Frequently Asked Questions about SWR Seminars


Why Take A Seminar?

What would I get out of the SWR Seminar?

Most adults today never learned the concepts that we teach with SWR. As for matters of phonics, most of us know very little. The challenge in the beginning for new SWR teachers is learning these keys. They are not complicated. We do not pick up new things as quickly as a child. We gravitate to the comfort zone of what we already know. Much of the mist and uncertainty is made clear as the teacher walks through the preliminary steps of the program with an experienced Endorsed Trainer and starts to build her Master Teacher’s Log.

Since reading and writing are required for any and all other subjects, the student must have a solid foundation so he can thrive in his academic years. A student who can read and spell well can work independently for much of his subsequent education. The successful teacher understands the value of teacher training.

For specific information as to what is included in the Basic, Intermediate, or Advanced Seminars, please see those pages.

Would someone who has taken another course in The Writing Road to Reading learn anything new?

A number of adults have taken the SWR Seminar after previous training from qualified instructors and have given enthusiastic evaluations of SWR. One classroom teacher who has taught using the method for years and received training twice previously said, “You lifted three years of fog in two days!” Another trained, experienced teacher called SWR and the class “user friendly.”

Aren’t training seminars for professional teachers?  I’m only a homeschooler.

SWR is a unique program, vastly different from most reading and spelling programs. It requires the teacher understand the method and be effective in teaching it. As adults who were not taught this way, so much of the uncertainty of teaching with SWR stems from our own faulty understanding of the English language.

Homeschooling educators are some of the most dedicated teachers we’ve worked with. Many families have successfully implemented SWR, largely due to the training available. SWR is a method, not just a curriculum, and training can be very helpful. SWR works for those with or without learning challenges and can be implemented at a variety of levels to accommodate both large and small families.

Our students must learn to read and write well to thrive in all other areas of their education. The importance of getting teacher training in this area cannot be stressed enough. Both credentialed teachers as well as homeschool educators benefit greatly from these training classes.

I’m a credentialed teacher, so why would I need a seminar?

Classroom teachers come to SWR with valuable experience, but they also have preconceived notions about ways to teach it that are not necessarily in line with what the research is proving to be the most effective. SWR is vastly different from the reading and spelling programs you have been asked to teach in your classroom, even if those programs have a Spalding or Orton foundation. When a School Board has opted to bring SWR into the curricula, teachers must learn this new way of thinking, of understanding the phonics code, and of presenting it to her students. Unfortunately, we tend to gravitate to the comfort zone of what we already know. The SWR Seminars help the  teacher experience the beauty and consistency of the language and help her establish the teaching methods, patterns, and lessons that will see her students thriving with the amazing program.

I was using the whole language program mandated by our school district in a class of language disordered children. While the kids could memorize the books we rehearsed day after day, I had not given them the skills to recognize those same words anywhere else. The methods required by my district were failing my students. I found out about SWR, got ahold of the materials, and started implementing it immediately. I didn’t take much time to study my materials or even read the phonogram cards like I was supposed to; I thought I just had to get started so my kids could learn to read. After using the program for six months, I attended my first seminar. It was like a breath of fresh air! I found areas I had made mistakes and tightened up my phonogram and spelling dictation. I started to understand the big picture of what I was doing, why I was starting with spelling and writing, and how to teach in this revolutionary way. I returned to the classroom renewed. Only two months later when the students had their required standardized testing, they ALL showed dramatic improvement in their reading, spelling, and writing skills, something unheard of in a special education classroom. Some were even able to leave the self-contained classroom because their skills were so high. I was so excited about this program, I decided to host a seminar with Wanda so I could continue my training.–Liz, Credentialed Teacher in CA

Getting To A Seminar

How much does it cost for a seminar?

For prices, see the Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Seminars pages. Please note that some trainers may have a different price once the registration deadline has passed, so always check with your trainer about her policies.

How do I find a seminar?

Check out the SWR Seminar Itinerary page for a list of all currently scheduled classes.

There are no seminars scheduled in my area. How can I attend one?

The number of Endorsed SWR Trainers has grown over the years, and we are now available in more areas of the United States and Canada than ever before. Check the List of Trainers for one who conducts seminars in your state and contact her for any updates in her itinerary. You might also consider hosting a seminar to bring SWR to your neighborhood.

Please keep in mind that some SWR Trainers have greater flexibility in their availability than others. In some cases their schedules are restricted to a certain vicinity or a specified number of seminars per year. In these cases, you might want to consider the possiblity of traveling to where a seminar is being held in order to receive this valuable training.

Some trainers are available to travel internationally. If you are interested in having a trainer come to your country, contact Back Home Industries.

To be notified when seminars are scheduled, sign up here for our email mailing list.

When do I need to register?

  • Check early on with your trainer for her registration deadline for the particular class you are interested in attending.
  • Most trainers have a registration deadline which is about 10-14 days prior to the class. This is the date when they need to have received your registration, not merely the date on which you have to mail it.
  • Space is typically limited, and your trainer and hostess need time to prepare.
  • Sometimes  pre-enrollment numbers help determine whether there is sufficient interest in holding a class, and the event could be cancelled or rescheduled (rare, but possible) if not enough people are registered ahead of time.
  • Materials must be ordered and in some cases shipped to the seminar location. This takes time which makes sticking to the registration deadline essential.
  • A $25 or $50 non-refundable deposit (depends on the class) will secure a slot for you with the balance due at the class.
  • If you need to register after the deadline, please contact your local hostess or the trainer to confirm space availability. Be aware, however, that there is no guarantee the materials you need will be on site if you register after the deadline.

How do I register for a seminar?

The SWR Seminars Itinerary provides links for finding out more about the classes, including how to contact the trainer for registration details.

Preparing For a Seminar

What materials do I need for the class?

In order to teach the program, we recommend that you have each of the items in the Core Kit of Teacher’s Materials. Bring to the class and pre-order what you are lacking from your trainer or purchase them ahead of time.

For the class, you’ll want to bring paper and pencils for notetaking and a bag lunch or money to buy your lunch. If you’re an alumnus of an SWR class, you’ll also want to bring the Master Teacher’s Log you started at the last class. Some people have found it handy to have a clipboard for when they’re not seated at a table for part of the class.

Can I just figure out which materials I want when I get to the class?

Some trainers do not sell products at the seminars, while those that do have a book table need to know what to have on hand well in advance. If you don’t already have the Core Kit of Teacher Materials, please preorder anything you need as soon as possible. Otherwise, there is no guarantee that there will be enough materials on hand for everyone. (Please see “When do I need to register?” above.)

There are other materials that teachers may find helpful or useful in teaching the program but which are not required for participation in the class. Depending on the trainer, these will be available for ordering ahead of time or for purchase at the seminar.

What must I do ahead to prepare for the class?

While many people come with no prior knowledge or preparation, it just makes sense: the more you can prepare, the more you will get out of your training! At the same time, we realize there are time restraints on all of us, and some people will not have their materials until they come to the class. Just do the best you can, and come joyfully, prepared to learn a lot about our wonderful language.
For prestudy, we highly recommend you do the following before coming to this seminar.

  • Study the basic phonograms with the CD and cards and try to learn as many as you can.
    • A working knowledge of the phonograms is a huge benefit for getting the most out of your training class. For example, when the Trainer uses a phonogram during the training, it helps to know which phonogram she is referring to. You will be asked to write phonograms from dictation as well as identify them in the spelling dictation dialogue.
    • Practice the phonogram sounds by reading the front of each card. Can you identify all of the sounds of a phonogram, in the correct order, without looking at the back of the card for help?
    • Practice writing the phonograms by listening to the CD. Listen to the phonograms dictated on the CD and write what you hear. For example, when the speaker says “/a-A-ah/,” you will write the letter a. When you hear “/A/, the two-letter /A/, that we may use at the end of English words,” you will write the ay phonogram.
  • If you have registered for a seminar and plan to pick up your Core Kit at the seminar, there are a few options for you to get your phonogram cards and CD ahead of time.
    • Contact your trainer for her to email or snail mail you a list of phonograms for study. She might even be able to ship the cards and SWR ahead of time. Each trainer has her own way of doing this, so check ahead to know how she can help you.
    • If you are picking up your materials at the class but have a friend who has the cards that you could borrow, get them soon so you will have enough time to study before the class.
  • If you have your materials already, it would be wonderful if you could read through SWR pages 1-19.
  • For those with beginning students (Preschool-1st grade), read SWR pages 20-23.
  • For those with students already spelling and/or reading:
    • Give the diagnostic test to each child if possible (SWR pp 196-199) and bring the results to the class.
    • Read SWR pages 23-32.
  • Finally, you’ll also want to be well rested and ready for your full days of instruction. If you’ll have far to drive to attend the class, we encourage you to consider staying in a local motel or with a friend who lives nearby on Thursday and Friday nights so that you can be well rested and alert both mornings. Sharing a room and attending the class with a friend always makes it more enjoyable and economical!

Would I still be able to attend if I can only come for one day?

If you were only able to come one day of the seminar, you would want it to be the first day. There is too much foundational information covered on Day One for someone to jump right into the class on Day Two, especially someone new to the program. We could not take up valuable class time to catch you up on what you missed. It would be unfortunate if you had to miss the second day since much of the information comes together for the participants on this day, and this day frequently includes role-playing opportunities to practice putting the program to use. We understand, however, that there are times when conflicting situations simply cannot be avoided. There is no discount provided for someone who only attends one day.

Would I be able to record segments of the seminar?

