A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief

Thoughts from my jungle to yours

4 essential conditions necessary for a homeschool to thrive!

If you were unable to see our first Homeschool Alliance webinar last Friday you can watch it now online!

Make Your Fantasy Homeschool a Reality from Julie Bogart on Vimeo.


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It’s a trap!


Don’t stumble into it! Surely you can see it coming a mile away. As you watch the smudgy shape on the horizon become bigger and more real, you have two choices:

To stand there and let that perfectly coiffed, smart, capable homeschooler with the engaged happy learners and the bright smile dim your shine with the enormous shadow she casts…


…you can step aside, into your own pool of light, and lift your eyes to the sky—its boundless open expanse of reassuring space to grow and evolve and become.

You have that choice every day.

The perennially eager learners are a fantasy—children are like us.

Some days they are engaged and enthusiastic.

Some days they are bored and whiny.

Some days they are content to simply follow the program, too distracted or tired to commit energy to creativity or imagination.

Some days you have so much fun—then you tuck in your darling dear to hear him declare that he never has any fun.

You can’t control how your children respond to your best efforts and conscientiousness.

You can’t manage your children into “model unschoolers.”

You can’t keep up with your best friend or the fantasy homeschooler you think lives in another state, doing it more skillfully and with ease.

What you can do—what you can do right now today—is to be present to the children, home, and life you have. The small moments that accumulate to create the feel and memories of your family are happening all day today.

You can help establish some of the mood of your family simply through paying attention to:

  • a smile directed at you
  • a clutter-free space on a table for lunch or copywork
  • the spontaneous sharing between siblings
  • diligence even if displayed for only 5 minutes at a time
  • humor and little jokes
  • completion of one subject’s demands today (even if all the others fall through the cracks)
  • one line of quality writing in a read aloud
  • picking a flower from the back yard and putting it in a glass of water
  • eating something yummy
  • snuggling a child
  • explaining a concept and seeing the light go on this time!

More goes right than you appreciate.

Keep a record of what goes right today and side-step the visage of model homeschooling. It takes self-will and discipline.

I know for me, I get caught into the snare of comparison when I spend too much time looking at photos of other families. I project my biggest fantasies onto the happy smiles. As my mom says, “Facebook shows us faces, not lives.”

We can’t know the lives behind the images. If the stories we make up in our heads make us feel worse about our own lives, we are literally stepping into the trap and are immediately whipped upside down, hanging by a snared foot, from a tree branch.

Instead, get off the well-trimmed path.

Make your own way through the forest and notice what you notice. It’s quite possible that if you move away from examining what other people do, and pay more attention to the amazing tenacity of effort you give to your family, you will discover much to be proud of.

I dare you!

Cross-posted on facebook. Image © Yuyuyi | Dreamstime.com

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Friday Freewrite: LOL

Child laughing

Describe the last thing that made you laugh out loud.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Image by cheriejoyful (cc)

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You are the right person for the job

Rainy Day Inspiration :: You Must Believe In Yourself!

 A mom wrote:

We never feel like we are doing enough, yet at the end of each day, we are exhausted from doing too much.

Do you know that feeling?

That is a crazy-making feeling right there. We are perennially worried that we are not accomplishing enough toward our children’s educations, yet each day is overpowering in its demands on our emotions, time, and mental energy.

This is where you have to rally on behalf of your self.

If you are exhausted and spent, it is because you have used an extraordinary amount of energy toward managing your home and your children with an intention to educate all day!

You can’t do more than that!

Can you channel your energies toward more productive uses? Perhaps. Some days, for sure. Some days, NO WAY.

Trust that…

that output is working secretly, invisibly, on behalf of your children.

your worry is evidence of your profound love and devotion to your children.

your neuroses will drive you to bettering your homeschool little by little, year by year, and that will be enough.

one day, you will be at the end, you will know that it is right to be finished, and it will be time to do something else.

For now, lean into home education and trust yourself. You are the right person for the job. Your kids are lucky that you are their mother. You bring unique gifts to them. Identify them. Celebrate them. Stop looking at your deficiencies. Blaze a different path—the one that is right for your family.

