A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief

Thoughts from my jungle to yours

Friday Freewrite: Proud


List all the ways you are proud of yourself this week.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

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“Fine tuning my philosophy of homeschooling”


The Homeschool Alliance and Julie have been a great resource for fine tuning my philosophy of homeschooling and parenting. Often I’ve found myself lost in the logistics of schedules, lesson planning, and curricula purchases that I have almost lost the original intent. These past two and half months I’ve been able to really focus on the essentials of learning as a family, and finding a more organic rhythm that has nothing to do with a curricula publisher’s arbitrary schedule.

“What Bravewriter has done to give freedom to language arts, the Homeschool Alliance has for all of family life. I love that it is not set up in a forum format. I can just simply read and reflect, or interact with other members as much as I like. After spending time on the site, I feel as though I’ve accomplished a task rather than simply lost track of time.”


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My family culture

Thanksgiving 2014-blogCaitrin, Liam, Jacob, Johannah, Noah

This weekend, my five adult kids were home for Thanksgiving. This is remarkable to me as it is the first time the entire family has celebrated Thanksgiving together since 2008. Yes, 2008!! They are such travelers that too often someone has been out of the country or off in another state when the holiday rolled around. This year, we did not expect Jacob to be home, but thanks to a scholarship interview, he was flown to the states from Bangkok in time for the the big day.

Much hilarity ensued. And ensued. And ensued.

Oh my goodness, I had forgotten how LOUD these five people are! It was a long weekend fest of traded inside jokes taken from pop culture, song lyrics, books read, movies we’ve all memorized, favorite Shakespeare quotes, and Seinfeld.

There was much SINGING at the tops of their lungs (or rapping, or some hybrid of the two), paired with dancing.

We played endless (I do mean endless) games from Ticket to Ride Europe expansion set to card games like Sushi-Go, a Moroccan version of “I Doubt It” (aka B. S.), Nertz, and Rummy, and Settlers of Catan, ping-pong, and Spoons.

We had too many cooks in my kitchen which was AWESOME. We had more than enough help with the dishes (I even got a text from the one kid who lives with me saying, “Don’t touch the dishes; I’ll do them when I get home from work”). (Yes, there’s hope that they will all one day be GLAD to help you in the kitchen.) Recipes were vegan and not vegan. Noah used his bartending skills to introduce us to new festive drinks.

The catching up on each other’s lives was expansive from learning about the properties of Hindi to the strange lives of the people of ancient Sparta, how ancient Greek compares with modern languages, what it’s like to live in Thailand, how the “system” is rarely fair to under-resourced kids in Brooklyn, and how to become a better and better programmer without going to school at all.

Books were traded, book titles were entered into phones to look up to read to discuss with a sibling via Skype later this year.

Many travel plans were laid so that much intersecting could continue.

Some poignant discussions surfaced in one-on-one times as there were moments available to probe a little deeper, to reflect on past painful interactions that had found their way back to the surface and needed some support or care or understanding that hadn’t been available back when X happened.

It was this weekend where I watched my adults be more of who they are—I recognized them, I was surprised by them, I was proud of them, I was humbled by them.

Kinda cool, actually. All of it. The next step in the parenting journey. We may never have one like this again—no one is married yet so it was just “them.” Love those big kids.

Thanksgiving 2014-blog_2

Cross-posted on facebook.

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Tuesday Teatime: Stopping the rush

Brave Writer Retreat Book and Tea-blog

Stopping the rush for a restorative cup of tea creates the perfect space to contemplate rhymes, limericks, and sonnets. When you pair poetry with tea, your children create a connection between contemplation and rest, while also creating memories of serenity and joy.

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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Winter class registration is OPEN

WBWW 113 Heather blog

Brave Writer writing classes are your ticket to writing instruction success!

  • Your kids will be writing in the company of other young writers!
  • Feedback is not only about “accuracy,” but about writing voice–finding and fostering the child’s natural self-expression while expanding it and enhancing it!
  • Our classes are a deep-dive for 3-6 weeks, and then you all get to take a good long break before writing again.
  • Instruction is directed to parents, not just kids! We want to help you be the effective writing coach and ally your kids need, and the sort you want to become!
  • You can sign in any time of day from anywhere in the world and not miss a lick of class! All instruction is asynchronous while taught by a real instructor.
  • Our teaching staff are published writers and home educators–they know the dynamics of teaching their own kids to write, which is one reason they are so helpful!


UPDATE 12/2/14:

Blown away by yesterday’s winter class registration. Shattering records for our first day enrollments. We are tallying up the class totals and will alert you to any that are closed ASAP. For now, if you know what class you want and it’s early in the winter (January start), don’t wait to sign up to secure your spot.

Classes starting later in the winter have more space. Nothing closed….yet.

Image by Brave Writer mom, Heather (cc)

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Simple Homeschool Gift Guide PLUS 15% discount on BW products!

Image by Dana -blog

Check out Simple Homeschool’s

Holiday Gift Guide!

Also, take advantage of Brave Writer’s December discount:

From now until December 20, 2014
15% percent off Brave Writer products*
on orders of $50.00 or more

*Online classes do not apply

Image by Brave Writer mom, Dana (cc)

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Happy Birthday C.S. Lewis!

