Wonder Boy (age 12) was not good at constructing a paragraph before using How to Write a Paragraph from Create Better Writers. We've tried a few writing curricula, yet the basics of how to structure a paragraph just didn't stick with him. Perhaps because those other programs were trying to teach other things alongside, or maybe he just wasn't ready for it yet. However, after the first day of trying How to Write a Paragraph, he was able to list the 5 parts of a paragraph with only a little prompting. Now that we are finished, he can rattle the parts off in a few seconds!
How to Write a Paragraph has the student start out by writing a paragraph of their own choosing, without any further instruction from the teacher. Whatever the student feels is a paragraph, that is what they write. I struggled a little with this, because Wonder Boy didn't even know what a "paragraph" was after having taken the summer off. I decided to show him a book, and point out the paragraphs. That was my only commentary on the subject. He surprised me by sticking to one main idea, and having more than two sentences. However, he still needed a lot of work.
We worked through the e-book together, and Wonder Boy caught on quickly. The method outlined in the e-book really seemed appealing to him and held his interest. I didn't have to struggle to keep him focused, and I could tell he was actually retaining the information. The whole experience really reinforced in me that he does better in some areas with one-on-one teaching, rather than having the book handed to him to study independently. I think we'll be integrating more one-on-one time this school year as a result. I'm also happy to say that Wonder Boy can now write a paragraph on his own, and the task doesn't seem daunting to him!
We took our time working through How to Write a Paragraph, and then some mild life events happened, so we have not moved on to How to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay yet. However, I anticipate favorable results with with that e-book, as well! I plan to also use it with Super Girl, as she knows how to write a paragraph, but is perhaps not totally familiar with writing an essay.
Create Better Writers provided me with three e-books: How to Write a Paragraph, How to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay, and The Homeschool Writing Action Plan. They range in price from $7.99 to $17.95. If you have found that your children in 3rd grade and up are lacking in the basic writing skills, these books might be just what you're looking for!