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Doesn't formal grammar in the early years conflict with lack of abstract thinking?


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this single area is where i decided to walk away from TWTM 9 yrs ago. i followed TWTM as scheduled, using FLL with our then 1st grader.

 

while reading skills flew through the roof, grammar was not grasped-over summer break, all was forgotten.

 

it was then i stumbled on those from the "school of delayed formal grammar.":001_huh:

 

i was just reading the 2nd ed. of TWTM and cannot understand why SWB insists on formal grammar from 1st grade on up, repeating and reviewing each year. this just doesn't make sense. when i read ruth beechick's opinion on this subject, she makes total sense. but, oh my, what a different mindset!:willy_nilly:

 

my brain is about to explode!

 

ever feel afraid to take one more step in your dc's education? well, i'm there! and, strangely enough, it's not in the area of math.:tongue_smilie:

 

thoughts?

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I was at her Complete Writer workshop last weekend, and she likened the early teaching of grammar to the early acquisition of language. I have read Ruth Beechick as well, and I think they fall on separate sides of the fence. However, my third grader really hit his grammar stride this year. He loves it. It is as if all of it finally came together and completed his picture this year. I, personally, am glad we started with baby steps!

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I must start with the fact that every time I read an article by Ruth Beechick, I dislike her more & more. I disagree with just about everything she writes that I've read. (I've never read any of her books. I've only read articles by her in homeschool magazines.)

 

However, I have to say that I'm for delaying "formal" grammar until about third grade. So, if RB is for delaying formal grammar, I agree with her.

 

I think "grammar" should be taught in context the early years: capital letters start the sentence, punctuation marks end the sentence, sentences must have a who/what (noun/subject) & a what they did/are (verb/predicate), etc.

 

My kids have a tough enough time grasping this stuff - even when it is emphasized over & over again.

 

It isn't a hill to die on. Some kids will eat it up with a smile. Others will spit it out immediately & make a face. You can decide what you will serve on your menu.

Edited by RootAnn
added "until about third grade" to clarify the delay
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I am one of those that advocates early grammar. I really do not know how one addresses writing with the absence of grammar. If a student does not know what a noun and a verb are, how do you discuss incomplete thoughts or run-ons? Simply let them use them and allow bad habits to develop b/c they aren't corrected in their writing? I am not being sarcastic (in case my tone isn't conveying correctly)....I simply do not know how I would teach my kids to write w/o doing so in the context of proper sentence construction which is built on understanding grammar.

 

FWIW, I do not start grammar until my kids are pretty solid readers.

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I must start with the fact that every time I read an article by Ruth Beechick, I dislike her more & more. I disagree with just about everything she writes that I've read. (I've never read any of her books. I've only read articles by her in homeschool magazines.)

 

However, I have to say that I'm for delaying "formal" grammar. So, if RB is for delaying formal grammar, I agree with her.

 

I think "grammar" should be taught in context the early years: capital letters start the sentence, punctuation marks end the sentence, sentences must have a who/what (noun/subject) & a what they did/are (verb/predicate), etc.

 

My kids have a tough enough time grasping this stuff - even when it is emphasized over & over again.

 

It isn't a hill to die on. Some kids will eat it up with a smile. Others will spit it out immediately & make a face. You can decide what you will serve on your menu.

 

ok-off topic here....

 

please tell me why you dislike RB.:D

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I did the delay grammar thing until ds#2 got into IEW writing in 3rd grade. Then I realized that him not knowing the basic parts of speech put him at a disadvantage with learning how to write. So ds#3 is learning basic grammar terms. He has at least memorized the terms and while he can't find them in a sentence all the time, he can add adjectives and other things to a sentence.

Beth

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after reading the other thread started by Calming Tea, i think i realize i gave up too quickly. living with that totally stinks.:glare:

 

at any rate, if i had it to do over, i'd still delay until age 10, then proceed full speed.:001_smile:

This is mostly what I do. I teach early sentence writing as someone/something doing something. I do casual teaching of noun, verb, adj, adverb. Then at 9 we start something more formal. My first has had no problem getting right up to full speed and he sails through his grammar. He also writes grammatically.

 

I just don't see the point in formal grammar early on.

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ok-off topic here....

 

please tell me why you dislike RB.:D

 

I PM'd you.

