Archive for the ‘Homeschool Advice’ Category

NEW Essay Prep Online Writing Classes

Brave Writer's Essay Prep Classes

Check out our new class series: Essay Prep!

by Kirsten Merryman, our Conjurer of Classes

You’ve done it. Taken the plunge. Decided to homeschool your high schooler. Ack! Now what? How do you ensure your teen gains the skills necessary to do the kinds of academic writing necessary at the high school level and beyond?

Have we got the class series for you!

Kidswrite Intermediate was a class Julie designed years ago to help teens bridge the gap between free-form personal narrative writing and the more disciplined rhetorical thinking required in essay writing. This class has been one of our favorite course offerings because its main goal is to help kids discover they have something to say before they try to muscle those thoughts into the confines of format writing. It’s a unique class in the realm of writing instruction, and we’ve seen it transform the writing lives of many high school students.

Kidswrite Intermediate did a great job developing flexible thinking and vivid, evocative writing skills in your kids. In working with students and parents over the years, however, we discovered other areas where teen writers could benefit from extra support and engagement.

And the Essay Prep series was born! We have designed three new 4-week classes to replace the 6-week Kidswrite Intermediate class. Without further ado, we invite you to meet our new classes!


Essay Prep: Reading the Essay
You walk onto the expanse of trimmed green grass as the fans settle into the stands. Your lacrosse helmet grips your head as you fasten the chin strap. The piercing whistle of the referee calls the team to the field, and you shove two bulky white gloves onto trembling hands. A teammate hands you a lacrosse stick and shouts “Let’s go!” There’s only one problem. You’ve never played lacrosse before in your life.

That scene may remind you of a scary dream where you were unprepared for the task that lay ahead of you. And yet that is often how we approach essay writing with teenagers. When we ask kids to write essays without first immersing them in the genre, it feels a bit like learning how to play lacrosse by being thrust into the championship game.

Essay Prep: Reading the Essay develops the skills of literary analysis and use of literary strategies as teens read and write about well-crafted essays. Participants in this class will explore the writing of essayists to investigate what makes for a powerful essay. They’ll then take the techniques used by professional writers and practice those literary strategies in their own original writing.


Essay Prep: Dynamic Thinking
Robust thinking skills are the cornerstone of strong academic writing. While the format of the essay can be taught in a quick lesson, knowing what to say in an essay is more involved. This class uncovers the mind life of your young writers and gives them writing tools to express their ideas using vivid, compelling language.

Essay Prep: Dynamic Thinking develops the skills of flexible thinking and rhetorical imagination as students examine varied perspectives on a topic. Your teen will develop the mental agility to consider multiple viewpoints and ultimately argue his or her point of view more persuasively as a result.

The projects in this class include discovering the “true truth” in writing, powerful association, rhetorical thinking, and a final collage assignment where students apply their own lens to a topic of interest and show what the topic looks like from varied points of view. This class asks students to add their writer’s voice to the Big, Juicy Conversations happening all around them.


Essay Prep: Research and Citation
If you’ve ever watched your teen struggle to do research, you know how frustrating it can be. A simple internet search to find information on animal testing can take hours. And what happens once the precious research materials have been acquired? Reading articles, taking notes, organizing outlines, crafting correct citations—the thought of doing an entire research project is enough to make the most enthusiastic writer crumble.

Essay Prep: Research and Citation focuses on developing skill in finding, evaluating, paraphrasing, and citing the writing of expert sources. By focusing primarily on the process of research—crafting interesting questions, doing effective internet searches, exploring local sources, taking notes, observing different viewpoints, and more!—your student will be prepared to do more effective research in future essay classes.


While you can take these classes in any order, but we recommend:

  1. Essay Prep: Reading the Essay
  2. Essay Prep: Dynamic Thinking
  3. Essay Prep: Research and Citation

Here’s why.

Essay Prep: Reading the Essay is an ideal starting point as it introduces students to the milieu of essay reading and writing in which high school writers will spend so much time. They’ll see the experts at work showcasing the kind of thinking and writing students will practice in future classes. It’s akin to the novice golfer who observes a few of the pro’s swings before stepping onto the driving range himself to hit a few balls.

A new golfer now takes time to perfect his own swing, trying out a few different body positions and testing the range of his clubs before heading out to play a full round. Essay Prep: Dynamic Thinking prepares students for longer and more involved essay writing experiences by asking them to dig into their own thinking, examining it under new and varied light, and comparing it to what others with different backgrounds and life experiences think.

The Essay Prep: Research and Citation is like playing nine holes, an abbreviated game that requires application of skills acquired in previous practice sessions. This class brings learned skills in rhetorical thinking, analysis, and vivid writing to apply to the larger task of the research project. Your writer is now ready for the robust formatted writing assignments to come.

We hope you’re as excited by the new class series as we are! If you have any questions watch the video below for a more in depth look at our college prep classes, or we invite you to email us.

YouTube Thursday: Making Money as a Mom and a Homeschooler

YouTube Thursday Making Money as a Mom and a Homeschooler

For this YouTube Thursday, let’s talk about how to make money while still being a homeschool mother (or father!).

In this video:

  • How to pursue your dreams while still homeschooling
  • Sharing how to develop a work lifestyle as a parent and a home educator
  • Feeling okay with earning money while you educate
  • How to monetize your already existent skills
  • Awesome adulthood and parenthood
  • How to balance homeschool with money making ventures through creating structure
  • Why you should keep your toe in your career field

As well as the four keys to earning money while homeschooling.

