Watch the answer from Thomas above or read a transcript of the video below.
Anita C. from Garrettson, SD, asks, "What is the best way to make this course effective and yet run independently for my teen?"
Cozy Grammar and Teenage Learners
I love how this question addresses both the issue of how to make effective use of a grammar curriculum, as well as how to honor the sense of independence that teenage learners often desire.
We've had a number of teenage learners use the Basic Cozy Grammar Course and the Basic Cozy Punctuation Course at the high school level. And something that a number of homeschooling families, and a number of homeschooling mothers, have told us is that they really appreciate the fact that they don't have to get in there and do everything with their older students, so they can hand off at least a big chunk of the language arts curriculum or the grammar curriculum. That way their children can go forward with it as they so desire.
So I have three sets of suggestions that address each of these two things: the effective teaching—the effective learning—part of the question, as well as the independent part of the question—the honoring of independence—which is also a way of honoring freedom so that the student feels free to proceed on their own, and the parent feels free to attend to all the other things that they may need to attend to, especially if they're homeschooling.
In fact, as a side note, I think it's quite interesting we've had a number of homeschooling parents who actually have backgrounds in English language or in English literature or even English grammar in some cases, who have been happy to turn the teaching over to Marie and myself and the Cozy Grammar courses simply because it works better for their family dynamic. Which I can certainly honor and respect.
So here are my three sets of suggestions for how to make the courses effective, and yet, at the same time, run independently, especially for teenage students and teenage learners.
Establish a Regular Schedule
So the first suggestion I would have is to find some kind of schedule and create some regular pattern for the student to go through the courses.
For instance, we offer a 36-week suggested schedule which you can use with your learner to help devise a schedule that makes sense for their own habits and attention span and so on. Or it might be something that you come up with together.
The important thing is to have some regular pattern.
I would encourage maybe a Monday through Friday schedule, and say maybe every Monday you would watch the video from Marie. Tuesday you would look at the study notes for Marie's video. Wednesday you would look at the supplementary video from myself in the study notes, and then Thursday might be a day for going through the exercises and maybe even correcting the exercises. Or maybe that would be something for Friday.
There's any number of ways that the schedule can be laid out, but the regularity, I think, is key. It's something that Marie talks about in the preface to the course, about how having some kind of organization can be very helpful.
It can be as simple as determining a place where a student works on grammar. It might be a certain time of the day. They may decide that mornings are a better time to work on grammar. Or evenings. Or even late, at night if the student is a night owl.
The idea is to create a rhythm and this is not just for inculcating a sense of regularity, but this is also because that's how our minds learn best. When we have a regular pattern we tend to absorb material much more easily and readily. It's something that connects deeply I think both to mathematics and to music, or I should say to geometry and music, to the sense of a rhythmic pattern.
And this is in fact part of the reason why Marie chose at the very beginning to have some piano accompaniment in the courses, because these are pieces which have within them a kind of rhythmic integrity, a kind of melodic integrity which has been found in different studies to foster learning and foster attentiveness.
Establish a Form of Accountability
So that's the schedule piece on the side of making the courses effective. Now this also means, on the side of making the courses independent, that once there's a schedule then a student can freely proceed through that schedule with some sense of independence. And so what matters is not necessarily a parent having to go through and check the work or take a close look on things. All the student has to say is, "Oh yes, today I watched the video, today I looked at the study notes.”
And here's one more piece, which is that when we moved the courses to be online we added interactive exercises in the study notes. This means that all of the exercises are graded by the software inside the website and also give feedback to those answers, encouragement when they have been answered correctly, and helpful suggestions and tips when they haven't been answered correctly. So that a parent doesn't necessarily have to get in there and take over the role of correcting the material.
So that's one way that the courses allow for more independence for the students. So that's my first pair of suggestions.
Take Advantage of the Writing Activities
The second suggestion I have is to really take advantage of the writing activities that are embedded in the courses, particularly in Marie's study notes, and also in the study notes to the supplementary videos that I offer.
This is because when we're learning grammar or punctuation, if we keep it just in the air, so to speak, in the airy world of verbs and transitive verbs and intransitive verbs, for example, it doesn't feel very real. It doesn't seem to apply to real life.
That's why we include in the study notes a series of exercises which have students applying those grammatical concepts directly to their writing and to their creative writing. Not just the academic sort of school-oriented writing, but to descriptive activities like writing stories and writing poems, the idea being that the more quickly we integrate our grammatical knowledge with the practice of writing or the practice of speaking the more deeply that knowledge sinks into our awareness of language—our awareness of the capacity of language.
One of the things I always mention about the courses is that Marie put them together and I continue to help foster them in the deep belief that grammar, rather than stifling creativity, can actually enhance it, can actually give us additional tools with which to be creative.
So the second tip as far as working through the courses effectively is to really try all these writing activities.
Share Your Writing with Others
And on the side of independence, these are activities that a student can certainly do on their own, although in almost every case we also encourage students to share what they've written at some point with somebody that they know likes writing. Now this could be a parent. This could be a friend or peer. It could be another family member, an aunt or an uncle, or a family friend.
There is something important about going through the entire process of writing something and then looking over it oneself until one's happy with it and then publishing it or making it public, even if the public is just a friend or a neighbor or a family member. And of course it can also be a parent, depending on the parent's time schedule and the student's interest.
Sharing is important, and allowing the student to decide when they're ready to share a piece of writing or not.
Ask Cozy Grammar!
Now the third pair of tips has to do with seeking out support. That's in fact one of the reasons we started Ask Cozy Grammar, as a way for students, and in some cases parents, to be able to ask me directly about one of the lessons.
In fact we have a question here coming up about one of the lessons, one of the topics, because even with all of the effort we put into doing the study notes and the interactive exercises online there still are occasions where you want to have the direct feedback from a teacher who's actually listening to you.
That's why we started the Ask Cozy Grammar Live Q & A sessions, so students that may have a question that they want to ask me are very highly and warmly encouraged to sign up for the Ask Cozy Grammar sessions.
If that doesn't work for their schedule, I can still try to make an answer and post it in a video form. Or you can even just reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'm happy, as my schedule permits, to at least write a couple of lines in response. We would like to be as helpful and supportive of the process as we can.
And so on the side of independence, of course, we can hand that over to a student. But we can also encourage a student by saying that if you know you're having trouble with any of these lessons don't forget you can always ask a question through Ask Cozy Grammar, or you can even just write to Cozy Grammar and Thomas can reply to you directly.
We’re Here to Help!
So those are the tips that I would have for the best ways to make the course both effective and at the same time to run independently for a teenage learner.
This was from Anita, so Anita I'll give you a chance now, if there's any follow-up questions that you want to ask you can unmute and ask them. Does that help to answer your question, Anita?
Anita: "Yes, it really did. I think you covered it very thoroughly, and you've given me some ideas about taking advantage of your support and I feel like you've made yourself very accessible with the Ask Cozy Grammar sessions and I feel like I can easily have my student contact you directly if she has any questions. So I'm very encouraged by that, and I really appreciate that, and I appreciate you mentioning to take advantage of the writing activities. I think that could be very valuable. So thanks for bringing that up, that was really helpful. Thank you so much!"