Podcast: Why a Brave Writer Writing Class Works! with Kirsten Merryman

Brave Writer Podcast

Did you know that Brave Writer was the first online writing class instruction in the homeschool space? We have been pioneers and innovators in the writing space for over two decades, teaching over ten thousand students since then. 

Kirsten Merryman is the Director of Online Classes at Brave Writer. She’s responsible for hiring and training each of our 35 writing coaches to ensure that any student that registers with our program gets the same quality instruction no matter who is teaching.

Today on the Brave Writer podcast, Kirsten shares with us what makes the Brave Writer program so unique.

Show Notes

What makes writing so difficult to teach?

A parent is not going to spend money on a class unless they feel like it will help them in some way. For many homeschooling parents, writing can be one of the most difficult subjects to teach. What is it that makes it so difficult compared to other school subjects?

Part of what makes it so difficult is the complexity of it at an early age. There are the physical aspects of being able to hold a pencil and make shapes, the emotional aspect of putting thoughts onto the page, and the ability to think critically as a writer, as well as many more. With so much to address, how do you approach it all?

There’s also the baggage that parents bring into the homeschool classroom: How we were taught, how we feel about ourselves as writers, and struggling to feel qualified to teach writing to our kids.

We have good news about all of that: Our writing programs are going to take you along the same journey as your kids. No matter how skilled you feel as a writer, your kids can learn to grow as writers — and so can you!

Making sense of history

Brave Writer now features new history classes! Kids get the opportunity to evaluate historical texts and talk about historical events in our History Lab.

One thing to recognize about history is that it is always a story someone has decided to tell based on interpretations of facts. In History Lab, we peel things back and take a look at how historians make decisions about the stories they want to tell, as well as invite kids to come along and go through that experience themselves.

How we’re rethinking the essay

Most of us have been taught a traditional, five-paragraph essay structure. That structure is a tool that can be very helpful when learning how to build up an argument and support it. Unfortunately, the five-paragraph structure has been applied to practically every essay written in primary and secondary school. But at the university level, that’s not what professors are looking for.

The problem with this approach is that it severely limits our kids’ ability to make decisions. When given a set structure and being told “this is how you write an essay,” it becomes very limiting. At the college level, students are expected to make many independent decisions that they haven’t been trained to make.

Kids need to develop agency in order to do more decision-making in the writing process, and that’s what we try to do at Brave Writer. We start with writing voice, and only once that is developed do we begin to add structure. Kids can learn structure quickly, but it takes time to develop a voice and learn that you have something to say that’s worth saying.


Connect with Julie

Brave Writer Podcast

Friday Freewrite: Not Free Time

Friday Freewrite

People talk about what they do in their “free time.” Describe what you do in your “not free time”?

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide

Mechanics & Literature: December 2022

Brave Writer

December’s Dart, Arrow, and Boomerang selections celebrate the power of family and friendship and provide shiny opportunities to explore in dynamic new ways:

  • writing,
  • mechanics,
  • and literary devices. 

And this month’s Quill takes you on an exciting ride exploring modes of transportation, while also nurturing your child’s early reading, writing, and math skills.

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Brave Writer Quill
Quill (ages 5-7)

Cars! Boats! Trains! Oh, my! Get ready to move with the December Quill: Transportation!

In this Quill we’ll size up books as we explore book anatomylabel pieces and parts; get a move on to memorize as we develop gross motor skills; train fine motor skills with tracing; keep track with counting; and see how one thing is not like another as we compare and contrast.

NOTE: You can use any transportation picture books you have in your stacks or find at your library.

Some suggestions:

Get the Quill.

Brave Writer Dart
Dart (ages 8-10)

The Very, Very Far North by Dan Bar-el

Meet Duane, a lovable polar bear who finds friends and adventure wherever he goes!

Our story’s narrator this month has big opinions and can’t wait to share them with you! What a perfect way to demonstrate the role of the intrusive narrator, this month’s literary device!

We’ll also: 

  • wiggle our way through a look at verbs describing the ways animals move;
  • encounter a passage that uses repetition again, and again, and again (to great effect);
  • savor some lyrical language;
  • ponder the delights of personification;
  • split up parts of a sentence and make lists with semicolons
  • consider a cornucopia of color names, and so much more!

Purchase the book.

Get the Dart.

Brave Writer Arrow
Arrow (ages 11-12)

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus

This heartwarming story of three siblings evacuated from London to live in the countryside during World War II is a feel-good story—a perfect family read aloud.

December’s literary device is genre. Find out what makes historical fiction unique and explore which genres your family especially enjoys!

We’ll also: 

  • capture conjunctions and cling or string ideas together;
  • show respect with honorifics;
  • search for short sentences and some long ones too;
  • slide suffixes in at the end;
  • discuss the ins and outs of dialogue;
  • catch commas carrying out all sorts of jobs; and so much more!  

