Now, on with the review!
I first heard about Brave Writer on The Read Aloud Revival Podcast about a year ago. While I was intrigued it wasn’t until the end of last school year that I stumbled across the website and truly began pouring my time into researching what the whole Brave Writer Lifestyle was really all about. That is when I fell head over heals for this program and now I feel like I could write a book just about why we love Brave Writer so much (I’ll try to restrain myself). Let me tell you why…
Brave Writer, How I Love Thee! Let Me Count the Ways…
First of all, let’s have a little chat about Julie Bogart– the creative genius behind Brave Writer. Before she was ever a curriculum developer she was a published writer and a homeschooler. Those two roles lead her to be able to bring such a unique perspective to her instruction, making it incredibly personal and relationship-based (key for homeschoolers) and founded in literature and in learning literary elements. Once you hear those things put together it just makes sense, right?!
Julie holds the firm belief that everyone has a writing voice, even if they don’t have the written language to put it down on paper themselves, which is a powerful and freeing premise to work from! Moreover, she encourages parents to come alongside our children to help them further develop that voice and she teaches us how!
She places a large emphasis on the idea of the Brave Writer Lifestyle, which includes all of the following at some point in a students’ formative years to help encourage a language-rich environment for them to thrive in-
- Tea Time and Poetry
- Friday Freewrites
- One on One Conversations
- Nature journaling
- Artwork narration
- Grammar and spelling
- Language Games
- Writing projects
- Read alouds
- Literary Elements
- Sharing your writing
- Using online writing communities
I’m just guessing that if you pull any of your homeschooling influences from Charlotte Mason, the Classical tradition or the Whole Books Method, then you just felt your spine tingle a bit! Doesn’t this list just sound amazing? Well, it is, and it has helped revolutionize our homeschool! For more specifics on the Brave Writer Lifestyle you can visit this page on their site.
The Writer’s Jungle- Where It All Started
The core of Brave Writer, where all the many-faceted programs now stem from, is The Writer’s Jungle, available for $79. This 263 page book gives all the ins and outs and inspiration for how we as homeschool parents can partner with our children and inspire them to be life long writers. She walks you all the way from the youngest years through prepping for college. This is Julie’s Magnum Opus for practically teaching writing in your homeschool, if I do say so myself.
Everything from the basics of how to being writing with your kids to deciding on projects to dealing with reluctant writers, editing and the rest are covered in this highly informative volume. My personal favorite is probably the chapter on The Natural Stages of Growth in Writing which walks you through the steps that all kids go through as they are becoming writers in a way that makes so much sense and I had never heard of before! It is not to be missed.
Jot it Down and Partnership Writing
As Brave Writer has expanded over the years it has grown in many different directions, but for the purpose of this review I am going to focus on the first two levels of the writing-focused program: Jot it Down and Partnership Writing. (You can see a complete breakdown of all the curriculum we are using from Brave Writer in my full Curriculum Post for this year.)
Jot it Down is the first step in the writing process where parent comes alongside child to help them get their words on paper with skills that they have not yet fully acquired (ya know, the technical stuff like actually writing and spelling). This program is all about showing your kids that they have a writing voice and doing simple projects to encourage their observation and narration skills. There is lots of work with fairy tales, trips to the museum, and utilization of things that they already experience in their everyday lives but need to learn how to put down on paper (such as making lists and creating a photo journal of something that is important to them). Jot it Down is $39.95 and can be used again and again with all your children.
Jot it Down and Partnership Writing each have 10 months worth of engaging writing projects that help guide your family into the Brave Writer Lifestyle, as well as extensive information on rounding out the “work” with Language Arts and Oral Language development. The projects are broken down into manageable chunks with plenty of inspiration along the way to truly make them personal, giving students real ownership over their work. The program would not be complete if any of these components were missing and this is truly where the Brave Writer Lifestyle is lived out.
Our Experience with Brave Writer
Currently my three oldest kiddos are all participating in Brave Writer in some way- yes, even my 3 year old. This program really does a good job of serving as a springboard into allowing you to customize projects to what will work best for your family. In fact, involving my 3 year old in the projects for Jot it Down feels completely natural and unforced because she isn’t being asked to do things above her pay grade.
By the same token, my 6 and 9 year olds are being challenged and absolutely flourishing with this program. Big Juicy Conversations are happening, as Julie would call them, and they are acquiring such solid research skills alongside their developing writing voices. My boys are not intimidated by the idea of writing, which I believe is a total win, and they actually ask to work on their writing projects.
My 9 year old and I have worked on the first project from Partnership Writing along with having him join his siblings with Jot it Down. While we have had a lot of fun working on secret codes, and I think he could move forward with this program if we wanted, I’ve decided to keep him in Jot it Down for this year in order to let him have as gentle an introduction to his writing career as possible and go into Partnership Writing next year. According to Julie and the Brave Writer site, this is totally acceptable and she encourages meeting your student where they are at to build their confidence as they develop. The website hosts lots of great information about how to figure out which program your child should be in, including some podcasts you can listen to direct from Julie on this very topic. You can find links to all of that information right on the main page of the site where the age ranges are all listed.
Probably the biggest reason why I love this program is that it is helping teach my children to be learners, which can be applied to every other subject they pursue. The Brave Writer Lifestyle has honestly helped take us from doing “school” at home to becoming “home”schoolers and really embracing a lifestyle of learning throughout the real ebb and flow of our days.
There is SO much more I could say. Brave Writer is a topic I could talk about for hours, and I have! If you’d like a little glimpse of what I often gush about to other homeschool moms regarding Brave Writer, then you can check out this recent Scope I did all about it. In fact, Julie Bogart herself even showed up, which was insanely fun and cool!
Find More Brave Writer
Another fun way you can be learning more about Brave Writer is to check out Julie Bogart on Periscope @BraveWriter! She has been doing some wonderful Scopes that are so informative and encouraging- you don’t want to miss them! You can also find her scopes on Katch, right here.
Other places you can find Brave Writer around the web include-
- Instagram- @juliebravewriter
- Google Plus
- And on the Brave Writer Blog
And possibly the most fun of all, you can go sign up for Julie’s email list that is completely devoted to helping you learn the Brave Writer Lifestyle for completely free, right here.
A Discount, Just for You!
Since I knew that you would want to get your hot little hands on Brave Writer just as badly as I did, I even have a discount code for you! Between now and September 21, 2015 you can get 10% off your order with the discount code iHomeschoolDiscount.
I’m sure that you will hear much more from me about Brave Writer in the future, as I don’t foresee us ever breaking ties with this program- it feels like coming home. If you are using Brave Writer or decide to dive into this amazing lifestyle as well, I would love to hear from you too!