It’s a bit like losing your group on a hike. One moment you’re chatting, singing, occasionally stopping to admire the view. Not really giving much thought to the map. Then you fall behind. The group rounds the bend without you, and you’re on your own.
You still have to walk the route. There’s no other way home (and you *will* get home. You can’t lose faith when you’re on your own in the mountains). But now you won’t be smelling flowers and sharing round boiled sweets. You’ll be hyper-focused on every turn of the path – being solely responsible for both choosing the right way to your destination, and not losing your footing.
This is a very long introduction to the question of how to teach your child grammar. It’s one of many stages of the journey to speech that we have had to work through in a structured way – when it seemed to ‘just happen’ for her peers. I don’t know whether this is because she inately finds language harder – or if it’s the cost of her not having been able to join in the preschooler chatter.
We rounded the vocabulary bend alone buoyed by cheerful preschooler apps which drilled words with flashcards and games (I’m reviewing our favourites on this blog). But her sentences still sounded wrong. The verbs were missing. My ten year old was tickled that his four year old sister was learning about verbs at the same time that he was – and it feels a bit mad to be formally explaining grammar to such a small child. Tenses are even more of a head-scratcher. She’s trapped in the present tense – no past, no future, no speculative imperfect.
I’ll break the actual strategies that have helped us across separate posts tagged #grammar – to keep things properly indexed and manageable length. Like a sturdy stick you find by the side of the road, some ideas are ‘big’ ideas that you travel with for a while, some ideas are ‘small’ ideas, which keep everyone entertained and motivated for a week or two. They all have their place in keeping things progressing.