IEW Writing Reviews – Institute for Excellence in Writing

IEW is dramatically different from other language arts program available. In fact, you will not find the term “Language Arts” within the product description. The focus of Institute for Excellence in Writing is to teach the arts of language. Writing is simply the written form of communication, therefore, cannot be successfully taught independently of the other arts of language.  For five years, we have used IEW and I am pleased to share with you my IEW Writing Reviews. Having a SCHOOLS division and a HOMESCHOOL division, IEW   caters to ALL students, teachers, and parents. It truly is a company dedicated to improving communication.

Arts of Language – All Are Important and Encouraged

  • Listening – Learning to listen well is essential in communicating and meeting expectations
  • Speaking – Fear of public speaking is one of the most common fears worldwide. Practicing the art of speaking from childhood can help reduce the fear because a way to overcome fear is to conquer it.
  • Reading – This is the first and most obvious skill that most parents and educators start with. A recent initiative is 1KB4K – that is for kids to have been read to one thousand books before kindergarten. This is wonderful! Reading books out loud to children is a predictor of success. Learning to read is essential. All children learn to read at different ages and this can be a source of stress if the student does not fit neatly in the bell-shaped curve. Children with certain learning differences, such as dyslexia, can understand far more than they can read. Don’t stop reading out loud when your kids can read. There are so many other benefits I shall discuss in another article.
  • Writing – This is taught methodically through imitation, simply at first, then building on the same method to increase skill according to individual ability.
  • Thinking – How do you think? Do you just listen to and repeating other’s opinions? Nope- that’s not thinking – that is regurgitating. Thinking is done through the art of asking and answering questions.

Who Does the Teaching in IEW?

IEW offers three options at the time of this writing.

  • Parent teaching IEW offers extensive Teacher training. I completed this the summer prior to starting to teach with IEW. This training was immensely valuable to me and is necessary for anyone who plans to teach using IEW material other than video based lessons.
  • Video Based Instruction Andrew Pudewa, founder of IEW, does ALL the teaching. Funny and engaging, his video lessons provide all the content required for student instruction. Watch this with your children so you can understand the expectations in order to adequately grade the assignments.
  • Online Classes This option is by far the best choice for working or busy parents. It does not require parent involvement other than ensuring your child has a computer and internet available.


IEW has engaged my boys and encouraged them to grow in all the arts of language. Interesting and engaging source texts take the drudgery away from writing. Simple prompts are never given and the student told to just “write whatever you want.” Writing involves thinking first so thinking is required prior to writing. Thinking then writing is modeled and taught. To make writing more stylish, techniques called “dress ups” are taught, modeled and encouraged.

We still remember some silly topics we wrote about when we first started including how eggplant is the most repulsive vegetable ever! Poetry memorization is encouraged in the K-2 program and alternates between classics and silly poems. Ooey gooey was a worm and is an all-time favorite of our family. The silly way we practice saying “ooooooooey gooooooooey” still is heard in our home when we find encounter something gooey.

Institute for Excellence in Writing not only trains students but with tremendous efforts, focuses on supporting teachers as well. Through their website, magazine articles and podcasts, they encourage parents and teachers to reach children.


Do Kids Love IEW?

I have three boys. “All-Boy” is how I would describe them. Given the choice, they would play sports, play with friends, play pretend, swing, run, fish, bike, hike or do anything active ALL DAY LONG! I suppose they could just as easily be captivated by screens all day but there is a limit to screen usage in our home. So when I ask them if they love IEW as much as I do… the answer is “kind of.” They don’t love to brush their teeth either but it’s something I require of them. So while they may not love it, they do appreciate the program. In retrospect, some of our areas of the greatest challenge are more likely a result of interpersonal conflict or mistakes that I’ve made and not at all to do with the program itself. Tremendous growth has occurred as a result of using IEW. Speaking confidently, thinking articulately and communicating effectively are the benefits I’ve observed and attribute to the skills acquired through IEW program materials.