 

... And I don't teach writing (other than copywork/dictation) until after the first year of formal grammar (which is third grade for us).

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I tend to agree that most grammar should wait until later.

 

Things like capitalization, punctuation marks, and so on are really kind of arbitrary, and that is the kind of thing that younger kids can learn and use. And I think basic parts of speech is helpful and not to much to ask of most kids.

 

But once you go deeper, grammar is essentially the logic of language, and it's always seemed to me that it is more appropriate as students approach more facility with abstract thought.

 

My dd hasn't got there yet, but we are following a |CM approach so we don't intend to start involved grammar until later.

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I am one of those that advocates early grammar. I really do not know how one addresses writing with the absence of grammar. If a student does not know what a noun and a verb are, how do you discuss incomplete thoughts or run-ons? Simply let them use them and allow bad habits to develop b/c they aren't corrected in their writing? I am not being sarcastic (in case my tone isn't conveying correctly)....I simply do not know how I would teach my kids to write w/o doing so in the context of proper sentence construction which is built on understanding grammar.

 

FWIW, I do not start grammar until my kids are pretty solid readers.

 

:iagree:

 

But ultimately, you are their teacher and know your students best. However, I don't think memorizing noun/pronoun/verb definitions, lists of prepositions, etc. is particularly abstract.

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:iagree:

However, I don't think memorizing noun/pronoun/verb definitions, lists of prepositions, etc. is particularly abstract.

 

Memorizing it isn't so abstract, but understanding it is.

 

The Well Trained Mind says it is okay to have children memorize things they don't understand very well because that info will come in handy later. It's on page 24 of the third edition.

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I tend to agree that most grammar should wait until later.

 

Things like capitalization, punctuation marks, and so on are really kind of arbitrary, and that is the kind of thing that younger kids can learn and use. And I think basic parts of speech is helpful and not to much to ask of most kids.

 

But once you go deeper, grammar is essentially the logic of language, and it's always seemed to me that it is more appropriate as students approach more facility with abstract thought.

:iagree: I've never understood how the term "grammar stage" is meaningful for 5 to 7 year olds, even as an analogy. How can this be an ideal time to teach them the "grammar" of other subjects, if it's such an uphill battle even to teach them the grammar of grammar? :confused:

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:iagree: I've never understood how the term "grammar stage" is meaningful for 5 to 7 year olds, even as an analogy. How can this be an ideal time to teach them the "grammar" of other subjects, if it's such an uphill battle even to teach them the grammar of grammar? :confused:

 

 

I'm reading an excellent book right now (Evening in the Palace of Reason by James R Gaines) It isn't necessarily about education, but it does discuss Bach's education:

 

... Bach ... went about studying it as [he] had been taught in school to study oratory, through the threefold discipline of praeceptum, exemplum, and imitatio (learning principles, studying examples, and imitating good execution). In this way, Bach ... studied the Italians: first by copying out their works note for note, then by arranging them for various instruments, finally by transfiguring them in works of their own.

 

I loved that, and if I knew how to pronounce the Latin, I'd say those words ought to be used in place of Grammar, Latin, and Rhetoric. :001_smile: Isn't that what we do? I might just make that the quote in my signature line ...

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However, I don't think memorizing noun/pronoun/verb definitions, lists of prepositions, etc. is particularly abstract.

 

:iagree:

 

I guess it's based a determination of what defines "formal" grammar. Once my 4 year old started writing sentences she wanted to know why some words have capital letters and asked what she needed to use to end a sentence. I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to start introducing grammar. We've loosely followed FLL and she loves it. Between FLL and some CC work, she's memorized quite a few definitions. I don't find anything abstract about that at all.

 

As other people have said, how are you supposed to work on writing when you haven't yet learned the difference between a noun and a verb? My thinking is that I'll provide my kids with a basic understanding, which they will be able to use and build upon in later years. I guess I'm not understanding how that would affect abstract thought in later years. I haven't read any of her books, so I'm not familiar with the reasoning behind it.

Edited by Rbsmrter
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Things like capitalization, punctuation marks, and so on are really kind of arbitrary, and that is the kind of thing that younger kids can learn and use. And I think basic parts of speech is helpful and not to much to ask of most kids.

 

The above is pretty much all first and second grade programs teach. So what is it that people think should be put off until later that supposedly isn't? :confused:

 

But once you go deeper, grammar is essentially the logic of language, and it's always seemed to me that it is more appropriate as students approach more facility with abstract thought.