Making Money as a Mom and a Homeschooler


Follow Brave Writer on YouTube!

YouTube Recap August 2017

YouTube Recap August 2017

Did you miss any videos from the Brave Writer YouTube channel last month? We’ve got you covered. Check out these great videos about the benefits of online classes for your homeschool and how to put the “home” back in homeschool.

How Online Classes Can Benefit Your Homeschool

In this video you will find:

  • Why Brave Writer programs are unique
  • Why our classes are so “short”
  • How to use classes to bolster writing at home
  • How to support children with learning disabilities in a Brave Writer class
  • The advantages of text based classes
  • How remote communication prepares your child for college
  • Why shared learning dynamics and collective feedback are so important
  • How to encourage growth instead of “just correcting”
  • The Arrow and Bommerang Book Clubs
  • Why you should take the Writer’s Jungle Online as a class
  • Information about Fall registration.

Haven’t registered for Fall classes with Brave Writer yet? REGISTER HERE.

Back to Homeschool: Maximizing the Perks of Home!

In this video you will find:

  • How to find and implement the advantages of home into your “school” work
  • Not-Back-to-School Parties!
  • How to accommodate differences and needs without fear
  • “There’s no such thing as independence under supervision.”
  • How to partner with your children and why it matters
  • How to manage different age groups within your homeschool
  • Triangling in help
  • How to meet goals while still honoring the spirit of home
  • Getting good at the process
  • Where to start with Brave Writer
  • Finding practical ways to bring the thinking part of learning into your family life

Curious about Brave Writer?

Expectation vs. Reality

Expectation vs Reality

by Homeschool Alliance coach Stephanie Elms

Nothing feels more critical than picking a curriculum or choosing a homeschool approach—we homeschool parents put so much time and energy (and worry!) into the decision! The good news is that families can and do make all forms of education work and there is nothing inherently right or wrong with whatever choices we try.

That said, sometimes our expectations of what homeschooling “should” look like can affect whether or not what we choose works for us. We naturally go into the process with a variety of expectations, such as having happy, compliant kids, maintaining a certain level of organization or having peaceful days filled with productive learning.

And then our expectations run smack into the wall of our reality.

The kids are anything but happy and compliant. We can’t seem to stay on top of it all despite our best efforts. Our day feels anything but peaceful as we get pulled this way and that by life’s ups and downs.

Then the doubt sets in. We start second guessing ourselves and telling ourselves that we or our kids are just not cut out for doing this. We wonder why we are struggling when it seems like everyone else has this all figured out.

Sound familiar?

So what do we do when this doubt inevitably creeps in? As paradoxically as it might seem, the more that we can “accept what is” and let go of our expectations, the easier it is to figure out a path forward.

We can trust that uncertainty is not a sign that we are doing something wrong but rather a natural (and integral) part of how the homeschooling process works.

We can learn to make peace with that uncertainty recognizing that it comes with the territory.

We can use these moments of self-doubt as opportunities to work on letting go of our illusion of control and as a reminder that we can trust that things will be okay.

So take a deep breath and remember that everything is not solely dependent on you. It is okay if you don’t do everything perfectly. It is okay if you don’t know exactly how everything will turn out.

Because that is where the magic happens—in the process of:

  • getting to know your kids
  • getting to know yourself
  • growing and learning together

Lucky for us, homeschooling is not about having it all figured out but rather about the process of discovery along the way.

The Brave Writer Philosophy

When You Doubt Yourself

When You Doubt Yourself

The next time you ask yourself: “Are my kids learning anything? Am I failing them?” read these words of wisdom by Homeschool Alliance coach, Stephanie Elms:

Learning and growing is a process that happens over the long term. And by design, it looks messy and uncertain when you are in the middle of it. Because we can’t see the future to understand where the present fits into the bigger arc of our child’s life.

The truth is that you are going to get worried and frustrated because you can’t know for sure that things are working. You will become convinced that you have truly screwed things up.

But this is all a natural part of the process and is actually where the magic happens. Because this is when you start noticing what you and your kids need. As long as you resist the urge for the “quick fix” and instead sit with those feelings, they can provide the valuable insight you need going forward.

The problem is that most of us see that worry and frustration as a sign that we are “doing it wrong.” This leads us to putting too much pressure on ourselves and then, of course, our kids.

So yes, be conscious of those niggling worries. But don’t act on them right away. Examine where they are coming from:

  • A place of fear that you are screwing up?
  • Or a sense that it is something that your kids would benefit from?

Observe your kids. Doing so might provide reassurance that they are, in fact, doing just fine. Or it might validate your feeling that something additional is needed.

In that case, resist the urge to immediately jump in and create “lessons” to fix what you are worried about. Instead, simply set the intention that you want to bring more of that into your lives and see what shows up. You have time. As a friend of mine likes to say:

“There are no educational emergencies.”

And here is a secret. You will miss things. Things will be dropped. There will be gaps. You will have regrets. And you will wish you had done “more” or done things differently. And that is okay. Honest.

The beauty is that the process, as messy and uncertain as it is, does work out the way that it needs to and in ways that we can’t predict. Our main challenge is to trust the process and hang on for the ride. And what a wonderful ride it is!


Stephanie Elms has homeschooled her two boys for ten+ years and is a coach for Brave Writer’s The Homeschool Alliance. She blogs at Throwing Marshmallows.


The Homeschool Alliance