A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief

Thoughts from my jungle to yours

See what moms are saying about the Homeschool Alliance

Retreat 2014

From members of The Homeschool Alliance:

“These past two months have been some of the hardest homeschooling I’ve experienced. A deployed husband. A two year old who tests every limit. And a child who was hospitalized. Thanks to HA I’ve found ways to validate how hard but enjoyable this journey is. Ways to refresh myself even if it’s standing and doing yoga at the park. The podcasts and readings help bring me balance from the ghost of the past public school experiences.

“Thank you for mentoring that this is a marathon not a sprint. That balance is noticed in reflection afterwards, the relationships matter most and to love big.” —Christy

“Transitioning from the ‘fun’ younger ages of homeschooling to the older, ‘ones that count,’ I’ve often felt alone and not sure what direction to head in. The HSA has given me a reflection place to explore what I want these last few years of homeschooling to look like and the impetus to start implementing small but meaningful changes now. It’s not a discussion board (although there are places for support) but more of a ongoing place to grow in your homeschooling, whatever stage you are in.” —Holly

“The Homeschool Alliance has meant not feeling alone. Through Julie’s ‘Master Class in Learning’ I am able to examine my own current lackluster feelings about homeschooling. I can say that my own longstanding stagnancy about our home education is beginning to stir. The first month, the quote,’Woe betide those who no longer feel thrilled at anything…,’ is as if someone FINALLY understood. ‘Yes, yes, yes.’ After that, it was freeing to discover why I felt so uninspired. Julie’s One Thing principle challenges each month have provided CPR for my weary spirit.

“The Homeschool Alliance has also made me realize there are no easy stretches in homeschooling. When things are going right, we doubt if we are challenging ourselves enough. When things go wrong, we assume it is a personal failure. I am constantly working to find the in between that allows for challenge, but throws away self defamation. The Homeschool Alliance is a valuable tool in this growth process. There are days where we feel defeated, but Julie is working to coach us that we don’t have to stay there!” —Julie

The Homeschool Alliance is a privileged space—a place to be who you are in homeschool and to get support to become more of who you want to be.

The space is safe. So we hear from moms and dad (we have one dad!) about the struggles too—everyone keeps it real. But the encouragement and creativity in finding solutions is genuinely kind and helpful (not shaming or blaming or a bar too high).

Thanks to the over 200 members for creating such a welcoming, supportive, useful space.

Check out The Homeschool Alliance!

Now only $14.95/month (regular price: $19.95/month)

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Friday Freewrite: Paparazzi


Paparazzi follow celebrities and take pictures of them. Should there be laws that regulate their photography? Explain.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Image © Photographerlondon | Dreamstime.com

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Once they catch on, look out!

Image by Carre 1 -blog

A theme that is coming through Facebook, email, and phone calls is this:

“My kids are getting it!”

What are they getting? That what is going on inside (their mind life) deserves a home on paper. As parents hear their children’s thoughts expressed in oral language and help those thoughts get to paper, more and more kids take the risk to cut out the parent-step and try it for themselves.

It’s crazy, really. We spend all this time explaining how important writing is, we tell them to follow X model or imitate Aesop or just write three lines, and they show us their sad, uncooperative faces instead. The brilliance of their quirky personalities is hidden behind attempts to sound like someone else, and they look to us to tell us what is still wrong with that effort. Everyone is demoralized.

Yet if we flip the script—start hearing what our kids are saying in that spontaneous not-school moment, jot down what they say out of our own enthusiasm to preserve the insight, thought, joke, or snatch of story—they perk up.

This is what you wanted me to write? is the thought.

You think what I have to say is important enough to write on paper? is the next thought.

Young children, especially, will respond with, “Well in that case” behaviors. They will scratch images and misspelled words onto sheets of paper laying around the house, trying to impress you again! You will be impressed. This child who “didn’t know what to write” suddenly has things to say… on paper!

