Brave Writer Podcast: When Learning Isn’t Fun with Anne Trott

Brave Writer Podcast

Banish the breathless anxiety of challenging topics (like math)!

It’s painful to watch our children struggle, especially when we (as home educators) are the ones assigning the topics!

Guess what? There’s a solution.

Anne Trott, today’s podcast guest of honor, wrote to me asking: How can I push past the difficult learning moments without damaging my relationship with my children?

Brave Writer Podcast S5E5 Anne Trott

We patched together a plan, Anne did her “homework,” and the end result is truly encouraging.

You won’t want to miss it!

In this episode, we cover:

  • Taking the pressure off your children—and yourself
  • Meeting your child where he/she is and valuing hard work
  • Learning how to trust the process not just the final verdict
  • How to be an advocate for your child

What about when learning isn’t fun?

Parties take a lot of energy, creating a “fun experience” takes energy, and when we put our heart and soul into what we imagine will lead to fun and then we’re met with resistance or apathy, it can be discouraging.

We’ve probably all heard grumbling about math and writing assignments. Heck, we were kids once – we’ve all grumbled about math and writing assignments! However, children still need to engage with subjects that they don’t think are fun.

So, how can we help them do this? What makes a challenging goal personally meaningful enough to persist through struggle?

People have to come to an epiphany; to a point where what they want outweighs the struggle of getting it.

As parents, we often say “I have a goal on your behalf,” instead of letting our children take ownership. But children need ownership and personal meaning for a subject that currently feels irksome! They need a personally meaningful goal, actionable steps for getting there, and your support along the journey.

If you ever start to think your children are trying to get out of something, remember that they’re not deliberately setting out to thwart your will. The truth is you’re often the only one who agrees that a task is important, and they’re just telling you the truth. They haven’t yet bought into your vision, so you have to communicate with them so that it can become a shared vision.

Really, our goal isn’t to make it fun; it’s to make it meaningful. Meaning is valuable. There’s something about them feeling connected to the meaning that motivates the exertion beyond it being fun.

Julie’s Advice:

People can’t persevere when they don’t see the point. So, how can we help our kids see the meaning?

For Math:

  • Math is just a language describing real world experiences: money, weather, temperature, physics, flight, gravity. There are so many places where math actually shows up and describes the world back to us in a meaningful way.
  • Spend a day looking up, for example, pitching speeds, watching baseball videos online. Understand the different speeds and techniques of a curveball, screwball, fastball, etc. How can we see math as the fabric of the universe rather than an isolated school subject of skills that has no relation to the rest of our lives?
  • Give opportunities where you aren’t hovering. We sometimes forget the power of leaving our children in the midst of their curiosity and surprise.
  • Nurture the context and recognize that things are hard for your children sometimes, just like we struggle with things. So, lower the bar to experience success!
  • Tackling the worksheets:
    Situate your child in a context of value to their daily life.
    Re-think the context for how we master that skill.
    Partner with your child and supply emotional imagination to bring meaning to an irksome task.
    Involve your child in setting goals. “How many math problems do you think you’d be able to do today?” At the end of the week/month how can we celebrate the finish line?
    Brainstorm ways that fractions are in our lives, then choose activities for that month that involve fractions. Example: every time we get to 20 or 30 completed math problems, we can bake a cake.

For Writing:

  • Remember that the writing muscle is still growing.
  • Keep seeking opportunities and staying open – allow your child to see you’re their ally and partner.
  • Ideas:
    Your child writes a word, then you write a word.
    They trace what you handwrite for them.
    Make lists!
    Record or transcribe his spoken words, then either have him trace or copy just like copywork. Then you have his writing while providing the level of support for his individual needs.
  • Pick a goal. Commit to it. Have a tangible celebration at the finish line.
  • Ask how things are going for your child – check in and show you care and know it isn’t easy for them.
  • Find ways to tie meaning to their skills at least once a month.
  • You can even skip a day once in a while to take a break.

And remember that you are already doing an incredible job!

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

The Brave Learner

Brave Writer Lifestyle: Celebrate

Brave Writer Lifestyle Celebrate

This month’s Brave Writer Lifestyle focus is: Celebrate!

Congratulations! You’ve lived a year of the Brave Writer Lifestyle! Well done: trying activities, applying slogans or suggestions. So important to pause, and take stock. This is your month to relax from effort, to appreciate your willingness to dive into a lifestyle and make it part of your own routine.

For December, I thought I’d “flip the script” on you.

This month, you should be curled up in a furry blanket knitting next to the fire. Therefore, I do not have a set of hand-lettered tips for you to implement in December.

Instead, I charge you to create your own hand-lettered celebration page!

Hang it in your office or on your kitchen bulletin board to remind you that you at least attempted to implement some of the ideas I shared this year.

Easy Hack: Make a bullet list that highlights your favorite activities—those suggestions that went well with your family.

Then, will you share it with me? You can send it to or tag me on Instagram: @juliebravewriter

I would love to see how you honor your efforts this year.


I’ll be honest: learning how to hand-letter was a lot more challenging than I expected and I did it a lot less well than I thought I would! Isn’t that how it goes when you learn a new skill? Except I never think that will be true of me. I expect to be good at the thing instantly. Then I want to give up when I’m not. Because I had a year-long commitment to draw hand-lettered tips and I made that commitment to YOU, I kept at it—persevered past my own lack of skill, and found that I did grow anyway. #wow

So: here’s a gentle push to recognize your own growth this year! Then share with me what you create.

Happy Holidays!

Monthly Brave Writer Lifestyle Email

Sign up to receive hand-lettered tips
for how to implement the lifestyle.