Is IEW Christian or Secular?

You can choose Christian or Secular versions. IEW has a public school division which uses non-christian materials.

Andrew Pudewa is unashamedly Christian and the company has Christian foundations. A variety of source texts are available so you have the ability to choose.

What if My Child is Gifted or Has Special Needs?

This is the beauty of IEW! It is a system of teaching that truly works for everybody at every level. Children are instructed in a certain logical way and are given assignments based on an “easy plus one” model. I have taught three levels simultaneously with different expectations and requirements of each student. I have one average student, one gifted student and one dyslexic student. They each have their areas of excellence and struggle, yet I can easily accommodate all three together in an environment where they are encouraged to each learn, grow, and do their best.

Thank you for reading my review. I pray for blessings for you in whatever you choose and hope to be an encouragement to. If you want to read more about the curricula we use, I share about Sonlight and general homeschool curriculum suggestions. All the best!


Leave me a comment below and let me know your favorite curriculum and if you try this!

Affiliate disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I may receive a commission. You will pay no more so please go ahead and feel free to make a purchase. Thank you!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sonlight Curriculum Reviews – Raising Compassionate Kids

Sonlight was not our first choice of curriculum for two reasons. First, it’s not cheap. Second, it’s literature based and I have three boys who are NOT avid readers. As you decide what is best for you, I pray my Sonlight curriculum reviews can be helpful. Read more about other curricula we use.

After frustration with other curricula and discussing Sonlight with a veteran homeschool mom, I decided to try it for a year. That was five years ago. I can tell you will absolute certainty that the decision was one of the pivotal and best decisions I have made in our journey of home education. We enjoy reflecting on past family experiences and many of our favorite homeschool memories are related to the books we have read through the Sonlight programs and the discussions we have had as we learn together. I will honestly tell you that Sonlight is not perfect because nothing is, but we are so thankful we have this resource.

There are many reasons people choose to educate in the home, many theories on home education and many approaches to it. The core of our purpose is to raise our children with a love of learning, compassion for others, and provide a solid education that encourages critical thinking while honoring Christ as we discover God’s love for all people. Whew!! That’s a tall order! Does Sonlight really do all that?

What Is Sonlight? 

Sonlight is a curriculum provider for homeschool with resources for all ages starting with preschool continuing through high school including all subjects, even valuable electives. It truly provides everything needed. Sonlight has been trusted for 30 years while continually updating and improving what they offer in response to technology, new books and feedback.

Sonlight provides well-planned, thorough schedules for Bible/History/Literature in addition to the books and other resources to go along with it. Science and Language Arts are separate subjects with separate schedules along with the required resources. Sonlight has suggestions and options for all other subjects through their catalog or website. I have never been disappointed with any of the electives purchased through them. They don’t have an enormous selection but what they offer is high quality.

What Does Literature Based Actually Mean? 

My reflection on what literature-based means simplified is that we learn through stories. I have always had an interest in history but never really loved it. I dislike having to memorize list of names and dates. In my experience, when I remember history class, I remember taking tests and having to memorize facts that didn’t carry much meaning in order to pass the test. In a literature based setting, we learn the historical facts, we do memory work enjoyably but we really learn through connection with characters. We don’t always remember facts but we do remember feelings much easier.

We started with Core B and the story we remember most intensely that first year was the biography of George Mueller. He has a redemptive story with a wild childhood and then a deep passion for the Lord. Even now, as we are surviving this worldwide COVID crisis, we have reflected back to how George cared for his neighbors and so many orphans, often risking his own life, through the cholera epidemic in Europe in the 1800s. We don’t remember the date or city, but we remember feeling the anguish with him as he lovingly took in children orphaned from the epidemic and committed to caring for them even when he didn’t know how he could ever afford it. He trusted the Lord, prayed every day and every day, God provided exactly what was needed. We walked through the pandemic with him, felt what he felt, and witnessed the power of his faith. This type of learning is so much more meaningful to me than simply memorizing that there was a second cholera pandemic from 1826-1837.