The spelling, punctuation, and capitalization of the words will seem so much less important (and rightly so) when you see the child taking such initiative. Your only task is to fan the flame! Enthuse, supply cool writing utensils, create little booklets (paper folded in half, stapled between a sheet of construction paper), and READ the results aloud to the child and anyone else in the family who will listen.

The momentum this process creates is entirely different than required writing at a desk every day.

A couple necessary caveats:

1. For reluctant writers who don’t trust you (because they feel the weight of pressure coming from you), adopt a bored gaze (this is for parents whose kids get suspicious when they effuse too much). When you hear them expressing, show enthusiasm and jot it down. But when they write on their own, simply acknowledge it matter-of-factly and then ask hours later if you can read it. Ask plainly without over stating how proud you are so there is room for this child to enthuse or even dislike his own work. Then, when you do read it, praise the content by engaging it—”I love how the princess gets out of trouble” or “I didn’t know that about amphibians.”

2. Writing programs that teach kids to copy (imitate) other writers, if used too much, sometimes stunt the writing voice. Initially your young writer may look like he or she is imitating a style more than showing his or her natural writing voice. Time will heal this, the more you support and encourage the natural speaking voice to show up on paper by capturing and recording it.

3. Pictures are writing too! Any attempt to symbolize language is writing. So if a child is writing “picture books,” without words, affirm the child as writer! As we know, there are loads of wordless books on the market (we find them in libraries). Ask your child to “read” the book back to you. You’ll discover so much thought life and language happening in those pictures. As the child gains skill, words will begin to emerge too.

4. Passion for writing comes in bursts. It’s a creative activity. A child may write 16 little books in a month and then nothing for 6 months. Do not treat writing like an onerous task. Treat it like the creative outlet that it is! You can always gin up more enthusiasm for writing by changing the setting (write somewhere else, use new utensils, add brownies, change the time of day to write).

5. Read what they write during the read aloud time. Put the finished products in the library basket and read them each day. Most kids love this! Those who don’t, honor their choice to not be read aloud.

Above all: value what your kids express and get some of it into writing.

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

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Movie Time: Support Rudolph Night

Movie Wednesday Katelyn 1

Our family has movie night every Friday. We use our air popper to make classic movie popcorn. As soon as the kids smell and hear the popper roar to life they come from all corners of the house to help position the bowls right underneath the air popper machine. We then take our popcorn and chocolate milks and get cozy on the couch.

Last December we watched the 1964 stop action cartoon- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. To make it really special I purchased reindeer antlers and red noses at the local dollar store for us to wear during the movie. I called it “Support Rudolph Night.”

Movie Wednesday Katelyn 2

Before and after the film, we discussed bullying. Rudolph in the film is bullied by being repeatably ignored, ridiculed, ostracized, and forced to hide who he is, all because of his unique red nose. Hermey and the toys on the Island of Misfit Toys in the film also feel ostracized.

Later on during the story, the very traits that the characters were bullied for end up saving the day. We discussed what to do if someone is bullying you, how to celebrate and accept the uniqueness of others rather than teasing them, how mean words really hurt, and how you could stand up and be an ally for someone else being bullied.

I was also ready to launch into a discussion on how stop action filming works but my kids were not interested this year. I’ll save that for next time.


Images (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: Tea, Poetry, and Freewriting!


Hi Julie-

We have been doing teatime off and on for several years now at your suggestion, and it is a highlight of our week.

What I like most about it is that I can take off my “teacher” hat and put on my “mom” hat, and just relate to my children over tea and snacks the way I would do with a friend. It’s so refreshing and encouraging to me, and to my children. We actually do ours on Wednesday, since that works best for our schedule, and helps get over the mid-week doldrums.

Just wanted to share this because it combined the best parts of our Bravewriter lifestyle week: Tea, Poetry and Freewriting!

I found two amazing, different kinds of poetry books at our library that will expand how you think about poetry. Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka The author has a combined word puzzle, poem and rebus all in one approach! It was so much fun we did a free write at the same time as our Tea….it lasted well over an hour, and they wrote many poems later. Now that’s what I call learning!

