Student Spotlight: Emily


I will not use a metaphor

Enjoy this delightful poem by Brave Writer student, Emily (age 12):

I will not use a metaphor

I will not use a metaphor,
They are the pain when I am poor

I will not use a simile,
They’re like a swarm of bumble bees

An adjective, I’d never write,
They’re ugly, stupid, never right,

But most of all, in the universe,
I’ll never write lines, a poem, or verse!

Image by Shonda Kellams (cc cropped, tinted, text added)

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Party School!

Party School!

Turn ordinary school subjects into extraordinary parties!

Once you’ve partied with your kids and their friends,
you can take all that research and planning,
and magically turn it into “school report.”

Featured above are the hand made cookies my teens made for their Harry Potter party. You’ll learn all about how to create your own Party School in the following Periscope talk. It will transform the study of any subject!

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Unschool Undefined

Unschooling (and other homeschool philosophies) Undefined

This topic is a doozy! We’re tackling the big one—the daunting one. UNSCHOOLING

We’re also going to look at a slew of other homeschool styles and philosophies and talk about them.

I remember being batted around from one ideology to the next. The fans of any given viewpoint were usually so enthusiastic, it was difficult to resist their arguments. Then I’d test the ideas for myself and flounder. I wondered:

Is it me?
Am I doing something wrong?
What if my kids are the problem?
How do I know if the philosophy is right for us?

And the worst one:

Am I just not good enough at this philosophy?

Then I’d worry: Now I won’t get to benefit from the community of all these lovely homeschool women… (which meant one of two things):

Pretending (as though I was living up to the ideals)
Going quiet (not sharing, just reading)

It took some time to figure out what it was I really believed for my homeschool and what I felt to be true for my family. I want to share with you some principles I developed for how to evaluate the various homeschool ideas out there, while preserving your sense of community and self esteem!

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Poetry Teatime: Let the kids host

Poetry Teatime

We are a REALLY busy family. I have 7 kids aged 2-11 and one of them is profoundly disabled requiring at least 8 hours a day hands on care. Since our high needs kiddo was born afternoon teas have been sporadic at best. A couple of months ago, I had a brainwave – let the kids host! My 5, 6, 7, 9 and 11 year olds take it in turns to host each week. Nash, Wordsworth, Shakespeare and Lear have returned like long lost friends and Custard The Dragon has taken his weekly place at our table again. Here is how we do things.

Step 1 – The child will let me know if they want a special theme and if the need anything specific for their afternoon tea on the Thursday before, straight after the last afternoon tea. Any special things they want will be written on the white board or the shopping list if needed or just talked about. Anna, my 6 year old, wanted a daffodil theme last week (it’s spring here in Australia) so was planning to pick daffodils and wanted me to find and print out “Daffodowndilly” by A A Milne as we don’t have a copy. Andrew, my 5 year old, wants a Monster Truck theme and assures me he needs nothing special unless I am willing to get him a real, actual monster truck (I’m not).

Step 2 – The morning of the afternoon tea the hosting child checks if they have everything and recruits any help needed. Anna asked her older sister (Erin, aged 11) to help her bake cupcakes. Andrew will probably ask his older brother to take him to the store across the road.

Step 3 – Any prep is started usually just before or after lunch. On Anna’s day lunch ran late and life happened so she opted to leave the ideas of baking for another day and pick daffodils before going to the store for chocolate biscuits (cookies for the Americans among us) and lemonade. Andrew will probably arrange his monster truck collection as a centerpiece then go across the road with his brother to get some biscuits and a special drink. Sometimes the older children make hot chocolate or cups of herbal tea, but this is the only time soft drink (pop) is allowed in the house so it’s quite a novelty.

