J. (age 12) has been trying out the Ron Paul Curriculum this semester. And while we are going to take a break from it, I have good things to say about it, too. It’s totally self taught, so it’s good for those with a lot of self discipline who are highly motivated. J. has had weekly essays that we read and correct, but yesterday was the first time I flipped through the rest of his completed work. It’s a pretty impressive pile of work, and his binder is full to bursting.
However. The RPC curriculum cautions parents that if you find yourself needing to remind, nudge, and outright nag your student to complete his schoolwork, the course is probably not a good fit. And we have had to remind and nudge. In some ways J. has really liked setting his own pace, but there are things that definitely trigger some frustration and anxiety.
I think the heavy essay writing requirements are a little too challenging at this point. He seems to really struggle with expository writing. He wants to write what the instructor said, or exactly what he read, rather than formulating his own words. This has affected history and English both, and has helped me realize we need to implement more specific and detailed writing instruction.
Finding said specific and detailed writing instruction is proving more difficult than I anticipated. And so I’m doing what we do these days. I’m asking the internet for advice. So far, I’ve checked out:
Brave Writer – I’m annoyed that I can’t download actual sample PDFs of lessons. She has one in website format, but I’d like to see what the real pages look like. I also got a little lost on her website, though admittedly it’s late and I’m tired. She writes a lot (like me) and it took me quite a while to figure out the different packages. I think, if I went this route, we’d do the Writer’s Jungle Silver Binder package for $97, plus, I assume, shipping? Kind of a lot of pennies.
Writing With Skill – This one feels safe, because it’s by Peace Hill Press. We used Writing with Ease so I imagine it will feel familiar, though none of my kids loved WWW, so there’s that to consider. $20 and some change on Amazon. I probably also need the teacher’s manual which is like $30 or something.
Excellence in Writing – I found this via IrishMum, and I love just about everything she does with her boys, so I was pretty much decided until I read this review. Holy overwhelming, batman (<-- stupid viglink is making that a link). I know she says repeatedly that it isn't as overwhelming as it seems, but I'm overwhelmed. Plus it's $109.00 though it's non consumable, so you can reuse it easily. Write Shop – That same reviewer switched to Write Shop (probably because she was overwhelmed, ha ha), and I’m still eyeballing this one. Not everything is contained in one book, so it’s a little confusing, and I’ve read mixed reviews from others. $45.95, though I think I need more components?
Write Source – This is a public school textbook, and the teacher’s manual (which I’ve read is necessary) is like a million dollars. I read a pretty convincing review, and felt good about this choice after looking at some samples, especially after finding used copies on Amazon for much less, but then some bad reviews threw me off again. Around $8.00 for the student textbook used on Amazon, $60 for the teacher’s manual also used on Amazon. Otherwise, like $40 and $130 respectively, new.
Essentials in Writing – I like the price on this one. $40 for the main bit, and $25 for the additional bits. One reviewer said some disparaging things about the video instructor though, and now I think I’ve ruled this out.
Winning with Writing – This is made by the Growing with Grammar folks, and we really like GWG, so I thought this would be an easy choice. It’s also nice and affordable and $25.99 plus shipping. Those darn reviews, though. People say the writing course is too repetitive and boring if you’re already doing their grammar books, so this one has been eliminated.
Cover Story Writing – This one looks interesting, though they are sold out at the moment. Also, spendy at $149.00. It’s by the same guy who does the high school One Year Adventure Novel writing course. Both look really fun, though I wonder if you get any paper writing and letter writing type instruction.
For grammar, J. has requested to return to Growing with Grammar, but I’m also eyeballing Jr. Analytical Grammar, and we also have a complete MCT Grammar package that E. has just never implemented much.
I’m going to go ice my headache. Any others I’ve missed and should be considering? Any experience with the above?