Archive for the ‘Homeschool Advice’ Category

“There are no educational emergencies.”

No Educational Emergencies

Your child can’t read—and she’s 9.

Your child won’t handwrite, and when he does, it’s illegible.

You forgot to teach state history that year your oldest was in 4th grade because of the newborn.

You finally got the diagnosis: ADHD. She’s 16. What about college?

My friend (and Homeschool Alliance coach) Stephanie Elms loves to share a favorite saying of one of her friends: “There are no educational emergencies.” The first time I heard it, the phrase went off like an alarm in my heart. What if that were true?

I reflected. It can’t help but be true!

I thought about literacy programs for adults. I thought about voice-to-text software. I thought about the voracious way some adults read about history for pleasure! I remembered that I had grown up friends who didn’t get medical support for their ADHD until their 40s. Others who skipped college or went in their 30s.

What if I could dial back my anxiety from 911 level panic to “there are countless ways to get my child what he or she needs”? Education at a predictable pace is an illusion, is what I’m saying. “Getting behind”—a sure fire way to wind up in panic, to stop seeing the real child in front of you.

I can only begin each day precisely where I am. No matter the age.

Yeah, but what if your child REALLY IS BEHIND, you ask?

Deep breath. Face today with the resolve to get your child all he or she needs to move the next tiny step in the direction of growth. Growth is tangible—and reassuring. Evaluation against the norms? Not so much.

Don’t give up or collapse in defeat. Gather your resources, make judgment calls, get support, more information.

Take it a day or week at a time. Triangle in help. Trust the process.

Remember: you are raising LIFE-LONG learners. Some learning takes longer than expected. There’s no expiration date on an education, either.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

The Homeschool Alliance

2019 Brave Writer Staff Retreat

Brave Writer 2019 Staff Retreat

by Jen Holman

“Oh my gosh!” Julie rounded the corner with a platter of cookies in hand, looking stunned. “It sounds like a sorority in here! I could hear you laughing from the entrance!”

To which of course, we laughed.

We were sitting in the dining room of the empty retreat center in Cincinnati, the night before the Brave Writer Staff retreat. Yep, we were loud. And only 5 of us had arrived. 

The next day our delightful coaches and staff —you know them, those funny, smart, engaged women who interact with you and your kids every day—would begin to trickle in. Some drove with families in tow. Others took a solo journey for the first time since their kids were born. Some coaches traveled together, relishing in the chance to catch up and chat on the way. 

Laughter multiplied. Hugs exponentialized. Joy overflowed. We all have a really cool internet friend we wish we could meet in real life—this was like that, except thirty times over! Coaches and staff greeted each other like old friends, despite being the first time they were meeting in person. 

But you should know, our coaches and staff didn’t just come for a good time. These women came ready to dig deep! They’d done their homework (literally). They were ready to share and learn and grow. 

Since we only had a few days together, we started that very night. We shared our work experiences and the strengths we bring to teaching. We talked about our Brave Families and what they need. (That’s you! We talked about you, the whole time. <3 )

That first night I could already feel the STRETCHING taking place in the room. New connections, new perspectives, new approaches were being shared. 

Session Speakers: Kirsten, Jen, Julie, Jeanne, Farzana, Johannah, and Dawn

Believe it or not, Saturday took us even deeper. Kirsten Merryman navigated us through practical coaching strategies and how to keep growing in our teaching. We got “on the ground” feedback from coaches about what they see happening in our classrooms (oh, how you and your kids amaze us!). We discussed how to represent ourselves and our values at work in a way that makes our feedback richer, more impactful and helpful. We renewed our dogged determination to bring writing relief to families. 

We got to learn from our fearless leader, Julie, as she walked us through Brave Writer history, its evolution to now and through to the future of what she sees ahead. Along this path she showed us again and again how nurturing actually does lead to a college-ready education in writing. We nodded along in mutual commitment to take fledgling writers from uncertainty, resistance, intimidation to pride, power, and proficiency. Our mandate.

