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Where to start?

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    Where to start?

    After IEW SWI Level B two years ago our son and daughter joined a co-op where his writing progress seems to have stagnated (or even gone backwards). Next year we will not continue with the co-op. I would like to enroll our daughter in MPOA High School Composition I next year as a 9th grader as she is a natural writer.

    Our son will be in 10th grade. He has a tough time with spelling (dyslexia) and often needs help ordering the ideas in his original paragraphs. Do you have any advice on where to start with him?
    We are not sure yet if it will be financially feasible or wise to enroll them both in the online academy. If we do enroll him where should we start, and if we don't enroll him would you advise going back to IEW level C or starting with CC at his age?

    Thanks for any help you can offer!


    Hi Rachel,
    So glad you are looking at CC!
    I think that the high school composition level 1 class would be an option for your 9th grader next year. For your other student that you are considering, I would recommend starting in the same place, Fable, and progressing through at least Chreia the first year, and move into ref/con and common topic the next year at least.
    Because our program is based on models, they are excellent disciplines for those writers who struggle with organizing their thoughts, as they really do teach an order to mimic in composition. the essay organization and looking at the whole finish product is one of the things I feel that differentiates the IEW program from CC, in that we are not only focused on the individual sentences and phrases, but we are looking at how all of the arguments and points fit together for a finished product of the whole, so I do believe CC will be very helpful to him.

    After you get through the first 4 stages (3 books) with him this year, you might consider putting him into the refutation confirmation class next year, or even getting the DVDs in order to move him through those lessons yourself. The whole high school composition one course is very difficult to teach at home in just one year because it covers the first six stages (four books), and really should only be used for writers who are both older and have a wide writing experience already, because it happens so quickly. The other option of course is to do the high school composition one year in two years instead of one, which is still accelerated, but not quite as much so. That is doing the fable/narrative the first year, and then the Chreia/Maxim and Ref/Con books the second year, before then proceeding to high school Comp 2.
    Still another option for you would be to complete the fable, narrative, and Chreia/Maxim at home with your two students together, because really they are going to start out at the same place in classical composition, which is with the first stage, and then the next year consider putting both of them into the Refutation/Confirmation class, which is the hardest to pick up as a teacher, but is definitely the most important stage for argument development.
    Please let me know if you have more to consider, and I can help.make sure you get exactly what fits your home. Also, make sure if you do ever sign up both your children at MPOA, that you ask about the multi child discount. ?
    Abigail Johnson


      Thank you so much for your help! I will look at the different levels and decide which would work best for our family.

      Does one need the DVDs for the first 2-3 books? I prefer to read, understand, and explain rather than watch DVDs, and it would be great to save some of that money for a later online class.


        Hello Rachel!
        I would watch the trainings available on MP for Fable, Narrative, and Chreia/Maxim and see what your comfort level is. You can access them at The 2019 Sodalitas Homeschool Gathering (they are toward the bottom of that list.)


          Great, thanks!


            Abigail Johnson
            I'm revisiting this post with an update and a few questions. After taking in your advice and praying about the best course of action, I decided to complete Fable and Narrative over last summer and enroll both of them in the Chrea/Maxim and Refutation/Confirmation class at MPOA for this year. They seemed to pick it up well and are doing a nice job. It still seems to come naturally to my daughter, but I can tell it is stretching my son (not in a bad way).
            We will continue with HS Comp II for my daughter next year.
            I am just unsure what would be best for our son. I am looking at two options: we may keep him at home for two more years or he will dual enroll his senior year and only have one year left at home. I want very much to have him for two more years, but that may be beyond my control.
            If I am able to keep him at this for two more years is option 1 what you would recommend? And if I only have one year left what would you recommend for option 2?

            Option 1:
            Junior year: HS Comp II
            Senior year: HS Comp III

            Option 2:
            Junior year: ?
            Senior year: College Composition

            Rachel Crosby


              I always think that it is best the gauge HS II/III pacing based on how the student does in Ref/Con. If he takes to "arguing" well, and reasonably quickly, (Ref/Con is about learning the Heads of Purpose as "areas," according to Quintilian, for "finding out" arguments, and being able to come up with reasons "for/against a plot point well), then he will be fine in HS II. The only other consideration is the pace, which is a paper every week of about 2-2 1/2 pages. In a worst-case scenario you can decelerate to just Common Topic for next year.

              If possible, however, it is wise to get him through HS Comp III. I understand the possible need for dual enrollment option, but if you will permit me to be very, very honest, looking at a year's worth of class in order to craft life-long writing skills, a Comp 101 course is not going to produce the same kind of fluency and depth that the Progymnasmata (CC) produces. It is, I think, and again, permit me to be very honest, even more crucial for those writers that have to work harder in writing to be in the Progym series, because the discrete skills are addressed much more directly, and the fruit is ever so much greater. It is much like applying fertilizer to a smaller young plant helps it catch up to the larger plant. The larger plant would also benefit from fertilizer, but the smaller plant needs it more critically. Again, I realize that you said these things may be beyond your control. I only look at a situation from the perspective of composition, but most circumstances have many more variables. I pray that your family will continue to enjoy the richness of Classical Composition and be able to make a decision that is fruitful and beneficial for each student!


                Thank you; we are continuing to pray also for guidance. I appreciate your honesty and advice. It is very helpful to know how to discern if he is ready for HS Comp II/III.