The Homeschool Minute ~ Do you fancy yourself a grammarian?

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Do you fancy yourself a grammarian?
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Mercy Every Minute   

The Wuehler Family

Grammar! Does that word bring up good feelings? Probably only to the few and the brave and the nerdy. I love words, but I sometimes dislike the rigor of proper grammar.

I have found in my own homeschool, that it’s all in the way I teach grammar, as well as the timing of teaching grammar, that makes it most successful. Overall, grammar is done slowly, repetitively, and often taught within the student’s own individual writing.

  • Elementary years: we focus on things like: simple punctuation, nouns, verbs and pronouns.
  • Middle years, we add in good adjectives, adverb lists, prepositions, and style.
  • Junior high years: we normally add a grammar workbook and a dictionary and thesaurus for research and improvement
  • High school years: we teach MLA structure, high school/college grammar (which may or may not include sentence diagramming, depending on the student’s need). 

If you have a positive attitude about grammar, then it will come out in your instruction. You can search online and find fun games and ways to teach grammar in a delightful way.  

If you find yourself lost in the teaching of grammar, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine offers some practical helps:

Is Sentence Diagramming Puzzling You?
by Jennifer Padgett      

Grammar FUNdamentals 
by Carrie Daws 

Preserving Our Language: Teaching English Grammar 
by Leigh Bortins


Drawing Up Great Grammar 
by Amy Barr

Don’t forget the grammar–the “jot and tittle”–of the Bible. There is a reason for every word and it benefits all of us to search it out. We have used Scripture verses in our school as copywork. The children have copied the verse correctly when even the grammar is copied correctly. Learning by seeing and copying works to imprint good grammar in our children–as well as words of life. We can never underestimate the power of the Word of God in our children’s hearts and minds. It is the beginning of wisdom and understanding.

God bless you this week as you continue being good stewards of God’s children and doing the hard thing of teaching them grammar as well as keeping them Home Where They Belong.

You CAN do this–yes, even teach grammar–through Christ Who gives you strength! One day at a time!




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Raising Real Men    

“I’m sorry, but we don’t speak that way. It’s not, ‘He brung a snack.” It’s ‘He brought a snack.'”

We learned not to roll our eyes, because we heard that kind of thing a lot growing up. It was pretty annoying, being corrected for things the kids at school said all the time, but when we started learning grammar, we got the payoff. Proper grammar had become obvious to us because our moms hadn’t tolerated anything else!

  • One of the very best things you can do to help your children learn grammar is make them use correct grammar all the time. When they do, they’ll internalize what “sounds right” and they won’t be fooled by common mistakes. It helps a lot on standardized tests, for one thing.
  • It’ll help a lot in life, too. In our culture, grammar is one way people quickly judge class and education (table manners are another!).  Grammar mistakes can limit the opportunities our children will have as adults. Do they want to be managers, reporters, diplomats, writers, attorneys, teachers? If they do, they’ll need good grammar to even get a foot in the door. 
  • If you come from an area with a strong accent–we’re from the South, for instance–correct grammar can overcome regional stereotypes. When we lived in California, we had to explain to West Coast friends that The Beverly Hillbillies were fiction; “Thar’s universities in them thar hills, now,” we’d deadpan, and it made the point because we didn’t talk like the Clampetts!
  • Do you struggle with using good grammar yourself, though? That’s one of the cool things about homeschooling: You can learn right alongside your children. Pick a grammar program that focuses more on the correct usage than elaborate methods, then do it with them. Get a grammar handbook and look it up, if you aren’t sure. It’s hard to change speech habits, but it’s such a help for our children.

We’ve forgiven our moms for constantly jumping on our childish bad grammar. We’ve even thanked them. We are full-time speakers and writers now and we can hardly imagine how hard that would have been without the gift they gave us of speaking correctly. That’s our best tip for teaching grammar–live it!

Hal & Melanie Young

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The Familyman 


Well, the big news is we had a wonderful wedding at my house this weekend. It was perfect: the weather, the ceremony … the PARKING. I am just so thankful and FULL. God is just too good to this dad.


What surprised me most is how non-sad it felt. Not once did the old tennis ball fill my throat. It was joyous and … perfect.