2018 Themes

When you sign up you’ll receive any back downloads that you missed!

January: Read Aloud
February: TV & Film
March: Big, Juicy Conversations
April: Poetry Teatime
May: Art Appreciation
June: Nature Journaling
July: One on One Time
August: Language Games
September: Copywork
October: Freewriting
November: Shakespeare
December: Celebrate!

Share, share, share!

We’d love it if you shared your Brave Writer Lifestyle adventures on Instagram, the BraveSchoolers Facebook Group, in the Homeschool Alliance, or wherever you hang out online.


Friday Freewrite: Toothbrush

Friday Freewrite

Imagine a teeth cleaning session from your toothbrush’s point of view. If your toothbrush could tell you about it, what would it say?

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

December in the Alliance: Partnering with Your Teens for a Great Future

Brave Writer Homeschool Alliance December 2018

I’ve got a treat for you!

My adult daughter, Johannah, is joining us in the Homeschool Alliance during the month of December. She is a life coach who works with young adults to help them dream big and find their way into purpose-filled lives! She’s bringing that skill and energy to our Alliance members so that parents can use coaching tools to help teens find their way into big bold lives!

December is a great time to discover the Homeschool Alliance. We’ll talk about the upcoming semester and you can listen to all of our pre-recorded webinars and audio lectures as you wrap gifts, stuff a turkey, or decorate a mantel. The Homeschool Alliance has four years worth of material ranging from parenting to school subjects to extra curricular activities to self-care. Truly: there’s no place like it online for homeschoolers.

Join us for what we like to call: “Grad School for Home School!”

Here’s what one of our members says:

The HSA could create a sea change (and is) in the the homeschool community. The volume of wisdom, non-judgmental support and the joy of learning for homeschooling parents that is encouraged is a game changer for any new or old homeschooler. The HSA requires us to “go first” without us even realizing it at first.

By merely participating we practice what you preach for our homeschool. From our learning and support blooms a healthy homeschool from the center outward. It influences home education, family dynamics, individuals and society the same way healthy parenting does. The HSA is truly a gift and I know it’s a labor of love for all of you.


Take a look at what the Alliance has to offer with our 7-Day FREE Trial! Join any time and leave any time. What have you got to lose?

All the good stuff will be open to you. Think of it as your best online resource for everything you need to feel good about the home education you are providing to your kids.

We offer so many tools to help you:

  • Monthly webinars
  • Free digital copies of Julie’s books (A Gracious Space)
  • A library of resources to educate you about parenting, school subjects, family dynamics, and extracurricular activities
  • Julie’s coaching tools to help you evaluate this year and plan next year
  • A discussion board to meet other Homeschool Alliance members and to receive coaching
  • 10% OFF discount code to use on all Brave Writer products!

…and so much more!

The Alliance: Grad School for Home School

Movie Wednesday: A Christmas Carol

Brave Writer Movie Wednesday A Christmas Carol

by Amy Frantz

Ebenezer Scrooge is a selfish miser who believes Christmas and good will towards his fellow man are all “humbug.” But one Christmas Eve night, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old business partner, Marley, who warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three more spirits and if Scrooge does not heed what they show him then he will be doomed like Marley to wander alone and in chains as a ghost. At first Scrooge dismisses Marley’s apparition as the product of indigestion, but at the stroke of one o’clock the first spirit appears to him.

The spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come all manifest to Scrooge, showing him visions of his youth, the squalor and suffering of the poor which he has ignored in the present, and his fate “yet to come” if Scrooge remains as he is. But can Ebenezer Scrooge mend his ways and change his heart in time to prevent what he sees or will he be doomed to his fate?

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, or as it is more commonly known A Christmas Carol, is a novella by Charles Dickens. Published in 1843, it has never been out of print since publication, and is has been so oft adapted and performed that it remains a holiday staple to this day.

One of those many adaptations is the British-American film released in 1984 and starring George C. Scott as the infamous Scrooge. It was filmed on location in Schrewsbury, Shropshire in England.

Ebenezer Scrooge is famous for his uttering of the phrase, “Bah! Humbug!” So much so that it has come to be almost exclusively linked to him in the public consciousness and some people don’t actually know what the word “humbug” means other than being something said by this iconic character. The word humbug refers to a trick or something which is false or deceptive. So, when Scrooge calls Christmas “a humbug,” he means that it is a sham (in his opinion, of course).

Additional Questions

  • Do you think the apparitions that appear to Scrooge are supposed to be real or are they simply the product of a guilty conscience? Explain your answer.
  • Towards the end of the film, Scrooge admits that he has spoken too quickly on matters which he gave “no great thought.” What do you think the story is trying to say about “thinking before you speak” and why it matters?
  • After being horrified by the visions of his future shown him by the last spirit, Scrooge promises that from now on he will “live in the past, present, and future.” What do you think he means by that?
  • Mr. Cratchit carrying Tiny Tim on his shoulder is an iconic image from A Christmas Carol and is often depicted on book covers of the story. What other famous images from the story can you think of and which is your favorite?

Additional Resources

A Christmas Carol is one of the stories being covered in our December Book Clubs in 2018. Although that particular book club has filled, you can still register for the Arrow (Because of Winn-Dixie, which also has a movie post) and Pouch (The View From Saturday) clubs.

You can also purchase the Boomerang guide for A Christmas Carol as part of the Boomerang subscription for 2018-2019.

Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum and now works as a Virtual Marketing Assistant for Brave Writer. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, she has been known to have her nose stuck in a book by Dickens.

BoomerangLearn language arts with the Boomerang subscription!

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.