Archive for the ‘Podcasts’ Category

Podcast: Permission to Party School

Brave Writer Podcast Party School

When my kids were young, I stumbled onto a principle that transformed how I understood learning. I had thought education was something I prepared for my kids and then required them to “do.” You can imagine how that went.

One day I paired tea with poetry—and a party broke out! Which led me to reconsider my strategies for homeschooling. What would happen if we threw a party for the California Gold Rush? How about the study of India? What kind of party could we host for the solar system or learning about birds?

Yes, parties take some energy—but it’s all the good kind! Kids get into it. And they learn.

Still skeptical? Tune in!

What are the components of Party School?

  • Research! You need to learn about this topic, just like you might for a report – but you pair every aspect of research with a party experience.
  • Decide who’s coming and then make invitations, AKA copy work. Handwrite the list and the invitations, and have fun with them! You can also have your children create a Facebook event, teaching them how to use technology to schedule an event. That’s a skill they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
  • Look at the features of this subject area: the important people, location, foods, activities, music, books, and other historical elements. Check out books from the library, watch movies, and take diligent notes!

Party School takes time away from your other schooling – and that’s okay! You get to have a deep, invested experience with your children, so it’s okay to push the normal routine out of the way.

After the party is over, you will have everything you need to know written down in your notes – so all you have to do is put it together by writing or dictating to create a report!

The Principles Behind Party School

When we do Party School, we aren’t just trying to get out of doing school. We’re actually trying to inspire learning!

We all have a drive for meaning, an innate craving to know the meaning of something. But as adults, we often expect our children to find the same meaning in any given subject that we do. Our job should be helping our children identify meaning that is relevant to their age today.

How can we do this?

  • For kids to experience meaning, it has to be immediate.
  • The experience of meaning has to be public, published, or provide recognition.
  • The context has to require the child to do their best, and that only happens if they think it’s important. For a child, the distant future outcome is not a good enough reason. It’s that immediate experience of significance… and a party provides that!
  • What you’re working on has an end date.
  • Pride of accomplishment is critical to retaining what a child (or anyone else) learns.

This is the education your children deserve, and that’s what Party School offers them!

Want some ideas for your own Party School? Check out our friend Mary Wilson’s blog: The Ultimate Collection of Party School Book Club Ideas. Mary also writes the Party School suggestions included in our Arrows and Boomerangs (literature-based language arts products).


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Help a homeschooler like you find more joy in the journey. Thanks!

Brave Writer Podcast: The Ages & Stages of Awesome Adulthood

BW Podcast Awesome Adulting Pt 2

Did you miss our Awesome Adulting Part One podcast? Listen here.

I heard you loud and clear! How in the world can you add MORE to your already overfull lives?

In this episode of the broadcast, I tackle the challenges to feeling awesome and being the full-fledged adult you envisioned you’d be by now. Your work as a parent-educator IS one way you are becoming the adult you want to be. Let’s discuss.

Show Notes

As we get older, we go through many different stages of our lives, and it can be challenging to discuss the topic of “Awesome Adulthood” because of this fact. Not everybody feels like they’re in a position to add anything to their lives, let alone an awesome new passion, hobby, or career choice.

If you have children under the age of five years old, for example, your primary job to to take care of them and your enriching self-education is going to be becoming skilled at parenting.

Our hope is that, when you’re in that early stage of parenthood, you will give yourself permission to become effective, understand what you’re doing, and care about that child. It’s a huge responsibility that you have, and they’ll be around for at least 18 years!

But as kids start getting to school age, your primary self-educating focus will shift to becoming a career home educator. And like the many career educators in public and private schools, home education is indeed a career – but unlike other career educators, home educators don’t necessarily get any breaks from their students.

Without any breaks, the burnout is very real. Too many of us get depressed, feel inadequate, blame ourselves, or isolate ourselves. The joy can dissipate, and the more you devote to the home education task, the worst it gets; “You start to feel like your whole life is consumed with an unattainable task.”

Because not only is the act of teaching exhausting, not only do you not get a break, but your identity is directly tied to how your children perform. And unfortunately, when you feel depressed or discouraged or joyless, your kids see that too, and they will reflect it back to you like a mirror.

The remedy? Awesome Adulthood!

“If you’ve made your well-being dependent on how somebody else is doing, you are no longer the master of your own soul, of your own wellbeing; you have taken this personhood that is yours and relocated it, in your children.”

Stay connected to the you that you were before the “you” became a “we,” whether that’s through marriage, children, or both.

This doesn’t mean you have to find a new career or a time-consuming hobby – you just need to try retaining that piece of you and allow it to express itself.

Does the word “awesome” in adulting scare you? Don’t worry, that’s really not the important part! It’s just alliterative!

Maybe you think of it as being a Happy Adult, or a Fulfilled Adult, or a Meaningful Adult – but you do deserve some time for yourself.

You deserve a prep period, a summer vacation, or a sabbatical… but, unfortunately, that’s not an option. But as a home educator, there’s something you CAN do that other educators can’t: mini-vacations!

You can’t necessarily take an extravagant trip for yourself when you have children living at home, but you can still do something for yourself!

Here are a couple things to think about…

  • If a subject area in school piques your interest, but your kids lose interest, keep going! “Home education is a re-education for mothers.”
  • Every day, build in time for choices that make you happy. Even if it’s just for a moment, do something that reminds you that you have choices, value, and wants. The more that you allow yourself to desire, and be okay with that, the more your children have permission to do the same. It’s hard to teach someone to follow their passion if you don’t have experience cultivating your own.

