Category: Homeschooling

Classical Conversations Challenge 1

Noah completed the CC Challenge 1 program this year.

He read 19 literature books, writing persuasive essays on 9 of those.

He learned about the American government by reading, studying, memorizing and discussing original documents.

He learned about economics by reading several books and personal finance by participating in a budgeting challenge put on by H&R Block.

He read and discussed Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.”

He studied music theory and continued playing guitar.

He continued his studies of Latin.

He studied geometry.

He studied Physical Science and wrote an 8 page persuasive science research paper on the uses and benefits of plasma.

He learned about and practiced formal debate with his class.

He completed all of these school activities while spending free time learning computer coding and building his own computer.

We are so very proud of this boy and all of his hard work.  We know the Lord has great plans for him!

Why Brave Writer is PERFECT for Adopted Children!

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.

St. Patrick's Day Poetry Tea Time

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!


Teens and Risktaking

Teens and Risk

Noah has been wanting to build his own computer for a while.  It’s an expensive proposition and I was very hesitant to let him spend his hard earned money this way.  What if it didn’t work?  I don’t have the knowledge to help him “fix” it if something went wrong.  What if he was disappointed in the outcome?  He assured me that he had done the research and knew exactly what he needed to purchase and how to put it all together!  I was still hesitant.

Over the last few months I have been listening to Julie Bogart, of Brave Writer, on Periscope a lot.  She is so encouraging and after successfully homeschooling 5 kids, I believe she brings a lot of wisdom to the table.  She discusses that during the teen years kids really need to take big risks.

Letting a teenager take risks when he or she is still at home with parental support simply makes sense.  Teens are so close to the necessity of adult decision making and the chance to feel in control is important.  Of course, as parents we have to help them determine when a risk is just more than he or she can handle.   I’m certainly not advocating letting your teenager make decisions that could harm them or others!

So I decided to support Noah is this decision.  He made a list of parts that he would need and their costs.  He knew if he could get a few of them for Christmas, we would have enough money to finish the project.  It would not have made any sense to let him start buying parts or asking for them as gifts if he couldn’t finish the project in the near future.  That would be a stupid risk.  Once we had determined that he could make it work, he made a list and he received some of the needed parts for Christmas from grandparents and us.  He begin to keep an eye on the prices of the more expensive parts that he knew he would need to buy to watch for sales – even prices on Amazon fluctuate.  When one of the parts became available with a rebate he jumped on making that purchase!   After Christmas, he knew what he still needed and made the remainder of the purchases.

As parts begin arriving you could see the excitement in his face!  And when FedEx delivered the final piece, he immediately begin working to build it.

DSC_0601 DSC_0602 DSC_0603 DSC_0604

He now has it up and running!  He has also researched operating systems and commands and how to effectively run the programs that he wants to support.  The experience has not been without hiccups.  He has made a few mistakes that had to be “undone” and corrected but I am so proud of him!  He has put many hours of his free time into this project.  His knowledge has certainly grown far more than I could have taught him!

And I’m so glad that I listened to Julie’s advice and let him take on this risk!  He has experienced growth that he otherwise would not have had the opportunity to experience!

If you would like to jump in and hear more wisdom from Brave Writer, you can watch all of Julie’s Periscopes for free on Katch.



A bird built a nest on the shelf on our deck.



The baby birds were tiny and always hungry…then a few days later they were grown and flew away!



A few days later, we went on a nature walk and Essie found this amazing bird nest!




School Year 2015-2016

Noah 10th

Noah is completing Classical Conversations Challenge I.

Eli - 7th

Eli is completing Classical Conversations Challenge A.

Zeke - 4th Grade

Zeke is participating in Classical Conversations Foundations.  He is also using the following curricula:

  • Mystery of History (only because this boy LOVES history)
  • RightStart Level E
  • The Wand from BraveWriter – this is a phonics/spelling program.  So far it’s been a review for him but we need to go through all the phonics rules to make sure we aren’t missing anything.  We are also reading lots and practicing on fluency passages.
  • Science – lots of nature notebooking, along with Nature readers, in addition to CC Science.
  • Grammar – We study English in CC weekly and we have also started Latin for Children.  Latin to study grammar?  Yes.  It works.  Nothing forces you to understand the grammar of your own language like studying a foreign language.


Essie has her own post about her homeschool plans for the year.


Jonah attends the nursery during CC while I’m tutoring!


So proud of my crew.  I never dreamed I would be tasked to mother five children.  But God is good and He knows I need this challenge to keep me close to Him!