Institute for Excellence in Writing - Questions

I’ve heard a lot of good things from people in here about Institute for Excellence in Writing–that it really got their kids to love writing. But I’m when I see the materials it looks like a lot of CDS or DVD. We neither have a CD player or a DVD player that I can use regularly. Are the DVDs and CDs just supplemental (ie, you can just use the books), or are they essential. I would much rather do something that is primarily out of books.

The dvds help guide the lessons. I would recommend you use them.

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I would also like some advice about IEW. The program simply overwhelms me when I look at it. Is it overwhelming? I will have a 6th & 4th grader.

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I bought the dvds last year; I shamefacedly admit that I have not watched even one yet. My daughter completed one of the Theme Based books this year with much success. I also have listened to several of Andrew’s podcasts and they have definitely helped me to help her. I bought another writing curricula for the summer and it was not a hit. We will either work on another Theme Based book or we may jump into Structure and Style, using the dvds.
My daughter rates the Ancients book 7/10. She was confused in a few areas. I would rate the Theme Books 10. My daughter could not write two sentences about anything before this program. Now she is using what she learned to complete written narrations for one of her subjects.
I won’t say that she loves writing, but she is now capable of putting her thoughts on paper in an organized fashion. She has increased her vocabulary and no longer makes run-on sentences that are a half a page in length.
The IEW website offers Theme-Based [samples]
( and webinars, the older ones are free but still pertinent. I’m not sure if the webinars contain the same info as the podcasts, I did see a couple with similar names.
I’m sure after I watch the videos I’ll think they are worth every penny and should be used, but in the meantime I think the program is great even without the dvds.

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Every family is going to be different, so I’m sure you’ll see a variety of responses. As for me, about years ago when I was doing it with my 4 oldest (at the time ages were 10, 11, 14 & 15) and occasionally weaved in my 7yo it was fine and we all seemed to enjoy it. I can definitely say it helped my children’s writing skills have improved, but with homeschooling 2 more children and a baby on the way I couldn’t keep up - so that is what made it overwhelming for me, the program itself I do not believe it is overwhelming.

We know the general format of the program and we still apply it to our writing, and I teach their concept to my younger children when they write have their writing assignments, but unfortunately right now I can’t continue it structured with banned words and such. It is however a VERY GOOD PROGRAM and I HIGHLY recommend it!

On another note, next year we are trying Essentials in Writing. Hopefully it’ll work out for us.

I hope you both find what works for your families.

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About how much time did you spend on it per day when you were using it (or per week if that’s easier). Thanks!

Good to know that it’s possible to do the book without the DVDs.

Can you tell me more about the Ancients book? We will be using Story of the World, volume 1, in our homeschool next year, which covers ancient through Roman times. I’m looking for some materials to use with older child but already bought some biographies from Knowledge Quest. He likes to read though so that’s no biggie.

Is this something you could pick and choose from, or would you really have to go in order. Thanks!

I would say on average about 2-3 hours a week. I would watch the videos in advance, and then teach them the lesson - the 1st day took about 30-45 min. Then Tue-Fri we probably spent about 15-20 min.

Writing/teaching writing is NOT my strong point at all, so I needed the videos. We stated out watching the videos all together, but it seemed to go faster if I just watched them and then we did the lesson together.

HTH! :slight_smile:


The Ancients Theme-Based book begins with a short paragraph about the ancient world then moves on to the Flood, the Tower of Babel, King tut, The Trojan Horse, Greek Myths, Sparta, Roman Gladiators, Emperors, Greek and Roman Gods. There are several others in-between each of these, this is just a rough outline.
You really should go in order as with each unit something new is taught. If the student is not ready then you simply continue with what you have already learned. There are extra “source texts” provided and if you order from IEW there are even more that you can download. The student can continue practicing until they have the new item down then move on.
On the back cover IEW states this book is “most appropriate for students in the 4th-7th grades” It also states that it is "designed as a resource for families already familiar with the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style methodology."
We really enjoyed it. I am using PAL from IEW for my son and will move on to the Theme-Based Bible Heroes later this year.