Archive for the ‘Tips for Teen Writers’ Category

The Original Chat Room

Teens write every day. On their phones! In texts, social media, and chat rooms, they freely express their opinions and ideas.

Time to level up: academic writing is the original chat room! 

Higher education is all about making those opinions precise and well supported. Just with a more narrow set of rules.

We want to show students how to

  • navigate difficult topics 
  • avoid ranting, emotional language 
  • use research and logic to make their points
  • understand someone else’s opinion
  • disagree respectfully, without resorting to personal attacks

These skills are essential to the academic enterprise and to all communication!

Need more help?

Brave Writer’s Essay Prep: Research and Citation teaches your kids how to find reliable, essay-worthy information on the Internet. We also tackle the nitty-gritty when it comes to current expectations on how to format an essay and cite sources.

Students will:

  • keenly observe and examine an idea 
  • use inquiry as the basis for writing
  • research with search engines and local library databases
  • evaluate the credibility of a source
  • take efficient notes
  • summarize, quote, and paraphrase 
  • plan and write a research project
  • cite sources using MLA format

Rescue your kids from hours of fruitless Internet research and let us teach them tools to find reliable information quickly. Register for Essay Prep: Research and Citation today!

Essay Prep: Research and Citation

A Conversation with Jean Hall

Brave Writer's SAT-ACT Essay Class
by Nancy Graham

Brave Writer writing coach, Jean Hall, and I hooked up for an online conversation about the SAT/ACT Essay class and what students get out of taking it.

Jean is a former newspaper reporter and literary magazine editor who homeschooled three children from birth—now they’re grown up, but Jean still has a house full of animals. We chatted via Zoom (which is like Skype), and I got to hear her dog, Dobby (who had a lot to say), and meet her lovely yellow cat, Fireball (the name Snowball had already been taken by her white cat).

After talking to Jean, I was convinced that no one should walk into a timed-essay test without the benefit of her experience. When the SAT and ACT tests changed, Jean redesigned the class to reflect those changes.

Find out more by listening to the podcast below. Summer is a great time to take this class—but I’ll let Jean tell you why.

Sign Up for the SAT/ACT Essay Class!

SAT=ACT Essay Class

Teaching Writing: Out of Ideas

Moving into the role of being a guide and supporter
A Brave Writer mom asked what to do when her 12 year old daughter still doesn’t like writing after doing poetry teatime, art journaling, freewriting, and other fun, low stress activities.

Here are some suggestions:

She’s at the age where you can talk to her about her education. I would take her out for milkshakes and spend some time looking ahead to college, to adulthood. Ask her about her aspirations. Ask her how she envisions her future (she may not know, and that’s okay too!).

Let her know you want to move into the role of guide and strong supporter and not be the person who is going to “hold her feet to the fire.”

Then discuss what it takes to get where she may want to go: college or some other type of schooling or trade preparation. Look at how writing may or may not fit into that. Ask her how she envisions getting the writing skills she needs to get where she wants to go. Then pause and wait to hear what she says.

Sometimes preteens and teens are so sure their parents will push them into what they don’t want to do, they keep resisting secure in the notion that they don’t have to ever engage their own wills. But you can “drop the rope” of this tug of war and gently, kindly put the pressure back on her. You want to let her know that you love her and will help her reach HER goals, but you aren’t going to fight about stuff.

You might ask her to do some of her own research about how writing fits into her future and find out how she may want to go about learning it. Tell her all options are on the table. And mean it.


The Homeschool Alliance

Do You have a Challenging Teen?

When your teen has a bad attitude

Here are three principles to think about.

1. Realize this is a developmental stage

When your child threw a tantrum at age two, you didn’t take it personally (well at least, usually you didn’t). You recognized immaturity, you recognized the lashing out as a function of that developmental stage of growth. You waited out the storm. You knew you would be okay with the little guy or gal in ten minutes. You offered snacks or a breast or time to cool down.

Teens throw a different kind of tantrum. They lash out at you, right where it hurts. They boldly go up against you and your ideas, fashion sense, food choices, political beliefs, how you breathe aloud in the car when they are in the front seat, which radio station you like, how you parent the other kids, what you expect of them.

It’s jarring to be on the receiving end of so much opinion, all about you! It’s so easy to take it personally! They know you so well, they can find ways to target any one of your own insecurities and nail it.

When you can, remember that this is a teen developmental stage—individuation—separation from you. It’s not rejection (their opinions will flip faster than pancakes on a hot grill!). It’s separation—testing their thoughts and ideas with the safest person in their lives: you.

They are also not yet ready to be adults so they boomerang between wanting a mommy, and wanting nothing from you, AND wanting to blame you when they don’t take enough responsibility yet for their lives!

When your teen has a bad attitude

2. Create avenues for communication

You do get to stick up for yourself, but you want to do it without getting into a big argument (um, so I’ve been told). 🙂 Sometimes I really need to be reminded of this by those near me and it helps. You can walk away, you can say, “I want to hear what you’re saying but I can’t listen when you are yelling at me,” you can say, “I’ll look into that” or “So that’s what you’re thinking and feeling! Thanks for telling me.”

You don’t have to defend or argue or take abuse. It is important to create avenues for the teen to be heard.

3. Look for points of connection

Schedule some alone time fun with that teen—in my house with Caitrin, I went to all her Guard (flag) events and we would come home late and I’d make her quesadillas and we’d all stay up talking and eating in the kitchen way past a regular bedtime. This became a connection point—an essential one. Look for those, even in a busy household. They do help.

And HUGS. 


Help for high school writers

Drawing Out a Quiet Teen

Drawing out the quiet teen

It’s difficult to draw out a quiet young person who is determined not to share.

Some ideas:

A quiet teen might keep a literature journal where she records her thoughts about the books she’s reading (like in response to Boomerang questions) that she keeps privately. Perhaps she can select and share 2-3 of her responses with you at the end of the month (and not share others).

Is your teen’s goal college? Perhaps ask him how he is preparing for that experience. Sometimes kids are surprised when we turn the tables gently. You might say something like, “You’re in your junior year. I’d love to know how you are planning to prepare for college and where you’d like to apply. Let me know when you need help.”

Then back away. See what happens. I remember a counselor saying to me about Noah: He’s already formed at 16. Now it’s time for him to feel the responsibility of his fully formed self.

It was difficult to let go (and I went back on that deal several times before he moved out at 18). But I did get there and saw with my younger kids that by 16, they really were in charge of what they were getting out of their educations.

I hope that helps. No magic here. Just empathy for the challenge.


A Gracious Space series

Top image by Brave Writer mom Andrea