Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind: New Titles, Same Great Curriculum

Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind is a four-year grammar program designed for students fifth grade and above. New students may take more than one year to get through their first Workbook. Once a student has completed all four workbooks in our program, they will have all of the grammar knowledge that they need to go on to the study of rhetoric, the application of grammar to written and spoken words.

How Does it Work?

Each year, you will use the same Core Instructor Text, which has all of the lessons you will be teaching the student.



Each year, you will use a different Workbook (containing student exercises) and Key (containing answers and explanations). There will be four Workbooks, along with their corresponding Keys, each named after the color of the cover. The Purple Workbook, for instance, used to be titled Student Workbook Year 1. The Key to Purple Workbook used to be titled Key to Student Workbook 1.


We recently changed the names of our Workbooks and Keys because the original names implied that these Workbooks must be gone through sequentially. In reality, it does not matter what Workbook you start your instruction with, since each workbook covers the exact same rules and examples. The exercises change in each workbook – but only in content, not in intensity. The Student Workbooks do not build on each other. Each one can be used independently, at any time during the course of your study.

You can begin this grammar program with any Workbook and corresponding Key because our program is based on the three essential things that have to happen in order for students’ minds to really comprehend grammar: repetition, memorization, and practice.

Why Do it This Way?

We use the same Core Instructor Text every year so you can use the same words to explain the grammar concepts to the student each year. The same rules, the same examples, every single year. That repetition will help build the information and solidify it in the student’s mind. So the first thing is just memorizing the rules.

Second, whenever you memorize a grammar rule, because grammar is something that governs the way real language works, you need an actual example. So every year the student repeats the same examples that illustrate the rules. That way they always have a concrete example of how the rule works to link to the actual memorized rule in their brain.

The third thing the student needs after this repetition of rules and examples is practice. So although each Workbook has the same rules and the same examples for every year, each one also has a full new set of exercises for the student to practice on. Again, because these exercises only differ in content, not in intensity, you and your student can start the program with any Workbook and corresponding Key combination.

We hope this explanation helps you and your student as you explore Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind!


Apprenticeship Opportunities: High School and Post-High School

Apprenticeship Opportunities: High School and Post-High School

(as referenced on page 216 of Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education, by Susan Wise Bauer)

            The United States lags far behind Europe and our neighbors to the north in providing apprenticeship opportunities. Organized apprenticeship programs are primarily local; national programs are mostly sponsored by the military, and serve the same students who excel at traditional academics.

The links below are merely a starting point. Your best strategy for finding an meaningful apprenticeship is twofold:

  1. Visit your state’s Department of Labor website and check for any documents governing the conditions of apprentices within your locality.
  2. Contact the CEO or managing director of a local company directly, and ask to arrange for an unpaid apprenticeship. Specify the time frame (six months? one year?) and conditions (that’s where the DoL documents might come in handy. Many companies don’t have apprenticeships simply because no one’s asked. But your student could get free job training plus a fantastic reference opportunity—if you inquire.

The U. S. Department of Labor guidelines to “registered apprenticeship” positions, just for your reference, are found here.



The After-School Apprenticeship Program: “The After School Apprenticeship Program (ASAP) is a promising after-school strategy that engages teens in experiences that excite them, connects them with career experts, and builds real world skills that prepare them for college and careers.” Check the website for local programs.

HSAP, sponsored by the U. S. Army: “The High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP) provides current high school juniors and seniors with an authentic science and engineering research experience alongside university researchers sponsored by the Army Research Office. Though this commuter program students will develop skills in Army critical science and engineering research areas in a university lab setting to prepare them for the next steps of their educational and professional career.”

SEAP, sponsored by the U. S. Navy: “The Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) provides an opportunity for students to participate in research at a Department of Navy (DoN) laboratory during the summer.”