Lion witch wardrobeC.S. Lewis was born November 29, 1898, and to celebrate his birthday we’re offering the Arrow based on his book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:

Half price through midnight Monday ($3.95) THIS OFFER HAS EXPIRED

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the first book (according to the original publication order) in Lewis’ acclaimed fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. In the essay, ‘It All Began with a Picture,’ Lewis shared how the story originated:

The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: ‘Let’s try to make a story about it.’

That illustrates one of C.S. Lewis’ rules of writing. A student once asked Lewis for advice, and he encouraged young writers to “save odds and ends” for possible future use. Here are the rules in their entirety:

8 Writing Tips by C.S. Lewis

  1. Turn off the radio. [And if written today he might have added "television"]
  2. Read good books and avoid most magazines.
  3. Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.
  4. Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won’t ever be a writer.
  5. Be clear. Remember that readers can’t know your mind. Don’t forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.
  6. Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later.
  7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere.
  8. Know the meaning of every word you use.

So, celebrate C.S. Lewis’ birthday plus take advantage of this special Arrow offer!

Also, if you’d like to buy a copy of the novel, it’s available through Amazon: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Full-Color Collector’s Edition (affiliate link).

The Arrow is a monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It’s geared toward children ages 8-11 and is an indispensable tool for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

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Friday Freewrite: Grateful

NaaD 49 Ashley-blog

Remember a time when you were ungrateful for something or someone then became grateful later. What changed your mind? Write it!

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Image by Brave Writer mom, Ashely (cc)

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A community experience

circle of friends

After a rough night in the states, it was a joy to wake up yesterday to a slew of new posts in The Homeschool Alliance—parents sharing their newfound confidence and productivity in homeschool and in their families. Today’s first quarter check in moved me to tears. It’s beautiful to witness the routines and rhythms grow and become the warp and woof of family life. I don’t know how to quite express to you how proud I am of this community experience. I want to share it and I worry that you will think this is just a promotional ploy. It’s not. I want you to know about this resource because I see how much it is helping the ones who is it helping.

I’ve had a desire for a decade (or more) to foster the growth of a community of parents who would feel supported in their homeschool journey. I envisioned shared readings about learning and family life—readings I’d provide in a Master’s Level class if I taught it at the university. I look through books that are not traditionally read in home education circles, finding key ideas that will enhance the experience of living, not just family dynamics or education techniques (though we will do some of that too over time, I’m sure).

I record mini audio lectures (2-3 per month) to go with the short readings (readings are usually article length—10-12 pages). These lectures are meant to zero in on specific aspects of the reading and then to develop and apply those key ideas to our home education context. There are threads for discussion but discussing is not required.

In addition to the readings, I give everyone a “One Thing” goal for the month—three levels of challenge: the easy-peasy challenge (which can be done with relatively little preparation), the moderate challenge, and the advanced challenge (you get to decide). The first month, we focused on Poetry/Teatimes. In October, we explored nature (in a variety of wonderful ways!). In November, we introduced hammers and nails and materials to create sculptures: Hand crafts. The results are starting to pour in. One of my favorite comments is by a mom whose son is sewing a doll for his sister for Christmas. They stay up working on it after the sister is in bed. He told her, “Mom, I love doing stuff with you.”

The parents post photos and share stories. We have a folder where parenting issues are posted by members and the thoughtful care given to answering is blowing me away. There are no “shoulds” or system or language requirements in this space. You get to talk how you talk and share what you share and everyone has the chance to take or leave what is helpful or not.

My favorite folder to prepare each month is the Selfcare Spa. In it, I provide a weekly five minute practice meant to calm and soothe the home educating parent. We’ve snuck squares of chocolate, we’ve lit candles while doing a household chore, we’ve stood in our backyards breathing deeply and looking at the sky, we’ve added color to a bleak view in our homes… It’s the little things that help us to remember who we are as people, first, as we perform this daunting demanding task to educate our kids.

The result of all this support, inquiry into new ideas, giving attention to one new experience a month, and learning how to take care of self in the process is… peace. Fewer tears, a sense of contentment in today, an ability to see learning happening rather than assuming it isn’t all the time, and grace for growth and process rather than condemnation for not measuring up… again.

If you haven’t quite got your groove this fall, or if you’re lonely for gentle kind support, or if you just want to see if this is something you’d like, check us out! It’s only $14.95/mth right now. You can try a month and then see how it goes. Start or stop any time.

Anyway, thanks for listening. I get hopeful when I see families being deliberate about creating nurturing spaces for children to grow up into responsible, emotionally healthy, academically prepared human beings. It is how we contribute to the world as home educators. Thanks for doing your part.


Cross-posted on facebook.
Image by Ashley Webb (cc cropped)

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Tuesday Teatime: Most delightful

Tuesday Teatime Erin

We added Poetry Tea to our lineup for school this year, and it has been an enormous hit.

My 6yo daughter was adamant we have our teatime a couple of days early last week so that we could include her grandparents, who were visiting from out of state. My mother-in-law is the person who gave us two of the children’s poetry anthologies that we use regularly for our teatimes, and I knew she would be delighted to participate.

My father-in-law snapped this picture of me and her, leaving through books, taking turns reading our favorites aloud. We did this for quite a long time, even after the children had lost interest in muffins, lemonade, and poetry and had skipped off.

It was our most delightful Teatime so far!


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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