Saturday, September 13, 2014

Stressed about Teaching Your Child To Write? IEW Giveaway!!!

I am writing this for all parents who, like me, are freaking out trying to teach their kids to write (whether they are in school and need extra help or homeschooled).  If you don't have time to read this long but informational post, click here for some education freebies and a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to IEW.

If you follow my blog you know I am homeschooling a 7 and 9 year old and that I enjoy it immensely. I love to learn and I found out I also love to teach.  Homeschooling younger kids is pretty simple curriculum-wise because all you really have to worry about is teaching the three R's.  Once your child can read, write, and do math they can pretty much self-teach themselves anything from books, the internet, or speaking with people skilled in their area of interest.

I have reading and math covered, but I have been struggling with trying to decide how I want to teach writing.  This is especially challenging when I am not a writer myself and really need to learn along with them.  ;-)

So I went to the bookstore and bought quite a few "creative" writing books for kids.  You know what I am talking about, the ones that tell your student to imagine they are on a pirate ship and need to write a letter to the patched-eye pirate who stole their sister for ransom.

Well, so far those books have been a complete failure.  I tell my son the exciting and stimulating scenario and he stares at a blank sheet of paper for an hour.  So I start getting worried…  If you are a homeschooling parent you might have had those moments where you are sure you are failing your children and they will end up living under a bridge, eating food from the trash, and begging strangers for a buck so they can get a burger at McDonalds that doesn't have maggots on it…  Unfortunately I don't have a school or a teacher to blame when my kid is an idiot.  It is all on my shoulders!

My sister's kids are in Classical Conversation (CC) and they use the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) program in their afternoon writing program.  My niece has been in the program for over a year and she is already writing significantly better AND enjoying it.  I am too lazy to join CC right now, so I googled the IEW reviews and read the positive raves about the program and I decided to check it out.

I don't buy much curriculum and I have to admit that I freaked out initially at the price of the teaching program DVD set ($169).  I went back and read all of the reviews and was assured not only was the program amazing, but also it is not consumable and could be used on all of your own kids.  You could simply just purchase the Teaching Writing: Structure & Style DVD set (I know, I know, DVDs are dinosaurs) and use that program on all of your kids and teach writing through high school using your own books as writing sources.  When you consider these things IEW is very affordable even for this frugal (cheap) mom.

I started getting really excited and putting things in my cart when I had an "ah ha" moment. Why not email IEW and ask if they would be interested in sending me the program to review here on my blog? After all, I have the perfect case study, a nine-year old boy who "hates" to write, is scared to spell, and can't think of a reason to know any grammar unless he is doing MadLibs.  If he can learn to write using IEW, ANYONE can learn to write.

Laura of IEW wrote me back directly and was thrilled to let me review IEW on this blog (I think I might love her) and sent out my package this week.

I have to admit I couldn't wait to get this in the mail, and you can imagine my excitement when I received a good-sized box full of goodies.  Not only did Laura send me the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style DVD seminar set, but she also sent the Student Intensive Writing A (for 3rd to 5th graders), Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A, and the first Fix IT! Grammar workbook.  It was like Christmas at my house and I immediately emailed my husband (maybe not quite as ecstatic as me as he was trying to work) and my friend in my neighborhood that just started teaching 5th graders writing this year (she was excited and wants to hear all about it).

OK, I want to summarize what I received and will be reviewing this school year.

1.  Teaching Writing: Structure and Style DVD Seminar:  This is the most important thing to own as it teaches you how to teach writing to your students.  If you can only afford to buy one thing from IEW you should probably invest in this DVD set.  I have started watching it and I LOVE it! Mr Andrew Pudewa cracks me up and does a excellent job teaching me how to teach writing.  Who knew it could be so easy?

I have wondered why my son was so far behind my niece in writing, and Andrew Pudewa did a great job explaining boys versus girls in writing.  He said that boys have many things to struggle with when trying to write.  1)  They have to sit still to write.  2)  They have to worry that they hold their pen properly or their teacher will get mad.  3)  Is this a "d" or a "b"?  4) They have to figure out what words they can actually spell before starting to write.  5) Telling a boy to be creative and start writing something (anything, just write about your dog for goodness sakes!)  blows all of his circuits.  "I don't have a clue what to write!".  Yes, this is my son, 100%.

2.  Student Writing Intensive:  This is a DVD seminar that your child will watch to guide them on their writing lessons.  It contains a summary DVD on the Teaching Writing Seminar (above) and four DVDs with lessons to teach your children how to write well.  If you are short on funds you can just purchase this set according to the website, but you will miss out on so much offered on the Teaching Writing DVD set.  The Student Writing Intensive set is optional if you purchase the Teaching Writing DVD set, but from everything I have read it really helps save you time and sanity having everything preplanned for your students.  Anything that saves my sanity saves my marriage because when I stress out my poor husband has to reassure me and I know that gets old.

3.  Phonetic Zoo Spelling:  My son stinks at spelling and won't write because he can't spell.  From their website:  "This phonics-based program uses auditory input to ensure that the correct spelling of each word is absorbed by the brain. The audio CDs allow students to work independently much of the time, while allowing for the repetition needed for mastery."  Anything that makes my son more independent in his learning is worth trying out.  We have tried spelling workbooks and they have been a complete failure, so I am looking forward to trying a phonics-based spelling program.  I can't wait to report to you how this works on my son.

4.  Fix It! Grammar:  I know grammar is very important and I have paged through this workbook and I really think it is a great way to introduce basic grammar without boring my son or me to death.

I am starting IEW on my son Duke (9) next week and will keep you posted on what I think about the program.  So far I am impressed and it feels as though a huge weight has been lifted off my chest.  Nothing in homeschooling intimidates me as much as teaching writing because I know how important it is for their future education and employment.  Now I can attend "class" in my nightshirt with a cup of coffee and listen to my entertaining teacher walk me through it all.  I think I might be in love with Andrew Pudewa as he is saving my marriage.  ;-)

Note: I am not getting paid to review this writing program, they just sent it to me for an honest evaluation.

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