We interrupt our regular programing to bring you.... The Homeschool Chronicles! Taaaa da daw, da daw da duh da....Taaaa da daw, da daw....
Can someone turn on the School Switch in my brain please? We're supposed to have 3 weeks left of summer vacation before our new school year starts, but I don't think my kids are going to last that long. Ok, I know they aren't.
I've been callously deflecting hints-then-requests-then-pleads to start school with good old-fashioned logic, but that's definitely wearing thin. This morning I conceded that we would start bits of school next week and kind of work up to the full thing. So, yeah, time to flip the switch. How does this thing work again?
Ok, to get myself in the mood, I'm going to share with you today about a cool new resource we're using this year. Enter Brave Writer.
First of all, inspiring name, right? I want to be a brave writer. I want my kids to be brave writers. Apparently writing can be useful (hello, blogging!), so I absolutely want writing in our homeschool to be about authentic communication, to be so much more than essay outlining, to have a liveliness not found in diagramming sentences.
Speaking of grammar, remember how excited I was last year to introduce grammar to my then 2nd grader? And remember how Aria wasn't so jazzed? She was so not a fan of two resources I tried: Easy Grammar (worksheets like you did at school) or English for the Thoughtful Child (hey, look at this picture and make up a story!). But she looooooves words. She's full of stories. When she's inspired, her creative writing blows me away.
Brave Writer is the brain child of Julia Bogart, a real-life professional writer and mother of 5, homeschooler of 17 years. She's an online writing coach who eventually developed digital language arts curriculum by popular demand. I'm drawn to Brave Writer for Julia's focus on nurturing the writer, beginning with an emphases on individual voice, and teaching within the context of interesting kids' books, instead of through dry sentences or exercises conjured in abstraction for the sake of a textbook.
From the website:
Writer focuses on establishing writing voice and the writing process in
children and teens first, by helping parents know how to foster the
right environment for writing risks. We give parents instruction in how
to nurture and draw out the writing voices of their children without
causing damage (making writing a chore or treating it like a subject to
be drummed out for school or causing resentment, tears and writer’s
core difference between Brave Writer and other programs is that we
teach writing much the way professional writers teach writing. Educators
tend to start with a format. They deconstruct a kind of writing (like
an essay), create an assignment that will reproduce the structure of the
model or the form (five paragraphs, has these components, takes up this
much paper), and then expect the student to produce writing that
matches that set of expectations without necessarily taking into account
what the student wants to express. When this kind of mode is used for
teaching writing to young children not yet in touch with their writing
voices, kids train themselves to think of how to solve the “puzzle” of
the assignment (meeting the expectations of the rubric), rather than
tapping into their writing voice and really determining what it is they
want to say, and how they want to say it.
Can anyone resonate with that? I can. I was ace in school at churning out writing assignments that met all the criteria in a dry, uber-grammar-conscious state of "academic" precision. As a blogger, I'm still trying to shake loose. I'm not saying rules aren't important (hey, I dig rules!), but I am saying that content suffers when format reigns supreme. Really effective bits of communication can actually be fragments! One of my favorite writers has a delightful rambling style that endears.
So, when I was in next-year-planning-mode, I contacted Brave Writer to ask if we could trade language art resources in exchange for my review here on the blog. I had already decided to use The Arrow for Aria (3rd grade) and The Wand for Liam (1st grade), so as my mama says, it never hurts to ask... Happily, Julia agreed! This is my first homeschooling trade, and I feel very fortunate indeed. I will share my thoughts sometime during the next school year after we've had some real life experience, in my usual occasional Homeschool Chronicles.
But first, before August roles around, I'll post a sketch of our grand plans for the entire school year. Oh, look, I'm already in the mood! Thanks for listening, friends.
p.s. To learn more about Brave Writer, listen to Julia's podcasts, read about the Brave Writer lifestyle or check out her writing manuals, language arts programs or online classes. Have fun, mamas!