When I choose a curriculum for my homeschool, there’s a lot more in that decision than what’s popular or cheap or free. I want to know what others use, of course, and I pride myself of being a thrifty homeschooler. But most of all, I want a quality product produced by people with the same worldview and educational views as our family. So when I recommend Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) in this curriculum review, I don’t do it lightly.
I first became acquainted with IEW about 10-12 years ago when a more experienced veteran homeschool mom spoke highly of it. I had great respect for her opinion, so I looked into it. It seemed very expensive to me, so I didn’t try it. A few years later, my (at the time) 12 year-old daughter took a class with local homeschoolers using the Student Writing Intensive curriculum. She came home and raved about it. I saw her work as well as her excitement about the program, and I was hooked.
The Philosophy of IEW founder Andrew Pudewa
“Why do we do what we do? Well, I am very motivated by the idea of equipping students with the skills they will need to use, the language they have, the written and spoken English, so that when the world needs it there are people ready to wield words of truth, to be able to accurately and effectively and winsomely bring words of truth to a world that so desperately needs that.”
This. This is why I love the program. I am passionate about education. Great education. And I believe that written communication has suffered greatly over the years. Very few are able to express their thoughts and beliefs and feelings, and many more are unwilling to even try. When the founder of a writing program sees the need in this way, I have confidence in knowing that it’s more than just a school subject; it’s real training.
Here’s another snippet of a speech by Andew Pudewa:
“…historically, what education has been was much more of a liberal arts type of education, where students were learning the tools for learning. They were acquiring the skills of learning grammar, logic, rhetoric, the trivium, geometry, mathematics, astronomy, the quantitative side and the quadrivium, and that the whole purpose of a liberal arts education was to educate free people. That’s where we get the word liberal: it’s the root “liber,” which is the same as book, liber in Latin. Library, we also get from that…liberal and liberty…the idea that free people need to be educated in order to retain their freedom, and this, traditionally, is what education was.
When you go back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, you can even look in the Arab world, and of course all throughout the Medieval period, education and faith and freedom and self-government and self-determination were all very connected. And that came to its peak in the Enlightenment with Lock and Hume and Rousseau. A lot of the philosophers who influenced and wrote in the time of the founding of the U.S., by the people who were educated in this Classical type of liberal arts education, understood probably most profoundly that education and freedom were very much connected.”
Both of these quotes are from the IEW Podcast Episode 4A “Back to School, Part 1.” The podcasts are very informative, instructional, and encouraging. If you’d like to understand more about IEW, this is a great place to start.
Read my related blog post: Why You Should Teach Your Children to Write Well
My Favorite IEW Products
This post contains affiliate links. My website is my job, and helps to support our family. So if you decide to buy something you see mentioned here, we would be so grateful if you clicked through my links. Thank you!
I’ve taught five kids with these products and every year, I love them more. But you probably want to know what my kids think! My 13-year-old son says that writing is his favorite subject. My 10-year-old daughter looks forward to her IEW class all week, and enjoys each assignment. And in a class I’m teaching with a fellow homeschool mom (Structure and Style for Students), every parent has told me how much their kids LOVE the class.
But you see, I don’t teach it. The videos do! I am there to assist (and I watch the videos with everyone). It’s Andrew Pudewa and his method that teaches and engages!
Structure and Style for Students
The cornerstone of the IEW Program is the writing curriculum, and it is updated! SSS is a streaming or DVD class with student notebooks and writing assignments. I cannot say enough great things about this program. Andrew Pudewa, the founder of IEW, teaches this course (as well as the others) and does it with a wonderful mix of humor and intelligence.
The reason this curriculum works is because of the methods. Pudewa does not believe in telling kids to think up something and begin writing about it, or giving kids a topic and assigning them a paragraph or three. He starts with a basic story or text and walks the students through how to improve it with a structural plan and a list of stylistic techniques. The student is not forced to go blindly into a story or paragraph, but is instead given the tools and the means to accomplish it.
