One of the gripes I hear from other homeschoolers and professional educators is that a lot of homeschool students don't know how to write. I also hear the opposite—that homeschoolers have excellent writing ability. I think it depends on the family; if there's an emphasis on writing, competent, perhaps even superior writers will result.
However, writing often seems to be the last thing we get to in our day. Reading, and math, and exploration crowd it out, and frankly, though I've had the best of intentions, my follow-through has not been the best. Part of the problem has been that I couldn't bear to put our learners, young, middle, and older, through the tedium of the writing instruction I had as a kid, you know the kind of thing we joke about: "How I Spent My Summer Vacation."
I believe in copywork (copying competent, even superior writing); I've seen the results when I've been consistent in assigning it and following up on the assigned work. But sometimes, with a houseful of kids all working at different levels, it can be hard just keeping up on laundry and math, much less picking out passages from our reading for copywork!
I finally broke down and let someone else handle my writing curriclum, and what a load off my back it is!
WriteShop Primary is an excellent workhorse of a program, a gentle introduction to your young students from about Kindergarten through second grade. The curriculum covers a great deal in a small amount of time. A beginning writer might be learning to form letters and, yet, still writing complete stories! (With help. More on that soon.) A more advanced writer is learning to capitalize and punctuate sentences while writing complete stories and learning spelling along the way. Somewhere in between your young writer is learning to put spaces between the words, how to brainstorm, and turning out writing projects at a steady pace.
I've only seen WriteShop Primary Book A, which contains ten lessons. The lessons are taken at an appropriate pace for your student(s)—a five-year-old might work on one lesson over the span of three weeks, while a second-grader might tackle a lesson a week. (WriteShop Primary has thirty lessons in all, in three books.) The author has put a great deal of thought into planning so that you don't have to; you'll find suggested schedules for students at every level (K-2, I mean) and even for teaching more than one student at different levels. Lessons are laid out clearly and logically, with scripted questions and suggestions to give you an idea of what you're aiming to accomplish. Materials lists are provided for each lesson, for the course overall, and for setting up a writing center in your home. The lesson format is standardized, with eight activities in each lesson, so that you (and your students) pretty much fall into a routine as the weeks progress.
And routine is a great tool! It means that you'll be consistent in your writing practice, which is half the battle. You'll engage in guided writing in every lesson, where you and your student will write stories together. (Relax. These are little kids. They write short stories at this age, three or four sentences. But charming!) Pre-writing activities include reading picture books together, perhaps playing a game or engaging in some other warm-up exercise. Some time in every lesson, you'll be brainstorming, finding topics and things to write about, as well as creating word banks to draw from. And let's not forget the actual writing! Each lesson includes a writing project, based on a specific topic (animals, friends, trains, colors, insects, favorite things, etc.), to be written, edited, and published by the time you reach the last activity in the lesson. (The publishing is fun, too!)
There are suggestions for students of varying ability. (For struggling students, my advice would be not to push it, but watch for signs of readiness, and back off if you have to. You may even have to put the curriculum away for six months, and then try again, gently, ready to go forward or stall as your student needs.) The author of WriteShop is very practical in addressing both the struggling student and the gifted one.
Available separately is a packet of worksheets used in the sixth activity of every lesson (Please see related review). For the rest of the program, all you need is the WriteShop Primary A Teacher's Guide and such things as markers, pencils, paper, crayons... you get the idea. Oh, yes, and picture books that fit the theme for whatever lesson you're on. The author has some excellent suggestions, or you can go to your local library or bookstore (or even your family bookshelves, if yours is a family of bibliophiles, like ours) and find appropriate books.
WriteShop also has writing curricula for older students. Please see related reviews.
WriteShop Primary is an excellent, doable program that will start your young student off on a life-long journey of adventure. Highly recommended.