I was going crazy! I was losing my patience on a regular basis, fighting with my kids to do their school, and feeling at a complete loss. I was homeschooled growing up! I had a passion for this… why then did I feel like I was failing? Then one day, 4 years into my homeschool journey I discovered Brave Writer, and the lightbulb turned on. I was approaching this all wrong! Despite my admiration for mom’s who got rid of their workbooks and tailored their education to their child, I couldn’t. let. go. I held on to my schedules and to do lists and workbooks and workbooks and more workbooks. I kept filling up my collection, stocking up on used books for grade 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and even 12… a girls gotta be prepared right? Our bookshelves were cluttered, we were unproductive, I felt unhappy. I couldn’t let go of my precious books, my structured lesson plans. At least that’s what I told myself, but the reality was I simply wouldn’t. So the day came when we chucked our workbooks… I mean into a goodwill bin and never looked back. You wouldn’t BELIEVE the change in our home. Pin this one for later, you’ll want to find it again!
Why I abandoned the workbooks.
The day I got my download links for Brave Writer, I raised the white flag. School was out for the day. I spent all day long printing my books, assembling my binders, reading, highlighting, learning, and being encouraged. Every word in my Jot It Down curriculum was resonating with me. I just kept highlighting and nodding. This. Was. Me. In every way!
After my initial excitement about the Brave Writer lifestyle, I had a few days of panic. I read through that book front to back and looked desperately for a concrete lesson plan or worksheets to give the kids. I found guides, ideas, a few writing projects, but it wasn’t what I was used to. I started doubting the program, doubting myself. Could I really do this without the books? Could I make writing, reading, school in general, a natural part of our lives? Could I let go of my schedules and plans and need for perfection? Could I turn off the crazy? For 4 years I have battled this in myself, for 4 years I have failed to really and truly let go of this. And yet it isn’t working. So I decided, ready or not, to commit!
I went into the kids’ workboxes and I gathered ALL our language arts books and I put them in a big box. At this point, my little brood of children started glancing curiously over in my direction. I put in their Abeka printing books, Abeka grammar books, Abeka phonics books, Abeka cursive books. I put in their spelling books, their little writing worksheet books. I even put in their journals (though I didn’t actually give those away). I gathered all these books and put them in front of my kids and told them we were making some changes. I told them they didn’t have to do 5 different Language Arts books each day. I apologized for correcting their grammar and spelling and printing, for being so critical and demanding. I apologized for losing my temper, for being impatient and making school a chore and a performance. I told my kids come Monday, school was going to be an entirely new thing. I got rid of the workbooks, and 1 month later, I’m not looking back!
What is Brave Writer?
Brave Writer is a writing program… though it is more accurately described as a lifestyle because it kind of leaks into all areas of your life. You can either purchase the manual for home study or you can sign up for online classes with a teacher! Brave Writer was created by the amazing Julie Bogart, a professional author and homeschool veteran. If you are on Periscope and ever have a chance to hop on one of her scopes, she will make you feel right at home and you’ll be nodding right alongside me! The reason this is more of a lifestyle than a simple program, is that it is teaching you how to teach your kids. As you read the manual, you better understand your children. You step back and take a deep breath and re-assess. How are you approaching learning in general? What kind of pressure do you feel on yourself and how are you putting that on your children? Is the problem in your homeschool the books, or your own perfectionism? They are hard questions, but they are the questions that will take you to a new dimension in your homeschool! A place where you kids can learn without fear of condemnation, learn for the love of learning! Learn where they are free to make mistakes and grow from them!
How the Brave Writer lifestyle changed our entire home dynamic.
Our first day with Brave Writer was at the airport when we were waiting to pick up my hubby. As we waited, I pulled out a manilla envelope full of blank sheets of paper and freshly sharpened pencils. I explained we were going to do 5 minutes of writing and what free write was. The older kids started to get excited when I reminded them it didn’t have to be neat or proper spelling, just to have fun! When I looked over to my 6 year old son, however, I saw the pressure sitting on his little shoulders. He grit his teeth and started biting on his shirt and I just knew this little boy, who still needed help with his letters, was feeling completely overwhelmed. [tweetthis remove_twitter_handles=”true” remove_hidden_hashtags=”true” remove_hidden_urls=”true”]I grabbed that pretty sheet of paper and scrunched it up in a ball (don’t worry, Julie told me to) #Bravewriter[/tweetthis]
and then I flattened it back out. I asked him if it was perfect? He shyly shook his head, a little smirk pulling at the corners of his mouth. I told him his writing didn’t have to be either. He wrote a sentence that day, some days I let him narrate to me and I transcribe his thoughts. My three year old wrote some letters on the paper and told me a story about them. My kids were jumping up and down to read their story next. There was an elemental shift in our lives, the weight was gone!
I am over the moon about Brave Writer. I will NEVER go back. NEVER EVER. I don’t need to spend any more money on writing curriculums and programs! Our traditional workbooks have been replaced with Free Write Friday for the whole family and Poetry Tuesday! We write for fun now, not for a grade or to meet anyone else’s expectations. We do our math and about 5-15 minutes of writing a day. We top it off with a bit of reading and then we LIVE our LIFE! We explore, we play, we interact, we relax.
Our whole family is more relaxed, less stressed, more understanding and forgiving and giving each other a bit more grace. The tone in our homeschool is leaking into the tone in our home. I highly recommend checking out the website and joining the newsletter! Even if you don’t end up using the program, I know you will be encouraged and inspired by Julie’s passion and gentle grace. But if you can relate to me in this post, and nothing seems to be working, please consider Brave Writer in your home! I never knew that learning could be so enjoyable. I never thought saying “Free Write!” would EVER mean cheering! The Brave Writer lifestyle is Hip Homeschooling’s official favorite program of the year! Click here to check out their website!