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Analytical Grammar, Companion DVD Set, Reinforcement and Review Set Review by Katie Sheasby

Reviewed inR. Robin Finley and Erin M. Karl
Analytical Grammar
(919) 783-0795
7615 Vista Del Rey Lane
Raleigh, NC 27613

Analytical Grammar is a complete grammar curriculum that is designed to be taught over three years. The basic set comes with a 396 page student workbook and a 392 page teacher book. The set sells for $94.95. For parents who would like someone else to do the teaching, there is a Companion DVD Set that has each lesson explained by either Robin Finley or Erin Karl. The DVD sells for $39.95. If your student will be completing the program over the recommended two or three year pace it is highly recommended that you purchase the Reinforcement and Review book. The Reinforcement and Review book sells for $19.95 and is designed to be used between seasons. By the time your child finishes Analytical Grammar they will have learned; all of the parts of speech and parts of sentences, phrases and clauses, classic sentence diagramming, the rules of punctuation and capitalization, and common usage errors. Analytical Grammar will be the last grammar curriculum your student will ever need. There are four optional reinforcement books which sell for $19.95 each. Your student will practice the skills that they learned in the program once every two weeks to keep the information fresh in their mind.

Analytical Grammar is designed to be completed in three seasons. During each season, the students work on one unit of grammar each week over a five day period. The first season is ten weeks long where your student will focus on all of the parts of speech and sentence patterns. On the first day they read through the lesson, or work through it with Erin or Robin if the Companion DVD was purchased. Each lesson is about one or two pages long. In the lesson, new parts of speech or sentence types are explained and examples are given. Then they work on the first exercise in the unit. For each exercise the student has ten sentences to work on. They mark all of the parts of speech, that they have been taught and diagram each sentence. Some exercises will have a few additional questions that require the student to give definitions or recall information. The second and third day of the week the student completes exercise one and two. On the fourth day the student is given a paragraph to paraphrase, mark the parts of speech, and diagram. On the final day of the week the student takes an open book test covering any material learned up to that point.

When the first season is over the student completes an activity in the Reinforcement and Review book once every other week. The student is given a short passage to parse and paraphrase and then five sentences to parse and diagram.

The second season is eight weeks long. It covers phrases and clauses. Season two is set up the same way as season one except additional things must be marked in the sentences. When the student finishes season two they go back to working in the Reinforcement and Review book once every two weeks. The final season is about eighteen weeks long and covers punctuation and capitalization. The exercises for season three are set up the same as seasons one and two, but instead of parsing and diagramming, they are fixing punctuation or word usage errors.

The program starts with the basics and gets progressively harder as the book goes on. It is recommended for students in grades six and up, even if they haven't had very much exposure to grammar in the past. When the students are finished with a season they are encouraged to move all of the lesson notes (from the student workbook) to a grammar notebook that they can reference at any time.

Analytical Grammar was started when Robin Finley was a middle school teacher who felt that grammar instruction was important. She was unable to purchase the books that she needed in order to teach her classes, so she began to create worksheets for her students to use. She needed to cover all aspects of grammar because she knew that other teachers at the time didn't feel it was an important subject to teach. Over twelve years she tweaked and changed the program until she felt it was right. A little while later she was approached by a private school who wanted to buy her curriculum, and eventually she began selling it to homeschoolers. While it was not created for homeschoolers it is a great fit. The lessons are short but effective, and it is very detailed. When the student finishes the program they will be a grammar expert.

I quickly fell in love with Analytical Grammar. I was not taught grammar in school other than the very basics, so I was intimidated by most grammar curriculum. We tried a few different programs over the years but they were either too difficult for my student or she felt that they were babyish. With Analytical Grammar I was able to learn right there with AJ. After the second unit of the first season, I finally realized where my confusion over some of the parts of speech had come from. After watching two short lessons I finally felt like I understood grammar. 

I really enjoyed the Companion DVD because having Robin or Erin work through a few of the sentences helped AJ to comprehend the lessons. I witnessed quite a few light bulb moments when concepts finally made sense to her.  She went from hardly being able to tell the difference between a noun and an adjective to getting an A+ on two units in a row.

This program required no planning on my part, I simply opened the book or put in the DVD and we were ready to begin.  The Teacher book had all of the answers and even showed all of the sentences diagrammed. Even grading the tests was a quick and easy task. AJ liked that there wasn't too much writing involved, and while she still doesn't love grammar she said, “If I have to learn grammar, I would rather use this than anything else we've tried. I actually understand this.” There were never any tears shed over the program and that was a nice change for me.

One downside to this program is that it really needs to be done every day. If you miss a few days you often need to go back to the beginning of the unit you were in and go over the information again. I think homeschoolers who are more relaxed may find themselves not moving through the program at a quick pace. It is also a large investment to purchase all three seasons at one time. I think the program is worth it, but I would like to see each season available individually so that more people would be able to afford it. Selling the seasons individually would also make the workbooks smaller. AJ had a hard time writing on a few pages because the book was so thick.

Analytical Grammar is exactly what I wanted in a grammar program. It is mastery based but has enough review throughout to ensure that the student doesn't forget what they learn. If you are looking for a solid grammar program that will teach from the basics to the very advanced concepts of grammar then Analytical Grammar might be the program for you.

—Product review by Katie Sheasby, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2016