An excellent essay-writing curriculum

I went on the Teacherspayteachers website and found an excellent essay-writing curriculum there for my daughter. It is targeted for American high schoolers, and some of the words used in the worksheets do reflect a higher level maturity is needed to understand those things. It teaches essay-writing in a very logical, systematic, incremental way, so it’s all laid out very clearly. No mystery surrounding this. Could be a little restrictive I guess, if someone follows it to the core. I was never taught essay-writing properly in school and was left to just get on with it somehow by intuition and feel. I got through it somehow, but even though I’ve written hundreds of essays in my academic life, I still learnt something from doing this curriculum with my daughter. That’s why I think it’s great. Only problem is it could be a bit restrictive, IF someone just follows this rigidly. I personally will never restrict my writing to the same format as taught in the material, although it’s good to know the basic skeleton of a good essay. I think my daughter is creative enough, and her writing free-flowing enough, to not get trapped into writing her essays in a rigid structure such as the one taught, so it should be fine. Anyway if I catch her being too rigid with her writing in future, I will let her know.

The material is fine but because some of it requires a certain maturity which at her 12 years of age, she does not yet possess, I had to help her out a bit with understanding the terminology. Not a problem. I think all this exposure to more complex language and concepts can be a good thing – me being a big fan of the Charlotte Mason method of home education. Also leads into some research on her part. I don’t believe in making things easy and/or spoonfeeding a child when it comes to learning. My own experience (and psychological studies into effective learning have borne this out too) is that learning happens best when one had to work for the information – say, research, or quizzing oneself. Information will never be digested well if one just reads the material once over, many times. Nor will it work if one has been told the answer to a question without being given the time to ponder and think and try and find out what the answer is first.

So, we are doing the essay writing course concurrently with our notebooking/history/social studies learning. I tend to split our time between these each week so we end up doing a bit of each every week. And we try not to rush this, but not to delay it too much either (so she doesn’t forget stuff she has picked up last week, etc.) The course is really flexible. One can dip into bits of it or do everything consecutively as they appear. For the money, it is cheap. I did think about enrolling her on the Catherine Mooney essay writing correspondence course before, but this one is cheaper and does the same thing – albeit with no English tutor feedback. Might still use Cat Mooney courses for IGCSE English and/or English Literature in future though. We’ll see.

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