Essentials in Writing & Essentials in Literature Level 10-First Impressions

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Essentials in Writing and Essentials in Literature Level 10 are our homeschool curriculum choices for this year! Find out why we chose them, how they work in our daily homeschool schedule, and what each one looks like in action!

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Why We Chose Essentials in Writing & Essentials in Literature Level 10

In searching for a high school English curriculum this year, we were looking for something that could be used by both our senior and our freshman. You may be wondering how that would be possible with them being on two different levels, but it’s really ideal for us to collaborate on English. Reading and discussing books together and collaborating on the writing process through brainstorming and peer review add depth to the process for homeschool high school students.

Essentials in Writing

We were really excited to find Essentials in Writing and Essentials in Literature! Essentials in Writing Level 10 covers all of the writing basics that any high school English curriculum should include:

  • Sentence Structure
  • Paragraph Structure
  • Essays
  • Research Papers

It looked like it would be just the right fit to solidify the essentials for my senior, who has some learning challenges that make writing a little more difficult and to reinforce proper sentence and paragraph structure for my freshman.

Essentials in Literature

We chose Essentials in Literature Level 10 based mostly on the included novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. Levels 9, 10, and 11 are available, as of this writing. Level 9 uses The Hobbit, which we’ve already studied. Level 11 uses The Great Gatsby, which we felt would be a little much for our freshman daughter. To Kill A Mockingbird is a good novel that we wanted both students to read before graduating from high school.

How We Use Essentials in Writing & Essentials in Literature Level 10 in Our Daily Schedule

Essentials in Writing and Essentials in Literature can be used together to earn a full-year high school English credit. In the front of the Essentials in Writing book, there is an optional 34-week plan that schedules out the writing and literature to be done simultaneously. This plan can also be downloaded directly into Homeschool Planet and adjusted to meet your needs.

After we finished the first story unit in the literature book, we decided to tweak that schedule a bit for our purposes. Because my kids had a hard time remembering the details of the story by the time we got to the independent practice, we are going to do each literature unit (one complete story and all of its components) in full without breaking it up for writing from now on.

Then, we’ll do a week or so of writing, depending on the particular writing project we are working on at that point. We’ll let you know how this type of schedule works out for us in our mid-year update on Essentials in Writing and Essentials in Literature.

Using Essentials in Writing Level 10: What It Looks Like For Us

Video Content

The video content is the backbone of Essentials in Writing, and you can choose either DVD or online streaming. For each lesson, your student will first view a short video covering one concept. Mr. Stephens, who teaches the course, does a great job of presenting the lessons using step-by-step examples that are easy to understand!

After the video, it’s time to move over the workbook which includes a written explanation of the concept, along with examples. My kids really like having this page to reference when they do the assignments.


Speaking of assignments…so far, there are usually two days of practice for each concept. We are still early in the school year, so we have just finished the sentence structure unit. The assignments in that unit asked students to do things like write sentences that show a particular concept (i.e. compound sentences), look up examples of certain types of sentences online or in books, and write paragraphs that include certain sentence types.

Personalizing the Curriculum

As you might know, I’m a big proponent of individualized education. That means that I work hard to make sure my students are learning in a way that will help them be most successful. When I realized that these assignments were often taking my kids much longer than I expected them to, I started investigating.

I found out that they were getting bogged down in coming up with content and weren’t focusing on the concept they were supposed to be learning. I wanted to make sure they mastered the concepts, so I remedied this by just creating some sentences and paragraphs for them to correct. It was really helpful, and we all felt better about their mastery of the concepts.

Looking forward to the other units, there are some great graphic organizers that I