Review of Here to Help Learning Flight 1 Paragraph Writing Lessons

Writing always seems to take a backseat in our homeschool. I know that learning to write is important, and yet it's usually a very time-consuming thing to teach. We were asked to review the Here to Help Learning and their Flight 1 Paragraph Writing program this past month, and I am super excited to incorporate this new tool into all of my younger elementary students' language arts learning.  Here's why...

What age is this for? While the program is designed to be used for almost all grades from 1-6, I would say that the videos seem like they would appeal most to younger children. The theme of the instructional videos is that of an airplane flight. Each lesson is introduced by a cheerful flight attendant that walks kids through what they need to prepare for each lesson and what will be covered. My younger kids giggled at the acting, but older kids may find the repetition of each video intro to be tiring. (You can always skip some of the videos if the child doesn't respond well. All of the items that are covered in the videos are also included in the lesson plans you can print out.) There is also a talking dog "captain" that makes an appearance in each lesson.

Children at all levels of reading and writing can use this program. The "teacher" on the videos is upbeat, encouraging, and acknowledges that not everyone works at the same level. For example, one exercise asks that kids write words in their word bank and then do one of the following (depending on their writing level): 1) copy the words below 2) write a sentence below 3) write 3 or more sentences or even an entire story with intro and summary sentence.  Kids are never made to feel that their particular level is inadequate, and the way it is executed makes it easy for parents with children of different grades and abilities to learn together. The same lesson plans can be used for all abilities; the same is true for the printable worksheets and videos that are included in the program.

There is a focus to honoring God in all the lessons. Scripture is used to reinforce positive values and kids are reminded to keep their writing "God honoring." I liked this, even though I don't see my own kids writing anything unseemly.

We were able to use this lesson 3-4 times a week, completing almost all of one lesson in a sitting. Since my 10-year-old was reading very well, but not writing at more than a 3rd grade level, we chose the Paragraph writing to start him out, and he responded very well.  He liked the structure of sitting and watching the videos, doing the writing lessons, and reviewing the steps of the writing process. By the end of even a few lessons, he was progressing quickly through the materials and improving on his writing. As a shy kid, it was nice to see him become more confident in what he was writing, as well. (He went from not being able to brainstorm more than a few words in the beginning, to confidently putting down all of his thoughts into long, complex sentences.)

This program does not emphasize spelling as much as other programs. In fact, the teacher is often encouraged to spell words for the kids. I liked this attitude toward writing, as I know that kids can get tripped up on spelling so much that it discourages creativity. This program really takes kids through the entire writing process, with no cause for fear or awkwardness. It's a great confidence booster for reluctant writers!

Here to Help Learning allows parents to be as involved as they want to be. I chose to sit nearby while my son viewed the lessons. (I used the Chromecast app to stream the videos from my computer to the TV screen in the family room.) As he went through the exercises, I paused at the places the video told us to pause, then did any discussion that needed to be done before moving on. You could, however, have an older student do pausing on their own. While there were some exercises that asked the teacher to do class discussion, you could make it a short 3-minute exercise or do many examples for a longer session.  We were able to fit in an entire lesson each in less than 45-minutes. Most writing exercises are supposed to be timed, but you could always allow more time for delayed learners.

Would we use this program with all our kids? Yes, I would. Although I would probably encourage my kids in grade 4 or less to use both the paragraph and essay writing learning programs, due to the fact that my older kids (6th grade) didn't get as excited about the theme of the videos. Talking dogs appeal to my youngest kids the most!

You can learn more about the Here to Help Learning modules at their website! Or find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.