It’s best to see the book to understand it (you can look inside on Amazon to see examples). It sounds simple, but it’s actually pretty hard to come up with poems using only the letters found in a single word!

For the first day of October, I made this yummy Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal for our Tea. I find that having my two littlest boys (7 and 4), not only helps me with the preparations of our snack, but also allows me to keep a close eye on them. Plus they are learning to cook.

For our poetry, we used The Arrow Finds It’s Mark: A Book of Found Poems by Georgia Heard, then practiced writing our own “found poems.”

We also used our set of magnetic poetry words (an amazing thrift store find!) to create poems.

Here is a homeschooling website that explains how to create “found poetry.” The possibilities are endless!

Nanci (joyfulmomof6)​

Image © Jarenwicklund | Dreamstime.com.

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Blog Roundup: November 3rd Edition

NaaD 6 Tracey -blog

Today’s blog roundup is filled with inspiring thoughts and helpful ideas. Enjoy!

Things We Love: Brave Writer

Last year writing in my home was met with tantrums. It was killing our homeschool. Master Builder has a motor delay. She never crawled and has little upper body strength. This makes writing painful physically and mentally. You add into that the expectations of a mom who used to dream of being a writer and graduated at the top of her class and you will have a recipe for disaster. I was ready to throw in the towel last year but then at the end of year party someone asked if we knew about Brave Writer, because we seemed like we would be a “Brave Writer Family”. I had never heard of it before but was blown away by how much it resembled my philosophy of learning-(which I myself had lost sight of in last year’s disappointments). ~Jamie, Today’s Field Trip

women who inspire :: Julie Bogart

an easy way to add a bit of poetry into your homeschool is to institute a weekly Poetry Tea.  just imagine gathering the children to a table loaded with cups of tea with milk, a little something sweet to eat, and a stack of poetry books.  you might read some favorites, then they might want to get in on the act too.  sounds wonderful, right?  we’ve got Julie Bogart of Brave Writer fame to thank! ~Kort, one deep drawer

And three posts from Tristan:

Most of Writing is About Relationship – What I Learned at a Brave Writer Seminar

Yesterday I took a little 3 hour drive down to Cincinnati for some teacher development. Julie Bogart of Brave Writer spent 3 lovely hours sharing and encouraging a group of moms and dads in this homeschooling journey…The focus of the seminar was writing but in my notes I have all sorts of nuggets of wisdom captured. As this blog is part journal I want to record them here. Hopefully you find something helpful as well! ~Tristan, Our Busy Homeschool

A Writing Project from Start to Finish with Brave Writer

Today I’m excited to share a writing piece from one of my children because it really showcases one way Brave Writer has impacted our homeschool. Makayla is my 13 year old 8th grader. She has some long-term writing projects going on including a novel and a group pass along story with several friends (you get the story for 3 days to write all you want, then pass it along to the next person).

The Poetry Teatime Where I Break Most of the Rules

When I first heard of doing poetry teatime as part of the Brave Writer Lifestyle I put it off because it would never match the ideal picture I see in my head. Last year I decided that I would no longer be paralyzed by my perfectionist tendencies. My children did not care if things were perfect, they simply wanted togetherness. Nowadays I move forward and enjoy our imperfect poetry teatimes, breaking most of the rules from my imagined ideal.

Image by Brave Writer mom, Tracey (cc) cropped/text added

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Friday Freewrite: If you were a leaf


Write about an autumn day from a leaf’s perspective.

Image by Jewel (cc cropped)

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

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Your secret weapon


You thought I’d tell you what it is in the first sentence? Oh heaven’s no. You will have to read a bit to find out.

You know how you have kids who don’t want to “do school” or resist a new curriculum or say they hate assignments or projects? You know how you keep telling them that at some point they will just “have to learn to write” or they “can’t write fiction forever” or they “can’t play all day”?

It’s one of those things where you kinda sorta freak out a bit when that resistance really gets going—in the form of fights, tears, refusal to even write one sentence, a willingness to outlast you.

