Category: iew

homeschool helpsiew

My IEW Wishlist

This is our first year using the Institute for Excellence in Writing. I have to admit that I have always been skeptical of IEW. Many of the parents I have talked to in my circles who use the program seemed stressed out and overwhelmed. To listen to them tell about their homeschool day, describing the subjects they were teaching and curriculum they were using was stressful to my delight directed ears. I made an assumption that IEW was busy work, time consuming, and stressful.

Thankfully, that assumption was dispelled when I was able to hear the founder, Andrew Pudewa, speak at our state conference, NCHE Thrive, last Spring. I really did not even want to go hear him speak… my goodness… how judgy of me! However, he was one of the keynote speakers so I decided to go. I was so pleasantly surprised and humbled as I listened to him speak. He articulated so well the hopes that I have for my own homeschool. He so eloquently described what I have come to know as interest led learning and delight directed homeschooling.

But what I was most impressed with was all the young students, middle and high school age, who lined up to shake his hand and tell him thank you. These children were so excited to meet Mr. Pudewa. Seeing how motivated and excited these kids were about the program sealed the deal for me… I had totally misjudged IEW and was ready to eat my humble pie, visit the booth, and ask some questions.

As I mentioned in the post about our high school plans, my oldest had expressed interest in diving deeper into the elements of literature. He has always been an avid reader and wants to learn more of what it would take to write his own novel. When I expressed this to my new friends at IEW, they suggested we start him on The Student Writing Intensive Level C. Noting what I said about his apptitude for grammar and mechanics, she said he could likely do level C during the fall and move into a novel writing focus in the Spring.

I am loving Level C. We sit and watch the videos together. Sometimes I feel like we are back in preschool watching Dora the Explorer… you know how she would ask questions and then pause for the answer? I was totally answering Andrew Pudewa during one of the lessons.

We also have Level A for my girls. We will probably start after Christmas.

While looking on the IEW website, I started putting together a list of things I would love to use in our homeschool. Here are a few that piqued my interest:

Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales

“This theme-based writing curriculum offers a full year of instruction for students in grades 3–5 and is perfect for homeschoolers, homeschool co-ops, tutors, and hybrid schools. Your students will work through IEW Units 1–7 as they learn to take notes, retell narrative stories, summarize references, write from pictures, and compose their own fables, myths, and fairy tales. Includes vocabulary cards, literature suggestions, and access to helpful PDF downloads.”

Following Narnia Volume 1: The Lion’s Song

“Using the first three novels of The Chronicles of Narnia® (The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Horse and His Boy), this series of 30 lessons (with two bonus lessons) beckons students to experience the enchanted land of Narnia through the Structure and Style® writing method.

The Student Book gives reading assignments from the novels, source texts on related topics, checklists, assignments, wordlists, and more! The Teacher’s Manual is a necessary component of the course, as it will guide the teacher/parent through each lesson with in-depth explanations, tips for teaching, checklists, and other notes that will ensure that you and your students are successful with Following Narnia.”

A Guide to Writing Your Novel

  • “Designed especially for teenagers and older hopeful writers, instruction is based on 30 years of proven, practical methods of developing an idea into a complete story.
  • This guide covers the common elements of all category novels as well as the special requirements of the key genres: suspense, mystery, romance, juvenile and others.
  • Checklists and helpful workshop suggestions can be found periodically throughout the book providing a distinctive and valuable feature.
  • This is the answer book to questions beginning writers have on all aspects of novel writing.”

Lemonade to Leadership

“This unique 12–25 hour curriculum involves students in grades 6–8 in real-world business practices: recognizing opportunities, record keeping, marketing, merchandising, and writing your very own business plan and implementing it!”

I realize that my biggest goals for my children as far as education is concerned are :

1. Develop a life long love of learning.

2. Learn to read. Love to read.

3. Be proficient writers.

We are 99% there on the learning to read. As far as I can tell, I have a crew of bookworms who appreciate and enjoy reading. We are moving into more of a focus on writing now.

Have you used products from the Institute for Excellence in Writing? Comment below and share your favorite.

highschoolhomeschool helpsiew

Our High School Plans 2019-2020

Oh my word… time flies when you are homeschooling four kids with two in soccer while working two part time jobs. I cannot believe that I have not blogged in TWO MONTHS!!! I have so much to catch you all up on!

First things first. Apparently, I have a ninth grader. NINTH GRADE! I’m pretty sure that is impossible because yesterday someone told me to treasure his preschool years because I would blink and they would be over.

Only… it wasn’t yesterday. It was ten years ago.

