My girls are in eighth grade this year. And after abandoning grammar last year at some point during the winter due to lack of time, this year we are officially ditching it.
I’m just putting that out there.
I’m a big fan of formal grammar. Yes, I like to diagram sentences! And so do my kids. But we’re done. We’ve been lugging our grammar books around since first grade, and I think we’ve had enough. There just isn’t the time, when we could be watching an opera or making apple sauce.
What’s curious is that it seems many of their friends have not had much grammar study in school until now. The exception may be their friends who attend parochial school. Is grammar old-fashioned? Perhaps. But I took a peek at the high school English curriculum for one of our public schools and saw a lot of grammar study. Why is the high school wasting time studying grammar? Isn’t it a little late? Why weren’t they studying grammar…during grammar school, instead of waiting until secondary school?
Here’s my point. As kids enter the teenaged years, they are ready for some pretty meaty material. This is where your school subjects become FUN. After struggling for years to find “appropriate” young adult fiction amidst the sea of junk out there, I can finally discuss grown-up novels with my young students. They are now old enough to understand and enjoy the complexities and subtleties of human interaction. They are still afraid of it (and they should be) but they can comprehend it. We can actually talk about Carmen (the opera) and what the audience at the time must have thought of a central character who was a “bad girl.” Aren’t we usually supposed to like the protagonist, my girls wanted to know. Didn’t the audience have a problem with her “job?” Um, yes, they did! And that’s where you get dramatic tension from…but I digress…I’m just enjoying being ABLE to have this conversation with my girls.
So why would I give that up and diagram sentences?
There isn’t enough time to have all the fun discussions that you will want to have with your teenagers. My solution to the grammar dilemma (since I still think grammar study is useful, especially for future foreign language study) is to get rid of it during the elementary years.
Farewell, grammar textbook.