Monday, November 2, 2009

Grammar laughter and tears

My second grader detests grammar. She detests it so much that she absolutely refuses to follow almost all of the rules of English grammar when she writes. She also refuses to remember grammatical definitions, examples, jokes, quips ... you get the point. I shouldn't say she refuses to remember them - she remember them just fine when she's playing Mad Libs, reading, or doing anything other than the subject "Grammar." For whatever reason she cannot get through a grammar lesson without causing a scene. Sometimes it's a minor scene and sometimes it's out of this world.

Now lest you think that I am a cruel homeschooler forcing my young child to perform hours of grammar work, diagramming sentences and labeling parts of speech, let me put your mind at ease: we use First Language Lessons. For anyone not familiar, this is an oral program, which means I read the incredibly short lesson, we have a brief diaglogue on the subject, occassionally there is copywork or poetry memorization, etc. Very, very little writing. No diagramming. It's designed for very young (first and second grade) children. My other children love this book. I love this book. The lessons average five minutes. Unless you have a daughter that likes to throw herself on the floor in a dramatic performance worthy of an Oscar. Here's an example.

Our Lesson Today (Lesson 125)

Me: Do you remember the definition of a verb? (I'm thinking of the stacks of Mad Libs this child does with her sisters - she knows what a verb is.)

Her: (clenches fists tight and brings them to her chest; begins trembling and shaking with scarcely contained fury ... but remains silent)

Me: None of that. We're just reviewing here. Please tell me the definition of a verb.

Her: (very loud) I can't!! I just CAN'T!!!!! (falls the ground in tears, sobbing) I don't know!! I CAN'T!!!

Me: (remaining very calm) Please get up. I don't want to her the words "I can't" from you one more time.

Her: (sobbing - stops performance to check my expression and see how serious I am; decides I mean business and stands up, but keeps puts on a pained expression) Okaaay.

Me: Pull yourself together now. We're not kneeling on a bed of nails. This is just the definition of a verb. Remember when you do Mad Libs and the paper asks for a verb - it's also called ...

Five-Year-Old Sibling: An action word! Also state of being. Or linking.

Six-Year-Old Sibling: Or a helping verb - it can help the action verb - like "is crying." (smiles to herself at her little joke - looks to the five-year-old but realizes her audience doesn't get it)

Her: (fists clenched, trembling, shaking) I KNOW ALL THAT!!!!! I JUST CAN'T SAY IT!!!! Why must they interrupt?!?!?!?!? (crying very dramatically, but secretly looking to see our reaction)

Five-Year-Old Sibling: So we don't have to listen to your boring old lesson anymore.

Six-Year-Old Sibling: Yeah!

Me: That's enough, girls (although secretly agreeing with the younger siblings). And that's enough of this. You're going to have to write the definition of a verb if you won't simply say it.

Her: No! Not writing!! (sounding desperate at the thought of writing, although she writes stories, keeps a journal and writes letters in her free time) ... Okay. FINE! (sigh - tears stop, she's suddenly FINE) A verb is a word that does an action, shows a state of being, links two words together or helps another verb.

Me: Great! Perfect. ... Now, can you give me an example of a word that does an action?

Her: (Raises clenched fists to her chin, begins shaking and trembling) I CAN'T!!!!!!

Five-Year-Old Sibling: Here we go again....

1 comment:

  1. Ack, this sounds like my son sometimes!

    "Here Gavin, you did this correctly, but made a tiny error here..."


    "Yes you can, sweetie. You did the rest of the work correctly. Just one correction needs to be made."


    I feel your pain and love the honesty.