Archive for the ‘Podcasts’ Category

Podcast Best of: The Bermuda Triangle of Education

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Kids are savvy! They know that when you teach them something, there’s a sort of implicit catch. If you show a child how to make their bed, they know you’ll expect them to start making the bed themselves every day. It’s a small thing, but when that obligation is there, it leads to resisting the learning of new skills.

To kick off the start of the school year, we’re revisiting one of our favorite podcasts: The Bermuda Triangle of Education. It’s an encore performance of this popular episode as a way to go into this year.

In it, I discuss the question I get all the time: How do I teach my child to read in a way that makes them love reading? This question, and questions like it, have three parts to them that I call The Bermuda Triangle of Education.

Show Notes

Click here for the episode’s show notes.


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Podcast: Raising Happy Humans

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For homeschooling parents, happiness feels like the lowest level of ambition. When other parents would say “I only want my kids to be happy,” we’d scoff. We wanted our kids to be virtuous, to make a difference, to be leaders in their generation.

But we parents have very little control—over our own lives, let alone the lives of our kids. The struggle to become an adult means entering a world of complexity and ambiguity, no matter how much we want to protect our kids from it.

In today’s Brave Writer podcast, I’m going to share a story of when I came to realize that, hey, this happiness thing may not be so bad.

Show Notes

A moment comes for all parents. The cold ring of the phone too late at night that means something. A car crash, drunk driving, the police. Some moments paralyze: childhood cancer, learning disabilities, mental illness. Others overthrow hopes and dreams: “I’m pregnant,” “I just got kicked out of college,” “I’m struggling with an addiction.”

I didn’t want any of these moments. Neither did my group. We’re homeschoolers. We hope to control shape our kids’ values enough to keep our Xanax consumption to a minimum.

My group, the ever-resourceful, energetic crowd who orchestrates Medieval feasts (complete with costumes for the whole family), who’ve read thousands of pages aloud to little kids while nursing babies, who bake bread from scratch, use pies to teach fractions, cook an extra meal for the friend who is sick, who study history late at night to stay ahead of their kids the next day…. this group has strong ideals of family and how it all ought to look by the time their young ones turn twenty.

I love these mothers. We’re all neurotic and nutty in similar ways. We obsess over things like completing math problems. After all, no self-respecting home-educated child is allowed to give a wrong answer. At home, all problems can be reworked, can’t they? Yet at the same time, a week can go by where no math problems are worked at all due to life’s crazy interruptions and the went-missing-again math book.

We worry about everything and yet believe we have the power to protect, educate, and control outcomes bar none.

We’re a contradictory movement. Our core membership wants to roll back the clock to an earlier time when family values were “conventional” and unambiguous (at least in perception) yet we are strongly anti-convention in today’s world. Homeschooling is the bold hippie choice for education!

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of attending a bridal shower for the future daughter-in-law of one of my good friends. This shower was filled with homeschooling mothers, many of whom hadn’t been together in years. As we looked at each other and knew bits and pieces of our children’s stories, emerging adulthood didn’t look as pristine as we’d imagined when our kids were little.

This bride, for instance, was “knocked up.” Not the game plan of most homeschool families. Yet what struck me about the extraordinary event was the cheerful goodwill in that room—the earnest desire to celebrate this marriage, this baby, this family in the making. In fact, she’s not “knocked up” but pregnant with a baby by a man she loves. Where’s the tragedy again? What’s the disaster? 

As a forty-something adult at the time, I realized (as I thought of all the various families represented in that room) that I had sunk to the lowest level of ambition for each of our children: I hoped that they’d all simply be happy. 

The surprise of shot-gun weddings, depression, secret lives of sex or smoking, loss of ambition, failing in college or getting kicked out, dabbling in drugs, questioning parental values, losing faith, lost scholarships, changing majors, and even the endless treadmill of “proving oneself” with good grades and high achievement… this is young adult life in all its messy fullness.

What I loved that day when we gathered to celebrate a young woman’s pregnancy was the calm care that inhabited all the conversations I witnessed. Maternal anxiety to “have it together” or to “be a testimony” had been replaced by genuine affection and hope that all would be well, and a love for one another born out of shared understanding—life is what happens while you make other plans.

To have friends to turn to when things don’t go as planned is what constitutes a rich life. That morning, I felt wealthy. Today, I know I am.


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Podcast: Mothering by the Book with Jennifer Pepito

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Today’s guest on the Brave Writer podcast: Jennifer Pepito!

Jenn and I have had many wonderful conversations on the WILD + FREE podcast, a community of moms seeking to give their children a beautiful childhood—whether that’s through homeschooling or not.

