The ladies over at Analytical Grammar recently sent out an excellent post in support of delaying formal grammar instruction until the student is at least 10 years old—just as Charlotte Mason advocated.
Read Erin and Robin’s timely advice and be encouraged that Charlotte Mason’s ideas really do work!
Here is their post reprinted by permission.
Should you start teaching grammar by age 3?
If you speak English correctly in your household, you ARE teaching grammar from the time your child is born. Kids are fantastic mimics and learn a LOT by simply hearing and reading the language used correctly. Most toddlers know the difference between “Mommy is eating ice cream” and “Ice cream is eating mommy.” They’ll laugh. The only difference between the two sentences is the grammar, right? Why then are so many people teaching formal grammar to first graders? Do they really need to understand the intricacies of adverbs at that age? More importantly … CAN they?
Grammar is not a large body of knowledge. If you start very early, there’s only so much you can cover before it becomes too complex. That being said, just covering the easy stuff doesn’t have much of a payoff and it’s much faster to teach those concepts once a child is really ready to learn the “rest of the grammar story.”
So when is the right time? We recommend teaching FORMAL grammar beginning in 4th or 5th grade. We want students to be good readers and have the ability to do some multi-step analytical thinking. Our Jr. Analytical Grammar programs, JAG and JAG: Mechanics, are specifically designed to introduce formal grammar study, followed by punctuation and usage, to a late-elementary student. After that students move to the Analytical Grammar program.