Writing is at the heart of a solid education and we all want our little learners to be able to express themselves both creatively and academically. But let’s be honest — how many of us actually think about the rules of vocabulary during our everyday writing?
Teaching writing and grammar can be an intimidating prospect. You want to get it right, as it’s such a fundamental building block. No homeschooling parent can be expected to pull it off without help from a good writing curriculum!
In this guide, we’ve explored a range of writing and grammar courses for homeschoolers. We’ve tried to look at a wide variety, so you can find a course that works for your style, learning stage, and budget!
To help you and your students with the writing journey, we’ve offered a brief overview of our favorite writing curriculum courses. Let’s dive in!
- Who Is It For: WriteShop provides a curriculum for grades K – 12th.
- What Do You Need To Buy: Each stage of the WriteShop curriculum comes with a teacher’s guide and related student material. For younger children, these are activity sets. For older children, student workbooks. There are also supplementary materials that can be added to the curriculum or left out.
- Why We Like It: There’s a lot of buzz around the WriteShop curriculum, and a quick flick through the course materials will show you why. This is a really accessible and user-friendly course for both students and teachers.
- What We Don’t Like About It: Parents are expected to do a lot of hands-on work. While this isn’t necessarily a huge problem, you have more lessons to teach than just writing! If you follow the WriteShop course, you might find your curriculum leans heavily on writing.
For students, the WriteShop courses are fun and engaging. Every page is well-laid out so even kids who are struggling with their writing can get to grips with the activity.
The step-by-step approach allows kids to learn at their own pace, with the incremental courses easy to adapt to a school day. At a younger age, the WriteShop courses are very hands-on.
Learners will be able to apply their learning to everyday life, so they can better grasp grammar at the basic stages. Older children are given some control over their curriculum. They’re encouraged to learn independently (with the occasional guiding hand from you).
As for parents/teachers, WriteShop has plenty to celebrate. The biggest bonus is the grading guidelines. It can be hard to grade children’s writing objectively.
WriteShop helps you understand the grading process so you can assist your little learner on their writing journey. Finally, the price! WriteShop is one of the more affordable homeschooling writing courses.
2. Essentials In Writing
- Who Is It For: Essentials in Writing provides a curriculum for grades K – 12th.
- What Do You Need To Buy: For each stage in the curriculum, Essentials in Writing requires a student workbook, an instruction manual, and paid access to video lessons.
- Why We Like It: Essentials in Writing is a modern approach to homeschooling, providing video lessons based on writing and grammar. It’s excellent for parents who might feel less confident in their writing abilities and would like an extra hand with learning.
- What We Don’t Like About It: Video lessons aren’t for every learner! Some students (and teachers) just won’t get on with the Essentials in Writing style.
Essentials in Writing wants your child to succeed, which is why they offer a free trial of the course. You can see if this learning style will work for you and your child before you make the monetary commitment.
As this is a slightly different course to the standard, we appreciate the chance to try it out! In addition to this, Essentials in Writing offers a consultation before you choose the course.
You can discuss the exact learning stage your child is at, so you can pick the course that works for you. If you’re a little nervous about video learning, then this is a great opportunity to discuss your concerns!
Once you’ve signed up, you’re given access to the video lessons. These bite-sized lessons are easy to fit into the day. The lessons are geared towards the student, but teachers are expected to play a role, especially with younger kids.
At the end of each lesson, you discuss together what has been learned. Older learners are given a more independent approach, with less teacher intervention.
The production quality of the videos is good, with no audio or visual issues. The videos are engaging and interesting, with follow-up lessons to reinforce what the student has learned.
3. IEW (Institute For Excellence In Writing)
- Who Is It For: IEW offers courses for grades 1st – 12th.
- What Do You Need To Buy: Most courses offered by IEW require a student’s book and a teacher’s book. However, some courses require a more in-depth learning bundle. There are quite a few courses offered by IEW, so you can explore your options.
- Why We Like It: One of the best-known homeschool writing courses, the IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) is designed to help your learner fall in love with the written word.
- What We Don’t Like About It: There’s a lot of material offered by IEW. Finding the right options for you will require some research, and it can be expensive to buy a complete set.
First, we love the structure offered by IEW. You’re provided with a clear outline for lessons, which makes it easier to insert writing into your routine. Staying organized is key to effective homeschooling, and IEW really helps you along that path.
Second, IEW provides themes for different courses. For example, if you’re teaching third grade, you can try Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales, or dive into Ancient History.
This makes learning more fun, but it also allows you to tailor the lessons to your child’s interests. It can be hard to get kids (and adults) into grammar. With these enticing courses, it gets easier.
