Archive for the ‘Brave Writer Philosophy’ Category

Reflections: Warm Fond Feelings

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Poetry Teatime

Shared on Facebook last night:

As I crawl into bed exhausted tonight, all of you will be on my mind. Today was an extraordinary day for me and our team, and I hope for all of you. As Jeannette and I discussed moments ago, the Poetry Teatime website is a labor of love. We have been captivated by a vision and it is extraordinary to see it come to life!

My heart is full. I feel a shift coming to the way homeschooling can be known and experienced. Homeschooling has, for too long, been about “doing it right” whether the “right doing” came from a rigid schoolish application of text books, or the totally radical version of unschooling.

For decades, homeschooling has been a defensive movement—trying to prove to nay-sayers that it has value, that it is not only as good as, but better than, the public and private school alternatives. That worry/anxiety was necessary in some ways. It caused home educators to take the educations of their children seriously and it gave them the courage to stare down the traditional educational establishment.

Today, though, it feels like we can move on. As homeschooling finds its footing in the mainstream, we can let go of the need to wear sandwich boards and ring bells. Instead, perhaps we can turn our attention to the heart of our homeschool hopes and trust them. And what are those?

Warmth between family members
Eager interest in any subject area

When these two experiences are natural to the family, learning flourishes. When either is absent, no amount of “right doing” fixes the stress and sadness that are beneath the daily drudgery.

Poetry Teatime is that sweet spot—the nexus of warmth and academics, family and learning.

It’s a model of sorts—a felt sense that can be remembered in the body (not just wished for in the mind). When you’ve experienced that deep dive into poetry and shared learning, you will want to find ways to bring that same spirit to other subjects. Your own idea of what it means to homeschool shifts—it’s not about hitting markers or filling in workbooks or passing tests.

It’s this other thing—the thing we thought we were signed up to do only didn’t know how.

Today—it feels like we fully opened the door to “The Enchanted Education.” Your first blush with enchantment may just be poetry teatime.

Enchantment is not the result of mom working hard to throw a party that the kids will like. Rather, enchantment shows up spontaneously—when we “set the table” and enter fully into the joy of whatever topic is before us.

The experience of enchantment, simply put, is happiness.

It’s my wish that homeschooling families would know happiness in all aspects of their lives together. Seems like poetry teatimes are a good place to start.

Thank you, again, for all the love today! It was a bit like a holiday for our team, because you made it so.

xo Julie

Poetry Teatime

What Enchanted Education is NOT

Monday, March 28th, 2016

What Enchanted Education is NOT

We’ve talked about what an Enchanted Education is.

Let’s look at what it is not.

Enchantment is not about Pinterest-worthy projects or crafts. The point is this: Academics are better received by children when the properties of surprise, mystery, risk, and adventure attend them. They are better mastered with some level of routine and measurable progress. The nexus of these elements is what creates and sustains momentum in the homeschool.

You can’t be all parties and you can’t be all workbooks. There needs to be some kind of mixture where the routine provides the sustained practice of academic growth, but the surprises and adventures lead to enthusiastic bursts and deeper dives.

Remember: enchantment can be eye contact, time alone with one child, adding a cookie to a math lesson, taking time to do the science experiment rather than just reading about it, reordering the day to accommodate a morning dress up time, laying on your bed to do copywork, sitting outside to read alone, playing with alphabet magnets on the refrigerator, watching a movie about history rather than reading about it, reading historical fiction, triangling in an expert, reading any book aloud, poetry with tea, staying up late to discuss politics on the bed of your teen, changing the tools to new ones (gel pens, iPad, writing on Post it Notes)…

The aim isn’t to create an arts and crafts homeschool, or even an elaborate series of spectacular events! (Remember: I’ve said I could only pull off one or two “parties” in a year, if that!)

The goal is to remember that for kids and teens, rote learning using pen and paper (abstraction) and receptive learning through reading text books is rarely enough to keep the enthusiasm high and the learning applied. Anyone can “enchant” learning because you have heart, connection to resources, and a home filled with space for exploration and coziness.

Take advantage of home (and for teens, take advantage of outside the home)! That’s your best way to think about enchantment.

Shared on BraveScopes

The Homeschool Alliance

This IS school

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

This IS school

Turn your child’s interests into real learning experiences! It doesn’t matter what the interests are–baseball, Minecraft, horses, Star Wars. Think outside the box! In fact, we had a conversation on the Brave Writer Lifestyle Facebook Group recently, and here’s an example of how it might be done with a child who loves gymnastics:

Gymnastics is fabulous! Go to the library, find a few books, make sure she is watching YouTube videos (you’ve got the Olympics coming this summer—find the top gymnasts in the world to research and watch NOW so she is prepared to love the in August). Have her figure out how to teach one tumbling trick to someone (you, sibling, her dad). Take notes. Create a “how to” for/with her.