There was some down time. There was Graeter’s ice cream. We laughed, we cried. In true Brave Writer fashion, there was freewriting, as well as Poetry Teatime. And sometimes dancing.

Our last morning focused on self-care (do your stretches, ladies!) and how to use our retreat experiences to inspire growth in our “real lives” back home. Reluctant farewells came too soon, as one after another we left for our cars, Julie’s backyard, or the flight rescheduling desk at CVG.

I’m already nostalgic over the whole experience! It’s quite something to have been in the company of a pride of lions, even for a little while. Or maybe we’re more of a bevy of swans, as one coach said. It’s impossible to come up with the proper metaphor here because I have to tell you: these women are ALL that. Strong and fierce. Graceful, eloquent, and kind. Committed and brave. We’re so proud that they work for Brave Writer. And that they spend their days working for YOU.

The Opposite of Doubting


Doubt: often our reaction is to double-down in defensiveness. Or to rearrange everything, afraid.

Doubt is this buzzing mosquito we want to swat away or squash.

In my reading time last week, I stumbled on the idea that when we doubt the most, it’s a signal that we don’t have enough information. We could go back to research, to listen to new information, to ask questions. All of it got me thinking.

Perhaps the opposite of doubting isn’t confidence. Perhaps the opposite is listening:

  • to a child,
  • to a new idea,
  • to a changed perspective,
  • to the nuances that add complexity,
  • to the struggle others are having.

In my life, doubt has been a uniting force—bringing me into contact with people whose ideas I had previously rejected or scorned. Doubt lets me imagine solutions outside my safe options or community.

What are you doubting today? Your child’s commitment to hard work? A method of home education? Your beliefs about parenting? The support of a friend?

What would listening more completely look like? Where can you tune in to learn more?

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

The Brave Learner

The Dicey Topic of Homeschool Co-ops!

Homeschool Co-ops

Last week over on Instagram, I was asked what appeared to be an innocent question:

“Would you ever discuss homeschool co-ops and their requirements for membership?”

I launched that discussion with a series of six posts. Hundreds of lengthy, personal comments followed. Blew me away.

Apparently there’s a lot of emotional charge around this topic. It felt good to see people heal their own pain and reach out to help each other get a new vision of what a co-op could be!

You should be able to read the posts if you’re not yet on Instagram, but you’ll need to create an account to comment. Otherwise, click the links below to the web pages for the posts (you might need to scroll up to see them).

The conversation was rich, cathartic, insightful, and ultimately creative and helpful! If you are trying to navigate the land of homeschool co-oping, I also offer you three ideas to try to help you be successful.

Homeschool Co-ops

Wishing you success, camaraderie, and joy in your homeschool co-ops this year!

The Homeschool Alliance

Take Your Struggling Child to Lunch

Take Your Struggling Child to Lunch

Plan a “Take Your Struggling Child to Lunch” day. You may have to schedule it for the weekend when the non-homeschooling parent can run herd on the other little rascals.

In any case: identify the child that worries you.

Examples of worry:

  • isn’t reading yet but “should” be
  • likes Minecraft “too” much
  • takes a “really long time” to finish (a math page, breakfast, tie shoes, brushing teeth, handwriting one sentence…)
  • seems sad
  • has “no” obvious passion
  • “hates” (fill in the blank—math, writing, history, a brother or sister, sports, life)

The idea is this: what you see as struggle may be your misunderstanding—you may have the “struggle” right but have missed the interpretation.

Take your child to lunch without agenda. Ask open-ended questions like:

  • “What do you love about Minecraft?”
  • “What’s hard about ____?”

Sprinkle in broad happy questions:

  • “If you could design tomorrow, what would we all be doing?”
  • “What’s one thing I could eliminate from your life right now to make it easier, better, more peaceful, happier?”

You’ll think of others. This lunch is not a “fixer-upper” with loads of suggestions. It’s a moment of connection where your child knows you admire and trust your child.

Keep going til you spark that admiration in yourself (that’s when lunch is finished).

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

A Gracious Space series