I would appreciate some input from experienced homeschoolers of gifted children about your writing curriculum in early elementary/first grade. How much writing did you require and in what kind of format/schedule? Did you give open-ended or structured assignments? If the child didn't want to write, did you feel it was necessary to push it or did you back off until the child was excited about it again?
Here is the background to why I am asking:
I am part-time homeschooling my highly-gifted 6-year old. He attends in-person school 1-2 days per week and the other days are a mix of homeschool and some minimal remote assignments from his public school teacher. We will switch to full-time homeschool if his public school has to go to all-remote learning again due to the worsening pandemic (screen-based school does not work for him at all).
He is a fluent and addicted reader of paper books. He enjoys math. He is loving history and several other subjects we do as read-alouds.
The one thing that he struggles with at home are the writing assignments. His school uses the Teachers College writing workshop program and he is expected to create a mini-book each week (4-6 pages, with 2-4 sentences per page). The assignments are open-ended (such as write a personal narrative or write a how-to book) and the student is expected to independently organize planning and revising steps for each book. He is capable of writing decent sentences, but he just doesn't want to do it. He stalls and complains a lot and easily loses focus. His teacher suggested setting a timer for 20 min per day of writing, but he would just fiddle with his pencil and do absolutely nothing until the clock runs down. I can coerce him but he then writes something minimal and will sneak in sentences like "this is stupid" when he feels too pushed. Last year, there were moments when he felt inspired to write something at home and would run off and produce a few paragraphs independently (for example, once he wrote a short "sequel" to the Lorax in Dr. Seuss style). But this year he is not enjoying it and seems unhappy to have to write a little bit every day just because it is assigned.
In the first half of his K year, he wrote a few mini-books in school that he was actually excited about. I feel like the format was okay for him during full-time in-person school, because the whole class would focus on writing at the same time. But it doesn't seem to translate well to the home setting where there are many other things he would rather be doing. I'm concerned that he is starting to view writing as something he hates and that it has become something we have conflict about.
My husband and I agree that the reading and math instruction from the public school is of little value because it is below his level, despite being a g&t class. Yet we aren't sure how to evaluate the writing curriculum. I feel like it might not be the right approach for him. My husband feels like he has "regressed" in writing since the school shutdown last spring and sees writing as the one subject that he had made progress in due to the public school. My husband is concerned that if we switch to full-time homeschooling, he might not make any progress on writing.
We have handwriting and spelling workbooks (there is none in the public school this year), but he doesn't like them. For the month before his public school reopened, he was doing a short practice in both each day. But now he is just doing a little handwriting practice once or twice a week and I have put the spelling completely on hold because it feels like more dreaded writing to him. We have not tried any copywork or dictation yet.
We read two fun preliminary grammar books from Michael Clay Thompson on parts of speech and parts of sentences. I have the full MCT level 1 language arts curriculum which I will start if we switch to full-time homeschool. I want to think that the MCT format would be better for my son than the Teachers College stuff since it seems to have so much more to offer. I assume it would benefit his writing more in the long term even though it would not expect him to keep writing these mini-books right now.
While we are thinking though this, it would be helpful to hear some anecdotes of other families' experiences with writing at this stage.