We have really enjoyed almost all the books Sonlight schedules. Some have started slowly but, keeping with the program, have finished strong. Sonlight chooses historical fiction with characters about the same age or slightly older than the recommended ages for the core. In the younger cores, the characters and stories have an element of silliness which makes them fun and easy to read. Almost all the characters undergo some trial or challenge through which they gain tremendous character growth. These are the foundations for many treasured conversations. Because we’ve read the stories together, we also have shared memories and experiences surrounding these experiences.

What if My Kids Don’t Love to Read? 

My boys don’t love to read. In fact, given a list of ten things to do, reading is almost never something they choose to do with their free time. Building forts, playing sports, bouncing off the walls, listening to music…. are all things they prefer over sitting and reading quietly. It’s the sitting quietly part that they struggle with. They do enjoy listening to me read because I support their needs to move by encouraging them to color, draw, work on puzzles or play with fidget toys or allowing them to lay down, even if its upside down!

Last year, I had the brilliant idea to free up some time by listening to the audiobook version of a book rather than read it out loud. My oldest son protested by saying, “but mom, you have the voice of an angel and I don’t want to listen to an audiobook.” After years of forced reading out loud where I sometimes doubted whether they were even listening or if they even cared, my momma heart overflowed with joy at that simple comment that meant the world to me!

*Love of Learning

Learning history through stories is meaningful and my children do not dread history- they look forward to it. Bonus that we read cuddled up on the couch, outside when its warm or sprawled out on the floor. One of the biggest challenges is that my lap is not big enough to support three children while holding the book and trying to read. Sometimes this leads to arguments over who gets to sit closest to mom. Sibling rivalry is a different topic I’d like to talk about another time… but I love that my kids want to listen to stories and want to cuddle up while we read!


*Compassion for Others 

God created all people in His image. Every. Single. Person. His creativity is evident  looking at the diversity of His creation. We are stronger together so our differences should be celebrated and appreciated. By surrounding ourselves with people different from ourselves, we learn from them and grow in compassion and empathy. How in the world can I do that on a budget?! I would love to travel the world with my family to experience different cultures but that’s not a possibility for us. Even if it were, that only leads to an appreciation of current cultures.

What about developing compassion for people throughout history. It’s incredibly easy to read history and point out mistakes and claim what they should have done differently. More meaningful, however, is to walk a mile in their shoes. The characters in historical fiction provide incredible insight to lead to an understanding of why certain decisions were made. What was it like when and where they lived. What were they thinking and feeling? What were the choices? What could have happened with either decision? I believe that people make the decisions they believe are best at the time with the information that they have.

By learning to look at the world through the eyes of other people, we can learn compassion and empathy.

*Solid Education that Encourages Critical Thinking

Solight provides a very thorough and solid education through their programs. Simply looking at a stack of books will remove all doubt otherwise. The books are carefully chosen and all quality. There have been less than a handful of the hundred+ books we’ve read that I’d say aren’t my favorite. The IGs (Instructor Guide) provide discussion questions to encourage conversation with your kids if that doesn’t come natural to youl

*Honoring Christ and Loving ALL of God’s Creation 

This is a nondenominational Christian homeschool curriculum. Controversial topics are brought up to encourage discussion. For example, the topic of old earth vs new earth is discussed with both sides of the argument provided. Families are encouraged to read the scripture, look at scientific evidence and decide for themselves.

Love for God first and all people is a theme throughout the entire curriculum. Controversial and negative parts of history are definitely learned with an emphasis on praying for everyone. What an amazing way to connect with people through history and geography.

Are There Any Downsides? 

Nothing is perfect, so yes, there are downsides.

