Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Best Writing Curriculum Ever!

I've done a lot of research into language arts and writing curricula and the best I've found is IEW. I tried substitutes and I've tested other approaches, but I return to IEW over and over.

Why did I choose IEW curriculum? IEW, or Institute for Excellence in Writing, is a very thorough and effective program that yields excellent measurable results. However, the learning curve for the instructor is steep so many homeschool moms find it difficult to integrate into their homeschool routines. 

This year I am again teaching composition classes for high school and middle school and I am using IEW curriculum. (Sadly, there doesn't seem to be local interest in an elementary level class.) Offering these classes to homeschoolers means that I can provide quality writing instruction to students in a group setting. Parents can be assured they will progress steadily toward excellence in writing without the pressure of learning how to teach this system.

When you have this, you can learn from the master himself - Andrew Pudewa. Prepare yourself to be overwhelmed and confused at first. I viewed the TWSS twice and taught David and Emily the SWI-B (Student Writing Intensive) before I felt really confident about teaching these concepts.

However, some moms don't have the advantage of a local class. So, what do they need to do? Well, if you're serious about teaching writing with this method, I'd suggest getting the Teaching Writing with Structure and Style (TWSS) DVD set from IEW. Yes, it's expensive. I went in with a group of friends and we purchased it together. 

My classes are using the Thematic books from IEW this year. The middle schoolers will be using the Ancient History-based theme book and the high school group will be working through the Character-based theme book. Last year my middle school group completed the Following Narnia theme book which turned out to be a valuable experience. These books are only suitable for use by instructors who already know the IEW system well. 

Parents can skip the learning curve by choosing the SWI courses. These DVD-based courses allow your children to learn from Andrew Pudewa and work through exercises in the corresponding work binder. I would recommend watching the DVD along with your children so you understand how to complete the assignments.

If you want help choosing IEW curriculum for your family, IEW has a helpful tool on their website HERE.

Students who learn to write with IEW gain confidence and skill and become excellent writers. I recommend starting now!

Friday, August 29, 2014

No Fall Sports (this year anyway)

David at about age 8 in 2003
For the first time in thirteen years, no one in this house is playing soccer this fall.

We've been a soccer family since my oldest child David was about six years old. (He's almost 20 now.)

Some years we'd have four soccer games on a Saturday morning, often in different locations. We've sat through hot sunny games, cold rainy games, even games that we huddled under blankets in our winter coats.

Emily after a muddy game in 2011
at age 14
We've picked up colorful new uniforms and passed down old soccer cleats. We've looked for sales on Capri Sun and made last minute runs to the grocery store on game day when we forgot it was our turn for snacks. We've juggled practice schedules and decided if Mom or Dad would go to the games.

We've kept camp chairs and blankets and spare shinguards in the car. We've stocked up on water bottles. We've figured out which long sleeved shirts work best under this season's jerseys.

But not this fall.

This fall we are taking a break from soccer so that the kids can concentrate on training for their black belt in Tang Soo Do karate.
Suzy in 2007 at age 5

The three kids still at home (ages 12, 14, and 17) are planning to test for black belt in February. They need to attend more karate classes at their PKSA school. I need to make sure they practice regularly at home.

James in 2010 at age 10
So we made the tough decision to say "no" to soccer or any other fall sports. That choice was especially hard on Suzy, the youngest, because she adores soccer and also because she has had fewer years of play than the others. She also is considering how to fit volleyball into her life and that's also a fall sport. So, there was no volleyball this year and her best friend is playing volleyball.

But it's just one season. By next spring, they will hopefully have reached their martial arts goal and will be free once again to play soccer.

And once again I'll be shivering on chilly fall mornings. I'll make sure to pack my blanket.