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Thread: Grammar

  1. #1
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    Default Grammar

    I'm starting to wonder how much grammar is enough. Opinions? Thoughts? Any wonderful resources I must use?
    Rebecca
    DS 13, DD 11
    Year 7

  2. T4L In Forum Apr19
  3. #2

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    What have you used so far?

    I tend to think grammar every year, year after year, is way too much. The only formal grammar my kids did were Easy Grammar 4 & 5 in late elementary/early middle school time. We stopped when they were correcting every else's grammar. Other than that, I think just sitting down with them when they wrote/revised papers, combined with reading a lot of good writing/literature, modeled what they needed to know.

    DD is now majoring in writing, so ?????
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward

    Daughter (22), a University of Iowa senior triple majoring in English with Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son (21), a Purdue University junior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  4. #3
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    I'm inclined to agree with you Carol. They have done the basics through a couple of programs that we've used / are using - Logic of English and WriteShop. But, I may peak at Easy Grammar anyway. Thank you!

    (fyi - for anyone new WriteShop is not secular.)
    Rebecca
    DS 13, DD 11
    Year 7

  5. #4

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    I feel like it should be a staple every year in the elementary years, but you have to scale it back afterwards or kids will not have time for their more advanced work. Keep in mind older students are regularly using proper grammar (and learning it further when they get feedback from their educators) when they have to do writing assignments on a regular basis. My son is a couple years ahead in English, and I am debating dropping it or at least seriously scaling it down next year (he'll be a 6th grader but does 8th grade curricula).

  6. #5

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    We still use MCT's four -level analysis practice sentences because B. enjoys it so much. I used to do it with her (a sentence day from a book of 100). Some days it's hard to take the time away from Algebra. lol
    --Kelly--Atheist/Alternative/Accidental Homeschool Mom in Iowa Since 3/1/10--DD--16---Saxon Algebra I, EIW-9, Various Lit. Selections, Additional Free Writing/Research Papers, Holt Earth Science, Holt World History, BtB Spanish, Art-1, and Family/Consumer Science.

  7. #6

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    As someone who relies on grammar knowledge for their income and has a more in-depth knowledge than the average person: I don't think it matters. If they like it, do it. If it puts them off writing, reading, or whatever, don't do it. If they seem really behind or off course in picking up the basics of punctuation and sentence structure, then I would actively teach them. Otherwise, I think they pick up what they need without being actively taught it.

    I also think being a good writer and good at grammar (a good editor) are completely different things and use different parts of your brain. So I do not think teaching grammar in combination with writing is a good approach. You cannot do both jobs (write and edit/have good grammar) at once and it makes it stressful to try learn both jobs at once. Heck you can't even do two types of editing once (e.g., copyediting = sentence level vs. developmental editing = plot level). You have to do these on completely different and very separate (by days or your brain won't switch jobs) rounds of editing or preferably have completely different editors do these jobs.

    In school, I loved reading and I loved writing, but I never ever listened to grammar teaching in class. It was one of those things I zoned out for the entire way through school. It all went over my head as I found it boring and spent my time doing something else while not listening to the teacher. And you know what, that did not matter. I was an avid reader and picked up enough about the natural flow of language for that to seep through to my writing and always get good marks on that. Then at university I never bothered with it either. It was only in my fourth year of university when I had an academic supervisor who was finicky about the "little things" (e.g., when to use an en dash vs. a hyphen) that I began to really learn grammar. Then when it became my job, I have learned on the job by editing other peoples writing.

    It did not harm me in the slightest. I had at least an A (>85%) average for all my last senior years of highschool and through university, and wrote up both an undergraduate honors year thesis and a PhD thesis perfectly well. I may read them now and cringe at some aspects with the editing knowledge I now have after >10 years as an editor, but I still passed perfectly well.

    I think the best way to learn grammar is through editing other peoples work. Just read it and think about what sounds or looks wrong about it. Think about what are you not sure about. Double check the spelling and use of every word that is not a basic/common one for you (even ones you think you know how to spell and use) and check the use of every punctuation mark. Then it starts to stick.

