Archive for the ‘Homeschool Advice’ Category

Enjoy the Peace

Enjoy the Peace

That peace you hear? That’s the sound of your life working. ~Susan Elliott

Years ago, I read this pair of lines by blogger Susan Elliott that knocked me sideways. I paused to consider a new idea.

Did I need chaos, activity, crisis, a problem to solve to feel productive or alive?

What did I experience in moments of peace? Did I welcome the calm as a sign of health or as the eerie stillness before the next storm?

Did I see struggle as a sign of learning?

Did I see ease as a shortcut, cheating, evidence of not trying or too beginner—not challenging enough?

I noticed that with an active household and a challenging marriage, sometimes when the stars aligned and we had a moment of serenity, I’d feel agitated. It’s like I’d be on the hunt for something to fix or a problem to solve or a new challenge to tackle. Instantly struggle returned and I’d be back to striving rather than enjoying.

I took this watchword, then, and said it to myself on the mornings when the kids were happily busy. Why wreck it by pulling out the math books? Enjoy the peace! My life was working!

I said it to myself when I had a blank date on the calendar. I could leave it empty. I could relish the peace.

I said it to myself when there were extra dollars at the end of a month. I could leave them there and enjoy simple abundance, rather than rushing to spend them yet again.

I said it to myself when I successfully took time away from home and no one missed me. I could realize I’d done a good job of preparing them for successful living without dependency.

You try! What signs of peace could you relish rather than rushing to fill the quiet calm with activity and stress?

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

The Homeschool Alliance

Woman in the Living Room

Brave Learner: Woman in the Living Room

We spend a lot of time talking about bravery in Brave Writer. The public icon who is putting courage and vulnerability on the map is Brené Brown. She talks about what it means to “dare greatly.” She often cites Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” quote to remind us that our critics are in the cheap seats. The place of stature is in the act—in the choice to do!

What are some of the questions/judgments/critiques you deal with?

Stuff like:

  • How will your child ever be socialized?
  • How will you teach advanced math and science in high school?
  • How will your child get into college?
  • Aren’t you bored staying home all day?
  • Homeschoolers are backward thinkers
  • Stay-at-home moms don’t have real careers
  • You are over-protective
  • Homeschooled kids are socially awkward
  • What qualifies you to teach your own kids?

Sadly we get criticisms in our own community.

  • You aren’t a “true” fill in the blank home educator since you are only doing it partially.
  • You’re too religious, not religious enough.
  • You have too many kids/you don’t have enough kids.

We scroll through social media and wonder if we are doing it right enough.

The other cheap seats are located in our own minds—the non-stop chatter of self-harm. We often level critiques at ourselves and then feel our courage fail us when we get a good idea or have an inspired thought.

The “Man in the Arena” is Brené’s way of helping us value the act, over the opinion; getting on the playing field, over shouting coaching strategies to the players.

Still, whenever I hear it, I feel the masculinity of Roosevelt’s chosen image of a man in an arena. That’s not where I live. It’s not my playing field. It seems like we homeschool mothers (in particular) have to work pretty hard to translate Roosevelt’s arena language into our more mundane home-grown experience.

The original quote:

“Man in the Arena”
By Theodore Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

A great quote. But my person was stained more by snot, breast milk, and tears than blood and sweat.

And so: I rewrote it. I rewrote it for us—for homeschool mothers. I know some dads are reading along, and I trust you to make the translation from female to male the same way we women translated other quote from male to female for ourselves.

I call this:

“Woman in the Living Room”
By Julie Bogart

It is not the critic who counts—not the father-in-law who teaches high school, nor the friend with her children in private school; not the woman who points out how the homeschool mother stumbles, or where the doer of lesson plans could have done them better. The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the living room, whose face is untouched by make-up, whose children’s faces are marred by cookie crumbs, scratches from the cat they provoked, and tear stains from a broken heart; who strives valiantly to bring enchantment to academic progress; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the acts of love and learning every day; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions to her family and her vision of education; who spends herself in this worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of a child’s high achievement, and who at the worst, if she fails, at least fails while daring greatly—holding space for the child who struggles, who didn’t catch on yet—and continuing still. Her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know the joy of learning as a lifestyle nor the terror of not doing enough to meet academic standards.

You are the woman in the living room.
You are the brave learner.
You are here. 

Would you like a PDF download of “Woman in the Living Room”
ready to print and display?

Go here!

Woman in the Living Room

“There are no educational emergencies.”

No Educational Emergencies

Your child can’t read—and she’s 9.

Your child won’t handwrite, and when he does, it’s illegible.

You forgot to teach state history that year your oldest was in 4th grade because of the newborn.

You finally got the diagnosis: ADHD. She’s 16. What about college?

My friend (and Homeschool Alliance coach) Stephanie Elms loves to share a favorite saying of one of her friends: “There are no educational emergencies.” The first time I heard it, the phrase went off like an alarm in my heart. What if that were true?

I reflected. It can’t help but be true!

