Archive for the ‘Brave Writer Lifestyle’ Category

The Homeschool Hand Grenade

The Homeschool Hand Grenade

You’ve got homeschool humming along. Pencils flying, kids laughing, toddlers misbehaving manageably, babies napping just long enough.

You look about your petite kingdom and for a moment, allow yourself pleasure—happiness. It’s this rush of well being that says, “I love my life! I love these kids, this work, that mess made by the 2 year old…” You sigh contentedly.

For two minutes.

Or two hours.

On rare occasion, two days.

And then: a triggering event dashes the momentary zen-filled peace.

Your friend raves about a new homeschool product.

Your mother asks why Sydney (age 7) isn’t reading yet.

Or worst of all, you simply feel uncomfortable sitting in that seat of happiness. It’s this comfy bean bag chair by a sunny window and you worry if you fall into it for too long, to sleep you’ll go—off duty, off the watch for the ever present danger threatening to ruin your children (what catastrophe would you wake to!?).

“Happiness is untrustworthy,” the restless mind whispers. Happiness is a sign that someone is not working hard, that something worthwhile is not occurring, that play has taken over where work should be.

Right as mastery is growing, contentment is blooming, the routine is taking root, what do we conscientious mothers do?

We toss a homemade hand grenade into the living room of happy homeschooling.

  • We buy a brand new text or work book that is unfamiliar and a change in the comfortable routine because the one being used is “too easy.”
  • We shift focus because the we’re worried that we aren’t being rigorous enough.
  • We require longer, more, and better results because ease means the child isn’t working at top capacity.
  • We decide that even though homeschool is going well, household chores are a nightmare and so create brand new pressures for everyone—ensuring that somewhere, someone is doing work that causes a little pain (learning IS suffering, isn’t it?).

This homemade hand grenade is designed to detonate with one purpose: to ensure that home education is challenging because we believe that true learning is associated with difficulty and hard work.

So right as you and your kids find your stride, right as your children show they love doing pages of fractions or happily write reams of silly stories about kittens or have watched 12 YouTube videos about WW2 tanks, you yank that comforting floor from beneath their feet and require them to do this most important other thing they are neglecting to prove to yourself and to them that they are actually learning something of value. Right? Right?

And then BAM!

You are back to homeschool h-e-double hockey sticks.

Let’s not do that. Let me help you keep the pin in the grenade (aka the new not-yet-purchased program in the online shopping cart).

Principles to pin to your wall:

1. Ease and joy indicate flow.
Flow is optimal for learning. When a child is happily working on a skill, that means that child is actually doing the very thing you most desire: learning. They are creating the neural pathways that will help the child retain the skill and information. Lean into it and let it roll!

2. Practice creates automaticity.
Understanding is not enough in any field. Repetition/practice that is stimulating and comfortable leads fluency. If a child loves ripping through pages of times tables after demonstrating mastery, let him! When you child learns to ride a bike, we don’t say, “Now you must learn to use a pogo stick or a unicycle.” We let them ride! That’s the privilege of understanding and fluency in a skill. Using it with joy is the reward for having mastered it.

3. When the stars align, do not wake the baby!
The baby, in this case, is YOUR HOMESCHOOL! Let it sprawl all over that bean bag chair of learning. Allow the apparent happiness to last as long as it will, because you and I both know someone will start teething or grow underarm hair and that serene moment in time will end abruptly. YOU don’t need to be the one to wreck the peace. Peace-wrecking is already on its way for you. Let it come.

4. Learning (the true kind) is not pleasure-less.
Banish the notion. Adopt our family policy for going to parties with kids: “Leave while everyone is happy.” Let your son stop working the math problems while he is alert and proud of his work. Let your daughter stop her copywork after a carefully handwritten sentence, before she gets sloppy for an entire paragraph. Pleasure is the fruit of challenge and success, not struggle and stress.

Don’t wreck the peace! Opt for happiness and allow it to run its course. You can keep the happy going by enjoying it when it appears.

Psst. You’re allowed to.

Read More: Make Peace with the Peace

The Brave Writer Lifestyle: How It Worked with My Kids

The Brave Writer Lifestyle: How It Worked with My Kids

Walk down memory lane with me and see how we practiced the Brave Writer Lifestyle in my home!

My best memories are from all the times I went off-script in home education. I followed the rabbit trails, I followed my children’s leads, and I stayed alert to great ideas from unconventional sources. I used Family Fun magazine, for instance, as a resource for educational ideas far more frequently than any traditional curriculum. Immersive experiences created the kind of education I always wanted my children to have.

In the broadcast below, I share how I did what I did with my kids and I even showcase some of their writing!

Practices Covered

  • Poetry Teatimes
  • Read Alouds
  • Copywork/Dictation
  • Art Appreciation
  • Shakespeare
  • Movies/TV
  • Nature Journaling
  • Language Games
  • Friday Freewrite
  • One on One Time
  • Writing Projects
  • Putting Your Child in the Driver’s Seat
  • Literary Elements

BONUS TIP: Party School!

