A New Model for Teaching Writing

A New Model for Teaching Writing

Meet Vincent and Shannon! 

Even Language Arts teachers get the writing blues! We wanted to share this enchanting story with you of a loving mom—a former teacher—and her son in our The Writer’s Jungle Online class.

Vincent and Shannon

Once upon a time, this Disney-lovin’ mom was a Language Arts teacher. You’d think that Shannon would ride off into the sunset with the traditional school system, but not so! 

The typical brick-and-mortar school system was not working for her neurodiverse son, Vincent, so they embraced homeschooling.

Shannon certainly had the know-how to teach Language Arts. Except one thing. She’d always taught to the test, and now she didn’t want to do that. 

[I]t’s difficult for me to hold back my “teacher training”… I was afraid to correct, afraid to comment, and afraid to help him add any details for fear of crushing his passion.

High five, Shannon! In fact, Shannon was doing many of the things we recommend to parents when students are finding their way.

My son started dictating stories to me from a very young age. I was his “secretary.” We had only tried one formal writing curriculum and it was not for us. I was determined to keep writing enjoyable for my son. 

But she started to feel like it was not enough.

We literally did NO writing unless he decided to do so… His writing was all over the place, but he did have the content and original ideas.

The balance between teaching mechanics and preserving the fledgling voice of a child is a hard one to walk. Many parents struggle to grow their child’s writing skills without ruining their desire to write at all.

Enter Brave Writer! 

Shannon signed up for our The Writer’s Jungle Online class. This is our flagship course where the parent is the student! 

Brave Writer coaches

  • Model gentle, constructive feedback to writing
  • Show parents how to spur growth in writing, without harsh tactics
  • Validate the mind life of the student and help them find their voice
  • Provide tools and practices you can use when class is over 

Shannon learned a new model for teaching writing. One she knew would work for them. 

I learned HOW to support his writing in a positive way without ruining his spirit. Learning how to support him was the most important aspect because I saw how quickly he could grow. My biggest fear had been conquered and he had been supported in a positive and honest way.

It wasn’t long before Shannon noticed the effect this new writing experience was having for Vincent. 

[T]he best part about the online course was that my son was getting feedback from someone else other than myself. He was actually excited to see what his teacher had thought of his writing. He’s a pretty confident writer and really wanted that feedback.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises was how many of Shannon’s concerns began to improve on their own. 

Over a short time, I watched his writing expand and become more ordered. He used new vocabulary and actually planned before writing. It was a dream come true.

How’s that for win-win?

Vincent is 12 years old now and looks forward to writing more and more! His creativity gets to shine. Shannon tells us he loves to make up stories and write about his passions in a humorous way. What a guy!

Here’s one thing I’ve noticed over the years. It’s not just writing-averse parents and children who need a hand with writing instruction. Our established attitudes regarding writing —whether positive or negative, whether from our own schooling or professional experience—can hold us back.

Bottom line: even if you know how to write well, even if your child loves to write, it’s okay to get a helping hand. We’re here for you!


Check out our upcoming sessions of The Writer’s Jungle Online. And save $20 on each enrollment while you’re at it. Sale ends December 15!

The Writer's Jungle Online

No Two Kids are the Same

No Two Kids are the Same

Dragons, bugs, tanks. Origami, poodles, photosynthesis, endangered species, baking the perfect pie. 

These are just some of the things our Brave Writer students have written about! 

No two kids are the same—with their different

  • interests,
  • quirks,
  • and learning styles.

That’s why so many of us embraced homeschooling in the first place! To let our kids be themselves.

That’s Brave Writer’s mission, too.

We embrace each child as part of our community. We value their quirkiness and individuality and we comment on their writing accordingly. Each student receives feedback tailored to their

  • personality,
  • abilities,
  • and imagination.

Our writing coaches tell me all the time how your kids delight and fascinate them!

The bottom line: our classes are designed not only to instruct, but also celebrate, nurture, love, and lead your fabulous little people.

Thank you for trusting us!


The Writer's Jungle Online

Friday Freewrite: Movie Quotes

Friday Freewrite

On some paper, write down a few of your favorite movie quotes. Now cut out the individual words or phrases and make new sentences with them!

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.


A Storyteller with a Passion for Music

Brave Writer Songwriting Online Class

When our Songwriting class debuted this fall, we were acting on a hunch that teens were searching for a new and unique outlet for their biggest ideas and deepest longings. 

Even we were surprised by how true that was!

