If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that I have a child with dyslexia and dysgraphia. This means my kid struggles with both reading and writing. It makes teaching language arts more than a little challenging. Because of those challenges, we haven’t done a lot of formal grammar lessons. It seems silly to focus on understanding grammar when a child isn’t ready to apply those skills. My own style of homeschooling teaches grammar in a very gentle way but kids with learning disabilities often need more explicit instruction.

Teaching Grammar

This doesn’t mean I never taught grammar before to this kid. However, we mostly just played with grammar before now. We did MadLibs. We made silly sentences. I pointed out punctuation. But we didn’t get serious about it.

But this year, this kid decided to work on learning Latin. And part of learning another language means that words like “subject-verb agreement” have a new meaning that we need to explore. To work on this, I purchased Winston Grammar.

Why Winston is Different

The Winston Gramma program states that it is for grades 4 to adult. As you all know, I love when a program doesn’t focus on being right for a single grade level and instead teaches the material for a range of ages. It covers a wide range of topics and builds on itself in a way that seems to be working well for us. And the OT in me loves that it has both a hands-on component and a way to work on repetition that allows kids to be successful even if they struggle to remember the rules week-to-week.

Let’s dig into the program a bit. The first thing I noticed about the workbook was that it has a lot of space between the sentences that your student needs to examine. When a person has dyslexia, it can be a struggle to stay on the right line and not be distracted by words that are too close together. The Winston workbook has solved that problem by giving a full inch of space between each sentence the student is working with. For that alone, I would give it a gold star.

Making it Multisensory

However, what I love even more, is that the program teaches each part of speech and then gives the student a small colored card with a short explanation and hint to help them find those words in the sentence. For each lesson, the student has their set of cards to help them identify parts of speech, marking them by underlining or writing above the words. For my student, we have created abbreviations so that they have to write even fewer letters, to help with the dysgraphia. They just write enough to identify the word type.

The lessons start slowly. Identifying just articles in Lesson 1. However, each lesson adds a new thing the student must identify—nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc.—with regularly spaced lessons to review all that they have learned so far.

I would give this program 5 stars now for 2 simple reasons. The biggest is that my child agrees to do it, which is huge for a language arts curriculum. However, a few months after digging into this program, my kid came to me and said “Mom, my Latin program makes so much more sense now. I understand what they’re talking about when they say a word is an adverb.” That right there is what I wanted. Hooray!

Continuing On

All that said, the program has a total of 30 lessons, and I doubt we will finish it all in one school year. While an older student could definitely do so, we like to go slowly and I think rushing through won’t be best for my student. Instead of pushing through the whole program in one school year, I plan to do about half of it this year, and we will pull out The Winston Grammar program again next year. That way my student has another chance to remember things that don’t make it to long-term memory the first time. Learning grammar isn’t something I think should be covered just once, but we also don’t do it every day. Spreading it out and reviewing periodically means my student has the best chance of remembering all of these things once graduation rolls around.

Looking to try Winston Grammar yourself?

It is available on Amazon, Thriftbooks, and Rainbow Resource, as well as from their own website, www.WinstonGrammar.com. Note there is a teacher’s book along with a student workbook and the cards I talked about.

About the Author

Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.

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