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In our homeschooling journey thus far, we have tried a LOT of different curricula – some we love, and some not so much. I’ve tried out different methods and philosophies and products, but the ONE company who has been a part of our journey this whole time is Brave Writer. In preparing for next school year, I’ve been digging through our HUGE binder of Brave Writer products and thought I would share the three Brave Writer products we just can’t do without in our homeschool.
What IS Brave Writer?
Brave Writer is a language arts curriculum unlike anything else out there. Julie Bogart, the founder of Bravewriter, has created something that is both flexible AND thorough. There is such a wide array of products in their lineup, from phonics and spelling (The Wand) to writing projects (Jot It Down, Partnership Writing, Faltering Ownership), to copywork and dictation pulled from living books and high quality children’s lit (The Arrow, The Boomerang).
Brave Writer is designed to enhance the parent-child relationship through the teaching of writing. It is my contention that writers are grown best when students feel supported and free. Parents feel best when they have strategies they can trust to advance their twin goals: peace and progress in the writing process. Enter Brave Writer’s abundance of programs (both self-teaching guides and online classes with instructors). – Julie Bogart, Bravewriter
What makes Brave Writer products so unique, in my opinion, is the emphasis on the relationship you have with your children. Always, Julie encourages parents to connect with their children on a meaningful level and create a LIFESTYLE in the home that is rich in literature, writing, and experiences that our children will remember long after they’ve forgotten the worksheets and drills. One of those Brave Writer Lifestyle Elements that we love dearly is Poetry Teatime [Click here to see how we enjoy tea and poetry in our homeschool].
My Journey With Brave Writer
I’ve written a bit about our path so far with homeschooling in this post – Our Homeschooling Journey So Far, but as a quick recap, this is the end of our third school year as homeschoolers. One of the VERY first products I came across when I was looking into curriculum was Brave Writer. As soon as I read a few posts from the Brave Writer blog, I knew this was for me.
I love to write, and writing has always come easily to me. I have one child who appears to be following my path with reading and writing – but I have another who struggles immensely with writing, reading, and writing-related anxiety [click here to read more on how we’ve made progress with my son’s writing anxiety].
I knew I was going to need something that allowed me to encourage my budding creative writer while also helping me to nurture my anxious kiddo. Tall order to fill, right? Well – this is when Brave Writer walked into my life! When I saw the selection of products, the fun and creative project ideas, and the encouragement and inspiration that Julie gives to parents, I knew this was going to be a good fit for us.
Even though I have sort of pinballed around between methods and philosophies, we’ve settled (for now! ha!) into a modern, secular approach to the Charlotte Mason method – and Brave Writer fits so perfectly into our homeschool. Brave Writer has been heavily influenced by Miss Mason’s educational philosophy, and with copywork and dictation coming from great works of children’s literature, as well as a distinct lack of ‘writing worksheets’, using Brave Writer products just feels natural in our homeschool.
Our 3 Favourite Brave Writer Products:
So then here we are. What products do I love in my homeschool? Well… as many homeschooling parents can probably relate to, I am a bit of a serial curriculum collector. In particular, I am a serial collector of Brave Writer products! If it’s remotely age-appropriate for my particular kids, we probably own it. So instead of giving a run-down on All The Things, I’ve chosen the three that we use and love.
This is a product that uses a specific read aloud novel for one month and includes copywork and dictation passages as well as literary elements and a writing project for the month. Each week you look at one passage, using it to talk about things like grammar and spelling and the literary elements. You can choose to subscribe at the beginning of a school year, and once a month you get access to that month’s Arrow guides. Alternatively, you can purchase back-issues from previous years if there is a novel you want to read, or are currently reading, and want the guide to go with it.
This product changed my anxious son’s entire outlook on reading and writing. The very first novel we read for an Arrow issue was Frindle, a fun story about how one boy invented his own word for ‘pen’. It was such a great first book for our venture into the world of The Arrow, as it talked a lot about language and how we develop words. Working on this Arrow issue opened up my son’s eyes to the idea that MAYBE, just maybe, putting a pen to paper and writing might not be all that bad.
Since that first issue, we’ve done a few others as well as a couple of issues from A Quiver Of Arrows, which is a product that has slightly more simple passages and is suitable for kids who are a bit younger. I have seen a tangible and clear result of using The Arrow in our homeschool – my son has gone from being deeply anxious about anything remotely to do with writing or reading, to happily doing daily copywork and reading books out of sheer enjoyment.
And my youngest who is a lover of books and writing and creating her own stories and worlds, has blossomed through our use of Brave Writer and specifically The Arrow guides.
This upcoming school year, we are SO excited about The Arrow booklist that we’re going to subscribe for the year and do each one. A mix of classics and modern children’s lit, the 2016-2017 Arrow looks amazing – and we definitely can’t wait to dig in! (FYI: The Arrow subscription for 2016-2017 is on sale until the end of June! SO grab it while you can, it’s a pretty stellar line up of novels!)
The Writer’s Jungle
This is a must-have in my homeschool and I refer to this on a pretty regular basis. I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that I am not one who typically ever can follow a pre-made curriculum without tweaking or wanting to try it my own way. With the help of The Writer’s Jungle, I’ve been able to get a deep understanding and grasp of the Brave Writer philosophy so that I can forge our own path once in a while. There are times when we don’t always do All The Brave Writer Products, All The Time – but we can use the underlying philosophy in our homeschool even without the products.
Once in a while, I check in with TWJ to see if there’s something else we can try – Freewriting prompts, or other BW Lifestyle activities. As well as an in-depth guide to the Brave Writer philosophy there are a lot of real examples of writing activities to look at, which is a real help in getting a feel for how it looks and if you’re on the right track.
The Brave Writer Blog
While this isn’t technically a “Brave Writer product”, this is one of my favourite sources of information and encouragement as I make my way in the homeschooling journey. I think the BEST Brave Writer resource is Julie herself. Her words to us as home educating parents are full of gentle encouragement, firm support, and the wisdom of Julie’s own experiences as a homeschool-mom-alumni! She has graduated her own children from homeschool and has the been-there-done-that experiences that we can look to for solace when times get rough.
In addition to the blog, and website, are the various Facebook groups and Julie’s Periscope videos – all of these, the aspects of community that Brave Writer has created over time, have been a lifeline to me when things have been less than stellar. Julie and the staff at Brave Writer and the homeschooling parents that have come together to form a warm and supportive community are the best part of being a Brave Writer Family. I wouldn’t be able to do this homeschool thing without this BraveCommunity!
Join The Brave Writer Family!
Clearly, I am a huge fan of the whole line of Brave Writer products! So I would love for you to join this amazing community of families who are working to find a way to nurture a love of writing in their children – so here are a few of MY favourite places to go when I want to learn more about Brave Writer, share joys and paydays in my homeschool, or seek encouragement when times are hard – I hope you’ll click on over and take part!
Brave Writer Lifestyle Group on Facebook: a group for families who are looking to learn more about the Brave Writer Lifestyle and get to know other Brave Families!
BraveSchoolers Group on Facebook: a group on Facebook focused on sharing Periscope (and now Facebook Live) videos and broadcasts. This has been such a fun way to learn more about how we’re all using Brave Writer in our homes.
Poetry Teatime Website: the team at Brave Writer created an entire website dedicated solely to helping families incorporate Poetry Teatime into our homes! This has been one of my family’s favourite ways to connect over snacks, tea, and good poetry and the Poetry Teatime site is a wealth of ideas and info!