Archive for the ‘Homeschool Advice’ Category

“Less is More” Checklist

"Less is More" Checklist
Boad game pictured: Carcassonne

Which are you? A “less is more” or a “more is more” person?

I’m the latter who daily reminds herself to do less, that my less leads to more: more satisfaction, more ease, more peace, less clutter, less striving, less frazzled and self-defeating.

Whenever you need to ease into homeschooling (after the holidays or a vacation or a busy season of life) then you should feel free to test the “less is more” theory of learning.

I’ve made a SHORT list below (less is more!) to help you. The list covers:

  • reading,
  • science,
  • history,
  • literature,
  • math,
  • handwriting,
  • original writing, and
  • following directions.
Less is More Checklist

This is enough for a whole month—in fact, pick one day a week for games, and you’ve got it!

Imagine the rabbit trails from a library visit alone. And baking and cooking lead to chemistry and math lessons in real life (Quick tip: read PIE by Sarah Weeks and bake the pies from each chapter).


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

Ease is Your Friend

Ease is Your Friend

“Just because it was easy doesn’t mean they didn’t learn anything new.” ~Julie Bogart

It’s so easy to associate learning with struggle and pain. Yet studies show that when you’re relaxed and happy, you’re more receptive to learning. Not only that, ease of practice gives your brain more room to notice details, to make your work more

  • precise,
  • accurate,
  • beautiful,.
  • or creative.

Repetition leads to confidence and competence. When a task becomes easy, you feel freer to

  • improvise,
  • test alternate strategies,
  • and understand why, not just how.

For instance, think about cooking. The more familiar you are with a recipe, the more ideas you have to improve it, to alter the seasoning, to coordinate it with other parts of the meal.

Ease is your child’s friend too. Flying through the multiplication tables again may be establishing connections invisible to you.

Consider resisting the temptation to up the stakes in learning just because your child “got good at (fill in the blank).” Joy AND deeper intimacy are the fruit of mastery.

What if today your kids only did what they’re already good at? How might that help them learn and grow differently than struggle?


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

Podcast: Love + Collaboration

Love + Collaboration in Learning

You might be coming to the Brave Writer podcast to learn about:

  • teaching six kids six different subjects,
  • dealing with cantankerous children,
  • or sharing your love of reading with a kid who doesn’t seem interested yet.

But if you want to achieve any of those things, you need to consider a few things about love.

Listen to the Podcast

Show Notes

Love: A View From Different Angles

Julie compares our expectations around love to that moment when you have a bad itch on your back that you can’t reach. You’re sitting on the couch, you contort your body as you move forward, and your partner starts to scratch your back. It can be so difficult to get them to scratch the right spot without just grabbing their arm and moving it to the right spot.

A part of you imagines that the person who loves you so much should just know where to scratch your itch, and if we’re honest, this is often what it feels like to be in love; it’s that irrational desire to be merged, to be known, to have your needs met. We endeavor to find someone who is willing to divide the burden of being ourselves, splitting all of our tasks and emotional needs with the person who loves us.

“We want love to help us with our messy imperfections without any judgement,” Julie says. “But that kind of love is a lot of pressure to put on someone at all times.”

When we’re forced to confront that this “I know you better than you know yourself” kind of love will inevitably fall short of our wants, one polarizing word will inevitably come up these days: self-love.

(more…)

You are a One-Room Schoolhouse

You are a One-Room Schoolhouse

My kids are 9 years apart top to bottom. The idea that I could run five grade levels each day became a joke-on-me quickly. Certainly there are skills that are child-specific, but once I stopped thinking of pushing the rock up the hill called “individual work” and thought about my crew as a unit, my life got easier and theirs got happier.

Here are three ideas to help you one-room schoolhouse it.

Same Topic, Different Levels

Why study five different historic periods or five different science concepts or five different grammar terms? Everyone can learn about fingerprints or the red-tailed hawk or Colonial America or the Lakota Nation or adjectives at the same time.

Sure, your older kids will bring more detail to the table (though your curious youngsters may surprise everyone), but the littles also bring down the house with giggles. The connections they make are off-beat, charming, or super silly—refreshing the cool elders. Each kid can do a project scaled to that child’s skill, but all on same topic.

Same Skill, Different Levels

We had math time (everyone working on math at once). If a child needed extra help, I focused on that child while others worked individually but as a group (same time of day, same table). If my littlest ones were too small to “do” math, they had blocks or games or puzzles reserved for math time. Same for handwriting/copywork.

One Project, All Contribute

Pick a project: building a small medieval town, or writing a year-end family newsletter, or hosting poetry teatime. Each child can help—scaled to skill. Final project is a combination of everyone’s efforts.

For the village, big kids build it, little kids add decorations. For a letter, youngest kids contribute drawings while older kids write the content. For a party—you know who can bake, set the table, arrange flowers and books. Enter in together.

Some independence is good too—especially as kids start to become teens. But any time YOU feel frazzled, the best way to reset the dial is to come TOGETHER again—even going to the zoo or flipping through Netflix or making crafts.

Happy Home Educating One Big Family!


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

You Deserve Respect

You Deserve Respect

What’s the difference between empathy and accepting mistreatment?

Empathy is the capacity to imagine someone else’s perspective—how that person sees the world. It’s an important skill to foster peace-giving relationships. We use it every day with our kids. We imagine crankiness is hunger in disguise. We imagine a tantrum is a cry for one-on-one time. These are good solutions to childishness in most cases. Sometimes we are off target. The child has pinworms. Our empathetic imagined reason was wrong.

Empathy gets trickier as human beings age. We guess an angry smart-mouthed teen is masking a failure on the soccer field so we offer cheerleading and reminders about how the next game will be different. We get back biting rebukes and a surly look, only to find out much later it was a broken heart (first love rejection by text-invisible to us).
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In our compassion, we misdiagnose…frequently. Where empathy goes south is when your projection of what must be happening turns out to be a thinly veiled excuse for someone else’s mistreatment of you. If you’re a peace-keeper and peace-maker, the tool called empathy can be used to diminish your needs—for kind treatment, for respect, for communication. The focus becomes how to understand why they are being cruel or abusive or angry, using you as an emotional punching bag. You may think “My husband had a rough childhood” or “My friend had an alcoholic mother”—this is why they are going nuclear on me. I can empathize.

That capacity to see the source of pain is not, however, an excuse for their out of order behavior.

Instead of empathy, in that moment, show up for your own needs. Name them. “I can’t be yelled at right now. I need you to master this emotion before we talk about it.”
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You might say: “I told you what I need. I’m happy to discuss it. I will not be punished.”
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It’s respectful to not guess why someone is misbehaving as well. Empathy is not a diagnosis. It’s the willingness to not know why and to accept that how it is for them is not how it is for you. You still deserve to be handled with love and care, not their out of order cruelty.


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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