Author Archive

[Podcast #225] Homeschooling with Babies & Toddlers in Tow

Brave Writer Podcast

Today’s Brave Writer podcast episode is about how to homeschool while you have a baby or toddler in tow.

First, Julie and Melissa talk about daily routines, like finding pockets of time to teach your older kids while your toddler is napping or when you are all taking a family walk. Then they give specific activities that can keep toddlers occupied.

They wrap up by covering a few strategies to involve friends and family, including:

  • co-ops,
  • babysitting swaps,
  • and grandparent-led science experiments.

Show Notes

Find Natural Pockets in the Day

Homeschooling is all about the 5-15 minute pockets of learning throughout the day, evening, and even weekends. Get a feel for the natural flow of the day for your toddlers and your older kids. Is there a time of day when your toddler naps, or tends to be slightly more calm (relatively speaking)? Just as importantly, are there times during the day when you know, realistically, you can’t force any structured learning to happen?

Find what works for you and your kids, and be okay with seizing teaching moments whenever they arise. Most learning happens through conversation, and those conversations can happen any time, even while taking a walk with a toddler in the stroller.

Time-Tested, Toddler-Approved Activities

The cold hard truth is that most of the time you do need to distract the beast baby. Julie and Melissa’s now-grown kids contributed to their list of tried-and-true distraction activities like:

  • dot paints,
  • magnets on a cookie sheet,
  • bubbles,
  • water play stations,
  • a sheet of contact paper with the sticky side up,
  • a soup pot (yes, just a soup pot…toddlers love putting things in things),
  • indoor play equipment,
  • post-it notes and stickers.  

Another tip is to pick certain beloved toys that are only pulled out in situations when you really need to bribe the toddler.

Tap Into Community

Remember, just because you are in charge of your children’s education doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself. Team up with other homeschool families in co-ops or just informal, temporary meet-ups. If grandparents are in the picture, get them involved, either with the babies or with the older children. Consider putting your toddler in a forest school, YMCA program, etc. for a day or two a week. It takes a village, as they say.

At the end of the day, just remember this is temporary. Babies grow fast. Just because one year of homeschooling isn’t super shiny and perfect, doesn’t mean that your kids aren’t learning or that next year won’t be better. Before you know it, they will be teenagers wondering whatever happened to their dot paints.


Connect with Julie

Connect with Melissa

Produced by NOVA Media

Brave Writer Podcast

Simply Do It

Brave Writer

If you want your child to learn something, try the thing in your child’s presence. Work the math problem or copy the passage in full view. Don’t announce it. Simply do it. Be an object of curiosity rather than a teacher.

Pick something that you would love to do and then, just do it.

Perhaps you’d love to:

  • paint,
  • play with clay,
  • repot all your African violets,
  • run through the sprinklers,
  • quilt,
  • make pancakes from scratch,
  • map the constellations,
  • or learn how to play a new board game.

Do it.

In silence. No announcements, no declarations of “wouldn’t this be fun to do together?”

Rather, wake up and start doing the thing. Your kids may notice. When they do, scooch over. Let them handle the implement, or make a mark on a page, or run through the sprinklers in their pajamas.

Your task is to serve as a participant, not as a teacher. See what happens! You might be surprised.

Open the math book; work a problem. Copy your favorite quote from Emma into a notebook.

LEARN. See what happens.

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

[Webinar] An Easier Way to Teach Decoding with Dr. Marnie Ginsberg

Brave Writer

Do you wonder if there’s an easier way to teach your child to read?
Or maybe you need help teaching your struggling reader.

Dr. Marnie Ginsberg, founder of Reading Simplified, joins us as our guest speaker to show us a better, easier approach for growing strong readers. She’ll share integrated practices that prepare great readers and shine a different light on phonics instructions.

You’ll walk away with two reading activities you can use with your reader right away!

Dr. Ginsberg’s mission is to support busy educators in teaching an evidence-based system of reading instruction. She is passionate about finding solutions to reading problems, and we are excited to learn from her expertise.

This special Brave Learner Home webinar is OPEN to everyone! If you aren’t a Brave Learner Home member, you can purchase a seat for only $15.

Bring your questions! There will be a Q&A with our guest speakers at the end.

Save Your Seat!

Webinar: An Easier Way to Teach Decoding with Dr. Marnie Ginsberg
Tuesday, March 19 at 7:00 pm (Eastern)
Purchase your seat here

Seats are limited to 500, including Brave Learner Home members. Be sure to register now! (A replay will be available to all who register.) 

