June in the Alliance: It’s All About YOU

June 2017 in The Homeschool Alliance

It’s the end of the school year! What better time to switch gears and do a little bit of self-care and awesome adulting to recharge as we head into the summer.

Join us in The Homeschool Alliance for the month of June as we delve into the role of creativity as it pertains to our own lives as homeschool parents. Using readings from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic we will ask the bigger questions of how to stay in touch with what makes us come alive.

  • How do we define a creative life?
  • Is a creative life possible for busy homeschool moms?
  • Can we give ourselves permission to incorporate more creativity in our lives?
  • Where do we find inspiration and what can that inspiration look like?

Sound exciting? We think so!

Give us a try this month! You can join any time and leave any time. We hold monthly web chats with me and Stephanie Elms, our other coach, where we hash out stuff about parenting, learning and living this crazy lifestyle we call homeschooling.

Treat yourself. You deserve it!

Join The Homeschool Alliance


And yet we are inclusive readers…

And yet we are inclusive readers

In the land of homeschool, there are many divisions. Groups form for all sorts of reasons. Some are benign: we all play cello; we are putting on a play. Some are ideological: we like classical education, we are unschoolers. Some are religious: we follow this ancient book, we follow this other ancient book. Some are not any of the above, simply: we are local to this city or town.

Over and over again, homeschoolers (already a smallish group in the community of educational options) further subdivide into even pickier criteria for forming group relationships. It’s as if it’s not enough to keep our children home where we have control over what they watch, read, and do every day. The tendency is to form tightly controlled communities for our participation as well—including the like-minded or like-behaviored, and excluding those who can’t toe our line. A policy statement—the criteria for joining—is narrowly crafted and in some cases, even designed to exclude the “dangerous other.”

I know that part of the attractive charm of home education is the notion that we can distill our values and convey them to our kids unhindered by the “big bad government” (so the feeling goes).

Yet a strange thing happens on the way to this carefully crafted community of like-mindednesss.

We read books.

We homeschoolers read LOADS of books. In fact, we pride ourselves on the variety, scope, span, and diversity of the books we read to our children. We seek books that expand our children’s experiences and enrich their imaginations.

We introduce them to monsters, thieves, people from thousands of years ago, and people living in our time. Our children meet in those pages rich people with money and poor people without, people with moral scruples and the unpleasant unscrupulous.

Heck, we introduce our kids to members of other religious faiths, scientists who have rejected religion, and characters who possess magical powers.

Many homeschoolers have a commitment to global awareness. They want their children to be “world citizens” and so they make sure that their kids read books that introduce them to faraway lands, people, and cultures from various times in history.

And yet… the co-op they attend is made up of a homogeneous group of the same type of person, carefully screened, to ensure that no dangerous difference crops up to interfere with a uniform belief system.

Does that seem contradictory to you?

It did to me. Homeschooling is a small community (in terms of numbers in general society). Yet we share these common values:

  • being with our children
  • enabling self-directed passionate learning
  • creating powerful family memories
  • flexibility to teach to a child’s strengths and challenges
  • reading!
  • passing on our family values and beliefs (whatever they are!)
  • making a difference

…and many more.

Why would we make it so difficult for communities to welcome a diversity of home educators? The fear that someone will teach our kids something we don’t want them to teach is easily overcome. Simply don’t put your child in a class that isn’t one you want them to be in. Yet interacting with the children from a wide variety of backgrounds is as wonderful as reading about them (more so).

Do we need the art teacher and the math teacher in a co-op to be of the same religious background? Can a religious child learn ASL from a co-op teacher who is secular?

Why can’t we have the same eagerness to learn from real living families that are not like our own that we do when we read about them in books? If the belief system we hold dear is so easily undone by sharing square footage with people who are not like us, what does that say about that belief system?

I thought I’d offer these thoughts to provoke your own reflections! Your mileage may vary.

