Archive for the ‘Homeschool Advice’ 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

My Wish on a Star for Homeschool

My Wish on a Star for Homeschool

The first thing that I wish for the homeschooling movement is freedom.

Freedom to not know.

Freedom to explore.

Freedom to grow.

Do you know what I feel sometimes when I’m in the homeschool context? Shackles. There is this unwitting need to lock down our homeschool experience under some “rules,” some system that somebody else set up for us.

“Oh, everybody has a morning basket. I need to have a morning basket!” Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re the kind of person who sleeps in till 11 everyday and homeschool doesn’t really get off the ground until after you’ve had a good lunch. You get to decide.

If I had one gift I could give every home educator, it’s the freedom to simply be the homeschooler you are.

To grow, to learn, to revise.

To put a whole bunch of ideas together and see if they fit. To say “no” when you’re in a group and they make you feel bad for a choice you’ve made. I want you to feel freedom, first and foremost.

One of the reasons that you signed up to homeschool was so that you didn’t have to fit into the constraints of the local school system. For me, those constraints were:

  • waking up early,
  • making lunches every day,
  • putting my kids on a bus,
  • filling out all that horrible paperwork that school requires you to fill out,
  • supervising a plan that I didn’t create (like homework for things I didn’t understand),
  • showing up for all the PTA meetings I didn’t want to go to.

That’s not what I wanted. So, I liberated myself and I home educated.

I got into the world of homeschooling, but suddenly there’s a whole new set of shackles. People saying you had to have a schedule, maybe you should get up at 9 and make sure the kids start with chores, make sure your kids are learning all the classics before you let them read anything modern. Then there were people who were telling me, “You shouldn’t do any of that. Just let your kids do whatever they want. That’s what will lead to the best education.”

I felt bullied by homeschool philosophies that were every bit as pushy as the local school district. I don’t know about you, but when I envisioned my homeschool experience before I got going, I didn’t know that there would be these controllers out there telling me what it should feel like, look like, be like. What the content “should” be.

So, what’s my number one wish on a star for homeschooling? Freedom.

I wish to see people resisting the temptation to define what homeschool should be for another person. Freedom to change, grow, and learn. That’s number one.

Want to know what numbers two, three, and four are?
Watch the full video here on YouTube.

Top 10 Brave Writer Blog Posts of 2017

Top 10 brave Writer Blog Posts of 2017

Here are the ten most popular Brave Writer Life in Brief blog posts published in 2017.


  1. Are you New to Brave Writer?
  2. Podcast with Susan Wise Bauer
  3. Take Away Insistence as a Tool
  4. Implementing Brave Writer in Your Homeschool
  5. Which Brave Writer Products?
  6. Reframe Their Resistance
  7. Homeschooling Ebb and Flow with Melissa Wiley
  8. Tea with Julie: Foundations of Home Education
  9. Does Brave Writer Intimidate You?
  10. The Key to Academic Achievement: Talking with Your Kids

Brave Writer Blog Roundup

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!