When I was in school I remember one of my favorite classes being English. I loved reading and writing and learning all about grammar and the language in general. I love words; I think it is fun and beautiful to fit things together. So having the opportunity to review the Junior Analytical Grammar program from the ladies at Analytical Grammar. I was unfamiliar with them at the time but still, I was super excited. 🙂 My son? Not so much. I would say he struggles but I think that would be underestimating it ~ He hates it. And it saddens me because I know, there is some way, some how, that he can be inspired and excited about grammar.
So to give you an overview of this program, Junior Analytical Grammar (Jr. AG) provides a very simple introduction to the arious concepts of grammar. This is meant for younger students (4th or 5th grade) to be used over a span of 11 weeks. This level is the first step in the Analytical Grammar series and would be followed by Junior Analytical Grammar: Mechanics before moving into the Analytical Grammar program itself.
Jr. Analytical Grammar covers all parts of speech, five sentence patterns, the parts of a sentence, and classic sentence diagramming. The Junior Analytical Grammar set includes a spiral-bound teacher’s manual and spiral-bound student workbook for $39.95. There is also a Companion DVD set which can be , used with this program, although that was not a part of what we received for review, it is an option an features the authors teaching the units and practicing a few things too. A handy tool if you struggle with teaching grammar ($39.95).
We really had to ease into this one. As I said before my oldest son is not a fan of grammar studies at all. When the materials arrived I made sure to spend the first few days reading over the materials myself to make sure I was familiar with the method. My oldest has troubles with attention and focus so I need to be on the ball. Less gets done when I have to take a break to figure it all out along the way. I loved the educational philosophy, referred to as the vision of “scaffolding”. Some real food for thought on just the very first page. I read how “much of what we teach doesn’t stick because we have not carefully built that basic knowledge structure.” Slow down. I love that about this; it encourages me because so many days, I feel like we are moving too slowly. I forget that it is far more important to have a strong foundation than to compete something fast. i read “children love to do what they are good at” and that is so true. Even as I type this I see my oldest when he is plugging away at his Chinese writing; his cartooning and computer coding games. There is a passion, a desire, and so he shall succeed. I cannot force readiness or understanding. That one page alone really inspired me, not just in this, but in our education, at home, which has been burn out central, lately, I confess.
The very first day my son and I sat down with this, he was quite pleasantly surprised to see that some of this was “not rocket science.” lol We have done Mad Libs together for some time to encourage some grammar study, and some creative writing (these are both things he doesn’t even pretend to tolerate!) Starting out on Nouns was a blessing; it gave him a bit more confidence than he had going into this. We were able to start out on something he understands well. Each lesson is followed by an exercise worksheet (we did these verbally) and the units end, each one, with an assessment of the skills learned. One of my son’s favorite worksheets was the “Playing with Words” where there is a word given and they get to make up a sentence or two using that word and then a paragraph which needs to include a variety of words also given. They can see how they did, on the other side of the worksheet that instructs them on how to tally up their points (they can get 10 in all) and no matter how many or few points are obtained, from “Wonderful!” to “Making a Good Effort” they are encouraged ad given inspiring words to motivate them in the journey forward.
Following this first unit, we slowed down. A lot. I had to remember, and out loud, remind myself, the foundation ,matters more. I went back and reread that introduction that I began with not that long ago. We struggled more. My son was a bit more resistant to doing the studies each day, Since each unit progresses forward from the last; if retention is not there it definitely becomes more challenging and since there are not really any review materials immediately available, we ended up going backwards quite a bit to reinforce past units. Slow and steady right? We found ways to practice the lessons more regularly, mostly trough creative writing exercises we did together. Sometimes he would write them based on words I gave and other times he would choose words and I would write. Sometimes we just did it all together. This did help in some ways to instill more of these concepts, especially the further we got in this material. At the same time I am pretty sure we will be completing this book again in the future.
I really did like this. I wish I had learned grammar this way when I was younger! And really I have to say, there is so much I learned from this myself! This program is so gentle for beginning learners; it really does help the teacher and the student too, building them up as they go through the program. Especially the student. My oldest son, while still not excited about grammar, has a better understanding of many of the concepts and agreed that this program was “the best yet”. And for now I will be glad for that. If you are looking for a grammar program though, I highly recommend you give this one a try. Like I said before this is a simple, and quite sensible, approach to grammar unlike any I have come across before. 🙂
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