Archive for the ‘Homeschool Advice’ Category

Not the Time to Get Serious

Not the Time to Get Serious

The Ghost of Public School Past will make you think that writing is difficult. You will believe that structure and format are more important than the quirky, insightful, sometimes funny, sometimes obscure, writing voice of your child. You may think “I’ve used Brave Writer for years but now it’s time to get serious about writing.”
If you find yourself using the word “serious” with regard to any school subject, raise a red flag inside yourself.

You have just admitted that you’re preparing to make your child miserable. You will be in full justification mode, so you’ll eviscerate the character of your child as lazy or not dedicated or behind. You will look for a method that reassures you rather than a method that sparks your child’s natural motivation.

Learning to write is simple. It is the ability to transcribe your thoughts as you think them. It comes with practice the same way learning to speak comes with babbling. It allows for lots of wasted words on paper and on the screen that do not rise to the level of your expectations. Just like your 12 month old or your 2 year old or even your 5 year old who misuses words in abundance and becomes more fluent in speech every day.

Writing works the same way. Write together, freely, regularly (a few times a month, for 5-15 minutes). See what happens!

You use the essay format for about eight years of your life. You do not need to dedicate the first eight school years of childhood preparing for the essay. I can teach you how to write an essay on the back of a napkin. What I can’t teach you is the confidence to express your true thoughts on a page. That comes from practice—the kind of writing that allows free self-expression on a regular basis.

Please give your kids a chance to enjoy self-expression in writing. This is not the time to get serious. It’s the time to learn to write. Don’t ruin your chance to grow a writer by getting serious about writing.

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

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That Big Decision You Made

Certainly the quote above can apply to homeschool itself, but what about curriculum?

The dilemma is real. Trust your gut and ditch the program or product because your kids “hate” it, or keep going because you invested money and all your friends told you it was great so maybe it is…?

Try a third option.

Take it out of rotation this week. Read the instructions instead. Try the problems or activities yourself, away from the kids. Think about how to introduce the concepts or the activities without the book on the table. In fact, if you can do the practice or the process without announcing it, in front of your children, some may become curious about what you’re doing. There’s nothing more magnetic particularly for kids under 12, than doing what a grown-up is doing.

Before you ditch any program or curriculum:

  • adapt it,
  • test it,
  • get to know it,
  • invite feedback from your kids.

You could say, “I like the goals of this program but I wonder how we could do it so it’s not so annoying.” Give your children a meaningful chance to help you figure out what’s not working and what could be working.

It’s rarely the program that’s the problem. It’s often context, implementation, or a poor understanding of how to use the product. Even math books often come with teachers manuals that include creative ways to implement the lessons.

Park your kids in front of the TV and take an hour to get to know the program. Mull it over this week. Practice a little alone. Adapt it to your particular family. Try try again.

You can do this!

If it still brings tears and you hate it: good riddance! Sell on ebay, and move on. Your first “research and development” experience is complete.

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

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Growing a Mind

Growing a Mind

Brains adapt. We know this from the research. The plasticity of the brain means that we can shape how we use our minds. Our brains adapt to influences, experiences, and materials that we consume and enjoy (or fear).

To grow a mind suited to homeschooling, shape your child’s mind toward curiosity and insight. Their brains need lots and lots and lots of encounters with attractive opportunities to:

  • grow their skills,
  • test their ideas,
  • and explore this amazing world we call home.

Learning can be pleasurable and effective at the same time.

If you’re new to homeschooling, this is a paradigm shift (a brain chemistry change) for you too! Take it slow.


  • reading,
  • growing,
  • and adapting.

Your mind will join you on the journey.

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

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A Journey Through Curiosity

A Journey Through Curiosity

Imagine education differently: as a journey through curiosity.

It’s tempting to focus on making sure our children are curious, to see if they have interests. Do you expect them to develop passions and then hope you can parlay those into the 3 Rs or 6 subject school day? Lots of discussion in teaching theory focuses on the notion that a child’s interest can lead the way. And to a certain extent, it’s true.

Children are naturally curious about all kinds of things. But they are also human beings. And humans go through dry spells and boredom. They run out of their own creative or curious energy from time to time.

During those in between times, parents sometimes assume that the child is no longer a curious person. They worry that the child has important subjects to master but shows no interest in them. So they resort to coercing an education.

In those moments, your curiosity can become the focal point of your child’s education. As the chief role model of adulthood and learning, what fascinates you and draws your curiosity is irresistible to children. By attending to your own capacity to learn, you live a learning journey in front of your kids.

They see a model of what it looks like to go from no interest, to curiosity, to interest, to applying yourself to learn something new. And because the topic or hobby or subject is of interest to an adult, it immediately becomes valuable. Children are drawn to adult tools, adult hobbies, and adult interests because that makes those subjects, hobbies, and experiences cool.

  • If you want to quilt—get at it, in the middle of the day—not off stage, in your “free” time).
  • If you want to learn the constellations, add the Stargazer app to your phone and start sky-watching tonight.
  • Want to master algebra? Start your day with coffee and chapter one, working the problems, before read aloud time.
  • Wish you had a better literature education? Listen on Audible in the car or while making dinner. Watch the film versions.

The stuff you imagine makes a great education can be yours (and by extension, your kids’) if you lean into your own curiosity, now, while homeschooling.

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

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Learning about Native American Nations, First Nations, or Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

Learning about Native American Nations, First Nations, or Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

Are you looking to learn more about Native American Nations, First Nations, or Indigenous Peoples of the Americas?

As you research, evaluate resources, and plan your homeschool lessons, we’d like to offer a few points to help you facilitate respectful planning, discussions, and activities while learning about Native American Nations, First Nations, or Indigenous Peoples of the Americas.

Along with these tips, please use the links provided to access direct information from members of Native American Nations, First Nations, and Indigenous communities. These links lead to resources that we have found helpful.

Points to Consider

When evaluating resources, start with these foundational questions: 

  • Who created the resource? (Try to use resources created by the people you are learning about.)
  • Whose story is being told? 
  • Is it historically accurate? (You may need to do more research.) 

Across the Western Hemisphere, there are hundreds of federally recognized Nations and Indigenous peoples. When discussing Native or Indigenous peoples, it is respectful to use the specific name of the nation, tribe, band, or people, whenever possible. When lesson planning, work to learn more about a specific nation, tribe, band, or people rather than learning about Native or Indigenous peoples as a monolithic group.

Learn more about using the right terminology. Download the Native Knowledge 360° PDF: Am I using the right word?

When planning activities for your homeschool or book club, it is considered best practice to avoid crafts and activities that use

  • sacred objects (such as feathers),
  • sacred stories,
  • or reenactments of sacred ceremonies.

If you are unsure which activities may be part of the sacred tradition, conduct research to learn more about the craft or activity in question.

Learn more about cultural appropriation, how it’s different from cultural appreciation, and how to avoid it. The PBS Teachers Lounge has a helpful post called Cultural Appropriation: What’s an Educator’s Role?—it offers practical tips and questions to ask when embarking on a new project with your children.

Incorporate information about the current activities of citizens and the nation, tribe, or band you are learning about. During discussions with your children, use present-tense language when referring to the citizens of nations, tribes, or bands.

Please let these tips serve as an introduction and explore more at the resources below. 


The following online tools provide guidance for engaging in respectful discussions and activities:

We encourage you to continue to incorporate learning about Native Nations, First Nations, and Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere as part of your regular lesson planning throughout the year.