Friday, November 6, 2015

How We Do Analytical Grammar

Now that I have gone through our whole homeschool day, I am planning to go through the curriculum we are using this year and talk a little about how we use it and how it's working out.

First up will be all things math and language arts, starting with Analytical Grammar, which both Grace and Christopher are using this year.

Analytical Grammar is unique among grammar programs because it is meant to be used over just two or three years - or "seasons" - after which your child is considered a grammar expert in need of just occasional review to keep up skills. Not only that, but each season takes only a few months to finish. I think both of my kids will probably finish up their season sometime in the next two months. Then, for the rest of the year, they will only need to do a review activity every other week. The program seemed a bit pricey to me at first, but there is only one book (plus a teacher book) to buy for the entire program, so I believe the price is competitive with other programs out there...possibly even cheaper.

 The AG website has information about how to pace the program, depending on your child's age. Our current plan is to have Grace complete the program in about two years; she is currently working on the third and final season during her ninth grade year. Christopher will take about three years to go through the book; he is currently working on season two during his seventh grade year.

There are really no bells and whistles with AG. It is just plain old grammar taught with lecture notes and worksheets, with a test at the end of each unit. Christopher struggled with the rigor and plainness of it all at first.  At one point last year I started looking around for something more engaging for him.... but then I decided to make a few adjustments and stick it out. A year later I am very glad we did.  This is a challenging grammar program for sure, but it works!  My kids have learned so much from this program, and the thing with grammar study is that it is about so much more than just the grammar itself.  Christopher in particular is getting much better at paying attention to detail and doing careful work.   And in just a few weeks we will be done with the bulk of grammar for the year, which will give us more time to focus on some other things.

 Analytical Grammar consists of 10 units in Season 1, 7 units in Season 2, and 18 units in Season 3. Season 1 introduces the parts of speech and sentence diagramming, Season 2 focuses on verbals and clauses and how to diagram them, and Season 3 covers punctuation, subject-verb agreement, and active and passive voice, among other topics. Grace is really enjoying the third season; she feels like it's a break from the rigor of the first two seasons.

So here's how we use Analytical Grammar.

We don't try to cover any set amount in one week. Grace (14) usually works on grammar for 30-45 minutes, three days a week. She reads through the notes herself and does the exercises. She gets done what she gets done in that time. She does every problem on each worksheet, and I try to check her work daily and give her feedback. At the end of each unit she takes the test and I grade it for her. AG makes it very easy to grade the tests, so it's a good chance for me to give the kids that experience of getting a grade, since I don't grade other subjects. 

Christopher (12)  does grammar 3-4 times per week, with the goal of finishing one exercise each day. I use the shortcut method for him, as suggested in the book.

 At the beginning of a new unit I sit down and discuss the unit notes with him. The notes are in the Teacher Book as well as the Student Book, so it is easy for us to do this together.

We do the first two sentences of Exercise 1 together, then he completes the exercise on his own. There are usually about ten sentences to label and diagram. Sometimes he can handle doing all of it in one day, but more often Exercise 1 takes him two days to complete.

For Exercises 2 and 3 I let him do every other sentence, as long as he can do them well. If he needs more practice we use the extra sentences. Diagrams are done on a separate sheet of paper.

At the end of the unit, he takes the test, and I grade it for him.

The Teacher Book is an absolute must for this program: I could not do without it because grammar doesn't come easily to me! When the kids have a question I usually have to check my book before I can answer them. Naturally they notice this and sometimes poke fun at me, but I don't claim to be a grammar expert so I am okay with that...we are learning together.   The Teacher Book also contains lots of helpful notes and ideas for how to do the program.

 I will post separately about the review and reinforcement books when we begin using them in a few months. James is using Junior Analytical Grammar and I will post separately on that as well.

So in general, the grammar progression at our house is First Language Lessons through Level 4, Junior Analytical Grammar, Analytical Grammar, and then AG's high school reinforcement and review books. I am happy to have found a progression that works, at least for now.

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