IEW: What do I buy?

My son will be starting 3rd grade next school year. After reading many wonderful things about IEW, I’d like to give it a try. Trouble is, I can’t figure out what I should buy! Cathy Duffy’s review focuses on the Teach Writing: Structure and Style course. She does mention the Student Writing Intensive DVDs as well, but more as “even more help.” Many reviewers on this site and others seem to be using the SWI level A course to start and don’t mention the Teach Writing: Structure and Style course. So my question is, what do I start with? It is an expensive curriculum and being new to the program I hesitate the buy both courses. However, I will make the investment if I know the benefits will outweigh the cost. Thanks!

Structure and Style is a course for you! It is designed to make you a teacher who understands the writing process and the long-term goals of each assignment.
The Student Intensive gives you the lesson for each student to listen to and the writing assignments for them to follow. This is the actual writing curriculum part, but you need the workshop of Structure & Style to be able to answer, guide, and determine if the writing assignment is accomplishing each goal.

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@NicoleA I have been in the same boat as you–I am planning on buying this for the year after next when my daughter will be in 4th (next year’s budget is maxed out already!). I have found this document really helpful here. It is the suggested pathway for wherever you are when you want to jump into the program. You can find your child’s grade level along the bottom and follow the path upwards until you reach the top level and then continue along the top path (if that makes sense). This would have you (at 3rd grade level) purchasing the Teaching Writing Structure and Style course along with the Student Writing Intensive DVD Level A course as well (a value package when bought together) so that you have what you need to learn for yourself and the lessons for your child as well. I think it runs around $250 total. It offers another option of only buying the Structure and Style course along with their All Things Fun and Fascinating program, but if you follow that plan, you would end up skipping the SWI Level A entirely, and I would think that would be important. Yes, it’s pricey, but like you, I think it’s worth it because it seems so reputable and fantastic in the long run. I’ve watched many of the sample videos online and I think it’s going to be quality curriculum. I hope this pathway doc helps if you haven’t already come across it in your online research. :slight_smile:

For us I know we will be using SWI A if we use the program but I have watched the videos and wonder how this program ends up helping the student to write creatively? Am I missing something? I really want the creative writing aspect to shine as that is where we need the most help.

I have been going back and forth about using this program. So will this encompass grammar? I have an upcoming 3rd and 5th grader. This will be our first year HSing and I feel like doing both might be a little overwhelming right out of the gate. I’m so torn on what to do with our grammar/writing curriculum.

@Lindsay Have you looked at the Fix It! Grammar books by IEW? We use something similar right now from another company called G.U.M. drops but the Fix It! Grammar from IEW seems to be along the same lines and we will switch to those when we start IEW. Also, the writing intensive DVD based program teaches a lot about grammar from what I have seen in watching the sample videos. We have not used it yet (planning to purchase in another year when my daughter hits 4th grade), but @MotherofMany posted a great post with a link to a wonderful article by Andrew Pudewa who is the teacher in the IEW lessons about when/how to teach grammar that I found extremely helpful, so here is that link again just in case you aren’t able to locate it with a search here on this site. :slight_smile: I hope this helps!

Thank you! That is very helpful.

Oh man! I just watched this video I am super excited to hear the student materials can be copied within a family. That is HUGE for us. I will have 2 that can both be on level A! This makes it much more feasible for us now.


@Lindsay Yes! I was so excited about that as well!! When we start I think I am going to start my 2nd and 4th grader on it together at the same time (the site says you can gear it down for younger to accommodate multiple grades together). We try to gear same subjects for both as much as we can. And the copying is wonderful!! :slight_smile:

Do you think the Fix It books are really necessary this early (3rd and 5th grade) or are they more for older kids?

It looks like the first two levels are written for elementary grades. A great 5 minute video explaining the difficulty of the levels and the purpose of this resource is linked on this page: along with a grammar placement test. :slight_smile: I hope this is helpful! I actually didn’t realize that only two levels were intended for elementary until now.

If you are able to go to a local homeschool convention soon, then I would recommend looking at IEW there. There are at most of the homeschool conventions going on this spring. The people in their booths are always really knowledgeable about the products. They will give you great suggestions on what to start with.
I have been using IEW for years and I always like to go see the products myself and talk to others there before I make my decision on what I am doing next.

Thanks for all the info ladies! I definitely want to try this curriculum but I think I’m going to wait a year - until my oldest is in 4th grade. @Forchristandkids do you mind me asking what writing curriculum you will be using for your daughters 3rd grade year? Thanks!

@NicoleA Not at all! We aren’t using a creative writing program for her 3rd grade year per se as far as writing creative beginning, middle, end of stories, etc. She did a little bit of this with Scott Foresman’s grammar program when she was in 1st grade and it was a simple introduction, but after that we moved into grammar work with First Language Lessons (which we are continuing now and into 3rd grade) and she also does G.U.M. drops (which is editing work similar to IEW’s Fix It! Grammar only more in-depth than IEW’s I feel) this year in 2nd and she will also do that in 3rd grade next year. I personally feel that developing good creative writing skills is something we will work on more intensively in late elementary and then on into and throughout middle and high school as she prepares for college work, so I’m not in a big rush to have her work on it in early elementary. We are working on so many other subjects right now that are also so important for these early elementary years. For good handwriting skills development we use A Reason for Handwriting and she will transition next year from printing into cursive writing, but that is only for handwriting and not for creative writing. I have had her do book reports from time to time. One other site I have liked for in the meantime before we start IEW is Classical Academic Press for their Writing Rhetoric program (we may try one of these books next year before we kick off IEW) and also Total Language Plus as you can pick and choose their products based on what book your child is currently reading and do an entire scope of work based on that book. So those might be “in-the-meantime” options to consider too :slight_smile: I hope this info is helpful! If you have any other questions feel free to ask! We are still a work in progress on this topic in our homeschool, but I am very excited to start IEW. I actually am an editor and worked for a publishing company and then out of house for several years, so creative writing and editing is near and dear to my heart :slight_smile: I plan to start my 2nd grade son with my 4th grade daughter when we start IEW, but even that I am questioning because I just don’t know if it’s really necessary to start a 2nd grader that young on such an intensive writing curriculum. But I like keeping them together when I can just for simplicity and planning, etc. It’s convenient! I am still contemplating that decision.