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I have a new 7th grader in the family who seems (according to the Easy Grammar placement tests) to be very below grade level.  On the test, there was not one single skill section that he seems to understand and that was on both the elementary and middle school placement tests.  I was planning to use Analytical Grammar but now seeing that we need to start earlier, I'm wondering if I should be looking at the Junior product instead.  The description sounds like it's the same as the first unit of AG but written to a younger audience and more student/teacher dialogue.  Does that ring true for those of you who have used these?  Would you start with junior or just go AG nice and slow?  I'm quite surprised at just how far below grade level he seems to be.  In writing, he's not capitalizing the first word, random capitals mid-sentence, misusing apostrophes (ex. plural for frog became frog's), and not doing ending punctuation.  Coincidentally, we're also using WWS level one.  I'm really second guessing just how far back and start with.  Obviously, I don't want to waste time unnecessarily but I also don't want to pick up where the public system left off of progressing through grade levels when he's not mastered previous years' material.  What would you do?  Thanks in advance.  I really appreciate feedback from the experienced voices. 

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IMO I think that the authors would say to begin at the beginning of regular AG but move as slowly as necessary. They don't work on mechanics until the end ("you can't really master it until you have a solid grasp of grammar" I've heard/read them to say).

They're not going to tackle things like the random capitals and pluralizing though. I don't know if that's coveted in FLL? I think it is in WWS, at least some...?

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It sounds as if Rod and Staff 5 might be a better choice. It covers grammar and basic punctuation thoroughly. It also provides a very basic writing instruction. We do most of the R&S exercises aloud. You could skip diagramming at this time knowing you will be hitting it hard with AG next year.

 

When we started homeschooling this is what I did for my oldest and it was a great choice. She benefited from the overview in R&S. Some of the things I considered basic, like capitalization and punctuation, improved quickly. Moving to AG gave her a really solid understanding of grammar.

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I was also thinking something like Rod and Staff 5 might be better. It sounds like he needs a lot of work on the basics, and AG throws a lot at you at once, with not many examples given before you are expected to do the exercises. You could certainly do it slower, but it still won't have the repetition and examples like Rod and Staff. And it doesn't have any practice for basic mechanics you said he has problems with. Maybe some copywork and dictation would help with those issues, also.

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What I would do is.....get my hands on Hake Grammar (6th grade) for your 7th grader. It will give a solid base of grammar, mechanics, and writing to prepare your dc for AG.  There is A TON of review problems in Hake which would be a plus for you!  

 

I would then start AG in 8th grade completing Season One & Two.....then for 9th (or over the summer before 9th, whichever is most doable....no hurry) I would suggest completing Season 3 for the 1st semester..... then finish the rest of high school years with AG High School workbooks!  

 

OR

 

It would be simple to complete the Jr. Mechanics portion for 7th grade and start Season 1 of AG (not Jr. AG)......then just follow Season 2 - 3 for 8th grade.....leaving you with AG High School Review books for 9-12!

 

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I used Junior last year for my 7th grader.   She is easily overwhelmed by grammar.  She like JAG until late in the year, when there was too much for her to remember, then she hated it.  My original plan was to do AG for 8th and 9th, but after she got frustrated with it toward the end I decided to switch to EG+ this year.  EG+ is designed to remediate older students, so I'm hoping it will be a good fit.

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I thought I was starting AG with my sixth grader this year who had done 1-4 FLL and after three lessons it was just too much.  I'm having him do JAG with my daughter.  Although they have had a pretty solid background in grammar, it was just too much of a jump--even if we did it really slow.  Even the first few exercises had the student identifying several different parts of speech--the sentences were meatier than he was used to in a grammar book and he was overwhelmed.  I think we can go through JAG pretty quickly and steadily.  I think you'd be O.K. to AG for eighth grade.

 

So, my recommendation (without knowing about Rod and Staff or the other programs) would be to JAG, daily.  I actually really like the tests that are peppered into the AG programs.  Our kids have never taken tests and this is a wonderful introduction for them.

 

We're doing Killgallon and (J)AG along with WWS for my son and WWE for my daughter.  I'm also trying Treasured Conversations for the intro to the paragraph and outlining as a supplement.  This may sound like a lot but we just plug away at it daily and it really doesn't take too long (then again, we haven't started WWS yet!  I hear that can be a bit of a bear!). 

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Threedog, I think you're right.  We've done 2 days worth of WWS and it's very obvious to me that I'm going to have to downgrade that too.  He just isn't ready for it.  I want the materials to challenge him but not frustrate him and so far, it's been pretty grueling.  Here's a sample of his writing from our History assignment today (typed as written)....

 

God Made Sealions

 

the sea lion is a cute animal Because it looks like a seal and seals adorable.  And they can Swim very fast.  and can Do good at tricks and they can Be at a aquarium they can Be tamed and they Make good animals at a aquarium.

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Threedog, I think you're right.  We've done 2 days worth of WWS and it's very obvious to me that I'm going to have to downgrade that too.  He just isn't ready for it.  I want the materials to challenge him but not frustrate him and so far, it's been pretty grueling.  Here's a sample of his writing from our History assignment today (typed as written)....

