When I was researching homeschool curricula, I made charts to compare my top three or four choices for history, math, writing, spelling, and grammar. Last week I began sharing my comparison of grammar curricula, starting with ABeka language arts last week. My top four choices for grammar following the classical model for younger grades were ABeka, Rod & Staff, Primary Language Lessons, and First Language Lessons.
The thoughts shared here are my own personal thoughts based on what I’ve read. I noted price, description, and what I perceived to be the weaknesses and strengths of a curriculum based on our philosophy of education, users’ reviews, and practical aspects of our family.
If you are researching curricula, Cathy Duffy’s site is helpful to succinctly describe how a specific curriculum works. For actual user’s reviews, look on The Well-Trained Mind forums or Homeschool Reviews.
Rod and Staff (R&S) is similar to ABeka in philosophy, both curricula fitting the traditional model of education. Both are recommended in The Well-Trained Mind for grammar. Our Bible institute here in South Africa uses Rod and Staff’s grammar handbook for its English course, so I had an opportunity to peruse that during my research of curricula.
“English 3 has 125 regular lessons and 10 review lessons. Communication skills are taught. Understanding sentence type and structure is basic to writing sentences, and then paragraphs and stories. Sentence parts are studied, and some simple diagramming. Nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs and their correct usage are exercised. Dictionary work, capitalization and punctuation, proofreading, and communication skills round out this English course.
“A separate booklet of 70 worksheets is available for additional practice. These may be used as workbooks for all the students or as a resource for the teacher to select and copy the ones needed.
“A test booklet provides a test for each of the 5 units.
“The teacher’s manual gives guidance for presenting the lessons. It shows a reduced copy of the pupil’s pages with the answer key beside the exercises. Answer keys are also included for the worksheets and text booklets.”
- Rigorous, excellent, demanding, no-fluff curriculum.Very strong in grammar and punctuation. Includes diagramming in elementary.
- Worksheets (which begin in 3rd) can be copied and used for the other students. These are extra. (There are only 70 for 3rd grade.) You only purchase them for extra practice, if desired. Includes 5 tests.
- Includes instruction in composition.
- One of the cheaper options, including more non-consumable options.
- Begins in 2nd grade with no worksheets. (This is only a weakness if you wanted something for first grade. Most educators don’t start grammar instruction until second grade.)
- Well-Trained Mind says it may be too much copywork and physical writing, even for grades 3-4.
- Not as scripted as First Language Lessons or ABeka.
- Some complain that though it is thorough, it gets dull year after year. Most grammar courses do get charged with boring to death and being repetitive, but R&S gets this comment more than some. Its workbook isn’t as colorful as ABeka’s.
Comments or Modifications:
As with ABeka, I respect R&S most for its thorough, God-honoring grammar course, as well as its excellent spelling course. Their composition beats ABeka’s, but rarely do users use solely R&S for writing. R&S’s writing instruction would be sufficient though, especially for the upper grades when the course understandably begins to emphasize composition more. Some find the amount of guidance for writing limited and frustrating and use another writing course. If you do use another writing course, skip the writing lessons in R&S, so as not to overly tire children.
You can start R&S at any grade level, as it reviews previous years’ work. Some say the second grade course is structured differently than the other years, and that it’s fine to just start in third grade with the formal grammar. Make sure to look at the samples before buying each grade. You may not need the teacher’s manual for second grade, for example.
For 3rd grade: $13 textbook, $3.25 worksheets, $2.25 tests, $16 teachers manual=$34.50 (Most users do not buy both worksheets and tests, and some do not buy either.)
Grade 4: Total is $42.50. Each grade thereafter increases about $3 in total for the entire set.
I found this homeschool forum thread comparing R&S and ABeka grammar.
I will continue to post my thoughts on my other top two choices for grammar every week for “Trivium Tuesday.”
You might also be interested in my History Curricula Comparison.