A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief

Thoughts from my jungle to yours

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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October’s Arrow and Boomerang selections!

The Arrow

HomesickHomesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz

This fictionalized autobiography tells the heartwarming story of a little girl growing up in an unfamiliar place.

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.

Purchase the Homesick Arrow here.

Buy the novel on Amazon here (referral link).

The Boomerang

What the Moon SawWhat the Moon Saw by Laura Resau

Out of the blue, 14-year-old Clara Luna receives a letter from her grandparents inviting her to spend the summer with them in Mexico. She has never met her fathers parents and he has not seen them since he left his homeland more than 20 years ago. Wary of visiting people she doesn’t know and yet frustrated and restless with her life at home, Clara embarks on the two-day journey to the remote village of Yucuyoo.

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork, dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel, and a number of think piece questions. It is geared toward 7th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15).

Purchase the What the Moon Saw Boomerang here.

Buy the novel on Amazon here (referral link).

PLUS our online Boomerang Book Club (geared toward students in 8th grade and up) discussion of What the Moon Saw starts today!

Images @ Amazon.com

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Tuesday Teatime: Escape

Julie teatime 8-25-14 -blog

When phone calls dominate the day I escape to the patio to finish working. My own private teatime.


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 select your photo to post then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

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Use writing in your lives


I had a question about what program I would recommend to a child who has recently come out of school and is dysgraphic and a perfectionist. Of course, my first thought is to scrap programs. This kid needs a zoo pass and Legos!

What to do about writing, though. He is struggling and fears it. Of course! We all avoid those skill areas where we are weakest.

To start changing the narrative around writing in your family, even before you buy Jot it Down or Partnership Writing, make writing more interesting, more useful, more fun right now in your home.

Put Post It Notes all over the bedroom door of your child. Fill them with comments about his or her strengths, jokes, silly word pairs, brief memories of their exploits, hints about the fun you will have at winter break, questions of the universe (“Who am I and why am I here?” “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”), aphorisms… You decide. Put these Post-its all over the door after the child is asleep and see when he or she finally notices them. You might leave a stack of Post Its and a pen somewhere nearby. See if the child reciprocates. Some will.

Use lipstick to leave love notes on the bathroom mirror for your kids.

Create a treasure hunt—that rhymes! Send your kids hunting for some treat with clues you design. Then later, ask them to make one for you (on your birthday! or for Mother’s Day!).

Tape words to items in the house—any words. See who notices first.

Play with refrigerator magnets.

Mail letters to your kids. Text your kids. Facebook chat with your kids. Even when you are all sitting in the same room (hilarity will ensue!).

Write margin notes in the books they are about to read—like, “This was my favorite part” and “I can’t believe she did that, can you?” and “When you get to this section, come to me. We must discuss.”

Leave notes in a teenager’s car with cash: “Here’s three bucks for a hamburger! Enjoy.”

USE writing in natural, life-affirming ways. See how it changes the feel of writing in your home.

Go for it! Now Today! It’s far more likely you will grow writers if you live like this than if you tirelessly work on paragraphs. Paragraphs will come, once everyone is friends with writing.

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

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Student Spotlight: Eleanor Nash

Eleanor NashCongrats to Brave Writer Eleanor Nash for being published in The Kansas City Star! She writes:

I took Brave Writer’s High School Writing Project class this spring, and in the class I wrote an essay. I submitted the essay to my city’s newspaper and this Wednesday it was printed.

Thank you for the writing help,

Eleanor Nash


Here’s the opening of Eleanor’s article:

The Internet can bring teens together

By ELEANOR NASH Special to The Star

Scrolling a while back through the comments on BuzzFeed’s “26 Reasons Why 2014 Has Already Been The Worst Year Ever For Teens,” I came across this statement: “Just another list among many of why this generation sucks and will probably be the downfall of the USA.”

Such comments are not unusual. Teenagers are often portrayed in the media as wild, hopeless, dumb, doomed, uncontrollable and overall a disgrace to their elders.

But this attitude is nothing new…

Read the rest here.

Way to go, Eleanor! We’re so proud of you and all our Brave Writer students!

Image @ The Kansas City Star

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