And again, most grammar programs don't go that deep until 5th grade and up. I'm using FLL3, and it's not particularly difficult concepts being taught. My 2nd grader is having absolutely no problem understanding it. It teaches diagramming, which helps visualize the grammar - a pictorial representation of the sentence. We're not discussing anything super deep here in FLL3.

 

I'm with 8FillTheHeart. I don't know how you'd teach writing without grammar. Waiting until 5th grade seems a bit late... A 5th grader should be starting to really get into writing, but how do you discuss it if you haven't even talked about adverbs or prepositional phrases yet? I think 3rd grade is a better time to start if you're wanting to delay. That gives the kid time to get automaticity with the grammar before they have to use it in writing. I'm perfectly ok with not teaching a first grader grammar, and I wouldn't bother if they're not reading yet, but the content of first grade grammar programs is typically so little that it's not worth fretting about. FLL1 was so gentle that my son was bored out of his skull in first grade. I really should have just started with FLL3 to begin with. Third grade seems to be where the grammar programs start to get interesting, but again, they don't go that deep. We're talking basic parts of speech and some complements and prepositional phrases.

 

I do get annoyed that grammar programs repeat things from year to year, starting at the very beginning. I prefer the way KISS Grammar works - analyzing real sentences, and just gradually adding more and more to the analysis as you learn more components. For the first several exercises, you practice finding nouns and verb phrases. Eventually, complements get added in. Later, adjectives and adverbs, then prepositional phrases. When you do the next level the following year, you go ahead and do the next thing - you're still analyzing the sentence for the other stuff you learned the previous year, so it's being continually reviewed, but you're not spending the first 6 weeks going back to nouns and verbs. Once you've done 4 or so years of grammar, you're done. So you could start in 3rd and be done by the end of 7th or 8th grade, and I imagine that by that time, that grammar knowledge is very much ingrained. Whereas if you just spend 6 weeks cramming it all in, it's going to fall out as soon as you stop reviewing it.

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wow.

 

i simply asked about whether early formal grammar jives with the inability to think abstractly.

 

according to swb, using wwe IS teaching writing 1-4(ish).;)

 

and no, i didn't mean memorization, i meant comprehension.

 

i cringe at the thought of a new hser reading such harsh replies.

 

not everyone's dc fits into neat and tidy boxes, and not every parent chooses to hs their dc according to______.

 

take a :chillpill:

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wow.

 

i simply asked about whether early formal grammar jives with the inability to think abstractly.

 

according to swb, using wwe IS teaching writing 1-4(ish).;)

 

and no, i didn't mean memorization, i meant comprehension.

 

i cringe at the thought of a new hser reading such harsh replies.

 

not everyone's dc fits into neat and tidy boxes, and not every parent chooses to hs their dc according to______.

 

take a :chillpill:

 

I'm what you would consider a new homeschooler (ex teacher, but this is my second year homeschooling) and I wasn't at all offended. Maybe I'm completely missing something??

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wow.

 

i simply asked about whether early formal grammar jives with the inability to think abstractly.

 

according to swb, using wwe IS teaching writing 1-4(ish).;)

 

and no, i didn't mean memorization, i meant comprehension.

 

i cringe at the thought of a new hser reading such harsh replies.

 

not everyone's dc fits into neat and tidy boxes, and not every parent chooses to hs their dc according to______.

 

take a :chillpill:

 

Ummm, I think I may have missed something, too. Just to clarify, I think all of your responses were gracious. (I have been on these boards since 2001...I know a harsh response when I see one! And these were not harsh!) As far as my post, I was responding specifically to this section of your OP:

 

"i was just reading the 2nd ed. of TWTM and cannot understand why SWB insists on formal grammar from 1st grade on up, repeating and reviewing each year. this just doesn't make sense. when i read ruth beechick's opinion on this subject, she makes total sense. but, oh my, what a different mindset!"

 

All of the grammar I have ever done with my grammar stage folk (and I am about to begin my 5th go-round) has been memorizing and identifying. None of the particular curricula we've used has ever required that abstract concepts be understood at this age - only memorized. And I will say, it has helped immensely at the higher levels of grammar that we needn't learn definitions and rudimentary aspects of grammar, for they have already been memorized. Now we can fully understand and USE them intelligently.

