Teaching Formal Writing: The When, What and How…
Although many might consider 1st-grade a little too soon to start teaching formal writing, it is a good idea to start training them young on good simple sentence writing. Yes, it is early, and I encourage to use a very gentle approach to writing during the early elementary years just as “Essentials in Writing“ does. If we push too hard too soon, some children will resist and dread learning how to write for years to come, having a long hard journey ahead of them. I have personally made that mistake.
For many decades there has been a shift in what is considered most important when it comes to picking the best approach to teaching writing. Back in the days, grammar was the main focus when teaching this subject. Later on, a new school of thought worried that in putting so much emphasis on grammar would take away from a child’s creative writing experience. Many thought kids would be too worried about the mechanics of writing instead of enjoying a freewriting journey. Recently, however, Common Core has brought the focus back on the importance of rigorous writing. So with all of this back and forth, what should we do? What’s the best approach?
Well considering many high school students in recent years lack proficiency in writing, it might be a good idea trying to find a balance between the two. In doing so we will be laying the foundation they need to successfully complete a college-level English Composition class in the future. I personally knew I wouldn’t be a good candidate to do such an important job. English is not my first language and writing is not my strong trait (yup, I write a blog, I know…🤦♀️). Kids need teachers with good and solid writing training background so when the day comes, they will pass that ACT writing exam with flying colors!💯🎉
Before “Essentials in Writing”… 😭
When we first started using “Essentials in Writing” my eldest son was a reluctant scarred writer who had very little self-confidence and writing time equaled crying time.😢
How did we get to this point so soon? Well, when my son was in 1st-grade, the curriculum we used at the time introduced Creative writing when he didn’t even know the difference between a subject and a predicate. My 1st-grader who hadn’t even mastered reading, spelling, or even forming a simple sentence yet, was having to write multi-draft stories. From writing about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington Carver, and many more, my child was pushed to do too much too soon. Sure he completed his assignments (with many tears and frustrations), but each and every time he did, that love for creative writing he was supposed to develop was slipping further and further away from him.
“Essentials in Writing” to the Rescue… 🚑😍
After researching the so many formal writing curriculums available to homeschoolers out there, (I had to follow my “How to Choose the Right Homeschool Curriculum” guidance), “Essentials in Writing” stood out to me as the best fit for our situation and we began using it as our 2nd-grade writing curriculum. “Essentials in Writing 2“ turned out to be a match made in Heaven for my son and me.😇
This is a DVD based writing curriculum, and I like to call it the Math-U-See of writing! The teacher and founder Matthew Stephens, presents each lesson in an Easy, Short, and Straight to the point way. Video lessons are fairly modern and up to date, and he does a very good job of keeping children engaged by teaching in a relatable and fun way. “Essentials in Writing” completely took the struggle away from learning AND teaching formal writing! As someone who has not learned English as their first language, I find EIW video lessons to alleviate the burden of teaching something I feel I’m not good at doing.
It is worth noting “Essentials in Writing” is a Complete Writing curriculum as it teaches both Grammar and Writing at each level. The first half of each level covers basic grammar and sentences, while the second half teaches basic Composition. Each video lesson is about 3 to 5 minutes long, and it takes the student about 10-15 minutes to complete each lesson from start to finish. My son who is now in 3rd-grade is already able to follow and complete lessons independently,😊and knowing his fairly recent past writing struggles, shows how great this program is.
“Essentials in Writing” uses a very gentle approach to writing. It prides itself in introducing only “small chunks” of information per lesson and giving students short daily assignments, which are explained Step-by-Step in each video lesson. Their approach and method makes this program the “Saving Grace” for reluctant writers and also a great pick for boys, who often struggle with learning formal writing more than girls do. My now 3rd grader is thriving using this curriculum and I’ve also started using Level 1 with his younger brother. There is no other writing curriculum I would consider using and I can confidently say my research is over as we have found “The One”!
If you have a struggling writer, whether they are younger or older, this curriculum might be the key to unlock their “writer’s block”.🔐🔑
**For kids in higher grades, this company also offers “Essentials in Literature” and scoring services for grading upper grades writing assignments.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”