Should I delay starting grammar?

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Pondering Placement

Should I delay starting grammar with my 2nd and 3rd graders?

We just finished our 3rd week of Bigger Hearts, and I couldn’t be happier! We are all loving Heart of Dakota! Placement seems right for everything, except R & S English. My 2nd grader is using level 2, and my third grader is using level 3. The work isn’t too hard. I just keep wondering why it’s necessary to learn formal grammar at this age? I know Charlotte Mason started grammar later. I’m not sure what I think about that either. Or, I could switch to Primary Language Lessons? But, I’m not sure about that either. R & S English seems more thorough. Any thoughts or suggestions on delaying grammar? Thanks!

We don’t delay starting grammar because we find more time is needed for solid retention.

Charlotte Mason (CM) advocated delaying formal grammar instruction until age 10 or even later. She felt all grammar could be absorbed in a single year with review after that. I was definitely on board with her idea when we switched to a VERY CM education for my oldest son during his third grade year. But, even CM’s own grammar book (republished by Karen Andreola as Simply Grammar) needs to be used more than once over time in order to cement the grammar concepts. Catherine Levinson, a leading CM educator, mentions using Simply Grammar two or three times to get retention from her kiddos. So, grammar is not a one-shot deal as we’d love it to be. So, at Heart of Dakota, we don’t delay starting grammar because we find more time is needed for solid retention.

We don’t delay starting grammar because of the increased requirements in state standards.

We also don’t delay the start of grammar due to the upped requirements in states with writing assessments. In order to have a common language about how to write better, we found it necessary to do an earlier introduction to formal grammar than CM proposed. For example, to point out whether kiddos are writing in complete sentences, they need to understand what a subject and predicate are and what is missing from their sentence (making it a fragment).

We don’t delay starting grammar because it is helpful for students to have a common language about how to write better.

This common language between parent and student helps make the editing process smoother. If we wish to have the child add more detail, it is VERY helpful for kiddos to understand what adjectives and adverbs are and how they function within a sentence. When we ask for written answers, it also helps if they can compose their sentences in a way that makes sense (with parallel usage). When asking kiddos to fix sentences that aren’t grammatically correct, it helps if the kiddos know their basic parts of speech. If we delay starting grammar, there is no common language to base our editing comments upon.

We don’t delay starting grammar because the mechanics and usage portion of state tests expect students to know this common language.

Another reason we don’t delay starting grammar is because in the mechanics and usage portion of standardized tests (Iowa Basics or SAT’s) kiddos need to understand the use of commas, end punctuation, and capitalization. Kiddos are expected to recognize proper mechanics and usage to be able to know the right answers to the questions. So, even though it makes sense to delay formal grammar instruction, we are forced by the state to show progress in these areas by the way we report to them.

We use Charlotte Mason’s language arts approach to copywork, dictation, narration, poetry, and literature.¬†

At HOD, we use copywork, dictation, oral narration (and later written narration), poetry, and literature in a very Charlotte Mason way. We delay formal grammar instruction until Bigger Hearts. However, at that point we find it easier to do a little grammar instruction each day, rather than waiting for a heavy introduction to grammar later. That happens to be our philosophy.

While Rod and Staff is not flashy, it thoroughly gets the job done and has better retention overall.

If your heart is leading you toward a different grammar program, by all means follow it! That is the beauty of HOD. But, for the record, I will say that Rod and Staff while not flashy, does get the job done. For the time I put into teaching grammar in the past (including “Intermediate Language Lessons”), I will say that Rod and Staff sticks much better, making the teaching time better spent for me!

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

 

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