Clauses, prepositions, predicates, phrases……grammar!! I am an English teacher and I love words..my kids make the joke that “mom only laughs at grammar jokes”. Well, it’s true, I do laugh at those funny grammar memes you see on Facebook, and for me, grammar just makes sense. However, even my love of the subject does not make it easier to teach to my children. My youngest son really struggles in this area and I am always looking for programs that will help it make sense in his head. For this review, I got to try the Analytical Grammar program from the ladies at Analytical Grammar.
This program is aimed at students in 6th grade and up. For sixth graders, the program can extend over three years when used along with the Reinforcement and Review workbook. For older students, parents can choose a one or two year schedule. Parents also have the option of using the Companion DVD that feature authors Robin and Erin teaching the lessons and going through examples.
Analytical Grammar comes with a student book and a teacher book. For the most part, the teacher book is the same as the student book. It includes all the same pages, but has the answers for the worksheets and tests. It also includes a section in the beginning that offers a suggested schedule and how to grade the work. I will say this feature was really nice for me. The suggested schedule made the lessons very easy to follow and the grading system was very easy to understand.
Basically, each lesson begins with a page of notes that explain the lesson for the week. These notes are short, and clearly explain the concept with examples. If you are using the three year plan, you would cover basic grammar topics from nouns to conjunctions the first year, phrases and clauses the second year, and punctuation the third year. If you are using the book in one year, you would cover all 35 lessons in a year’s time.
We started each week with the DVD lesson, mainly because my son and I have butted heads over this topic so much that we each become very frustrated when working on grammar now. So, I really appreciated having the DVD “teacher” there. For some reason, he seems to listen better to someone else, and he can’t argue with a DVD. I sat there while he watched the DVD to answer questions if he had any, and to go over the first few examples with him. The DVD lessons are short and easy to watch, and Robin and Erin do a very good job of explaining the concepts.
After going over the notes on Monday, you assign the first exercise to your child. Each exercise consists of practice sentences for the student to complete. Some lessons involve diagramming, while others involve marking parts of speech. Most practice pages run between 10 to 20 sentences each. On Tuesday, you and your child go over their practice page from Monday together. The idea is for the student to learn to correct their own mistakes, but the key is to only focus on the mistakes related to the lesson you are studying. So if the lesson is on pronouns, and there is an error in prepositions, you can discuss the error, but it does not count against the student. The theory is that over time, students will eventually internalize the instruction and correct all of their errors.
After making corrections, parent assign the next worksheet and the pattern continues. There are three worksheets in all, and the week ends with a test. Tests are given open book and graded together as well.
My son responded very well to Analytical Grammar. The short duration of the lessons made them easy to complete. I would say each lesson took us no more than 15-20 minutes each day, which meant he no longer dreaded doing grammar. I liked the whole idea of training students to correct their own errors, especially since my son is an 8th grader. Next year, and each year after that, I expect him to become more and more independent in his work. I need him to learn how to self-correct his grammar.
The first few lessons went pretty easily for us, as my son got used to the method this program uses. He struggled a little with labeling the parts of speech, but once he caught on, he went pretty quickly. Diagramming was still…diagramming. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything that can make that interesting, but my son seemed to catch on, at least with the simple diagrams. I suspect he will still struggle with the more advanced diagramming later in the program, but I don’t think that is ever going to be his strength, if you know what I mean. I am satisfied that by the time we complete Analytical Grammar my son will have a much deeper understanding of the subject, which will hopefully then translate to better writing.
As a homeschool mom, I really appreciate how easy Analytical Grammar is to use. I just don’t have the time or patience for a three-part program that requires a 30 minute lesson followed by additional practice. While that method may work for some people, it just doesn’t work for me. At this point in our homeschool career, I want something simple that works. The Analytical Grammar set, that includes the teacher book and student book, costs $94.95. I know that’s a lot, but if you are like me (looking for a way to finally teach grammar to your grammar-resistant child while trying to preserve your sanity) then its worth it. Remember, if you have a 6th grade student, the program will last you three years. Also, as students complete these lessons, they are building a grammar resource book for themselves that they can refer back to in high school.
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To see what other members of the crew had to say about this program, and the other programs crew members got to check out, click here: