Archive for the ‘Email’ Category

From Tears to Young Author

From Tears to Young Author


I’m writing to thank you for the role you’ve played in our educational pathway. I’ve homeschooled my kids in some form or another for their entire schooling. When Kenny, my oldest had reached 9 years old I realized we had a problem. He hated writing. I’m not just talking about not enjoying it. . . we’re talking weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth kind of stuff. I would look for fun writing prompts online and pick something that I thought would only require a little paragraph and there would be tears, and yelling. So I started looking for a different approach.

Call it revelation or providence or maybe just luck. . .but I came across your programs. I ordered the Writer’s Jungle and Partnership Writing. I loved the gentle, hopeful approach and decided we’d try it for a year. If my notes are correct that first year we completed just 4 of the writing projects. But it was just the change he needed. At the age of 10 we did Secret Codes, Imaginary Continent, Lapbook on a Greek Myth and Mail Order Catalog. That was in 2013.

From Tears to Young AuthorA year or so later (I can’t remember for sure) Kenny went to a book launch and met a new author. When he realized she was about the same age as he was he decided he would write his own novel. We spent an entire year working on his novel which was based on his maps and some of the groundwork he laid with his imaginary continent. The writing was not too bad for an 11 or 12 year old but a major change had happened. Now he is an author. He had completed his own book.

Last year as I was talking with another homeschool mother I discovered that she has a small publishing company. I shared his novel and she has taken on the project. Now my nearly 15 year old son, the Author, the Wordsmith has re-written his book to something much more grand. He is planning a life as an author and we are excitedly planning a book launch this spring. I am so excited for his achievement and so very grateful to you and the gentle nudge in the right direction. Honestly I consider this to be a huge win in my corner as homeschool mother, particularly knowing where we started.

Thank you for your beautiful messages, for Poetry Teatimes, for shared journals and for a view that invites parents to work with students in a gentle and nurturing way. Thank you for the Partnership Writing curriculum and for being a pivotal part of our writing journey.



Proud mother of Kenny, soon to be published author of The Middle Lands: The Castaway Hero.

Partnership Writing

Connecting with Kids’ Authentic Voices

Brave Writer Connecting with Kids' Authentic Voices

Brave Writer Mom, Melissa, writes:

Hi, Julie! I just had to share our work from today.

This morning, we completed our first writing assignments using the Jot It Down method. (Kids just turned 7 and 5 this summer.) We are doing the BYL shark unit study, inspired by the fact I was bit by a (tiny) shark on our trip to Galveston last week. (Between that and having given birth in a car, I’ve got some humdingers ready for “2 Truths and a Lie.”)

I am blown away by the ideas and amazing writing that is inside of them! I’ve attached pics and hope you can read my chicken scratch. I swear on my homeschool planner that these words were 100% their own. I just transcribed.

Kids Authentic VoicesClick image to enlarge

The “edits” were even my 7yo’s own changes as she read aloud the finished story. She let her ear be her guide on verb tense agreement. No sentence diagramming needed!

I am eternally grateful you showed me such a simple and effective way to connect with their authentic voices.

THANK YOU for sharing your methods and insights. You are a homeschooling hero!

Much love,

Jot It Down

I Would Do It All Again

I would do it all again

Brave Writer Mom, Kim, writes:

Hi Julie.

My two daughters didn’t attend a public school until they attended our local community college at age 18. During my years of homeschooling them, figuring out how to teach writing challenged me. I have no recollection of how I first heard of your program but they were in their very early elementary years when I purchased The Writer’s Jungle, and it became the only writing program (maybe lifestyle is a better word?) I ever used.

This note is a thank you for your instruction, encouragement and hand-holding via that program and your blog. Over the years, we covered a lot of ground: poetry tea time, freewrites, copywork, revision on some pieces, nature journals, read-alouds most of the way through high school, etc. They took one online Brave Writer class (the essay class) and really appreciated the format; I continued to provide feedback on their writing in the same way they got used to seeing it in that class. I learned to trust the process without knowing exactly where it all would lead.

It led to a bounty of fruit. During their high school years, they each had an article published in a magazine (one daughter bought a small herd of sheep with her earnings). When the girls attended college and took the required introductory writing courses, they both consistently scored in the top of their class.

My favorite comment came from my youngest daughter when someone asked her how I taught them writing. “Well, Mom gives us feedback on what we write by highlighting in different colors (maybe yellow for spelling issues, maybe green for punctuation, maybe purple where she’s commenting on awkward phrasing or more effective ways to organize the writing). So after doing that a bunch of times, you learn how to write better. Then, you go to college and see that other people need help with their writing, and you do the exact same thing for your fellow students!”

Thank you, Julie! I would do it all again given the opportunity!


Brave Writer Online Classes

An International Family

An International Family

Brave Writer mom, Christa, writes:

Dear Julie

I just wanted to send you a note to say I appreciate your fun podcast. I’m listening to the Roadschooling episode now. The World Schooling one was fun also and you mentioned you wanted stories of other homeschoolers that are “world” schooling.

We live in Switzerland. My husband is Russian and I’m American. Possibly you remember me writing to you a few years ago. Our twin 13 year olds have taken a couple of your online classes over the past couple of years. We also have a 3 year old boy.

As an international family we’ve had the challenges and adventures of living in both Latvia and Switzerland. My twins recently got to go on a trip with my husband to Germany and sit in business meetings and see Berlin, then to Estonia to an event and sightseeing, and then Latvia and Lithuania. I love when they are learning through travel and new experiences.

We go to Minnesota/North Dakota each summer for two months and then we take full advantage of English speaking opportunities, time with family, and my twins love playing street music outside my dad’s store in a cute little resort town, among other adventures. We wouldn’t be able to do that if we were in the Swiss school system because they only get 4 weeks of summer break.

Over the years we’ve gotten to visit Iceland, France, Turkey, Dubai, Germany, Liechtenstein, tour around Switzerland, and tour a bit around the US.

I love hearing stories of other traveling homeschoolers. Traveling has provided some of our most memorable family/school times together and I’m grateful for all of the opportunities.

I don’t know what you’d call our approach exactly – lately I think its a “do it all, see it all” sort of fly by the seat of your pants sort of a deal. One son decided he wanted to try cello so off we went to get a cello to rent, in addition to his violin and piano. The other twin wanted to add guitar to piano, so we ran off to rent a guitar and he’ll have his first lesson tomorrow. Alex, with the violin and cello, is crocheting animals to sell at a Christmas market. Erik is redesigning our house and designing his dream house in Archicad, the real Architect’s program.

So there’s never a dull day. Our normal week includes classes in English, Russian, German and French, which is a logistical nightmare that I hope works out in the end but we are required to learn German and French, I can only teach in English, and my husband’s first language is Russian.

It’s an adventure and most of the time it is fun. Thanks for your encouragement for homeschoolers. I’ve learned much from your podcasts and Periscopes.

Have a great day.


Brave Writer Podcast

“You were right”

Brave Writer mom says: You were right

Brave Writer mom, Melissa, writes:

Dear Julie,

I’m the homeschooling mom of three kiddos (ages 11, 9, and 6). I’m also a multi-published novelist. My kids started out in private school, where I used to volunteer to teach a writing workshop each year and helped the first and second grades create a literary magazine. So, when our life journey led us to homeschool, I had many worries, but teaching writing wasn’t one of them.

Pause for the belly laughter. AHAHAHAHAHA

I’ll spare you all the details of what DIDN’T work. But this past Fall I bought The Writer’s Jungle and read it, but I’ll be honest, I was still resistant. Then a few things happened: My youngest and I signed up to take a Storytelling Class at a local center mainly so I could have some one on one time with her. And she LOVED it. I didn’t really view it as learning because it was so gentle and playful, so I was a lot more fun during that hour, I’m sure.

The next thing that happened was I signed up for the Brave Writer Lifestyle yahoo digest but didn’t actually implement anything.

In fact, I backed off any assigned writing entirely until I could get a handle on my thoughts. Meanwhile, the oldest was tearing through a sports-themed book series, creating draft lists for various sports, and producing YouTube videos; the middle was reading voraciously and keeping a private diary and drawing maps inspired by the fantasy books he reads; and the youngest was discovering the joy of reading for pleasure and acting, oh, so much dramatization. We were watching lots of great movies together and playing language-based games. We have always read aloud as a family, and that continued.

Finally, just recently, I heard you speak on The Homeschool Sisters podcast and then, through them, discovered your podcast and social media community.

And I realized, wait a minute, we’ve been living the Brave Writer Lifestyle all along!

ANYWAY, today we went to the local art museum where we have a membership because it’s featuring a great exhibit called Into the Pixel—all about video game art.

I took a deep breath when we got in the car and told them on the way home they were going to do a five-minute freewrite about something from the museum. I explained the rules and got a fair amount of pushback from the younger two. But when we left the museum, I set a timer, and without complaint they wrote during the drive home. When time was up, I got a chorus of groans that they needed more time!

My perfectionist, who really chafed at the thought of not fixing his mistakes, cheerfully admitted that he’d had fun and volunteered to read his piece. My little one, who wanted help spelling, finally understood it wasn’t going to happen and drew a sketch that she labeled with invented “kid writing.” And my oldest somehow managed to tie his love of sports into the exhibit.

I now have three envelopes sitting on my desk waiting for next week’s freewrites (which I already have planned for a visit to our bookstore to pick out travel journals for an upcoming month-long road trip.)

This is all a VERY long-winded way of saying you were right. And I’m ever so grateful.

All the best,

Freewriting Prompts