 

I hope you can take this post in the manner it is meant: to be helpful and to answer your question re: why SWB advises grammar work in the younger grades.

 

Have a great night,

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Call me the odd man out but I thing the Grammar stage is when children ought to lean the grammar of the "languages" they are using, including those of Math and English. And their education should be aimed a developing a deep understanding of how these systems work, rather than just relying on rote memorization. To me teaching for understanding is the true "classical" method.

 

Bill

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Of course a lot of this raises the question - when does the grammar stage start?

 

TWTM says at K or grade one. Dorothy Sayers and a lot of the other popular classical educators say more like grade three or four. I think the latter is more in line with how kids have been taught in the classical tradition in the past.

 

IMO, there is a big difference between the abstract thinking ability of those age groups. The lower elementary aged kids are often still very much in the process of making abstractions from the concrete, and even just solidifying their experience of the concrete.

 

I tend to think that it is, in general, a bad idea to try and move beyond that before it is really finished - I think that kids that begin to work with the pure abstractions before those connections are made can actually be prevented from making them later - it seems like if you get past a certain age the brain doesn't do that work in quite the same way. Which is why you can get kids (and adults) who can get the right answers to math questions but don't actually know what they mean.

 

So from my perspective, the main job of those younger aged kids is to be taking in as many examples of good language as possible, not really trying to pull them apart and give them abstract labels.

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I believe that there is a misunderstanding of young children's ability to think and learn abstractly, which goes back to assumptions made by Piaget in large measure. Regarding grammar, a good deal of the rules can be learned and taught in imitative/repetitive fashion early on, and we all do this when we correct our children's speech and writing in small ways. There's no harm in labels, e.g. a child learning the term "proper noun" as the name for why certain nouns are capitalized, and that particular rule is easy to teach even small children when done correctly.

 

I don't think that one can harm children by increasing their already existing capacity for abstract thought, but rather that one does them a great service. Math students who can't explain their reasoning have simply been taught math badly, with too nuch focus on calculation and not enough on understanding, not been broken by too much early abstract thought.

 

Grammar is like math in a way, though. Early on, a child will be ready for basic lessons, and more advanced ones later as the capacity for memory and abstract thought develop together.

Edited by Iucounu
Phone typos.
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Of course a lot of this raises the question - when does the grammar stage start?

 

TWTM says at K or grade one. Dorothy Sayers and a lot of the other popular classical educators say more like grade three or four. I think the latter is more in line with how kids have been taught in the classical tradition in the past.

 

IMO, there is a big difference between the abstract thinking ability of those age groups. The lower elementary aged kids are often still very much in the process of making abstractions from the concrete, and even just solidifying their experience of the concrete.

 

I tend to think that it is, in general, a bad idea to try and move beyond that before it is really finished - I think that kids that begin to work with the pure abstractions before those connections are made can actually be prevented from making them later - it seems like if you get past a certain age the brain doesn't do that work in quite the same way. Which is why you can get kids (and adults) who can get the right answers to math questions but don't actually know what they mean.

 

So from my perspective, the main job of those younger aged kids is to be taking in as many examples of good language as possible, not really trying to pull them apart and give them abstract labels.

 

What is an "abstract" label? Our job is to teach for understanding. Children may need a variety of means to fully comprehend complex systems, but they are not stupid. When we have them use and test their critical thinking facilities those powers grow. Just like any other form of exercise using your mind makes it stronger.

 

The Dorthy Sayers model that believes there are divisions of mental development, and that grammar aged kid's minds are good for little other than "memorizing facts" is a wrong-headed.

 

Bill

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I will only speak from my experience. My oldest daughter is almost 15. She is finishing up level 400 in CLE LA. She is in the middle of FLL 3 and starting to struggle. My second daughter is almost 12. She is finishing up CLE LA 300. She is also in the middle of FLL 3, but she started struggling a few weeks ago. Both are finishing up WWE 1 so far with no problems.

This is our 6th year homeschooling. Our first year I was all gungho and followed WTM recommendations. Then, I bought into the lie that it was too hard. We put aside formal grammar and just read a lot of good books. Now, we are struggling to catch up.

