What’s Different about WriteAtHome, Part 2



I’ve mentioned the challenge of sorting through all the curriculum options at homeschool conventions. And I’ve talked about one way WriteAtHome differs from other writing options. Now we’ll look at the other differentiating factor. My hope is that it will help you understand the WriteAtHome approach so that you are better informed when making a writing curriculum decision for next year.

Quick review: WriteAtHome differs from other writing approaches in that it gives maximum flexibility to homeschooling parents. Moms can be intricately involved with their students’ writing, or they can just make sure WriteAtHome deadlines are met and writing coach feedback is satisfactory. Many parents choose WriteAtHome courses because they want an objective third-party to do the evaluating.

A second difference has to do with our approach to instruction.

Incremental vs Organic Approach

There are a number of popular writing curricula out there that might be described as incremental. They quite ingeniously break down the task of writing into simple, easy-to-teach steps. Young and struggling writers in particular seem to benefit from this step-by-step approach to writing instruction. An incremental approach not only benefits the learner, but the parent-educator as well, since it provides manageable concepts to teach in a sequential system.Don’t miss any of our great posts on writing, grammar, and language. SUBSCRIBE NOW.

Because our program involves personal, online tutors and an emphasis on the writing process, we are able to take a different approach, an approach I like to call organic. Rather than provide a sequence of incremental steps, WriteAtHome gets students writing whole papers early on and then provides personalized coaching through several drafts.

Think of it this way. Let’s say an assignment is given to a struggling young writer. He is insecure and says, “I don’t know where to start.” With the incremental approach, the teacher might say, “No problem. Start with this simple step. Then we’ll do the next and the next until we’re done.” It’s comforting because writing, as we all know, can feel like an overwhelming and complex task, especially to young and inexperienced writers.

If a WriteAtHome student, however, says,”I don’t know where to start,” his writing coach would tell him to start wherever he likes. There is, after all, no single right way to approach any paper. The coach would remind the student that she’s there to help and provide some direction after she sees what he can do. Because the student will have two opportunities to revise the paper under the tutelage of his writing coach, there’s no cause for anxiety.

An analogy I like to use is swimming instruction. In order to learn to swim, you generally don’t start with a textbook or classroom instruction on the mechanics of the stroke. You have to get in the pool and the teacher keeps you afloat until you become adept at the strokes. We like that approach to writing as well. Just jump in and let’s see what you can do. We’ll go from there. And we promise not to let you drown.

The two easiest ways to differentiate WriteAtHome from text-based or video-based writing programs are parent involvement and incremental vs. organic approach. WriteAtHome has proven popular and successful with thousands of students over the years, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for everyone. I hope this two-part series helps you in your curriculum decisions!


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About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

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