Complete Writer (Well-Trained Mind)
Susan Wise Bauer has an opinion about how writing should be taught to children. Not surprising! With years of experience teaching writing at the college level, she knows that The Complete Writer is the one who has mastered the three stages of writing - Writing With Ease (combining the two distinct mental steps of putting ideas into words and putting words onto paper), Writing With Skill (learning to organize sentences into short compositions), and Writing With Style (the persuasive expression of ideas). Seven years ago, Peace Hill Press started publishing her writing courses that have an emphasis on this progression of skills. Now that The Complete Writer sequenced writing program (Writing With Ease and Writing With Skill) has been used by thousands of parents/students, Mrs. Bauer has gathered excellent feedback about their experience with her program. And, to her credit, she's "tweaking" her recommendations a bit to conform to that feedback. For instance, although the Writing With Ease series was designed to be used for four consecutive years, she is now suggesting that many - perhaps most - students will be prepared after the first three levels to progress into the Writing With Skill books. Likewise, she now suggests that fifth grade is probably on the young side to begin the Writing With Skill series.
It's easy to see that these recommendations mess with the previous neat symmetry of the program (four levels of WWE, then three levels of WWS). Not to worry! Mrs. Bauer suggests you can 1) slow down WWE-3 and cover that course over two years, 2) continue narrations and summaries across the curriculum, or 3) insert another writing curriculum - maybe creative writing - into the 1-2 year gap. [See our website for a chart listing four possible progressions.] And, if you're not certain if your student is ready to progress, she provides mastery evaluations for each level (in the WWE Text) that will help you make that determination. These diagnostic evaluations are also very helpful if you have an older student that you want to integrate into the program at an appropriate level or if you have an older, reluctant writer that needs to "go back to the basics" and acquire some necessary beginning skills.
The Writing With Ease and the Writing With Skill programs make it possible for any parent to become a writing teacher - no experience needed! The beginning levels are scripted with later levels focused on the student becoming an independent writer; the parent functioning as a writing mentor. Although each level is designed as a year long course, they are flexible and you can use your own discretion as to the speed at which you progress through them.