I really love the Rod & Staff English curriculum. It is wonderfully thorough, sequential, and it just makes sense to me. (I even reviewed it on The Curriculum Choice. ) I thought I would continue using it through the 8th grade.
But last year my son (currently 11 years old) asked me why he had to keep doing the same things in English every year. Over… and over… And I didn’t know. (I should mention that he completed grades 3-6 of the Rod & Staff English program.)
Here’s where I make a little confession. I’m a rule follower. I love a system where everything is neat and organized. Step 1, Step 2, etc. I love office supplies, new textbooks, well, books in general. And I never particularly minded “busy work” in school. Not over the top, but doing a page of something that I knew how to do never bothered me.
My son is not like that. He smells busy work a mile away. Practicing concepts he understands seems a waste of time to him. And he clearly understood the concepts. Some of my philosophy has been that he needs to get over it and practice anyway because he’s a kid and doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does. While that may be partially true, I realized that he really was spending a lot of time and learning very little new material in English. So I got to do something that is always fun for me. Curriculum research!
I was looking for a text that he could work through and then be finished. No more grammar study. Now, that’s something he can get excited over. I finally settled on a text called Our Mother Tongue by Nancy Wilson. In the introduction, the author poses the question “Why another grammar book?” The beginning of her answer describes exactly what I was looking for.
That is a good question. The world seems to be quite full of grammar books, but it is not easy to find a text today that covers all the bases, still emphasizes diagramming, is not laden with politically correct jargon, and embraces a Christian world view. I am certainly not claiming to have achieved all these things in this little book, but I have aimed for it. I wanted to produce a grammar book that could be used to teach junior-high students as well as high-school or college students and adults, a book that covered many of the aspects of English grammar succinctly; I also wanted a book that could assume the biblical view of language. At the same time I wanted to whet the appetite of the student to want to know more about the history of our language….
The book is divided into 6 units.
Unit One: The Eight Classes of Words
Unit Two: The Sentence
Unit Three: Special Properties of Nouns and pronouns
Unit Four: Special Properties of Verbs
Unit Five: Verbals
Unit Six: The Special Properties of Modifiers
The 6 units contain a total of 49 lessons. Each lesson has a several accompanying exercises, so we are spreading the lessons out. We will actually use this book for 2 school years, but it could be completed in less. The exercises are usually short, but require thought.
Our Mother Tongue is a very affordable. It retails for only $20, plus $5 for the answer key. In addition the book is not designed to be written in and is completely non-consumable. I love a book that I can reuse later on.
A nice extra is the addition of historical notes on the English language. These are found in most of the lessons and are located on the side of the page, separate from the grammar portion of the text. I find these to be very interesting facts that I have never learned.
The only complaint that I have about this book is that the answer key is not as complete as I would like. There are many exercises that do not have answers included. These are usually the ones in which the answers may vary, but some example correct answers would have been helpful.
I would recommend this for the junior high or high school level for a student that doesn’t need a lot of repetition. It can be used first for grammar instruction and later for a grammar reference.
Written by Kristen, Well-Trained Classical mom of 4. Kristen blogs at A Day in the Life.