A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief

Thoughts from my jungle to yours

If your child is in the Jot It Down stage


Jotting down what your kids tell you isn’t a short cut to writing. It IS writing.
~from The Writer’s Jungle

Does your child excitedly share stories and experiences but is blocked when she tries to write them down? Does his writing not reflect his sophisticated vocabulary? Does she refuse to pen more than a word or two? Does he struggle with handwriting or spelling?

If you answered yes to any of these then your child may be in the Jot It Down stage.

Kids in that stage are often between the ages of five and eight, but age doesn’t matter so much. What matters is where they are in the Natural Stages of Growth.

If your child is in the Jot It Down stage then:

Forget all the scopes and sequences.

Focus on love, joy, and self-expression.

Read books together.

Watch movies together.

Have big, juicy conversations.

Play with words.

Catch your child in the act of thinking or storytelling and write down what he says.

Let her dictate with you acting as secretary.

With your child’s permission, share some of his thoughts and stories with family and friends.

This is how you slowly help your child see the value of putting thoughts into writing.

So, each time something happy happens, jot it down. Pay attention to your kids—as in, pay attention to their happiness quota. Play games, have tea, laugh at jokes, record the clever things your child says, have her write one beautiful word a day instead of a whole passage, use gel pens and brightly colored paper sprayed with perfume!

Continue to learn handwriting and spelling but do that through copywork not your child’s original thoughts.

For more information about this stage, listen to the free Jot It Down! podcast.

You might also consider our Jot It Down! product. It gives you ten original writing projects you can do with your children. These are activities (one per month) that enable you to focus the original writing impulse in a specific direction (fairly tales or writing letters or issuing party invitations). They are delight-driven writing activities and cover a range of writing skills. And your child never has to lift a pencil!

Or check out our Jot It Down! bundle and save. Includes:

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Tuesday Teatime: Had a BLAST

Tuesday Teatime Lori

We have been slowly adding in more Bravewriter to our school days. This week we added in tea time and my boys who are 13 and 11 thought it was the silliest thing I have ever come up with. They tried to get out of doing it. I pulled out some poetry books that I got from the library, cookies and lemonade. I told them they could get a tea cup from the china cabinet if they wanted. That got them interested. We never use those cups. They finally sat down and had a BLAST!!!!!

We also added in copywork. Which has been going really well! No complaints at all! They also LOVED the game where one of them draws a picture and then has to describe it so the other can draw it. That was a huge hit.



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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The Homeschool Alliance is here!

HS Alliance -blog

Have you ever asked yourself:

Am I doing a good job homeschooling?
How will I know?
What if I’m failing my children?

A fantasy homeschool lives in our imaginations-happy children, learning in a pool of light. We envision creative, self-starting, curious beings who relish the chance to improve their minds. We imagine furrowed brows of dedication to mastering the multiplication tables and smiles of achievement when successful. We picture proudly created handwritten stories and energetic passion for Ancient Greek history.

Instead we find ourselves arguing about time limits on the computer. We have to remind the 10 year old to finish the page, not to play with the toddler…again. We face learning disabilities, temper tantrums, and the flu. The program everyone raved about doesn’t work for us and we think it’s our fault. We try to let go of canned curriculum only to feel like we are doing nothing worthwhile except pacing the house in search of snack foods and toys.

Discouragement flourishes. Desperation follows. We cling to any and all advice-swinging from freedom to strict schedules, textbooks to online classes.

I remember those days. I remember messes that had nothing to do with creativity. I switched math programs every year at one point.

Unscheduled schooling looked like parental neglect, and scheduled schooling felt like prison.

I felt batted about by philosophical discussions, sometimes derided and unheard when I risked sharing my failures and fears.

  • I wanted support-someone who knew me and wanted me to find my own way, tailor made to my children.
  • I wanted ideas-fresh ways to make my vision come true without exhausting me or our family budget.
  • I wanted affirmation-someone to notice when it all went right that one day last fall.

When I look back, what I wanted was a “coach”!

I wanted another homeschooling mom, a bit further down the path, to shout back warnings and encouragements. I wanted someone to comfort me in my panic and to support me in my risk-taking choices.

