Monday, March 7, 2016

Here to Help Learning {TOS Review}

I was excited to review Here to Help Learning, a Biblically-based homeschool writing program, with my three oldest children - Mikaela, grade 7; Eli, grade 5; and Mercie, grade 2. We have never used a formal writing program before, and I was curious to see how my children would enjoy it.
I received a free online membership to the Here to Help Learning website. Mercie used the Flight 1 Paragraph Writing level, and Eli and Mikaela used the Flight 1 Essay Writing level. {You can also buy the printed workbooks and DVD sets. I have more information on this at the bottom of this post.}
How does Here to Help Learning work?
Here to Help Learning is divided into two main levels: Paragraph Writing {grades 1-3} and Essay Writing {grades 4-6}. There are 3 "Flights" within each level, each one building upon the previous flights. Click on the picture below to take you to "Choosing a Skill Level & Flight".
homeschool writing skill levels
Here to Help Learning uses a combination of methods to teach writing. There are filmed instructions, worksheets, scripted lessons for the parent/teacher, and meaningful writing projects. This can be used in a homeschool or co-op setting. Your child will complete 6 writing projects in a year. {There is a handy chart HERE if you would be interested in seeing what projects will be completed.}
Your child will first watch the video which is broken into 5 parts:
Pre-flight Checklist
Flight Check-In
Full Throttle
Flying Solo
The Pre-Flight Checklist is mainly for the parents, a reminder of the items and worksheets you will need for the lesson. The Flight Check-In only takes a few minutes. You will pass out worksheets and recite the memory verse - Colossians 3:17. Take Off is often a writing warm-up exercise. You child will look at a funny picture - it may be a cat dunking a basketball, or something similar - and they will have 7 minutes to write a story using the picture. My kids thought this was fun. My youngest felt pressured by the time limit, so I didn't time her. I did ask her to write quickly, though. Other times, the Take-Off is a writing process exercise or game. Full Throttle is the longest {and often funniest} part of the video. Your child will review the steps of the writing process and discuss the step they will be doing for that lesson. Flying Solo is when your child completes his or her assignment for the week. My children would sometimes do that assignment right away, and sometimes they would wait until the next day.
 homeschool writing lesson
{Click to Enlarge} 
There is also a free, printable Quick Reference Language Charts - 26 pages of punctuation and grammar help! Your child can put this in the back of their binder to have as a handy tool.
The Writing Process is taught in a really fun way. There are quirky hand motions to help your child remember each step. She also reviews the writing process during each lesson, so your child gets a lot of exposure to it.
Writing Process Icons.001

What did we like about Here to Help Learning?

During the Take-Off for Flight 1, Paragraph Writing, Mercie's favorite part was playing the game, "Sentence, No Sentence". I had to give her sentences and phrases, and she had to give a thumbs up for a sentence and thumbs down for a phrase. Next, she had to give me sentences and phrases, and I had to decided if it was a sentence or not. Finally, I would give her a phrase, and she had to make it into a sentence. This gentle grammar was perfect for Mercie, as she still has a little trouble distinguishing phrases from sentences.
My kids enjoyed the videos! Beth Mora is very funny and engaging. They often laughed their way through the videos! The writing warm-ups were fun for them, and they are still working on their final projects.
In the Flight 1, Essay Writing level, Mikaela and Eli were introduced to the Top Ten Literary Techniques. They often had to use a certain literary technique, like a simile, in their writing warm-up. This was a great introduction for my kids, as we have never discussed these in depth.

How did we use Here to Help Learning? Do we plan to continue?

We used Here to Help Learning once or twice a week, depending on whether the kids completed their assignments the same day or waited until the next day. Considering we have never had a formal writing program before, I think my children are doing well with their writing. They don't enjoy writing formally, though. My kids would much rather write creatively, without any rules or processes to follow. With Mercie being in 2nd grade, I don't think she needs any formal writing lessons. She isn't interested in completing her writing project, so I am not pushing it. We will continue to play "Sentence, No Sentence", as she enjoys it and it is helpful to her. I would like Eli and Mikaela to be exposed to the writing process and literary techniques, however. I am going to have them complete their writing project.
If you have any questions, click HERE for the FAQs page. They are answered very thoroughly.
The online membership is very reasonable at $6.99 a month per family {for access to all 6 years of writing lessons}. You will have to print worksheets and resources, and Beth has broken the cost down HERE. The physical set is $89.99 for six DVDs and one student workbook {a year of writing lessons}. Extra student workbooks are $19.99 each.

Check out Here to Help Learning on:
Here to Help Learning Review


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