Writing has become the bane of my existence in terms of our homeschool. I have two bright and funny boys that HATE to write. One of my boys has dyslexia and the other has sensory processing issues. They both struggle with executive function delays.
This means that handwriting is a struggle and spelling is a struggle and organizing ideas is a struggle. This homeschooling mom needs lots of chocolate, coffee, and wine to get through the day.
Since I am desperately trying to battle the baby weight (the baby is well over 3 now), it can create a pressurized situation where something could blow any moment. As a result, I have been looking for a very special approach in homeschool writing curriculum that allows for development without tears (mine or theirs).
What that means for our academics.
My kids, like many kids, have an incredibly low frustration tolerance. This means that as soon as it gets hard they are ready to throw in the towel completely or at least put the bare minimum effort in so that I will do it for them. They are willing to take my fussing and complaining because they still get out of it.
Academics (for the most part) has always come very easily to me. So while I can try to sympathize, my empathy is often lacking. The words, “suck it up, buttercup” come out of my mouth often.
If you have kids that love school and academics come easily, you are probably giving me a little side eye. I get it. The thing is that when I talk to other parents of kids with learning struggles or dual exceptionality I often hear the same thing. It is hard to determine when there is actually frustration and the need for assistance versus complaining and not wanting to expend the energy.
Just because you can do doesn’t mean you can teach.
I am a decent writer and organization of ideas comes relatively easy to me, but I have NO IDEA how to break it down and teach it. It is something that just came naturally to me. Now keep in mind we have worked on the basic parts of speech for years.
When I had the chance to try out a new writing curriculum that was more scripted and slower paced, I jumped on the chance to see if this could help my kids across the threshold. I was compensated for my time and given the product for review, the opinions are my own. Additionally, this post may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosures, here.
This summer we had a chance to work with Apologia using their Writers In Residence . While we are a Christian household, we typically try to use secular resources. This is not a secular resource, but it has been simple to adapt to our needs. It is designed with a spotlight on Christian writers at the beginning of each unit that you could use or ignore.
Finding a homeschool writing curriculum that is a good fit has made a huge difference.
The book provides an organized and repeated approach which is exactly what we need. It is designed with the traits of good writing in mind. The six traits are ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence structure, and conventions.
It also continues to bring students back to the writing process. The process is not linear but has specific stages: planning, drafting, revising, editing, and polishing.There are four types of writing prompts used that focus on stretching the student to remember, imagine, investigate, and think.
It includes explicit language arts instruction and spelling can be implicitly taught through editing and revision. We add additional spelling because my kids require explicit instruction.
This writing curriculum is designed for the student to take ownership. The parent’s role is as the audience for the student’s work. The focus is on working together rather than adversarial, “What a child writes is a window into that child’s intellectual life and development”. Focusing on a respected collaboration.
There are rubrics that the student completes to evaluate their work. This was a wonderful addition. These are not the typical rubrics that you might see or use, but these rely heavily on student’s evaluation of their own effort and quality. I found my own kids to be more honest about it than I had thought and it took away the mean mom/teacher role I had felt because they were evaluating for themselves.
So let me give you a brief walk through of our experience.
The first unit is called When I Was Young.
Students are given an example of writing in the style that they will be asked to work through in the unit. The model that is used in this unit is an excerpt from Cynthia Rylant’s When I Was Young in the Mountains.
Students are asked to remember their favorite childhood place. From that first writing experience, the student uses those memories and go through the writing process. He applies the six traits of writing in a step by step process presented in different modules of the unit.
Along the way, they’re introduced to concepts such as vigorous verbs, specific nouns, and different types of sentence structure (presented in every unit in a module called The Writer’s Workshop).
My kiddos have given it a thumbs up. They even showed it to their uncle who was in town for a visit. That is a big win.
Interested in learning more about Apologia’s Writers in Residence
Apologia has its own blog, homeschool-101 and it is packed full of goodies for homeschoolers like this eclipse book.