Other activities to try:

  • Put tape on the floor that is the same width as a balance beam. Have her measure and draw it out and then tape it. Then try doing some beam movements (walking, leaping, one-foot turns, forward rolls). See how well she can stay “up” on the beam.
  • Draw gymnastics costumes. Create a template for a leotard (online I’m sure) and have her color hers in the way she wants it.
  • Look at flags from countries that have major gymnasts. Find the countries on a map.
  • Explore the scoring system used for each piece of equipment. Find examples of routines at different scoring levels (lots of math here!).

Is she a gymnast? Is she taking lessons? If not, take her to a gym to watch a class. Perhaps let her take a series of lessons. If she is, then have her watch a more advanced class.

This IS school—it’s everything you want to do with her at her age: reading, writing, calculating, physical education, even the science of gymnastics could be explored (bodies, injuries, physics of vaulting and uneven parallel bars, geography through world renowned gymnasts, Olympic history of gymnastic competitions). She can do copywork from a book about gymnastics or she can make a list of the top gymnasts or all the tricks she wants to master in tumbling…

Above all else: enjoy.

The Homeschool Alliance

Shifting the paradigm

Monday, October 12th, 2015

Shifting the paradigm

So the idea is this: rather than teach, lead. Rather than talk, act. Rather than following the curriculum or opening the book, express what it is you wish to be known.

The secret of a vibrant homeschool is not in a book. It’s you.

You are the secret weapon.

Gorgeous, compassionate, expressive, curious, smart, creative, determined YOU!

You don’t have to be a good teacher. In fact, it may help if you are not. It’s better if you are an enthusiast—someone for whom the feast of ideas is so compelling, you sneak time to follow up on the material you read to the kids to get the adult perspective. You are the best home educator when you can’t wait to make dinner because that’s when you park the kids in front of PBS to watch Arthur while you listen to Jane Austen on Audible.

This is the magic: the contagious energy that oozes from your engaged, fascinated mind! This is why home education actually works! It’s why you don’t need teacher training. Yes, you might learn something about how to impart the mechanics of writing or the formulas of math. Of course! But you don’t need to know how to give lectures or prepare worksheets or organize data into incremental chunks to be mastered through quizzes and grades.

You get to lead by passionate example. You get to care and share.

Your hunger to be the best home educator you can be (according to your lights) will take you a good long way. And all of us together will help you make it the rest of the way.

Deep breath—who you are? Enough! More than a generous plenty!

Image by Dhinal Chheda (cc cropped, tinted, text added)

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Brain-Based Learning: Part Two

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Brain-Based Learning: Part Two

Home education is a free fall of faith into a kind of learning, more than a set of objectives. We are trusting that the connections our children make between academics and snuggles, gaming and the three R’s will yield such a good overall education, our children will be prepared for the adult world—taking their place as fully qualified adults. We may move between home education and co-ops, public and private schools, tutoring and online courses to achieve our ultimate goals. Yet no matter how the homeschool is configured and no matter which aids we supply to our efforts, the belief is that the foundations we lay in the home as a family will result in both academic and social success—long term.

Yet what happens for most of us is that we flail! We can’t tell if we are making the right kind of progress. We doubt ourselves nearly every step of the way. We front load lots of scheduled academic work, then we back off in favor of delight-directed learning…until one child never leaves the computer for a 24 hour period and we freak out again and go back to daily work pages.

Then we wonder: What works? What am I doing right? If anything? Worse—What am I doing wrong? Everything?

To calm the anxious heart of an educator, it helps to take a bird’s eye look at what it means to learn. That’s the crux of our quest—the horcrux of our quest, really! If we could understand that learning was actually happening, we could relax a little, trust a little, take a few risks with less of the “freak-out” factor.

In last week’s Periscopes, I suggested that we would understand learning better if we looked at the research about the brain—examining what it means to learn. Part One of the Brain-Based Learning Scope has been viewed over 800 times in less than a week. I think it must be resonating! Part Two picks up where Part One left off. Be sure to watch it first.

Also, check out these two websites (they are easy to read and understand):

Funderstanding

Caine Learning

I also reference a specific 12 point model that can be found here.

If you step back from the curriculum hunt and understand the objectives of what you are really about—connections in the mind, cognitive development—you can look at what is happening in your home differently. You will focus less on whether you are “covering” the right stuff and more on whether it is taking root, catalyzing investigation, creating those important interconnections, and so on.

P.S. Received this fun comment from Brave Writer mom Venessa:

Julie,

Thanks for giving these talks on Periscope. I followed at your link so I couldn’t respond but I wanted to share with you that my 11 year old daughter was in the room working and in her peripheral perception was following your talk. She said more than once “See!!!?! She’s right!” Especially for points 7,9, and 11! :)

Thanks again!
Venessa

Enjoy the Scope, Brain-Based Learning: Part Two!

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