Enter The Homeschool Alliance!

Opens Today, September 1, 2014

I want to be that coach for you and I want to offer you the chance to be in a community of like-minded home educators who will cheer you on.

We all want the same things, essentially, don’t we? Close family relationships, quality experiences, wonderful memories, and more than adequate academics.

It’s time to cut through the Internet explosion of information and drill down to who you are and what you really want.

What you can expect: ME!

HS Alliance -blogI’ve invested thousands of hours researching home education philosophies. Eventually, my family created our own homeschool blend…a customized cocktail of love and learning! That journey continues-the lifestyle of love and learning goes well beyond the homeschooling years when your family finds its groove.

I’m excited to create a space that is safe for that risk-taking and exploration for you, in your family.

I want to share with you the insights I’ve gleaned through 17 years of homeschooling five kids, and then working with thousands of homeschooling families for 20+ years. I want you to have the benefit of all that experience.

The Homeschool Alliance is about creating the homeschool life that takes all of you into account (your children, YOU, and even your spouse, if you have one). Your homeschool should look like your family, and it should satisfy you-that progress is being made, that lives are being enriched, that everyone’s needs are being met.

Tall order. Easy to get side-tracked and discouraged.

We all need support and mirrors to help us see beyond our blind spots. We need new ideas and other people’s experiences. We don’t need lectures or guilt trips.

The Homeschool Alliance is the one-stop Internet community sandbox for home education.

We’ll do it together, one month at a time, one subject or child at a time, making sure that you can see and measure your progress. By the end of the school year, you’ll know how successful you’ve been! We’ll be there to celebrate with you!

Here are the components of the Alliance:

Master Class in Learning
Each month, we’ll look at one reading and discuss it. We’ll examine various learning theorists and consider their opinions and how to apply their findings to your life at home with your kids. The readings will be provided to you. Reflection and discussion questions supplied. Guided interaction will follow.

Monthly Parenting Interventions
You are not alone! We’ll solve your problems together:

  • Troubleshooting your peskiest parenting issues (video games, sibling rivalry, squirreliness, picking fights, chores, food, bedtimes, creativity, playing outdoors, rules, consequences, managing multiples, creating transcripts)
  • Exploring your anger (what it is, how to manage it, what to do with it)
  • When you and your spouse disagree…
  • Managing multiple changing ages every year

One Thing Practice
We’ll apply the famous Brave Writer “One Thing Principle” to your life and homeschool! Learn how to implement the “one thing principle” and be rewarded for it! We’ll each set goals, we’ll share them, we’ll “timestamp them,” and then you’ll be rewarded for your progress (the reward system will be fun for you AND your kids-can’t wait to share what it is)! You’ll be inspired by each other and also gently held accountable to meet your own expectations for yourself.

Creating Your Dream Routine
Using tools designed by me, we’ll work through a set of processes that help you know your children in brand new ways. Then we’ll work together to help you custom-design a set of educational practices that will facilitate your child’s greatest success and joy in home education. You’ll be surprised at what you learn about your children and yourself when you set aside the time to open yourselves to thinking about them using your parental intuition and daily observations.

Community Sharing
You’ll have a place to share photos, writing, projects completed, and your daily joys (and struggles) while getting support from Brave Writer families. You know what that means. The support will be real (gentle, sincere, affirming) and useful (tailored to you, taking the whole family into account, practical). The Homeschool Alliance is THE PLACE you can count on being known as you are, without any need to pretend to be different in order to participate.

There are no “taboos” you must avoid, no trap buzz words.

Rather, you get to be you.

I will help you one step at a time to be an even better, more confident, less frazzled version of you.

And a Side of Selfcare
We’ll ensure that you are taking good care of you. Teacher-time off is critical to a healthy imagination, to your creativity as an educator, and to your own well being (sense of fulfillment and joy as a person). Practices and suggestions for how to take good care of YOU will be provided by me and also the others in the community.

