Thoughts on IEW

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Author
  • AFthfulJrney

    My oldest is only seven, but I have a friend who is offering a free seminar for parents all about IEW! Is this a program that would be CM friendly? I’ve never heard of it prior to her mention of it, so I don’t know a whole lot about it…but she follows CM pretty closely in her homeschool so this is why I’ve started to look into it! Any info, good or bad, i would appreciate! Thank you!


    The writing curriculum question….how we have wrestled with that one over the last two years. Before I share our experiences though, if you’re interested in IEW, going to the seminar is a great way to get a preview and feel for the program.  You know your kids, their strengths, and needs, best.  IEW carries a 100% money back guarantee (even if it’s been many, many months) if you decide to go with it and it doesn’t work out.  However, IEW is classical method based and pretty different from CM ideologies, esp. in the early years.  We have several IEW theme-based books as well as a handful of other English curriculums….

    The beginning levels of IEW give children a model (like a paragraph), have them read it and take short notes for EACH sentences in the reading, and then tell back a version as close to the original version as possible using their notes.  Each lesson adds in a new writing decoration or dress-up (starting sentences with -ly endings, alliteration, active verbs, etc) for students to slowly integrate into their weekly retellings.  A parent writes down the student’s retelling and the student copies it a few sentences a day until able to write their own retellings.  Over time, students move to 3 and 5 paragraph essays and work more toward integrating information from several sources into their own piece.  For a student who needs an exact, step-by-step guide and example, it can feel like a writing life raft.  Many of the suggestions, thoughts, and ideas of the program creators are helpful.  And, Andrew and Jill really do value children and want them to become successful writers.  The material is well-thought out, organized in a step-by-step progression that makes sense, and their theme-based books mesh well into subject areas. 

    A big difference between CM and IEW though is the approach to finding a child’s natural voice and when the child is expected to write.  IEW tries to sculpt children’s minds into remembering and retelling from around age 6-7 on.  With CM, the students’ own style and personal attachments to what they read shine through in their narrations.  CM doesn’t have young children doing much physical writing beyond copywork until a child is ready. IEW encourages students to try to copy the examples word for word.  CM more easily lets student bring their own experiences, encounters with unique words, and emotions into retellings.  For us,  IEW worked best when done as a seperate composition subject.  CM feels more natural to us.  You discuss and write about what you’re learning and experiencing as part of the subject, learn within context, and move to the next subject.  I really wanted to like IEW, but it wasn’t much of a fit for my two kiddos.

    My own almost 8 year has gotten more out of our switch to CM methods than he did the IEW. After a few months with IEW, he cried when it was time to do IEW/writing class.  I really did like some of the principles taught in IEW–removing stale adjectives, striving for organized thoughts in writing from the beginning, learning a whole bag of writer’s craft tools to pull from.  The Student Writer Notebook (free with most courses or $15 separately) covers all of those and could be easily integrated into written narrations a “tool at a time” when a child is old enough.

    That mentioned, my recently-switched-to-homeschooling 15-year-old sister is going to use some IEW essay and literary analysis classes to finish out her high school English credits.  She’s a natural storyteller, but needs structure to pull her writing together and help on the polishing end of things.  IEW will help her get that down before college level English hits.  With jr/sr high students still needing a little more coaching, I can definitely see where IEW is a great fit.   

    With my own kids, after trying Writing With Ease (Well-Trained Mind) and a few Common Core Language Arts workbooks and WriteShop, we discovered BraveWriter.  It has been a transformation!  My reluctant, crying writer now keeps a journal and asked for a set of blank books (Target  $3 bin Cool) so he can write, edit, and home publish his best stories this year.  He’s an auditory learner though, so being able to just talk and talk while mom “jots down” his ideas has been perfect for him.  BraveWriter is very, very CM based.  She encourages and structures her course around narration, weekly poetry reading parties, nature study, picture study, copywork, gentle approach to grammar, and seeing the child as a whole person.  The BraveWriter blog is an amazing source of inspiration to me!  **Usually Homeschool Buyers Co Op has the BraveWriter curriclum for half-off if you or anyone decides to go that route** BraveWriter is about making writing a lifestyle and a way of recording your thoughts, education, and impressions.  It felt much less schoolish than IEW did.  HTH! 



    Definitely go to the training seminar just for the benefit of knowing what it is and how it works.  I’ve used IEW with four out of five of our children and I’ve used it to teach in two different co-op settings for the past three years.  During the last two years, I’ve learned more about how some CMers naturally move from oral narration through to well written compositions.  I will be able to do that with our youngest, but may employ some IEW strategies along the way.  Previously, I found that using IEW gave me a way to discuss the process with the children. 

    I find it very CM friendly.  It’s labeled differently, but can be viewed as written narration when you consider that the children are recalling what they’ve read and then rewriting it in their own words from early on.  I’d suggest waiting until about 10 years old to use the curriculum.  That gives you time to be able to attend the seminar, find those things that might be talking points and try them out on your own.  You can read up on the DIY CM approach on the Charlotte Mason Help website.  After you have time to compare these two and other possible resources, you’ll be able to watch for signs from your child(ren) as to the likelihood of one, the other, a combination, or something else entirely being a good fit.

    Fave IEW resources are the Student Resource Notebook, which can be used without the rest of the curriculum if you utilize it as a reference tool, the Theme Based Writing Lessons, some of which easily mesh with SCM Modules, and TWSS (I’m assuming that’s the seminar you’re mentioning.) hth


    Writng is the one area where we depart from CM. A few years ago, a friend gave me the IEW TWSS and the Student Writing Intensive A, so I decided to give it a try. My oldest at the time was 10; she loved it! If you can, use the dvd courses with Mr. Pudewa teaching the kids.Those are the SWI courses, and the SICC courses. My girls think he is so funny. They love watching the videos, and are excited when it is time for a new lesson. My oldest told me to “pleeeease” never get a different writing curriculum. She has been using it for 3 years now. 

    Now if you want to stay purely CM it probably isn’t for you, but going to the seminar won’t do any harm. Go and see if any of it seems to click with you.

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • The topic ‘Thoughts on IEW’ is closed to new replies.