Review of Writing With Ease: Strong Fundamentals

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

I purchased Writing with Ease by Susan Wise Bauer more out of curiosity than anything else (and indecision of course).  I love dictation and thought this would be great to read her opinions on the subject.

Since I am doing a separate writing, grammar, and spelling program, I used this book mainly for the dictation and narration.  I did Year 1 and 2 in about 3 months, stopped, and moved onto something else.  I will probably do Year 3 & 4 at the beginning of next year.

Ms. Bauer states this book will teach your child to write.  Here we diverge.

Here’s my honest opinion:  I think this book is too easy.  I think Ms. Bauer underestimates what children are capable of.  My first-grader does narration and dictation with no problem.  She is also writing on her own and being taught how to put sentences together, parts of a sentence, conjugation, etc.  I think this book coddles and does not challenge the average student. I believe we should expect more.

You definitely do not need the workbook unless  you want something already pre-planned.  I chose dictation exercises from all of our curriculum.

Conclusions:  I could have done without this book but since I bought it I used it and will keep it for future reference.  However, I continue to believe Ms. Bauer’s writing program is too easy.  I’m a fan of her history but not writing/english.

3 thoughts on “Review of Writing With Ease: Strong Fundamentals

  1. In response to your review of Susan Wise Bauer’s “Writing With Ease,” I would like to share our experience which was quite different from yours. First of all, from the way you describe your child, she is not average. The average 1st grade child does not narrate and dictate with ease; your child is far above the average with such skills at such a young age. We used Dr. Bauer’s program for most of my “average” daughter’s elementary years and it was always a challenge. Narration and dictation were very difficult for my child, and by third grade the lessons took at least 1 hour per day 3 days per week for 9 months. We did use SWB’s “work book” during third and forth grades, and I found the program much more challenging when using her work-book than when I created my own dictation and narration exercises. Also, we did all of the lessons in order and basically followed her instructions. In the end, I must say, my daughter excelled in writing after 3 years of her program, but it did take 3 years of slow growth.

    You took only 3 months to do years 1 and 2? It took us 9 months to complete year 1. Either your child is a genius or you did not teach the program properly.

    In my humble opinion, Dr. Bauer’s program is excellent for the truly average student, and in fact my daughter’s writing is now above average because of her program. This past year, my daughter was tested in reading and writing (she has some learning issues) and she did rank in the 90th percentile for her age group in writing, which is a vast improvement from our first test before using SWB’s program where she ranked at 60th percentile.

    In closing, I don’t believe that SWB’s writing program will work for every child, nor do I believe that her program is necessarily the best. I think the best curriculum is the one that brings positive results with a child.

    Perhaps, before giving advice for the “average” student you should explain that your opinion is based on experimenting with a highly gifted child. This could especially make all the difference for those young easily influenced homeschool mothers searching the internet for curriculum reviews!

    With my warmest regards to your blog,

    Martha B
    Mobile, Alabama

    1. Martha,

      In my opinion, my daughter is not gifted (and like you said, every child is different so I would appreciate you not making presumptions on my site about my children whom you do not know). Also, making presumptions on my site about me teaching the program improperly. You don’t know me from Adam.

      I stand by my review for all parents of homeschoolers. Part of the problem of public school is they are not challenged and they do have low expectations of students. We homeschoolers should not. I believe in this case Ms. Bauer could push the envelope.

      I would suggest you research what was required of a student 150 years ago and tell me if we even come close to those standards. And that was for every child–not just the rich.

      My daughter works hard and I do believe Strong Fundamentals is not challenging enough.

      I also don’t appreciate you calling young homeschooling mothers “easily influenced”. I am young and I do my research thoroughly (and I am relatively new to homeschooling having my kids in and out of public school).

      This is my opinion as I stated in my caveat. You can take it or leave it. I see you are leaving it. But it stands for others to decide on their own (who I believe are not easily influenced. If they were, they’d have their kids in public school).

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