Your homeschool should look like you and your family…and no one else’s.


Cross-posted on facebook. Image by Jennifer (cc)

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First Homeschool Alliance Webinar–this Friday!

HSA webinar 1

Our first HSA Webinar is FREE and OPEN to ALL!!
(sponsored by Brave Writer)

Title: Make Your Fantasy Homeschool a Reality
Presented by: Julie Bogart / hosted by Jeannette Hall
Date & Time: Oct. 10, 2014, at 4:00 pm EST
Registration link: http://webinarjam.net/webinar/go/12775/1f432cf987

In a perfect world, your kids would learn because they want to, they’d create fabulous self-directed projects that hit all the academic markers for the state requirements, and no one would fight, dawdle, or lose the math book for a year. In the real world, we can’t decide if we should unschool or classically educate. Do we use workbooks or refuse them in favor of delight-directed learning? How much structure kills inspiration? Can a homeschool run on inspiration alone?

In this webinar, we’ll look at the four essential conditions necessary for a homeschool to thrive—both emotionally and academically. It’s simpler than you think to get back to the dream homeschool that lives in your imagination.

Let’s help it become a reality together!

Register Today!

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Make movie night a hit!

Movie night invitation

6 Fun Ideas to Turn Your Home into a Mini-Movie Theater!


Design an invitation like the one in the photo above, or check out how Meg (who blogs at whatever…) did it using a simple poster board taped to their bedroom door.

Movie Night Passes

Here are some nifty movie passes you can print by Jamey at Dabbles and Babbles.

Concession Stand Tickets

Cheryl at moms & munchkins shares printable concession stand tickets and has a cool idea for how to use them:

At the beginning of the week, you could let your kids know that there will be a family movie night happening this week. They will have the opportunity to win tickets for the concession stand. How do they win the tickets? That’s up to you! Some ideas are to earn tickets by doing something kind for someone else, tickets for an accomplishment (in school, in sports, etc.), etc.

Homemade Drive-In Theater Cars

Make adorable cardboard cars for kids to sit in while watching a flick. Stacy at Not Just a Housewife shows you how.

Party Popcorn

This candy popcorn recipe sounds delish! All you need: popcorn, melted white candy melts, and sprinkles. From Amy’s at she wears many hats.

Review Cards

Afterwards, when the lights go up, your kids might fill out review cards like these (which encourages writing!):

Movie review card



Also, our next online Movie Discussion Club (kids and parents can participate!) starts October 27th. Sign up today! The theme: Robots!

Images by Personal Creations (cc)

Need help commenting meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing? Check out our eleven page guide, Brave Writer Goes to the Movies. Also, tell us about a film you and your kids watched together (along with a pic if you have one) and if we share it on the blog you’ll receive a free copy!

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Tuesday Teatime: Brings us all together

Tuesday Teatime Cindy

We LOVE Tea Time. And thanks to a schedule change the college student got to join us for tea.

I love how Brave Writer brings us all together.

Thank you!

Image (cc)

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line). If we share on our blog then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang title of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

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Pay day!

Go Doughboy

Whenever I share about a great moment in one of my kids’ lives, my friend says, “Pay day!” We were homeschoolers together for years. She has 8 kids, I have 5. We have had our share of challenges and doubts, like any parent. Home education is unique in how it puts pressure on us, though. We feel every set back more deeply—after all, no one blames the “school system” when our kids are behind.

We home educators have a hard time not blaming ourselves. When our kids struggle, we assume that it is up to us to figure it out and handle any challenge. We worry—can’t remember that some years are years of struggle for a child who, with a little time and maturity, will figure it out just fine (whatever “it” is)!

Home education doesn’t always show the fruit we want to see in a single year or handful of years. Some kids who say they don’t like home education discover as adults that, in fact, they appreciate having been homeschooled.

Not only that, we don’t get paid. Not in money. Not in credible experience for a resume. Not in vacation days or bonuses. We provide this service to our families out of sheer conviction that this form of education—this method—has a shot at providing our children with a preferred environment for learning and family bonding.

