Archive for the ‘Dictation and copywork’ Category

What it means to be “brave”

Hello everyone!

Summer is long over. However, fall is just beginning in the Bogart household. My middle child only moved to college on Thursday! Made it very hard to settle into a fall routine.

Now that we’re here, let’s explore a few thoughts about Brave Writer and writing that may support your coming school year. One of our Brave Writer moms said it well a few years back:

I saw the name “Brave Writer” and honestly didn’t even consider why the website was called that.  After reading what a friend had to say about The Writers Jungle on the Sonlight forums, I decided to check it out.  At first I thought…no, way…the price is too much!  Boy was I wrong! It has been one of the most valuable investments I have made on this homeschool journey.

Last week I finally realized the significance of the name “Brave Writer.”  It speaks not only to the bravery of putting your thoughts down on paper, but also to me as a homeschool mom.  I have been using several recommended curriculum including a spelling workbook. It has gone fine—my ds 8 has been getting great grades on the tests as well as learning some alphabatizing and proofreading skills. However, when he writes, he misspells some of those same words.  There is a disconnect with my ds between completing a workbook and memorizing a list of spelling words and actually being able to spell well. Another downside…the spelling workbook pages were taking way too long some days with a dawdling boy (but who could blame the kid! It’s not the most fascinating work!). And that’s when I did my first brave thing…I threw out the spelling workbook (gasp, and the $10 I had paid for it).

O.K…that may not seem that brave, but it was my security blanket! And now I am having these crazy thoughts concerning the Grammar book as well. You see, I want him to spend more time on copywork, dictation, narrations, reading great books and poetry and there are just so many hours in the day (especially productive hours where an 8 year boy is involoved).

I’m having trouble letting go of those nagging thoughts “Well, so-and-so is having her ds do the whole grammar book and talks about how much he is learning…what if we don’t?  Will he still get into a good college someday? What if he can’t diagram a sentence?” (As I write this, I realize just how silly that sounds, but deep down I still wonder).

So I’m starting with my first brave act…I’m throwing out the spelling workbook and trying a more natural approach using copywork and dictation.  Maybe soon I’ll be able to take the next brave step with a little encouragement!


By the way, my ds doesn’t hate to write now that we do freewriting. I never realized how much pressure he was feeling because he thought everything had to be perfect!  Thanks, Julie!

What a great story! It’s true that being brave is not just about writing. It’s about taking calculated risks to trust that writing can be as natural a process as learning to speak was. Kay’s journey can be yours! Every day I hear from families who have completed the homeschooling journey. Here are a couple of their comments:

Hi Julie

We’ve been with Brave Writer for many years: have won a competition, participated in an on-line class, and my daughter is still loving her writing. She’s 17 now…

We’ve loved your stuff and continue to recommend your services to people everywhere we go.

God bless,

I thoroughly appreciated your blog, bravewriter manual and especially the “tuesday teatime” idea. We have enjoyed poetry with chocolate cake and have good memories for that. You helped me approach an area I did not have confidence in so THANK YOU.


Dear Julie,

As a homeschool family, we have been so blessed by you. I just want to thank you so much for what you have done for our family, over the past few years of our subscription.

As you know, children grow up. Our two are at the end of their homeschool journey, and we are using less and less homeschool curriculum, and more and more of community based learning prorams.

We have all ( me too) enjoyed the bravewriter lifestyle, and will always cherish special memories of reading aloud, and poems with our afternoon tea and candles. You are such a huge blessing.

Thank you for everything.


It’s great to be a part of these journeys. Hope Brave Writer can help you too!

From the Forums: When it works, it works!

Last year we took the WONDERFUL copywork/dictation class and now we are slowly working our way through The Writer’s Jungle. Today my children did their first keen observation exercises.

Samuel, age 8, dictated the following to me with just a little bit of help:

It has a light-blue blade with streaks of white on it. It has a red button that you pull down to open it. It has six grips on it. One has a little, tiny, white streak on it. In the back of it, it has a knob with ridges going all around it with a dot the color of bronze in the middle of it. Right above that there is this thing that looks kind of like a little clothespin but you can not close it. And it has some black on the rim of it.

On each side of the lightsaber, it has two little bumps with a circle going around it. Above the red button I told you about there is a little silver circle. Above that is a black strip that curves in a moon shape, going out to the sides. On the sides, there is a hump that goes up, around the back, and back down on the other side. Then in the middle of the handle, there is more than 55 tiny, pointy studs going around the middle. It feels a little sharpish but it has a good grip.

It tastes like stale crackers.

In the middle of the left side of the lightsaber, there is a rectangle that goes a half-inch off the side of the lightsaber. On the top of that, there is a gold line about half-inch wide and two inches long and it has perpendicular and parallell lines carved on it and it has two little black spots on the top. And on the side of that rectangle, there is this little thing coming off of it that looks like a bed and it has a black spot at one tip. At the bottom of it, near the grip, is a black hook so you could hook it on your pants.

