We have fallen in love with a very unique method of grammar, called the K.I.S.S. Approach and designed by Dr. Ed Vavra, a professor of English grammar at Penn College. We encourage you to visit his website and read more about the K.I.S.S. Approach at http://home.pct.edu/~evavra/KISS.htm. The K.I.S.S. Approach is available, free of charge, to any teachers who would like to use it, and considerable helps are available at his website. We are excited to announce that Dr. Vavra (and others) have compiled complete teaching schedules and worksheets at his website. You can read complete instructions and print out worksheets at http://home.pct.edu/~evavra/kiss/wb/PBooks/index.htm.
Before you visit his website and discover this simple method for teaching grammar to your children, let’s introduce you to the K.I.S.S. Approach. First, your objective will be that, by the time your children graduate from high school, they will be able to correctly explain how every word in a sentence grammatically connects to the main subject/verb pattern. We also want your children to learn how the brain processes what it reads in sentences, so that they will have an understanding of why some sentences are “better” than others. In other words, we want to help you produce students with a FIRM grasp of their language, who in turn can USE that language with confidence in their writing and speaking.
Dr. Vavra lists four unique characteristics of the K.I.S.S. Approach:
- Right from the beginning, students will work with randomly selected, “real” texts, rather than carefully constructed sentences designed just for a grammar textbook. This ensures that the students will learn how grammar works in real-life writing.
- This approach is cumulative. Students need to have a good understanding of prepositions (3rd grade) before they attempt to move on to sentence patterns (4th-6th grades). Each level builds upon the previous level. The cumulative nature of the approach ensures that students can identify the grammatical parts of a sentence easier, they get lots more review, and slower students will have plenty of time to catch up.
- This approach is sequential. Students will follow a definite sequence as they search for the various grammatical parts of a sentence. Following the definite sequence is the key to success! In addition, studies have shown that students will retain an understanding of grammar much better if they study it one aspect at a time, over many years, rather than trying to understand all the parts of speech in one year and then having to apply that understanding for the rest of their days.
- Students are expected to be able to identify in a text ALL of the parts of grammar they have mastered to that point. Rather than permitting our children to understand only 70% of the grammar they learn (would we permit that in our surgeons?), we encourage you to aim for the goal of 100% understanding!
Following Dr. Vavra’s research and recommendations, we don’t advise beginning formal grammar instruction until third grade. If you have older children, we highly recommend that you back them up to Level A (3rd grade) as well, even if you don’t need to spend quite as long reinforcing the concepts before they’re back up to “grade level.” However, if you have the luxury of starting all your children in Level A in 3rd grade, then the following is Dr. Vavra’s recommended sequence through the levels. (Click the links to read more specific advice on teaching each level.)
Note: We recently discovered some problems with our files for Levels B and C. We will try to get these corrected as soon as possible! (10/15/08)
Level D – 10th grade
Level E – 11th, 12th grades
Finally, one of the best features of the K.I.S.S. Approach is that you’ll only need to spend four or five hours per YEAR discussing grammar. This translates into talking about one sentence a day, every day, every year. Most homeschooling mothers with many children to teach are practically dancing for joy at this news! In addition, with only a few exceptions, you can use the SAME sentence to teach grammar to all of your children, from 3rd grade through high school! You can choose these sentences from a favorite book you’re reading, from the newspaper, from the Bible, and from many other possibilities, or you can use the worksheets available from Dr. Vavra’s website.
We’ve never met a more practical, natural, yet more thorough method for teaching English grammar. We hope that your family will become a group of “Grammar Nerds” with a passion for effectively communicating for God’s glory!