You may have heard of WriteShop. I first learned of them a few years ago as a great writing program for junior high to high school age children. Then, I learned they had a program for young learners, WriteShop Primary. I resisted checking into them. After all, did we really need a writing program? The writing we were doing with the youngers consisted of copywork and just starting written narrations (mostly oral narrations). I signed up for the newsletter and kept the program in mind for when my children were junior high. I kept “running” into WriteShop all over the internet, webinars with Kim Kautzer, reviews of their various programs, etc. I liked what I saw and heard. When I had the opportunity to beta-test the latest WriteShop Junior series for upper-elementary learners, we signed up.
I am so glad we did! The Junior program is amazing and just what my then 10 yo daughter was needing at the time. I was still a bit unsure if my younger learners needed a formal writing program. Then, we had the opportunity through the Crew to review a level of WriteShop Primary. I didn’t have to think hard on which level and which of my children to review this with. My middle daughters, 2nd and 3rd graders currently, are always writing little stories. I let them free write; offering assistance when they ask for it but mostly letting it be their creation. Even with the gently suggestions towards complete sentences and mini lessons on what makes a complete thougth, paragraph, etc. they were making some of the same mistakes. It had become clear it was time for a more formal writing time in our week. We have been so blessed with using WriteShop Primary C.
Write Shop Primary has a few suggested schedules. This is not to say it must be done this way, you may find you tweak the plans and come up with your own schedule. (Don’t all homeschoolers tweak?) Often, my schedule does not look the same from lesson to lesson. That’s okay, just don’t skip any of the parts. There are 8 parts to each lesson. The easiest way to do this is one part each day. How many days per week you choose to work is up to you and your child. We started off with a schedule of a lesson every 2 weeks. The further we go, we are finding that taking 3 weeks for a lesson works better. We are stretching it a bit more due to other needs for my time rather than the program being difficult.
The parts are easy, incremental steps leading your learner to not just writing, but better word choices, self-editing and planning and organizing their ideas. Each lesson repeats the same flow- great for my children who want to know “what’s next?” I worked with both girls together though their work was their own. This worked well for my teaching time and preparation time. There is prep work involved in the lessons. It is nothing difficult, but not something you can just pull out at the last minute and do well. Sometimes, I would have the girls help with these preparations, other times I would do it all myself.
I liked the lessons best when I had everything for the whole lesson prepared ahead of time. This allowed us to quickly jump in when my time opened up and I could fit in a lesson while the toddler napped or whatever. This also gave us freedom to work ahead as time and the girls’ interest allowed. The layout of the teacher guide is most helpful for planning and preparing lesson by lesson rather than activity by activity. This prep time also made the lesson familiar to me so it would flow better, I could tweak and improvise rather than following the script.
One of the things that has really endeared this program to our family and our literature-leaning Charlotte Mason ways is the inclusion of great stories. There is not a plan for specific stories to coordinate with the lessons, but a guide so you can see what type fits the lesson while still choosing what would interest your child best. Though I am not ‘Rowing with these girls, we could revisit favorites or find anew stories from those lists. It is very easy to incorporate your other lessons into the writing activities (writing across the curriculum). I have found I am still using some of the techniques and activities from our beta-testing time with my older daughter as it fits into our studies – this is not a curriculum you use and are done with.
We received the e-book version ($28.95) of the Teacher’s Guide and the Activity Set Worksheet Pack ($4.50). Both are available in printed form: ($32.95) coil-bound 241 page Teacher’s Guide and ($4.95) 24 Activity Pages and Evaluation Charts for the 10 lessons. Both the Teacher’s Guide and Worksheet Pack are necessary for the lessons. There are pros and cons to print versus e-book. I’ll not address that here; chances are you have your own preferences. I am pleased that both are available.