April 25, 2012

Rod and Staff Grammar: Curriculum Review

When my kids start grade 3, they add grammar to their daily routine.  I have strong feelings about the teaching of grammar and its importance to good writing and, by extension, good thinking.  Therefore, finding the perfect curriculum was very important to me.

I taught English to 7th, 8th, 10th, and 11th grade public school students.  I've tried a variety of "exciting" curricula published very recently.  I wasn't impressed.  There are lots of bells and whistles, colorful formatting, and a lot of nonsense that tries to make grammar appear more exciting than it is.  Grammar is grammar and no amount of peacock feathers is going to change it into something else.  I found all the extras very distracting and time-wasting.

Then the teacher across the hall told me to teach my students sentence diagramming.  She promised me that it would do more good than anything else I taught.  She is an excellent teacher so I believed her and gave it a whirl.  Well, first I taught myself how to sentence diagram and then I gave it a whirl.  

The results were profound and outstanding.  It wasn't all rosy that first year because I wasn't that good at grammar (I'm one of those annoying picked-it-up-from-reading kind of gals) and so I had one student designated as a runner and if we (meaning me and the class--we usually worked as a team) couldn't figure out how to diagram a particular sentence the runner ran across the hall and asked the teacher there for help.  

We all learned more about grammar than we had ever learned previously.  I'm telling you, when it comes to grammar, sentence diagramming is where it's at.

Fast forward to me last summer, the homeschool mom trying to find a grammar program for her own darling student.  I combed the homeschool websites and talked with many homeschoolers about the pros and cons of various grammar options.  Many of them appeared to me as the bells and whistles variety of grammar instruction instead of the meat and potatoes.   

Rod and Staff is the meat and potatoes.  There are no bells and whistles.  No little thought boxes or cluttered pages.  It is just grammar in its true, beautiful, form.  I'm not saying it is boring (whatever boring means in relation to school subjects), I am saying it is complete, well done, and requires sentence diagramming from the very beginning.  

The first unit is pronouns.  Each section in the chapter starts with an explanation of what the section is about and some examples.  That is followed by student practice questions.  The sections are the perfect length to do one daily and Miriam needs very little instruction from me because the information is written clearly at the beginning of each section. 

On top of all that, the price is very, very reasonable.  $12.00 for the student textbook.  You can see some sample pages on the Rod and Staff website, here

In short, I am 100% thrilled with this grammar program.    

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