WriteShop is a homeschool writing curriculum that teaches children of all ages the building blocks of the writing process. The program emphasizes creativity, structure, and writing style. But is WriteShop a complete language arts curriculum?
- Does it cover grammar?
- Is there a literature component?
- What about spelling and vocabulary?
We get these questions a lot!
The short answer: While WriteShop is not a complete language arts program, the books do cover many language arts topics! Each level includes different components, and they’re approached in different ways.
So let’s take a look level by level and see which language arts components are woven in and where you may want to supplement.
WRITESHOP PRIMARY (Grades K-3)
WriteShop Primary uses picture books as one more way to reinforce truths about writing. Every lesson helps you prepare your child to write by reading a theme-related picture book together.
Sometimes you’ll do an activity that’s directly related to the book. Other times you’ll read the book just for pleasure. This is the perfect time to ask your child to think of ways the book ties into the lesson’s theme, such as friends, ocean creatures, or describing a person.
There are only two rules for choosing a book: Pick any book that (1) fits the lesson topic and (2) you know your child will enjoy!
The creative writing projects in WriteShop Primary focus mainly on early writing skills. While grammar isn’t formally taught at this stage, children are still learning that their stories should make sense. In the context of learning to write, they also learn to capitalize correctly and to identify and use periods, question marks, and exclamation marks.
In the Primary levels, you’ll discover an organic, practical approach to spelling nestled within each writing lesson. By playing fun games, children learn to spell words they tend to misspell in their own writing.
SHOULD I SUPPLEMENT WRITESHOP PRIMARY?
Yes! Because WriteShop Primary isn’t a complete language arts program, you’ll want to teach reading to tick all the boxes. At this age, kids need level-specific basal readers that are suited for emergent and novice students. Here are two homeschool-friendly reading resources WriteShop recommends.
- Bob Books make teaching your child to read simple! Because the books meet children at the right level, they quickly learn to sound out words.
- All About Reading [aff] is a fun program that has everything your child needs to become a fluent reader. The program is scripted and open-and-go, so it’s perfect for busy parents!
Many moms like to supplement spelling instruction with a curriculum such as award-winning All About Spelling [aff].
Finally, don’t forget about handwriting! During these formative years, children need to learn proper penmanship skills. Try Handwriting Without Tears for Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 2, or Grade 3, or use your favorite handwriting program.
WRITESHOP JUNIOR (Grades 3-6)
WriteShop Junior offers genre-specific book lists for many lessons. For example, you might be asked to find a mystery, historical fiction, or adventure story that corresponds to the writing assignment. Additionally, the Junior Teacher’s Guides include a number of lesson-related book list suggestions and online literature sources.
Every Junior-level student workbook also includes reading logs, which build reading enthusiasm for many kids. Reading logs are great ways to keep track of how much your children are reading.
Learning how to write means understanding grammar, punctuation, and basic writing skills. Because these skills are essential ingredients of good writing, WriteShop Junior helps you teach foundational grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, and other writing skills.
All three WriteShop Junior books have a component called Fold-N-Go Grammar. While not a full-blown grammar course, it introduces and reviews parts of speech and other key grammar, sentence, and punctuation rules in a fun, “lapbookish” way.
You may find your children gain the grammar skills they need simply by using Fold-N-Go Grammar. But if they struggle to learn rules about punctuation, sentence structure, etc., you can supplement with any grammar curriculum such as Easy Grammar, Grammar Galaxy, or Beowulf’s Grammar.
Finally, WriteShop Junior recommends Brian P. Cleary’s picture book series, Words Are CATegorical. These clever, kid-friendly books are an outstanding resource to use when studying parts of speech.
Though not specifically taught in WriteShop Junior, spelling is addressed through the editing process. As children learn to use tools like a dictionary to help edit spelling, they discover new ways to improve their stories and reports. If you want to use a spelling program alongside WriteShop Junior, we recommend All About Spelling [aff].
There’s no need for a formal vocabulary program! WriteShop Junior encourages vocabulary development by teaching kids to make stronger word choices during brainstorming and editing. This approach helps you grow your child’s vocabulary words organically in the context of their writing.
SHOULD I SUPPLEMENT?
Now is the time to get your 3rd-6th graders to LOVE reading! The upper-elementary years provide the perfect opportunity to introduce them to different kinds of literature. Round out WriteShop Junior by reading novels related to the genres they’re learning about, such as historical fiction, humor, or adventure.
To build reading confidence, vary the reading levels of the books you expose them to. Follow this pattern and repeat it often!
- Start with a book at their reading level.
- Next, choose one that they can “fly” through to help them feel confident in their reading ability.
- After that, suggest a book that’s a tad above their reading level, which encourages them to stretch their “reading muscles.”
- Finally, let them choose a book that’s right at their reading level to ease the frustration of the harder book they just finished.
If you’re not sure about your child’s reading level, try one of these free reading assessment tools.
WRITESHOP I & II (Teens)
Because homeschoolers should choose literature that meets the goals you’ve set for your students’ middle or high school years, there’s no literature component in WriteShop I and II. However, you can weave many of the writing lessons into the fabric of the literature your teens are reading.
For example (and depending on the WriteShop lesson), they could
- Describe the setting of their novel.
- Write a biography about its author.
- Create a travel brochure for the planet or world in their science-fiction or fantasy book.
- Write a persuasive essay that tags along with the theme of their current novel.
When grammar is taught as an isolated subject, it makes teens wonder, “When will I ever need to use this stuff?”
WriteShop’s Skill Builder exercises answer this valid question!
Skill Builders play an important role in WriteShop assignments: they introduce new writing and grammar concepts, and they give teens a chance to practice with these skills before applying them to their compositions.
Once a grammar concept has been taught in the Skill Builders, it becomes a required element in future lessons. Through this “learn-practice-do” approach, students grow more proficient in their understanding and use of appositives, participial phrases, paired adjectives, and other parts of speech. Skill Builders also address common problems of usage such as it’s vs its.
BONUS! Because students use WriteShop’s lesson-specific checklists to self-edit their papers, they’re better prepared to spot grammar and punctuation errors on SAT/ACT tests and college entrance exams.
There’s no spelling component in WriteShop I and II. Instead, spelling is addressed organically through the editing process (which also targets punctuation and grammar) via the Student Writing Skills Checklists.
Vocabulary is a real concern, especially during the high school years. As with spelling, vocabulary development happens organically in WriteShop as students learn to use word banks (included) and a thesaurus. These tools teach teens to make stronger word choices and to replace vague or overused words.
If you wish, you can easily teach specific vocabulary words. These vocabulary words can also become spelling words. Check out Quizlet, which is a great tool for testing vocabulary and spelling. Here are a couple more resources you’ll appreciate.
SHOULD I SUPPLEMENT?
To dive deeper, consider supplementing WriteShop I or II with your favorite homeschool grammar curriculum, such as Easy Grammar. We highly recommend The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation—whether or not you opt for a grammar curriculum. Though it’s not a grammar program per se, this combination reference book/workbook covers important writing, grammar, and punctuation rules. It also gives insight into confusing vocabulary words and their tricky spellings. As a bonus, it includes quizzes that you can easily use as practice exercises.
Adding some classic literature to the WriteShop curriculum rounds out the program to make a WriteShop I & II a complete language arts program. There are loads of book lists online, but sometimes it pays to talk to your librarian about finding books that will interest your teen. When kids can read in their favorite genres and choose subjects they’re wildly interested in, they’ll read more books. And that’s always a good thing!
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