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Grammar for 8th grade


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I've been an unschooler for a long time. I don't think it was time wasted, but I did trust that exposing my son to good literature would somehow help him to develop natural writing ability.


...and in some ways, that worked, because he has good ideas and writes well. Unfortunately, his punctuation and grammar are lacking.


He's taking writing classes now with a wonderful teacher, but she's focusing on writing, not grammar. For his most recent submission, she wrote:


This is an amazingly imaginative story. The dialogue is fantastic - you keep the action moving through what the people say.


Your content is awesome. Your punctuation... hmmm... let's say there is room for improvement. ;-)



So, she sent it back with a few highlighted areas with suggested corrections, which he did, but there were many, many more she expected him to find on his own, which he did not. So then she wrote:


It's looking better. Plenty of room still to grow in the area of punctuation, but that's a solvable problem. Your ideas are imaginative and well developed, and that's the most important thing! Having good punctuation if you have nothing to say is useless :-) So, you have the most important part of writing under control. Now I will glare at you about punctuation. ;-)


Should I just work with him using something like Editor-in-Chief or should we do grammar properly? I've been planning to do BraveWriter's Boomerang series with him, but perhaps that isn't enough?


And I'll just say now that, if I could go back to the beginning of homeschooling, I would have done the copywork and dictation that I previously eschewed. After reading the recent thread, and then the suggested threads by Nan in Mass, I finally get it. Drat.

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I'd recommend that you give Analytical Grammar a try. It assumes no previous grammar knowledge and introduces first all the parts of speech, then types of phrases and clauses, then the appropriate punctuation for them. It can be done in a year and will give a firm grounding in grammar and punctuation.

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My favorite grammar overview for older students is Our Mother Tongue by Nancy Wilson. She explains things very clearly and concisely. It's more grammar than punctuation, but there is an appendix with punctuation rules in brief.


You might also try listening to Grammar Girl podcasts or take a look at her book, Ultimate Writing Guide for Students (and it's only $8). Her humorous style might stick more. She's good with the "whys" of her answers, too.


As someone who has taught homeschool middle school writing classes before, I would encourage you that punctuation and grammar is easy to teach (and a good logic-stage study, I think), but having content and style is really difficult. If he has thoughts and ideas, you've achieved the hard part. Good job!

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Thanks, Megan, Ellie, and Mystie!


Megan, I have Analytical Grammar somewhere (still waiting for dh to finish building shelves, so many of my book boxes remain unpacked); I'll look for it tomorrow.


Ellie, I think I might do EiC for him in addition to AG. It'll be good practice for him to find the errors, too.


Mystie, I just ordered the books you suggested, and I think we might have to add Grammar Girl podcasts somehow, too. Maybe while we're all in the car? ;) He is a very creative and *good* writer for creative writing, but he definitely needs some work in non-fiction/formal writing. I have some resources, including how to write non-fiction; I think I need to pull them out, too.

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