A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief

Thoughts from my jungle to yours

Content then meaning


Writing Tip:
The Trick is to Focus on Content First

How do you correct errors without provoking tears?

The trick is to focus on content first. As we say in the biz, “Content is King!” Someone asked me what was “Queen” and I said, “Meaning.” So do it like this:

1. Start with content. Focus on the topic, the insight, the great ideas or explanations or details that deliver the idea to the reader. You want to say words like:

“You know so much about roller coasters! It was surprising to read that the Raptor was so tall! I had no idea that the speeds got up to ___ mph. I could feel like I was on the coaster when you talked about the ‘wind whipping’ your hair. Great use of the ‘w’ sound.”

Notice that every comment is on the content – finding what is good in it, noticing it, remarking on it.

2. Now focus on meaning. Notice if the writing makes sense, if it is conveying what it hopes to convey. So, make comments more like these in the “meaning” portion:

“I’m reading along here, and I notice that I got a little lost when I moved from this idea to the next one. Did you want it to read like this (read the run-on sentence all together with no stopping or pausing) or more like this (pause where a period should go to make it make sense)?”

When your writer chooses the second, you comment like this:

“To help the reader really get what you’re saying, a period here will make all the difference. Let’s put one in.”

This is how you work through the whole text. Punctuation is not just marks on a page, but a way to ensure that the reader gets the right, accurate understanding of ideas that the writer wants conveyed.

For weak language, you can say,

“I can tell that you think the ride was ‘awesome.’ The reader might want to feel what that is like. Can you think of more to say to unpack that word?”

And so on.

If a step in a process is missing, you want to note it conversationally:

“Oops! I got a little lost. Is there a step missing here? I don’t want to miss what you really want me to know.”

So start with content – be prolific in praise.

Then move to meaning – be conversational, friendly, and helpful.


Do you wish someone would give you a free Daily Writing Tip like the one above so that you keep yourself fresh with ideas and the right attitudes?

You’re in luck! I provide a free daily email (five days a week) to email subscribers. There’s no cost to you (it does occasionally feature ads for other homeschool products).

Sign up here (and get FREE Writing Lessons too!)

AHA_DailyTipsBottom photo: thedailyenglishshow.com (cc daily tips image added, text added)
Top photo: woodleywonderworks (cc cropped, text added)

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Friday Freewrite: Different path


Remember a time when you chose one thing (path) instead of another. What might your life be like now if you’d decided differently?

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Image by Billie Ward (cc cropped, tinted)

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Cinderella lap book

Brave Writer mom, Laura, writes:

My 8 year old and I worked on this mini lap book project from Partnership Writing. She enjoyed creating the artistic touches.

Cinderella lap book

The top left flap is Cinderella in her rags and then in her ball gown. Under that is a set of the characters. On the top right is the glass slipper. Under that are all the magical items. In the middle is a retelling of the story. Each text box is decorated: Cinderella’s house, the ball invitation, the garden, the coach, the castle, and “fancy” scrolls.


Want to learn more about Partnership Writing?
Listen to Julie’s free podcast!

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Why journaling helps people

Journaling Quote

When I lived in France as an exchange student, I wrote over 1000 pages in my journal. When I lived in Morocco, I wrote dozens of journals. I’ve kept some semblance of a journal since 4th grade—writing more some years than others. I always know when I’m “going through something.” Journaling pops back to the forefront of my life.

This study is fascinating to me. It clarifies why journaling helps people. Writing helps us tell our story back to ourselves. It helps us put the emotions and experiences into a meaningful context.

You might try this with your own children. I remember how Noah struggled with big emotions after particularly meaningful experiences in his life (sleep away camp, performing in a play, a great vacation). He’d get swamped by the feelings and didn’t know what to do with them.

I suggested he keep a “special occasions” journal. He could write his memories while they were fresh and then reread them any time he wanted to revisit those precious experiences. It worked…and he still has that journal to this day.

Image by Emma Larkins (cc cropped, smudged, text added)

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Cute (and candid!) snow poems

Snow storm

After listening to poetry nearly every week the last 8 or so months, my kids have really started to take an interest in their own writing.

As winter weather stormed through our area, we declared a day all about snow–including snow poetry. We read snow poetry, then headed outside to play in the snow and generate our own poem ideas.

Both children made several comments we thought would be the perfect start for some poems. They were so proud of their work and became excited at the chance to send it to the person who created Poetry Tea Time.

I’m so grateful we took a trip through the “Jot It Down” stage. Thanks so much for the lifestyle change and fun Brave Writer has brought into our homeschool!


“My Feet are Snot Wet” by Mikaela (age 5)

My feet are snot wet you know
That’s what happens when I play in the snow
My boots and gloves are frosty, iced with cold
If only I could stand this weather better, maybe when I’m old….