 

God Made Sealions

 

the sea lion is a cute animal Because it looks like a seal and seals adorable.  And they can Swim very fast.  and can Do good at tricks and they can Be at a aquarium they can Be tamed and they Make good animals at a aquarium.

 

Ouch. Yes, you need to step down. WWS starts out easy and ramps up a lot. If it is tough in the beginning, he is in real trouble. The sample is rough. 

 

We used EG in middle school then did AG in one year (and loved it), but I'm not sure either one of those are a good choice for where he is and what he needs to learn. I think I would listen to those who are giving alternative suggestions. I'd look at R&S as suggested.

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Are you doing any dictation or copywork with him? I ask b/c it helps my son tremendously to SEE good writing and copy good writing. Sounds like backing up to WWE would be very helpful. And I second R&S (even though I loathe using it, lol, it is very thorough). OR, EIW as somebody had suggested. There is grammar and mechanics in the beginning and then the writing portion. I started my 6th grader in Level 5 of EIW b/c his writing is not terrific either. Don't be afraid to begin at the level where he places in whatever curriculum you decide to use. Better to build confidence by starting "easy" than destroy it by pushing him into a curriculum that is too challenging, kwim? If you are concerned about "grade levels", choose a curriculum that does not go by grade level but rather by skill level. Or cover over the grade level (I've done that before). 

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Yes, i agree that you probably need to back way up.  On the plus side, being older he will probably move more quickly through lower-level programs than a younger child would.  But I really think you have to meet him where he is, not where he "should" be based on grade level.

 

So I have two potential suggestions:  One is a new program, created by a long-time board member, called Treasured Conversations.  It covers grammar - in the context of writing sentences, using copywork - and paragraph writing.  I think it would really help him develop skills he is lacking.  It's designed for ~3rd-5th grade level, but it seems like that's about where his writing is at, and like I said, meeting him where he is at seems like the best way to proceed.

 

My second suggestion would be to look at CAP's Writing & Rhetoric program.  It would be a gentle, enjoyable introduction to writing.  But you would still need to work on basic mechanics (capitalization  & punctuation) and spelling separately.

 

I wouldn't try WWS at this point.  Like others have said, the first few lessons aren't so bad, but it gets tough quick.  I think you are better off having him do something easier that he can be successful with, rather than a really challenging program he might not be ready for.

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Based on the writing sample you posted, he does not appear to have mastered basic sentence structure. I agree with the other posters that you need to back up to basic skills.

 

I do think the content of Treasured Conversations would help him. The program is not grade leveled but focuses on skill development. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.

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One thing I like about the EPS books "Writing Skills" by Diana king, the "Paragraph Book" and "Rules of the Game" (for grammar) is how direct and specific and systematic they are. They're also super easy to implement because you just go to the next lesson and it's a workbook format. In your place, I would start with Writing Skills Book A. It's intended for grade 2-4 but says that nowhere on the cover and is not babyish.

 

http://www.christianbook.com/writing-skills-book-grades-2-4/diana-king/9780838820490/pd/372049

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Thanks all.  I've already taken Analytical Grammar and Easy Grammar off the table along with WWS, both look like they'd be too tough at a higher grade level and too childish at the level where he's gonna need to start.  I hope to get back to Analytical Grammar and WWS but that'll be for another time down the road. 

 

I am considering Essentials in Writing.  I haven't yet contacted anyone there to discuss levels and placement.  I'm going to look into these last few recommendations today.  Thanks so much for adding the links!  That really simplifies the search by taking out some of the "legwork" for me.  On to search for that ever elusive perfect fit.....

 

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What about FLL4? It starts at the beginning but still teaches plenty of skills at a decent age level for a 7th grader and then jump into AG the following year. 

 

My girls have done FLL3, and one half of 4 after pulling them out of school and now doing AG just fine.

 

Then start WWE1,2,3,4 . I don;t find WWE simple whatsoever. Especially not four. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

As an update...

 

We went with Treasured Conversations for grammar and some extra writing slipped in.  I really like the tone of the work.  It's quick and easy and, like many of you mentioned, starts with the basics but not in a way that it would be obvious to him that he's starting at the beginning.  It also has plenty of copywork exercises as many of you also recommended.  For writing, we went to WWE level 3.  I'm not sure that's a good starting point either because he's having MAJOR trouble with it.  It seems that he reads to get past the words on the page.  He will mispronounce words and keep going giving no distinction between sentences or commas.  (I've had him do the passage reading out loud.)  He is unable to answer the questions given to prompt awareness of the main ideas.  And with only a few weeks in, he's having major challenges remembering the dictation.  Don't even get me started on the atrocities that come back in response to the dictation.  To pull back again would mean that he'll be doing level 2 with his 3rd grade level brother.  I should also mention that there may be some degree of getting less than his best effort anyway as really hates that homeschooling means he can't just sit back and let me teach at him and move on with a minimum 65% test score.  So our trouble may also be grounded in that he comes to the table with an attitude of "uggghh, this is so boring."  It's really hard to tell if it's an issue of laziness with a pinch of defiance or actual ineptitude.  I'd like to give the benefit of doubt....

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