I can already see where using FLL 1 and 2 (just finishing up 2) with my third graders this year is paying off. I'm also using Easy Grammar 3. Both have tested into CLE level 3 with no problems. Their writing is a lot better. They understand the parts of speech and how to set up a proper sentance.

My youngest son is a K'er and we are working through OPGTR, next year he will start FLL 1. I would not do a rigorous grammar program with a young student, but FLL is just enought to introduce them and give them a good foundation to start.

That is my experience and opinion, but ultimately you know your child and what they are capable of doing at this time.

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I don't think that one can harm children by increasing their already existing capacity for absteact thought, but rather that one does them a great service. Math students who can't explain their reading have simply been taught math badly, with too nuch focus on calculation and not enough on understanding, not been broken by too much early abstract thought.

 

 

 

There is a difference between helping children develop abstract thought and moving to abstractions before the connection to the concrete has really developed. That's why I really dislike the moving of the grammar stage to the K or grade 1 level - I think it can tend to encourage that. But of course even simple reading involves abstraction so it is not like there are absolute lines.

 

I do tend to think kids have more capacity or context than some classical approaches give, and I think it is better to ofer those rather than just look for memorization of facts.

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What is an "abstract" label? Our job is to teach for understanding. Children may need a variety of means to fully comprehend complex systems, but they are not stupid. When we have them use and test their critical thinking facilities those powers grow. Just like any other form of exercise using your mind makes it stronger.

 

The Dorthy Sayers model that believes there are divisions of mental development, and that grammar aged kid's minds are good for little other than "memorizing facts" is a wrong-headed.

 

Bill

 

I'm not sure how this entirely relates to what I said. I'll try to be more clear.

 

An example of what I am thinking of in asking kids to move to the abstract before they are ready is teaching children to do sums before they really understand what the numbers represent. That can be done, and it creates adults who don't know why you carry numbers and things like that. Now, that can be also just a matter of poor teaching, but it can also be a result of trying to teach a child who isn't yet ready to use the abstraction of notation o numbers to get the right result.

 

Yes, of course we should teach to understanding, but that is not only about the quality of the teacher. It is also about simple brain development, and while there are things we can do to facilitate that it has limits. So practically that means waiting to teach some things until the appropriate time.

 

I don't actually think what I said inplies in any way that small kids are only good for memorizing - I don't believe that and think it is a disrespectful way to trat children, and I was not addressing the grammar age anyway but really the pre-school or what some call the pre-grammar age - the name isn't really important. But there is still a lot of major physical and brain development going on that will dictate how we approach any academics and it can at that point vary a lot between children and even different abilities with the same child - there is not a lot of point trying to teach a four year old with poor motor control handwriting - you need to go back a step.

 

I don't tend Dorothy Sayers quite intended her essay to be used quite as it has been, and I think there is some real truth in the observations about what classical educators call the stages,but some people try and make it far too absolute. I don't especially consider myself a WTM person - I tend to follow a CM approach from a classical - as in Western - perspective. CM doesn't lend itself to having children memorizing things they don't have some grasp of or interest in.

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Doesn't formal grammar in the early years conflict with lack of abstract thinking?

 

Some would say yes. But it probably varies for each child. For me, I feel that way with my son.

 

In your other post about the difference between Charlotte Mason dictation and WTM dictation, someone named Mandy responded. She responded about "why" you want to use dictation to teach what. This is how I think. I read CM and read WTM but then I think "WHY" am I teaching a specific AND take a look at my son's needs.

 

This is the essence of ENKI education: finding your child's needs and then finding what you need to do for your specific child and teaching from the heart. I started with this for my son's early years and now he is ready to jump into more heavier academics. If I jumped too fast with academics with my son, he would be all brains and no substance.

 

He is in Grade 3 and we are just touching on grammer, just to introduce. But I am in these forums so I can learn about the different ways to teach grammer and writing so I can find HOW to help my son learn his way.

 

This way works for us :D

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So from my perspective, the main job of those younger aged kids is to be taking in as many examples of good language as possible, not really trying to pull them apart and give them abstract labels.

 

It sounds like you're describing memorizing things out of context, as done in Classical Conversations? That's not what is typically done in FLL. I think FLL1 and 2 are done in such a way that the average first and second grader can understand the material. They aren't applying abstract labels without understanding them. In fact, in FLL1, there are roughly 45 lessons on common vs. proper nouns, with plenty of examples of each. She steps them slowly through each type. For example, for a person, she gives examples of mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle, etc. Then she has the child name people in their family as examples of proper nouns that need to be capitalized.