Slick and well-put together, the IEW courses are easy to navigate and interesting to learn from. The writing is engaging, and the incremental lessons tackle each aspect of the curriculum clearly and concisely.
If you’re looking to establish excellent basics, we highly recommend IEW courses. The impressive structure is particularly helpful for parents who are new to homeschooling and trying to build a schedule!
4. Grammar For The Well-Trained Mind
- Who Is It For: Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind is primarily aimed at grades 5 – 12.
- What Do You Need To Buy: The Core Instructor Text is essential for each stage of Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind. This is supplemented by student workbooks at each stage.
- Why We Like It: The “Well-Trained Mind” of Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind seems to refer to both student and teacher! This course is all about structure and lesson plans. For parents who are slightly less confident in their writing skills, this makes it much easier to tackle a complex curriculum.
- What We Don’t Like About It: Grammar for the Well-Trained is all about structure, structure, structure. This can be a little intense! There isn’t much room for deviation, especially as you reach the periodic reviews. It won’t work for every learning/teaching style. But if it does work, you can almost guarantee an exceptional grasp of grammar.
Grammar For the Well-Trained Mind is a highly structured course that encourages you to follow a pre-set lesson plan closely. For some parents, this might be a little restrictive. But for others, this structure is hugely beneficial.
Clear and detailed, Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind leaves little room for confusion. Students and teachers are encouraged to fully digest one lesson before moving on to the next.
You can take it at your own speed, which gives some level of control, but the intent is that by the end of the course, kids will have a firm grasp of grammar. To reinforce this learning, Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind features periodic review sessions.
You’ll be encouraged to stop, reflect, and consider what you’ve learned. Ideal for a one-on-one teaching situation, Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind requires direct instruction. It encourages students and teachers to work together to tackle problems.
5. The Creative Writer
- Who Is It For: The Creative Writer is aimed at grades 5 – 9.
- What Do You Need To Buy: The core Creative Writer books are aimed at students and teachers, encouraging you to work together.
- Why We Like It: From the same people that bought you Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind, the Creative Writer is a more imaginative approach to writing. Instead of focusing on the rules of grammar, this is a course to teach your budding storytellers how to transform their ideas into writing.
- What We Don’t Like About It: The Creative Writer is more of a supplementary writing course, not one that can be used as the focus of your curriculum. If you only use the Creative Writer, your little learner will have some gaps in their knowledge. This is a relatively inexpensive coursebook, however, so it’s affordable as supplementary material.
As a homeschool parent, you’ve probably noticed just how much imagination your child has! But having a good imagination isn’t quite the same as being a good writer.
You need to teach your students how to express themselves, convey their thoughts, and expand their storytelling abilities with creative language. Acting as a guidebook for both students and teachers, the Creative Writer promotes a back-and-forth learning style.
The exercises are relatively simple, but they encourage children to start thinking deeply about what makes a good story. Through these exercises, students can discover important topics such as POV, plotting, and characterization.
For teachers, the Creative Writer also offers tips on evaluating creative works objectively. This allows you to support imaginative writing while still acknowledging potential areas of growth. You can develop their skill without damaging their passion for writing!
6. Writing With Ease/Writing With Skill
- Who Is It For: Divided into two learning modules, Writing With Ease covers grades 4 – 8, and Writing With Skill until 12th grade.
- What Do You Need To Buy: You only need a student workbook for Writing With Ease, with different workbooks for different stages in the course. By the time you advance to Writing With Skill, there’s a student workbook and an instructor’s guide.
- Why We Like It: Writing With Ease and Writing With Skill offer a complete and thorough writing course for growing children. The courses combine classical teaching with innovative new ideas, (see also: Learning How To Use A Alphabet Arc And Other Teaching Ideas)for a course that ensures a complete and engaging education.
- What We Don’t Like About It: Writing With Ease is perhaps the better of the two options. Writing With Skill starts a little slowly, so voracious learners might feel held up. And because narration/dictation is so important to the lessons, it might be difficult to adapt the lessons to a bigger class.
Writing With Ease is your starting point and an excellent base for young learners. Every lesson is quick, containing a narration and dictation exercise. Students and teachers engage throughout the lesson, for a hands-on approach to learning.
As you advance through the lessons, Writing With Ease offers a helping hand. It’s an easy and gentle course to navigate, which can be particularly useful for nervous learners (or new teachers).
Writing With Skill takes things up a notch. The basic structure of the lessons stays similar, but the student is given more control and the concepts covered are more advanced.
However, as Writing With Skill builds on the narration of the previous modules, there’s less work required to adapt your teaching style for harder subjects.
