Grammar is not my favorite subject to teach even though I loved it in middle school. For many years I used Easy Grammar with my children. It worked well with my oldest, but I noticed my next two children (boys) were not remembering the concepts taught in the lesson. They would do well on a lesson immediately after they learned a new concept, but in a few weeks they would forget everything they learned.
One thing I did like about Easy Grammar was that they gave a list of the 40 prepositions in the beginning of the book. Knowing the prepositions made decoding everything else much easier, in my opinion.
Last year I switched to Winston Grammar. While my boys haven’t loved grammar (they didn’t love it before the switch either) I have noticed that their retention of concepts has improved. I’m using the basic course with my 10 year-old and the advanced course with my 14 year-old.
Simple Format: There are no songs to sing or cute characters to teach you grammar. There is a workbook, a teacher’s guide, and parts-of-speech cards. If you have a child who needs something basic with no frills to distract them, Winston Grammar is a good fit.
Parts-of-Speech Cards: If you are using this program don’t skip the cards! We lost a few in our move and I plan on replacing them at the homeschool convention next week. Before a child does any work in the book, they “diagram” the sentence using cards. This works great with fidgety kids who need to be doing something at all times. It is also a great hand’s on teaching tool. Once the child has worked out a few sentences with the cards they start working in the book, but they can still use the cards to reference a grammar rule if necessary.
Lots of Review: A new grammar rule is introduced every two to four lessons, but the old rules are still practiced in the new lesson. Each rules builds on the last rule so it helps the child remember what they learned weeks prior to the current lesson.
Sentences Make Sense: Have you ever used a curriculum that was trying so hard to teach a concept or rule that the sentences didn’t make much sense? The sentences used in Winston Grammar are all things a child could potentially say or write over their lifetime.
Inexpensive: The complete set is only $36, (teacher’s manual, workbook, and cards) which makes is a bargain in my opinion.
Prepositional Phrase approach: We used Easy Grammar for years before I switched my older children to Winston Grammar. One thing I loved about Easy Grammar is that it taught kids to eliminate the prepositional phrase first in a sentence. This really helped my children determine the other parts of speech. Winston Grammar does not take this approach, so my kids struggled at first finding the subject as well as the noun functions. I’ve ended up having my kids cross out the prepositional phrase in Winston Grammar to make it easier and it has worked.
Heavy Teacher Involvement: I don’t think being involved in teaching your child is a bad thing. But with Winston Grammar a child cannot do a lesson unless the teacher has explained it to him. All of the lesson information is contained in the teacher’s manual. The workbook only has the sentences. There is no way a child could work ahead or get started on the lesson without the teacher. Unless of course they were born knowing the difference between independent and dependent clauses.
Teaches Only Grammar: It is a grammar course, so I wouldn’t expect anything different. But if your child struggles with spelling, capitalization or punctuation you will need to find additional curriculum that covers those topics.
What grammar curriculum works for your family?
We’re going to be trying KISS Grammar: http://home.pct.edu/~evavra/kiss/wb/PBooks/index.htm
Looks like a pretty simple, yet thorough, program. We shall see how it goes.
Thank you. I had never heard of that program before, but it looks like it might be great for my kids.
I use Shurley English with my boys, and we love it for grammar, punctuation, and capitalization, etc… The grammar is solid and thorough in every way, and once the first few lessons are completed, there is a bit of a rhythm to the lesson plan, so the kids can work fairly independently. I probably spend 5 minutes every other day with my 5th grader, and 5-10 miutes a day teaching my 1st grader (longer at the beginning of the year when I had to explain *everything*.) I do purchase the student practice booklet for the parsing exercises, so that the boys don’t have to copy every sentence out of the teacher’s manual; they have the sentences all types out with lots of space around them so the boys simply have to label the part of speech for each word.
One thing I do like about Easy Grammar is the up-front teaching of prepositions, so I have also taught my kids to put every prepositional phrase in parentheses to help them visually divide up the sentences.
I don’t particularly care for the composition writing exercises in Shurley (except for the lessons on how to write a letter, thank you note, and invitation.) The other writing assignments are too formulaic, so every paragraph they write sounds pretty much the same. We usually skip the writing assignment for each week. We have supplemented with other composition programs such as Classical Writing, but beginning in the fall, we’ll use Tapestry of Grace which comes with its own writing curriculum.
I just read what I wrote…. maybe I need to refresh my English so I don’t have so many run-on sentences LOL.
Jolyn @Budgets are the New Black says
I’m actually looking for a grammar curriculum to do with my (next year) sophomore. It will be our first year homeschooling (gulp), and while he already has many of the basics down, I know he’s done next to no diagramming and therefore can’t yet have a solid grammar foundation, IMHO. Winston Grammar? Fix-It? I’d appreciate any expert advice on what to try for the first time with an older student. I need like a diagramming grammar book for dummies.
We use Winston Grammar a little differently than you. My 7th graders use the basic program. I help them maybe the first month or so, until the get the hang of it, than they are on their own to read the teaching instructions, use the cards, and do the workbook . They than do the advanced program for 8th grade, completely on their own unless they get stumped. All my girls have been voracious readers, and I’m sure that has helped some as well.
If you find it used (or pull it out after another child), the company will sell you extra workbooks fairly cheaply (I ordered the regular and advanced at the same time to save on shipping).
Thank you for posting your comments on Winston Grammar Basic. It was very timely as I am trying to decide what to purchase.
I used Winston Grammar in the 7th grade 25+ years ago. Diagramming isn’t going to work for my littlest and since I still see parts of speech in their color cards I am giving this a try as he is a kinetic/visual learner like me.
We use Shurley and love it 🙂
Janelle Knutson says
We have been using Fix It Grammar from IEW and are loving it. However, one of my kids is between levels (finished one level in Fix It but isn’t ready for the next level) so I have been looking for another grammar program to use this year. I have heard about Winston Grammar before but didn’t know much about it. Your review was very helpful. I think it will work very well for us this coming school year. Thank you!
Hi and thank you so much for your blog. I am using Easy Grammar for the first time this year. I also have a set of the cards Fr om Winston. Do you think there’s an easy way to incorporate the cards from Winston with the Easy Grammar program? Thank you!
Tricia Lavin says
Are there grade levels or is the basic to be used one year and then the advanced another year so to be used only for two years?