Last year, we made a great stride in writing. The two older children went through the Institute for Excellence in Writing course. In short, the instructor (on dvd) teaches a method through repetition. The children go through the same method every time they write. He gives them tools, so they can write about any subject. IEW includes a solid method for writing research papers.
As far as English Grammar goes, we follow the classical model of learning… “Classical Conversations” gave me a plan to teach grammar. The children have memorized the list of prepositions, Helping Verbs, and Linking Verbs. Also, I discovered a great grammar tool in diagramming sentences! Last year they studied this form of art using The First Whole Book of Diagrams by Mary Daly. It brings order to sentences and helps us all to see the parts of speech. There have been quite a few things in the past that have not worked. Some of those include workbooks. My children usually got the correct answers, but that did not translate into good writing. So, I kept looking.
Finally, we read, read, read! They read the books suggested in Sonlight for the time period we are studying plus other classical literature and biographies. We still read aloud to them all.
Originally posted as “Review of Institute for Excellence in Writing. Nov 10, 2009. Updated 2010.