Writing can be an extremely difficult subject to teach your children. Despite having a career that required me to produce volumes of good writing, I found that I needed help when it came time to teach my kids how to write.
I knew that the first component of good writing was an excellent foundation in grammar. To that end, I purchased and use the Michael Clay Thompson language arts series that I reviewed here.
I do not use the Michael Clay Thompson writing component because it is too abstract for my children. After a few false starts attempting to teach the children to write on my own and using other writing curricula, another mom recommended I try Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).
I admit to being intimidated by the program at first – just the name sounded a bit onerous. And when I went to the website to take a look at it, it was very difficult to wrap my head around exactly what the program entailed. So I continued to flounder.
At some point, I attended a homeschool convention and, despite being a bit put off by the IEW website, I decided to stop by their booth to have someone explain to me exactly what IEW was. Having a face-to-face explanation was certainly much better than trying to sift through the website, which is why I always recommend that people attend homeschool conferences.
After speaking with the IEW representatives, I decided to purchase the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS) DVD set and seminar workbook, which came with Andrew Pudewa’s video seminars on Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. I also purchased one theme book, All Things Fun and Fascinating and its teacher's manual. This added up to around $200.
The genius of the IEW system is that Mr. Pudewa teaches you, the parent, how to teach your child to write. The TWSS DVD set comes with 14 hours of instruction and contains exercises that are laid out for you in the workbook. You can watch the DVDs all at once, or spread it out by watching each unit before you go over it with your child, which is what I did.
The beauty of learning how to teach your child to write is that you can then apply these principles across subjects. You can apply the teaching and evaluation skills to any writing that the child does, whether it’s for history, literature or any other discipline.
And because you learn how to teach your child to write regardless of subject or setting, this is all you really need in order to teach your child to write. While the $200 price tag may seem steep at first, it’s literally the only investment that you have to make in order to teach your child to write.
Because the IEW way of teaching was totally new to me, I purchased a theme book to go along with the TWSS. The theme book has nine sections that correspond with the sections covered by the TWSS. I liked using the theme book because the reading materials were somewhat interesting to my son and it helped me to understand how the system was intended to work. However, once we completed one theme book, I felt confident enough to branch out on my own and not have to order any more theme books.
IEW offers additional DVD sets where Mr. Pudewa teaches the writing system to students. You’d use this if you did not want to teach your child and would prefer to have someone else do it. Because my children are young, I opted not to have a DVD instructor. I find that my children don’t learn much when they are taking in information electronically, anyway. However, for an older, more independent student, the student DVDs might be a viable option. But remember, in order for you to effectively grade your child’s writing, you still need to watch the TWSS.
I have found that the structure laid out in the IEW has enabled both of my children, and particularly my son, to write more confidently and more willingly than when we were using the open ended, narrative type writing prompts that are so popular with most writing curricula.
I love the philosophy and understanding of the writing process that Mr. Pudewa demonstrates with this method. I interviewed Mr. Pudewa about IEW when I was speaking at the Texas homeschool convention. You can see my interview below.
I use and highly recommend Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) for teaching your children to write.