“Mom! I don’t know what to write about!”
Have these words ever crossed the lips of your homeschooled students? Do you struggle with the dreaded writing lesson? Does the word essay make you cringe?
Have no fear! For years, the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) has provided a trusted framework for students and parents to take the anxiety out of writing instruction.
How can I help?
Let me give you a little of my background. I am a homeschool mom located in the Sacramento area. Like you, I desired to teach my children how to read and write, providing them the tools they needed to be successful in their future endeavors. Yet to my dismay, I found that my Bachelor’s degree in English and a lifetime of reading and writing did not seem to equip me for teaching the mechanics of writing. For years, I struggled with how to explain my expectations for my children’s writing assignments. Too often these assignments ended in frustration for all involved.
Enter Andrew Pudewa, IEW…and one of the most profound AHA moments of my homeschool career…
One sunny June day (and those in the Sacramento area know that means one blazing hot day) I decided to attend a lovely little seminar hosted by a local church. I had heard Andrew Pudewa speak many years prior when we lived on the Central Coast, but those talks had been about the importance of reading books to and with our children (of course, I agreed with him on that point) and the significance that music has on brain development (I agreed with him on this as well!). When I heard that he would be speaking locally in Sacramento, I went primarily for the nostalgia because I was missing my old coast home (where a 90-degree day was virtually unknown and caused a mass migration to the beach) and because I thought that I would probably agree with him some more about whatever he decided to talk about.
As I listened to his presentation about writing instruction for children, I became more excited to go home and begin using these simple yet profound ideas with my children. All those years of struggle and turmoil over writing in my homeschool were because I didn’t have the tools, the vocabulary, and the structure to teach them all that I knew about writing.
I bought the Teaching Writing with Structure and Style syllabus that day, and our homeschool was never the same.
After going through the teacher materials and beginning to use them with my own children, I began to get excited about the possibility of teaching in a class environment. Let’s face it. It’s a little hard to simulate the experience of a classroom with only two students. While it can be done, it does help to “add to the intellectual capital of the room,” according to Mr. Pudewa, by having more minds available in the same space to learn from and engage with.
Becoming a Registered Instructor wasn’t enough…
Having completed all the teacher practicums rather quickly, I then decided to become a Certified IEW Teacher. I asked around, and was pleasantly surprised when some friends agreed to allow me to use their children as my “guinea pigs” over the summer. To test whether my success with the program was a fluke or the real deal, I needed to “operate” on other people’s kids. They loved it! We had a blast together, I received my Certificated status, and taught for another three years with IEW theme-based books.
Life does tend to get in the way, though, doesn’t it?
Due to the many stresses, twists and turns of life, including ailing extended family, selling one home and buying another, and beginning part-time work outside the home, I allowed my certification to lapse and, though I still taught informal classes for my children and some of their friends, spent a couple of years away from the trenches.