We’ve been homeschooling for 5 years. What? Wow! How did that happen? Time flies. Before I started homeschooling my own children, I was a public school teacher. I did that for 15 years. WOW! Geez. Suddenly….I am so, so old. I mean, I started teaching when I was 10, obviously. hahaha.
Anyway, I’ve made so many mistakes in our homeschool journey. It’s been a lot of trial and error. At first, I started out just basically having “school in my home”. It looked just like a classroom, but in my dining room. I mean, that’s what I was used to doing. It’s what I knew. 4 years of college, and 4 years of grad school taught me how. And then 15 years in the classroom. It was a lot to unlearn. And obviously, I didn’t have to unlearn all of it. There was also plenty of valuable stuff in there.
But, I’ve learned and evolved a lot as a teacher and parent these last few years. One of the things that I’ve really focused on and reevaluated this past year, was how I was teaching language arts. It just wasn’t working. Well, it was working. Just not well and not with out tears and frustration. Both the kids’ and my own.
Then I came across Brave Writer. And The Writers Jungle. And The Arrows. And Julie Bogart. And I was curious and intrigued. It seemed too easy and just way too good to be true. But, we had to do something. So, we took the plunge. And I am never looking back! It has changed the whole climate and flavor of our homeschool ….and our home. I know. That sounds so dramatic. But, it’s absolutely true. I can’t say enough good things about The Brave Writer Lifestyle. If you’re looking for a change in the rhythm of your homeschool and home life, I encourage you to take a look.
The main “manual” for getting started is called The Writers Jungle : A Survivor’s Guide to Writing with Kids. This book is invaluable. It really helped transform my way of thinking, from public school English teacher to home-educating momma. It goes deep into helping us understand the writing process and at the same time, appreciating what wonderful minds our own children have.
Our young writers will learn how to write much as they learned how to speak correctly. In the meantime, we can jot in their baby book the funny way they spell words. After all, they won’t spell them that way forever.”
Isn’t that refreshing!!? I just love thinking of the kids’ writing that way. It’s not a race. And knowing that writing hasn’t really been allowed the freedom to grow naturally like speech has truly helped me to chill out and enjoy the process. And more importantly let my kids enjoy the process.
Don’t be intimidated. This manual walks you gently through every step. And it starts out quite simply with little things. (Little things that are actually big things!) Things like providing a language rich environment, reading aloud, catching your kids thinking, listening to their stories, free-writing, narration, dictation and even copy work. Some of the ideas and practices are things you very well might already be doing with your kids. Personally, this book really gave me the freedom and permission to explore these activities, when my nature would have me checking boxes and rushing off to the next assignment, to get it done.
The Writer’s Jungle also delves into ways to help your child revise and edit their own writing. There are clever tips and activities to assist you and your kids in narrowing the focus and expanding their writing. We are still working through these together. Of course, they much prefer writing to revising. But, I can see they are really growing as writers and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. They now love writing, knowing that they only have to chose their most favorite piece in the envelope to revise each month.
In addition to the Writer’s Jungle, the whole Brave Writer lifestyle has given me so much freedom in our homeschool journey. We’ve implemented so many sweet and thought provoking activities this year. I just love it all. Here are the things we have implemented and that we couldn’t do without.
Poetry Teatime. Julie calls Poetry “the candy of language”. It rolls of the tongue and feels good in the mouth. The relaxed pairing of poetry, tea and treats has helped create a connection between contemplation and rest. My kids look forward to this time together very much. I try to aim for a weekly Poetry Tea Time, but this semester it’s usually been 2 -3 times a month.
Movies. Film is the new literature and being at home gives us the opportunity to introduce our kids to a feast of ideas through movies. Netflix and Apple TV have all the movies I will ever need. We analyze together and ask question and have quality discussions. I especially love finding a movie to watch and talk about after we have read the book. Even if it’s at the theatre. Bonus, field trip!
Nature Study. The main purpose of nature study is getting the kids out in nature to appreciate and observe. They get in touch with rhythms of the seasons and details around us. We take a weekly hike with friends and often come home to journal or draw something that we noticed during the walk. We’ve also done an extensive bird study this year that they kids have really gotten into. I have a special place set up for the kids to display things that they enjoy from our walks. We try to hike no matter the weather.
Art Appreciation. This is another great vehicle for accessing language. Taking trips to the Art museum has become a favorite field trip of mine this year. It requires such a quiet patience to gaze at a piece of art and pay attention to details and then articulate what we see. We have really enjoyed artist studies this year too. Our local library had a great artist class that we participated in too.
Music Discovery. The kids currently take piano lessons and that’s been great for them to begin developing a musical vocabulary. We have done some great hymn studies that I found free on the internet and that has been awesome. And we have just begun to delve into a little Beethoven. (And extra bonus when grandma has a random bust of the composer you are studying.) 🙂 I’m not very musical, so we’ve kind of slacked on this part a bit. The kids really enjoyed it, so l’d really like to start doing more composer studies in the coming years.
Reading Books. This is a big one! I love to read, so it wasn’t hard to incorporate this into our day. It did got pushed aside a lot prior to my Brave Write days. We just didn’t have time and it was often the first to go. I figured, they read at night…it’s enough. But, now I make it a priority. I read aloud daily and the kids cuddle up around me. They also create cozy spaces to read their own books everyday.
Word Play and Language Games. We use word play a lot. We have word magnets that the kids play with on the fridge. They also have some on a cookie sheet also and they play silly games with them. They try to make each other laugh with their sentences. We sometimes cut words out of magazines and play around. We copy and cut up book pages or poems and rewrite them for fun. We’ve written favorite parts of favorite books on the driveway. We’ve written words and phrases describing ourselves on our hands. I have fun word apps on my phone and iPad that the kids can play if we are out. They love challenging grandparents to scrabble. These are such simple and effective ways to get comfortable with words and language.
The Arrow. This is literature based language arts for around ages 8-11. You can buy single ones or a whole year at a time. I went with single ones. (They also have programs for older and younger kids.) It is so simple to follow and the kids look forward to it. You read the book together over the month and do the weekly activities as described in the Arrow. It includes copy work and dictations, passages that study literary elements, a writing activity, discussion questions, and great book party ideas for the end. Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and literary device notes are all woven in perfectly. Its so natural. I’ve been enjoying teaching language arts again.
Partnership Writing. I have also started to incorporate the Partnership Writing for some writing projects this year. It is a year long language arts plan to help support their writing. There are detailed instructions on how to do this with great developmental appropriate writing projects. We’ve just started with one of the projects and the kids have begun writing about an amazing island chain that they each built. I love the imagination they have used to create this.
If you are looking for a change in your language arts program, please check out Brave Writer. You can get lost on the site looking at all the wonderful activities, ideas and books. There are also a lot of free downloads so that you can try some of these books first before you purchase.
I have really loved the freedom of our school day this year. I have tried to embraced routine over schedule and it is really working for us. We are a learning together and that’s why I love homeschooling!
Disclaimer: I was provided with free product in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are 100 percent my own and not influenced in anyway.