 

Again, can you give specific examples of grammar topics taught in first and second grade programs that are "too abstract" for that age? Having looked at several and tried a few, I'm just not seeing what is so horribly abstract about them? So please go into more detail there so I can understand your point better. :)

 

I do agree that math and grammar shouldn't be taught as rote memorization without context (and one place where I disagree with FLL is the memorization of the prepositions list... my second grader isn't memorizing them, and he's become great at finding prepositional phrases in real sentences). I also think that many young children are capable of learning some basic math and grammar topics in context in a meaningful way. My 5 year old who struggled to learn to count to 10 at age 4 is currently picking up addition facts, not because we have drilled them, but because he has played with C-rods enough to figure out that these different quantities can be added together to form a new quantity. This child doesn't get abstract things easily (and he's so very literal... and still has issues understanding time), but he can add, and he's starting to randomly tell me addition facts orally. He's making the connection from concrete to abstract, despite not being an abstract thinker like his older brother.

 

I'm glad I've started grammar "early" with my oldest. We can already talk about his oral narrations (which I type and we sometimes edit) using the language of grammar. I use grammar to explain his copywork, so that the copywork is meaningful to him (otherwise, it's boring and drudgery). I'll likely need to start grammar early with my middle son, since he doesn't pick up on things by just living life (that counting to 10 thing? He needed a workbook to learn it... same goes for colors, despite me often talking about the red truck and the blue ball, etc.). My youngest... I'd be ok with starting grammar in 2nd grade with a 3rd grade program, as I've basically done with DS1 (we dabbled in 1st and 2nd grade programs in 1st grade, but the only one we "finished" was FLL1 in a period of 4 weeks because it was too easy for him).

 

The meaty abstract grammar topics are typically taught during the 5th-8th grade years anyway. Those topics I wouldn't throw on a 1st grader, but again, I don't know of any grammar program that does. :confused:

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I'm speaking strictly from my experience with my older son who is 12 right now. We've done mostly BJU for grammar. Now that we are in 6th grade in hindsight I feel like it was a waste of time to do it. We've dropped grammar for this year and we will pick it back up next year for 7th grade using Analytical Grammar. He just never understood or retained it.

 

Given my experience I have no intentions of doing much formally (as in curriculum) with the 5 year old has he progresses until around a minimum of 4th grade. That doesn't mean I won't discuss things with him as needed regarding grammar. I just don't plan to use a curriculum for him.

 

I do, however, reserve the right to change my mind at any given point in the younger sons education :tongue_smilie: If need dictates, I will start using something formally earlier.

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I think some first graders are able to actually understand what a noun is, but my 6 year old can't. He can memorize the definition, but can't reliably pick the nouns out of a sentence. And he is a sharp kid -- doing 4-digit arithmetic in his head, writing songs and stories, etc. I seem to remember his older sister going through the same phase. We've switched (temporarily) to a Ruth Beechick style curriculum for this reason.

 

FWIW, I like John Senior's description of the pre-Trivium years as the "poetic stage." Young children learn best by concrete sensory experience, by stories, and by analogy. Montessori works this way, too, but it's more structured and deliberate, with a "prepared environment" of human creations to complement the natural environment outdoors. Its success shows that very young children can certainly intuit abstract concepts, but this is done inductively through direct experience -- not through verbal lessons and deductive reasoning.

Edited by Eleanor
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I saw this thread yesterday but was too busy to post. Now today I'm traveling and on my phone so I can't be as wordy as I'd like. :)

 

I totally agree with the OP. I wondered the same thing as I took my firstborn through the (older) FLL 1/2. The grammar in there didn't seem to fit at all with what SWB had said about younger children and abstract concepts. Memorizing the lists and definitions was great but I could literally see his eyes glaze over when trying to explain the different parts of speech.

 

Whether or not you subscribe to the Sayers/WTM model of trivium stages, most agree that a child's capacity for abstract thinking increases with age. Why spend 40 lessons on proper nouns when a child may grasp it in one lesson a year or two later?