7. BJU Writing And Grammar
- Who Is It For: BJU Writing & Grammar offers courses from 1st – 12th grade.
- What Do You Need To Buy: Each BJU course is built around a student’s workbook and an instructor’s guide.
- Why We Like It: BJU is a very classical course that teaches both writing and grammar to different age groups. The bundled courses are thorough and well-written, with a clear approach that’s particularly helpful for parents who lack confidence when it comes to grammar.
- What We Don’t Like About It: BJU offers quite a few writing assignments throughout the course. These are great for learning, but they can be time-consuming. We’re talking over an hour for some lessons! The average BJU lesson is pretty short, so when you hit an assignment, it’s a real change to the schedule!
As we mentioned, BJU Writing & Grammar is a very traditional course. The approach is highly structured, with learning methods following step-by-step instructions. This might not be the most innovative approach, but these methods become classics for a reason!
With BJU Writing & Grammar, your student can get a firm grasp on the basics of writing. The “draft” approach favored by BJU is encouraging for kids who might struggle with their writing.
They’re taught to express themselves freely, before going back to revise. If you’re struggling to get your student to engage with writing, this can be a very helpful approach! As the courses progress, you’ll tackle complex areas of grammar.
Again, BJU uses a steady approach that emphasizes trying, getting things wrong, and trying again. For parents who aren’t confident in their own writing, the clarity of BJU is a dream. It’s easy to assess your student’s writing (while building up your skill set)!
One final advantage to BJU is that grammar and writing are taught hand-in-hand. As you can see how grammar affects writing, it’s easier to learn the rules for real-life application.
8. Cover Story By Clear Water Press
- Who Is It For: The Cover Story program by Clear Water Press is aimed at grades 6 – 9.
- What Do You Need To Buy: Cover Story includes a student kit and a teacher’s manual. You can also download a Cloud-based kit that’s necessary to fully engage with the course.
- Why We Like It: Cover Story by Clear Water Press is a writing curriculum aimed at the creative child. Instead of your traditional writing course, Cover Story is based on the act of creating something. By the end of the course, your child will have put together their own magazine!
- What We Don’t Like About It: Cover Story is really about creativity, so the grammar lessons can feel like a bit of an afterthought. It’s great at encouraging students to write, but it isn’t the most complete course available.
The teaching is video-based, with optional grammar lessons helping to round out the learning experience. Perhaps the best thing about Cover Story is how immediately children can put their skills to use.
Once they’ve learned something, they can use this skill when writing their magazine! Cover Story feels like a new approach to learning writing.
The magazine format encourages kids to use different styles of language, while also discovering how to communicate their ideas. Clear Water Press also offers courses for older children.
There’s the One Year Adventure Novel for 9th to 12th grade and a Byline project for the same age group. Like Cover Story, these courses focus on video learning to finish a creative project.
9. Lightning Literature
- Who Is It For: From Hewitt Learning, Lightning Literature is for grades 1st – 12th.
- What Do You Need To Buy: Elementary courses from Lightning Literature require a Teacher’s Guide and a Student Workbook. Middle school courses require a Teacher’s Guide, Student Guide, and Student Workbook. High School courses require a Teacher’s Guide and a Student Workbook. Each level also requires supplementary reading material.
- Why We Like It: Lightning Literature is a course designed to instill a love of reading in the student. The curriculum is focused on learning from literature, with grammar and vocabulary also emphasized at the younger learning levels.
- What We Don’t Like About It: The focus of Lightning Literature is very much on literature. At younger levels, you will need a different approach to learning spelling, reading, and penmanship. It also means you need to get your hands on plenty of supplementary books! If you don’t have a well-stocked library nearby, this can quickly increase the cost of the course.
Lightning Literature isn’t just about sparking a love of books. Instead, children will learn about analysis, critical thinking, and reading things intelligently.
Instead of just reading to pass a test, kids will discover how to read for enjoyment and to expand their own minds. Throughout this course, students are encouraged to reflect on what they’re reading and how they’re reading.
In turn, this should expand their vocabulary and teach them to communicate better. Learning how to read intelligently will also be useful for your other lessons!
The skills they learn with Lightning Literature will help them understand questions and concepts in arts, humanities, and even STEM subjects!
10. Brave Writer
- Who Is It For: Brave Writer offers courses from grades K – 12.
- What Do You Need To Buy: There’s no strict structure to the Brave Writer resources, but the bundles tend to be the better offer. The bundles contain comprehensive guidelines and activities for students and teachers, but you can buy individual materials to meet the needs of your family. There are also online classes!
- Why We Like It: Brave Writer takes quite an unusual approach to learning writing. It isn’t necessarily about following the rules. Instead, this is a course to help kids to learn to express themselves.
