Archive for the ‘Young Writers’ Category

Make Learning Stick: Beginning Writers

Brave Writer Beginning Writers

What if your kids learned to love writing this year?

So many parents assume that if there is JOY in the writing assignments, it must not be a SERIOUS program. But what if writing was supposed to produce joy?

After all, the content of writing is your amazing child’s MIND! Why wouldn’t that be a delight to discover and capture in words!?

Kids who experience joy are far more likely to learn what you want them to know! Joy is the glue that makes the learning stick.

Introducing the Brave Writer Beginning Writers Bundle!

The Beginning Writers Bundle helps you:

  • Lay the groundwork for literacy in reading, writing and math
  • Teaches you how to ask the kinds of questions that stimulate conversation and learning
  • Provides activities that get your kids out of their chairs and into their bodies
  • Allows a child to “write their own stories” even before they can read or handwrite

This bundle has everything you need to start strong!

Who’s it for?

Your youngest kiddos (ages 5-7): it’s important to lay that solid foundation of joy in self expression! It’s also a wonderful time to explore books and pencils—to fall in love with both!

Join us for an adventure all year!

Can’t wait for you to experience what our families have told us is life-changing.

Brave Writer Bundles

If you’re looking for some additional support, check out our online classes.

Psst: Do you have new-to-Brave-Writer friends? You can get a discount for them and for yourself using our Refer-a-Friend program!

Brave Writer Bundles

“Let me jot that down.”

If you’ve hung around Brave Writer, you know the power of jotting down a spontaneous eruption of passionate speech—a story, an exposition of facts, how to do an activity, and so on—any time a child is stuck in writing—jot it down!

We jot down our kids’ lively speech to demonstrate the power of writing—what lives in them deserves to be preserved in writing and shared with an interested audience.

Did you know that you can also use “jotting down” to capture and validate a child’s

  • thoughts,
  • complaints,
  • frustrations,
  • and feelings?

Example: your daughter finds the math lesson really hard. She’s struggling to even explain why.

You can offer her support by saying:

“Let me jot that down for you.” Then write her exact thoughts and feelings. Read them back. “You said you get tired really fast and that your head hurts when you do math. Did I miss anything?What else shall I add?”

Once you’ve captured all she has to say, thank her. Let her know you’d like time to reflect on what she shared—to read it later. Take a break from the activity.

Return later that day or the next. You might ask her how she’s feeling today—did she get any insight since you wrote her feelings for her? You might offer a sincere comment like: “I didn’t realize how much your head hurt.”

You may be amazed. The act of writing a child’s complaint is often enough support to allow a child to have a new thought—the solution to her problem.

No matter what, jotting down a child’s real feelings and thoughts shows you take your child’s complaint or struggle seriously. This approach works for any situation or struggle: “I hate wearing shoes,” or “Going to co-op is stupid,” or “Lizzie never wants to play with me…”

What To Do

  • Value the upset.
  • Jot down the concern.
  • Read it back.
  • Reflect on it.
  • Revisit the next day and see what solutions emerge.

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

Jot It Down

A Tale of Penmanship

A Tale of Penmanship

When kids are learning to write (and read), it looks messy to our adult eyes, trained to spot and kill all typos or errors.

To grow a writer, you want to let them explore hooking up the hand with the brain—allowing the two to develop a coordinated effort, no matter how the result looks to you.

Before my daughter Caitrin could read, she wrote—BIG capital letters, curvy connected lines to look like cursive, and she drew! Notice how accurate the drawing is (below), very much like a person. It’s captioned phonetically “DUN BIY CAITRIN.”

Click to enlarge

Caitrin’s hand-eye relationship was strong long before her spelling matched standard American English conventions. I saved these sheets of paper on the very clipboard where she wrote them 15 years ago. We carried them around. We “read” them. She had secret notebooks we weren’t allowed to “read” where she put the same writing, only the thoughts moving through her mind as she made the marks on the page were more private-personal.

THAT’S writing. Brain moving the hand. Over time her reading skills informed her transcription ability and they merged. Today, Caitrin has a linguistics degree, studied four languages, and in fact, works as a transcriptionist! She accurately types recordings into files. Game over!

Your task? Not to correct their writing but to love and support ALL attempts to express self—no matter how skillful. That’s how a writer grows.

