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Essay Styles for High School Review by Brandy Brockhausen

Beth Hempton and Dana S. Wilson
Train Up a Child Publishing, LLC

As my boys get older, I find myself thinking about things like SAT testing, and college entrance exams and so on. Naturally, writing is a strong component of college applications and tests, so building my boys into proficient writers is a priority for me. Essay Styles for High School is a writing program designed to help kids prepare for these exact things. From Train Up a Child Publishing, Essay Styles is a first-year high school course that introduces students to the main types of essays, and helps them learn each step in the writing process.

It comes as a 100-page coil-bound book, with a soft cover. The program even offers an honors option for advanced students and can be used alongside any literature program or as part of a history-focused unit. Each book costs $43.97. The ability to integrate it with other programs or use it as a stand-alone course is one of the nice features. You also have the option of making it a one-semester course, or spreading it out throughout the year.

Essay Styles for High School offers an easy to follow outline for each lesson. Some of the directions are written directly to the student, while other portions are for the teacher. While your child does much of the work in the course, the parent still takes part in each lesson, which I believe is a good thing for a beginning writer. Each section is very detailed, with explicit instructions and examples for each type of essay. Generally, the type of essay is defined and tips and directions are given. From there, students complete some type of writing warm up and brainstorming session to get their ideas going, then they move on to writing their actual essay.

Depending on the type of essay they are writing, students receive more instruction about gathering information, notetaking, organizing their ideas, outlining and more. For teachers, the program gives you detailed rubrics to use for grading, some additional information to use when discussing the essays with your students, and a general idea of the time frame for completing each section. Again, this is all very easy to tweak according to your needs. In addition, Essay Styles features several appendices which include several examples of each type of essay, editing checklists for students, samples of graded rough drafts, and even a section on tips to use tools from Microsoft Word for editing.

overall, I feel like Essay Styles for High School is a very complete course for a beginning high school student. It will give your kids a solid foundation to build on as they move throughout high school and into college. It is very easy to use and only requires minimal preparation, which is a bonus for busy homeschool moms. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a simple but thorough writing program for your high school freshman.

-Product review by Brandy Brockhausen, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2017