Writing is a Lifestyle with Brave Writer
When our son, Leo, was just 3-years-old, he wrote and illustrated an entire series of books featuring an adorable character known as The Goofy Lion. The original Goofy Lion book was a preschool project. Leo drew the images and his teacher wrote down the story for him. We loved the first book so much that we read it as part of our bedtime routine. A few days later, Leo asked if he could write another. I happily obliged and so he set about drawing the pictures. When he was finished, he told me the story and I wrote it down for him. The third book was different. He drew the pictures on his own, during quiet time, after which he wrote the words himself. He did not want any help other than spelling. The process was slow but the product was worth every painstaking minute.
I know he is my kid, but The Goofy Lion is awesome. I will treasure those books forever, folks.
Leo first wrote his name at 2 1/2-years-old. He has always loved books and the written word. I can recall countless quiet times during which he copied his favorite books – both illustrations and text- so that he could have his very own copy. He insisted upon writing out his Valentine’s during preschool. He learned to write before he could read. He would take notes, copy diagrams, and write notes, apologies, and love letters. He was the first blogger in our home. His room is filled with towering piles of drawings, blueprints, notes, and journals.
If you ask Leo to write, he doubles over dramatically and wails:
“Muuum!! Noooooo! I hate writing!!”
Um, what? You hate writing? How is that even possible?
Every time I hear him say those words, I cringe. When I was working as a school psychologist I saw countless students, often boys, who loathed writing. These boys hated, despised, cursed, dreaded the act of writing. It was frustrating for them, laborious, physically painful. All too often, it seemed that schools were placing pressure on the act of writing well, and all creativity and fun was lost. I always felt so badly for these boys, who cringed when they were faced with a pencil and paper. How do you help a child learn to love writing when they have had such negative early experiences? I certainly do not have the answers, but I know I would do anything to prevent my own children from feeling that way about writing.
When I think of my own schooling, I am hard-pressed to recall a memorable writing teacher aside from my 9th and 11th-grade teacher, Mr. Becker. Mr. Becker was a fantastic teacher, he was truly inspiring. His discussions were fascinating, his assignments intriguing, his book assignments memorable. Beyond that, he believed in me and built me up. He told me I was a great writer and he encouraged me to pursue a career that involved writing. I took his advice to heart and I think of him often, all these years later. It’s interesting to me that Mr. Becker is the only writing teacher I can recall. I’m certain that I had writing instruction before that point, but I cannot remember a word of it. And, yet, I entered his class and performed very well. How did I get there? What helped me to enter his classroom a writer? I honestly believe that it boils down to two things:
- I have always been a voracious reader.
- I love a great conversation.
In a nutshell, writing boils down to this:
We need to have heaps of practice with words before we can string them together well and find our unique voice. And in order to want to practice, we need to enjoy it. We seek out that which we love.
I want my children to love writing. I want them to find their voice and to share it. I do not ever want for them to cringe when they see a pen and paper.
When we first started homeschooling, I was concerned about writing. The absolute last thing I wanted was for Leo to view writing as work. I wanted it to be fun. I wanted it to be a part of our lives because writing is a part of our lives. It is a life skill.
I wanted writing to be both natural and fun for Leo.
Disclosure: I received Brave Writer Jot it Down and The Writer’s Jungle for free and was compensated for my time in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review. As always, all opinions expressed herein are my own. I only share products that I believe your family will love and, as you’ll see from this review, our family adores Brave Writer!
And that’s where Brave Writer comes in.
I discovered Julie Bogart and Brave Writer very early on in our homeschooling career. Brave Writer was recommended to me by many parents- from parents of kids who loathe the written word, to fellow parents of profoundly gifted children who were searching for a writing program that incorporated individuality and creativity while still covering all the academic bases. I have been following Brave Writer on Facebook for well over a year and I adore and look forward to Julie’s blog posts.
When I was presented with the opportunity to review Brave Writer, I honest-to-goodness did a happy dance. After following Julie for a year, I already knew I loved it. We just hadn’t actually tried it yet.
