The Best Writing Course for Kids…
I know, I know, everyone says that IEW is the best homeschool writing course out there. And I have to admit that I haven't really looked into it a lot, but whenever I start to, it quickly becomes apparent how much work it would take on my part to learn the system so I could teach it, not to mention the cost of the materials. The main clincher for why I haven't gone this route, is that I always get the feeling there's a LOT of work required from the kids. I'm sure some kids and some parents can rise up to that challenge. Not us. We're finishing our third year of homeschooling, and more and more I'm realizing that best for our family is the KISS plan:
My goal is that our kids come out on the other side of this homeschooling adventure as confident people who are solid in the basics. In this new world we live in, everything else you need can be found in specific training for your career choice or on the internet. Yes, I could fill up their every day with monotonous busy work, or I could continue with what we're doing these days:
- Mostly reading, writing and math:
- Reading individually and together, and only what they enjoy. I've struggled with this one back and forth (and would like your thoughts), but have given up on getting them to read boring classics that I would hate reading too. Yes, I could make them sit there and read the words, but if they're not into it even a little, and therefore will never remember a word of what they read, WHY? I know some kids could push through and maybe even end up liking it, but I know my kids, and we've tried. Not that all of the classics are boring, some are awesome, and those we'll generally use for read aloud time because I want to read them, too!
- Math: we do this for elementary age math and this for high school math, and we have also used Saxon math off and on, but the kids hated it. I am still glad we went to Saxon for a couple of years though, because they became more solid at math with all the repetition. We may continue to jump back and forth (or more likely add in math worksheets when needed) if I don't think they're getting enough time to just practice solving problems.
- Writing, see below…
- We touch on the other stuff once or twice each week: religion, science, history, Latin, art, etc.
- The rest of their day = time to be kids! (And more reading sometimes.)
So anyway, back to writing…
I found this writing program before the school year started (maybe one of you told me about it?) that I think is the best writing course for kids. It's a PERFECT fit for us: “Virtual Language Alive“. By the way, nope, I'm not getting paid for this post. You've all helped me so much in the past, I just really wanted to share this with you.
I love the philosophy behind it:
- “No Parent Needed; Just Add Student.”
- “If you want to successfully snuff out a love of language in your student, make him do a formal program of grammar, writing, spelling, and vocabulary all at once. Hand him workbook after workbook filled with assignment after assignment, a lot of which is busy work, designed to fill time. Wouldn't you hate having to do that? Or you can give your student freedom to work independently with a program that promises no busy work and gives weekly feedback with minimal requirements.”
- “Just write something three times a week for fun using vocab words,” is what I've told (and continue to tell) my students, giving them next to no restrictions other than that.”
Here's how it works in our family:
- I enrolled our 10th grader in VLA — On Monday he does the packet, and I help where needed. Then on his own timetable he writes three essays a week. We turn them in and she sends them back the following week with her corrections. Her guidance is SO kind and encouraging, it never overwhelmed him and he gained confidence in his writing! He's getting vocabulary, grammar, AND writing all in one course and there's very little complaining! This is SO much nicer on all of us (Kent and I included!) compared to the hours of work in previous courses on long essays or research papers. Yes, he does need to be able to write a research paper, so I'll enroll him later in her Virtual Composition and Style and Virtual Research Writing courses.
- With our 4th grader he still uses a spelling book, but we just go over the activities each week orally and discuss the new words he doesn't know. No more spelling tests, because does that really help them remember how to spell? Then he uses those words to write one short essay a week. We still do other writing with him, as well as editing all together as a group, so he's getting some grammar that way. It's all covered, but there is no complaining!
- Our 7th grader does the same spelling book (for her grade obviously) and she writes two essays a week. She and I also do grammar together each week, and I give her extra writing in her other subjects.
You'll see where Joanne says on the VLA page: ““Get the Complete Language System That Earned Two of Joanne Calderwood's Kids Perfect 800 Verbal SAT Scores and One a Perfect 36 Writing ACT score!” I just have to say that I'm pretty sure her kids probably would've gotten high scores no matter their writing program. Some kids are high scorers, some just are not. Either way, I believe this is a great program and helpful for most any type of child.
Learn more about VLA here.
What do YOU love for a writing curriculum?
NEXT: I need some HELP!
Now that I've found what works so well for writing, it makes me even less tolerant of boring curriculum in other subjects. I'm itching to find what will be a better fit for us when it comes to science, history, and Latin. (For Latin I'm not so concerned that they can conjugate all their verbs, etc., but I want them to learn more of the vocabulary because I know it will help them throughout their lives. Oh and yes, we already did Latin Roots — do you know of any others that are similar?)
For all of them, I'd like an option that doesn't require a lot of my time! I enjoy working with them some, and we do a lot of group time (mostly reading aloud, my favorite part of the day!), but I want the majority of their work to be independent.
Any ideas?? THANK YOU ALL!
Last thing: Are you worried about the dangers of too much screen time?
I'm so excited about this new option and I'm ordering the iPad one first because the kids use that one for school the most: