Over the last year I’ve been introduced to Julie Bogart of Brave Writer. To say that Julie has influenced our homeschool would be an understatement! Listening to the perspective of a veteran homeschool mom of 5 has affected me deeply. While she has successfully finished homeschooling her kids she continues to share her wisdom with homeschool moms who are in the trenches through encouragement, laughter and tears!
In her professional life she has always been a writer. She has taken this unique position of writer and homeschool mom and created a guide, The Writer’s Jungle, to help parents learn how to teach their children the often dreaded subject of “writing”. Her ideas are unlike any other writing curriculum that I have ever looked at and I’ve looked at quite a few.
What makes Brave Writer different?
Well, Julie says you must focus on your relationship to your student and the student’s “writer’s voice.” Relationship comes first because your student needs to feel safe sharing their thoughts or writer’s voice with you. Writing is about expressing your original thoughts – this might be done on paper with a pencil, or it might be done with using words. By developing a strong, trusting and fun relationship your child will have more confidence to share with you.
Julie reminds us that homeschooling is not “school at home.” We can and should focus on relationship to build confidence. She encourages practices like Poetry Tea Time, nature walks, read alouds, and party school to help students thrive in their home environment. Children will always learn better when they are not stressed or tired and find the learning enjoyable! Should homeschool look like public or private school? No! It should be a reflection of you and your family, happily learning at home.
Also, Julie reminds parents over and over that you have until a child is 18 years old to help them develop their writing abilities. You do not have to master a paragraph by 3rd grade or a 5 paragraph paper by 5th, etc. You meet your child where they are (back to relationship) and walk with them through the natural progression of writing stages until they no longer need you to.
This means when your six year old wants to write a story he or she will need you to be the scribe. Six year olds can not spell and write fast enough to get all their lovely, creative thoughts down on paper. To prevent the child from getting frustrated with the physical act of trying to write all those lovely thoughts you become their scribe, writing it down exactly as they say it. Of course, you still need to work on their handwriting and spelling but that should not be done in the creative process of writing. (Julie encourages copywork and dictation, much like the teaching of Charlotte Mason.) When your 8 year old writes a story and brings it to you, you read it and praise his efforts, creativity, etc. – you do not correct his spelling and grammar because that can and should be taught separately from writing. When your middle school student becomes exasperated with their writing process you ask them how you can help. Perhaps you could take over the physical act of writing for them? Give them space to think. Make brownies or suggestions, if they ask for them! Rub their shoulders and encourage them! When your high school student needs editing help, you help them by SUGGESTING edits because all professional writers have editors! And you don’t take it personally if they choose not to take your editing advice.
These things are just a small taste of what Julie teaches and how she encourages parents.
Julie’s encouragement and motivation is applicable to all parents whether you are homeschooling or not. But it is particularly helpful to parents of adopted children for a few reasons.
First of all, relationship is key. Most adopted children do not have the same security in their relationships that biological children have. The loss of their biological family and grief from it will always be present therefore building a strong relationship is very important. BraveWriter encourages relationship first!
Secondly, Bravewriter encourages parents to meet kids where they are and work from there. This is so important for adopted kids who may have some learning challenges or delays or may just need time to catch up to their peers. It’s ok! Celebrate progress without comparing them to other kids! The stress of feeling “behind” is never going to help them so just keep learning and having fun together.
Thirdly, Bravewriter encourages parents to help their children find their own writing voice. All kids are going to have a unique perspective and that is even more true for our adopted children. Let them write from their heart. Let them find their style and personality. Encourage it and be proud of it!
If you are a homeschooling parent and especially if you have an adopted child, you owe it to yourself and your children to check out Brave Writer!