As an added bonus, grammar is reviewed and used (the best kind of review) for writing excellent papers. Students are encouraged to expand their use of vocabulary, as well.
I have seen this program produce encouraging results in many different students with many different abilities. I’ve always started my students at Level B for middle school and early high school. I highly recommend it. See a video clip here.
There is also a parent course that goes into detail about how to teach the IEW method , Teaching Writing With Structure and Style (see a video snippet here). It’s wonderful. I highly recommend both. But if you’re on a budget, you can get the student course with the teacher guide and watch it with your children.
Themed Writing Lessons
I LOVE to do a full-immersion type of learning with my kids, so I utilize themed curriculum as often as possible. These themed writing lessons from IEW are a perfect addition to your history or literature program.
They are an excellent follow up to the Student Writing Intensive mentioned above. Or, you can begin with the parent course and then dive straight into these themed courses. I have enjoyed several themed courses, including Ancient History, Narnia, U.S. History and All Things Fun and Fabulous. They make a great introduction to the IEW methods or review when added to your history curriculum. Watch this short video explanation.
High School Essay Intensive
I first used the Essay Intensive (and reviewed it) with the Homeschool Review Crew a few years ago. (You can read my complete review here.) The course includes a basic lecture on writing essays (all kinds and all lengths), as well as specific instruction on college entrance essays for the SAT and ACT.
Students are taught how to write both short and long essays, timed essays, and how to adjust the length based on the assignment. They are given tools and outlines for writing essays on a new topic with little warning. A student notebook and clear instructions are included.
Timeline of the Classics
As a history buff and an avid reader, the Timeline of the Classics guide just speaks to me! I love an orderly list, and this one is excellent. “Created to save planning time and research, this chronological index of classic world literature reveals a panoramic view of world history. Includes instruction for Reader-Response Journaling, enabling students to outline each chapter they read to strengthen comprehension, develop discernment, and experience the wonder of classic literature. Useful for students of all ages, this guide will complement many curricula and teaching styles.”
Using IEW on a Budget
As I said earlier, we have had access to group classes within our homeschool co-op and in the community. I took advantage of those for years, even signing up to be an assistant in the classes. I even teamed up with another mom who owned the program and we taught it as a summer course to local homeschoolers. The students were only required to purchase the student workbook, so the cost was minimal to the families involved.
This is a great way to give your kids this fabulous curriculum without purchasing the entire set yourself. Consider purchasing the full writing curriculum with a friend or two and teaming up to teach a group of kids, or seek out someone in your group who already owns it and who would be willing to do a local class, or as part of your co-op.
Free IEW Resources
There are several ways to learn more about IEW and get help and encouragement for teaching children in general.
YouTube: IEW has a YouTube channel with some short snippets of programs, introductions to several curricula, and some longer talks by Andrew Pudewa.
Audio: On the IEW website you’ll find quite a few audio talks that really encourage parents in the general education of their children, as well as some great tips for teaching writing.
Free downloads: I have found some of these free downloads very helpful in my teaching and for general reference purposes. The Recommended Book List is amazing!
Product samples: Almost every product listing provides a free sample download for your perusal. I really prefer to look over a program before I buy, and when shopping online, these samples are exactly what I need.
There are many more wonderful products in the IEW catalog, including an entire phonics curriculum, spelling, grammar, speech and debate, writing a research paper, and more. Everything you need to teach strong language skills to your children from K-12 is available from the Institute for Excellence in Writing.
I have been using IEW products for several years and love the results and the company so much that I wanted to share with my readers. I will receive a commission for each sale purchased through my links, so if you choose to purchase any IEW curriculum, I hope you’ll start on this page!
While you’re here, visit my Knowledge Keepers Bookstore! In it you’ll find the books and the stories that have shaped this great country, the books that influenced our founders and our ancestors, the books that Americans have mostly ignored or never heard of, but the good books that we should all read and protect. Join me in saving Western Civilization, one book at a time!