Let joy be your guide!

Joy is the best teacher

The Brave Writer motto used to have nothing to do with writing, except everything to do with it:

“Joy is the best teacher.”

I still believe that.

Trust it. This one you can take to the bank. When your doubts flare and you wonder if you are “serious” enough or “organized” enough or “doing” enough, pause. Scan your environment. Where is joy happening? What’s causing joy? Chase it! Go after that. See what happens.

Who’s laughing? Has it been a while since you heard laughter? Who’s engaged and deeply involved?

Example: When Liam was small, his passions combined were Legos and Pokemon/Yugi-oh card games. He created his own world of Lego men who held supernatural comic book powers. I got into his world with him. He couldn’t read yet, but I could jot down the names of these Lego men. I could record their powers in a list on a sheet of paper on a clipboard. He could carry that around for a month sharing it with everyone. And he did.

We played those card games (mind-numbing for me; sheer delight for him!) for over a year! Who knows how much this early interest in card-playing helped him read? I just know it did.

An interest in the discovery of gold led my family to a whole new way to homeschool I call “party-school” where we created a full scale Gold Rush party with other homeschool family-friends.

Reading entire series back-to-back, over-and-over; knitting; coloring pages; sewing; Legos; forts made from sheets; fingerpainting; a treehouse-ish structure in the backyard that was built from scrap wood and nails and an abundance of hammers; learning to draw (all together, on the deck, in the sunshine); baking, baking, baking; poetry reading; walks with the dog and strollers and baby backpacks—on the beach, in the woods, up the street of condos; picnics because we could; reading too many chapters because we had to know what happened next and so, skipping math; Googling and googling and googling to find out more, to confirm a hunch, to invalidate an incorrect statement; online video games; the whole LOTR trilogy on DVD for the nth time (extended edition); making candles; dying cloth like they did in colonial times…


Sure a workbook here and there might reassure you that you are being responsible to “educate.” Ask yourself. What do YOU remember from your education? Content can be delivered in many packages. Risk something—find a package that is big and life-encompassing whenever you can.

You are at home. Let joy lead the way. When you see the spark, chase it! Sprint, leap, grab hold, and ski to the learning.

Will you always successfully shake a jar with heavy cream and a marble in it and get butter and see smiles at the end? Not necessarily! Some of the initial passion to “try” an idea will be muted by hard work or a bad fit or a simple debacle of failure. That’s okay! That’s true of workbooks too, by the way. But at least the attempt is in the right trajectory.

Wash your hands of the flawed attempt and move on. Laugh about it later.

Let joy be your guide. Leave guilt in the basement. Flick the “ghost of public school past” off your shoulder.

Let joy be your teacher and your children’s teacher. Joy does it best. She’s so freaking adorable, who can resist her when under her spell?



Image by CJ Sugg (cc cropped)

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