I’m finding a lot of similarities between starting preschool and starting highschool as far as homeschooling goes. I remember when he was four and I declared that I needed all the things. I needed curriculum. I needed and easel and a desk. I needed a pocket chart and a calendar. And a pointer… I definitely needed a pointer.

We bought a preschool curriculum from Sonlight. I sat down with my boy, armed with a spiel about how “A says ‘ah'” only to find out he was well past letter sounds and knee deep into chapter books and dinosaur encyclopedias. For the first of many times to come, I had missed him. I had been wrapped up in my vision (and what I had learned from homeschool conferences and blogs) of what our homeschool should look like. I wanted to check some boxes and know that I was doing all the things.

I found myself feeling very much in the same place I was those ten years ago when I sat down to plan for 9th grade. Suddenly, the game seems real and more serious than before. Moving forward, transcripts and credits are something I have to know about. Being aware of what colleges are looking for and having my child college ready are weighing heavy on my mind.

I started scrambling and asking and making lists and boxes to check. I started stressing that these past ten years of homeschooling are for naught and I have irrevocably screwed my child up. As I sat with him, piling on the subjects and classes he must take to be college ready, I could see the cloud covering him. My creative, self taught, self motivated, highly intelligent boy was shrinking under the weight I was placing on his shoulders. He reminded me of the unschooly, delight directed method of homeschooling that I so proudly speak of and asked how high school works in that framework. I told him that I wasn’t sure. This is uncharted waters for me.

After prayer and much conversation with the boy… I realized what I realized ten years ago. Here I am, wanting to make sure he knows grammar and history and math… meanwhile he is knee deep in the art of story telling through film and drawing. He is curious about budgets. He wants to learn about Japanese history. He wants to go deeper in his writing abilities. I realized there is a framework of what colleges are looking for and it is my privilege to fit the puzzle pieces of our school into that frame.

Wow… that was a long introduction. Kind of like when you just want a recipe so you can make a delicious dinner, but you have to read all about the author’s childhood adventures with Aunt Beulah before you can finally have her buttermilk biscuit recipe… am I right?

So… here is our ninth grade year in a nutshell:

Math… O Lord help me not lose my relationship with my son over Algebra! I cannot tell you how many times a week I am asked when he will use this in real life. I always respond that I really have no clue, but the lessons in long suffering and enduring trials will serve him well into adulthood. We are taking an extended approach to Algebra… meaning this is our second year of it. This year we are trying Saxon math (I swore I would NEVER, EVER, NEVER use Saxon… but here we are).

Language Arts… Last year, he took an Elements of Literature class through Schoolhouse Teachers. He enjoyed it, but wanted to go deeper. After talking with the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) folks at our state homeschool conference, I decided to give Level C of their writing curriculum a try. So far, he is loving it and sharpening his writing skills. Click below to get a FREE sample lesson.

I have also curated a list of books appropriate for his age and reading ability. I asked that he always be reading… committing to at least two chapters a day from one of the books on the list.

Science… After completing biology, we decided to move onto Chemistry. This is my child who will likely not end up in a scientific or medical field of any sort. At this point, his lab sciences are simply to satisfy the requirement needed to get into most colleges. With that being said, there was less pressure on me to find a high end, intense chemistry. A friend directed me to Food Stuff Science– An Applied Chemistry. One of his books for the course is called, “Hello My Name is Icecream.” He has already completed a few labs that he was super excited about including cooking a pasta dinner for everyone.

Civics… We have not begun yet, but he will be completing and American Government class taught by a friend locally. We were given the opportunity for him to be a guinea pig of sorts and see what it is like to take this course remotely, online, and not in the actual classroom. I was honestly surprised he agreed to it, but he seemed excited. We shall see how it goes!!

Spanish… He is taking an introduction to Spanish class through a local co-op. We made sure this would count as one of his foreign language credits. We also made sure that his friends would be in the class because… socialization.


This kid draws all day long. I mean all. day. long. He is continually checking out books, watching tutorials, and learning new things. I see no reason to not give him an art credit for all the work he is doing.

He has decided to learn guitar this year. I sent him a link to the guitar course offered on Schoolhouse Teachers. He asked me to not make it a part of “school” because if he sees it on his assignment list, he won’t want to do it. Noted… not on the list.

In addition to these classes, we are involved in our local homeschool association’s Enrichment Classes. These take place in the Fall and in the Spring for eight weeks at a time. This fall he is taking a Life Skills class, Introduction to Blogging, and Brain Games.

What is your highschooler up to this year???