Homebound Interviews: Homeschooling Support during Confinement

We Can Do It

Rosie the Riveter was an American icon of female strength and our symbol in Brave Writer of what it means to use that strength for good.

I found the lunchbox in the photo above last Christmas in a shop in Columbus OH. What struck me as much as J Howard Miller’s illustration of her were the words at the top: “We can do it!”

We can! In this moment, we’re pulling together to do this remarkable thing—making the choice to social distance in order to protect one another.

To help provide support during this out-of-the-ordinary time I’ve been sharing how to homeschool during the pandemic in the following places:

For more resources (many are free!), check out our Homebound page.

Remember: We CAN do it! Together.


Brave Writer Podcast

Friday Freewrite: Randomly Chosen

Friday Freewrite

Choose some favorite books (maybe 5 – 10). One by one, open them to a random page, close your eyes, drop your finger on a random sentence then write it down. Once you’ve collected your sentences, cut up all the words individually and mix them up. Now, write a story with only those words and see how many of them you’re able to use.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.


Podcast: Growing Minds

Growing Minds

Did you ever think of learning as training your brain chemistry?

The goal of skill-building in learning is automaticity, fluency, ease of use. It’s as useful to the child learning to ride a bike as it is the teen learning to think critically. Becoming automatic looks just like

  • ease,
  • skill, or
  • fluency.

Think of what it’s like driving: You can sing along to the radio and think about the upcoming election simultaneously, all while changing lanes on a highway at 75 miles per hour. Driving is so automatic that you have the bandwidth to focus on other things—but it wasn’t like that when you were first learning, where just the radio could be a distraction. How can we facilitate this growth of a mind, skill, fluency? How can we train our children’s brain chemistry for learning?

The three primary tools that we want to teach children and then build upon as teenagers are the “3 R’s” of reading, writing, arithmetic. These are the tools that help children get at everything they will ever want to know, but we often unload them in the most uninteresting way possible—through a workbook.

For novice homeschoolers, teaching from the book seems like the easiest and most approachable way to educate. But what if you looked at the workbooks as a reinforcing tool, not the main teaching tool, and you found ways to convey the power of that subject outside of the book first? Let them have the same excitement for the subject they had when discovering the world.

Listen to the Podcast

Show Notes

What does it mean to grow a mind with regard to these 3 R’s, seeking to help our children find their way into these worlds as participants, not just as observers?

Reading

Most parents get this right: reading out loud while the child is in the womb, at bedtime, and reading together. If kids later stop enjoying reading, it could be because the family lost touch of reading as a joy. To invite a child to learn to read there has to be a gain for the child. Sometimes all it takes is an external motivation, pairing the hard work with a celebration that they put in.

Deep reading is also an essential part of the reading process. Remove distractions and read silently, but still together, for 20 minutes or more. Encourage reading on a regular basis and avoiding distractions from notifications and scrolling.

Writing

Value your children’s words by writing them down. Let them experience you valuing their words, their inner life, as writing. This signals to them that they are already writers, even if they can’t read yet. And don’t stop then. Validate your older kids that their thoughts deserve to be in writing. If they are complaining about rules, take out some paper and take notes. Signal that you take their words seriously.

If a child is charged with a writing project spend time in conversations about all the angles you could take. This set of questions can help kids get in touch with another level of thinking:

  • Who’s telling the story?
  • Who’s story isn’t being told?
  • What’s being promoted?
  • What’s being excluded?
  • What assumptions did I bring with me?
  • Which of my assumptions were sustained or confirmed?
  • Which of my assumptions were challenged or overturned?

We cannot ask our kids to write meaningfully without stirring up the part of them that has something to say. Writing is not primarily about the formats and mechanics, that comes after you have things to say.

Arithmetic

Why does math appear to be so hard for so many people? It’s because so many people are never taught to find joy in math. There are two primary ways to teach math: the traditional way through textbooks, where you incrementally master processes that you apply to the problems in the workbook. It can include tools, and definitely relies on repeated practice and tests to confirm mastery. This process works great for some kids, but not for others.