Monthly Webinar
Each month, I will give a “teacher-in-service” webinar. We’re working out the details of how it will look, but I promise you a little monthly dose of “me”-similar to what I do when I speak at conferences, but more intimate and directed to the community as you share yourselves with me.

Brave Writer Bucks
Members will get a site-wide 10% discount on all products (classes not included)!

And the price for all this?
YOUR monthly price is only $14.95

(Regularly $19.95/month)

The introductory monthly price will last through October 31,
and then will go up to $19.95 per month.

Join early and lock in your low monthly rate now!

Premium Option
I am offering a premium option for those who want more personal contact with me to discuss their particular families (private coaching consultations).

Monthly subscribers can pay for one hour one-on-one consults with me via Skype during two weeks each quarter. Those prices will be announced once we get the community up and running and the time slots will be offered on a first-come first-served basis.

The Alliance opens today.

Change your homeschool, change your family, change your life!

Looking forward to it!


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Why we use writing to teach writing


An email question from Lisa:

“I love your curriculum but really do not like the Format for the online classes. Please look into live Online instruction. Most students are not going to Read through all the post of others in the class. This Really doesn’t give the group interaction live Instruction does.”

My response, in case you are wondering the same things:

Hi Lisa!

Thanks for your feedback. We welcome it! I’d like to explain to you a bit about our style of instruction. It’s a deliberate choice on my part, not an accident, not because I haven’t “updated” to the current style of online instruction. In fact, what we do mirrors what colleges offer in Blackboard, Coursera, and Canvas. It is my belief that reading and writing create the best writers, and that lecture (while it can be enjoyable and even a short cut at times in explanations given) is not as effective in growing writers.

We’ve taught our online classes using this technique for 15 years. We’ve taught more than 15,000 students worldwide. It’s a deliberate decision based on pedagogy. Students are trained to read, understand, interpret, and apply what they read to their writing. All the interaction in our classroom is reading and writing—reading feeds writing and enables growth and development that lecture cannot/does not impart. Even the questions students ask are written and the responses are written. This helps writing growth in the following ways:

  • Students learn to clarify their thoughts in the written word, and have a record of those thoughts as they develop so that the words they create don’t “vanish” into the thin air of spoken language, but remain visible to the student for continued reference.
  • Students read the assignments and processes, which gives them vocabulary that will become useful in their own writing. They are able to scroll back through, re-read, and assimilate the language, structure, and ideas from the written word. Writing is necessarily just enough different from speech that it is of enormous help to read rather than listen.
  • Reading skill (the ability to analyze and process meaning and content from the written word) is the key skill in writing development. No other process has been more strongly linked to writing growth than reading.

We’ve discovered that our students do, in fact, read most of the posts (some can’t get enough of them—they read and reread!). What happens is that our students wade into the waters of writing gently. They are not distracted by hairstyles, tone of voice, personality, and their own fatigue or boredom or hunger. They come to the classroom when they are ready to concentrate and read and reread if they need to.

They have ample time to form their thoughts and consider what they are reading. There’s no “pop question” type pressure to respond in the moment over audio-visual equipment. They have ample access to the instructor for her feedback which is carefully crafted and thoughtfully given.

I’ve taught at the university level, and in many in-person contexts for writing (with homeschoolers). I am never as satisfied with the writing growth in those class environments as I am with my online classes. We use reading and writing to teach reading and writing. it works.

I hope you’ll try us!


You can still sign up for fall classes now!

Image by Brave Writer mom, Renee (cc)

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Friday Freewrite: What if


Describe what might happen if kids stayed up as late as they wanted and parents had to go to bed early.

Today’s writing prompt was inspired by Julie at Creekside Learning. She’s also hosting a cool Brave Writer giveaway (five copies of A Gracious Space) until August 31st!

Image © Yurchyk | Dreamstime.com

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Boomerang Book Club’s September Selection

To Kill a MockingbirdThe second title in our Boomerang Book Club is the American classic about race and family, compassion and human dignity: To Kill a Mockingbird.

In this time of modern uneasy race relations in America, there could be no more timely book to read and examine.

The book discussion starts on Monday September 8, so don’t wait! Your students should begin reading the book now.