Find out more about Party School here!

Blog Roundup: October 2016 Edition

Blog Round Up October 2016

Welcome to the latest blog roundup! See how other homeschooling families practice the Brave Writer Lifestyle!

Using the Brave Writer Arrow Guides – by Mary, Not Before 7

They are 3rd-6th grade book specific literature guides designed for parents to guide their students through four weeks of language arts activities. The Arrow Guide includes weekly copywork/dictations passages alongside notes about the passage incorporating grammar, spelling, punctuation and literary style. A specific literary element is focused on in each guides as well…read more.

When Imagination Drives the Homeschool Bus – Kristina, Blossom & Root

I recently read a post on Facebook, written by the infallibly-soothing Julie Bogart of Brave Writer, about how to reprogram type-A checklist tendencies by writing a new kind of checklist. This new checklist includes such things as “cuddled someone on the couch,” “affirmed a child for his or her self-expression,” and (my personal favorite) “ditched the plan, followed a great idea (bonus: without guilt!)” At the brand-new, sparkly beginning of the school year, this was exactly what I needed to read…read more.

Writing With Training Wheels – Angela, Nurtured Roots

Writing is like learning to ride a bike.  At first, the “rider” needs our full support to steady things.  After a while, all the rider needs is some gentle support as we keep our hand on the back of the seat, prepared and ready to help.  Once she gains more confidence and skill, we’re able to run alongside being the encourager, but still being there to bandage the skinned knee if she falls…read more.

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Poetry Teatime – Kara Stephenson Anderson

I’m a devoted homeschooling mama, who has spent the past couple of years learning that killing myself in an effort to “make memories,” isn’t actually in the best interests of my family. But I still really, really want to do cool stuff…read more.

Innovative Homeschooling: Let’s Talk Literature – Mary, Not Before 7

As we sift through our literature options, I’d like to offer a few thoughts to encourage homeschooling parents to embrace the role of an innovator when it comes to literature…read more.

The Brave Writer Lifestyle: One Family’s Approach – Caitlin, The Homeschool Sisters

You’ve probably heard the story by now, but I didn’t set out to homeschool. My husband and I are both products of the public education system. Before having children, I worked as a school psychologist in and around Boston and I loved it. I had every intention of returning to urban education once my children were in school…read more.

A Peek at The Writer’s Jungle – Cassandra, Unplug Your Family

When I got the okay to review The Writer’s Jungle, I was uncertain what Brave Writer was even all about.  I had only vaguely heard of it and, quite honestly, I was skeptical…read more.

We hope to share more roundups in the future! If you write about an aspect of the Brave Writer Lifestyle, let us know! Email your post’s url to Jeannette, our Social Media admin ( Thanks!

Learn more about Brave Writer productsPumpkin image by miriampastor (cc cropped, tinted, text added)

A Gracious Space: Fall LIVE

A Gracious Space: Fall Readings LIVE on Facebook Sept. 2016
My phone is ringing, my email dinging. Every day I get to talk with many of you about the coming start to the new school year (here in the northern hemisphere). If I could pop through the looking glass and join you in your living room, I’d happily do it!

Short of that, I thought it might be nice to read my daily reading book together on Facebook. The book is:

A Gracious Space: Fall

Daily readings to sustain your homeschooling commitment
A Gracious Space: FallI’ve written 50 essays of encouragement to read each morning or right before bed (or whenever you need a boost).

I’m going to

Read an Essay a Day on Facebook Live

Starting Tuesday September 6th!

I’ll wake up, read the essay on Facebook, and then discuss it for a few minutes. You can watch live or on replay, make comments, or ask questions. We’ll build a little momentum through the month to keep you motivated and supported.

The book is available in two formats:

A Gracious Space: Fall (print)
A Gracious Space: Fall (digital)

Want to try out A Gracious Space: Fall?

Grab 5 FREE daily readings here!

To join me on Facebook Live, you will want to get the notifications! It’s not as easy as it should be, but here’s a little trick I learned.

Go to the Facebook page and “Like” it (blue arrow). Then Click on the drop down arrow and click on “See First” (red oval and arrow). This will make the notifications appear in your feed every time I post or go live. Next, check “All On (All Posts, Events, Live Videos)” (green arrow and oval).

Facebook notifications

Taking this step will ensure that you never miss a live broadcast again! I know it’s been tricky to find them.

See you September 6th as we disrupt the back to school narrative and forge a new homeschool path!

Are you one big happy family?

Are you one big happy family?

Practical Homeschooling Advice for the Frazzled!

You might be running yourself ragged trying to teach to four or five grade levels a day! Pulling out workbooks for four subjects times five kids, leads to math I can’t even do! (Well, okay, I can do it, but it’s too many workbooks!).

What does it take to be one big happy family and homeschool at the same time? We tackle that ginormous subject in the following video!

More Help for BIG Families

If you’ve got a passel of kids

Managing Multiples

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