For kids who don’t adapt to the traditional method, the secondary method of using a narrative approach to teach math may be preferred. Ask your child to narrate aloud what they are saying to themselves as they work out the process of solving a problem. Most math work is invisible. This is the way to validate that they understand the way to reach a conclusion—and if they don’t how to better explain the concept. Then ask them if the strategy they are using is useful or helpful to them. Then ask if they want to try it a different way, one that might make more sense for them. Finally, ask them “What still puzzles you?” Verify where they are getting hung up so you can gently remove the roadblocks.

When growing the mind, you can take the same caring, natural approach you took with your young children. Show interest in your kids. Notice their opinions. Be patient with their tantrums. Be their partners and their support system to help grow their minds.

Resources

Connect

Brave Writer Podcast

7 Key Ideas

7 Key Ideas

There are 7 key ideas (or so) that are good to know when practicing a Brave Writer Lifestyle.

Key Ideas

1. Jot down your child’s words when you hear an act of spontaneous passionate self expression. Value your child’s thoughts and get them written. Read them back later to an interested audience (family). Watch your child discover joy at being read and a reason to write.

2. Immerse your children in a language-rich environment—books, poetry teatime, big juicy conversations, movies, comic books, jokes, and lots of writing implements to explore.

3. You create an invisible education for your child with the atmosphere of your home and family life. Kindness matters. So does telling the truth and not pretending. Give your children a healthy family life, and improve the quality of your homeschool. Get help if you need it—no shame in that.

4. You get one life. It matters that you like the one you’re living. Home educating your kids can be a grand adventure—yours. When it stops feeling that way, find out why and make adjustments. No child wants to be the source of a parent’s unhappiness.

5. Your curiosity is enough for your homeschool and is just as important as your child’s (could be argued that it’s more important). Trust it to lead you.

6. Do one thing. Just one. Prepare. Do it well. Be present. Remember it fondly. Then do another thing.

7. Homeschooling is cutting-edge education reform. You are Charlotte Mason or John Holt. You and your family are testing and experimenting with new tactics every day, and will contribute insights to the project of education for all. Thank you for risking your kids. I salute you!


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


Brave Learner Home

A Different Kind of Learning

A Different Kind of Learning

Here at Brave Writer, we work hard to hear our parents and to make the programs accessible and useful to you.

This year, we’ve even added lifetime membership to the Brave Learner Home when you purchase a bundle (or take our classes). We will be a part of walking you through your programs that you use. We’ve added skills trackers and even planning tools.

What I’ve found in my time talking with customers over the last 20 years is that they are sometimes nervous about a program that asks them to read. They make a purchase and stop short of reading the program. They want the program to be “self-teaching” in a way. That they can open it and discover the instructions while standing next to their kids at the table. A “fill in a blank” or answering a single question or following specific criteria kind of writing assignment.

Brave Writer is not designed that way because that’s not optimal for writing growth—the kind of writing that

  • has power,
  • connects to a reader,
  • and is enjoyable to read.

The Writer’s Jungle is meant to be read with a lemonade in one hand and a highlighter in the other. I seek your conversion to a new way of thinking about writing. There are activities to do in each chapter, but there is information to read first. The primary guidance for implementation is simply: read the chapter, do what’s in it.

The Dart or Arrow—same thing. Read the guidelines, then try one book, one week and see how it goes. Learn to have natural conversations about grammar and mechanics rather than chugging through worksheets.

It’s a different style of learning and education. It does take parental investment. We want to help you experience the shift. If you connect to my work in video and podcasting, you can have confidence that what we have built follows those principles. But it may take a leap of faith to experience it for yourself.

Hope that helps! You can always reach out to us at help@bravewriter.com with specific program questions.


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


Brave Writer Language Arts Programs

Friday Freewrite: Commercial

Friday Freewrite

Think of an ordinary task that you do regularly, like doing the dishes, taking the garbage out, or walking the dog. Now write a commercial that advertises your expert services (tip: watch different ads on TV or the Internet for ideas).

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.