What this homeschooling mom loves about Brave Writer
Folks, I know I’m gushing a bit, I do. It’s just that I honest-to-goodness adore this program and I’m so happy it is a part of our homeschool curriculum this year. Brave Writer meshes with our educational philosophy and needs so well that I feel as if the program was created for my children.
Here are some other things that I love about Brave Writer:
- Brave Writer was created by a professional writer and homeschooling mom of five. How often can you say that about a curriculum or a program you are using? Julie Bogart is one of us, she’s done this homeschooling thing for seventeen years and is sharing what has worked for her five children while incorporating her knowledge and skills as a writer and editor.
- Brave Writer is more than a curriculum, it’s a lifestyle. As such, it’s super-easy to incorporate into your daily routine. It becomes a way of life, a beautiful, fun, and family-strengthening way of life.
- You don’t have to be a fantastic writer to use Brave Writer. Brave Writer gives you the knowledge and tools you need to become your child’s writing coach.
- Brave Writer is fun. I’m not exaggerating, folks. The lifestyle capitalizes on joy and family fun. Do you love family movie night? Tea parties where you get to dress up and have interesting conversations? Parties for no reason? Walks in the great outdoors? So do I! Guess what? All of those things and more are considered part of the Brave Writer Lifestyle.
- Brave Writer emphasizes creativity and the arts. It always pains me when I read about schools cutting arts and music, but sadly those are the first to go when budgets get tight. With Brave Writer, your child will explore music and art and poetry at a young age. You will be building not only your child’s writing skills but his or her creativity and appreciation for the arts.
- Brave Writer capitalizes upon children’s imaginations and helps them to find their inner writer and voice.
- Brave Writer is a complete writing program that covers academic writing, yet the program manages to do so without losing the writer’s individual, creative voice.
- The program is designed so that you take your time. All too often, as homeschoolers, you feel the pressure of the must-dos and to-dos. You want to cross items off of your list and finish texts. You feel like you are short on time. The program wants you to take your time. Julie has a fantastic post about taking your time:
- Brave Writer is flexible. If you are looking for a do-this-lesson-on-Monday-and-this-one-on-Tuesday sort of program, this isn’t it. There are no set timelines or to-dos with Brave Writer. There are suggested routines rather than schedules.
- This program is ideal for families with multiple children. I had no trouble using Brave Writer with my three children, ages 7, 5 1/2, and 4-years. Here is a post that Julie Bogart wrote on homeschooling multiple children:
- Brave Writer takes the pressure out of writing. With Brave Writer, you meet your child where she is at. Little kids have difficulty with the mechanical aspect of writing. Brave Writer would be wonderful for reluctant writers.
- The program allows for you to explore deeply, if desired, and that makes it perfect for gifted learners.
- Brave Writer includes heaps and heaps of read alouds!
- Above all, what I love about Brave Writer is THIS:
Brave Writer allows for natural writing development
I love Brave Writer for a multitude of reasons, but one of the top reasons is this: Brave Writer allows for natural writing development.
If you follow Julie Bogart and Brave Writer like I do, you’ll start to think about the similarities and differences in speech development and writing development, and how our education system handles both. Think about this:
- It takes approximately 5 years for oral language to develop.
- It takes approximately 10 years for written language to develop.
Now, take a second to think about the difference between the two. When your child starts to speak, he or she makes oodles of pronunciation and grammatical errors. Tons of errors! And we think those errors are adorable. We are so happy that our child is starting to speak that we pay no attention to these mistakes, but rather we delight in them. Over time, our children learn to speak so well! All of the cute things they used to say are lost, gone in a blink. And they are gone in a blink without true instruction. Our children learn to speak well through exposure to language, conversations, read alouds, and life in general.
Now, think about how our education system handles written language. It takes longer for written language to develop than for oral language and yet our children are asked to write early on and often. Worksheet after worksheet after worksheet focuses on structure and rubric and mechanics. They get so bogged down in the mechanical aspects of getting those letters on a page that their amazing ideas, stories, and inventions are cast by the wayside. It’s all work and no play. And, the play is where you find the writer and where the writer discovers his voice, folks!