STEM programs sponsored by the Department of Defense “allow high school and college students the opportunity to engage in hands-on research, solving real-world problems at DoD laboratories and facilities.” []


State and Local:

Arkansas: “The National Apprenticeship Training Foundation (NATF) is a training corporation that specializes in customizing training programs for employers and individuals throughout the United States.” Adult and youth apprenticeships available.

Boston: The Tech Apprentice program

Chicago: After School Matters

Colorado: “CareerWise created a statewide youth apprenticeship model that coordinates the existing systems of industry and education that creates real, tangible benefit for both the employer and the apprentice. The net result is a workforce with the skills Colorado’s industry needs, and students have illuminated pathways to higher education and career.”

Connecticut: Office of Apprenticeship Training

Florida: Department of Education apprenticeship links

Georgia: Youth Apprenticeship Program: “The program enables a student to receive a high school diploma, a post-secondary certificate or degree, and certification of industry-recognized competencies applicable to employment in a high-skilled occupation.”

Iowa: ABC of Iowa Apprenticeships

Kentucky: The KY Apprenticeship program

Maryland: The Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program (MATP): List to program websites

Missouri: Registered Youth Apprenticeships

New Bedford, Massachusetts: The New Bedford Whaling Museum High School Apprenticeship Program

New York: Department of Labor Apprenticeship Program

North Carolina: The NC Works Apprenticeship program

Ohio: The School-To-Work Apprenticeship Program

San Antonio: The Alamo Academies program

South Carolina: Apprenticeship Carolina (administered through the South Carolina Technical College system)

Wisconsin: Department of Workforce Development Apprenticeship Program



Differences, Disorders, and Disabilities

Differences, Disorders, and Disabilities    

(as referenced on page 37 of Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education, by Susan Wise Bauer)


Throughout this website, we offer resources for parents whose children have learning differences, learning disorders, and learning disabilities. These include:


Consider these additional helps as well:


Aptitude Tests, Personality Quizzes, and Guides to Self-Knowledge

Aptitude Tests, Personality Quizzes, and Guides to Self-Knowledge

(as referenced on page 159 of Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education, by Susan Wise Bauer)

            Self-awareness is difficult—and essential for every maturing adult.

Taking personality quizzes and aptitude tests won’t automatically grant you self-knowledge, but it will put you in an objective, self-evaluative mode that isn’t necessarily natural. And if you do enough of them, uyou’ll start to see patterns.

Here are some starting places. Do these for fun. If the results ring true, you’ve gained useful knowledge. If not, shrug and forget about them.




What Color Is Your Parachute? 2018: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changers, by Richard N. Bolles.

What Color Is Your Parachute? For Teens. Third Edition: Discover Yourself, Design Your Future, and Plan for Your Dream Job, by Carol Christen and Richard N. Bolles.

Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type, by Paul D. Tieger, Kelly Tieger, and Barbara Barron.

Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type, by Isabel Briggs-Myers and Peter B. Myers.

The Essential Enneagram: The Definitive Personality Test and Self-Discovery Guide, by David Daniels and Virginia Price, rev.  and updated edition.

Be a Free Range Human: Escape the 9-5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills, by Marianne Cantwell.


Personality Tests

You can take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test online here. Although you can find free knockoff versions of the test, it’s worth paying the $49.95 for the full version, which includes feedback on strengths and weaknesses, coping skills, and more. Or, take the test with a licensed assessor. Details here.

The RHETI (Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator) test can be taken at the Enneagram Institute website.

The Keirsey Temperament Sorter test (KTS-II) is available at the Keirsey website. A basic report is free; more detailed reports can be purchased for $8-$20.

The Princeton Review hosts a Career Quiz.

Psychology Today has a whole range of “self tests” that you can view here.

The MAPP test, best for older students, matches personality and aptitude with possible career options.

A selection of fun, open-source personality tests can be found at the Open Source Psychometrics Project.

The Balance provides links to a variety of career and aptitude tests.