The Homeschool Alliance


Friday Freewrite: On the Outside

Friday Freewrite

Ever feel outside the group? Describe a time when you felt excluded.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.


Movie Wednesday: Planet of the Apes

Movie Wednesday Planet of the Apes

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Taylor, an astronaut explorer and his crew, depart the planet Earth in 1972. They awake from stasis to discover that they have crash landed on a strange planet in the year 3978. The astronauts learn that the planet is inhabited by primitive humans without the power of speech and is ruled instead by intelligent talking apes. Taylor is captured and brought to the ape city where he and his captors will have to face questions of what constitutes intelligent life and grapple with their beliefs and identities as Taylor’s mere presence throws the ape society into an uproar.

Before the big budget, CGI heavy reboot in 2011, Planet of the Apes was first brought to the big screen in 1968. Hailed for its cutting-edge makeup and prosthetics as well as its challenging and innovative story, this film is considered a classic in its genre and stars Charlton Heston as Taylor. The film was inspired by the early ‘60s novel by Pierre Boulle and launched a franchise which endures to this day.

With the next installment in the reboot set to release in July 2017, now is a great time to journey back to the cinema of the ‘60s and ‘70s and experience this widely popular and seminal film series from the beginning.

A note to parents: Although the original Planet of the Apes films are rated G and PG respectively, they were released prior to significant changes in how films are rated and their content is not comparable to modern day films of the same rating. Discretion is advised for younger viewing audiences and you may wish to look up the content of the films prior to viewing using a site such as Commonsense Media.

Discussion Questions

  • The apes have a cast system segregating chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans into strict social roles. Why do you think this is? And do you think it’s a good system? Explain your answers.
  • In the original film, apes treat humans as inferior life and therefore feel it’s acceptable to experiment and treat them poorly, similar to the way humans treat animals now. What do you think this says about our own society?
  • If you found yourself on the planet of the apes, how do you think you would react? Would you make the same choices as Taylor or would you make different ones? Explain you answer.

Additional Resources

A full length documentary detailing the production of all five original films is available with the DVD/Blu-Ray set.


Check out our guide:

Brave Writer Goes to the Movies


2017-18 Arrow and Boomerang Titles!

Arrow and Boomerang Titles for 2017-18

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Presenting the 2017-2018 book lists for our literature program!

Full Year Bundle On Sale JUNE 1st

Ever wish you could teach the mechanics of writing in a natural, literature-bathed context? Well you can! Here at Brave Writer, we dedicate careful attention to providing you with language-rich materials that make learning the mechanics of writing as natural as learning to speak!

The Arrow (3rd-6th) and The Boomerang (7th-10th) are our language arts tools (digital magazines) that teach grammar, spelling, punctuation, and literary elements using living literature (a la Charlotte Mason). We pick books for you to read that represent a diversity of perspectives and writing genres to expand the horizons of your young charges. From those books, we select four passages for copywork and dictation, paired with easy to understand notes written in a conversational and engaging style.

Each issue publishes on the 1st of the month and will be available for download from a private folder on our Brave Writer Website.

Try it this year, and see the difference!

One caveat: We are offering Arrow and Boomerang book clubs for ALL 20 titles (registration opens in July). If you decide you want your kids to be in our 2017-18 book discussion clubs, know that the issues of the Arrow and Boomerang are included for the price of the club.

2017-18 Arrow Titles

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events: A Bad Beginning by Daniel Handler
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

2017-18 Boomerang Titles

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Walking by Henry David Thoreau
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Georges by Alexandre Dumas
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Watch this introduction to all the books!


During June, you also have the chance to WIN either the Arrow or Boomerang Book Collection! We’ll post all the details on June 1. To enter, you’ll fill out a form. For additional entries, you’ll have the opportunity to share the contest with friends. We’re giving away 5 sets of books! International Brave Writer fans can play too (if you win, we’ll send you a $100 Amazon gift card). No purchase necessary. Stay tuned for more details.

We’re excited to read with your family during the coming year!