Teaching my children to write clearly and intelligently is my Achille’s heel. Most of the time I feel inadequate for the job, and yet writing well is arguably one of the most important skills I can give them. Enter Here to Help Learning, a home school parent’s dream come true. Just a few short weeks ago I received an online subscription to Here to Help Learning and was asked to review Flight 3 Essay Writing, and I am so pleased I was!
This is an unusual writing program aimed at Grades 1 through to 6, although the final flight can be used to write and publish a short six chapter book. This immediately appealed for C13, who was a tad older than the recommended ages, but who I felt would very much enjoy such teaching. And I was right!
About Here To Help Learning
Meet Beth Mora, she is the enthusiastic teacher for this entire curriculum. There is an ‘aeroplane flight‘ theme which runs through the program, with Beth dressing up in costume and taking on the persona of flight attendant, a baggage attendant and even a fleet commander! There are three flights. Each flight contains 32 lessons teaching Paragraph Writing (Grade 1-3 or for my English readers Years 2-4) or 32 lessons teaching Essay Writing (Grade 4-6 or Years 5-7). I am reviewing Here To Help Learning’s Flight Three (Essay Writing). Each of the 32 lessons contain similar elements:-
- Pre-Flight Checklist:
This corresponds with the first part of the lesson printouts and ensures the student has what they need and knows where the lesson will be taking them:
I recommend ensuring the student has all the lesson printouts at this stage so they know exactly what Beth is referring to in the video. Beth also talks about attitudes and asks the student to check in with a ‘willing and determined to learn’ attitude (I loved this part!)
- Flight Check in:
Beth Mora is now addressing the student as herself. She comes across as likeable, approachable and very enthusiastic. C13 really took to her and found listening and watching her very easy:
During the flight check-in, Mrs Mora ensures the student is fully organised and has exactly what is required to continue the lesson. This was perfect for a child like C13, who often wanders through life with her head in the clouds. I also really appreciated the scripture which is read aloud just before every lesson:
The preflight check list and the check in take very little time (think a few minutes at most) yet the gentle reminders encourage the student towards organisation and comprehension of the lesson to follow, ensuring their success.
- Take Off
During take off, the student is shown their writing warm up of the day. This is often writing about a fun photo-shopped picture. The student is asked to imagine a story using the picture as the starting point:
A literary technique challenge is an added requirement, which the student must include in their writing warm up (for example metaphor, simile, oxymoron). At the end of this section, Beth goes through the writing process with the hope that after stating the writing process each week throughout the course the student will memorise it and begin to naturally apply it to their own writing:
The student printouts, which are given to the student before starting the lesson, include all this information:
- Full Throttle
This includes the main part of the teaching and is the longest section. Sometimes the student is asked to share with other students or their mentor, other times there is a ‘Meet an Author’ Section, where Beth meets a well known author. C13 LOVED this part of the lessons each week:
These are Christian writers who have some great tips. As C wants to one day be a writer, this section really floated her boat!
This is also the instruction part of the course. Mrs Mora does the teaching in a very clear way, using examples from well known stories such as Little Red Riding Hood. Afterwards the student is instructed to work on their story board.
- Flying Solo
In Flying Solo, the student is given their assignment by the pilot, who happens to be a very sleepy and dozy looking Basset Hound!
All the way along there are note pages either to write on or to read. Everything is so thorough and well organised the student can’t help but be successful. And if the student gets stuck they are encouraged to ask God or ask a parent 🙂 Gotta love that!
How We Used Here To Help Learning
It was advised that we use this curriculum twice a week. One session to watch the videos and do the related activities, and a second session for the writing assignments. C13 asked if she could do all the work in one sitting, finishing off the next day if necessary. I try to give all my children as much freedom as possible in their work and to carry it out how they deem it to be most successful, so I agreed.
There are all sorts of motivators available on the course website, which would maybe be useful if you had a reluctant writer, or were using it with a younger child. For C13, these were redundant as she is a very enthusiastic writer.
Our Thoughts on Here To Help Learning
We LOVE this curriculum and feel utterly blessed to have been picked to review it. I love the organisation, the way Beth guides the student to success (literally, there is no way a student could fail using this curriculum). My daughter felt this ‘walking her through the process’ was so helpful. C is a very strong writer but struggles sometimes to order her thoughts in a logical way. This course is helping her to learn to do just that. I think the methodical and clear way this program is taught is its main strength.
Beth also offers aids which she gives to a parent to be able to mark their child’s work, which is really helpful to me. It shows me at what standard C is currently at and the standard she needs to aim for.
C13 also appreciated the repetitiveness of small but important parts (for example Scripture and the writing process). We both loved Beth’s enthusiasm, her confidence in teaching her craft and the quirky way she goes about doing it! This type of teaching speaks to C’s own quirkiness and she immediately felt at home with Mrs Mora’s style. Beth talked her language, so to speak.
Although I opted to use it with C13 who is in UK year 8 (US grade 7), I have decided that we will use it as an intensive course over the summer for all my older writers, as well as beginning it with my seven year old this week.
I really, really like this curriculum 🙂
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YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/HereToHelpLearning