Brave Writer is about growth, not grades. We’re here to help. Any questions? Email us at help @

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

Growing Brave Writers

*NEW* Jot It Down Planner

Jot It Down! Planner

Party time! 🎉

You told us what you wanted. We heard you!

  • If you’re a planner.
  • If you’re a planner-from-behind.
  • If you’re somewhere in between… 

We’ve got your back!

Last June we launched brand new planning and tracking tools for the Arrow and Boomerang, our programs that teach the mechanics of writing through literature.

These tools were an astonishing success! Thank you for using them and giving us your feedback.

And so, we looked ahead to our other products and Ta Da! 

We’ve added a planning and tracking tool to the Jot It Down! program, making it easier to use than ever!

Introducing a Jot It Down! supplement we call: the Jot It Down! Planner.

Each Jot It Down! project has a custom designed:

  • Week in Focus Planner and
  • Writing Skills Tracker 

That’s right! 

  • Ten planning sheets
  • Ten skills trackers
  • Customized to each project—over 20 pages in all!

The Week in Focus Planner will help you 

  • weave Brave Writer Lifestyle activities into your week 
  • schedule oral language practices: memorization, narration, and word play
  • plan daily activities for the writing project of the month

The Writing Skills Tracker will provide you with 

  • checklists to note basic and project-specific writing skills 
  • a word bank of academic vocabulary 
  • a space to incorporate that language into a short narrative about your child’s learning experience

These flexible tools help you

  • plan ahead
  • plan from behind
  • track growth
  • reassure yourself of progress
  • craft end-of-year evaluations
  • and show you the path to progress in writing 

Jot It Down! will now include the Jot It Down! Planner with every purchase.

NOTE: If you purchased Jot It Down! or the Jot It Down! bundle before 2/17/2020, you’ll need to purchase the Planner a la carte. Follow this link for more details.

We’re excited for you to experience greater and greater ease and clarity about your children’s growth in writing. We want to support you every step of the way!

Go take a look at the Jot It Down! Planner and let us know how it works for you!

If you’d like to hear me explain how to use the Jot It Down! Planner, watch this recorded broadcast:

Help Your Kids Breathe Life into Their Story Characters

Breathe Life into Your Story Characters

by Karen O’Connor

Have you noticed that when your children are glued to a well-written story you can hardly pry them away for a meal? They get totally caught up in the lives of the characters and are often inspired to create stories of their own. You can help your kids breathe life into their story characters with a few simple guidelines.

Encourage children to:

1. Get to know their characters intimately. ‘Live’ with these boys and girls as they would a sibling or best friend. Have them create a short profile of each character. What does he like to eat? What games does she enjoy playing? What style of clothing does he choose? What are her habits and hobbies? What is he afraid of? Why is she so bossy?

2. Assign each character a distinguishing characteristic or core quality. For example, in one story, Jasmine is a ‘walking dictionary’ as her brother calls her. She has taken it upon herself to learn at least one new word each day starting with the letter A. Your son or daughter might create a character with a special talent or a personality trait that attracts attention.

3. Create multi-level characters. Talk with your children about the physical appearance, emotional makeup, and mental capacity of their characters. Suppose one of the girls is short for her age, quick-witted, and yet embarrassed to show her real feelings. On the other hand, imagine a male character who is “tall, dark, and handsome”—and that’s it. A reader might have a hard time relating to such a stereotype. Talk about what would help readers relate to the character.

4. Avoid labels. (Sue was sad. Andy was happy). Flat statements such as these rob the reader of drawing his own conclusions based on what the characters do. Remind your kids to show rather than explain. For example: Sue dropped to the floor and sobbed. Andy dashed through the door waving his first-place ribbon. Bring the characters on stage and let them talk and act for themselves.

5. Choose a name that helps to identify and individualize the characters. For instance, Gabby could be a cute nickname for a talkative boy whose given name is Gilbert. A striking and to the point name, like Dot or Liz, might work for a tough loudmouth.

6. Study characters that catch your children’s interest in the books they read. What makes them special? What is memorable about them? Creating characters of depth and substance takes time and practice. But all the effort is worth it to hear from a happy reader that their story characters are ‘true to life.’

Karen O’Connor is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction and a was a former writing coach with Brave Writer. She’s also Julie’s mom!

Growing Brave Writers