Essentials in Writing

Return to Categories


  • Reviewed on Friday, March 16, 2018
  • Grades Used: 7th and 9th
  • Dates used: 2017-present
My kids don't love to write. They're not horrible at it, but it's certainly not a passion of theirs. Essentials in Writing really helped them step by step through the writing process. Matthew Stephens walks you through the process of different writing assignments in small, manageable bites. There have been no complaints from my children while using this program, which is saying a lot. And having the instructor working with them every step of the way has resulted in much better papers than my kids have ever done before. It's not horribly exciting, but what writing program is? If we didn't love some of the topic ideas, we simply googled ideas and came up with something that interested the kids more. This worked especially well for coming up with ideas for the different essays covered in grade 9.


  • Reviewed on Tuesday, August 5, 2014
  • Grades Used: 10th and 3rd
  • Dates used: 2014
We are very pleased with Essentials in Writing. We have used IEW in the past and it is very costly. I still refer to the teacher seminar from time to time. EIW not IEW is very user friendly with short, simple lessons. For my 3rd grader it still cover alot of grammar. With that said, after he goes over the lesson. I pull worksheets from inexpensive workbooks that correlate with the subject being taught. This has worked well for us. For my highschooler, he is doing 10th grade and grammar is mostly phased out since it assumes by that age your child knows grammar. It focused on writing itself. I have already seen in a few months better Essays from him. So I am pleased. Thats all a mother could ask for. His grammar was great from Abeka, his writing needed work. I like the grading Rubric with Essentials. I havent gotten into the writing part much yet for the 3rd grader. But I assume it will be fine.

Noelle Bailey

  • Reviewed on Tuesday, January 14, 2014
  • Grades Used: Level 7, 8, 10 & 11
  • Dates used: 2012-Present
I never thought our family would find a writing program that worked. We have tried so many different programs over the years, and none of them seemed to fit our specific needs. As a family with one strong and one VERY reluctant writer I never dreamed we would find one curriculum that would work for both. Not to mention the fact that grading the assignments could be a nightmare. Then we found Essentials in Writing.

Essentials in Writing has been a huge blessing to all of us. It is easy for both of our children to use independently. The year begins with grammar review before continuing on to sentence/paragraph structure and then essays. Each new lesson starts with a short DVD video session before the student completes the written assignment. These are laid out in a step by step manner, so the student is not confused by what is expected. The daily written assignments are short, so as to not overwhelm. Not to mention the ease of grading for me. Answer keys for all lessons, including a checklist and rubric for essays, are included which makes assigning grades a breeze. I can’t begin to tell you what a relief Essentials in Writing has been for us.

I have always been under the impression that a writing curriculum must be intensive to work. Was I ever wrong! Through using this curriculum, I have learned that it doesn’t need to be intensive for a student to learn the necessary components of an efficient writer.

We have now completed two years of Essentials in Writing, Levels 7, 8, 10 and 11. I can say with confidence that this is not only user friendly but also a very solid curriculum. The wonderful ACT/SAT writing scores our oldest child received this year has been a confirmation of this.

Thank you, Mr. Stephens, for creating Essentials in Writing. We are so thankful that there is finally a writing curriculum available to homeschooling families that not only contains all of the above mentioned, but is affordable too.


  • Reviewed on Tuesday, August 13, 2013
  • Grades Used: 11
  • Dates used: 2013
After reading so many rave reviews for this curriculum, and being totally unsatisfied with the writing program we were using already, I bought the 11th grade level of this. I thought the answer to all my problems implementing writing with my son were over: daily lessons actually taught by a real writing teacher!! Within the first 2 lessons, though, it was obvious this program was NOT a good fit for my son. First of all, for an 11th grade level, the wrting topics were ridiculously juvenile and simple, not inspiring or resonating with my son at all. I carefully looked at the rest of the topics for the entire program and realized none of them would inspire my son to write anything worth reading, as we don't lead a 'sheltered' homeschool life that necessitates such childish topics. Second, my son does not respond well to effeminate menteachers...sorry, but it's true. IEW DVDs are out too for this reason as well. After spending about $70 for this program, we weresorely disappointed. I ended upspending about $20 on the college level English composition textbook from my own college studies and my son has been thriving with it, as it has real life, age appropriate writing topics and subjects.

Sorry, but I give the high school level of this program 1 star. It would probably be great for 5th grade or below though.