Hi Arvi, our child has done two CTY reading courses and a grammar course as group classes on a set schedule, and the writing course "The Process of Writing" as an individually paced course. I have found the writing course to be by far the best course.

Both due to being an individual course and the nature of the subject it is possible for the course to be "just right" for a fairly wide skill level with writing. The assignments are well designed to be clear and specific and yet open ended at the same time.

CTY is the only purchased literacy provider we have used since moving from "normal" schooling to home school, I can't compared it to any other courses. But I have found the feedback (on all the literacy courses mentioned, but especially writing) to be far more detailed than anything any of my children have received for their work at any of the schools they have attended. Except perhaps in the final two years of highschool at a high end private school (we are not in the USA).

The first few weeks of receiving the feedback was quite a revelation, I have to remind myself now at how amazed and delighted I was, but it has been 6 months now and feels more "normal" (I may get a rude shock in the future with other courses or a return to normal schooling!)

On the downside I really wish there was a component of live or even recorded instruction for each assignment, which is why I am considering changing to MCT.

Also, we really are dealing with an exceptionally advanced writer. I am not sure that the course has dramatically improved their writing at all. What has been learned:

1) How to DO a course like this, which is likely to a very necessary skill as I think we will be looking at carefully chosen university level literacy courses very soon (online). Learning how to "Do the course" might sound silly, but at 10yrs old and mostly having been in traditional school there has been no opportunity to learn the skills required to use a university style learning management system, work through a course alone at home, work to deadlines like this, or work without them (different skill!), make sure at the end of each section you actually have done ALL the parts, etc before submitting. There were many weeks early on where certain steps were missed and had to be resubmitted. There is a lot of executive function to be learned in this course.

2) introduction to a more formal process for writing (they had not previously been exposed to the many excellent methods used for formally revising work etc).

3) writing in a variety of formats and styles, whether interested or not, but it be a meaningful experience (which school based writing rarely was)

On the downside, at 10yrs old, and being very creatively minded, my child really has little use for any feedback received once they feel "done". They work to their satisfaction, and submit. Once work is submitted they enjoy a good grade and praise, but detailed feedback seems irrelevant to to them because they are "done" so what are they supposed to do with the feedback? Where as detailed feedback received during the process of the work is willingly received, applied and more likely to be remembered next time. I am not sure if all kids are like this, or just mine (my other children are the same, the eldest had improved somewhat in this area by about 16).

I tried to explain this to the CTY instructor that was running the course and their response was that this was why the course was designed in cycles, so that the child could take the feedback given and apply when that piece of work was re-visited in a later assignment. The course is designed so that across the 10 assignments a number of the assignments are draft / revision / final of a single piece. But my child really did not do this, and did not even seem to understand what I was talking about when I asked if they had made use of the feedback on the last version. To them each assignment had a new assignment number, new instructions, etc. So each assignment was separate, even if it started where a previous one left off. It was particularly confusing for my child that assignment 10 (for example) required you to work both from the instructions for assignment 10 AND from the feedback for assignment 7. I really had to put in a lot of work, eventually insisting that they had the new assignment and the feedback document open side by side as they worked. Writing this reflection on the process I think that even changing how the assignments were named would have helped my child mentally, to see each segment as part of a process (ie Assignment 1 parts a, b & c, OR Essay part 1, 2 & 3, Poem part 1 & 2).

On the one hand I appreciate that being able to work with the very high quality feedback received, and in the way that this course is designed, is a valuable skill. So I do appreciate that the course has helped build this skill. On the other, given the course is designed for young gifted students, for whom this may be a common problem, I really wish that the feedback was much more interactive and occurring DURING the process of the writing, because that would actually have improved the quality of writing, which was the point of the course.

In summary : It was better than any verbal type course any of my children have been exposed to before senior highschool. BUT I would have loved to have seen the course have a live or recorded video introduction to each assignment, and a collaborative feedback cycle during the writing assignments in a format like google docs...