Purchase the book.

Get the Arrow.

Brave Writer Boomerang
Boomerang (ages 13-14)

The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais

This look at a teen girl navigating Deaf culture, high school, and relationship struggles is sure to spark Big Juicy Conversation in your home.

In this Boomerang, we’ll:

  • contemplate how conflict is constructed;
  • provide background details about narrative exposition;
  • get acquainted with character development;
  • wait and wait to find out about suspense;
  • chat about colloquial expressions with y’all; 
  • enjoy an aha moment with an exhilarating epiphany and so much more! 

Purchase the book.

Get the Boomerang.

For ages 15-18, check out the Slingshot.

Brave Writer

Podcast: Happy Homeschooling through the Holidays

Brave Writer Podcast

The holidays are coming, and many homeschooling parents know that there are going to be disruptions to the routine of daily life — so they try to figure out how to maintain that routine instead of allowing that routine to change and adapt to the constraints of this time of year.

Some homeschoolers don’t even bother with finding a balance and they take the month off from education, instead dedicating that time to cookies, music, and family. Others try their best to keep up their homeschool routine, even if that means refusing to participate in holiday activities.

I’d like to offer a third way, a potentially better solution that will allow you to have your peppermint cookies and eat them, too.

You can also listen on Apple Podcasts.

Show Notes

Finding your best balance

What are the expectations around the holidays, and how can we reframe the month to balance feeling satisfied with our homeschooling performance without losing out on the joy of the season?

This depends on your answer to this question: How important are the holidays to you?

Not everybody celebrates Christmas, especially to the extent that our culture expects. You may feel pressured to fill this month with activities that ultimately don’t mean that much to you.

If it is meaningful to you, it may be worth considering how much time you need to celebrate. It could be that condensing your holiday celebrations into the last two weeks of the year is a happy medium that allows you to get in more of your typical homeschool routine.

Marrying education and celebration

The holidays give us a million and one ways to cover all educational subjects.

December is a natural time to watch movies and read books, so lean into that. Pick read-alouds that have corresponding movies, and even — dare I say — allow your kids to watch the movies first. This can help invite interest in a book if you’re struggling to get that going.

Crafts, gift wrapping, shopping for gifts, budgeting, and making lists are all helpful, educational activities. If you’re going to teach your kids to use Excel, imagine how much easier it would be when organizing a spreadsheet of the gifts they want for Christmas or how they’re going to allocate their spending on gifts.

You can also use the subject of holidays to study various holiday traditions around the world. Spin a globe, point at a place, and use Google to find out what holiday they might celebrate.

  • When does it occur?
  • What traditions go along with it?
  • What is the history behind it?

Another educational opportunity that relates to the holiday is having kids interview grandparents about their favorite childhood memories around this season.

  • Is there a recipe within the family you could make?
  • A custom you can adopt?
  • Or just a funny story you’ve never heard before?

Giving kids the opportunity to interview grandparents grows their interviewing skills, write down answers in a book of memories, or collect old traditions and create new ones.

These are ways we can make the holidays less about missing out on one aspect or the other and more of a “yes, and” situation.


Connect with Julie

Brave Writer Podcast

Brave Writer Classes: Customer Appreciation 12 Hour Sale

Brave Writer Online Classes

These last two years… Phew. We’ve made it through a very difficult time. 

And you’re still with us! We want to say THANK YOU!

Mark your calendar for December 5th. It’s our Customer Appreciation 12 Hour Sale.

We’ve got discounts ON OUR 4 MOST POPULAR CORE CLASSES. 

(I know, we never discount our class offerings. That’s how grateful we are!)

Two Discounted Bundles

On Registration Day ONLY, we are offering two discounted bundles.

You will get 12% OFF:

Brave Writer 101 and Brave Writer 102 when purchased together

Essay Writing 101 and Essay Writing 102 when purchased together

Available when you register on December 5, 2022 ONLY.

Set your watch! Your phone! Your alarm clock!

Registration opens at 12 PM ET. It ends at midnight eastern.

Here’s a handy time converter if you need it! 

Psst…Live in a different time zone that makes it hard to register at 12 PM ET on December 5th? We can help! Email us.

Reasons why you should take a Brave Writer class:

Drum roll! 

  • See what the hype is all about! There is NO ONE like us in the homeschool space.
  • No big commitments. Classes run 3-6 weeks.
  • Support 24/7. Our team is always here to help you! 
  • Did we mention the sale?
  • Our coaches KNOW homeschooling—we get you!
  • Short burst of focused writing—guilt-free breaks from writing follow!
  • Free membership to our Brave Learner Home community.
  • Individualized feedback tailored to your child’s personality, abilities, and imagination.
  • Kids learn best in accepting, gentle environments. We’re great at that!
  • Did we mention there’s a SALE? Now’s the right time to sign up!

2023 Winter/Spring Class Schedule