Grammar is one of the core components of any homeschool language arts program. It also can be a difficult one to teach or to find materials you are happy with. I have tried quite a few materials throughout the years, including some popular ones, and I found what I think is one of the best homeschool grammar curriculum called Fix It! Grammar by Institute for Excellence in Writing.
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6 Reasons Fix It! Grammar Is the Best Homeschool Grammar Curriculum
1. Great Literature
Grammar is usually taught in individual sentences that are separate from each other and not related in any way. This program takes a different approach and uses a piece of literature that is split apart into one sentence per day. The student will work on four sentences per week and rewrite them in a notebook after the corrections are made. By the end of the year, the entire story has been written. There are six different books in the series: The Nose Tree (Book 1), Robin Hood (Book 2), Frog Prince (Book 3), Little Mermaid (Book 4), Chanticleer (Book 5), and Sir Gawain (Book 6).
2. Great Program for Almost Any Grade
The author suggests that all students start in the first book no matter what level of grammar they are at because each book includes advanced concepts. If the first book seems very simple, the student will be able to move through that book faster. For older students who are just starting in this series, they may be able to double up and do two books per year until they reach a level that is more difficult. Fix It! Grammar* starts at the third-grade level but goes all the way through high school. Books one and two are recommended for third through twelfth grade, books 3 and four for sixth through twelfth, and books five and six for ninth through twelfth grade. So almost anyone in your homeschool can use it! I have used book one with a fourth and eleventh grader at the same time. It’s not often you can do that!
3. Builds Vocabulary
Each daily lesson includes a bold word in the sentence that needs to be looked up in a dictionary. If the word has multiple meanings, the student must determine which one is the correct way the word is being used in the sentence. The definition is then written in the back of a notebook which becomes a running dictionary to use throughout the rest of the story. Once the meaning is determined, the student rereads the sentence for understanding, before making the corrections. By the end of the year, there is a considerable list of words the student has defined and written in his glossary. This method is a great way to teach vocabulary words, which all students need to continue to build. From years of teaching, I have come to realize that any test a person takes, whether it is in school, college, or to get a job, is mainly a vocabulary test. A person must understand what the question is asking in order to even begin trying to answer it. When you can find a program that incorporates vocabulary so easily, it’s an added bonus.
4. Concepts Reinforced Continually
After each lesson is introduced at the beginning of the week (Day 1), there is a grammar card that goes along with it. These cards can be cut out and put on a metal ring or left together and stored in a 3-ring binder to look at while doing the lessons. These grammar cards are fantastic! My daughter was able to find and correct so many errors by referring to the rules and then asking herself the questions on the cards. When used every day, it is built-in reinforcement, and they don’t realize it because they are just trying to find the answers. Another way review is incorporated is through prompts at the top of the pages in books one through three. These are visual symbols, words, and letters to remind the student of what he is looking for in the sentence. I had my children make little check marks next to each one as they made the corrections because they had a tendency to start looking for one thing, such as nouns, and then skip around and end up missing several other items they were supposed to be looking for. I also think the order in which the prompts are listed is for a reason and makes it easier to find errors when they are done in order.
5. Practical Application Is Used
The object of this program is for the student to find errors in real literature instead of unrelated practice sentences. Having to search for errors in the story is much more meaningful and will carry over into real life writing situations. This program starts simple and builds up to advanced skills. The child will correct and identify punctuation, spelling, grammar, clauses and phrases, parts of speech, and word usage. There are some other concepts addressed as well which include dress ups, different elements of style, and sentence openers. These are from IEW’s Teaching Writing Structure and Style program which can be an excellent supplement but is not necessary to use Fix It! Grammar*.
6. Less Than 15 Minutes a Day to Do
This curriculum takes about 15 minutes a day for the student to do. But don’t let that fool you because it packs a big punch in that small amount of time. It is unbelievable what your child will learn by the end of the year. The simplicity of this curriculum is one of the most appealing aspects of the program, to my children anyways, because it was a quick subject and therefore, they did not mind doing it at all. With so many other subjects that take up a lot more time, this one was almost refreshing when they did it.
Here is what the week looks like:
- Every day– the student will read the sentence and then look up the definition of the bold word and write it in his notebook.
- Day 1– there is a small lesson that is taught by the parent to introduce the skill that will be worked on that week. The sentence is gone over and corrections are made with the teacher’s assistance. The sentence is rewritten correctly in the notebook.
- Days 2-4– The student uses the prompts at the top of the page, as well as the grammar cards, to mark the sentence. The teacher goes over the passage to see if anything was missed and then the sentence is rewritten in the notebook.
- Day 5– This can be used as a catch up day or, like we did, a day to read all the sentences from the week put together to comprehend on what is going on in the story.
A Solid Program
Fix It! Grammar* could be used as a supplement to other grammar materials, but I believe this program can stand alone as a solid grammar curriculum with the added benefit of reinforcing writing skills and vocabulary development. I have listened to Andrew Pudewa, director of IEW, speak and he says if your child makes it through all six books, he has learned just about everything there is to know about grammar. If you know anything at all about Institute for Excellence in Writing, then you know they are the authority on writing and oral communication. They produce only the best products and are very thorough. I believe this product definitely fits that description and is why I think it’s the best homeschool grammar curriculum out there.
If you are interested in purchasing Fix It! Grammar, the Homeschool Buyers Co-op* has a GroupBuy on it which gives you a discount and free shipping.