  • Cost: Sonlight is not cheap. I’ve done a few things to try to save money. Buying a full course provides a discount. I have also bought used. You can search “used Sonlight curriculum” to try to find older cores. I personally prefer to buy the IG and student sheets new and then try to find used books when possible. This is tedious and time-consuming. I often wonder if it’s even worth all the time but continue to do it every year.
  • Overwhelming: Sometimes the book lists can seem overwhelming. I prefer to think of Sonlight as a buffet sometimes. Many valuable resources are scheduled but you don’t have to use every single thing all the time. Honestly, we have fallen behind in reading and occasionally skipped a book.
  • Travel: An intense desire to travel has been a side effect of learning to love the world around us!


**Blessings to you in whatever you choose. I hope this has been helpful. Please leave me a comment and let me know your experience. Here is a more extensive list of other curricula we use in educating in our home.

Learn as much as you can, Love God and others and Live fully!


Affiliate disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I may receive a commission. You will pay no more so please go ahead and feel free to make a purchase. Thank you!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Homeschooling Boys Curriculum – The Best Programs

These are simply the best curriculums for homeschooling boys in our experience but can also work wonderfully with all children. We have homeschooled our three boys for six years and have used a variety of curriculums. Since elearning began as a result of COVID, I have been asked about our homeschool experiences by many mothers who are considering transitioning next school year. I have always appreciated the wisdom and experience of others especially when we first started. I am delighted to be able to now share our experiences with you.

Best Language Arts: Reading, Writing, Spelling, Grammar, Speaking Curriculum

We have used a variety of curriculum for Language Art that I will not mention. We now use only products from Institute for Excellence in Writing. IEW : Institute for Excellence in Writing

Although the name can be deceiving. The curriculum is not simply for writing but all things related to the arts of language. IEW provides resources and instruction for reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar, spelling and thinking.

As the teacher, you have three options for teaching. The first is to use the video based program in which Andrew does the teaching and the parent does the grading. The second is to learn the teaching style and do the teaching yourself. the third is to enroll your child in an online class with certified instructors.

Andrew starts all lessons with a joke to keep everyone engaged and in good spirits. Programs encourage and inspire so teaching and learning is fun with IEW. Innovative and always providing new, updated, and relevant resources keeps things interesting.



IEW serves all schools: home, private and public. They are proactive in offering free Language Arts Lessons to support families that are now educating in home. Free Language Arts Lessons

On June 27, 2020 IEW is presenting a one-day (free) writing conference for teachers, parents, and students. Free IEW Writing Conference

They also offer a free event each summer for those who want to go through IEW’s teacher training course with others. Free Teaching Writing Adventure

Read more in my IEW Review.

Best Science Homeschool Curriculum – Online

Science is fun and can be challenging to teach. I find it to be one of the more interesting topics but when we are crunched for time, the experiments are one of the things skipped. This is most unfortunate because the experiments are the most memorable and meaningful. I have also found myself in past years attempting to supplement science with interesting YouTube videos. This was more often than not a flop and waste of my time. These science classes are based online. They are interesting and engaging with links to some absolutely fantastic videos.

Ron Paul Curriculum provides a comprehensive education but we have only used the science at this time.

Best Science Homeschool Curriculum – Using Books

Sonlight Science is our favorite home school science curriculum without going online. The books are unique

and fascinating. They are often so much fun it’s easy to forget we are actually learning! Sonlight Science

Best History Homeschool Curriculum

Some of our favorite memories of home school are the books we have read out loud together. The books carefully chosen and scheduled in this curriculum have connected us with people across time and space in human history. The connections we have felt and empathy we have developed are priceless. Sonlight Bible, History and Geography Sonlight offers the best risk-free offer of anyone. You can take a whole year to use 18-weeks of a curriculum package or Instructor’s Guide. If you don’t love it, send it all back (used books and all) and receive a full refund of every penny you paid. My children are getting a great education and loving it … at least most of the time! Sonlight is a literature-based curriculum, so we read tons of great books out loud together. The kids devour plenty of books on their own, too. We stay away from boring textbooks and really engage in what we’re learning. Read more about our Sonlight experience here.

