Finding curriculum for a reluctant writer has been such a struggle
We’ve had several key problems we’ve faced as a family of a reluctant writer, and finding something that fits all of our needs isn’t easy. One of the most common questions I get is about finding a good writing or math curriculum… So I know I’m not alone on this!
Until this year, I’ve not found anything with which I’ve been in love. There have always been fairly great things, but still, something missing, at least for us. I want a writing curriculum that sparks joy and learning, not something that makes my kids hate writing, the same as I did at their age.
I’ve seen how “not being a writer” can follow you through the rest of your life. You stick that label on, and there it stays. It wasn’t until college, as a 30-year-old, that I received any decent instruction on writing that made any sense to me… That smoothed over some of my contempt for writing at least. 😉 I want something different for my kids. I want them to see that they are writers.
WriteShop has provided me with a curriculum for review purposes, however, all opinions represented here are my own.
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The problems we’ve faced looking for curriculum for our reluctant writer:
-The difficulty level was frustrating for my son, despite it being “at his level” developmentally.
-Boring curriculum subject matter.
-Consumed too much of our time.
-Didn’t give me a clear enough roadmap for teaching and staying on track.
For me using WriteShop this year has solved all of those problems. I’m going to tell you a little bit more about how it solved each of these problems in just a second.
But first, WriteShop has generously offered to giveaway a curriculum set to one of my readers, so don’t miss that at the end of this post!
Frustrating for my son
So this was a big one with a lot of the worksheets we used. Directions may not be clear, and that led to a lot of frustration for us both. Everything was just kind of disjointed.
My reluctant writer not only hates learning the rules of writing and putting them into practice, but he hates the physical act of writing as well. Worksheets galore are definitely not his thing. Not even close.
Writeshop uses hands-on activities that make lessons more engaging.
Boring curriculum subject matter
These same worksheets weren’t exciting or engaging for my reluctant writer. Just seeing a worksheet could start the quick, shallow breathing and sad squeals of terror in split seconds. I mopped up puddles of child from the floor on these days, without fail. Lots of deep breathing for us both.
I even tried book companions, hoping that relating them to a story would be the key. I’ve seen it work for others, so thought, “Maybe it’ll work for us too.” They loved the stories but wanted nothing to do with the writing exercises that came along with them. It seemed to suck the joy out of the story for my boys.
WriteShop uses some worksheets, though not primarily, they are silly and fun. My boys look forward to reading them.
Consumed too much of our time
This is a big one to unpack right here. So, I will say right off the bat, WriteShop does take some of your time. By that I mean, it’s not a hands-off, independent learner type of activity. It does, however, give some of that time back, and potentially more, in other ways:
If you’re used to spending so much time printing out and sorting weekly pages from online; use the Time Saver Packs and have everything ready to go!
Add to that the biggest time drain: crying, frustrated, “this is the end of the world” level behavior from kids… Who truly feel this may actually be the end of the world. I would gladly spend 15 minutes a day instructing and facilitating fun writing activities than to lose 30 minutes (or more) to reminding, prodding, and incentivizing my reluctant writer.
Another way that this saves me time, is my ability to work through the same WriteShop level with both my boys. That may not be the case for all families with larger age gaps, but for my two boys, who are two years apart, it’s perfect! WriteShop has built-in scaffolding to accommodate students varied abilities- “Small Steps,” and “Flying Higher.”
Because of this, I’m able to use the same level for my two sons and have one on the “Small Steps” and one “Flying Higher.” We do activities and learning together, giving us extra family time.
A roadmap for teaching
As far as teaching, I get the basics, I know what they need to learn, and I can teach my boys, of course. It feels better though knowing that you’re on the right path and you’re not going to miss anything. With my other writing curriculum I’ve used, I didn’t feel like there was a clear path to follow. Where were we going? I felt a little all over the map, and like I was just crossing my fingers.
WriteShop has everything laid out for you (check out samples here). There’s a suggested schedule and a modified suggested schedule so you can find ways to make everything work for your family. Each lesson includes instructions, while each unit also suggests additional titles to augment the lessons (which I even found on Epic! Bonus!). It’s just a really comprehensive curriculum.
In a nutshell, the things I like most about WriteShop curriculum:
-I like how easy it was to use with multiple grades.
-Everything was just ready to go, so convenient.
-The activities are fun and engaging.
-It’s ideal for hands-on learners.
-The “Fold-N-Go Grammar” file folders are cool little “cheats” to put in a writing center and encourage independence in your writers.
-All in all, WriteShop strikes a perfect balance, in my opinion, between everyone’s wants and needs.
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