“Being a child is great. Being a teen is amazing. Being a young adult is so cool. Being a mature adult is awesome! Each stage has its amazing properties, and we want to cultivate enthusiasm around the benefits of each stage of life.”


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Help a homeschooler like you find more joy in the journey. Thanks!

Brave Writer Podcast: Being an Awesome Adult & Living Your Most Fulfilling Life

As home educators, what does it mean to have a satisfying adult life? How can we nourish and enrich our lives when we are so depleted from giving away so much to our kids? What happens if we spend so much of our time preparing our children that we end up watching our own lives go by?

This two part talk I gave about being an awesome adult led to some of the richest online conversations I’ve had in years. The first part caused many parents to feel liberated into being the person they had always envisioned themselves to be once an adult. Other parents wrote to me say: “Are you freaking kidding me? I can hardly keep up with my four kids and homeschooling. Now you want me to have personal interests or pursue hobbies or a career? Give me a break!”

Yeah, those comments led to Part Two (UPDATE: listen here to the second podcast).

Wondering what the heck I’m talking about? Tune in to catch up with the inspiring controversial notion of putting the “awesome” back into your adult life for you and for your kids.

Life is Long & You Are Awesome

We’re going to start our discussion about Awesome Adulting with a simple principle: life is long!

Getting married and raising children is a consuming occupation for many young adults, and it is deeply satisfying and deserving of all of your energy.

But as you continue your journey, a natural question may arise: Should I be doing more than this? As women, in particular, is the highest good we can contribute raising a family?

We believe that it is possible to be completely head-over-heels in love with your children – so devoted that you want to stay home with them, raise them yourself, and educate them – and still keep one foot out the door, contributing to the larger good of society.

Awesome Adulting isn’t really about whether or not you are leading some “fantastic” life that other people may find startling or amazing. It’s about leading a life that is satisfying to you, and that represents the benefits of having gotten to the age you are today, for you.

The word “awesome” is not meant to be a burden or a new standard for you to hit – the goal is liberation and freedom.

Your Mission

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify two things:

  1. The passion you have for your children’s lives
  2. How you can express the incredible gift of personhood that only you possess

We don’t want to squander the incredibleness gift of personhood that is ours, and ours alone! Should we generously offer this gift to our children? Absolutely! But in conjunction with the person that we believe we are meant to become, want to become, or think is a privilege to become.

“When I say Awesome Adulthood, I don’t just mean taking up kayaking – I mean having a rich mind life, becoming a full person, and exploring and expanding the woman you are!”


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Help a homeschooler like you find more joy in the journey. Thanks!

Brave Writer Podcast: Developing Cultural Literacy & Empathy Through Books with Sarita Holzmann

Brave Writer Podcast Sarita Holzmann

Back in the endarkenment, pre-Internet, before books had wings to fly across oceans and continents through pixels, those of us living on the other side of the globe had text books—shipped to us in big military duffel bags, waiting up to six months for the ocean liners to arrive, then a long journey through customs before we could read them to our kids.


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To hold a real, complete novel or picture book in English in your hands felt like a visit from Santa Claus—so few were there that made it around the globe. The sacred texts would then be carefully shuttled up and down the country between families, courier to courier accompanied by exclamations of how marvelous Jumanji was to read or how wonderful it was to spend a week with Anne of Green Gables.

No libraries. No English book stores. Just a careful, gingerly constructed pony-express between ex-patriates wishing to read to their children all the books they remembered from their well-endowed library-laden childhoods.

It is with this background that I hope you listen to today’s podcast. My relationship to Sarita Holzmann and to Sonlight curriculum goes all the way back to before the beginning—to solving the problem of how to help kids living abroad have a rich literary experience even when they live outside their host countries.

Plus Sarita is just delightful and shares my passion to create global citizens in the world—people who care as much about the Rohingya as they do their neighbors.

Hope you’ll tune in! It’s a good one.

Sarita’s 7 Factors of Exemplary Books

There are a lot of books that are just okay – they won’t actively hurt our kids – but some are downright exemplary, and those are the books that Sarita wants to include in her curricula. To narrow it down, Sarita looks for seven things:

  1. Real or realistic characters
  2. Solid character development
  3. A contribution to the reader’s cultural literacy
  4. An intriguing or multi-dimensional plot
  5. Something that is emotionally compelling, or grips your soul
  6. Beautiful prose
  7. Re-Readability

The Global Perspective

You don’t have to actually visit every country on the planet to expand your horizons. You can get there – for free! – through the pages of a good book.

  • As you read about children and their parents, you discover that families around the world desire the same things: food, shelter, schooling, and the best for their children.
  • Books help us learn vicariously. If it’s not likely your children will experience gang violence in your neighborhood, they can start to gain an understanding of the complexities of racism and gangs in a book like The Outsiders.
  • Books help us develop empathy, and empathizing with characters in a variety of settings and places aids us develop this skill in real life. When we encounter people from other cultures and backgrounds, we will be better equipped to appreciate, take interest in, and have respect for cultural differences.
  • We can develop a sense of compassion (versus entitlement) as we see how the vast majority of the world lives.

Would you post a review on iTunes for us please (here’s a handy guide)?
Help a homeschooler like you find more joy in the journey. Thanks!

Julie on Homeschool Unrefined

Julie on Homeschool Unrefined

Did you miss the Homeschool Unrefined interview in April? Fear not, we’ve got you.

We’re so grateful to Angela and Maren for having Brave Writer on their podcast.

Tune in here:

Where We Are Brave Writers with Julie Bogart

Enjoy!


Listen to the Brave Writer Podcast