So, are we on the same page?

The tendency is to view yourself in those moments as a teacher who deserves respect and authority by virtue of being the home educator. You think you have the right to expectations because you are in charge. You can’t understand why that sweet little munchkin is becoming such a curmudgeon!

Here’s the thing, though. You’re at home. You’re the mother or father. Your kids know that there is negotiating space. That’s what home is. It’s the one place where “have to’s” have less power. Home is supposed to be a relief from the stress of the outside pressures of life. Enforcing “school” at home feels so contrary to the natural untidiness, lack of schedule-ness that home is supposed to represent in life.

You need to embrace home as a home educator first—really allow yourself to notice and enjoy its properties (you know, like waking up when you want or wearing pj’s until lunch, or cuddling with a blanket on the couch for read aloud time).

For those formats and practices and programs you wish to see flourish in your home, then, you need to embrace them through that lens.

You ready? Here’s your secret weapon:

Stop talking, start doing.

In other words, if you want a child to write in a new form, stop telling your child to write in that form.

Wake up, gather paper and pencil, and after breakfast, without a word (that’s the key here), start writing. Write the kind of thing you are expecting your child to write. You might be writing a thank you note. You might be writing a short essay on paper dolls. You might be copying a quote from a book you love. You might write a non-fiction paragraph about Pocahontas.

Simply start.

Your kids may hover around you saying, “What are you doing? When do we start math? Mom, can I have more orange juice?”

You might respond: “I’m writing about Pocahontas. In fact, I can’t remember: does anyone remember the name of her tribe? Can someone get me the book we were reading?”

Keep writing.

Someone asks, “Mom what am I supposed to do while you are writing?”

You reply, “I don’t know. What do you feel like starting with today? I’m going to work on this. You’re free to help me. Or you can get going with math. But I’m doing this.”

Then do it. Keep going.

You’ll be shocked. Some will join you. And because YOU are doing the assignment, you will discover just how difficult it is, too. You’ll have some raw direct experience of just what it is you are asking your child to do!

At some point in the next few weeks of doing a couple of these, you will see that your kids start to participate. You don’t simply flip over to telling them to take over, but you can say, “If you want to work on your own version of this, I’m happy to help you while I complete mine.”

Be open to collaboration, to multiple children doing one project, to everyone helping you with your project. This is HOME. Not school. Not about grade levels. This is about giving your kids a chance to watch a process before they have to engage in it or learn how to do it. This is your chance to model and lead by silence, rather than lecture and enforcement.

Try it!

Stop talking. Start doing.

Cross-posted on facebook. Image © Sergey Khakimullin | Dreamstime.com

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Student Spotlight: Cassidy!

Student Spotlight Cassidy

Brave Writer student, Cassidy, not only won last May’s Preschool Powol Packets poetry contest in the 7-9 year old category (she entered a sonnet she wrote for our Shakespeare Family Workshop class) and created a Poet-Tree, she has now authored her own book!!

Roller Coaster: A Kid’s Guide on How to Write Poetry

A kid’s guide to writing poetry, by an 8-year-old kid like you! Cassidy wanted to show other kids how easy it is to write a poem of their own. In this book, she introduces and explains some of the most common types of poems. As examples, she also shares the poems she composed in April 2014 in honor of National Poetry Month. Some of the poems are silly and goofy. Some are clever. You will have fun reading and learning about poetry at the same time!

Congratulations, Cassidy! We’re so proud of your accomplishments!

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Tuesday Teatime: Hot apple cider, cake pops, and Shel Silverstein

Tuessday Teatime Sonya blog

Hot apple cider, cake pops (a rare treat from Starbucks), and the silliness of Shel Silverstein made for an enjoyable teatime this week with my posse of boys.

“Oh, I found one more I want to read!” my eight-year-old squealed over and over before beginning another poem from Where the Sidewalk Ends.

While something always seems to spill and table manners could always improve, Tuesday Teatime is a special treat for all of us.


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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