Brave Learner Home

[Podcast #224] A School Principal Chooses Homeschooling: An Interview with Mandy Davis

Brave Writer Podcast

In the realm of homeschooling, the journey from traditional educational frameworks to embracing a homeschooling lifestyle is both inspiring and transformative. This transition, often sparked by a desire for a more personalized and engaging learning experience, is richly illustrated by the story of Mandy Davis, a former traditional education professional who embarked on a homeschooling journey with her family.

Mandy Davis
Mandy Davis

Through Mandy’s experience, we uncover:

  • the profound benefits of child-led learning,
  • the integration of real-world experiences,
  • and the importance of community support.

Show Notes

The Beauty of Child-Led Learning

At the heart of homeschooling lies the principle of child-led learning, a philosophy that respects the child’s natural curiosity and interests. This approach allows children to explore subjects that fascinate them, leading to deeper understanding and retention of knowledge. Mandy Davis’s transition from a structured education system to homeschooling highlights the flexibility and freedom homeschooling offers, enabling her to tailor the educational experience to her children’s unique interests and needs.

Integrating Real-World Experiences

One of the most compelling aspects of homeschooling is the opportunity to integrate real-world experiences into the learning process. Whether it’s through hands-on projects, exploring nature, or engaging in community activities, these experiences provide valuable life lessons that go beyond academic learning. Mandy’s move to a 10-acre land, for example, offered her family an invaluable platform for experiential learning, from homesteading activities to exploring the natural environment.

Overcoming Challenges through Community Support

Transitioning to homeschooling is not without its challenges. However, the support of like-minded communities plays a crucial role in navigating these obstacles. Mandy shares how finding support in communities like Wild and Free helped her family adjust to the homeschooling lifestyle, offering both resources and a sense of belonging. This underscores the importance of seeking out and engaging with homeschooling networks, both locally and online, for guidance, inspiration, and companionship.

Embracing Flexibility and Trust

A key takeaway from Mandy’s story is the importance of embracing flexibility in the homeschooling journey. Letting go of rigid schedules and curricula to allow for child-led exploration requires trust in the process and in our children’s innate ability to learn. This flexibility not only fosters a love for learning but also accommodates the unique pace and style of each child, ensuring a more personalized and effective educational experience.

Resources for the Homeschooling Family

Mandy Davis’s commitment to supporting other homeschooling families is evident in her offering of free resources and her book, A Matter of Principle. These resources provide practical advice, inspiration, and support for those embarking on or currently navigating the homeschooling journey.

Homeschooling offers a unique opportunity to create a learning environment that is tailored to the child’s interests, needs, and pace. Through the experiences of families like Mandy Davis’s, we see the transformative power of a homeschooling approach grounded in child-led learning, real-world experiences, and community support. As we navigate the challenges and celebrate the successes of homeschooling, we are reminded of the profound impact this personalized approach to education can have on our children’s development and lifelong love of learning.


Connect with Julie

Connect with Melissa

Produced by NOVA Media

Brave Writer Podcast

Try It: Free Writers

Brave Writer Try It Free Writers

Liberate your young writers with freewriting!

See thoughts and ideas develop right on the page with this core writing practice for young and old! 

Veteran freewriters, keep scrolling for a fun ranking activity! (And get some neat insights into your kid-writers!) 

New to Freewriting?

Here’s a quick guide:

  • Hand out pencils.
  • Hand out scratch paper (you might wrinkle it first so it’s clear it’s not meant to be perfect).
  • Give this writing prompt: If I had all the money in the world or all the time in the world, I would… (Or pick a prompt from our blog or write whatever comes to mind.)
  • Set the timer for three minutes.
  • Everyone writes (including YOU!) for the full three minutes.
  • Punctuation and spelling errors are welcome.
  • Write “I’m stuck” if you run out of things to say.
  • Stop when the bell dings!

Don’t read your child’s writing! Invite them to read their own freewrite aloud (if they want to—not required).

Celebrate the content and the effort.

Write again on another day!

Already Freewriting Regularly?

Play with freewriting in new places

  • under the table
  • in a tent
  • on the floor next to the dog
  • in the hammock with a clipboard 
  • on the big rock at the park
  • in a blanket fort
  • under a beach umbrella 
  • in the car

After a few playful writing sessions, encourage each child to rank the spots and share what they liked best about writing there! 

All ‘Try It’ Activities

Brave Writer® programs teach writing using your child’s body, mind, and heart.
Discover why writing is the key to all of learning!

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