Writing with Ease is a curriculum that I first read about in Susan Wise Bauer’s book The Well Trained Mind.
Many home educators view The Well Trained Mind as a must have for guidance on what topics to teach by grade, and for curriculum recommendations. It starts at pre-k and goes until high school. Even though we are eclectic homeschoolers and not fully classical, I find her book to be encouraging through the different classical stages: grammar, logic and rhetoric.
As a Charlotte Mason inspired homeschooler, having a writing program that focuses on copywork, narration, and dictation is important to me. While that’s not all of our language arts, it’s something we do 2-4 times a week. Susan Wise Bauer offers other curriculum too, many know The Story of the World series (we’re using level 2 medieval with our Build your Library ).
Writing with Ease curriculum review – the Pros
After using this curriculum in addition to our Brave Writer, I’ve found some great pros, and also some cons depending on what’s the best fit for your homeschool. I’ve only used levels 1 and 2 so far, but I do plan on buying levels 3 and 4.
Pros of Writing with Ease
- Copywork and dictation are taken from great literature (mostly the classics), myths, or fairy tales. This is important to most Charlotte Mason or classical home educators in not having ‘twaddle’.
- The teacher guide is straightforward to use (open and go) and helps the instructor guide the student.
- It has a Charlotte Mason approach of starting with copywork, then building to dictation in levels 2.
- Narration starts in level 1, and offers teacher guidance for how the flow should be. This starts verbally and builds up to students writing their own narrations.
- Sections of a story are read to the students, then they have a sentence to copy, or the focus is more on narration or dictation.
- Great for homeschoolers that prefer to have no timeline for reading literature and don’t want their language arts to be in sync with what they’re reading.
Cons of Writing with Ease Curriculum
- The teacher guide and student notebook are in the same book. It’s not the end of the world, but I do find myself going back and forth a little bit.
- Stories are often a short paragraph of great books, myths or fairy tales. If you planned on reading any of these, then the students end up knowing parts of the story. Again, not the end of the world, just depends on preference.
- Levels 1 focuses on one sentence copywork and some narration. Level 2 has very little copywork and jumps into dictation quickly. While that’s ok for some students, I actually find that our kids did better with a couple of years of copywork. For our kids, building up to dictation, as opposed to jumping too quickly was preferred until the age of 10. I find that the habit of copywork builds confidence, this was especially true for my current grade 5, who is only just ready for more dictation. I prefer spending time copying longer passages, than doing too much narration writing. That’s just my personal preference though.
- I feel like narration is often best answered verbally for students that struggle with confidence and writing. My oldest had a hard time writing down what she thought of a book or passage, but would happily discuss it verbally. Again, this depends on the student. I also find too much narration writing gets repetitive and makes it less enjoyable. I have definitely preferred the ‘Big Juicy Questions’ approach after reading in the form of a discussion.
My final thoughts
I do enjoy using writing with ease as a supplement to our brave writer. I’m currently rotating the months that we don’t do a Brave Writer Arrow (my goal is 5 a year) with writing with ease. I do this to keep so our homeschool isn’t stagnant.
I found the separate writing with ease manual to be interesting, but not a necessity. In fact, you could even read the guide and get ‘an idea’ of how to teach writing by copywork, narration and dictation from your own literature choices.
Have you tried Writing with Ease?
How did you like it?