Below is the story of one family from our inaugural run of the class. Plus a songwriting inspired training tip.


Meet Roz and Telle! 

“When I saw the Brave Writer songwriting class I knew it was the best way to kick off the school year. I hoped it would engage her passion and put her creative soul to work in her writing. I know you aren’t shocked to hear this but it worked!” ~Roz

Roz is a veteran homeschooler but when Telle came through the ranks of their family, it was clear that Roz wasn’t going to be able to follow the same routine she had for her son.

Telle listened to read alouds, played games, and loved all our creative activities but was completely unwilling to read, write, or do more traditional learning.

Thus began a search to find out what would work best for Telle.

Roz leapt out of the box with gusto—

[We were] identifying the letters with flyswatters, [would] build words with Playdoh and even dig letters out of our sandbox to spell words but learning could never feel like anything but fun… She taught me that interest-led learning was going to be our jam and I have pretty much followed that route since.

Telle remained a reluctant writer. Academic exercises were intimidating.

However, Roz knew that the mind life of her child was dynamic and alive—a storyteller with a passion for music!

I knew we needed to grow her confidence and writing skills… and so the songwriting class was the perfect fit.  I also knew from past experience with my son in Brave Writer classes that is an ideal opportunity to employ partnership writing to get through the “tough” stuff.

Enter Brave Writer’s Songwriting class!

Music and lyrics serve as the entry point for teens to:

  • engage their critical thinking skills,
  • to harness the power of syntax and diction,
  • to explore poetic devices such as metaphor and powerful associations. 

Enticed, Telle jumped in with both feet, completing writing assignments, analyzing songs and poetry with joy.

Their family commemorated the 1919 Standard Steel Car Strike during the class time frame. Telle chose to focus on the impact of the strike on her family history. She writes,

Labor rights… are very important to me because my great-great-grandfather was shot and killed in the 1919 Standard Steel Strike. He was fighting for better working conditions and the 40-hour work week…. We learned that the family was kicked out of company housing. My great-great-grandmother never remarried and went on to raise her kids alone. She did this without the help of a union because that is what they were fighting for and it wasn’t in place to help widows. 

Telle was so inspired by her family history that her final song for the class is a wistful, yearning love song, inspired by how her great-great grandmother must have felt at the loss of her husband.

Roz shares the impact on Telle:

I love it when learning comes together in a meaningful way…. We collaborated on writing in ways that we have never before accomplished.  She drafted, edited, and wrote music effortlessly. Can any mom ask for more?  

We don’t think so!

At Brave Writer, we know that there are lots of different kinds of writers out there just waiting to be spoken to in their own love language. For Telle, it was music and a connection to her family’s past.


Songwriting Training Tip

What’s your teen’s passion? 

Brave Writer offers a variety of classes, because we know our students are

  • diverse,
  • imaginative,
  • and one-of-a-kind!

We find it fruitful to engage your child in the realm they’re most comfortable in, be that movie making, fantasy books, or the outdoors! Join us! 

Brave Writer Songwriting Online Class

Expand and Include

Expand and Include

Sometimes I feel the world sway under my feet. I knew so many things when I was 22, 34, 41… The stuff I didn’t know came in waves, and like the ocean, the questions came in sets. I’d have one question and it would expand into a series, each one more confounding and nuanced, and even contradictory, than the next.

I was, for instance, a co-sleeping, on demand breast-feeder until my fourth baby broke me. I hadn’t had to test my beliefs to that degree—four kids under 7, a bedwetter, pregnant again, a toddler still nursing, a baby who needed to be attached to my body in order to sleep. I became desperately sleep-deprived.

Broke me, busted up everything I had so smugly known. I looked outside my approved literature and circle of authority because the former answers couldn’t contain my new reality. It felt dangerous and disloyal…and liberating.

And it’s been just like that thousands of times since. A day dawned in my late forties when I saw things differently—that no belief or practice comes pure. No one way solves all the iterations of need. Everything we “know” is contingent on interpretation and context.

In fact, if someone says a thing is 100 percent true, you can be sure that’s context too. It’s a way to get you to pretend you didn’t choose or shouldn’t think for yourself or can’t vary your practice or belief, else you lose membership in the “club.”

I woke up today thinking about how important it is to expand and include. When you run out of options, go outside the safety of what no longer serves. Life gets tight and unworkable when we trap ourselves into rigid systems unrelated to the complexity of being a unique self. We have options. We have choices. We are not alone. We can find well-being. It’s not up to them. It’s up to us.


This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!