Originally, I was going to just use the course for my 12 year old, but the company allows the option of more than one student sharing a writing consultant, so I decided include my 10 year old as well. The catch is that the student(s) can only send one email to your writing consultant each day, so I had to keep track of whose day it was to sending their writing to the teacher.
Here is how the program works. The writing consultant begins by sending one email to the student and one to the parent. The consultant asks about the student and discusses what type of writing will be done. You can choose any kind of writing. The consultant can help with a writing curriculum or project that you are already doing or the consultant can put together a writing plan.
Since we were just doing a month long course, I decide choose one of the project options listed on the website and I had my girls each do a personal essay. After my initial correspondence with the teacher, I only ended up emailing her one other time (more on that later). The teacher worked directly with my girls in choosing a topic and working through the writing process.
I really liked how the writing consultant drew ideas out of my girls by asking them questions. Here is an example of a message sent to my 10 year old who was writing a personal essay about why she dislikes pizza.
Hello! Thank you for your message and list of reasons you don’t like pizza. For next time, let’s build a paragraph about the sauce. Do you like tomato sauce on pasta, or do you dislike it on everything? In your paragraph, tell about why the sauce on pizza bothers you. How does it feel when you bite into it? How does it make you feel after you taste and feel it? Use examples of times you have touched or tasted pizza to bring the paragraph to life.
The teacher also taught my 12 year old about metaphor and personification and encouraged her to use it in her essay about why she likes water. During the editing process, the writing consultant will correct and teach grammar concepts. My 12 year old learned about using commas after introductory clauses.
One downside to this program was the scheduling. And it was really my fault. I inadvertently scheduled the course the month that my parents came to visit for a week. The girls did some writing during the visit, but we did miss a few days. This was the other time that I emailed the teacher. Then the last week of the course fell during our local public schools fall break. We took the week off school to participate in a community play. I completely forgot about the writing course - oops. By the time I remembered, the course had ended.
Another downside, is the cost. A one month course is $75 and goes up to $800 for a 12 month course. The one month course isn't bad, but I can't imagine anyone spending even the $630 for a 9 month course. But as Lee at Home Scholar always says, "Spend money on your weakness." Writing isn't a weakness in our house. I have a pretty good grasp on writing and my husband is a professor who teaches academic writing for a living. If writing is a weakness though, WriteGuide,com is less expensive than Brave Writer's personalized writing help.
I would recommend this program to anyone who is struggling to teach writing. A month or two month long course could really help walk the student and you, as the parent, through the writing process. I would also recommend this program for anyone who is working on an important writing project, such as a college essay and needs help with revising and editing.
I felt terrible that we missed the end of our month long course. The girls were very close to finishing their essays. I helped them complete them though and I think they turned out really well.