No recording is permitted of the Endorsed Trainer or her teaching during the class. This includes use of mobile phones, computers, tablets, or any other devices. Some participants are given the opportunity to practice the spelling dictation either with a partner, with the trainer, or in front of the class. If you would like to be recorded during this process for your own purposes on your own device, be sure to let your trainer know.

Children at Seminars

Do you provide child care during the class?

We are concerned for your children. That is why we work to train you how to teach them. However, we do not feel it is in the child’s best interest to be closed in one room with a large group of strangers for two or three long days. They can also be a distraction to others in the class that have paid for the training. We will pray that you will find a more positive alternative for them while you receive your training.

May nursing moms bring baby to class?

A mom may bring a nursing infant provided that certain conditions are met:

  • The parent is responsible to see that her infant is not left unattended, even if there is a nursery room available. Often moms bring an older sibling or a teenager along to act as a nanny so the infant can be separated in another room for blocks of time. In this way the mom can concentrate on the class and nurse at regular scheduled breaks. Sometimes a friend will watch a baby who is eating some solids at home and bring the baby to the class location for the mom to nurse at the lunch break. The SWR trainer or the hosting facility cannot be liable for the welfare and protection of the child.
  • Mom needs to sit as close to the exit door as possible so that she can take her child out of the seminar area as soon as the baby begins to make a disturbance.

How old does my child need to be to attend?

The class is geared toward teachers. Although mature teenagers have attended and gained much toward their own studies, it is a long two days for most young people. The student must be attentive and on-task, ready to be an active participant and not a distraction. The parent must keep this in mind when considering the appropriateness of the student attending. A discounted registration fee is offered to families with mature students who desire to gain an introduction to the program, who want to perfect their skills, or who are in training to tutor others.

Scholarships for Seminars

Who Qualifies for a Scholarship?

We offer scholarships for the following individuals.

  • Spouse or child (12 or over) living in the same household
  • Single parent
  • Full-time missionary
  • Senior pastor and/or wife
  • School Administrator
  • Basic SWR Seminar Alumni attending another Basic Seminar
  • Advanced SWR Seminar Alumni attending another Advanced Seminar

I am a homeschooler. Does this qualify me as a School Administrator?

This discounted registration is offered as an incentive to encourage school district personnel to attend and review the program for use in their schools. Such personnel would include a Principal, Superintendent, Curriculum Advisor, or Master Teachers who counsel with homeschoolers about curriculum choices. The only homeschoolers who qualify as School Administrators are those who operate Private Satellite Programs in which children other than their own are enrolled AND who counsel other homeschoolers about curriculum choices.

My husband has a ministry at our church. Does that qualify me as a Pastor’s wife?

The scholarship discount is specifically for families who are in full-time ministry for the church.

My homeschool family is on a single income. Do I qualify for a special discount?

Most homeschool families are operating on single or limited incomes. The cost of the seminar in significantly lower than typical business or educational training classes. While we understand that the cost of the seminar can be a stretch for some families, we believe that the benefits to improving your teaching abilities and the results you will experience in your children are well worth the investment.

Should my husband attend with me?

It is wonderful for the husbands to attend with their wives, and we encourage this by offering a discount for the spouse’s registration. It is advantageous for the father to understand what, why, and how the children will be taught so that he can help in ways that complement instruction. There is much to learn during the seminar, and having an “extra set of ears” only aids learning that much more. Also, the men really enjoy the logic of our system.

Attending the seminar allowed me to see first hand the material that would be used for my children and how to teach it. Moreover, it gave me the ability to encourage my wife and to reinforce the method and material with the children. — Scott Lung, CA Homeschool Dad

How to Qualify for a Discount

Register for your seminar with your trainer per her procedures. If you qualify for a discount, enter whatever information is necessary to verify your scholarship status. For example, SWR Alumni are asked to indicate where and when they took a previous seminar.

Extended Education Credits

I am a classroom teacher. Is it possible to get Extended Education units for taking this class?

This will depend entirely upon your School District and the trainer. In the past teachers have received credit when: (1) the District has preapproved the class, (2) the teacher has attended the class for all 16 hours, and (3) the teacher has completed the Take Home Test and received a Certificate of Completion to submit to the District. Some Districts require the teacher to pay for the class in order to receive the credit. Some Districts apply the class toward Inservice Training requirements rather than Extended Education units. Some districts will only offer credit if the Endorsed Trainer has a Master’s Degree or higher.

The only college credit available is for taking the Advanced Seminar. Only Wanda Sanseri and certain Endorsed SWR Trainers offer these extended 3-day classes. In addition, the college credit is only offered on a class-by-class basis depending on the arrangements made for that class with a local college or university. The best course of action for you is to notify your District’s Personnel office and inquire as to its requirements for classes such as ours. Regardless of their decision, you will be hard pressed to find a more practical and valuable teacher training class in language arts anywhere!