I have taught writing for many years – to middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college level. I was a writing and English tutor for also – to both public school students and homeschoolers.
We don’t use a writing curriculum in our homeschool because I am confident in my teaching methods.
We have reviewed IEW and it’s a good program. We’ve used workbooks, monthly calendar journal topics, and scripted curricula to see if it would help or interest my kids with writing.
I found most of it was worthless busy work.
We do lots of informal writing in journals and notebooking pages from preschool on. When left alone, kids love to write, mimicking their parents, elder siblings, anyone they see writing regularly. I keep regular prayer journals and we love notebooking.
I never pressure my kids to write. I only encourage them to write formally in high school.
The early years are for the gathering of facts, memorizing, filling the empty bucket with so much knowledge, stored for use later on. These are the grammar years and we focus on play, experiential learning, basics of reading, writing, and math. Exploring with science and history and art and music and great literature. Journaling is more for handwriting practice with copywork, memorization, and fact recording. Form and quality is more important than quantity.
The middle years are for making connections with all that knowledge stored away. Grammar rules begin to make sense. I love to see the beginnings of self-correction in their behavior. The understanding of relationships among people, events, and experiences help with the overall comprehension of history, science, the arts, and literature. We continue to explore the world around us and journal about it more purposefully. I limit anxiety by eliminating grades – and correction unless asked. I begin teaching good writing methods, like eliminating slang, contractions, and filler phrases sucah as “needless to say.” I address indenting and correct pronunciation. Reader notebooks are a great way to interact with books and begin to synthesize with reading.
The upper years are for synthesis with the knowledge and connections. This is when abstract thinking comes into play. There’s no sense wasting time forcing kids to learn to write when they still can only think concretely. Sure, they can memorize the methods, but the magic is lost. Waiting until high school to encourage writing is so much more fulfilling. We work on analyzing literature, history, psychology, sociology – comparing and contrasting, research and criticism.
Here is a PDF file of my Paragraph Instruction outline.
I have used this paragraph outline with my own children, middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college level students.
The best way to learn how to write is to practice.
I don’t expect the same quality paragraph from an elementary student that I do from an 8th grader. I expect more from college students than I do high schoolers. But the difference lies mainly in complexity and vocabulary. The format is the same across the board.