Grammar Questions

With our grammar class coming up in August, we have been getting a lot of questions:

Is our class enough for the school year?

What do we do that is different?

What products support our class?

How can I get my kids to use what they learn?

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The answers to these questions is complicated—isn’t it always?—so I am going to take them one at a time.

Is our class enough for the school year? Yes…and no.

Grammar is super complicated, and the more I learn, the more I don’t know. It is truly like wrestling a giant octopus, only slightly more fun. (Yes, I did use the “fun” word!) As soon as I get a grasp on 5 of the legs, three more smack me in the face. So is our class enough? No class is ever enough! Grammar is a life-long study, and every program you use will add to your depth of knowledge. I keep adding to mine. Which leads me to the next question.

What do we do that is different?

Our class teaches you how we teach kids, and in this way, it is very different. We teach kids the way we think is most functional—the way we witness having the greatest impact on their reading comprehension, writing and editing skills, and test scores. For instance, we do not start by teaching the parts of speech. That information is at best tertiary, and most likely quaternary to reading comprehension and writing proficiency. It is not primary or even secondary. Every year we meet kids who have all the parts of speech memorized, but they are still confused. (Who isn’t? Make a sentence complex enough, and everyone begins to debate, even grammarians!) We meet kids who fill out pages of grammar workbooks, yet they still can’t apply the information to their own writing. So about three years ago I started switching it up, prioritizing my teaching according to what kids need to know and understand. Then we work our way to parts of speech—as needed.

By the way, we have research to back us up. In my field of Speech-Language Pathology, we are always looking for evidence-based practice that improves syntax skills. It is still a wide-open field of study, but the right approaches are getting good results. I combine what I learn with what I witness when working with students—then I share it with you in the Grammar class and through our grammar products.

What products support our class?

In the Laying a Path: Grammar and Mechanics class, you will receive a document we use for teaching, one that follows our scope and sequence. In addition, we created the Big Bugs Grammar 1 and 2 (#3 is in the works) in response to educator requests. The more we work with the bugs, the more we see it is a new way to diagram sentences—a functional way. And we show our primary and secondary approaches, in order of product.

However, I think everyone needs a good grammar reference guide. So I recommend Michael Clay Thompson’s Grammar Town and Grammar Voyage, depending on the age. Those books are simple references, even though they start with Parts of Speech. With our class, you can use these books as supplemental tools.

How can I get my kids to use what they learn?

The answer to this question is further addressed in our other Laying a Path class: Supportive Writing & Editing. We teach grammar first, but we show kids how to apply it to their writing as they progress! We teach our classes online, so we can show you how. Each class addresses key areas of teaching--Laying a Path to learning!

Rita Cevasco, M.A., SLP