State Requirements for High School Graduation

State Requirements for High School Graduation         

(as referenced on page 16 of Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education, by Susan Wise Bauer)

As you plan out your child’s high school curriculum, remember four things:

  1.  High school graduation requirements are state-mandated. There are no national high school graduation requirements.
  2. They’re constantly changing.
  3. They don’t actually apply to home educators.  Or private schools, unless those schools are pursuing state accreditation, which many don’t bother to do. (For more on this, see Chapter Two of my book Rethinking School.)
  4. It’s far more important to design high school around the child’s interests, abilities, and eventual college application than to follow state standards.

Nevertheless, state standards can provide you with a useful template—as long as you’re willing to adjust the template to fit your kid. Links are provided below.








Arkansas (Arkansas Makes it very hard
to find the standards. Go to page 9 of the linked document.)






District of Columbia








































Standards set by districts,
not the state.


New Hampshire


New Jersey


New Mexico


New York


North Carolina


North Dakota










Rhode Island


South Carolina


South Dakota














West Virginia






Spark Your Child’s Imagination and Reading Skills With Companion Readers

We all know that reading is a vital skill to master, but it ought to be a delight, not a chore to be checked off in a “Literature” class. That’s why we’re so excited to bring your children some great new books to dive into, with features that will instruct while they entertain. #StealthLearning #YesWeJustMadeUpThatHashtag

For over 30 years, Jim Weiss’s storytelling and his audio adaptations of classics from world literature have delighted children and parents. Now Well-Trained Mind Press has turned some of Jim’s stories, word for word, into beautifully illustrated books, with features that will spark your child’s imagination while strengthening reading ability.

Your child can experience these stories in three different ways, each one building verbal skills while fueling a lifelong love of reading:

  • Listen to the Jim Weiss stories on the CD or MP3. Jim’s keen ear for language, his carefully-chosen material, and his astounding array of voices will keep children rapt with attention. We hear from thousands of parents that “My kids want to listen to Jim’s stories all the time!”
  • Read along in the illustrated Companion Reader to improve fluency, vocabulary, and grammar. Since each book contains a word-for-word transcript of Jim’s story, young readers can follow along with him, even on books they might not be able to tackle on their own. We’ve included indications of where each audio track begins, to help children follow along.
  • Speak great words and sentences out loud by practicing and performing the short, accessible dramatic versions of Jim’s performances. Acting out stories is so much fun that kids don’t realize how much they are learning at the same time. Some of our favorite childhood memories involve staging plays for our family and friends, all inspired by books we had read [Note to Mom: Thirty years later, we can now admit that your lipstick disappeared because we used it for Chief Tecumseh’s war-paint.] Every Companion Reader includes scripts and staging instructions for one full-length play or several shorter presentations: plays, monologues, puppet shows, radio/audio dramas, and more. Actor/writer Chris Bauer provides kid-friendly tips on acting, casting, props, sound effects, and even stage combat (i.e., how King Arthur’s knights can have a sword fight without anybody going to the Emergency Room).

We love making these books, and we hope that they’ll become favorites in your household. See them all here.

If you have a favorite Jim Weiss story that you’d love to see in book form, let us know via email or in the comments.

Well-Trained Mind Press: Stories of the World, for the World’s Children


Why Poetry?

The following was written as an introduction to Jim’s new two-volume collection of classic poems, now available from Well-Trained Mind Press.

This is a collection of wonderful words. Oh, not all of them would seem beautiful or important taken one at a time. But someone loved them enough to form them into poems.  So now they shine a light on the world and on its people; and to suddenly see, as if with newly opened eyes, what had become “every day” in our surroundings is one of the great gifts that poetry brings to a reader or listener. The English poet Percy Shelley said it this way:

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.  

Why is it especially important to encounter poetry when we are young? Because children naturally love poetry and take to it, and it’s important to play to that love before the voices that claim to speak for the serious world of adults start tossing out such adjectives as “frivolous” or “not essential” in describing the arts – because those voices are as wrong as can be.  As Robin Williams’ character says, in the film Dead Poets Society,

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s ‘cute’.  We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion… Medicine, law, business, engineering – these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life.  But poetry, beauty, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for.