 

I love SWB and I love Ruth Beechick. I try to mesh their ideas as I see what works. I like grammar instruction earlier than middle school, but to me, first grade is unnecessary. I think it is helpful for writing instruction, so light coverage 3rd grade-ish sounds good to me. This fits with the age Bluegoat (I think it was) mentioned. For my next student, I'm considering using just the audio from FLL. For actual grammar instruction, I prefer the Sentence Family.

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It sounds like you're describing memorizing things out of context, as done in Classical Conversations? That's not what is typically done in FLL. I think FLL1 and 2 are done in such a way that the average first and second grader can understand the material. They aren't applying abstract labels without understanding them. In fact, in FLL1, there are roughly 45 lessons on common vs. proper nouns, with plenty of examples of each. She steps them slowly through each type. For example, for a person, she gives examples of mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle, etc. Then she has the child name people in their family as examples of proper nouns that need to be capitalized.

 

Again, can you give specific examples of grammar topics taught in first and second grade programs that are "too abstract" for that age? Having looked at several and tried a few, I'm just not seeing what is so horribly abstract about them? So please go into more detail there so I can understand your point better. :)

 

I do agree that math and grammar shouldn't be taught as rote memorization without context (and one place where I disagree with FLL is the memorization of the prepositions list... my second grader isn't memorizing them, and he's become great at finding prepositional phrases in real sentences). I also think that many young children are capable of learning some basic math and grammar topics in context in a meaningful way. My 5 year old who struggled to learn to count to 10 at age 4 is currently picking up addition facts, not because we have drilled them, but because he has played with C-rods enough to figure out that these different quantities can be added together to form a new quantity. This child doesn't get abstract things easily (and he's so very literal... and still has issues understanding time), but he can add, and he's starting to randomly tell me addition facts orally. He's making the connection from concrete to abstract, despite not being an abstract thinker like his older brother.

 

I'm glad I've started grammar "early" with my oldest. We can already talk about his oral narrations (which I type and we sometimes edit) using the language of grammar. I use grammar to explain his copywork, so that the copywork is meaningful to him (otherwise, it's boring and drudgery). I'll likely need to start grammar early with my middle son, since he doesn't pick up on things by just living life (that counting to 10 thing? He needed a workbook to learn it... same goes for colors, despite me often talking about the red truck and the blue ball, etc.). My youngest... I'd be ok with starting grammar in 2nd grade with a 3rd grade program, as I've basically done with DS1 (we dabbled in 1st and 2nd grade programs in 1st grade, but the only one we "finished" was FLL1 in a period of 4 weeks because it was too easy for him).

 

The meaty abstract grammar topics are typically taught during the 5th-8th grade years anyway. Those topics I wouldn't throw on a 1st grader, but again, I don't know of any grammar program that does. :confused:

 

The stuff done at classical conversations seems way off to me, yes.

 

I haven't looked much at FLL, but I have looked at EFTTC. I would say in general I don't mind it, and I think it is along similar lines for the most part as FLL? I would barely call most of it grammar though - to me its just conventions of written language.

 

I also think though that a lot of students are not going to be ready even for talking about the parts of speech at those younger ages. I'm not sure that all the repetition that there seems to be in some of the grammar texts is going to help that rather than make it hateful. If they can pick it up that is great, but it isn't something I would carry on with if they were not getting it.

 

I suppose I also just don't get those who say they were glad to have the parts of speech and grammatical terms down before 6th grade so they can jump right into composition. Most kids that age will pick those things up in a few lessons, unlike the many in the smaller kids. I guess I'd just rather spend that time reading things.

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I think some first graders are able to actually understand what a noun is, but my 6 year old can't. He can memorize the definition, but can't reliably pick the nouns out of a sentence. And he is a sharp kid -- doing 4-digit arithmetic in his head, writing songs and stories, etc. I seem to remember his older sister going through the same phase. We've switched (temporarily) to a Ruth Beechick style curriculum for this reason.

 

FWIW, I like John Senior's description of the pre-Trivium years as the "poetic stage." Young children learn best by concrete sensory experience, by stories, and by analogy. Montessori works this way, too, but it's more structured and deliberate, with a "prepared environment" of human creations to complement the natural environment outdoors. Its success shows that very young children can certainly intuit abstract concepts, but this is done inductively through direct experience -- not through verbal lessons and deductive reasoning.

 

I love the idea of the poetic stage! I think that is perfect, and very classical too.

