Archive for the ‘Grammar’ Category

Be Gentle with Grammar

Be Gentle with Grammar

Today’s word advice: Don’t be a grammar Nazi.

It’s so much more important to preserve relationships, to receive the intended communication rather than to enforce proper usage in texting, Facebook, freewrites, message boards, or any quick writing that does not rise to the level of some kind of permanence.

Yes, every day people write “your” and mean “you’re” or they write “here” when they meant “hear” or “loose” when they meant “lose.” I “would of come” is hard to read. I admit. But if I say it out loud, I know what it means.

The purpose of all writing and speaking is to convey

  • information,
  • ideas,
  • feelings,
  • thoughts.

When someone risks self-expression and fails to get the grammar right, you can be the one who focuses on the content rather than the grammar conventions. If the issue recurs and it’s someone you love, you can point it out in a gentle way days later:

“By the way, did you know that it’s ‘would have’ not ‘would of’? Funny how the way we speak has made it hard to hear the original grammatical structure.”

Be Gentle with Grammar

There’s nothing inherently superior about being “right” about grammar. It just means you have that area of information mastered and someone else doesn’t. So be kind. Please. No one likes to be corrected for the errant apostrophe in “it’s” or the mistaken “there.”

But all of us like to be heard.

Brave Writer’s Groovy Grammar Workshop empowers parents
to implement a natural approach to teaching grammar.

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!

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.

The Distance Between Writing Voice and Mechanics

The distance between voice and mechanics

I’ve had a lot of emails and phone calls expressing anxiety about writing. Nothing unusual about that in my in-box. But the concerns overlapped in the type of anxiety they expressed. Moms new to Brave Writer find it really hard to believe that it is possible to nurture your child’s writing voice without worrying about the mechanics of writing. They wonder if they are fostering a carelessness in their children’s writing habits. Shouldn’t they learn to care about how they spell, how they punctuate, how they construct their sentences and paragraphs? Isn’t attentiveness to the form as important as attentiveness to the content?

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

It’s true that meticulous care about mechanics is a final step in every writing process. When students in high school turn in papers to me, I always tell them that they can make sure it is error free. They have spell-check, parents, friends – all who can lend support to finding spelling errors, missed punctuation and typos. The presentation of the final paper is a psychologically important part of grading a paper, in fact. A teacher, parent or professor is put at ease when the writing is without error. The mechanical perfection of the paper renders the form invisible and frees the reader to focus exclusively on content. What a joy that is!

So yes, mechanics matter a lot in writing and there’s nothing at all wrong with expecting a high standard in the final product. Far be it from me to ever have associated with my name a carelessness about how the final paper is presented!

On the other hand, there is a peculiar challenge in writing. To find one’s meaning, to explore and excavate one’s ideas requires a letting go of the wheel.

It’s hard to focus on the end marks and spellings when your inner eye is trained on an idea and where it is going. For your kids, who are even less skilled as writers, it’s even harder for them to pat their stomachs and rub their heads simultaneously. They haven’t got years of writing and reading under their belts. The conventions of punctuation aren’t automatic for them. To write “correctly” requires effort and attentiveness.

If they focus on how to put it on paper,
they lose touch with what they want to say.

The quickest way to kill a writer’s inspiration is to ask him or her to think about how to write before the writer has thought about what to write. Start with their:

  • ideas,
  • images,
  • thoughts,
  • fantasies.

Later, once all that mess is out there, it’s possible to shift gears and give full attention to editing. In fact, it’s surprisingly satisfying to clean up the mess of creativity once it is on paper. Editing is relaxing in the way that mowing the lawn or ironing a wrinkled shirt is. You see progress instantly!

So save mechanics and instruction in how to execute them for copywork, dictation, and other people’s writing (our Arrow and Boomerang language arts programs are great for this).

And for those who like more structure, we suggest using a dedicated program only once in elementary school (something like Nitty-Gritty Grammar), once in junior high (Winston Grammar), and a foreign language in high school.

In the meantime, while you are growing a young writer, give full attention to what that writer wants to say and how he or she wants to say it. Mess with meanings, play with words, wriggle around in disorder and creativity. Then, once the words are all over the page in their glorious chaotic sense, impose a little order by editing for spelling, punctuation and grammar.

That’s the best (and I daresay, only) way to cultivate writing voice while giving some attention to the mechanics of writing.

Groovy Grammar Workshop

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.