Archive for the ‘Email’ Category

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

Reading the Writer’s Jungle

Reading the Writer's Jungle

Brave Writer mom, Jennifer, writes:


Thank you so much for doing the [Writer’s Jungle] webinar. I was not able to participate live, but just finished watching the replay. I have owned a copy of The Writer’s Jungle for years but never got around to reading it or implementing it in our homeschool. Why was I hesitant? What was my fear? As a writer, I totally do all the things that you recommend. But as a teacher, I honestly felt it was too loosey-goosey for my teaching style. I wanted clear instructions to follow. I wanted step-by-step writing assignments. So instead of just doing something…I did nothing. (Ok…not nothing…we regularly do poetry tea time, read alouds, discuss books, observe writing, talk about words, read Shakespeare, watch Shakespeare, but I don’t feel that we write enough. After watching your webinar, perhaps I need to rethink that. 😉 )

One way to make sure I started doing more writing with my 12 year old son was to make myself accountable. I was approached by a couple of mothers in our music co-op about the need for a middle school writing class. After thinking it over, I agreed to put a class together. Next I had to decide what curriculum to use in my class. I pulled out my copy of The Writer’s Jungle and finally started reading it. After going through the first couple of chapters, I skipped to the Appendix where you map out a course of study for each level. This was exactly what I needed and didn’t realize was in there! I was able to easily pull together a semester’s worth of writing assignments and activities. Thank you for including that in the book. I only wished I’d known about it sooner. Hopefully others who watched the webinar won’t wait so long to implement your great ideas.

My class meets for 90 minutes once a week. I have 8 students including my son. We just finished our 4th week. We’re doing the eight week freewrite project. We’ve played the communication game (which they loved). We did limericks and tongue twisters. We did a keen observation exercise. They wrote lovely paragraphs about their pets full of amazing details. We had cupcakes and lemonade and tore apart Jabberwocky just yesterday. My son (and others) have said how much they enjoy the class. It is their favorite thing all week! But I cannot take credit for much of it because the ideas are all coming from your book and your blog. Thank you!

Thanks again for all that you do! What a blessing Brave Writer is to families everywhere.

All my best,

The Writer's Jungle

Who are these children!?

Who are these children!?

Dear Julie,

I have purchased and received the Writer’s Jungle, Arrow, and Partnership Writing. I can’t wait to get started! That’s the hardest part – me doing my homework so we can get started!!

Anyway, my reason for contacting you, is of course, to share a story or two:

First, yesterday as part of our reading time, I asked both boys to pull out their journals and choose an entry to read to the rest of us. Well… That was amazing, (just as you said)! They loved reading aloud their thoughts and ‘old’ writings. It even opened a conversation to writing a short journal entry EVERY DAY!! Who are these children!? 😊

Next, we experienced poetry tea time! Oh my goodness… I get teary thinking about it. While our ‘big’ (9y/o) guy was finishing up some work, my younger and more artsy guy helped me get the table ready. What a joy that was! We couldn’t find the right coloured table cloth… so we used a baby blanket (Easter colours were required– so funny!) Then, I explained that we wanted a ‘proper’ table setting, which he worked on diligently. Then we made tea (two kinds), and I had cut up some baking into smaller pieces and we ate with exquisite manners. And read some poetry.

Julie, I have to tell you, that was the most enjoyable experience! We all can’t wait to do it next week! It truly felt like a little breather- a time of peace in our busy day.

Thank you for introducing me to this life. I can’t wait to get on the bus!

Best regards,

Partnership Writing

A World of Difference

A World of DifferenceWith Angie, who organized the Muslim Homeschool Network Conference

Hi Julie,

I hope you’re doing well! We miss you out here in Sunny SoCal!! 🙂

I just wanted to share with you (and please share with Rita Cevasco as well!) our struggle, in hopes that it will help other families.

Last year around this time my then 6 year old was a reluctant writer. She knew how to write letters but hated holding a pencil. I would hear the common complaints like “it hurts my hands” or “it’s boring” etc. …Not to mention my 6 year old was reading far beyond her age, reading classics with advanced vocabulary and I was stunned that she was doing amazingly with reading and struggling so much with writing?! I was baffled.

Finally, a friend introduced me to Brave Writer! After a few Julie scopes and exploring the website I was hooked. We started with Jot It Down. My daughter was telling me funny poems, writing stories, and asking me to jot down all sorts of writing that seemed to be exploding out of her imagination! Her writing voice was beautiful. I was thrilled and so was she!

Then we got to the mechanics. I assumed since her reading level was beyond her 6.5 years, that A Quiver of Arrows would be the right fit. She loved Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Charlotte’s Web and had read them multiple times. I had skimmed through The Wand but Hop on Pop and Amelia Bedelia were not where she was reading at all so I just ignored The Wand all together. And this was my mistake, READING LEVEL DOES NOT EQUAL WRITING LEVEL!! …Most of the words during French dictation were misspelled no matter how many times we looked them over. I was stressed, she was annoyed, so I backed off.

At that time I was thinking that maybe this curriculum wasn’t a good fit for some reason, but then I decided to give The Wand a shot… and it was the perfect fit! The sentences were simple and short enough that she felt confident doing the copywork. Spelling was fun with the post-it notes and hands-on activities. My daughter was loving it. Over the course of the year, her spelling improved dramatically and she was now loving picking up a pencil and writing her thoughts, lists, stories, notes to her father and I, and even journaling her favorite trips ON HER OWN?!? My mind was blown. It took us a year or so to finish all 3 levels and its has made a WORLD of difference. She has recently started learning cursive after begging me to get her a cursive writing book.

Thank you and thank Rita for me as well. I never thought such a different mind set and simply unique curriculum could make such a difference but it really has made a world of difference. As a new homeschooler, this was GOLD and I wholeheartedly recommend the Jot it Down + the Wand to anyone who has a struggling writer!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension (Volume 1)Great news! Rita Cevasco’s book, Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension, is on sale now through April 30, 2017 (learn more about Rita’s book)!

Take 30% off your purchase using this discount code: