Jul 122013

GOOD GRAMMAR Lessons Without Grief

In addition to your child learning to express his thoughts in writing, your child needs Grammar lessons. Writing mechanics such as punctuation, spelling, and word usage are important, but I’ve yet to meet a child with learning disabilities who loves his grammar lessons!

While there are many programs that teach grammar skills, few programs have multi-sensory grammar lessons. For kids who struggle with print-on-paper learning, learning grammar can be a challenge. Additionally, if your child has Executive Functioning deficits or ADHD, then you may need to address those issues too in order for your child to learn his grammar lessons successfully. It’s an added bonus if your child can actually apply what he has learned. 😉

Given that grammar lessons are a chore for most kids with LD issues, I’d like to suggest two things:

1) Make your grammar lessons as fun as possible using the entertainment factor, and

2) Forget diagramming sentences and all of the nit-picky stuff that your child will never use outside of schoolwork!

Let’s look at these two suggestions separately.

FIRST, Make Grammar Lessons FUN!

You and I both know grammar mistakes can be fun and funny.  Take the example of, “Jane loves cooking horses and her family.” Without any commas, that is an alarming sentence. Correct punctuation gives us, “Jane loves cooking, horses, and her family,” which has an entirely different meaning.

Using a program like Laugh Your Way Through Grammar can be THE ticket to engaging your child in his grammar lessons. The comical nature of Laughing Your Way through Grammar lessons helps kids understand and remember the importance of comma placement. We used Laugh Your Way Through Grammar for our grammar lessons, and it was fun for my guys to laugh at their mistakes once they realized the different meanings a sentence has based upon punctuation.

Another fun favorite is Painless Grammar (Barron’s Painless Series). The Painless series of books seeks to make rather boring topics interesting and memorable. A humorous approach to grammar lessons applies to these books too, so check it out if your child is hating grammar!

If you Search on Amazon for Grammar Fun, you will find a number of books with grammar lessons built upon the fun-factor. 

Second, Forget Diagramming Sentences!

There.. I said it! How many kids are tortured with sentence diagramming every year in school, and what for? Seriously?

I know it is supposed to help a child understand the proper structure and to learn grammar within sentences. However, diagramming sentences, memorizing different clauses or the more complicated parts of speech has no practical use whatsoever when it comes to real life–or anything beyond school. For many kids with LD issues, trying to dissect sentences is torturous at best and an impossible task for most.

The main goal is for your child’s grammar lessons is to be able to write a proper sentence, using proper grammar, and to be able to convey his thoughts in writing. Therefore, I’d like to suggest diagramming is unnecessary fluff. Learning to identify parts of speech or diagram sentences is not worth the battle, in my humble opinion. 😉

Unless your child plans on being an English teacher, then your main goal should be to teach your child proper usage of commas, colons, semi-colons, etc. If you’re an English teacher, please don’t write to me and tell me how important sentence diagramming is–when is the last time an adult asked you to diagram a sentence outside of a classroom?

As a reaffirmation of skipping sentence diagramming, parts of speech, etc., my boys performed fabulously in college during English 101 and 102, earning all A’s. My boys didn’t have to diagram anything, identify anything, nor did I when I was in college. There may be an occasional college out there that requires it, but that is more likely the case if a person is majoring in English.

That said, please refer to the first section to make grammar lessons fun, and consider the programs in the next section to help your child learn grammar. The main reason for formal instruction outside of grammar fun is to enable your child to score well on standardized tests that quiz on punctuation.

Grammar Lessons and Programs Recommended by Learning Abled Kids’ Moms

One favorite of many is **Shurley Grammargrammar lessons. This program has catchy ‘jingles’ to help children remember rules. The program is thorough, sequential, and provides extensive instruction. Some parents find the program to be too cumbersome, but many who stick with it long-term think it is the best program available.

Applied Grammar is a great program for Learning Abled Kids. This program is colorful and multi-sensory in nature, which definitely helps with your child’s learning engagement. Learning grammar with the applied program involves teaching your child weekly grammar lessons that are about 15 minutes long. This lesson length is ideal for kids with short attention spans. There is about 15 to 20 minutes of application per lesson, which can be practiced immediately after the lesson. Grammar is then practiced throughout the week in a natural way. The best thing about Applied Grammar is that it is applied. Using it properly in writing assignments helps your child see the practical aspects of the grammar lessons.

Linguisystem’s Grammar Games and energetic grammar activities help engage your child in grammar lessons. Again, this adds in the “fun factor,” which can be of great benefit to your child. The Linguisystems products are primarily targeted towards Speech-Language Pathologists, and as such, the programs are specifically designed for kids who struggle with learning. Therefore, as far as direct instruction in grammar learning goes, the Linguisystems programs are likely to allow your child to learn grammar more effectively than using traditional mass market grammar programs.

Somewhat Multisensory Grammar Programs

Some of our favorite grammar lessons include the books produced by Critical Thinking Company. The Language Mechanic, Punctuation Puzzlers, and Editor-in-Chief are a few of the great series they have available in the Critical Thinking Company’s Grammar line of products. Visit Critical Thinking’s BrightMinds website to see series not available elsewhere.

If your child has a visual / auditory learning style or loves computers, you may find a Grammar Software program provides more enjoyable grammar lessons. Since grammar is an aspect of written language that is generally either right or wrong, using a software program with immediate feedback is a good way to help your child learn.

If, however, your child is not a computer lover, he may find the program frustrating if he doesn’t do well with entering the proper responses. We used some software for our grammar lessons (the Editor In Chief program), which worked alright for my boys. They didn’t love it, but that was mostly because it was grammar!

Wishing you and your child great luck with your grammar lessons.