Where Do I Start With Grammar?

When beginning a homeschooling grammar program, you probably wonder what curriculum would be best for you. Let us help you figure out where to begin, if you’re using one of our great options: First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind and Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind.

First Language Lessons is an easy-to-use four-year grammar curriculum for the early elementary years. With it, you can give your child a strong foundation in clear communication and skills necessary for good writing. Topics covered include: punctuation, parts of speech, capitalization, contractions, dictionary usage, letter-writing, and sentence diagramming.

Generally, first and second graders should begin with First Language Lessons Level One. (Levels one and two used to be combined in the same book. We broke them up for consistency and ease of use with our other materials. So, Level two assumes the student has already gone through Level one.) Following Level Two, Level Three assumes the student has had no previous grammar instruction and thoroughly reviews everything found in levels One and Two (at a third grade pace) before introducing sentence diagramming. A fourth grader should begin with Level Four.

First Language Lessons provides students with the perfect introduction to language to begin Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind.

Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind takes middle-grade students (roughly 5th-8th grade, though some students start in 6th or 7th) from basic definitions through advanced sentence structure and analysis—all the grammar skills needed to write and speak with eloquence and confidence and be prepared for high school and college work. The curriculum is best suited for students who have a grasp of diagramming and a strong foundation in grammar and the English language. Because Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind is aimed towards older students, the curriculum moves faster and uses more complex sentences as examples. For a guide to make Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind work for your student, check out our Teaching Tips.

The primary difference between Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind and First Language Lessons, aside from their age level difference, is that First Language Lessons is sequential while Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind is cyclical. Remember that when using Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind, there are no “years” or “levels” as such. Any level of Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind is a good place to start with any student 5th grade and up.

The most important rule when using either grammar curriculum is patience. The goal is proficiency, not a rapid progress through workbooks. Build your students’ understanding and mastery of grammar rules; a lifetime of clear communication awaits.

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9 thoughts on “Where Do I Start With Grammar?

  1. How about a student entering 5th who has never used any of this curriculum. He has used traditional brick and mortar school curriculum and is fairly well versed in parts of speech and rules of grammar. However, he has never learned any aspect of sentence diagraming. I am thinking that Level for of First Language Lessons would be appropriate.

    1. Certainly, Level 4 of First Language Lessons would be a good place to start in that situation. There’s no need to rush!

  2. Where does a child go after completing Grammar for the Well Trained Mind? WTM says that students need to progress through a tenth grade grammar curriculum, so I’m debating about switching from Rod and Staff only to have to go back to it. (My oldest two will be in 8th and 5th and have done all of FLL and WWE, then WWS and Rod and Staff English 5th-7th for my oldest.)

    1. Our most up-to-date advice, taking into account “Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind” (which was not yet complete when WTM was written), is this: Students who finish all four years of “Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind” will have a thorough grasp of the English language. No further grammar studies/curricula will be necessary.

  3. I am a bit confused on which level I should purchase. I went through Language Lessons 1 with my first grader, for second grade she went to a classical school where they continued doing grammar. I am now homeschooling her for third grade. Should I purchase level 3 or 4 for her?

  4. What age do I start the whole process? Like when do I start teaching my kids? 4, 5? Do I work with them for fun before that with phonics or?

    1. It’s generally good to start this type of grammar program in first or second grade, transitioning slowly from oral lessons to lessons that require more physical handwriting. Before that, you can help them learn to learn the letters & combinations and then learn to read (our “Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading” is perfect for that). There’s a LOT more detail about this in our book “The Well-Trained Mind.”

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