I’m tiny and short and when I slip and fall
Cold winter soaks to my fingers each and all
Now my fingers, gloves, boots, and feet are snot wet.
What part of fun snow day, Winter, did you not get?

“Little White Robbers” by Clark (age 8)

Snow is going left, snow is going right
I suspect the snowflakes might steal something tonight.
They’re angry and the black dirt specks look like robber hats.
Angry about gravity pulling them from sky above to ground flat.
There are millions, billions falling more
Preventing us from gathering necessities at the grocery store.
If only summer would rush in quick and soon
Nope, the snow has stolen it. Next they’re after the moon.

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Tuesday Teatime: Mardi Gras theme

Tuesday Teatime Monica blog
Carter and Ava during our tea time

I surprised the kids with a Mardi Gras theme. After learning about the history of Mardi Gras, we had a celebration! We read tongue twisters and silly sayings. Then, enjoyed our treats.

Thanks for a great idea! They are loving tea time!

Best Wishes!

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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Challenge for the week!


“We’re most happy when we forget the time.” Pico Iyer

Think about your best homeschooling moments. Aren’t they like this? When you become absorbed in the moment and forget what you haven’t gotten to, or what the state standards are, or where you are supposed to be at 2:00 p.m.—aren’t those your best moments?

A challenge for this week:

Allow yourself to become absorbed—once, this week. Allow one experience (of reading or talking or tea timing or crafting or chasing a question through Google or playing soccer in the backyard…) to take over the clock—to induce you to forget the clock. See how that feels and what its contours and properties are.

Then report back either on our facebook page (and the post is pinned to the top) or here on the blog and let us know how it went!

Image by Paul B. (cc cropped, tinted, text added)

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Friday Freewrite: Home alone

child looking out the window

Your family goes out to grab a bite to eat, and you stay at home because you have the sniffles. While they are gone a massive snowstorm hits! No one is hurt, but they are stuck at the restaurant till morning. What will you do?

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Image by © Mat Hayward / Fotolia

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“So much more than a Language Arts program”

Writing_child mom hands


I just finished watching the webinar on Copywork and Dictation and I have to tell you the impact it had on me.

Brave Writer is so much more than a Language Arts program. It surpasses all the parenting coaching I’ve undertaken, all the advice looked to throughout my parenting life from psychologists, teachers, friends, all the workshops on teaching and learning in all areas.

It is indeed, as you say, a lifestyle in loving life and connecting with your children.

My little man is about to turn 11 and he has suffered greatly through the years. Last year he went through a depression, saying things like ‘What’s the point, I may as well kill myself,’ feeling so sad saying he had no friends, no-one liked him, etc. (he has life long friends scattered around but struggled to have everyday relationships with kids his age in educational settings). And he would face the world every day from the perspective that life was dangerous and acted accordingly.

He absolutely refused to go to school in the end and I am finally letting go of the guilt I have carried by listening to the school rather than listening to him.

We have since moved to the Sunshine Coast, live on the beach, started homeschooling (including his little sister aged nearly 8) and with this new focus on connection, presence, time in nature, and ‘letting go’ we are hearing him laugh again, seeing him smile again, witnessing him choose happily his own company over the company of some of the unkind children in the street. And at the same time make new friends.

After watching this webinar, I am moved to tears as I watched you, with such a grounded and joyful energy remind us to follow the path of learning together with our children and seeing it as joyful rather than a task.

I was beginning to put myself under pressure again, thinking I wasn’t doing enough and I know very well when I do that, all the wonderful, whimsical interactions come to grinding halt and the learning stops anyway.

I wish to purchase that webinar to watch it again and again.

My heartfelt thanks to you for putting yourself out there for us all to gain the best perspective in life and parenting. To trust.


Watch the webinar:
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Copywork and Dictation

Image by Carissa Rogers (cc tinted)

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Freewriting: How it’s done!

Maya_blogBrave Writer mom Misty writes:

My 11 yo daughter, Maya, just completed the Friday Freewrite idea on the blog [Explore the same event from two different points of view! Describe a hide and seek game from the perspective of the one who hides then from the one who seeks].

Here is her first draft:

She ran upstairs and tried to hide. She ran into every room, every closet. But it wasn’t good enough, until she found this little crevice in the wall that could hide her.

She counted impatiently with her nose in the corner. She finally got to a hundred. She searched the whole house like the FBI. In the living room. Not there. In the kitchen. Not there. In Mom and Dad’s room. Not there. Well where could she be? Finally she went upstairs and looked in every closet. But in this one particular closet, she walked in, and something tackled her! She screamed, “Mwwaaa!” Wait a minute, that was no monster, that was her friend.


New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

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