I used to review curriculum, now I create it

An Unschooling Approach to Teaching Writing

When people hear the word ‘unschooling’ they sometimes write off the entire conversation. They picture kids playing video games all day long while mom reads a book and that is FAR from the truth. Unschooling, also known as child directed learning, is a form of education where the child is involved in their education. It is targeted, it is unique to the child. You might use curriculum if your child is enjoying it, or maybe it will mean learning through research and library visits. It looks different in literally EVERY household. Today I want to talk specifically about an unschooling approach to teaching writing. How do parents facilitate an environment where the child WANTS to write? How do they teach and direct writing in a way that is child directed when most children seem to dread this subject? Spoiler alert… it IS possible, and probably more fun than most tear-filled writing curriculums out there.

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Unschooling writing… curriculum?

What I use to teach writing in my homeschool is not so much a curriculum as a framework (though they do sell curriculum as well). I found out that my approach to teaching writing was failing miserably and I needed the skills and confidence and inspiration to take a different path. When I first learned about Brave Writer I knew this was the key to change in our writing approach, I didn’t know it would change my entire vision for my homeschool. I downloaded and printed off the Writer’s Jungle and watched it print in shock. The pages just kept on coming you guys! It was so big that I had to take it off my printer tray for round 2. Meanwhile, I kept sipping at my coffee wondering how on earth I was supposed to read all that and implement it into my homeschool.

Writer's Jungle: an unschooling writing framework

Fast forward a few days and I will let you in on a little secret, I didn’t read it all! I read the beginning, I skipped forward to parts that applied to me or spoke to me, and I got started! I have very little patience and a whole heck of a lot of spontaneity so I sat down and made a plan of how I could take the lifestyle of this program and make it work for us. Over the past year I refer to it and read up and refresh my memory and find some new nugget that I fall in love with. It has become a staple on my shelf, a reference book, a treasure. To learn more about the Brave Writer lifestyle and why we ditched our workbooks because of it, head HERE.

unschooling writing

What unschooling writing looks like in action

We have found the best time to do writing, now that the weather is getting cooler, is in the afternoon. I boil a pot of tea or some hot chocolate and we join together around the kitchen table with our writing books or traveler’s notebooks. I made 4 traveler’s notebooks (leather books with notebooks attached inside with elastics-make your own fabric ones here) for each of my children and decorated each one. This was one of the most genius moves I made, unbeknownst to me at the time, as my children naturally want to write in their books because they are beautiful and special and handmade, rather than just a cheap notebook from the store. Just as I am inspired by my pretty traveler’s notebook and journals, so are my children (food for thought).

unschooling writing

I often will turn on classical music as well, I find it sets the tone and inspires us without being distracting. I pull out my book right alongside my children, and so will their dad if he is home. We alternate between free writes (write about anything you want, or a certain theme we choose together for 5 minutes), poetry tea time (learn more here), copywork, and working on a writing project. Because we don’t spend a huge chunk of time writing (never more than about 15-20 minutes) it is not overwhelming for the kids and for the entire past year, writing is met with cheers instead of tears.

unschooling writing

EVERYONE get’s involved in this! My 4 year old knows her letters but not how to read, so she writes random letters all over the page and reads her “story” to us afterwards. I encourage her through whatever she comes up with because not only is she *wanting* to write her story, she is learning what makes a good story. She can already weave a tale better than some of her older siblings and because writing is such a fun experience for her, I know this will never be a struggle for her moving forward.

unschooling writing

Even the 2 year old is in on the fun. I really can’t leave her out. She scribbles on her notebook, drawing little pictures to be like her siblings and heaven forbid we miss hearing HER story, unintelligible though it may be. Granted, her favorite part of our writing routine is the sweet drink at the table, but I am confident that by the time she is school aged writing will already be natural for her and something she wants to do rather than something that brings dread and insecurity.

How unschooling and Brave Writer blend

The reason this program matches this homeschool style so completely is that it is all about working with your children rather than teaching to them. Julie is a writer herself, and her success and testimony of teaching her own children truly speaks for itself. Julie will give you permission to find peace and rest in your homeschool. She will show you how to make writing a way of life, rather than a subject. She will show you that you are uniquely equipped to teach your children, all on your own, and how to make that happen through the different stages of writing. She will remind you to be gentle on your children, on yourself, and give them room to make mistakes. Whether you are a full time unschooler or you aren’t an unschooler at all, this program will give you the best of child-directed learning with a framework on how to make that happen.

unschooling writing
You can learn more about Brave Writer and our story in my video review HERE or in the sidebar. If you want to check out the website, CLICK HERE or on the image below to view the different products they offer. You can also find Julie on Periscope HERE where you can ask her your questions live and connect with a community of people who have fallen in love with this program.

Have questions? Comment below!

*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. I am a Brave Writer ambassador, meaning I love the product, use it personally, and work with the company to share it with my readers. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and not directed by Brave Writer in any way. For more information, please see my disclosure policy here.


  1. Although I appreciate the idea, this would be horrible for me personally because I do not enjoy writing. Given that unschooing is all about being interest led, I am not led to write by natural interest so I would not want to participate in this. But it IS important to know how to write and how to use English and punctuation properly, etc., which is an area of weakness for me, so how would I be able to impart this knowledge that I don’t possess myself. I am not a confident writer AT ALL and feel my kids are going to need to have that information outsourced in a sense. I would not know how to correct their writings. I still question how to properly use commas, semi colons, colons, dashes, brackets, etc. I personally don’t know proper paragraph structure or how to write an essay. I was a troubled youth from a broken home who didn’t take my education seriously so I know I am lacking so much basic knowledge such as this.

    • This is intriguing. I am just starting our homeschool journey and think this could be valuable. I am curious about the grammar piece though.

    • I’m a former teacher and a writer by nature. However, I was taught whole language instead of in addition to phonics, that along with the fact I have a very strong southern accent has my spelling at around 5th grade level.
      I choose to jnschool my children. My 6 year old is already at 2nd grade and 3rd grade level on most subjects but due to actually having to try he is still at Kindergarten level for reading and writing. Because he wants to be a scientist, he finally told me he wants more “focus time” for reading and writing. He already knows all the basic sounds of each letter and has randomly wrote and read CVC words. Due to my insecurities with phonics we are using Brave writer along Julie Bogart’s recommendation for reading and spelling,
      Oh, though my son struggles with actually writing individual letters, we bought a wax envelope sealing kit and a couple of times a week he will draw a picture and have me dictate a letter to different family members. He hasn’t lost this interest in about a year.

  2. Love the idea! I have a 2 year old that sits with her oldest (11) sister to do art, music, read, write and much more.

  3. You have just wonderful educational content for children! I really hope that you will continue to publish such articles. How long does it take you to write an article?

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I used to review curriculum, now I create it!