Sir Walter Scott, poet and inventor of the historical novel, put it this way:

Teach your children poetry.  It opens the mind, lends grace to wisdom and makes the heroic virtues hereditary.

Surely we could use more “grace” and “wisdom” in our world; but the Scottish lord also pinpointed something that is out of fashion today: “heroic virtues.”  In a world in which heroes and heroines are quickly besmirched and “cut down to size,” the world of poetry and story remains one place where we can still meet and appreciate heroes. And we need heroes to feed our spirits. As the Native American leader Tecumseh said,

When the legends die, the dreams end. There is no more greatness.

Of course, many poets focus on the small miracles around us, rather than working on an epic scale, and these poems are equally important, for they remind us to look for the wonders around and within us, every day. Let the American poet e.e. Cummings, word painter of nature and master of the love poem, say it:

I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing/than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.  

So here I have collected poems, large and small, that sing. Not all will please you equally, or in the same ways, because you are the co-creator of each poem. Carl Sandburg, poet, singer, and Lincoln biographer wrote,

A poet explains… what for him is poetry by what he presents to us in his poems…There stands the work of the man, the woman, who wrought it. We go to it, read it, look at it, perhaps go back to it many a time, and it is for each of us what we make of it.

Here are some of the best poems I know.  Make of them all that you can.  I wish you much joy in the making.


King Arthur Gets a Makeover (Not THAT Kind…)

It happened long ago, in the misty past, in a time we call The Dark Ages…in 1991. A wandering bard named Jim Weiss created a thrilling tale of King Arthur and his brave knights of the Round Table. People listened to the tales of Jim the Bard on ancient devices called “tapes.”

Now, a “tape” was something you could listen to, like Spotify or iTunes, except not like that at all. It had been cursed by a sorcerer so that it would be full of hisses and pops and background hum, and it was hard to find your way to a particular part of the story without constant “rewinding” and “fast-forwarding.” This was quite “tiresome.”

But now, Jim the Bard and Well-Trained Mind Press have re-mastered the original “tapes” so that you can listen to King Arthur and His Knights in a beautiful new edition (available in MP3 or on CD).

We asked Merlin to lift the spell of poor audio quality, so this new edition features crisper sound (listen to the audio comparison below).

It has also been divided into 10 tracks for easy navigation. Furthermore, it has a gorgeous new cover by artist Rebecca Sorge (that’s “Sorge” like “George,” not “Sor-jah” like “Georgia”).

Find the new edition of King Arthur & His Knights here!

[And for you nostalgia buffs, the older edition is still available on CD for a low price, while supplies last.]



We’ve also created an exciting new Companion Reader with colorful illustrations of these classic stories, plus instructions and a script so kids can stage their own play!



(And yes, we included directions about “How to do Stage Combat without actually stabbing anyone.”)



Well-Trained Mind Press

Stories of the World, for the World’s Children


A Sample Lesson from Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind

Watch as Susan and Kevin guide you through a sample lesson from Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind.

Check out our other videos for Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind: Introducing Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind and Teaching Tips for Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind.

Want to dive in? Here is the first six weeks for free!


Susan: I’m Susan Wise Bauer. And I am here with Kevin Boston, who works for the Well-Trained Mind Press. And Kevin has offered to play the role of a somewhat reluctant sixth-grade grammar learner. So we are going to go through Lesson 83, at least part of Lesson 83, which is about conditionals and the subjunctive tense.

We’re not going to do the entire lesson, but I wanted to give you some idea of how grammar for the Well-Trained Mind actually works. I have Lesson 83 from the Core Instructor Text, which has all of the dialog that you use to teach the student. And Kevin has the copy of the Student Workbook, which has all of the rules, examples, and exercises.

