At least not completely. My fifth grader is taking Apologia Zoology, Total Language Plus, and My Father’s World Geography. The Zoology is going great, but because it’s a co-op class the teacher is not assigning any writing. The Geography class is also multi-level, and once again–no writing assignments. For the Language Arts class, the teacher is trying to assign writing, but no one does them, including my daughter. I should feel bad about this, but I don’t.
Total Language Plus is set up to primarily focus on reading, comprehension, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. The writing assignments are grouped with the enrichment activities and little to no guidance is provided. The writing assignments are all topic focused, not method focused. This doesn’t help children who don’t know how to write a paragraph. There’s no direction!
At home, we are using Write from History, which will help solidify her foundation, but she should be writing something in every subject. If we were covering all of these classes at home, I could extend the Charlotte Mason methods in Write from History across all of her content subject areas. But, by not being her main teacher for every subject, it’s extremely hard to assign more work on top of what she is already doing. And we have daily assignments in each co-op class! It’s not going as I expected.
My daughter is probably a little advanced in the area of writing. Before I created Write from History, we used Classical Writing Aesop A/B and Classical Writing Homer A. I quit half-way through Homer because I was not satisfied with the method of implementation. For me, the program was too cluttered. It was just too hard and time-consuming to implement. But, in addition to those programs, we also did copywork, narration, and some dictation from the pre-cursor to Write from History.
So she has been writing, but now it’s dropped to half of what she was doing.
Our co-op is a blessing, and I love it. My kids are doing excellent work for their co-op teachers. They are becoming more independent, and I am very pleased with that. They are doing great and thriving from the interaction with the other kids, and because I’m not their sole teacher, they are not expecting me to do everything, or anything for that matter, to help them. Co-op has been great for their confidence and independence; however, they’re not learning exactly what I want them to learn.:-(
Next year, I can fix this problem by either putting my daughter in a writing class and not a language arts class, although there should be writing in the language arts classes as well; or I can work with the co-op on incorporating more writing throughout the lower levels.
But what about this year? Well, I have a solution!
We are going to mix IEW and this wonderful little ebook I found on currclick to teach paragraph writing. I own two of the IEW programs: SWIC for teaching writing at the high school level, and TWSS that I purchased when I first began homeschooling, but I’ve never used.
So, I downloaded the free lesson share plans for SWIB for my daughter, but with that I’ll use the ebook called Paragraph Writing Made Easy. Both of these only cover 1 semester, which will be perfect for us. She’ll continue to do Write from History, even though she’s moving forward toward more advanced writing without models. Narration, I can easily incorporate with the co-op classes by requiring her to tell me what she just read. That only requires a little bit of time, but provides huge benefits. The homework from the classes just makes it impossible for me to add more work on top of what they are already doing.
I could have her write about Zoology, but if she’s spending 3 to 5 hours on the subject already, I think it would be demotivating to add more work on the same subject. She is still only 10 and spending more than 30 minutes on one subject can become tedious, and it completely goes against the principle of short lessons.
Next year, I’ll do a better job of picking co-op classes for her, until then I think we have a solution.
To check out Paragraph Writing Made Easy, check here. And of course to see Write from History for the Ancients check here.
And btw, just to be clear, once a child can write, they should be writing across most of their subjects. It is the best way for students to communicate what they’ve learned, and the best way for teachers to assess comprehension. I believe that elementary children need foundational programs such as Write from History, Writing Tales, Writing with Ease, Institute for Excellence in Writing, or Classical Writing. However, writing should not be limited to the writing curriculum. And in my daughter’s case, I’m having to add a more advanced writing curriculum that will meet her needs and will compensate for the lack of writing in her other classes. The combination of this curriculum plus Write from History should serve her well.
My 9 year old son, on the other hand, doesn’t need anything more than Write from History. And he may not for a few years. He isn’t as far along with writing. We’ll see how he progresses. His oral narrations and written summations from Write from History along with the oral narrations from his other classes are enough for him. He is doing copywork for his Zoology class, and writing answers to his Language Arts class. The combination, for him, from co-op is actually sufficient. He’s getting practice in writing sentences and oral narrating across the curriculum, as well as formal writing lessons from Write from History–narration, copywork, and dictation. He’s covered.
One of my daughter’s strong suits happens to be writing, and I don’t want to ignore that topic just because she is where she should be. I want to continue to challenge her even if she’s further ahead than she needs to be. Children should be challenged in every subject they take. They should not spend time spinning their wheels learning nothing new.
In fact, wheel spinning is my daughter’s weakness; she loves to coast, and being ahead can exacerbate this flaw. I can’t let that happen. She needs more; my son, who is a very bright young man, doesn’t. Every child is different. So, if you have a middle school student that needs more work on different kinds of paragraphs–just beyond what Write from History offers–check out Paragraph Writing Made Easy. It’s inexpensive and worth the risk. I have only just purchased it and printed it out. But I’m excited because I believe it has what my daughter needs. After using it for a couple of months, I’ll post a real review on it. :-)
I’m so glad this is resolved. This issue has been plaguing me for weeks, maybe months.