I thought about literacy programs for adults. I thought about voice-to-text software. I thought about the voracious way some adults read about history for pleasure! I remembered that I had grown up friends who didn’t get medical support for their ADHD until their 40s. Others who skipped college or went in their 30s.

What if I could dial back my anxiety from 911 level panic to “there are countless ways to get my child what he or she needs”? Education at a predictable pace is an illusion, is what I’m saying. “Getting behind”—a sure fire way to wind up in panic, to stop seeing the real child in front of you.

I can only begin each day precisely where I am. No matter the age.

Yeah, but what if your child REALLY IS BEHIND, you ask?

Deep breath. Face today with the resolve to get your child all he or she needs to move the next tiny step in the direction of growth. Growth is tangible—and reassuring. Evaluation against the norms? Not so much.

Don’t give up or collapse in defeat. Gather your resources, make judgment calls, get support, more information.

Take it a day or week at a time. Triangle in help. Trust the process.

Remember: you are raising LIFE-LONG learners. Some learning takes longer than expected. There’s no expiration date on an education, either.

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

The Homeschool Alliance

2019 Brave Writer Staff Retreat

Brave Writer 2019 Staff Retreat

by Jen Holman

“Oh my gosh!” Julie rounded the corner with a platter of cookies in hand, looking stunned. “It sounds like a sorority in here! I could hear you laughing from the entrance!”

To which of course, we laughed.

We were sitting in the dining room of the empty retreat center in Cincinnati, the night before the Brave Writer Staff retreat. Yep, we were loud. And only 5 of us had arrived. 

The next day our delightful coaches and staff —you know them, those funny, smart, engaged women who interact with you and your kids every day—would begin to trickle in. Some drove with families in tow. Others took a solo journey for the first time since their kids were born. Some coaches traveled together, relishing in the chance to catch up and chat on the way. 

Laughter multiplied. Hugs exponentialized. Joy overflowed. We all have a really cool internet friend we wish we could meet in real life—this was like that, except thirty times over! Coaches and staff greeted each other like old friends, despite being the first time they were meeting in person. 

But you should know, our coaches and staff didn’t just come for a good time. These women came ready to dig deep! They’d done their homework (literally). They were ready to share and learn and grow. 

Since we only had a few days together, we started that very night. We shared our work experiences and the strengths we bring to teaching. We talked about our Brave Families and what they need. (That’s you! We talked about you, the whole time. <3 )

That first night I could already feel the STRETCHING taking place in the room. New connections, new perspectives, new approaches were being shared. 

Session Speakers: Kirsten, Jen, Julie, Jeanne, Farzana, Johannah, and Dawn

Believe it or not, Saturday took us even deeper. Kirsten Merryman navigated us through practical coaching strategies and how to keep growing in our teaching. We got “on the ground” feedback from coaches about what they see happening in our classrooms (oh, how you and your kids amaze us!). We discussed how to represent ourselves and our values at work in a way that makes our feedback richer, more impactful and helpful. We renewed our dogged determination to bring writing relief to families. 

We got to learn from our fearless leader, Julie, as she walked us through Brave Writer history, its evolution to now and through to the future of what she sees ahead. Along this path she showed us again and again how nurturing actually does lead to a college-ready education in writing. We nodded along in mutual commitment to take fledgling writers from uncertainty, resistance, intimidation to pride, power, and proficiency. Our mandate.

There was some down time. There was Graeter’s ice cream. We laughed, we cried. In true Brave Writer fashion, there was freewriting, as well as Poetry Teatime. And sometimes dancing.

Our last morning focused on self-care (do your stretches, ladies!) and how to use our retreat experiences to inspire growth in our “real lives” back home. Reluctant farewells came too soon, as one after another we left for our cars, Julie’s backyard, or the flight rescheduling desk at CVG.

I’m already nostalgic over the whole experience! It’s quite something to have been in the company of a pride of lions, even for a little while. Or maybe we’re more of a bevy of swans, as one coach said. It’s impossible to come up with the proper metaphor here because I have to tell you: these women are ALL that. Strong and fierce. Graceful, eloquent, and kind. Committed and brave. We’re so proud that they work for Brave Writer. And that they spend their days working for YOU.

The Opposite of Doubting


Doubt: often our reaction is to double-down in defensiveness. Or to rearrange everything, afraid.

Doubt is this buzzing mosquito we want to swat away or squash.

In my reading time last week, I stumbled on the idea that when we doubt the most, it’s a signal that we don’t have enough information. We could go back to research, to listen to new information, to ask questions. All of it got me thinking.

Perhaps the opposite of doubting isn’t confidence. Perhaps the opposite is listening:

  • to a child,
  • to a new idea,
  • to a changed perspective,
  • to the nuances that add complexity,
  • to the struggle others are having.

In my life, doubt has been a uniting force—bringing me into contact with people whose ideas I had previously rejected or scorned. Doubt lets me imagine solutions outside my safe options or community.

What are you doubting today? Your child’s commitment to hard work? A method of home education? Your beliefs about parenting? The support of a friend?

What would listening more completely look like? Where can you tune in to learn more?

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

The Brave Learner