Permeated my very existence
I feel like Brave Writer has permeated my very existence. It gave my mum endless ideas about home education, which influenced the way she brought my siblings and me up. She jokes that without Brave Writer she would probably have gone insane long ago. It’s offered no end of help and has guided us through home education since we began. It can sometimes feel scary, educating your children yourself, making your own way though the childhood years without the safety net of school, worrying that your way of life is wrong and your children aren’t learning enough. Brave Writer has showed us that we’re not alone; that there are many home educating families in the world; and that it’s a way of life that works.
It was Brave Writer that got us into Poetry Teatime, a beloved tradition we’ve stuck to for over six years and enjoy every Thursday these days. We eat cake, drink tea and read poems to each other. Now, I don’t see poems as intimidating things in books to be studied, but rather as old friends to sit down and have a cup of tea with. We’ve also had countless friends and neighbors round for Poetry Teatime, strengthening those friendships and passing the tradition on.
Another Brave Writer-guided activity we did was film studies. I think that’s a classic image of home education: a mother and children together on a sofa, eating popcorn, watching a Disney movie and calling it learning. And we learned about plot, character, development and satisfying endings – so it jolly well was learning!
Doing The Arrow and The Boomerang taught me a lot about understanding and appreciating literature. By having my reading directed, I was introduced to many great writers, from Charles Dickens to P.G. Wodehouse; and by copying out chosen passages in my best handwriting, I learned about fine language and great writing.
With the Groovy Grammar Workshop, I made long lists of words I liked the sound of and eventually wrote a poem based on Jabberwocky called Snacajoby, filled with nonsense words like “amoj” and “amossa” (they mean “warm” and “famished” respectively). The Writer’s Jungle Online taught me a lot about the process of creating a piece of writing. Guided by my mum, I wrote down elements I wanted to use, did a series of freewrites, then directed all my thoughts together to produce a finished piece: a piece of fiction describing the house I’d like to live in as an adult, with two libraries and a laboratory full of explosions.
Freewriting — scribbling your thoughts onto the paper freely without worrying about what they look or sound like — is one of the most valuable techniques I’ve learned from Brave Writer. It’s the simplest way of getting the bare ingredients of your story down onto the paper, and is far quicker and more productive than painstakingly writing carefully considered words and trying to make each one perfect first try.
Overall, I think Brave Writer has encouraged my development as a writer, a student and a person; and I think it’s been one of the defining factors of my childhood.
Image by Finlay Worrallo