Archive for the ‘Brave Writer Philosophy’ Category

Growth, Not Grades

Open and Grow

Learning, at its best, isn’t about getting a job or finding a career. Learning is for its own sake:

  • personal development,
  • skill acquisition,
  • a wider lens into history and other populations,
  • community participation,
  • global awareness,
  • moral development,
  • and an appreciation for scientific advancement, including today’s technologies.

Taken together, the fruit will likely be a career path today’s student will eventually enjoy. Yet if career is the goal, sometimes we undermine learning with pressure to perform.

We learn because learning grows us. Growth, not grades—that’s the objective.

When I spent the weekend with octogenarians, what stood out to me were two items:

1) Their education had focused on reading widely, auditing classes in college for the sheer pleasure of it on top of coursework, and a continued appetite for history, literature, the arts and sciences, even beyond career. Many of the priests who taught them made these subjects come to life for their students.

2) The second item was more troubling. The school methods for securing learning in the 1950s (particularly Catholic schools) were often harsh and punitive. Tongue-lashings, boxing a boy around the ears, cracking a textbook over a boy’s head, rapping the knuckles with a ruler, ridiculing one boy against another, using the threat of low grades as coercion… One lovely gentleman told me he was deeply soured and scarred by his experience. Others laughed off the abuse, saying it toughened them for adulthood.

To me: I’d call that education gone wrong—where behaving like a good student was prioritized over learning.

As homeschool parents, we may not crack kids over the head with a math book for not paying attention, but the undue pressure to like a subject or our expectation of a particular outcome can create a similar antagonism to learning. Learning thrives best when it’s an unfolding process of discovery—shared with a trusted partner. YOU!

It means a loss of control (at some level) but it’s so worth it when you see the lights go on!

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

Brave Writer Online Classes

We’ve Got the Secret Sauce!

We've Got the Secret Sauce

We treasure our Brave Writer families. 

That’s why we hold every student gently. We know that curt corrections and disparaging remarks hurt. Because we’re writers, we know that writing is personal. Because we’re educators, we know that learning from us is trusting in us.

Brave Writer coaches are specially trained, not only in writing instruction, but also in how to construct comments that cultivate positive relationships with writing and within your family. In our feedback, we take the whole child into account—writing growth, but also their vulnerability and heart—making it a safe space to learn.

No one does it like we do. 

Learning doesn’t need to be painful. We’ve found that students learn better when it’s not. We can help them unlock how professional writers write, avoiding frustration as students learn the craft. Our methods build them up and won’t tear them down. The results are nurtured writers who are free to grow—and do!

Class in Focus: The Writer’s Jungle Online

Get some of that special sauce! 

The Writer’s Jungle Online, you learn how to teach your student to write using the Brave Writer method. Our writing coach is there for YOU and your child—to give meaningful ideas about how to grow the writing, to partner, to cheerlead, and to celebrate! She’s a companion and a champion who walks each step of the way with you and your child for six weeks.

The Writer’s Jungle Online class includes:

  • Communication (An oral game to get you started. Fun!)
  • Keen observation (The skill to dig out the rich vocabulary lurking inside your child)
  • Freewriting (The breakthrough tool that has unleashed thousands of blocked writers)
  • Revising (Practices and permission to get in there with your kids and help)
  • Editing (The mechanics mop up)
  • Publishing (Suggestions for how to share that great writing with interested readers)
Training Tip

Take the opportunity now to press the reset button on your homeschool writing experiences. Create an atmosphere of collaboration, peace, and progress. Enroll in The Writer’s Jungle Online today!

You can learn more about our online classes here.

We also invite you to log in to a sample class. Click around, play with our text editor, and read real instructor responses to writing posted in class.

The Writer's Jungle Online

Collaborate with Compassion


When your child hates candles, parties, cookies, or hugs—ask yourself—were they offered to ‘get’ your kid to do something that mattered to you, more than it mattered to your child? If I hate running, simply promising me a candy bar at the end of 6 miles is not reward enough for me to cooperate with your agenda that I should be a runner.

When your child pitches a fit, or seems bored, or shows anxiety, the step to take is to receive it. To recognize the emotion as valid in that moment.

Collaborate with compassion—discover what stands in the way first. Then match the strategy to the need.

  • Does she need me to sit by her?
  • Can I ask a tired child how many problems or lines or paragraphs he can do today without wearing out?
  • Would it help to have quiet or a snack?
  • Does he need a break?
  • Does she need competition to test herself?
  • Have I failed to make this subject meaningful in its own right?

Collaborating with compassion means offering the corresponding support to the presenting need. (Jot that down.)

Here’s a helpful slide deck:

When the pixie dust fails, it may be your child senses a trick—a tactic aimed at meeting your goals rather than supporting a child in growing.

Pay attention and be patient. Experiment. Trust the process. ♥️

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

For in depth coaching and support

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Preparing Your Child for Academic Writing: What about Structure?

What about Structure

Brave Writer sometimes gets accused of being a “creative writing” program, which is code for “Brave Writer doesn’t teach writing formats or structure.” Which, to be honest, is absurd. All writing is creative—even a Ph.D. dissertation!

To write means to draw on our insights and ideas to create (craft) a piece of writing that takes the appropriate shape for the intended audience. Sometimes that shape looks like freewriting or journaling or writing a tall tale. Other times that shape is a report or expository essay or a research paper.

Structure in writing is not confined to academic papers either. Graphic novels and comic strips have a kind of structure that is unique to those formats yet no less clear and defining than the structure of a Master’s thesis.

To have a better sense of how a child goes from freely expressing self in writing to the well-defined structure of academic writing later in life, take a look at this brief video, “What about Structure?”

Because Brave Writer aims to support writing at every stage of development, we begin with writing that appeals to a “pre-reader.” That means, the writing the youngest of our children do will be expressive of self and appealing to a child’s interests. Yet the process they engage is similar to what they will do when they are old enough and skilled enough to write long form essays for college.

Our writing project programs follow this path that leads to a natural aptitude for academic writing by the time your child is in high school and leaves for college.

Need more help? Check out writing projects my kids did at different stages:

Structure in Writing: Examples

If you’d like a downloadable PDF copy of the “What about Structure” slide deck to refer to again and again, grab yours here.

“Love given is never wasted.”

Love given is never wasted.

My beautiful friend Debbie and I homeschooled together. Last week we went to the pool and shared about our lives now. Debbie works with opioid addicted women and some men here in Cincinnati. We got to talking about what it felt like to see someone give up the addiction, and make progress in their lives, and then revert to drug use. Debbie made a wise observation that I felt was critical for us to think about.

She said when she joined the organization to do this work, she believed her task was to help rescue people so that they would have improved lives. Naturally, not everyone can achieve the improvement. There are lots of stories of progress, not finished work, with growth and back tracks. She said she discovered she had to change her criteria for success in order to keep going and to not lose heart.

What Debbie believes now is that any time she gives love, she is offering her highest act of service, no matter the outcome.

As Debbie says, “Love given is never wasted.”

That phrase keeps echoing in my mind. How often is our goal to push for an outcome as opposed to creating a sacred space of love?

Perhaps a good question to ask ourselves when working with our kids is, “Is this the loving thing or the pushing them to my agenda thing?”

I want to remember: any love I give is never wasted—no matter how it looks today.

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