Each month of the Boomerang Book Club includes The Boomerang as part of your class fee. That means you will get the digital downloadable issue that gives you your grammar, punctuation, spelling, and literary device notes to help you ensure growth in the mechanics of writing as well.

Sign up HERE.

Purchase a copy of To Kill a Mocking Bird on Amazon.com (affiliate link).

Image @ Amazon.com

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Peter Rabbit inspired

Peter Rabbit inspired_image by Rebecca

Hi Julie,

I shared this earlier on the Lifestyle FB page, and was encouraged to send it to you.

I’m planning to start Jot It Down with my K and 2nd kiddos on Monday. My DD5 loves animals and art, but refuses to “do school.” Today I read Peter Rabbit for the first time (!!!) and also a book with info about Beatrix Potter. It was meant to be the first lesson in our LA program, but DD5 refused to narrate. She did, however, decide to draw a picture of Peter. Then she asked me to write out the part of the story she had drawn. Five hours later she had made a whole book of Peter Rabbit, including a map of their home.

Something tells me she won’t mind the first project of Jot It Down!

Thanks for planting seeds that sprout wherever they will… Now to get DS7 to respond as well to a story… I’m thinking Star Wars.

Looking forward to your Quiver, too! Getting my boy interested in stories is proving quite a challenge!


Image (cc)

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Blog Roundup: August 27th Edition

NaaD 58 Kirsti -blog

Read how other homeschooling families implement the Brave Writer Lifestyle!

Learning Ripples in Homeschool

Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects. –Dalai Lama

“I love this quote from the Dalai Lama for many reasons and I’ve seen an application of it to learning. It began with writing. Writing is an area where variety is enjoyable.” ~Tristan, Our Busy Homeschool

What it takes to continue homeschooling

“In the last couple of years, I have often said, “Oh, I don’t read homeschooling books anymore” and “I don’t look for curriculum anymore.” I mean it has to stop somewhere, right? Someone will always be writing another book or presenting another curriculum. And I have so many books and guides and projects that I haven’t even used yet. I just keep telling myself to find something I already have and use it. And those thoughts come on the good days. On the not-so-good days, I just want to get through the checklists and see some completed workbook pages.” ~Two Culture Mom

And here is an inspiring conference report:

VAHomeschoolers Conference 2014

“Julie Bogart has a well-deserved cult following in the homeschooling world. She homeschooled her five children, worked as a professional writer and created the popular “Brave Writer” series of language arts curriculum and online writing classes. She is an incredibly engaging speaker, so well-spoken, charming and funny. Some conference attendees just sat in her sessions alone for the entire conference!” ~Anne, ruly

We hope to share more roundups in the future! If you write about an aspect of the Brave Writer Lifestyle, let us know! Email your post’s url to Jeannette, our Social Media admin (blog@bravewriter.com). Thanks!

Image by Brave Writer mom, Kirsti (cc)

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Tuesday Teatime: Very first!

Tuesday Teatime Caitlin 1

It’s raining Pigs and Noodles over here!

My three little friends thoroughly enjoyed their first Tuesday Teatime. My eldest wrote a poem once our time time was over and just read it to me.

I Ate 10 Pies

I ate 10 pies.
I really am so fat.
I can’t get through the door.
And that is that.

Tuesday Teatime Caitlin 2

Not bad for our first session…


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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The sky is the limit


Hi Julie,

We have just begun our Brave Writer Journey.

My daughter, Sara, has left traditional school after the completion of tenth grade. I was watching the system stamp out all the creativity that drives my daughter’s soul. It was suffocating her.

This summer she started out with the photography and writing course. Sara is more engaged than I have ever witnessed. Her camera is barely set down and she has spent hours everyday taking photos and in the online classroom.

This transformation is what I have been hoping and praying for as this daughter is special beyond words. Everything traditional school does and expects drives that specialness into a deep dark cave.

Now that she is starting to find her voice in a safe and supportive community I can only believe that the sky is the limit.

Thank you


The next Photography and Writing class starts September 2nd!

Check it out!

Image © Jan Wachala | Dreamstime.com

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