Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What happened to English Grammar and Spelling??

So as an English teacher by trade, I think it's very important to teach kids grammar and spelling. As the mother of a junior in high school, I can tell you that schools no longer teach grammar or spelling. It is appalling and they might tell you otherwise, but I can assure you this is the new reality. I don't know why grammar has been forgotten.

I've noticed that teachers are so focused on having students write, write, write. They have so many writing assignments that it is mind boggling. However, most of these writing assignments have no purpose. My high school age daughter writes so much, but she has no idea why. Then, the teacher collects the writings and you never hear another word about it. My question is: How are the kids supposed to learn from their mistakes? The answer is: They don't. Kids my daughter's age don't have a clue about modifiers, run on sentences or even correct placement of commas, colons, etc. It's astounding.

Spelling is another issue. The idea with spelling is that you should let the child spell the way they think the word is, or how the word sounds. The idea is to encourage young kids to write, even if it's incorrectly spelled. I've heard teachers say that correcting kids too much discourages them. That practice might work fine when kids are in kindergarten or even first grade. Eventually, kids need to learn the correct way to spell. The problem is, by the time teachers start focusing on correct spelling, kids have already created hard to break habits. It is too late!

So my philosophy is teach them while they are young. Kids can take criticism and should learn early on the right way of doing things.

My older daughter is in public school and never learned how to spell, except when I taught her at home. Her spelling is not stellar unfortunately, but I did the best I could given the situation. The school was of no help at all. I would edit her writing and they would not. They would tell her "it's ok". No, it's not ok. It is embarrassing to see grown adults who do not know the difference between "there", "their" and "they're".

Since I homeschool my first grader, I have a golden opportunity to do things differently, better.
We work on writing everyday, and while I encourage her to write creatively, we do go over her writing and work on spelling and grammar.

She's known her long and short vowels since she was 3 years old. I taught her about "word families", words that rhyme also when she was 3. I was encouraged by her first teacher in preschool, who noticed that my daughter was very smart and learned things quickly. The teacher told me to really challenge her at home above and beyond what she learned in school. I immediately started to do that and my daughter loved it. She soaked up all of this knowledge like a sponge. And everything I taught was using games. I can't tell you how many word games we played. I never pushed her. I let her choose the games and we played. As a result, she was reading in kindergarten. By the time she got to 1st grade, she was already reading at a 2nd grade level. That's when we decided to homeschool and she's flourished. She's an excellent speller for her age.

On this journey, I strive to offer my daughter a well rounded education where she can explore her interests while becoming very strong in the basics of reading, writing, and math. I will always put emphasis on proper English. I think it is fundamental.

How do you feel about teaching English grammar?


  1. I am an English major too. You expressed my feelings EXACTLY. My daughter will be in the first grade. This is exactly why I am going to be homeschoolling her. Thank you! What curriculum did you use with your 1st grader? Email me at

  2. Hi Vanessa,

    I also started homeschooling my daughter in 1st grade. As an English teacher, don't you just get frustrated with what's going on in schools?
    As far as the curriculum, my school district(Blue Ribbon) gave me their curriculum. I used it as a starting point and then took off from there. But I basically researched a lot and found tons of free websites and some paid too that offer worksheets, activities, and other stuff that you can use at home.