Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Brave Writer

Brave Writer has helped me see the big picture when it comes to Language Arts.  
The Writer's Jungle taught me how to understand the real stages children go through as writers and introduced me to a gentle, living and wonderful way to mentor my young writers.  I knew it would suit me as soon as I read free online extracts like this ... 

"It’s my hope that you’ll come to love your young writer and his particular jungle in a whole new way. By traveling together, I want to point out the irises you’ve been missing. There’s a world of insight, creativity and passion in your children that writing is meant to capture. By taking some new trails, I hope to lead you to that secret place."  (See more)  

The Brave Writer blog and emails are full of ideas for nurturing writers, developing skills and showing how this writing philosophy translates into reality.  Brave Writer is a flexible resource which complements our eclectic, relaxed, book-loving, individualised approach to home ed.  

I want to write all about how our BraveWriter lifestyle works, what resources we use and what my brave young writers actually do, but it could take a while (I really like what we do but I worry about sounding like an infomercial!)  

This week I wrote a little article about our Poetry Teatimes for the Brave Writer blog.  

Fortunately I took photos before we sat down together ... hence the momentarily tidy table! 


  1. I'd like to know more about what you actually do! I'm searching for something for LA for Nathan- he is a very reluctant writer.

  2. Hi Meg. If you haven't read The Writer's Jungle I really do recommend it. Let me know if you're coming into town and you can call in and look at my copy.

    To explain what we do briefly, I realised several years ago that my son's hands and head were operating at different rates. His comprehension and expression were great, but he really struggled with writing. Even though my approach was pretty relaxed, I was expecting more than he was ready for. Any attempts at 'teaching' or encouraging writing were met with complaints and often refusal (it was almost funny ... if I showed him an easier way to write a letter, he'd deliberately form it the opposite way).

    I didn't want writing to be a source of stress for anyone, but it was becoming that way, so I eased right back to find a way that would keep it fun and meaningful. It helped that I was often extremely tired and didn't have the energy to go against the grain, but I also cared more about our relationship than 'progress'. I read all about Dysgraphia around that time too, and whilst we didn't seek a diagnosis I told my son I knew his trouble wasn't deliberate or laziness ... he was so relieved that I understood, that I was going to change my expectations, and that I had a plan to help him. It was a turning point, as he saw I was on his side (before he perceived I was pushing him) and I was able to enjoy his conversations and clever responses without expecting him to effortlessly put those thoughts on the page.

    Trust rebuilt and harmony restored, we gradually got back into tracing Bible verses (one of his loves) and fill in the blank vocabulary books - decent mental challenge with only a little writing. I continued to write his thoughts and stories in his exercise books when he had something he wanted to say but was daunted by the big task of getting all his thoughts onto a page. Gradually he started to take ownership of his written work and stopped asking me to write for him to trace, and he even wrote me notes (Can I have a whippet? Why not? What if ... ?) In the last year or two he has gone from writing-phobic to a happy writer, gaining confidence and stamina.

    We now use a combination of several personal notebooks where my children write about particular interests, short All About Spelling lessons a couple of times a week, Bible copywork once or twice a week, sometimes a Bravewriter 'Arrow' book study (reading, copywork, dictation & language features) and whatever writing comes up in science, personal projects and life. If there is too much writing in a day I am happy to act as a scribe, or suggest voice recording or typing on the iPad instead. Our workload is very light, and almost always negotiable. My son is a good negotiator, and I figure if he wants to research something and write about it instead of doing something I suggest, that's a win!

    I hope there are some ideas here that help you and Nathan. I'd be happy to talk more about it all in person.

  3. I've looked at the Brave Writer website and while it seems interesting, I just can't get my head around what it is and how you use it. Which package do you have? I think I need to have a look at it, just wondering when our paths may cross. I may make a special trip just to chat with you because Language Arts are a real problem for us atm.

  4. Great post!
    I can relate completely to your writing. I have been so grateful to find Brave Writer. It has changed our homeschool in the best of ways!

  5. Thanks Alexandra. Your island looks interesting!

    I didn't buy a package, Meg. I started with the Writer's Jungle ... it's the guide for parents. I was curious about the other resources so I bought 'Jot it Down', a few handpicked issues of 'Arrow' for Elijah and I later bought 'The Wand' for Jasmine. There is a new product 'Partnership Writing' (for 9-10 yr olds) which could be a good tool for you and Nathan. I haven't seen it yet but from the sample on the BW website, it looks terrific. On homeschool buyers co-op you can buy both The Writer's Jungle and Partnership Writing for $70 (https://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/brave-writer/?c=1). The free sample of Partnership Writing (http://s3.amazonaws.com/assets.bravewriter.com2/page_attachments/214/PartnershipWritingSAMPLE.pdf) will give you a good idea what to expect and a feel for whether it suits you. It does refer to using the Arrow ... for which there is a free issue here (http://s3.amazonaws.com/assets.bravewriter.com2/page_attachments/214/PartnershipWritingSAMPLE.pdf). If you like it I'd suggest buying a bundle of back issues on homeschool buyers co-op ... it's cheaper that way ($25 for 5 issues) and you can hand-pick books you know Nathan will enjoy. We don't use it every week, but probably one issue per term in between other routines and resources.

    I don't know if the messy links here will work within comments ... the basic idea is that the free samples will give you a feel for the BraveWriter Style, and the cheapest place to buy digital versions of them is Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

    I'll send you a pm on facebook so you can contact me if you want to work out a day to come over. :)

  6. Thanks! I will check out all those links later :)


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