Also, consider this: most writing curricula is not developed by writers. I’ll let you mull that one over for a minute before moving on.
Brave Writer supports the student through the five stages of writing development
Brave Writer asserts that all children are writers, and I agree whole-heartedly. Did your child go to preschool? Think back to that time. Do you remember all the pictures that your child brought home on which his or her teacher had transcribed your child’s words? Leo wrote his very first The Goofy Lion book with the help of his teacher. He dictated, she wrote, and the results were amazing. Brave Writer allows for you to continue that relationship, providing more and more independence when the child is developmentally ready for it.
What are the five Brave Writer stages?
- Jot it Down (ages 5-8) – During this first stage, your child shares her thoughts and ideas and you serve as the secretary and write them all down.
- Partnership Writing (ages 9-10) – You and your child write together during this second stage of writing development.
- Faltering Ownership (ages 11-12) – Growing more independent but still in need of help, this is what I like to think of as the two-steps-forward-three-steps-back phase of writing development. Your child has lots of growth but also his fair share of obstacles.
- Transition to Ownership (ages 13-14) – As your child grows into more of an independent writer, you serve primarily as the editor.
- The Great Conversation (ages 15-18) – This is where your child has grown into an independent, academic writer. Brave Writer includes SAT prep, too!
Currently, we are using Jot it Down because my children are 4, 5, and 7-years-old, but I am planning to incorporate some Partnership Writing with Leo this year, too. I love that Jot it Down meets children where they are at but also includes three very important areas of focus:
- Language Arts – This includes literature, spelling, handwriting, punctuation, grammar, literature elements, copy work, dictation, word origins, and vocabulary.
- Oral Language – Poetry teatime, weekly movies, nature study, art appreciation, music discovery, read aloud, word play.
- Writing Projects– Jot it Down includes 10 one-month-long writing projects from which to pick and choose.
Brave Writer: Writing as a LIFESTYLE
Writing is a life skill. You need to be able to write in this life. Sure, you might not write novels or screenplays, but you need to take notes and write instructions and e-mails, etc.
Brave Writer weaves writing into your day-to-day life, making it easy to grow writers just as you’ve learned to grow readers! By providing a language-rich environment and a family culture that values the written word, your children will learn to find their writer’s voice naturally!
And, do you want to know an added bonus? The Brave Writer Lifestyle is not only fun and easy to incorporate into your family’s routine but it also results in oodles of fun family experiences and memories that are sure to last a lifetime. What is included in the Brave Writer Lifestyle, you wonder? Here’s just a snippet:
Movies and Television
One on One Time
Can you give me an example of a Brave Writer project?
I sure can! In fact, how about I give you five examples of how we’ve used Brave Writer in our home?
The proof is in the pudding!
Since beginning Brave Writer and enjoying the projects mentioned above, Leo’s love of writing has been restored, and T and Seuss have had an absolute blast! I have not once heard the dreaded, “Muuum!! Noooooo! I hate writing!!” Like most kids, Leo cannot resist a fun idea, and Brave Writer has oodles of them!
Want to add Brave Writer to your homeschool routine?
If you want to add Brave Writer to your homeschool curriculum this year, you can click here. All curriculum materials are available in digital format (only), and there are a ton of online learning opportunities as well.
Julie Bogart always talks about the Brave Writer One Thing Principle. I love this principle! Don’t get overwhelmed, don’t get stressed! Instead, just pick one thing and do that one thing well. In keeping with that principle, I’d highly suggest you check out The Writer’s Jungle, which is essentially the spine of the entire program. The Writer’s Jungle explains the philosophy, lifestyle, and various programs. It is chock-full of amazing information for parents who want to grow writers. I devoured it.
Then, after you’ve read The Writer’s Jungle and feel comfortable, you’ll want to explore material at your child’s developmental level. The projects that I’ve shared are featured in the Brave Writer Jot it Down program. We also adore Brave Writer’s Daily Writing Tips. In addition, Leo and I will soon be exploring Partnership Writing together.
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Check out this post. It is chock-full of Brave Writer goodness:
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Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram