When the package from Institute For Excellence in Writing arrived, I was excited yet nervous, thrilled yet skittish. The resource I received from this wonderful company is Teaching Writing: Structure and Style and Student Writing Intensive Level A. Why so many emotions?
My oldest son, Bookworm, has Aspergers. When most people think about a child with Aspergers, they think of a child who is socially awkward and has behavioral issues. Most people wouldn’t be wrong in that assumption. However, what most do not realize is how incredibly difficult it is to find a writing program that even remotely works for a child on the spectrum. I could sit here and spend an entire post talking about the hundreds of dollars I have spent over the years trying to find “the curriculum” only to realize that my money was wasted yet again. It is frustrating. My son has been in tears over handwriting. Who am I kidding? I have been in tears. It is a struggle to get him to do the simplest task such as picking up a pen or pencil and write something….anything. It is pain-staking to encourage him to be creative and write a small story or a brief book review about his favorite books. Mix the struggles and the pain-staking agony with the frustrations and tears and you find yourself in an Aspergers cry zone. The tears seem to be endless. The negative feedback is continuous. I hear him say, “I can’t,” “I won’t,” “I don’t,” “I quit” repeatedly. I have even prayed about finding a writing program. Several years ago, I heard about Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) at a homeschool conference that I attended in Maryland. I looked at the material and thought about buying it. Thought about was as far as I got. I wasn’t sure I wanted to fork out what I felt at the time was a LOT of money for a curriculum.
I hope that by the time I finish this review you will understand why exactly IEW costs so much and why it is worth every single penny!
When I opened the box, Bookworm said, “Awww, No. Not another writing program! I am going to hate it!” I said, “Well, can you give it your best effort and try? I have heard that this program is totally different from any other programs out there.” I explained to him that my blogger friends from TOS raved about this program. Reluctantly, he agreed to try it. 🙂
I was amazed as I began pulling everything out of the box. Simply amazed. Then I felt overwhelmed. LOL. There is a lot of stuff you get for the price from IEW. Here is what I received:
- 12 DVDs that came in a very nice leather DVD case. The first 9 discs cover workshops for YOU, the parent, to help educate you on how to teach your kids. The next 3 discs (5.5 hours) show how Mr. Pudewa teaches kids who are at different learning levels.
- A 234 page three-ring parent/teacher binder. This binder is full of tips, frequently asked questions, student writing samples, etc.
- Student Writing Intensive Level A. This includes the DVDs with the lessons and an overview of the entire program. The student workbooks are packed full of useful information, from wordlists, banned word lists, scope and sequence, suggested course schedule, teachers notes, lesson handouts, composition checklists, reinforcements and much more.
- Manilla Envelope. This envelope included a lot of what I mentioned above in the Student booklet. I just placed them where they should go in the student text.
- One year access to streaming of the lectures, audio recordings, PDF file of classroom posters, and materials for all 9 units. Streaming is such a helpful and valuable resource!!!
When Bookworm is writing, he reminds me of a child who is in Kindergarten or First grade. He uses as small of words as possible and as short of sentences as possible. I am constantly telling him to use bigger words and write sentences like a child his age should. SIGH. I was NOT handling this the correct way. Actually, I was nowhere near the zip code of the correct way. It is frustrating because he often uses big words in oral conversations, sounds very intelligent, and reads on a college level. Did I mention earlier that writing for us had been frustrating before IEW?
So how did we use it?
I began by watching the Overview DVD. That is what is recommended and I can see how having all this material can be very intimidating if you don’t start with baby steps. While watching the overview, I soon realized that the approach I had been using for teaching handwriting was the problem. I watched the Overview DVD twice. I watched the DVD and I streamed it online. Although you don’t have to watch it twice, I felt the need to go back through to ensure I was receiving all the information. 🙂
Once I completed the Overview DVD for the second time, I put together the student workbook and teacher manual so that I was organized when we started the curriculum. Bookworm also watched the overview with me. He really enjoyed the part of being told that he could use a pen to write!
According to Mr. Pudewa, you can’t give a child too much prompting or help at first. I had to put the paper and pen in front of him and let him go. Needless to say, we have taken this program VERY slow. However, this is a huge step in the right direction! My son is enjoying it! There has only been a couple of days when he got really frustrated. That frustration was due to him not understanding something. I took some deep breaths, took a step back, and began again. Eventually, he began to realize that it wasn’t as much frustration as it was preconceived notions that this program would be similar to all the other programs. We watched the instructional video for the first lesson twice before he wrote anything. Then we followed the lesson suggestions by IEW. We just did them more at his pace which was a bit slower of a pace than I was normally pushing him. As I look back, it is refreshing to see how far he has come since starting this program. He has graduated from tears and defiance to enjoying this program! Believe it or not, he has actually ASKED to do it more than once! That is huge! One small step for handwriting and one giant leap for Bookworm! LOL! We will continue using IEW as a regular part of our homeschool. WE are hooked!
Whether your child has special needs or not, I highly recommend this program. Here is how to follow IEW on social media:
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