Best Math Curriculum

We have used several math curriculums and all agree that Math U See is by far superior to others. The longer we use the program, the more impressed I am with how Steve constantly builds on what is previously learned. This method is mastery based. The next concept is taught when the previous concept is thoroughly understood. Lessons are not completed simply because it’s the next worksheet in the book. Students progress as they learn. Bonus that Steve does the teaching on DVD or through online streaming. MathUSee Curriculum

God Bless You as you Educate in Your Home

Choosing to educate your children in your home is a blessing and has its challenges! Let me know if you try any of these and what you think. Learn as much as you can, love intentionally and live fully!

I’d love to hear your experience. Leave your comments below 🙂


Please note I may receive compensation if you click on any links mentioned in this post to purchase a product or service from the third party website. Also, purchasing a product or service from above links does not increase your purchase price, however it is a great way to thank me if you enjoy my content and find my suggestions useful. I only recommend products and services that I have personally used or thoroughly researched.

Summer Schedule Kids

Today you are making the memories of tomorrow! People thrive on routine and hard work is immensely satisfying. Having a summer schedule for kids helps them feel more satisfied and less restless. There are endless fun things to do with kids in summer.

Why Do Schools Have a Summer Break?

Three months is a long time for kids to not have the structure of school or the benefits of education. So why is there such a long break? There are a couple theories circulating. The most common explanation is that schools took a break so that children could help their parents with farming and homestead tasks. Another explanation is the lack of air conditioning in urban areas caused so many students to skip school that officials eventually created a summer break for all. Whatever the reason, all parents know that summer breaks can be great fun and a great source of stress.

The Transition is the Hardest

Any change, positive or negative, is stressful because of fear of the unknown and lack of certainty. Simple solution. Let the kids know what to expect! Always keep a positive attitude because it’s catchy.

Celebrate the end of the year first! It does not have to be anything big. We always visit our local coffee shop and take a picture in the same spot. We talk about our favorite memories from the school year, look through pictures and make goals for the summer and the next school year.

Decide What is Important 

Every family is different so it’s important to decide what are the most important things for you at this point in your life. Know that this will change every year based on age of kids. Developing good habits is much easier than trying to change bad habits. It’s never too late to start! It only takes 30 days to form a new routine. Self control is needed for success so start today!


  • make bed
  • quiet time
  • chores that are age appropriate
  • brush teeth
  • brush hair
  • put on deodorant (tween and older)
  • personal reading
  • act of kindness
  • tidy up
  • make and clean up lunch (age appropriate)
  • draw / color picture
  • 100 piece puzzle 
  • 300 piece puzzle
  • exercise
  • read short or longer stories out loud
  • typing practice
  • journaling
  • math practice
  • science experiments
  • art projects
  • board game
  • make music or dance around to silly songs

We have certain things that we do every day no matter what. Then we have loose scheduling that we fill in with other activities as time allows. Be spontaneous to laugh, play and be silly with your kids. Those make the best memories!

Let Kids Know What to Expect

Make it visible in your home. Talk about it every day. Encourage but don’t nag, whine or pout. Inspire as you require.

Model self-discipline, cheerfulness and routine in your own life.

Printed sheets, magnet boards, picture charts, white boards, chalk boards or apps are all ways to make routines visible to children. Making a song out of a routine also helps them memorize.

Today You are Making the Memories of Tomorrow

Looking for some fun activities? Read  Summer Fun Activities.

Have fun making meaningful summer memories! Routines help at home but don’t let sticking to the schedule stress you out. The goal is to develop life skills to help children become adults. Be flexible when other experiences opportunities arise. But never skip the deodorant!

Learn as much as you can. Love your children intentionally. Live fully.

I’d love to hear your experience. Leave your comments below 🙂

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and buy something, I may receive a commission. You will pay no more so please go ahead and feel free to make a purchase. Thank you!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.