When the blade is coming out, it sounds like a fast-moving river. When it is going back in, it sounds like a brief drum roll.

The smell is like perfume. That’s why I don’t smell it that much.

Jane, 10 years old, wrote the following all by herself about a large multi-colored fake gemstone. (I corrected all of her spelling a punctuation errors as I typed this in):

This fake diamond is an amazing mix of colors. When I lean my head to one side, the sun relects on the little, triangular, tinted plates, creating a rose-blended lavendar, while some still remain an emerald green. The diamond-shaped, colored plates surrounding the outer edge can appear gold in some forms of lighting or lavendar, and in other cases emerald color. The inner plate can, too, appear a most majestic gold. Once I turn on the light the colors become deeper and darker like a dark, deep sea.

It feels cold to the touch, like icy metal. But it warms slowly as you keep your hand on it. The back is coated with a light metal surface.

It smells like a clear icy morning, so clear and airy almost like nothing. When I rub it on a wood surface, it sounds rocky and raspy like a not-so-clear voice coming over an old-fashioned radio. Sometimes when I touch it with a warm hand, it feels sweaty, the way it does when you grip a penny too hard and too long.

In the front there is a flat, circular, clearish plate, which is surrounded by the diamond plates I told you about. I think it is very complex and interesting to think about.

I’m pleased with their results. We’ve read good books & they’ve done narration for many years. For the past year, we’ve done copywork, dictation & freewriting regularly. We just completed the Farmer Boy Arrow that caused us to discuss and notice descriptive details, especially for my daughter. We also recently played the communication game, which really helped my son notice & describe details. I think all those things helped prepare them for this valuable exercise. I LOVE this approach to language arts! It’s so natural, fun & productive, too.

–Betsy R

The Arrow and the Boomerang start August 1

You can sign up any time and unsubscribe any time too. However, if you’re wanting the full year of issues, now’s the time to get that going! The Arrow and the Boomerang are our language arts products designed to make copywork and dictation spring to life. We give you four passages per month from a living book with detailed notes about grammar, spelling and punctuation, as well as noting literary style. Read more by clicking on the Arrow and the Boomerang.

We have several options for subscription or year long payment possibilities. You can purchase either of these as part of the Platinum package with The Writer’s Jungle as well.

Email: Spelling

Hello, Julie.

I have some samples and questions regarding my son’s horrid spelling that I was hoping you would not mind giving me some guidance with.  My son, Clay, just turned 9 in March and he says he hates to write (and read).  He reads at grade level (3rd) or a little below.  He enjoys stories ~ he says he hates reading however because he stresses himself out regarding the length of the story and the amount of writing per page.  He does plenty of copy work and has very neat writing.  He is struggling with creative writing because he is challenged to get his thoughts out of his head and onto paper.  We don’t do a lot of creative/freewriting becasue he is young and I don’t push him.


Language Arts for everyone

Brave Writer has launched its new year of the Arrow and the Boomerang, our tailor-made tools to help you execute your best intentions with regard to grammar, spelling, punctuation and writing mechanics. These tools feature a terrific, classic work of fiction while highlighting passages that assist you in teaching these language arts elements to your kids in the context of real writing.

Sometimes I’m asked if these tools are sufficient for teaching grammar, in particular. What I’ve noticed over the years of home educating five kids myself as well as the thousands of students we’ve now taught through Brave Writer is that the best education for the mechanics of writing is reading real writing. Some parents complain, however, that their kids read a ton and aren’t making the connection between what they read and what they write. It worries them! And of course it does! These are your kids.

What the Arrow and Boomerang do (and likewise, the high school already-published issues of the Slingshot) is to give you the ability to feature language arts elements in the context of great writing! Your kids naturally come to adopt the mechanics of writing in English through the soothing, repetitive practices of reading, pondering, copying and writing the passages in their own hand.

The power of this methodology came clear to me again just this week. My 14 year old son, Liam, who has struggled a lot with writing (has dysgraphia and was delayed in writing), has suddenly blossomed. His last year of copying passages from Redwall (his previous obsession) has borne fruit! As he started writing his own reviews of novels he’s reading, the flair to his natural writing voice, his “knack” for punctuation and his spelling are startlingly accurate. Sure he’s got some run-on sentences and occasional fragments. We can address those. But the heart of his writing is pure flair and personality, mixed with terrific spelling and a reasonable grasp of basic punctuation.

I did no formal teaching of grammar with this child. I’ve just continued to trust the process of reading aloud, read to self, talking a lot about the novels and stories and then copying the passages. We haven’t even graduated to dictation yet! Still the results are impressive.

To take a look at the Arrow or Boomerang, go to their website pages. Download the free samples and try them this month. Then if you like them, feel free to sign up for the monthly subscriptions or order back issues tailored to the books you’re reading. You’ll be glad you did.