One of my biggest homeschooling concerns currently is how I should take advantage of my daughter’s writing enthusiasm.

We’ve been studying lots of grammar, using both Growing with Grammar Level 3 and First Language Lessons 2. They’re very similar in their scope so far, with GWG being more visual/written and FLL being more oral/memorization. Since we’re on Level 3 (grade 3) of GWG, we’ve started diagramming with that program first. We just started this week in fact. Satori loves it.

I don’t mean for this whole story to be read and scrutinized, but here’s an example book that Satori writes almost everyday. She wrote these pages in the first hour of her waking up one day this week.

Neither First Language Lessons or Writing With Ease has taught us what a paragraph is though, so you’ll have to excuse the solid blocks of sentences. In fact, I’ve heard that FLL/WWE doesn’t teach paragraphs at all in their first four years of books. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong. Growing with Grammar will be introducing paragraphs to us in their Level 3, 1.20 lesson, which coincidentally, we’ll be hitting tomorrow. The writing program we use – Write Source Grade 1 – covered paragraphs, however, in these early grades, they don’t require (or expect) children to be writing multiple paragraphs. So Satori has no concrete experience with writing paragraphs.

What I have noticed is that anything I do teach her, does actually come out in her writing! In Growing with Grammar we’ve recently learned Direct and Indirect Quotations and conjunctions. I am seeing both of these concepts properly applied in her writing. I guess our emphasis on grammar is paying off! I even see new vocabulary words being used. On this page, she used the word “knob”, which we learned in one of our Geography terminology picture books means a small hill.

I’ve also noticed usage of adverbs, which is a new part of speech we learned a few days ago in First Language Lessons.

Later that day, she wrote more pages and finished the whole book. You can find blank books like this on Rainbow Resource. I think that’s a bit expensive for just one book, but she loves them. We also quickly go through these smaller books for a more reasonable price.

But there’s more to quality writing than grammar and conventions. She has a pretty good writing voice. She often asks her reader questions in her writing. I want her to learn more of this as well, so I’ve been educating myself everyday. Here’s what I’m using.

BraveWriter – Writer’s Jungle

In my opinion, this is too expensive for what you actually get if you purchase it at the regular price ($79 for a download), so I was glad to find it 50% off at the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I started reading it a few weeks ago and am halfway through. It isn’t a curriculum, but a 246 page manual that guides the parent in approaching writing. It debunks several popular writing misconceptions and has given me the courage to perhaps tackle writing (gasp) on my own with my daughter, using no curriculum. I’ve refrained from purchasing her Arrow subscriptions, but eagerly read other people’s thoughts. I’d like to finish this book first and then decide whether to buy the Arrow subscription, which I think should also be less expensive.

6+1 Traits of Writing by Ruth Culham

This is loved by public school writing teachers, but I’ve most definitely gotten my $18.95 worth out of the first book for primary students (grade K-2-ish). It goes into detail the 7 traits of writing – Ideas, Sentence Fluency, Organization, Word Choice, Voice, Conventions, plus the 7th trait – Presentation. It is chock full of actual student writing samples from from kindergarten to grade 2. It has given me tons of ideas on how to demonstrate great writing skills, as well as how to assess my daughter’s writing. Based on this book, my daughter is ready for the next book, 6+1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide Grades 3 and Up. That just arrived in the past hour and I’ll be reading it this weekend.

Next week I’ll probably order her book, Using Picture Books to Teach Writing With the Traits.

Also arriving on Tuesday of next week is the entire Michael Clay Thompson language arts Island series program! I’ve heard so much about this, it was all I could do to wait until I thought my daughter was ready. This program is designed for 4th graders, or gifted 3rd graders. We’re far from either. Needless to say I really thought I should wait a few more years, but enough people were happily using it with their younger ones that I decided to give it a look.

I also look forward to improving my own grammar and writing skills. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in an academic environment (it’s been 13 years since college) and I know I need to brush up on several skills. I’m also quite psyched after reading both the books mentioned above (Writer’s Jungle and 6+1 Traits), there’s so many ways Satori and I can improve our writing and make it more fresh and appealing.