Step 4 – At 3 0’clock the rest of us arrive at the table. Some of us may bring a special poem or book we wanted, others will just use the five volumes selected by the host and strewn on the table. After a short grace thanking God for beautiful things and beautiful words we will share our poems, laugh, clean up spills, have meaningful talks, indulge in a few limericks and playground chants and be done. At Anna’s afternoon tea “Daffodowndilly” by A. A. Milne featured alongside “Daffodils” by William Wordsworth and “Nothing Gold can Stay” by Robert Frost. But poems from Lear to Shakespeare to an irreverent collection of playground chants called “Unreal Banana Peel” all had their part. Andrew’s will likely have a few special Ogden Nash (Custard the Dragon is Andrew’s favourite) but everyone will have their piece.

Step 5 – Everyone puts their plates and cups in the dishwasher, the books go back to the poetry shelf or perhaps snuck outside to be perused in the hammock.

Poetry has always been a love of mine but bigger than this we are taking the time to add something special to our week. My kids love hosting. It makes them feel important and special. It fosters independence, planning and organizational skills and boosts their self esteem. There’s something about this that is even bigger than any educational outcome for us though. When my daughter with special needs was a tiny, fragile baby in NICU I could not even dress her, the only thing I could do to mark her as mine was place tiny bows in her hair. During that time I realized something very important. Bows matter. The doctors and nurses could keep her alive, but only I could put bows in her hair and love like a mother. The day to day survival stuff is big, but chocolate biscuits with poetry, daffodils and laughter – that’s more important than most people will ever realize. We love having this particular special “bow” taking pride of place in our week once again. We love having a time scheduled to laugh, love and share our hearts together.


Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line). If we share on our blog then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang title of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

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The Curriculum Treasure Hunt

The Curriculum Treasure Hunt

In the hunt for curriculum, I remember being sidetracked by the pretty colors, the enthusiastic endorsements of fellow homeschoolers, and the reviews written by experts. It’s not that those things weren’t valuable components to making curriculum purchasing decisions. Rather, when I didn’t have a firm vision of what I wanted my home to feel like, I would sometimes purchase a program that undermined the kind of environment I was hoping to establish!

Worse, my lack of confidence sometimes meant I would abandon my intuition, thinking someone else knew better for me than I did for my own family.

There are seven principles that I used in my own life to help me not only determine which programs were worth my financial investment, but also how to get the most benefit from materials I already owned! I talk about them in the Scope Replay posted below. For quick review, here they are:

The Myth of “Open and Go”

All curricula benefits from reading enough about it to understand its philosophy and practice before you begin. Don’t be so quick to expect a book to “self-teach.” Invest up front, and then the program may work easily for you and your kids.

Use Real Time for Self-Education about the Program

It’s okay to read the directions about the program right smack dab in the middle of the day. Use the part of the day when your brain is fresh. Allow your kids to watch a movie or play nearby while you take the time (real time) to understand what you are planning to implement. Everyone will enjoy the program so much more when you do.

Give the Program the “Ole College Try”

Before you ditch a product you were motivated enough to buy, use it for at least 3-4 weeks. Give it time to take root, for your kids to get comfortable.

Introduce One Program at a Time

Don’t try to get all the plates spinning at once. It’s okay to focus on a new math program for a whole day or week without spending a minute reading books or using your language arts programs. Allow you and your kids to investigate, to solve problems, and to become comfortable before introducing another new program.

Ask Your Kids

Involve your children in the curriculum selection and application. Their reactions count and matter.

Boredom is a Valid Reason for Ditching a Program

If you and/or your kids are bored by a curriculum, it is not required that you finish it. You have one life, one limited passage of time with your children. Don’t waste time on a program you or they don’t like.

Use a Variety of Delivery Systems

Make sure you are not only using one style of learning (all workbooks, all online classes, all kinesthetic). Make sure you explore a variety of ways to share lessons with your children.

PRO-TIP: You Control Your Curriculum. It Doesn’t Control You!

Modify it, adjust it, skip chapters in it, end it before the end of the book, take breaks. You get to do what works for YOU.

If you are ready to check out Brave Writer’s materials, take advantage of our “Oops! I Forgot Something” sale in October. Take $15.00 off any purchase over $50.00 for Brave Writer curricula.

Also, for a more in depth look at the 7 Principles for the Curriculum Hunt, check out our Periscope talk below!

Image by Scott Akerman (cc cropped, text added)

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