4 Moms: Teaching grammar

4 Moms, 35 Kids

Welcome back to the 4 Moms weekly posts.  You can welcome me back, too, because I’ve been gone for a few weeks.  I had a lovely break from blogging over the holidays, but sadly I won’t remember a bit of it since I DIDN’T BLOG ANY OF IT.  Ironic, no?

At least I’m blogging about our recent rodential invader, so we’ll remember that story in years to come, but that’s not why you’re here today.  You’re here to learn how I teach my children grammar.  Because I am a homeschooler, and obviously I teach my children grammar, right?

Wrong.  Maybe you already picked up on that when I began a sentence with a conjunction.  I don’t teach grammar.

We are relaxed homeschoolers, so I love it when real life results in lessons learned relatively painlessly.  Texts may be better at covering all the bases in an orderly fashion, but is that approach really intrinsically superior?  Will my children be stunted in “the real world” if they don’t learn all their Important Facts & Concepts at the institutionally determined appropriate age and time?  Will they miss out on job opportunities because I forgot to teach them to diagram sentences?  Will they be less able to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?

Psst…those were rhetorical questions. The answers are “no,” “no,” and “no.”

If I’ve done my job properly, they will have the ability to crack a book (or open up google) and learn to diagram sentences should the need arise.  The same goes for conjugating German verbs, identifying the bones of the human hand, and memorizing the names of the early Chinese emperors.  While they are learning, I also want to teach them to learn. I don’t want to simply pour facts into open minds.  I want active minds that are constantly learning, growing, inquiring, and thinking critically.

I’m not saying these things are unimportant, or that none of my children have or will learn them, but they are incidental to the ultimate goal of Christian education.

I’m also not saying that there is anything wrong with a more structured approach.  We have used Saxon math for many years.  Kaitlyn and Lydia are currently enrolled in an online interactive essay class to help develop and polish their writing skills.  We have used other textbooks and formal courses on occasion, but they are not the backbone of our curriculum.

So…how do my children learn grammar if they’re not filling in the blanks of a grammar workbook 3 days/week for 12 years?

They read, and they write.  I read what they wrote, and we talk about what they read and write.  I correct their spoken and written grammar as the opportunity arises, talking about the parts of speech and explaining the difference between objective and subjective pronouns, etc.  OK, so maybe I do teach them grammar, but I don’t know why they call me the Gramminator.

Learning happens other ways, too.  We play Mad Libs.  I have a book called Eats Shoots and Leaves that I want my older children to read.

They learn in the course of real life, the way so much other learning takes place.

The other moms are teaching grammar too.  See what they have to say:

Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

  • January 12 – Snacks and appetizers for a crowd
  • January 19 – How to organize, shop for and maintain ALL THAT CLOTHING {linky}
  • January 26 – Q&A
  • February 2 – Scriptures and/or stories we rely on for comfort/encouragement as a homeschooling family

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  1. Genna Joy says:

    I agree with Sarah- in Australia kids don’t learn to diagram sentences. I’m a teacher and I didn’t even know what you meant by it!

    They do learn grammar, but not as a separate subject.

    Mad libs is brilliant. I play it with my seven year old nephew, and it’s how he has learnt all his nouns, verbs, adjectives and the like.

    As for semicolons and things like that, I have found that most kids pick up on how to use them long before they know what they’re called.

  2. I found that learning Spanish helped my English grammar more than all the english lessons I ever had.

  3. I have never understood the purpose of diagramming sentences. Here in the UK, it is not taught in schools nor required in exams so it matters little that I haven’t taught this to my home educated children.
    It is a matter of opinion whether grammar is worse here.

  4. This makes me smile 🙂 Just for the record I went to a private school and still couldn’t have told you or identified what an adverb or adjective was let alone know when you were supposed to use a semicolon vs. a colon until my jr/sr year of high school (no joke). We are family friends with my high school English teacher and she likes to still refer to me as grammar hopeless! I would love to homeschool when I have children but honestly I’ve always been wary about my lack of grammar/math skills – it’s encouraging to hear you reiterate that some of this is natural learning – after all I am an editor for an academic journal right now so I must have learned at least those grammar basics at some point!!

  5. The voice of reason! It is so encouraging (and comforting!) to hear of others who feel as I do – that the formal teaching of grammar as a separate school subject is unnecessary. We teach grammar as it comes up. So does this method really work? Our oldest 5 children have graduated homeschool now having been homeschooled their whole lives. All of them write and speak well. Two of them have received blue ribbons at the County Fair for writing at the adult level. It works.

    Now, on to more important matters – MUST. KNOW. WHAT. THE. RODENT. IS!

  6. Sheila in MO says:

    …continue your story about the unwelcomed visitors please…

  7. I felt the boldness to discuss grammar, claim my ability to teach it, if only as their mother… So thank you for this post! Yes they are learning to learn, not being afraid of not knowing, and having the courage to seek needed knowledge.
    My expounding spot:

Don't just think it: say it!

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