April 21, 2010

Home School - Grammar

A while ago, I exchanged some emails with a friend and reader about curriculum. Recently, I received another email on Easy Grammar Systems.  After finishing my reply, I realized I had written a whole post on grammar.

By way of introduction, let me say, as a general rule, I do not start a grammar program until my children are firmly established in reading and phonics.  Typically, I would introduce grammar around third grade.  My curriculum of choice is Easy Grammar Systems.  In answering this question I feel like I really explained what I found particularly appealing about their program.  In the sake of time, I am reprinting her question and my answer with slight editing as necessary to make it more appropriate to this forum.  If you have further questions, as always, please leave me a comment or click that email button on my side bar.

Hello Kat,

Before you mentioned them, I had never heard of Math U See or Easy Grammar.

I looked up Easy Grammar online today. I see they have a student workbook and teacher’s edition for 180 Daily Teaching Lessons.

I cannot tell from this website much about the teacher’s edition. Could you answer a few questions for me?

1. Could you tell me how it is set up…is the Teacher’s Edition a duplicate of the student workbook with an answer key in the back of the book?

2. It says, “Reproducible,” and I am wondering exactly what part is reproducible.

3. 10 minute lessons…exactly what do they mean – that it takes 10 minutes to teach the lesson, or that it should only take about 10 minutes to complete the lesson?

Then they have:Daily Grams: Guided Review Aiding Mastery Skills for Junior High / Senior High Level teacher text

Is this in addition to the lessons the student does in their easy grammar workbook? I did not see a student workbook for this.

Don’t hurry to get back to me; maybe you could just answer the questions when you have spare time one day.

Dear Friend,

I am more than delighted to answer your questions. I had to check out the Easy Grammar link you sent because they have changed and updated it a little from what we have.

Their system consists of two parts. The teaching text and workbook and the Daily Gram Daily Review.

The Daily Grams are quick, ten minute or so each, sheets that review about five different concepts. For instance, in Emma’s grade there might be one sentence on capitalization. One sentence on punctuation. One question on sentence combining. One question with a list of nouns the student would need to write "P" for proper or "C" for common and one question dealing with adjectives.

These were originally intended to be put on an overhead for a class to do as a warm up either orally or in their notebooks. Home schoolers used them as a workbook and they started marketing them that way. The kids usually find them a fun little exercise. You can copy them if you wish to use for all your students but quite frankly I didn’t feel like taking the time to copy them all and they are inexpensive enough that I just got a work book for each student and used them as consumables.

As I said, they are fun exercises but once your student has a solid foundation they seem more like fluff to me. Around fourth grade I usually do away with them. Some students quickly forget what they learned previously and need to keep coming back to old concepts and for them I would recommend it. Only you can determine if your children need the additional refreshers. But that is what daily grams are… daily refreshers… they do not teach any new material. They would be good for review with any grammar curriculum not just Easy Grammar. Oh, and there is just the Daily Gram book. No separate student or teacher. The worksheets are in the front with answers in the back.  At one time they sold two versions of the book.  One with answers in the back and one without answers.  They were identical otherwise.  I do not believe they sell them like this anymore.  


The Easy Grammar Text book builds on very simple concepts and teaches only one concept at a time. The very first thing you learn is prepositions… which is quite different from other programs. Once a student knows their prepositions, they can quickly master sentence diagramming, which truly is the basis for understanding the other parts of speech. Therefore, it indeed is very short teaching time. The worksheets require five or ten minutes for the student. My children spend about 30 minutes on Grammar a week. That would include teaching any new concepts and the worksheets, reviews or tests.


The way the text is written, my girls have often been able to learn the concepts and do the assignments almost exclusively without my help. Once in a while I may go over a difficult area with them but even then they usually catch on very quickly and it takes but a few minutes. On the very conservative side, I would say a weeks worth of lessons would take an hour for teaching, assignments and grading.

I usually have my children check their own assignments. If they get any wrong they report to me and we see why. As I look over Emma’s assignment book here, I see that in the last 7 weeks, 70 workbook pages, 2 tests, 2 reviews, 2 cumulative reviews, 2 cumulative tests she only got 7 wrong. Often, when they are finished checking and come to me, they already know what they did wrong.


The teacher book is laid out with two of each page side by side. The left facing page is the teacher page with answers written in. The right facing page is the student page which appears blank just as it would in the student work book.  Here is an example of the teaching page 295 on Adverbs that tell where.  It appears just like this in the student workbook as well.  On rare occasion there are additional notes to the teacher.


