Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Junior Analytical Grammar {Schoolhouse Review}


For this review, we were gifted a complete set of Analytical Grammar's Junior Analytical Grammar set, which includes a teacher's guide and student workbook.  This set retails for $39.95.  Additionally, we were also sent the Junior Analytical Grammar Companion DVD.    This is an additional purchase for $19.95.  Extra workbooks may also be purchased for $19.95 each.  This set is for students in grades 4-5.


Over the years of homeschooling, I have heard many great things about Analytical Grammar but I always avoided purchasing this curriculum because I wasn't certain if it would live up to it's huge reputation in the homeschooling community or if it would even be a good fit for us.  We are pretty laid back when it comes to homeschooling and I admit that I often look for the easy way to educate in order to keep school fun and to avoid battles that using heavily structured programs have caused in our home in the past.  I didn't want to spend money on something that we most likely would never use in our school days.

When I saw Analytical Grammar come up on the Vendor List this year, I knew I wanted to give it a shot.  For one, I couldn't say no to trying this program if I review it and two, I felt it time for a more structured program for us in homeschooling, especially for Emmalee who I used this program with during the review period.  I knew it was past time to cover these lessons with her and this was the perfect way to make that happen.

When Junior Analytical Grammar arrived, I immediately thought "this is just another workbook but I'll give it a shot".  The books have bright orange paper covers and spiral bindings.  They aren't very thick books but they a jam-packed with lessons to complete.  Junior Analytical Grammar wastes no time getting right to work with the program.

Additionally, there was a sheet in the package and a booklet included which explained a bit more about Analytical Grammar - who Robin and Erin are and how they came to create this amazing company, as well as more detail on the programs available through Analytical Grammar.  I was excited to find that as middle school specialists these ladies had created an easy to use curriculum to help students really learn Grammar.  Growing up, my career goal was to be a middle school English teacher until I decided I wanted to be a Homeschool Mom instead.  The fact that Robin created this program especially for use with middle school students because she believes these years are educationally valuable really spoke volumes to me.  Her logic was the same as mine in reason to work with this particular grade level, educationally.

Another thing that really hit home with me about this program was the encouragement to delay Formal Grammar education until the 4th or 5th grade.  There are very few programs that support and are effective in promoting delayed academics in any manner.   We do practice delayed academics in our homeschool and prefer to allow our students to thoroughly study a concept before thrusting the next concept upon them.

It is suggested that Junior Analytical Grammar be completed as a prerequisite course to Analytical Grammar in preparation for the course in the 6th to 8th grade.  This allows students to really know their grammar basics before moving forward in the Analytical Grammar program.  It also allows their young minds to master these basics before moving forward.

Junior Analytical Grammar is an 11 week program that covers all the parts of speech, parts of a sentence, classic sentence diagramming and the five sentence patterns.  It introduces grammar, punctuation, capitalization and usage to students who are new to these concepts and helps prepare them at a slower pace than the original Analytical Grammar.  These concepts are also covered in Analytical Grammar's first ten units, however the exercises in Junior Analytical Grammar are shorter and written at a lower reading level than the original program.

Since English is my absolute favorite subject, it was very easy for me to read through this program and put it to work for my family.  I did allow my 11 year old daughter, Emmalee to work through the program and she was able to do so on her own.  She would watch the video and then complete the exercises as explained in the DVD lessons without much input from me.  She would then complete the worksheets as directed by the lesson she was working through.

I also used this time to review these concepts with my son and my younger daughter, discussing what each part of speech is and how it works.  Together we diagrammed sentences using the dry-erase board and also using the examples from the book itself.  It was very easy to make work for all the kids together and also very easily completed alone by Emmalee.  This was a bonus for us as a family, since Emmalee wishes to do more independent study away from her siblings while I still prefer teaching them together as a unit.  Please not these workbooks cannot be copied in any manner so if using this program with more than one student, you will need to purchase extra workbooks or work through the program orally using paper or a dry-erase board to work through the examples.

The DVD was easy to use as well.  Emmalee just popped it into the DVD player and listened to the short lessons provided.  The DVD is a bonus to the curriculum and not necessary to use the program but it is nice to have.  Since it's instructional, it prevents the "teacher" from having to put a huge amount of time into instructing the program and allows more independence.  This gives Mom more time to prep for the next course or to work one on one with another student or even just have a little me time.  The teacher will still need to check the students work once the worksheets have been completed.

In the teacher's book there is an example plan for how to use Junior Analytical Grammar suggesting a 5 day a week programming.  This didn't work for us and really wasn't needed either.  I allowed Emmalee to work at her own pace, as she pleased and as we normally do for independent schoolwork.  She chose to watch the video and complete several of her worksheets on the same day for most lessons.  Sometimes she would chose to go ahead and test and sometimes she would feel she needed more review and would ask for that.  I allowed her to do what she thought best and discussed with her what I thought best when I felt she needed more time with a concept.  This worked well for us.

I must say that I am extremely impressed with Junior Analytical Grammar.  It is easy to use and Emmalee really loves it.  This program will be one that we continue to use in our homeschooling and I regret not having added it into our lessons sooner.

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