Elementary writing is really getting good in our home school. Our children are loving to write and they’re learning how to write well. With the introduction ofCreate Better Writers, one of the homeschool programs for K-12 writers, into our writing curriculum, our older children are being prepared to write to their hearts’ content during NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo was a huge success for our two older children last year. I didn’t really prepare them for it as I happened upon it quite by accident, but they still fared very well. They both enjoyed it and were rewarded with their work in print, which really tickled them.
This year, I’m making sure they’re more prepared so as to lighten the load and stress of the month-long challenge. We’ve been preparing in different ways like copying the work of successful writer. We’ve also prepared by doing things according to time-old, homeschool tradition, following a curriculum.
The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew has graciously allowed me to receive the Create Better Writers homeschool programs for free so I could write this review for you. It was perfectly timed, as NaNoWriMo is right around the corner.
Create Better Writers is a multi-book curriculum that is designed to be your complete writing program from ages 3 - 18. It is emphasized over and over that the parent or teacher keep in mind that each book fits into a larger picture of creating better writers. While it may have been a bit hard for me to grasp that concept (The Homschool Action Guide helps a LOT), this video will help you better understand:
When you sign up for the Create Better Writers newsletter you will receive a free download of their publication, “Better Ways of Using ‘Said’’. This e-booklet comes with worksheets, pages of helpful hints and a full lesson to each from. The quality of the content is amazing. Heading for their newsletter sign up page should be one of your first stops on this site.
The e-books I received are the How To Write a Paragraph ($7.99) and the How To Teach the Five Paragraph Essay ($17.95) e-books. For anyone who is better suited reading from a physical book you can buy it for the Essay book only from the website for $19.95.
The first book I looked at is the How To Write a Paragraph e-book. The book is divided up into two parts. Part I shows you how to teach the fundamentals of writing a good paragraph. There are six steps in the first section and five steps in the second section.
Part I starts out with a writing assessment so you know exactly what you’re dealing with and what needs more practice. The student is then taught the five parts of a good paragraph and given the task of memorizing those parts.
Next, comes the helpful visual aid the student will draw for themselves. Each student will make a little diagram of a paragraph, which they mark with important points to remember. A reciting contest is suggested for retention of the parts of the paragraph. David Dye suggests that students who can say the different parts of writing very quickly must have them memorized. While I tend to agree with him on this point, his methods seem a bit classroom-y for my taste. Many parents aren’t going to like the extra pressure their child feels when a performance is demanded of them. Having your child stand up in front of everyone (even in a homeschool setting) can work against them. However, this approach reminds me of the Charlotte Mason technique of narrating. We all know public speaking is a good skill to know.
Last, is the actual paragraph writing practice. Your children will complete a paragraph with you and then on their own. You’ll show them what a good paragraph looks like and then it’s all up to them to create their own.
Part II refines the work you’ve already done with your children in Part I. Here is where you review what makes good topic sentences and closing sentences. Your children practice, practice, practice and even grade each others’ work.
Doing this over and over everyday will solidify in your child’s mind what they are supposed to do. Instead of them floundering for something to write about (and staring off into space wasting precious time) they get right down to doing the steps and overcome any writing anxiety.
This video shows how to teach a child to write a good paragraph:
In the second book I received to review, David teaches you how to lead your children to creating beautifully organized essays. This was very exciting to read about. Saying the word essays can make a child’s heart faint as it did with mine. With David’s method, your child becomes competent in handling this form of writing.
The book builds upon what you already taught them in the first book, How To Write A Paragraph. Instead of just using one main idea when diagramming the paragraph, your child/ren will create three main ideas. After putting those main ideas in the best possible order, your child will also include an introduction paragraph and a closing paragraph.
This e-book comes with a detailed plan for each day you’re teaching. You’re never left alone while teaching so anyone can teach their child/ren. Gone are the explanations that you just aren’t good at writing so you can’t teach it to your children. David fills it all in for you. All you need to do is just pick it up and go!
How To Teach the Five Paragraph Essay will help you encourage your child to conquer their fear of writing, overcome writer’s block and love writing.
This video shows how to teach the five paragraph essay:
Our children learned how to write very good paragraphs. Now we're working on the essays and other forms of writing. I'm so thankful for these books. Before this, writing was scary for them, but now they have an action plan to use that takes all the fear out of writing! With this program you should definitely see the ability to focus and complete the task forming in your child. If you do buy these books, please stop by and let me know how your homeschool used them!
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DISCLAIMER: I received How To Write a Paragraph and How To Teach the Five Paragraph Essay homeschool programs from the TOS Review Crew for free in exchange for my honest opinion.