Finding a solid homeschool writing program can be difficult. We’ve recently had the chance to review Flight 3 Paragraph Writing in the Here to Help Learning homeschool writing curriculum. I’m happy to report that this program hit all of the learning styles and is unique from anything we have tried before.
Here to Help Learning
Homeschool Writing Program
With Here to Help Learning, there are 2 different levels of instruction. For younger students, or for older students that need a review, there is the Paragraph Writing level. This level teaches students to write a solid 4-5 sentence paragraph. For older students (roughly 4-6 grade and up), there is the Essay Writing level, which teaches them how to write a good multi-paragraph essay.
The levels are divided into 3 “Flights”. These can be completed in any order (except Flight 3 in the Essay Writing Level – that one should be done only after completing at least one other Flight in the Essay level first), and one Flight is equal to a full school year or 36 weeks of writing instruction. Each Flight includes 6 projects which take roughly 6 weeks each.
Before you get your child started on a lesson, you will go in and select which one you’re going to be working on. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this writing placement test. Of course, you’ll also need to choose a Flight. I let my kids choose the flight they wanted to work on by checking out the scope and sequence of them. We are working on Flight 3 of the Paragraph Writing level with my 3rd and 5th graders. There are several printable helpers and resources to print before you go further, including a Student Language Helps Booklet which my kids have found very valuable during their writing lessons.
Once you have selected a level, a flight, and a lesson, go in and print out the resources for that lesson. This is so simple to do. You just click on the lesson your children are working on and the printable PDF is available on the same page as the video lesson!
Each lesson has the same format. It corresponds exactly to the videos that the students work through. It begins with the Pre-Flight Checklist. That’s mainly for you, as the parent, to do. Briefly read through the lesson, make sure you have all of your supplies handy and everything printed out, grab a timer, and get started.
Next, they begin their Flight Check-In. This is the part of the lesson where students get focused on their writing, students receive Discovery Tickets (a great way to encourage students to complete and turn in their assignments), stick their new worksheets in their writing notebook for the lesson that day, and then do a routine review of the Bible verse reviewed in every lesson – Colossians 3:17.
Next, students do the Take-Off activities. For the Paragraph Writing level, we’ve been playing games. The Essay Writing level does, too, but theirs centers around literary techniques. There’s also a fun writing warm-up. My kids look forward to this because there are silly pictures and easy, but fun brainstorming and writing exercises to complete. Then students learn and talk about the writing process.
Now it’s time to really get going. Kids go Full Throttle. This is the main lesson and where kids are going to get their hands dirty in their real projects. They spend the biggest chunk of their lesson time working on this section.
Finally, students are given Flying Solo assignments. These are tasks they are to complete during the week and prior to their next lesson. This is what they earn Discovery Tickets for and is basically homework, all related to the project.
The video lessons walk students through the whole process. This is the part that makes this program so different from other writing curriculum we have used in the past. The videos stream straight from the website itself and are divided into the different parts of the lesson to make it easy to pick up and go wherever you left off. It provides great ideas for using this as a co-op writing course as well, and it pictures other children using the program, too.
How We Used Here to Help Learning
My daughter could have probably begun with the Essay Writing level, but I wanted her to get a good grasp of the program before moving on. I also thought it would be fun to group her with her brother for some of the activities since they can work together.
This worked out very well, and they did have a good time. However, now that we’ve been working on the program for the past several weeks, I will probably move her to the Essay level. I love the flexibility of this program. I can see that she’s looking forward to completing the lessons, but I want to offer her more of a challenge now that she has some experience under her belt with working on the site.
The writing project we’ve been working on has been writing a thank you to a local business. It’s cute to see what the kids came up with on this one. Grace wrote a thank you to McDonald’s for providing easy, fast food to people. Michael wrote a thank you to Nintendo for making fun video games for kids to play. The cool part is that they chose a meaningful company to them so the process was worthwhile to go through and learn.
My children have enjoyed watching Beth Mora on the videos! She is a veteran homeschooling mom, and boy does she know how to mix the right amount of silly and educational information together to get kids’ attention. Sometimes she is dressed up in crazy costumes. Sometimes she interviews people. Sometimes she just stands there and explicitly teaches a concept. No matter what she is up to on the video, my kids have been able to pay attention and focus on the lessons.
The videos are short and to the point in places where kids might get bored, but longer in the more interesting and interactive snippets. I also enjoy that there are places in the video that even TELL you to pause.
I like that my kids are getting a solid foundation in good writing. They’re able to learn about the process and even practice with each other. One of my favorite parts of language arts as a kid was participating in writers’ workshop. Now my kids are able to do it, too!
I love that the lessons are laid out for me. I admit, I was hoping this would be a hands-off curriculum for me. Now I see that I am needed to help guide them in a few areas and to oversee the work being completed to high standards. However, my kids are beginning to understand and anticipate the routine in the lessons. They are able to talk to me about the writing process in a way we haven’t really discussed before. My reluctant writer is finally able to brainstorm and put together thoughts on paper in record time. Writing isn’t like pulling teeth anymore. FINALLY.
While everything I received was available with online membership, Here to Help Learning also offers physical product packages. You can receive the video lessons on DVDs, the worksheets in workbook form, or both. I think I might purchase workbooks in the future to save myself a little prep time and ink!
Find out how other families used Here to Help Learning by clicking on the banner below.