If we had done the previous 82 lessons, we would have already studied conditionals. So I’m going to pick up at the point where we are reviewing what a conditional sentence is and then we’re gonna go on to discuss the new material which is the subjunctive tense, an introduction to the subjunctive tense.

Here’s where we’re going to start. We’ve learned that there are three kinds of conditional sentences. So what I would like you to do is to begin by reading me those first three bolded lines there, which is the definition of the first kind of conditional sentence.

Kevin: “The first conditional sentences express circumstances that might actually happen. The predicate of the condition clause is in a present tense. The predicate of the consequence clause is in imperative, present or future tense.”

Susan: Good. Read the first example there.

Kevin: “If we surrender and I return with you, will you promise not to hurt this man?”

Susan: Very good. So what you see there is that, “surrender” and, “return” are in the present tense. That’s the condition clause, and “will promise” is in the future tense, that’s the consequence clause. In the second example, you actually have an imperative in the consequence clause. And what is that sentence?

Kevin: So bow down to her if you want. Bow to her.

Susan: Good. So, “bow” is an imperative verb. Okay, that’s good. Let’s go ahead and review second conditional sentences. Read me those three definitions there.

Kevin: “Second conditional sentences express circumstances that are contrary to reality. The predicate of the condition clause is in a past tense. The predicate of the consequence clause is in the simple present modal tense.”

Susan: Modal tense. That’s right. We’ve studied modal tense before. He has no memory of this, and your sixth grader won’t either. But that’s why you use the program for more than one year in a row.

[To the audience] Let me stop for just one minute. The reading out loud that he’s doing, although it sounds a little bit tedious, is incredibly important. This is a big part of the memory process. So I’m constantly throughout here gonna be asking him to read things out loud. That will help his memory process and also help him to really understand how language works.

[Returning to Kevin] Okay. So you just read me the definition of second conditional sentences. Read me the first example.

Kevin: “I would not say such things if I were you.”

Susan: Very good. Now that first verb is a present modal, “would say.” The second verb is past. So the predicate of the condition clause is in a past tense. If I were you. We won’t read all the examples. Let’s move on and talk about third conditional sentences.

Kevin: “Third conditional sentences express past circumstances that never happened. The predicate of the condition clause is in the perfect past tense. The predicate of the consequence clause is in the perfect present modal, or simple present modal tense.”

Susan: Good. Now in the example, read me the example sentence.

Kevin: “But they would have killed Wesley if I hadn’t done it.”

Susan: Good. “Would have killed” is the perfect present modal. That’s the consequence. If I hadn’t done it, that’s the perfect past. That’s the condition clause. Now what we wanna talk about is something odd that happens to one of these verbs. Each one of those condition clauses that we read has a predicate expressing something that is contrary to fact. Either it didn’t happen, or it couldn’t ever have happened. Or it could have happened, it just hasn’t happened yet. So there are five of those subjects and predicates listed in your work book under the heading contrary to fact. So if you could just read that column out loud.

Kevin: “If we surrender, if you want, if she is, if I were, if we had.”

Susan: Good. Those are all the contrary to fact verbs. Now in the right-hand column, all of those subjects and predicates have been turned from contrary to fact to actual statements of fact. So read them out loud.

Kevin: “We surrender, we want, she is, I was, we had.”

Susan: Good. Now verbs that express unreal situations, so that’s everything in the “Contrary to Fact” column, are said to be subjunctive verbs. Read me the definition of a subjunctive verb.

Kevin: “Subjunctive verbs express situations that are unreal, wished for, or uncertain.”

Susan: Good. That is as opposed to an indicative verb. Read me the definition of an indicative verb.

Kevin: “Indicative verbs affirm or declare what actually is.”

Susan: Now what you’ll notice from those columns is that all of the contrary to fact verbs are subjunctive. All of the fact verbs are indicative. And in most cases, they look almost exactly the same. What is the one verb that has a different form in the subjunctive than in the indicative?

Kevin: “Were” and “was.”

