Brave Writer mom Caitlyn writes:
Hi, I promised Julie on Instagram that I had a big ole testimonial coming, and this is it!
First some background:
We have been homeschooling since 2012, when my oldest was about to enter Kindergarten. We are a super eclectic homeschool family, borrowing wisdom from various approaches including: Montessori, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Classical, etc. On writing, however, I always had this sense that it would come as the kids get older. Even though I work as a freelance copywriter/editor, I still struggle to figure out how to transmit my knowledge into an age appropriate approach for my kids. Due to frustration with unappealing writing programs and a lack of clarity of where to start, I considered writing as something that we would figure out eventually. Apparently “eventually” has a tendency to creep up on you.
Last summer (2019) as my oldest was about to embark on middle school/sixth grade, I really wanted to start focusing on writing, but I didn’t really know where to begin, and I really needed some help. We had attempted to take a Brave Writer class in the past, but it wasn’t the right fit at the time. This time I happened upon the middle school writing projects class in a Brave Writer email and I polled some friends on facebook to see if anyone had taken it. My good friend EG said that her daughter had taken it, but that it had been very intensive so to make sure to enroll when we had the time to really focus on it. This was perfect advice because with 5 kids we are chronically over scheduled during the academic year. Based on her counsel, we decided to enroll her in middle school writing projects over the summer.
The weekend before the class began, as a family we visited to the California Academy of Sciences. Now we have been to Cal Academy many many times, but on this particular trip there happened to be a docent walking around and my kids happened to be interested enough to start asking him questions. The following Monday, the class started, and the kids (from around the world) were asked to pick a topic. My daughter chose jellyfish! Like the ones we just saw at the museum! I rejoiced to feel like finally a fieldtrip made a lasting impression.
The class itself was absolutely fantastic. It was highly organized, had weekly deadlines (which daughter wrote in her planner and followed religiously), extensive and immediate constructive feedback, and lots of peer back and forth. In addition to completing the course with a finished PowerPoint presentation about Golden Jellyfish (her refined topic), my daughter left a very positive review for the class and said that she used to hate writing, but now she liked it and understood how it could be fun. Amazing!!
But the fabulous class experience itself is not what I am writing about. What blew me away was what came some months later.
This is the first year that we are participating in the Arrow Brave Writer experience. One of my goals for this homeschool year was to boost our read aloud game, and the Arrows seemed to fit that bill. We have also had the stroke of luck of being invited to join a local Arrow book club that hosts monthly parties!
When September rolled around and we first started reading The Wild Robot, my kids were like meh, not a fan. As the story went on, however, they were all hooked. Even my 5 year old couldn’t wait to hear the next chapter.
We are enrolled in a very stringent homeschool charter program, and one of our teacher’s requirements is that oldest completes at least two grade level book reports a semester. Considering that my oldest has the capacity & drive to read up to one full book a day, I figured she would have plenty of options and it wouldn’t be a big deal. However, I was concerned about how boring a typical essay format book report would be, so I bought a bundle of 15 different creative book report formats on a popular curriculum website. I was very inspired by the webinar episode Julie put out about writing assignments versus writing projects. (I may have to write another post about how this has played out with my 8 year old son, reluctant student turned timeline enthusiast). It helped to shift my mentality of finding ways to meet requirements in a manner that would support the love of learning we are trying to cultivate with our children.
Anyhow, I gave the printed out options to my daughter, and told her that she could do whichever one she wanted, and that it could be on any book she wanted.
Guess what she picked?
The Wild Robot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She worked diligently for several hours each day over a period of several days and wrote the most thoughtful, comprehensive and gorgeous book report presentation I could ever have imagined. She took it very seriously and did her best work. The capacity to put the project together was a direct result of her participation in the Middle School Writing Projects class, and her selection of The Wild Robot is a testament to the quality of the literature and its ability to pique the interest of an 11.5 year old girl (as well as her younger siblings). This kid read a children’s version of the Odyssey when she was seven or eight years old, so she is not easily impressed.
I am so so satisfied and thankful that we happened to fall upon this path, and I wanted to share my gratitude and testimonial for the Brave Writer classes, Brave Writer Arrows, and Brave Writer approach to writing.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.