    I would only bother actively teaching it to a child if a) they loved learning about language (e.g., how it works, why we write the way we do etc.) or b) if they were obviously struggling with picking up a natural writing style and had obvious large errors in sentence structure or punctuation use. Otherwise, I would just casually comment on things occasionally in whatever they are reading (e.g., "do you know what this punctuation mark is and the situations you could use it in?") or in their writing if they open to it. But as I said, I think writing and grammar are very separate things so its perfectly ok for their original compositions to be less than stellar when it comes to grammar.

    Also, with trying to learn grammar/editing on their own writing. That is hard because you are asking their brain to switch from a personal composition mode to a removed analytical mode. That is hard to do even for adult writers. If you are going to teach them how to do that, I suggest having a discussion about how it uses your brain in a different way to do these two jobs and its best to give your brain a good break between them. They need to put the writing aside until they can look at it and be removed/analytical rather than think about it in a composition way (e.g., "what if I added this to the story line?").

    In the real world, people do not write in isolation. They write in a team. There can be multiple writers contributing to a project, and there are many different types of editors that contribute to projects. Kids need to know that the published writing they see has been polished by many hands and that is not how it came out of the writer's brain. I think the expectation for grammatically correct writing creates unnecessary stress.

    What I do with my daughter is to chat about grammar we see come up in her reading books and glaring mistakes in her writing (but I always ask her first "do you want me to provide some suggestions on grammar corrections in this" and respect her answer). And we get out kids books about grammar from the library that she can just read whenever she wants. Our library has this entire series by Brian Cleary. I think the series is Words are Categorical. They are quite fun. I have also purchased her some of the MCT e-book versions.

    Sorry that is all kind of disjointed!
    Last edited by NZ_Mama; 02-10-2019 at 05:09 PM.
    New Zealand-based. DD 10 (year 5 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 5 (year 0 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by NZ_Mama View Post
    I also think being a good writer and good at grammar (a good editor) are completely different things and use different parts of your brain. So I do not think teaching grammar in combination with writing is a good time approach. You cannot do both jobs (write and edit/have good grammar) at once and it makes it stressful to try learn both jobs at once. Heck you can't even do two types of editing once (e.g., copyediting = sentence level vs. developmental editing = plot level). You have to do these on completely different and very separated (by days or your brain won't switch jobs) rounds of editing or preferably have completely different editors do these jobs.
    That's interesting. Every once in a while (2-3 times a year) DS asks me to read over a college paper for him. Out of dumb luck habit, I ask him if I'm reading for grammar/spelling issues, or flow/content/ideas issues.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward

    Daughter (22), a University of Iowa senior triple majoring in English with Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son (21), a Purdue University junior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  9. #8

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    That's great. Natural editor tendencies Yes, I think it is something only people who have worked as an editor would realize, that there are these different types of editors and you really need to get into a different part of your brain if you are going to do both jobs yourself. People have different names for them but working from the big picture ones down to the nitty gritty, they are developmental editor, substantive editor, copyeditor, and proofreader. Many people think of copyediting as proofreading, but proofreading is really only when you have the final proof that is due to go to the printers and someone checks through it for little things like extra spaces and errant commas.

    Even with a copyedit I prefer to read through a job in multiple separate rounds to look for different things. Like I might scan through quickly first to check for incorrect spelling, incorrect word use, incorrect punctuation use, inconsistent use of abbreviations or abbreviation errors (used when they don't need to be or not defined). Then I will have a break (half a day to one day) to get my brain reset before I go through and actually really read the text and thing about the flow, sentence structure, and if small explanations need to be added to the text. Then another brain break and a final read through that is more proofing (spaces, errant commas etc.) and to double check that I have not introduced any mistakes or misunderstood something.

    Generally, it's a can't see the forest for the trees thing. If you are so busy looking at the trees and thinking about their bark pattern, colors of their leaves, and how many branches they have, you cannot really comprehend the big picture of how they fit together as a forest and if there are any gaps or overcrowding.
    New Zealand-based. DD 10 (year 5 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 5 (year 0 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

  10. #9

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    I think good old MS Word is a good software to ensure grammatical accuracy. Grammarly, I hear, is becoming popular, but it seems like too much intervention. Taking care of the blue, red, and green squiggly lines on MS Word is ample more often than not. WordWeb may help. It's a thesaurus-cum-dictionary software, and it's free. Granted, it doesn't address grammar, per se, but it is detailed. The software shows parts of speech, and examples of proper usage, and that's good enough in most instances.

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