Susan: “Were” and “was.” Exactly. So a long time ago the English language had different forms for all of its subjunctive verbs. Over time most of them fell out of use. So in English today, subjunctive verbs usually look like the regular present tense except for state of being verbs and that’s where we’re gonna see a difference.

[to the Audience] So then the remainder of this lesson, is a set of exercises that will help Kevin to go through and identify when he needs to change the form of the state of being verb in order to make it into a correct subjunctive verb.


Teaching Tips for Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind

Susan provides several tips for getting the most out of our grammar curriculum, Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind.
Check out our other videos for Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind: Introducing Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind and A Sample Lesson from Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind.

Want to dive in? Here is the first six weeks for free!


I’m Susan Wise Bauer and I want to give you a few teaching tips to help you get the most out of our new program, Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind. This is a very thorough, very complete program. It takes students from nouns — a noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea, the most basic grammar rule that there is — all the way through complex sentence structure. And because there’s a great deal of material that’s covered in each year of the program, I want to give you some idea of how to teach it in a way that will avoid frustration, avoid boredom and, above all, avoid tears. We don’t want to have any tears.

Here’s the first thing. When you go through this program, you basically will cover the same material during each of the four years. That repetition is incredibly important. It also means that you shouldn’t expect the student to get it perfectly the first time through. Don’t expect students to master the material the first time through. Don’t expect them to even completely understand every principle, particularly the more complicated ones. You have to be willing to accept some imperfect learning the first time through. The repetition and the practice are what will eventually bring clarity to the student. Accept initial confusion as a natural part of learning, especially the more advanced concepts. Give all help needed, move on. You’re going to circle back around to it again. You don’t have to master it the first time through. So don’t expect perfect learning, that’s the first tip.

Second, this is not a test. Always prompt the student if the student is confused. A learning process means that you give as much help as necessary. You never try to trick the student. You never force the student to come up with an answer, any answer. Prompt them, number two.

Number three, if you’re using the course, you’ll discover that about halfway through from about Week 19, we’d say, “Ask the student to read the answer out loud.” Don’t let them skip this. Okay? Even if they don’t want to do it, they have to read out loud. Reading your own work out loud is a major, major skill when you’re writing and editing your own work. Make them read it out loud. Don’t let them read it silently. That is not an okay shortcut.

Four, the program is set up to be 36 weeks, with 4 days of work per week. Take as long as you want. If a lesson gets long, finish it the next day. If a lesson goes really quickly, you could do two. Remember that you don’t have to finish the entire book the first year. If you go with the student’s natural learning pace and you only get up to Week 20, that’s fine. The next year, go back and start again at Week 1. The earlier weeks will go so much more quickly the second time through that you’ll then be able to spend more time on the more difficult concepts at the end of the book. So you set the pace. Don’t be driven by the setup of the textbook to do more per day than you want to.

Next, remember this. The first time you go through the book, you want to ask the student to complete every part of every exercise. But in subsequent years, the student doesn’t have to do all the exercises. If you go over a concept and it’s clear that they remember it perfectly well from the previous year, skip the exercise and go on. Adjust the workload to fit the student’s understanding. The better they understand, the fewer exercises they need to do.

Final thing, we have diagramming in this book. Diagramming is a fantastic tool for learning grammar because it allows you to draw a picture of the logical relationships between the parts of the sentence. Diagramming is also not an exact science. So first of all, when the student is diagramming, give them every help possible. Don’t let them struggle on and get frustrated. If they can’t figure out how to diagram part of the sentence, use the key, explain it, let them look at the answer, and then move on. But even more than this, if they can figure out the way to diagram the sentence that maybe it doesn’t exactly match what we have in the book, as long as they can explain why they’ve made the choices that they have, then you can let them choose a different way to diagram. Diagramming is a tool. It’s not a test.

Just to come back to what I started with, your whole experience with this program will be better if you remember that it is a learning process. It is not something that the student has to master perfectly and get A’s on all their exercises and tests. Take your time, work through the program, give as much help as necessary.