- What We Don’t Like About It: If you prefer a highly structured curriculum, the friendly and relaxed approach of Brave Writer might not work for you.
Brave Writer is based on the idea that all kids have something important and interesting to say, even if they can’t always express it.
The course helps kids to use their words and unleash their imaginations, offering a supportive environment where they can learn by making mistakes and trying again. For older children, the Brave Writer course adds refinement.
There’s a higher focus on critical thinking and analysis, as well as handy grammar lessons to aid communication. One of the things we love most about Brave Writer is that it was created by homeschoolers, for homeschoolers.
Too many courses focus heavily on the standard “classroom” structure, which isn’t always right for the homeschool environment. Brave Writer recognizes that homeschooling can be different, which is why there’s such an emphasis on the home environment.
11. Jensen’s Grammar
- Who Is It For: Jensen’s Grammar is primarily aimed at grades 9 – 12.
- What Do You Need To Buy: Jensen’s Grammar uses one book for both students and teachers.
- Why We Like It: Grammar can be tough to learn because it follows such a strict set of rules — apart from all the times it doesn’t! These complex rules combined with various exceptions can also make teaching grammar pretty difficult.
- What We Don’t Like About It: Jensen’s Grammar is a pretty intense course. There is a lot of material covered throughout the book, with very few breaks. If your student tends to glaze over when they see big chunks of text, they won’t enjoy Jensen’s Grammar! However, if you want a comprehensive explanation of grammatical concepts, they don’t come much clearer than this.
Jensen’s Grammar takes a clear, concise, and explanatory teaching path. It delves into detail about what grammar is and how to understand it. The course is full on. There’s heavy use of complex vocabulary and very few stops for reassessment.
While this can make the initial learning phase difficult, once you’ve tackled Jensen’s Grammar, you should have a firm understanding of the concepts.
Using quite a dry, traditional approach, Jensen’s Grammar isn’t ideal for those who are struggling with their writing. However, for students with relative confidence, Jensen’s Grammar can help them expand and improve their knowledge.
Highly detailed, Jensen’s Grammar is particularly useful for older students who are thinking of attending college. While the course might not encourage regular breaks for reflection, the self-paced learning ensures you never move on before grasping a concept.
And if your student needs a refresher, they’ll find a detailed explanation waiting in previous chapters.
12. The New York Times Writing Curriculum
- Who Is It For: Primarily, the New York Times Writing Curriculum is for 6th – 12th graders, but the fundamentals can be used from elementary age.
- What Do You Need To Buy: Nothing! The New York Times Writing Curriculum is a free course, with everything available online.
- Why We Like It: Let’s start with the obvious reason why we like the New York Times Writing Curriculum — it’s free! That means you can dip in and out, try it on for size, or complete the entire course. No matter what you choose, it won’t cost you.
- What We Don’t Like About It: The New York Times Writing Curriculum is best used alongside a grammar-focused curriculum. However, this can be time-consuming. For that reason, you might prefer to dip in and out of the New York Times Writing Curriculum, picking up lessons when they’re convenient.
The New York Times Writing Curriculum is divided into eight different units, each tackling a different form of writing. Often drawing from real-world events, the courses encourage students to use their voices for self-expression.
The different writing styles are excellent if you’re struggling to get your student engaged with the written word. They’ll get to keep experimenting with writing methods and modes of expression until they find something that works for them.
In the meantime, they’ll be developing their language, communication, and grammar skills. For teachers, The New York Times Writing Curriculum also provides advice on grading and analyzing work.
This makes it much easier for you to give an objective opinion (because it’s hard to find faults in your child’s creative writing).
We love every course that we’ve listed above and we think you’ll love them as well! Teaching grammar can seem intimidating at first, but these courses make it easier to master the rules and apply them to real-life situations.
We’ve given a brief overview of each course, which we hope will guide you as you pick the curriculum that works for you! You’ll need to dig a little deeper to really understand the lessons and layout of each course, but this guide should act as a springboard!
These are our favorite courses, and we’ve tried to pick a range of prices, learning styles, and age groups. But there’s plenty more out there! Have you had success with a different writing curriculum?
Frequently Asked Questions
A homeschool writing curriculum provides structured lessons for parents and children, focused on vocabulary, reading, and writing. At a younger age, these courses should help kids develop strong fundamentals.
As they progress, the course should introduce them to new grammatical concepts and refine their writing abilities.
A writing curriculum can be a real benefit for homeschool parents, guiding them through the basics of grammar and vocabulary in a clear manner. Many of these courses also provide advice on critiquing creative writing, which can be hard!
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