Right now, I’m mostly tired and feeling the let down, but we’re excited to be hitting the road today for the big HEAV convention in Richmond, VA. If you’re there, stop by my booth and be the first to tell me when and where you were married and you’ll win The Official Book of Homeschooling Cartoons.

Okay, what’s the topic again?! Oh yeah, Teaching Grammar.  Here’s the deal: this whole weekend as we prepared and celebrated, I never once thought about grammar. When I went to bed that night, exhausted and spent, I found a note sitting on my pillow from my newly married son. It was written in his chicken scratch handwriting.

As I read it, the tennis ball lodged in my throat and my eyes teared up, but I never thought about the grammar or the messy handwriting.

There must be a lesson in there somewhere, but I’m too tired to see it. Just enjoy your family today, and don’t give grammar another thought until September 1.


PS – I’ve posted a few thoughts and wedding photos on our website. Hope you enjoy them.

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  • Daily Grammar 5th Grade provides daily worksheets that help your student explore parts of speech, sentence structure and diagramming, punctuation, and more. Answer keys are provided.
  • Daily Grammar 6th-7th Grade and Daily Grammar 7th-8th Grade are series of daily notes that review the basics of grammar and weekly worksheets that practice and reinforce grammar skills by dissecting sentences, studying each part, and diagramming the sentences. Answer keys are provided.

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Hey Mama,
You made it to the bottom again, like last week. Thank you!
Last Wednesday, I asked you to be the one in the “Encourager’s Seat”, and to please send me a personal note about The Homeschool Minute and how you enjoyed Diana Waring and Todd Wilson. You blessed their socks off, by the way, with your outpouring of kind words. When we hear this kind of encouragement, it just makes us want to carry on, you know? It really does.
Can I ask you to do it again? This time, however, please tell me what you think about Hal and Melanie Young (Raising Real Men) and also our Senior Editor, Deborah Wuehler. I love being able to share with our columnists what you think; it ministers to us more than you know. (sometimes to the point of tears)
With that, I want to leave you with this: 
God bless you, Mama, and keep on…whether you’re all that great at grammar or not. Let me share a little secret: I know a number of homeschooling parents (dead serious) who are pretty bad at grammar themselves, not so good at spelling, and who are wholly committed to homeschool their kids, but they realize they themselves have holes. For the longest time, I just kind of assumed that a kid is only as academic as his parents. But I’ve found that I was wrong about that. I keep seeing these homeschool graduates (or close to being graduated) who come out on the other end absolutely pristine with their writing and communication skills – excellent grammarians themselves. They passed their parents right up. Why is that? 

A homeschool family is gifted in all manner of areas. The mom might be an incredible cook, even if not the best speller. Her daughter, who worked hard throughout her homeschool years excelling (of course) in those areas of study of which she had the most interest, can easily carry on where her mother left off and exceed it. The daughter may not care a thing about cooking, like her chef-like Mama. But because of homeschooling, she had the time to become proficient in her own pursuits: in her case, the literary arts. Because of that love, it was a natural progression for her to dive deeply into the mechanics of grammar, thus mastering her skills to be the best writer she could be. So…all that to say…Don’t let grammar scare you if it’s not a talent. Surround your kids with good books, lots of resources, join a co-op, make the library your second home, etc. They will be fine.

And do NOT be surprised when they grow up, to discover them transcending you in one way or another, academically or even in the arts. (My four year old can draw better than I can) Your kids are so unique, so different. And you allowed them to hunt out and then passionately go after those interests, building those skills, which will make them the neat, wonderful people they’ll be tomorrow. I think you’re going to be blessed to watch it all unfold.

So give them the space to be them. Teach what they need to know. Grammar is huge. It’s very important. But do not let it intimidate you because someday you may come to the stark realization that they have a far better grasp on it than you do, anyway. I have seen it happen in families. Good families, like yours, Mama.

Don’t forget Who is on the throne. The One who gave you those kids to teach and raise up to begin with. You obediently answered His call; He put you on this path, and He’s not leaving you there, alone. Not a chance.

Walk confidently. His hand is on your head today.

-gena – Don’t forget to write me today about the Youngs and Deb!


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