Reflections on Growing Up with IEW

Jan 30, 2018 | Posted by Jessica Walker


Working in IEW’s customer service department, I receive many calls from customers, especially new customers who are concerned that IEW seems too simple. They worry the expectations are not high enough. Often the calls end with this question: Will my student(s) really be prepared for high school and college-level expectations and beyond? My answer is a resounding yes! Here’s why:

Over the past three years, I have had the privilege of working directly with IEW in the customer service department. However, my experience with IEW did not start there.

My IEW journey started around fourth grade in a local co-op class, using the Student Writing Intensive Level A.* While I don’t remember much about my experience with writing during this time, I do remember this: Through finding new quality adjectives to describe sea snakes, to choosing new characters for my retelling of “The Lion and the Mouse,” to puzzling over having to write my Unit 7 essay from my brain, I remember thinking, “This makes sense!” I loved trying to find the right “-ly word” to describe how quickly the hare tried to pass the tortoise, but also stretching myself trying to squeeze everything on the checklist into one paragraph. The checklists were freeing because they told me exactly what I needed to do to meet the expectations of the assignment.

The years passed by, and I continued with IEW courses through the early years of high school. We used a combination of DVD materials and theme-based books incorporated into our history and science classes. By the time I reached high school, writing was no big deal because I knew what to do, and I had the structures in place that I was able to apply to all my writing assignments, from essays and interviews in history to lab reports in science. Even though I was no longer working through an IEW course, I found myself still using key word outlines to prepare essays and sentence openers to make sure every sentence didn’t start with “the.”

The biggest impact I noticed, however, is when I went off to college. My first year, I participated in a very challenging liberal arts program. I watched as many of my peers struggled and groaned about having to write a ten-page paper on books such as The Odyssey and Dante’s Inferno. Because of IEW, I knew how to take notes, organize them, and compose a paper that was organized and interesting. Although it had been several years since I had taken a formal IEW course, I still found myself using key words to take notes in college classes and crafting outlines to prepare for class presentations. My professors were often very impressed by my writing, and featured my papers as a model for the class. I was often chosen to help other peers with their papers or do the writing portion when it came to group projects. I am not a strong writer by nature, so I am convinced that growing up with IEW made all the difference when it came to be being confident and prepared to write at the college level.

Looking back at the thread of IEW woven through my life, I find myself profoundly grateful that IEW has been a part of my education from the beginning. This thread has now come full circle as I find myself on the other side: serving moms, teachers, and students on their own journey with IEW. Even if your student is older, it’s not too late to start!


*The Student Writing Intensive series was discontinued in November 2019 and replaced by the new Structure and Style for Students program

Jessica Walker was homeschooled in Southern California and graduated from CSULB with a degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Elementary Education. She moved to Oklahoma after getting married to Mikael Walker. Before Jessica began working for IEW as a Customer Service Agent, she taught kindergarten and first grade for two years. Jessica enjoys working with the IEW team, spending time with family, and making crafts.

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