Podcast: Party Schooling with Lise McGuinness

Brave Writer Podcast

Get ready for an entertaining journey into homeschooling on this episode of our podcast! We delve into an inspiring approach to education that proves learning can be:

  • fun,
  • dynamic,
  • and full of joy!

This episode features an exciting discussion with our special guest, Lise McGuinness, a veteran preschool teacher and homeschooler (and Brave Learner Home member!) with an infectious enthusiasm for what she calls ‘party school’.

Lise McGuinness
Lise McGuinness

Don’t miss this episode filled with enthusiasm, inspiration, and tons of practical insights on homeschooling with a twist. Lise’s zest for learning and her party school concept may just revolutionize your approach to education at home.

Show Notes

Lise’s journey to homeschooling

Lise, originally on the path to become a traditional teacher, found inspiration in the works of ’60s progressive educators, such as John Holt, which instilled in her a thirst for non-conventional teaching methods. Her teaching philosophy was further influenced by the progressive preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, known for their child-centered approach, which emphasizes children’s competence, encourages their multifaceted language development, and promotes learning guided by children’s interests—an approach known as the emergent curriculum.

Lise’s homeschooling odyssey truly began when she discovered the Unschooling Handbook, a guide that opened her eyes to the possibilities of applying these progressive teaching methods to older grades. This pivotal revelation led her to establish a family childcare, a decision driven by her desire to apply her newfound educational perspectives while also remaining at home.

Lise’s association with Brave Writer, a staple in her teaching arsenal, traces back to her early teaching days when she resonated deeply with the concept of “Jot It Down”—an approach she had already been applying with her preschoolers. Over the years, she has integrated various Brave Writer resources into her homeschooling curriculum, such as Arrows, the Seven-Day Blitz, the Writer’s Jungle, and classes focused on movie discussions and essay writing. As we move forward, she is excitedly preparing to embark on the journey of “Help for High School,” another powerful resource from Brave Writer. This comprehensive insight into Lise’s educational journey provides a blueprint for those seeking innovative and personalized approaches to homeschooling.

Hosting a successful book party

Brave Writer book parties are unique gatherings which seamlessly blend literature discussions with enjoyable activities and social elements, transforming the often solitary act of reading into a communal celebration. The inspiration for these parties springs from the party guides included in various Brave Writer materials like the Arrow, Dart, and Boomerang. These guides propose a wealth of creative suggestions, ranging from book-specific activities and decorations to themed food ideas.

Lise recalls one notable instance of such literary celebrations that featured author Melissa Wiley discussing her book “Prairie Thief” via Zoom. Lise’s prolific club has impressively journeyed through 60 books and has a goal to reach a total of 100 books by the time the daughter graduates from high school.

To distinguish these gatherings from traditional school-based book discussions, Lise injected elements of fun and excitement. Children were encouraged to dress up, and book club meetings were turned into vibrant parties. Books like “My Side of the Mountain” and “The Wild Robot” sparked associated activities like foraging for food and crafting dioramas with natural items. Outside professionals, such as dance teachers, were even brought in for certain books like “Jazz Owls” and “The Red Umbrella,” enhancing the immersive reading experience.

To execute these events smoothly, planning ahead was crucial. Platforms like Pinterest proved useful for gathering related party ideas, and other homeschoolers like Mary Hannah Wilson served as a source of inspiration. But above all, the essence of these book parties was not just about discussing the book. The emphasis was equally placed on crafting an enjoyable atmosphere, filled with related activities, decorations, and themed food. By doing so, learning became an exciting and meaningful adventure, helping children engage with literature in a deep, yet joyous manner.

Whether they are elaborate events or much simpler endeavors, the goal of a book party is to celebrate the act of reading as a group. By bringing people together to have fun and share in the joys of reading, you encourage a lifelong habit of reading that is sure to benefit your children for years to come.


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