Do I really need a writing curriculum?
If you’re a few months into the new school year, by now you have a pretty good idea of whether writing is humming along nicely or stubbornly dragging its heels. Now is a good time to evaluate this often-neglected subject and decide if you need to make any mid-course corrections.
It may help to ask yourself: Do I really need a formal writing program? Surprisingly, you may not. Here are some things to consider.
Do You Need a Writing Curriculum?
No, you may not need a writing curriculum if you . . .
- Are a self-starter.
- Provide your kids with a variety of writing activities and projects.
- Feel comfortable taking your children through the steps of the writing process.
- Include writing as part of history, science, or unit studies.
- Regularly tie in writing across the curriculum.
- Enjoy thinking up writing lessons for your children.
- Are good about having them write several times a week.
- Don’t worry too much about whether you’re missing something.
Yes, you may need a writing curriculum if you . . .
- Tend to push writing to the back burner.
- Feel uncertain about what to teach and when.
- Worry about not doing enough writing with your children.
- Prefer a bit more structure.
- Like a more systematic approach to teaching.
- Are more comfortable following a schedule.
- Need help teaching certain writing genres.
- Feel overwhelmed at the thought of coming up with writing assignments or creating your own lesson plans.
- Have teens who are ready to learn essay skills.
Did You Answer Yes? Read On!
What to look for in a writing program
- Clear teaching directions.
- Step-by-step student instructions.
- Creative, engaging ideas for prewriting, brainstorming, and publishing.
- Ungraded materials that allow you to teach several children.
- Materials that will encourage a reluctant writer, yet challenge a stronger or more eager writer.
- An approach that appeals to different learning styles.
- A program that builds the writing process into the lessons.
- Lessons that offer models or examples.
- A program that teaches self-editing.
What to avoid when choosing a writing program
- Materials that just tell children to write rather than teach them HOW to write.
- Rigid lessons with very specific writing topics and little room for flexibility.
- Comprehensive programs that attempt to fully teach both writing and grammar.
- Generic grading rubrics that require too much guesswork on your part.
It’s not always easy to know if you need a writing curriculum. Perhaps you fall somewhere in the middle! If that describes you, maybe using a formal writing program every few years will give you the sense of peace to know you’re not omitting any big chunks from your children’s writing diets.
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When you’re comparing writing programs, WriteShop is a good place to start. Whether you’re teaching elementary children, middle grades, or teens, WriteShop products meet many of the above recommendations for a solid, parent-friendly writing program. Check out these handy charts to compare writing skills by level to help you decide if you even need a writing curriculum.