Archive for the ‘Podcasts’ Category

Brave Writer Podcast: Brain-Based Learning Part Two

Podcast Brain Based Learning Part 2

The magic keys to learning are already in your possession! This week I address the second set of six principles that help your children not only love learning but retain what they learn. Tune in!

If you missed Brain-Based Learning Part 1, catch up now!

So what’s going on inside the brains of good learners?

  • Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception. Sometimes, when we’re deep diving into a subject, we can give our full attention to it. But even while doing that, part of our awareness is still occurring. Because of the multi-tasking involved with technology, our kids tend to be really good at this. So even while driving the car, hanging out on the back deck, or playing games in the living room, they’re picking up on what’s going on around them – so make the environment around them positive!
  • Learning always involves conscious AND unconscious processes. In addition to the information we consciously imprint on your children through lessons and programs, there is a hidden, always present, unconscious process: the vibe of the family. Is it a safe place for academic risk, a space where people are gentle and generous, or a space where you can challenge authority? These contribute to the atmosphere of learning.
  • There are two kinds of memory involved in learning: spatial memory and a set of systems for rote learning. Through spatial learning, you are creating a visual structure as a way to trace back your understanding, and the most obvious version of this is the way we sort information spatially. Rote learning involves figuring the sequences that lead to a specific end, like learning the rules to a game.
  • Learning is developmental; it is tied to the person. It is not based on, as many schools structure their learning, scope & sequence. Learning has nothing to do with your grade level, but instead your stage of development.
  • Each brain is uniquely organized, and every person learns in a different way. The more children you have, the sooner you will see this first hand!

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Brave Writer Podcast: Brain-Based Learning Part 1

Brain Based Learning Part 1

We bat around many concepts related to education as homeschoolers. We look for the perfect philosophy to bring a joy-filled, academically sound learning experience to our kids.

What causes the “aha!” to happen? How can we ensure our kids retain what they learn (not just master it for a moment)?

Brain research shows that there are specific properties that lead to the best kind of learning: making meaning for oneself. I talk about that research and the practices in this podcast (and part two next week). Please join me!

What’s actually happening in a student’s brain and why is understanding it important?

  • The body and mind are deeply interconnected. Sometimes we refer to different learning styles, such as kinesthetic or visual learners, and this is giving a nod to the concept that learning comes through various portals in a person. So incorporating a child’s body isn’t just for fun – it’s good education!
  • The brain is social. There is a Myth of Independence that all homeschooling parents are looking for; they want their kids to do work without help from them, and they believe that that is somehow a superior model.
  • The search for meaning is innate. All kids innately want to create and find meaning, but you have to create meaning that they can understand at their level. You can’t tell a seven-year-old that studying his math will be helpful when he’s 18.
  • The search for meaning occurs through patterning, which means you are creating interconnections and setting patterns of thought with everything you do throughout childhood. Our goal isn’t to tell our children our thoughts and ideas so that they assimilate them – we want to create opportunities for them to develop self-inquiry!
  • Emotions are critical to patterning. Emotions are often the spark our brains need to ignite meaning.
  • The brain processes parts and wholes simultaneously. For example: it’s impossible to learn to write if all you focus on is grammar and mechanics, as the point of writing is communicating what you have to say. But on the flip side, if you only learn to develop what you have to say, you’ll never be able to effectively communicate your thoughts through writing.
  • Complex learning depends on relaxed alertness. Is it possible to learn when you’re under stress, being threatened with punishments, or being told you’ll never amount to anything? No! So when you see stress bubble up in your family, change the dynamic. Maybe go outside, or start an impromptu poetry teatime.
  • Rigorous thinking Socratic method problem-based learning work is important. What does that mouthful mean? Our kids have a profound boost of intrinsic motivation when they are treated as a person who has something to say. So if we’re interested in our children’s thoughts, we will participate in their world… even if it’s a world that’s not interesting to us.

Also would you get the word out? I feel this is such important information for us as homeschoolers. Let’s haggle less over whether we “unschool” or “classically educate” and focus instead on the learning transaction. What does that look like and how can we see more of that happen? That’s what this episode is all about.


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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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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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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!