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I totally agree that fully understanding grammar may not be realized until the logic stage. I wish I had realized that with my first two dc. Dd#3 (8 years old) is learning grammar in her LA material; however, I will not be panicking if she does not grasp it like I did with dd#2. By grammar I am talking about how the different parts of the sentence fits together, not capitalization and punctuation.

Edited by HiddenJewel
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I love this too! What is it from?

 

AFAIK it isn't from a specific work. But generally when you look at the history of the classical civilizations, especially Greece, they talk about the earlier Greeks who expressed their religious ideas primarily through stories - the inspiration of the poets - and the later Greeks who expressed them through philosophy.

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I was reading a link that Hunter posted a few days ago in relation to math. Just happened to see a sentence in the same book that dealt with formal grammar & age. Here's the link to the Eclectic Manual (google books) & here's the quote on page 190:

 

As a rule, pupils should not begin the study of technical grammar before they are ten years old.

 

They don't define "technical grammar," but I thought it was interesting to find in this old book!

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I suppose I also just don't get those who say they were glad to have the parts of speech and grammatical terms down before 6th grade so they can jump right into composition. Most kids that age will pick those things up in a few lessons, unlike the many in the smaller kids. I guess I'd just rather spend that time reading things.

 

For myself, I'm thrilled that my seven and a half year old has a amazing gasp on formal grammar that—due to the very interesting approach of MCT—was (and is) fun for the both of us. I would far prefer he grow being able to think about how language works and being able to appreciate its beauty on a host of levels, including and understanding and feel for the sounds and the beat of of good lines, and how to construct sentences effectively.

 

I think one can miss windows. At this age, assuming one doesn't kill them with 40+ lessons on Nouns (which strikes me as excessive) and instead offers inspiring opportunities for understanding language, you can make it a "normal" part of their educational experience. You do it before they learn they aren't supposed to like it.

 

Bill

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  • 2 weeks later...
AFAIK it isn't from a specific work. But generally when you look at the history of the classical civilizations, especially Greece, they talk about the earlier Greeks who expressed their religious ideas primarily through stories - the inspiration of the poets - and the later Greeks who expressed them through philosophy.

This is part of it; poetry was a fundamental part of Greek education and everyday life. But the contemporary use of the term comes out of an intellectual community that developed at the University of Kansas in the 1970's. It relates to the saying that "all knowledge begins in wonder." The Quotidian Moments blog has collected some of the best material about this philosophy that's available online.

 

(Senior says that we could also call the early years the "gymnastic stage." I think my children would go for that, too. :):):))

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I think one can miss windows. At this age, assuming one doesn't kill them with 40+ lessons on Nouns (which strikes me as excessive) and instead offers inspiring opportunities for understanding language, you can make it a "normal" part of their educational experience. You do it before they learn they aren't supposed to like it.

 

Bill

 

Neither of my DDs had an issue with the number of lessons on nouns in FLL 1. A lesson of FLL takes 5 minutes, and it's purely conversational. About half the time they ask for another lesson. It's so gentle (even though they go through every type of noun you could possibly imagine :lol:) that to be totally honest it's hard at first to figure out if they "got it". All of a sudden my 5yo DD is picking out nouns and knows the difference between action, linking, helping, and state of being verbs. None of it is painful, and they really seem to enjoy the poetry memorization as well. I had thrown out Voyages in English as that seemed to be pointlessly fast and rough grammatically given their developmental stage and ages.

 

My 7yo DD has just started FLL 3 and will move into MCT in the fall. She's in WWE 2, and it's getting easier to do her narrations and dictations as I can prompt her when she gets hung up by pointing out that her sentence does not have a verb yet or asking her what the noun should be for the next sentence in her narration instead of filling in the blank for her. That means more words come from her mind instead of mine, which is a good thing for a developing writer. She was one of those kids who absolutely froze at the thought of coming up with their own sentence to write, but thanks to the gentle combination of FLL/WWE, she is really blooming and is finally able to start putting those fantastic stories she tells her younger brother onto paper.

 

Then again, FLL 1 and 2 would be a nightmare for a kid who likes worksheets and needs to write to learn things. When my 7yo DD saw the workbook for FLL 3, she was upset because she thought we wouldn't be having our daily grammar conversations any longer. Now that she realizes we're only adding a written component and not taking away the discussion, she's quite happy.

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