After struggling to find a middle-grade writing program, we’ve found the one that works best for us – Writing & Rhetoric from Classical Academic Press.
The Writing & Rhetoric Series
The Writing & Rhetoric Series from Classical Academic Press is a 12-book series (at the time of this post, the first eight books have been released) using the classical progymnasmata method. The ‘progym’ is a series of exercises designed to prepare students for rhetoric – the art of writing well and speaking persuasively. The lessons focus on imitating great writing and classical literature to teach students to develop their own writing style.
The program is gentle and thorough, each book building gradually on previous material. For example, the early books focus on simple narratives, and by book four students are ready to begin writing six-paragraph essays.
Chreia & Proverb
Chreia & Proverb, the fourth book in the Writing & Rhetoric series shifts focus. Suitable for students in grades 4 and 5 (or older), the book uses short sayings and proverbs to teach students the art of the ‘chreia’.
A chreia is a short essay that praises the author of a saying and then shows us how that saying is useful and relevant. Classical Academic Press takes a gentle approach, teaching students to write a six-paragraph chreia, breaking it down into simple steps. Over the course of the semester-long program, students will compose nine of these essays – giving them plenty of practice with the process.
While writing these essays is an integral part of the program, students also continue to work on crafting descriptive sentences and discussing the weekly readings. Each lesson includes:
- Introductory story about a historical figure and proverb or saying related to that person
- Tell it Back Section – narrating or outlining the story
- Talk About It – discussion about the story, historical figure, and their saying
- Going Deeper – deeper questions that focus on developing comprehension skills
- Writing Time – a variety of writing assignments that focus on writing creative sentences and the six-paragraph essay
- Speak It – oral exercises that prepare students for speaking, combining the abilities of thinking, speaking, and writing (which are closely combined skills)
Scheduling Book Four
Much like the other books in the series, the exercises are easily divided up over the course of a week. Here’s how our week looks:
Day one: We begin the week by reading aloud the introduction and the story about the historical character. After I finish reading aloud, my daughter narrates the story back to me – highlighting the main points of the story. Then we use the ‘Talk About It’ and ‘Going Deeper’ sections to discuss the story, the historical figure, and their saying.
Days two & three: During the next two days, my daughter works more independently on the writing assignments (except the chreia) from the ‘Writing Time’ section.
Day four: This is our ‘chreia’ day – we focus on writing the 6-paragraph essay. For about ⅔ of the book, we discussed each paragraph before my daughter started writing. After she felt confident in her ability to work independently, she began working on these herself.
Day five: To wrap up the week we work on the activities in the ‘Speak It’ section of the lesson.
Why Writing & Rhetoric works for us
Writing & Rhetoric is the perfect program for us. My daughter prefers something with discussion and interaction and this program works wonderfully well for that. It can also be used more independently – if you have a child that wants to work on his own. We are slowly transitioning to that model and Writing & Rhetoric can easily be used that way.
The approach is gentle and there is plenty of review built in – so, while the content is deep and rich – it’s still accessible for all homeschoolers. Believe me, there is no reason to be scared of using a classical program – Classical Academic Press makes the classical method of learning so easy and attainable.
Read more about the series in these posts:
~ Tonia at Happy Homeschool Nest