Archive for the ‘Brave Writer Lifestyle’ Category

Partnering with Your Child in Writing

How to be your child's partner in writing

In school, a teacher usually has somewhere between 20-30 children whose writing she has to evaluate. She’s not partnering with the child. She is expecting that child to show his or her level of competence so she can evaluate the child and only the child. She worries that if the parent gets involved in that writing process, somehow she won’t be evaluating a child; she’ll be evaluating an adult showing up in the child’s writing.

Now, I get that. She doesn’t have conversations, one-on-one, all day long with 20 or 30 kids. She isn’t sitting next to the child while he’s struggling with his pen to write at home. All she sees is the final result of effort.

I want to share with you a story from my own childhood, because I think it’s illustrative of the failure of this system of requiring children to write without help.

My mother is a freelance author, she has written 85 books, she has been in professional publishing her entire adult life, and she has taught writing to professionals for her whole adult life.

So, when I was coming up through the ranks as a child, my mom was very interested in my writing. She provided me with all kinds of tools. I have an All About Me book and I wrote my very first story, in cursive, in that book. She bought me little journals; she jotted down things I said. My mom loved literature. We went to the library every single week. She read aloud to us and I read to myself.

This was the early rich language life.

She took us to plays, to movies; she was very interested in us having a great literature and language experience.

Partnering with Your Child in Writing

As I got into school over the years, I was assigned writing projects. I remember distinctly, in 4th grade, being told that I needed to produce this report with no help. Now, I had this massive resource in my mother, but I took what the teacher said seriously and I told my mother, “You can’t help me with this report.”

I wrote a report on Queen Elizabeth. I had a red file folder. I decided to make it beautiful, so I used a blank sheet of white paper, no lines. I wrote it in very light pencil first, I went through and corrected all my mistakes, and then I traced over it in better pen so that it would be perfect. I used our World Book Encyclopedias for my research. And I finished it without any help from my mother.

I can’t tell you how proud I was of this paper. I turned in my report with all the other 4th graders. Do you know what’s coming?

I got a C on my independently produced report. Do you know what I saw in the stack of reports? Reports written by students who had help from their parents. There were typewritten reports. There were reports that were clearly handwritten perfectly and that had lots of detail.

I just sat down with all the information I knew and I just wrote it out. I didn’t know how to structure it. I didn’t even really know how to paragraph yet. I was in 4th grade! And that C crushed me, and my mom was not pleased. I put in all this heart and effort. She saw me do the research, she saw me be painstaking in my handwriting, but I got a C because other kids had help and the teacher couldn’t tell the difference.

Here’s what you have at home that my 4th grade teacher didn’t have:

A front row seat to your children’s development. You can tell what they’re doing. You can see when you add a sentence or help them think of a vocabulary word. You know what was their effort and what was your combined efforts.

Not only that, when you combine efforts your are mentoring your children into the writing experience.

Want to learn more about partnering with your kids?
Watch the full video on YouTube!

Partnership Writing

Willing Participants

Willing Participants

by Brave Writer mom, Karen

Hi, Brave Writer community. To encourage you all, here’s a sweaty picture of me (above) being “enough” playing with my son on the squash courts at our local YMCA. Please allow me to explain why I would think to share it here.

I was the girl in high school who was picked second to last for high school games in P.E. every week, for four years. Four long, humiliating, years. It fed right into my insecurities about my body and athleticism. These past few months my son’s enthusiasm for sports has grown insatiable and I have been forced to reckon with my old high school self; apologetically practicing warm ups, basketball shoots & tricks, attending practice and games—taking him to the squash courts whenever our schedule permits, practicing pickle ball with the “silver sneaker” crowd, and taking him to Zumba classes.

Julie’s [broadcast] today echoed in my heart as my son & I hit the racquetball courts this morning—a follow through on yesterday’s promise. I missed the ball dozens of times and hit it in directions I never aimed for. Honestly, I must have been comical to watch. The ball would bounce between my legs, under my arms and fly across the tip of my racket with almost every lunge and swift swing I made. While we were having fun early on, I sensed frustration and feelings of incompetency building inside of me, threatening to end the fun we were having.

At one point I began to seriously doubt my competency in supporting my son’s interests. What stopped me was Julie’s words of not waiting for or wanting a future better self but loving the best version of ourselves today—a message echoed in readings I happen to have been doing this past year, too. It was at this point I remembered my son and I were free to practice according to our own rules. It didn’t matter if I was using the court correctly or not, or if the ball bounced more than once before it was returned. It didn’t matter if the ball ricocheted from floor to wall, wall to ceiling.

It didn’t matter how we played.
It just mattered that we were playing.

