage but should be known and used properly in professional correspondence at LEAST seems unrealistic. SOME formal education on GUM makes these otherwise random rules intelligible.

With just the Island level of MCT my kids now notice when a song's lyrics violate object/subject pronoun rules, or when something they read or see has a GUM error. I think making them sensitive and a little uncomfortable when the world misuses english is a good thing. :D

Drawing attention to how GUM is the same and different when learning other languages is really helpful, I think.

amberd
03-26-2013, 12:23 PM
This discussion is interesting to me, especially seeing the different approaches.

My dd is just beginning to read and write so I don't have much experience with this yet.

I had formal spelling and grammar lessons in ps growing up, but the latter especially was not in depth. I was a voracious reader so I had some help from that. I also had a stronger course of grammar when I learned Latin and German and in my university, upper division english and history classes (thankfully I had professors who realized the inadequacies of edu. in regards to grammar and chose to address the issue directly even though it was not the subject of their class).

Knowing how much I have struggled with writing (and that I didn't get a good foundation until late in my education) I want to provide something different for my dd. The plan for now is to give hera language rich environment, some solid formal lessons, meaningful practice with meaningful feedback, and lots of talking things out--what we read, see in movies, hear on the radio, etc.. How these take shape will depend on her and will change as her skills continue to develop.

Seeing how you all do these subjects has given me some ideas on what to try out and to consider as we continue hs'ing.

Juno
03-26-2013, 03:41 PM
I was teaching Spelling through Spelling power but then my friend pointed out that kids were probably going to have an easier time learning to spell once they were reading well.
So I am going to hold off until next year to teach DD 8 and DD7 spelling, they are almost at the same level of reading and I think they will both be ready then. My daughter was leaving all vowels out when she was trying to write last year. This year she seems to have a better grasp, coincidentally she is reading better so maybe my friend is right.
We have been using The Well Trained Mind grammar series for my daughter and son. My daughter loves it, but my son hates it. I am actually trying to find another program for him to use. I don't remember being taught grammar, I loved to read and probably picked it up. I would like my kids to have a better grasp though, so I am scared not to teach them at least the basics. Sigh.

kadylaha
04-19-2013, 01:57 PM
Well, that depends on your expectations. If your approach is very laid back and you don't fret about much; if your concern is mainly spending time with him and forming his character; if you are well pleased with his progress... in other words if you have an easygoing homeschool vibe... then of course you should follow your instincts and your own goals for your family.

However, if your homeschool expectations are challenging; if you encourage advanced math and science; if you have daydreams of a doctor or famous writer in the family... in other words, if you demand a lot of him in other areas, you might want to consider phonics instruction. A really good one is Hooked on Phonics; that's what we used and it was miraculous. The phonics rules teach him how our language works, and what to expect from it. You can learn a lot about spelling, phonics and grammar from reading books... but if your goal for him is clear and coherent writing skills, perhaps consider formal study here.