Tag: middle school

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.

homeschool helps

Delight Directed Homeschooling with Schoolhouse Teachers

A few years ago, I had the privilege of doing some work for SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I was able to see first hand the fantastic and broad range of classes and resources offered.

This year, I began to realize what a truly wonderful resource something like Schoolhouse Teachers is for people who have adopted a more relaxed or delight directed approach to learning.

I try hard at the beginning of each school year to have my spine, my core in place. We use Math U See for math. One aspect of delight directed teaching is knowing your weaknesses. I have never been strong in math. I do not feel confident to teach it apart from a solid curriculum. We chose Math U See quite a while ago and it has worked for our family. This year I also chose to use language arts from The Good and The Beautiful. I actually do feel pretty confident in Language Arts, but my two older girls are experiencing some trouble (for various reasons) and I wanted to give them something consistent. And bonus… levels 1-5 of language arts are available for free as a PDF download!

Top Five Reasons for Delight Directed Homeschooling with Schoolhouse Teachers

# 1 Schoolhouse Teachers is Self- Paced.

Onto Schoolhouse Teachers. My oldest knows that we have adopted this delight directed approach to school and also knows that there are certain requirements to graduate from highschool and be college ready. The way we compromised this year was to sit down and look at what his options could be for language arts, science, history, etc. He is a self motivated learner. He is bright and scores college level on most areas of his yearly standardized testing. Because of this, I really want to give him the freedom to direct his learning (while also providing boundaries and setting him up for success). This is my kid who gets up in the morning and starts school right away. He gets it done so he can move on to what I consider the real school of his day- drawing, animating, and music.

# 2 Schoolhouse Teachers has a wide variety and tons of bonuses!

Schoolhouse Teachers offers a Christian worldview, self paced, online courses with customizeable curriculum. It is the curriculum branch of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The offer over 400 courses from preschool- highschool as well as help for parents such as a curriculum planning guide. The website is easy to navigate and there is a chat feature for online support. There is a membership fee to pay that covers the entire family for a year (or you can pay monthly). There are no hidden fees like textbooks, etc. Some classes will have a materials list, but usually the materials are items you already have in your home. In addition to the courses offered, you also get access to World Book Encyclopedia online and Right Now Streaming Media. It really is a fantastic deal!

# 3 I do not feel buyer’s remorse.

For my youngest girls, I am using the Schoolhouse Spelling course. It is a simple, daily spelling lesson. Each week, they have a list of spelling words focused on a certain spelling rule or pattern and complete engaging activities to practice daily.

I was also able to look through the many options for elementary Science and find a course that I could use with all three of my girls (1st, 3rd, and 6th grades). And the great thing for someone like me who gets really excited about curriculum for a minute and then overwhelmed by it or bored by it or realizes that it was not the right fit afterall… if a course doesn’t work for us, we can just move on and try a different one without losing money.

# 4 My kids can be involved in building their homeschool year.

My oldest and I sat down and the beginning of the year. I told him that he needed to help me pick a language arts course and science course for the year. I also told him that he was welcome to look through the electives and see if anything interested him. He chose Elements of Literature, Biology, Tinkers Club, and Intro to Architecture. Each course has a description and for upper level courses, transcript information.

#5 No hidden fees and one membership covers the entire family!

We have been so pleased with Schoolhouse Teachers. I cannot recommend it enough. Courses are self paced. Some courses go through the entire year and some are just a few weeks long. You could purchase a membership with Schoolhouse Teachers and build your entire year for all of your children. Right now! Again, there are no hidden fees. Most courses have a recommended materials list, but there are no textbooks to purchase. All curriculum is accessible through the website. Through the end of January, you can join and save big $$$… you can get an entire year for just $90!!!

I am an affiliate for Schoolhouse Teachers. If you click through the links on this blog and decide to purchase a membership, our family will receive a small commission. For that, we thank you. I will say, however, even if I was not an affiliate, I would still endorse this program!

middle schoolmy story

This is Twelve

My second child turned twelve today. She is my first girl. The girl I never knew I would have because I just knew I was going to be a boy mom. I was determined the ultrasounds were wrong. I had heard stories of people expecting girls who ended up with boys and I just knew that was going to be my story. But she came and she rocked my world and turned it upside down.

One of her birthday requests this morning was to go on a coffee date to Starbucks with me. We headed out and I asked if she felt different now that she is twelve. She said yes. She said that something inside her is telling her that she should be more mature.

I told her a story from when I was twelve. I started a new school shortly after I turned twelve. It was a private school where we wore uniforms. Flannel skirts with button down shirts, blazers, blue socks and black shoes. I only ever got in trouble a few times in middle and high school… and it was mostly due to uniform violations (my shirt was usually untucked… scandalous, I know).

A new friend invited me over to spend the night. Her house was beautiful. And big. And really clean. Her room had hardwood floors that were shiny. I think her bed was a four poster that had a canopy. She had a big, beautiful bookshelf desk between two closets. The desk had a built in light. I remember looking around her room and noticing that she didn’t have any toys. No dolls, no Playmobil, no stuffed animals… no toys. I asked her where she kept her toys and she looked at me like I had two heads and said that she was twelve. She didn’t have toys.

I made a mental note that twelve year olds don’t have toys and when I got home, I started packing away my own childish things.

I shared this story with my daughter and let her know that when I look back on that time, I realize that I wasn’t really ready to give those things up. I look at my girls now and want them to hold on to their childhood as long as possible. They will have the rest of their lives to be grown ups. I told her that I distinctly remember crying because I so badly wanted to stay a little girl, but also so badly wanted to grow up. I told her that middle school is hard. Her body is changing. She has hormones. She has big grown up feelings. But I also told her that she is allowed to still be little. There is no shame in playing make believe, jumping in mud puddles, having chocolate icecream stuck to her face after enjoying a treat. She will grow up. She will put aside childish things… but not yet. Oh sweet twelve year old. Not yet. Enjoy this time. Enjoy your last year as a preteen.

Talk to me about all the tweeny things. Ask me about make up… although God knows I am not the one who can answer your questions. Tell me you think puberty is weird. Play with your Barbies. Watch Wild Kratts without shame. Put lipstick on before you go out. Order a salted caramel mocha and scoop up some of the whip cream with your finger. Make snow angels, dance in the rain, write in your diary, swing from the trees. You are twelve. You are beautiful.