Chutzpah out the wazoo!

So, on those days when a child suddenly surprises you with an achievement or a good report out in the world, THAT’S when we get paid.

Your child tests well on the Iowas? Pay day!

Your child gets into college? Pay day!

Your daughter is chosen to be the lead in a play? Pay day!

Your son builds his own computer from scratch? Pay day!

Your mother finally reports that she is amazed by your 10 year old’s vocabulary? Pay day!

The library selects your child’s poem to display on their wall? Pay day!

Your son’s soccer coach selects him to be team captain because of his maturity? Pay day!

The child who would not learn times tables with the math book suddenly knows how to calculate percentages because of online gaming? Pay day!

You’ve worked for three years to help your poor child to read, who has begged to read every day since she turned 5, and is now going on 9 and finally read her first book aloud to you? PAY DAY!!!!

Your adult child tells you that his scholarship interview went well in part because he shared about poetry teatimes? Pay day!

Your adult daughter uses your methods for appreciating art in a museum with under privileged kids as a social worker? Pay day!

Your kids know how to study when they get to college because they know how to teach themselves anything? Pay day!

Your children are bonded to each other and look out for each as adults because they are close? Pay day!

There are dozens of pay days happening all the time. What are yours? How can we help each other to call them out when we see them?

You do get paid. Pay attention. Then, take it to the bank—your emotional bank—and make a big deposit.

You’re doing it!

Well done.

Cross-posted on facebook. Image by Bradley P. Johnson (cc)

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Friday Freewrite: Manners


Are good manners important? Explain your answer.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Image © Ericro | Dreamstime.com

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What if you ditched the pen and paper?

NaaD 39 Cheryl blog

The temptation when faced with learning challenges is to set up a system to address the problems—a structure that will take the issues seriously and will create benchmarks for measurable progress. This kind of approach feels quite “teacherly” and valid. We (worried parents) trust a system that is incrementally organized with practices that we can use that promise us good results. We cling to it, sometimes, and follow it to the letter.

What happens, though, when a child balks? Your son or daughter won’t do the practices, hates them, cries or whines that the work is boring or too difficult?

Tension escalates and the relationship between you and your child is at risk.

Certainly professional help for kids with diagnosed learning disorders can be quite useful to language-impaired kids. Some materials built from these methodologies may target issues that you didn’t even realize were constitutive to the disorder or challenge your child faces. Naturally, incorporating these tactics and practices is loving and right!

Still, I want to caution you here. The temptation to get very serious about problems and to follow the protocols to the letter is powerful for parents. We want to believe that if we “do it right,” our child will overcome their disorders or learn to cope with their challenges. Once we “get serious,” the space for risk-taking, joy, play, and imagination sometimes go right out the window! We tend to “clamp down” rather than to loosen up!

The most effective way to make progress with struggling learners is to enhance the parent-child bond, not just turn to systems and structure. With trust and affection between you, any process you use can contribute to growth.

That nurturing bond is created between parents and children when the parent understands the child’s need for a couple of things:

Play. Children need to know that you value play, humor, happiness, freedom to explore, jokes, kinesthetic activity.

Breaks. Kids will try almost anything, but they need to know that if it is too stressful, they get to quit, take a break, move away from the process or activity.

Create playful ways to address the issues that are not systematic at all! Perhaps for handwriting, you will use paintbrushes and buckets of water to write messages on the driveway.

What if your child stood behind you, put his arms through to the front as though he is your hands, and you had him open a jar of pickles or try writing your name from that blind position? What if you get him in touch with his body and hands and uses for hands in new ways?

Can he trace words? Can he trace them better if the two of you hold the same pencil and you move gracefully together over the letters—first you controlling his hand, and then he controls your hand?

We are so quick to think all learning happens on paper, with pen, following a set of assignments.

See if you can get outside of this frame of reference—play, take breaks, build trust.

Good luck!

Cross-posted on facebook. Image by Brave Writer mom, Cheryl (cc).

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