Our strategy became, “Don’t let the ball roll—keep it moving, keep it bouncing. Keep it moving.” And with new rules in place, fear yielded to fun and more learning took place. I could tell that with each “error” we were making we were learning how to adjust our aim and our step. And then I began to see learning that reached beyond any attempt of actually playing a game too—I was betting that we were both also learning about the principles of physics and geometry too. What mattered was not how good I was at sports, or how fast the gains my son was making, but that we were willing participants.

With this tenet in mind, it became clear that my son would progress at his own rate regardless of my skill; not slower because of me. And that idea is very freeing for me. It’s easy to view our feelings of incompetency as barriers to learning and teaching, but if we can find a way of viewing things from the act of participating rather than abstaining, I think it helps us give way to discomfort and allows for learning to take hold.

The Brave Writer Philosophy

Brave Writer Book Club Party School

Brave Writer Book Club Party School

Introduction by Mary Wilson

Helping my kids make meaningful connections to literature has always been an important part of my homeschool. I have used the Brave Writer Arrow and Boomerang guides for several years to support my efforts.

The Boomerang guides have always included Think Piece questions to facilitate discussion and the recent Arrow guides (those published since 2015) include Big, Juicy questions. These questions inspired me to organize book clubs for my children and their friends in order to facilitate a big, juicy conversation about good books.

Of course, I combined the questions from the guides with the idea of a Brave Writer party school and the Brave Writer book club party school was born. Our family had so much fun at our book club parties that I began to share ideas on my blog. Other homeschooling parents jumped on board and a Brave Writer book club community formed.

In order to encourage and support parents who want to implement creative party school ideas, the Arrow and Boomerang book guides published this year (2017-2018) include a Book Club Party School guide. You’ll find fun ideas for food, activities, games, and more in each guide so that your family can celebrate books together.

As a complement to their annual Arrow or Boomerang subscription, subscribers are invited to a private Facebook group where they can share ideas and inspiration from the book clubs with their own children. Many participants also share their ideas on Instagram using the hashtag: #bwbookclub.

Below are just a few of the wonderful ideas from our Brave Writer book club community this year:


Brave Writer Lifestyle: Read Aloud

Brave Writer Lifestyle Read Aloud

We’re focusing on reading aloud in January!

Story-telling is as old as human conversation. For centuries, families and communities have gathered to listen to an orator tell stories, recite epic ballads, and recount the history of their group.

In the modern world, we use a variety of vehicles for story-telling including television, film, and live theater. The most accessible way to share stories, though, is through reading books to your children.

For more information about the Brave Writer Lifestyle, check out this part of our website.

And for regular encouragement as you implement the elements in your home this year, sign up for our monthly BWL email PLUS receive a downloadable copy of Julie’s hand-lettered tips (sent on the 1st of every month in 2018).

We also discuss on Instagram and in the Homeschool Alliance, and I’ll likely share on Facebook Live too.

BWL Read Aloud

2018 Themes

January: Read Aloud
February: TV & Film
March: Big, Juicy Conversations
April: Poetry Teatime
May: Art Appreciation
June: Nature Journaling
July: One on One Time
August: Language Games
September: Copywork
October: Freewriting
November: Shakespeare
December: Celebrate!

Brave Writer Calendar

It’s also not too late to grab our lovely 2018 Brave Writer Lifestyle Calendar. It will give you a place to record your activities, which child did what, and to make plans for field trips, and more!

I recommend a practice I call: Planning from Behind. You can keep a list of possible activities for the month, and when you do them, simply record them on the calendar (no need to plan ahead). This style of planning reduces your stress and puts you on the alert for opportunities to implement rather than guilt that you missed the scheduled time.

Share, share, share!

We’d love it if you shared your Brave Writer Lifestyle adventures on Instagram, the BraveSchoolers Facebook Group, in the Homeschool Alliance, or wherever you hang out online.


The Brave Writer Lifestyle in 2018

2018 Brave Writer Lifestyle Calendar

Our Holiday Shoppe is open and we’re selling this lovely Brave Writer Lifestyle Calendar. It is MORE than a calendar however.

Here’s the fun part:

Each month of the calendar features a beautiful illustration which celebrates an aspect of the Brave Writer Lifestyle. Each month of the year, I’m going to partner with you in implementing that aspect of the lifestyle!

We’ll post on the blog, on Instagram, and in the Homeschool Alliance about that month’s theme (like copywork or poetry teatime or nature journaling). We’ll provide you with resources and ideas to implement the BWL theme. And I’ll likely share about the theme on Facebook Live too.

2018 Brave Writer Lifestyle CalendarThen you can share about what you did in your family (on Instagram, in the Alliance, etc.). #2018BWL

The calendar will give you a place to record your activities, which child did what, and to make plans for field trips etc.

Consider this a starter-year-kit for making the Brave Writer Lifestyle a natural part of your homeschool experience!

Can’t wait to go on this adventure with you!

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