I probably spend too much time worrying about doing this one right.
When my big kids were small I knew much less about the topic, but I was more certain that the methods we chose were the right ones. No exceptions. The older they got, the less I knew. I know where I'd like them to be when they graduate our homeschool, but the getting them there tripped me up. Needless to say the cookie cutter approach didn't work well for long, no matter how awesome that cookie shape is.
This year I'm feeling more on top of composition. I stopped looking at the big picture and individually examined where each kid is and where they were heading. Individually I made plans for the year. They each have a different path.
Justice has always disliked generic writing projects just for the sake of practicing a new concept or skill. I've never been very comfortable designing his composition around his other subjects myself. I like a book written by somebody who knows what they're doing to get me started. Justice had a hard time accepting any criticism of his writing last year; he was actually pretty offended by it. His writing didn't improve much as a result. We've had several heart to heart conversations about it this summer. He wants writing to be embedded in history and literature. I want him to have more writing instruction before we go without a safety net. The compromise is he'll work through the rest of the Stewart English program (last book focuses on writing) to start with, while I work on a solid plan for the rest of the year, using a Norton handbook as an aide.
Joy, being Justice's polar opposite in practically every way, prefers to just open a book and do what's next. She doesn't want a lengthy conversation to clarify expectations, and is quite happy subbing topics in those generic writing assignments. She'll be using Jump In! by Watson, with the understanding she can do the assignments as is, substitute a topic if it still suits the assignment, or even merge it into something in another subject. She is very happy with this plan, and will primarily run it herself.
Honor writes great for his age, but could really care less about the subject in general. I pushed him to try bigger and more complex assignments at the end of last year, and he really rose to the challenge. Justice and Joy both used Classical Writing's Homer book in fifth grade, but Honor just doesn't seem like a Classical Writing sort of kid. He considers writing about the complexities of a cell to be more interesting than a fable most days. When I asked him about being a reporter his interest was peaked, and he really liked the samples of Wordsmith Apprentice. This book starts with really simple grammar work, and ends with a basic essay under the guise of writing an editorial column. I don't think it will last him a whole school year, but we could easily flesh out more writing using the same methods and focusing on one big project a week. He's going to love this!
Grace, on the other hand, is absolutely a Classical Writing type of kid. She adores working on fables and short stories and being able to call it schoolwork. My only problem here is she'll be ready for the Homer levels by early spring at the latest. She'll be 8 years old. Homer A is a pretty rigorous book aimed at the maturity of the average fifth grader. When I get all my lesson planning for fall done I'll reread the core and see how feasible it is. If I cut the analysis work it won't be much more challenging than the Aesop books, and the grammar is so intertwined we couldn't drop all of it. This will take some tweaking.
Faith will get the benefit of the guinea pigs, err, oldest children, paving the way for her. For kindergarten she gets plain ole copywork, and gentle amounts of it. Most of it will come from good children's literature. :) Copywork taken from good writers works, and works well. Who better than masters of English for a young one to start copying?
Writing 2013-2014? My no. 2s and Pink Pearls are ready for you. Bring it on.