Three Ways to Ditch the Grammar Workbooks and Teach Grammar Naturally

I can remember taking grammar when I was in school. It typically involved a workbook where we would read the day’s lesson together, our teacher would write some examples on the board, and then we would do what seemed like pages of practice sentences in the book. Because I loved all things having to do with reading and writing, I tolerated this pretty well. I didn’t really see the point of it, but I tolerated it. Other students…not so much. Grammar was easily one of the least popular subjects in school.

Fast forward a few (many) years, and I was looking at materials to teach grammar in our homeschool. I bought the really structured curriculum with workbooks, including the grammar workbook, and I sat the kids down to learn the grammar rules and practice in their little books. Surprise, surprise…they hated it. Really hated it. And, even worse, they really weren’t learning anything. I noticed that even when they could pass a lesson and get most of the practice exercises correct, the learning certainly didn’t transfer to their writing or their speaking. In fact, they usually couldn’t remember it even when we moved on to the next unit in the grammar book.

So I began to really look at how I taught grammar. And I realized that the most effective ways of teaching grammar involved using grammar rules naturally, not learning them in isolation.

Homeschool grammar curriculum
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Here are some ways that you can ditch the grammar workbooks and teach grammar naturally in your homeschool. I’m also sharing an excellent resource from WriteShop that helps me teach grammar naturally.

Teach grammar skills in the context of writing.

I think that we sometimes lose sight of the purpose of teaching grammar. We teach- or we should teach- grammar so that kids can be better readers, speakers, and writers. If we’re teaching skills in isolation and they don’t transfer to speaking, reading, and writing, then our grammar program isn’t successful. Instead of using a workbook that teaches one single skill and then gives pages of practice, teach grammar skills while the kids are writing.

As kids write and you begin to help them edit their own writing, focus on grammar skills that are lacking in their writing. For example, if you notice that they are using the wrong form of their/there/they’re, spend some time talking about commonly misused homophones. That lesson will make so much more sense when the kids see it in their own writing than if you were to teach the rule and make them do pages of practice exercises about it.

Make sure that grammar skills build on each other.

One problem with many workbook-type grammar curricula is that skills are taught in isolation. In this unit we learn about nouns. In the next unit we learn about verbs and rarely mention nouns again. Grammar skills make so much more sense when they build on each other instead of being taught in isolation.

If you’re using kids’ writing to teach grammar naturally, you can easily do this. Start with some of the basics that you can point out in their writing and then build on these grammar skills as their writing becomes more advanced. For example, you may start with the basics of pointing out nouns and verbs. As they move along and can write more descriptively, you’re going to talk about adjectives, adverbs, and other parts of speech. But you’re going to build on the basics of nouns and verbs, not just teaching them the newer parts of speech in isolation.

Homeschool writing curricula

Provide kids with a resource that will help them remember grammar rules when they need them.

The grammar workbook isn’t very helpful when it comes to actual writing. How many times have you seen a kid stop mid-writing and run to get his grammar workbook to look up something? Probably never. In order for grammar skills to translate to writing, kids need a natural way to look up grammar rules and remember how to use them while they are writing and editing.

The Fold-N-Go Grammar Packs from WriteShop have been perfect for this. These packs are designed to help kids easily access grammar and punctuation rules and skills that they are going to need for writing. There are three levels of Fold-N-Go Grammar Packs and each is used to make ten lapbook style review folders that cover grammar skills that are commonly used at that level.

Homeschool grammar curriculum

The pages of each pack are divided into ten lessons. Each lesson is a review of grammar and writing skills. There are three levels of Fold-N-Go Grammar Packs and each level reviews different skills.

Level 1 reviews skills such as punctuation, self-editing, nouns, adjectives, and references.

Level 2 reviews skills such as kinds of sentences, dialogue, compound words, and synonyms and antonyms.

Level 3 review skills such as figures of speech, point of view, contractions, and apostrophes.

You can use these packs as a grammar review, and, after creating each folder, kids will have a great grammar skills reference resource. The lessons each have six pages. Each page goes over a grammar/writing skill and has a place for kids to practice the skill. Then the pages are trimmed, lined up, and stapled to create a great review folder that kids can reference as they write. Trimming the pages also results in two bookmarks for each lesson. These can be laminated and used by the kids or glued into their own folder to also be used a a review tool.

Homeschool grammar curriculum

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