This is the child who wrote books of songs and poems for fun....who brought me pages of copywork from Little House on the Prairie books just because she liked what it said. This was NOT a child who should be crying from writing.
I have been greatly inspired by Brave Writer and the Brave Writer lifestyle. In fact I have a few posts in the queue in a series I have deemed "'Brave Writer' inspired."
And what better way to kick off a Brave Writer inspired series than with a review and giveaway!?!
Understanding Brave Writer was a challenge at first. It seemed like a lot of ideas but I was unable to understand how they all came together. The more I read, the more Brave Writer began to take shape and I could see what the Brave Writer lifestyle looked like day in and day out.
The Brave Writer Lifestyle
One of the main concepts that attracted me to Brave Writer was the idea of the Brave Writer lifestyle. While I differ in the desire for formal spelling and grammar, I appreciate the integration approach of language arts in BW. Routine over schedule and the importance of relationship are integral parts of this lifestyle and these concepts alone have revolutionized the way I do things. The focus on a language rich environment and incorporating nature studies, weekly movies, monthly writing projects, poetry teas, copywork, narration, and dictation into a regular routine makes sense to me. Flexible progression of language arts skills... this makes sense.
The Writer's Jungle
The Writer's Jungle is the heart of Brave Writer. I took the plunge and bought The Writer's Jungle from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I will be honest here, I got bogged down for quite awhile here. It was a great read, but it was HEAVY with so much information it was a little overwhelming. It took months to wade through the jungle, trying to understand what the Brave Writer lifestyle was all about. The read was definitely worth it but probably the most difficult part of reading it was the realization that I would have to read it several times through in the next few years to grasp the fullness of all that was there. I bought the ebook but there were numerous times I wish I would have had a hard copy in front of me. I took notes, but it was one of those books you want to post it note, mark up, highlight, and star. I had to settle by listing the chapter and making notes digitally. The Writer's Jungle is the overview of the Brave Writer lifestyle. You can do "Brave Writer" with just this, but the author has also produced several resources that help flesh out the process if you need assistance...which I did! Reading The Writer's Jungle was like a thorough yet crash course in being your child's writing coach. It is so full of great information, I will revisit those pages again and again!
This is one of the highlights of BW for me. The Arrow/Boomerang, as described by the BW website is "a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel." You can purchase a year's subscription with the newest issues, but you can also buy back issues from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. The latter option worked best for us as we could pick books we already had planned to read this year. The Arrow is geared for grades 3-6 and The Boomerang is for grades 7-10.
I love how these issues are designed. Each week has copywork and dictation, and it goes through why that passage was chosen and how to teach it. Each month covers a literary element found in the book. The ideas presented here are great and have given me so many ideas of how to implement further the BW lifestyle. Lastly, the way The Arrow teaches dictation is wonderful. Both my daughter and I needed a little hand holding in this area, and while before dictation produced tears, I now hear "I love this! I am great at this!" Definitely better than tears!
One of the greatest parts of The Writer's Jungle is the great understanding and explanation of the developmental processes of a writer. We are so careful to be developmentally appropriate with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers-- never expecting sleeping through the night at birth or potty training too early...yet, all thoughts of the developmental process are off when it comes to writing-- we just expect it. Brave Writer clearly articulates the stages of a writer and how we as parents and teachers can help our children move smoothly from one stage to the next. Jot it Down and Partnership Writing are two of Brave Writer's newest resources that greatly explain these two stages and how to implement them in your home. Honestly, just reading through them was worth the money even if I never used it (which I plan to!)
Jot it Down
Jot it Down is a year long writing program for kids ages 5-8. It outlines month long writing projects for this age group, including how to do them step by step. These projects are so fun! I am planning to implement several of these this year with my 6 and 8 year old. My kids don't even see these as school let alone writing. It is just fun!
Partnership Writing is a year long writing program for ages 9-10. Out of all the Brave Writer resources, this may be my favorite...(perhaps because this is where we are with E so it is the most helpful for us right now!) PW outlines writing projects with step by step instructions--the what to write for this stage. PW gave me a much clearer understanding of what the BW language arts routine should look like. The sample schedules are also very helpful.
There is more...The Wand (for early readers and writers), high school materials, online classes...Brave Writer will remain a wonderful resource for years to come.
How We are Incorporating the Brave Writer Lifestyle:
I am a fan of the classical writing philosophy. I loved Writing with Ease...the thing is, my daughter didn't. It made my natural writer cry. So I had to stretch myself and my ideas and get something that would work for her. Enter Brave Writer. I still believe in classical writing, but I have found a way to blend some of the classical ideals with the more relaxed, relationship oriented, routine based nature of Brave Writer. I am in love with the result! This schedule has a classical bent to it, but it is where we are comfortable for now.
Monday: Copy work via the Arrow, discuss The Arrow passage
Tuesday: Dictation via the Arrow
Wednesday: Written narration
Thursday: Oral narration/dictation
Friday: Free Write/Writing Project
Poetry Teas (we do Poetry Smoothie's!) This has been a serious highlight of our school year and we may soon try to incorporate it weekly.
Movie Nights (We did these regularly before, but now I am more intentional about asking questions, and creating environment for discussion. Digging in, asking questions like "should" and "ought" make them think, and is wonderful for helping them develop a Biblical worldview as well! Besides, how fun is it to call movies school!?!?)
A Few Personal Differences...
BW is a complete language arts program and for many families, covering grammar, spelling, and vocabulary through this manner is sufficient. I am no Julie Bogart, so I believe her, I do. The author of Brave Writer suggests having an intensive grammar year once in elementary, once in middle school, and once in high school. It seems reasonable, it does. But I am a bit paranoid so I feel compelled to add formal grammar and spelling each year. I like sentence diagramming, what can I say?!?! I do think eventually I will give in on the spelling...maybe in middle school! ;)
Being a believer in classical writing I am more a fan of copy work, dictation, and narration that inventive spelling and original writing. However, I have found that with Brave Writer I can have both. I focus heavily on copywork/narration/and dictation, but we are also enjoying Friday Free Writes here and there and the month long writing projects are so much fun!
Brave Writer Inspired
So the truth is, Brave Writer has more than revolutionized writing in our homeschool-- there are so many aspects of our schooling that have been impacted by Brave Writer-- routine verse Schedule, relationship, Partnership Writing (Partnership Learning)... More to come on all of this soon!
Giveaway Coming Soon!!!
Now for the fun part!!!! Brave Writer has become a wonderful part of our homeschool, and they have graciously agreed to give away the winner's choice of either Jot it Down or Partnership Writing.
Keep watch for the announcement this week!!!