We have been using (and loving) Brave Writer’s Partnership Writing this year with my 3rd and 5th grader.
Can I tell you a secret? Something that would make every good homeschool mom aghast?
Are you ready?
Here goes: Until last year, I never ever did a writing program with my kids at home.
Just unfollow me now.
It’s just that…man, every time I’d buy something or find something at an exhibit hall, I would practically fall asleep on the spot. So boring, you guys!
I just couldn’t bring myself to spend my hard earned money on sheets of sleeping pills for my kids. So I’d box it back up or slowly back away from the exhibit table before the salesperson had a chance to make eye contact.
Basically, for seven years I did my own thing.
I had my kids write about people we were studying in history or write letters when I thought about it. We would always journal each morning too, but we never did anything specifically for writing.
The first writing curriculum that has ever gotten me excited about teaching writing to my kids was from Brave Writer.
Last year, we started using the Jot it Down program and it was really great. We moved up to the next level, Partnership Writing, this year and it has been so much fun!
If you are looking for a fun and easy-to-use writing program with your elementary kids, read on!
I can’t wait to show you what we’ve been doing this year!
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The Brave Writer Stages of Writing
One thing that I found difficult in teaching my kids writing was finding that balance of having good mechanics (spelling, grammar, format) and creativity.
If my kids wrote something that had great grammar, it would be totally bland–not the vibrant things I knew they could write.
And if they wrote those colorful pieces of writing, it would have no capital letters, no punctuation, nada.
But I felt horrible correcting something they were so proud of!
Finding that balance of well-written, creative writing projects just felt too far-fetched.
So, I did nothing.
When I started reading The Writer’s Jungle though, I realized there’s more than one way to teach writing. And the way explained here made so much more sense to me.
The Brave Writer stages of writing look like this:
The Jot it Down Stage: Your young sweetie has tons of fabulous stories and thoughts. You transcribe for them and jot down their “writings.”
Partnership Writing Stage: A partnership with your child. He writes, you write some too. You work together.
Faltering Ownership Stage: Spurts of success and then struggles in the same minute. Your child still needs your help and support, but less so than the other stages.
Transition to Ownership Stage: Your child is not a really strong writer and you have transitioned more to the editor role.
The Great Conversation: This is your older teen getting ready for college writing. They’re not confident in their writing skills and the mechanics come more naturally, as they focus more on writing out their deep ideas and thoughts.
Recognizing these natural stages helped me sort out this writing thing in my own head.
Ideas first. Kids’ words first.
After your child has completed their writing, you complete a “Mechanics Mop-Up” with your older elementary kids.
This way, they can feel free to write the way they want to. They won’t get hung up on making errors because we put the emphasis on what they’re saying not grammar mistakes.
How we use Partnership Writing
Right now, we are using Partnership Writing with our 3rd and 5th grader.
I’m always of the mindset that where I can combine subjects, my mental health is much better off.
Jot It Down, Partnership Writing, and Faltering Ownership all have similar formats.
The first part of the book explains the Brave Writer approach to writing. It covers the stages, how to conduct freewriting, and loads more.
The last half is the most fun…the monthly projects!
There are 10 projects, each one getting a little more in-depth as the year goes on.
The projects are nicely laid out, giving you ideas of what you should cover each week to complete your project within the month.
If you own The Writer’s Jungle, there are tons of great scheduling and project ideas according to the writing stages, so you wouldn’t have to have the specific Partnership Writing book.
But I love to have this book.
The photos and longer explanation of monthly projects are my favorite.
Our most recent writing project
We won’t complete all the projects this year. My plan is to pick up Partnership Writing again next year and then move on to Faltering Ownership.
The projects that we’ve finished so far thought have been so fun.
I wonder sometimes if my kids even realized they’re doing writing.
Instead of a ton of complaining about What do I wriiiiiiite??, we spend a lot of time researching, Googling, talking, and storytelling.
It’s then, when we’ve got a good grasp on what we’re going to write about that we pick up the pencils and write.
In January, we completed the 5 W’s Project.
The kids were asked to choose a place or a person, research it, and write a mini report based on Who, What, Where, When, and Why prompts.
To hone this in a bit, I gave them a big list of influential people from the period in time we’re studying in history.
Two birds. One stone.
They chose Babe Ruth and Harry Houdini.
They spent the first couple of weeks gathering books and research and taking notes on index cards.
Next they organized their info into the five areas.
Last, they created their reports.
This project actually didn’t involve a whole ton of actual pencil time. But they learned a ton about the process of writing a report.
And they finished with an awesome project!
In case you have a writing secret too…
If you have a dirty little writing program homeschool secret like I did, you may find some great alternative to the boring stuff in BW. I know I did. And I am so glad too, because now, I feel like we’re being so much more purposeful about writing every single week.
My kids are creating these amazing notebooks full of Freewrites, and creative writing, and projects with their beautiful (and hilarious) words.
I wish I would have discovered these home study courses sooner. But I’m so happy we’re full-in now, because it’s been a great year for writing in our house!