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Last year we began the year with a focus on literature, copywork and dictation for the basis of our language arts. We used many titles from Brave Writer’s Quiver of Arrows product designed for first and second graders. My children loved the copywork and the french style dictation that was used in the Arrow Guides. I loved that we were learning language arts together and through a literature rich environment.
Despite all of this at some point in our year I became insecure and wondered if we were truly doing enough. As this feeling crept up on me and I saw what other homeschool families were doing I decided to make a switch. We moved away from our rhythm of weekly copywork and dictation passages into a curriculum that provided more worksheet based grammar lessons and sentence diagramming. This method wasn’t horrible for my daughter, but I was slowly seeing it killing my son’s joy for writing. He began to moan about language arts like he never had before when our focus was on literature, copywork, and dictation. I don’t necessarily think sentence diagramming is all bad, but I definitely saw it frustrating my son and leading him to dread language arts.
The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar
As I was researching teaching grammar I, of course, posed the question to Google about the benefits of sentence diagramming and bumped into this fantastic article: The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar. In this article the author refers to a study done on three different groups of high school students; one group was given traditional rule bound grammar lessons, the other an alternative approach was taught, and in the final group no grammar lessons were given, but more exposure to literature and creative writing instead. The article presents the conclusion of the study in this way; “The result: No significant differences among the three groups—except that both grammar groups emerged with a strong antipathy to English.” I can definitely say I was seeing this result beginning to take over in my son.