Most homeschool courses that address writing deal with writing stories, descriptions and other creative genres. The lessons attempt to pull the creative spark from the students, encouraging them to experiment with language, similes, metaphors and stylistic techniques for writing.
Having the ability to craft a more stylistic story is not necessary for success in college. However, having these tools can help a child when they are composing an essay for college. If the student is practiced in finding the perfect word, he will naturally use a more powerful or descriptive verb that eliminates the need for excessive description (a big no-no in essay writing).
So, using a creative or stylistic course isn't a bad thing. It can be a very good thing and, if the techniques stick, can be utilized in compositions. However, for the college bound child, the most important thing to teach them is to compose an organized essay in order to convey their knowledge. This does not negate the need for creative writing, but definitely puts it lower on the totem pole. Sadly, many teachers teach only creative writing to their students and send them off to college without the foggiest idea of what an essay really should be. That was me in college: I would pen heartfelt prose concerning noble ideas about the book when the teacher just wanted a concise essay that told them I actually read book.
If your child is more math/science oriented and hates writing, fear not! the organized essay using the Composition Code will make sense to him and he will succeed on all his writing exams, including the SAT, if he masters the formula. Mathy people love formulas. If they know writing is just a formula, they'll be happy.
For the creative writer: tame the beast! I can say that because that was me and I needed taming. I needed to learn to hang up the metaphors, put away the eloquence, and quit spewing my lofty theories and "beautiful prose" all over my academic essay. I needed to learn to organize my ideas into an outline form and just write down what I knew. It need not be dramatic, deep and full of creative style. A college professor just wants the facts. That's why those who are not creative writers get better grades on their college essays.
In an essay exam, I didn't need to say, "The longing in the soul of the most dreaded criminal is to be examined and explored with a compassion that might well up within us a desire to rescue him from his own self destructions."
Instead, I should write more plainly: "Most criminals experienced very difficult circumstances that instigated their life of crime. Examining these circumstances in the individual can help in the healing of their past wounds."
Do you see the difference?
In conclusion, my best advice is to teach the essay first. Then, try out some creative writing or stylistic curricula that will help the child use language more eloquently or help them write stories, or rewrite stories. But don't be discouraged if your child is not a creative writer (be careful if your child is a creative writer because creative writers have more difficulty with the organization of an essay). If your child does not like creative writing, that's totally fine. He only need to know the essay - the Composition Code - the formula for putting their knowledge into a collegiate composition. That's what must be taught, creative writing is like art history (helpful and wonderful and good for the soul, but not necessary.)
One last note: A child is not ready to even begin the quest of writing until they understand the construction of a sentence. Thus, grammar must be taught and understood before writing can be developed.
Another last note: Don't try to teach spelling and writing as the same subject. Forget spelling when you are teaching writing. Tell them how to spell things correctly. Spelling is a separate subject and the child should be allowed to focus on only one subject at a time, especially when the subject is as labor intensive as writing. During writing class, spelling should not get any notice or comment.
Until next time!