The third pillar of education is grammar. Many people think grammar is relatively unimportant, one of those distasteful subjects forced upon us during our schooling years that we will never use again. And for the most part, grammar remains a mystery of tangled confusion in most people's minds. In other words, many of us did not learn grammar well in our grade school/high school years, and we certainly weren't taught why it was important. I mean, who goes around diagramming sentences as an adult??
So the first hurdle to overcome is the tendency to dismiss grammar as an unnecessary evil that we can well do without. But, if handwriting and spelling are the initial supports of writing, a good grasp on grammar is the next major support. Understanding grammar takes writing skills to a whole new level. A knowledge of grammar enables your students to write in a more complex way and adds power to their writing. It gives them the tools to edit their own writing and to craft it into a work of art. And without an understanding of grammar, punctuation becomes a guessing game and cannot be properly utilized.
Grammar is a skill that needs to be taught and learned. Like any skill, it takes time and practice to become proficient at it, and there's always room for improvement and more learning. But the more grammar is understood, the more it becomes second nature. Then writing can really take off; an understanding of grammar gives wings to our students' writing. Once the skill of grammar is learned well, writing becomes more of a joy—or at least, much less of a strain.
One year I taught a neighborhood group of home-school students. I was excited to teach them the tools of grammar. I well remember that first day telling them that grammar (which none of them were excited about because it seemed so difficult) was EASY! You only had to learn 9 parts of speech. One girl commented, "Yeah, but each of those 9 parts of speech has tons of other parts under them." Well, . . . I had to admit she was right. But still, grammar is comprehensible for anyone and not all that difficult.
By breaking it down and taking it step by step, as you would any other skill, grammar becomes a supportive pillar to all other aspects of learning. For grammar is not only necessary for good writing, which is required in almost every area of life; but grammar is also helpful in studying other subjects. I have found grammar very illuminating as I study the Bible, and most helpful in learning another language. It provides a framework of understanding that aids in reading and in assimilating the writings of others.
All acquired skills add value and ease to our lives, giving us a broader reach. Grammar is no different. Give your students—your children—the gift of grammar.