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Homeschooling High School: Favorite Writing Curriculum

June 24, 2011

If you ask 10 homeschoolers, you may get 10 different answers about favorite writing programs.

Do you have any favorites for teaching composition beginning in 9th grade? Funny thing, I am a writer and editor by trade but haven’t a clue how to teach it.  My kids have learned the most basic of skills in writing an essay but that’s about the extent of it.Also, do you have a preference for choosing curriculum that incorporates all facets – lit, grammar, vocab and composition, or separate pieces?
~ Barb

Dear Barb,
Like all curriculum choices, it’s more about the fit with the student, and not about what I like. Here are some articles that may help, though: 10 No-Fail Strategies for Choosing High School Curriculum Learn to Write the Novel WayHomeschool High School – Online English Ideas.

If you have some time, this website will help with learning styles HomeEdExpert.

If you don’t like the feel of that website, then her book is 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child’s Learning Style by Cathy Duffy.

Personally, I loved Sonlight Curriculum, and that is what we used.  I also hear particularly good things about (see their blog at, Institute for Excellence in Writing (writing only, not literature, so just add some good books) and BraveWriter (one of my  Gold Care Club members is a HUGE fan.)

I would love to hear about writing programs that other homeschoolers have already USED and LOVED.  No fair mentioning things you haven’t used yet – or things your child barely tolerated!  I’m only looking for positive recommendations, please.

The Comprehensive Record Solution provides the training and templates and real life examples of successful high school records.


  1. Laura Stein says:

    We also used Sonlight’s writing program with good success for my oldest. However, for my two younger children we switched to IEW. I like the fact that once you, the parent, have learned the different models, you can teach your kids to write across the curriculum. I’ve used lots of writing programs and in my opinion, if a curriculum doesn’t teach your kids how to write in any subject, it’s not very helpful. IEW teaches everything from fiction writing, critiques, persuasive essays to writing a research paper.

    June 24th, 2011 at 6:13 am

  2. Kristine says:

    I agree, it’s about fitting the student. While I think highly of IEW, my daughter much prefers Writing Strands. We’ll be using a mish-mash for 11th grade: IEW’s High School Essay Intensive, Writing Strands/Expository Writing, and The Lively Art of Writing. (Because who can choose just one?!)

    I do wish, Lee, that I’d more closely followed your advice for younger children to write daily. Because my dd is such a talented creative writer, I assumed she’d easily transition to expository. That never happened. I’m planning to not make that same mistake again with my younger ds.

    June 24th, 2011 at 6:34 am

  3. Lois says:

    I used WriteAtHome last year for both my children. It’s on-line, and a bit pricey, but they each had a writing coach that was someone besides their mother! The assignments were good, and they worked much harder for their coach than they would for me, so it was a worthwhile investment.

    I have heard many wonderful things about IEW, but I got overwhelmed thinking that I had to watch a bunch of videos to learn how to teach a writing program. I knew I was doomed to fail from the git-go!

    June 24th, 2011 at 7:36 am

  4. Ann says:

    Like Lois, I’ve used WriteAtHome for all three of my boys. I like that their writing coaches take a very positive approach, and take the student through three revisions of each paper. All three of my boys responded VERY positively to having a coach other than their mom (who tends to be way too nit-picky!). All of them were very responsible about getting their assignments in on time (I think because they enjoyed seeing what their coach had to say about their efforts that week).

    I have one son who is a struggling learner, and I worked with the coach’s suggestions to help him revise his papers–I don’t think he would have been able to do as well if I hadn’t provided a little more support in polishing his work.

    That said, I have also used Brave Writer materials. I purchased her two books, which are wonderful resources for learning an intelligent, positive approach to coaching/tutoring your own child. She also offers online classes and language arts materials. I am working on incorporating Brave Writer’s philosophies into my efforts to help my struggling-learner son, though we used WriteAtHome this year and will do so again, as my son has enthusiastically requested to continue working with them.

    I am always interested in looking at suggestions for writing, so will check out the suggestions above!

    June 24th, 2011 at 12:41 pm

  5. Linda says:

    My son had a positive experience taking an online writing class through Laurel Tree Tutorials.

    June 24th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

  6. Alicia says:

    I can’t say enough about Institute for Excellence in Writing. They have a wonderful support loop with instructors who will help you choose which product and what level to teach depending on your individual children and situation. They help you choose something based on the ages and experiences of your kids. Very informative, helpful loop. They also have a website with lots of information about their products. IEW has taught me how to teach writing. Very helpful.

    June 24th, 2011 at 5:54 pm

  7. Rebecca says:

    I too was overwhelmed at the idea of watching hours of video to teach the IEW classes. So I didn’t. I just purchased the student texts and used them for both my 5th grader and 9th grader this year and loved loved loved it. It was our first formal writing direction other than just Mom’s red edit marks. :) They did very well, and my 9th scored super high on the writing portion of SAT. This I don’t contribute to the IEW, but I think IEW was so great bc she was already a great writer. How’d we get to that place? I think it was just by writing so very much across the curriculum for the last 7 years. So my advice: keep trying curriculum, quit if it doesn’t work, and ask them to write about everything whenever possible while also avoiding burnout. Good luck. :D

    June 24th, 2011 at 7:52 pm

  8. Lisa says:

    We like IEW and started with level B this past year with a 5th and 7th grader. We didn’t do a lot of formal writing before this past school year, and I liked that the videos teach the student how to write rather than Mom.

    June 25th, 2011 at 6:14 pm

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