The following page in the teacher book is the student workbook page answer key.  This is page 296 in the teacher book.  You will see it tells, at the top, which page corresponds in the student text.

The next page is teacher page 297.  This is the right hand facing page which corresponds to student workbook page 124.

If you were so inclined, you could photo copy the student pages for your children and have them work directly on them. It takes a lot of time to photocopy and by the time you figure in the cost of ink cartridges and printer paper you probably aren’t saving much for your time’s sake.


You could also have your students work from the blank pages in the teacher book and write their answers in a note book. I, personally, would be frustrated if I had to do all the copy work of printing sentences in a notebook for each assignment, and so I didn’t want to make my children do that. The idea is to learn grammar not spend as much time as possible doing the assignments. It just seems like a waste of time and effort to me. I chose to buy workbooks and use them as consumable products.


There is the option of doing some or all of the questions orally. When Brianna was still really working with her dyslexia, we did almost all of her school work orally so that she could learn without the frustration of trying to write also. I do not feel that not doing the assignments in writing in anyway jeopardized her learning of different subjects.

I hope I have answered your questions. If you have any others just speak up! Because I know you have been using the Rod and Staff program, I think you will really like Easy Grammar. I went from Rod and Staff to Easy Grammar and found it so refreshing. We have been using this at least since KK was in the fifth grade. The Rod and Staff is an excellent foundational program, but it can get very cumbersome and laborious, in my humble opinion.

After my original reply I received this additional question:


Wow, Kat, that was really great of you to take the time to write such a long and thorough answer! I have only one other question. How do you know which level to begin with for an older child? I don’t see any link to a placement test.

I am thinking of (name of child deleted for privacy reasons) He is currently using the sixth grade English book of Rod and Staff. He is my only child that has struggled with learning. I see encouraging progress, but I know he gets confused with all the details of grammar. I spend much time reviewing with him.

We are currently working on relative clauses. He does well with simple sentences, recognizing the direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of the prepositions, predicate normative and predicate adjectives. Where he gets confused is recognizing these parts within complex sentences. 

Hi, again.

I would start him in sixth grade. Even with all her troubles, Brianna had no trouble with keeping on level in their books. They repeat much from level to level so it is unlikely that he would miss something from grade to grade. Our books, which are a revision earlier than the ones online, contain a pre and post assessment. I am assuming they continue those in the new revision.

If he continues to have a difficult time even with Easy Grammar you might try slowing it down. Perhaps teach a lesson and do the odd numbers one day and the even numbers the next day. With these sorts of issues it seems it is the constant review and practice that really builds mastery. He may spend two years in the same book, but he will be less frustrated and in the big scheme of things progress quicker later  on because he has accomplished a complete understanding.

One thing I would encourage you in, is to consider what is the real purpose of grammar? In my thought it is to help one have better comprehension of what they read and become a better writer. If the student is accomplishing those two goals without a complete mastery of grammar then perhaps it is not necessary to push it too much for a child who is struggling. I do not believe that is absolutely essential to know what a predicative nominative is in order to read and understand the Bible or to write a business letter to your associates. My hubby is a very successful business man who communicates in writing on a daily basis and he can’t tell me what a predicative nominative is. For that matter he does not know what an adverb is, either☺

As with any curriculum, when possible, it is a good idea to visit a home school store (not all materials are available in stores but this is), visit a home school fair, or ask to thumb through a friends copy of Easy Grammar to see if it is something that would work for you.  When buying materials you should carefully check out the return policy if you think there is any chance that you may change your mind.  Although, home school suppliers tend to be willing to work with you, it is often common policy not to allow returns on reproducible materials.  It is very upsetting to spend $50 on a book to check it out, find out it is not the right thing for you and then discover it can not be returned.

Websites, such as eBay, can be a great resource to find used books for much less than when buying direct from the publisher.  When buying older editions, be sure that you can get corresponding teacher manuals when you think you will need them.  

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4 comments :

  1. Thanks for such a thorough discussion of Easy Grammar. I haven't used it, but heard it discussed, glanced at it in the store, but I appreciate the response of someone who has actually used it. I think I need to look at it again.

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  2. I used easy grammar, too. I also agree with firmly rooted in phonics and reading first!!
    These posts serve to help so many. I wish there had been more encouragement and support when I began homeschooling "many" years ago.
    Blessings, andrea

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  3. Hi, Kat~

    What a sweetheart you are to take the time and give so much information and encouragement to your readers.

    I had never heard of Easy Grammar before but it looks great!

    Blessings~
    Laura

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  4. Dear Mama,
    What a great idea to do a series on homeschooling!!
    Love,
    KK

    ReplyDelete