She has a new book out now: Mothering by the Book: The Power of Reading Aloud to Overcome Fear and Recapture Joy. As parents, it’s common for us to feel afraid of things both big and small. You can read all of the self-help books out there, but one of the surest ways to overcome our fears is to hear the real stories of other moms navigating their own hardships and conquering them.

Show Notes

There is no perfect parenting

As a young parent, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of “the perfect childhood.” We may imagine what we think the childhood our kids deserve is, but fixating on that vision is actually quite harmful. Not only is so much outside of our control, but if we become obsessed with the ideal, perfect scenario, we lose touch with the present moment and everything that is magical about it.

Don’t worry if you’ve fallen into this trap yourselves: it’s nearly impossible to avoid, no matter how much of a warning you have. It may take some humbling moments before you let go of the idea that you can do everything perfectly. And yet, as you strive anyway, don’t forget to show gratitude for what you have.

The impact of reading others’ mothering journeys

Our world is full of variety. There are an infinite number of ways to approach parenting, and nearly every one of them produces a healthy, competent adult. By reading the stories of other mothers, we can see different parenting philosophies, as well as their effects and impacts on children. We get insights into what went wrong, what didn’t, and ultimately what didn’t really matter all that much.


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Podcast: Emotional Safety in Writing

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I am recording some of my Tea with Julie emails for the podcast for those of you who prefer to listen. These are brief messages of support for parents and educators. If you’d like to receive the weekly emails, they are free. Sign up at

Continuing our podcast series on the Four Forces of Enchantment, let’s talk more about risk-taking.

Some writing programs don’t address the key condition needed to take risks in writing: emotional safety.

That’s why writing a diary or a journal has been popular for centuries. The tradition of daily writing away from readers allows people to:

  • discover their own thoughts,
  • externalize their feelings,
  • process what happens to them.

In our “educator” hunger to create writers of our children, sometimes we skip the step that allows them to write without our prying eyes.

Show Notes

Complete Tea with Julie notes can be found HERE.


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Podcast: Critically Thinking about the News with Mosheh Oinounou Pt. 2

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We’re continuing our conversation (here’s part one) with Mosheh Oinounou, a journalist who breaks down daily headlines of the biggest, most relevant news stories on his Instagram. He also publishes a newsletter that aims to share real, verified news sources and hosts a daily news podcast as part of his Mo News Network.

In today’s Brave Writer podcast, we discuss:

  • how to come together despite our division,
  • how to handle differences of opinion within our communities,
  • and what to do about our political polarization.

Show Notes

Coming together as a divided world

In an increasingly polarized political landscape, it can be tempting to hold your opinions close to your chest. We don’t want to push people away, after all. But that would be a mistake. What we really need is for people to share their opinions and beliefs even more. But how we do that matters.

Debating only drags us deeper into our individual belief systems—it inspires us to aim for victory, not solve problems.

Instead, we need to hear from as many people as possible, from as many different situations as we can. When our problem solving accounts for more people we are better for it. Part of what Mosheh does with his network is try and represent the variety of voices out there so that we can all come to better solutions instead of simply validating our own perspectives.

Handling differences of opinion within a community

How do you hold your own beliefs in a polarized world—not hiding them, but engaging with them?

We need to bring everyone into the discussion and make them feel that their experience matters.

People have to be working off of the same facts, even if their opinions on those facts are different.

At some point we stop debating facts. For instance, climate change: we know the climate is changing. It’s undeniable. But the question that we need to focus on is how we deal with that.

The answer to that question—”How do we deal with this?”—is going to be very different depending on who you ask. But when we’re coming up with a solution that is going to affect everyone involved, we need to hear all voices instead of believing that our solution, the one that benefits us the most, is the right one. That is how we bridge our differences.

Our political polarization

In the United States, our elected officials are meant to be representatives of the majority of the people who voted them into office—even when they go against an official’s personal beliefs. We are in an era where breaking party lines as a representative is not respected. It’s not rewarded. And yet, despite how broken our politics are, there is proof that democracy works. When people cause enough noise to get their voices heard, we can change our government.

If we can respectfully disagree with each other, the world will be a better place. Things will get done, and the actions we take will positively affect more people and leave fewer behind. But it’s going to take work to get there, and that work starts with you.

If you’re looking for tools and support in raising kids in a media-saturated environment, consider reading Raising Critical Thinkers. It is designed to raise kids who are mindful and know how to vet their own sources and think for themselves. In the world we live in today, I can hardly think of anything more important than that.


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