Curriculum Review: Brave Writer –and Give Away!

From the first time that I heard the founder of Brave Writer, Julie Bogart, speak, I knew that this was not your average language arts curriculum.

I could not absorb Julie’s ideas fast enough at that homeschooling conference last Spring. I rushed home and immediately implemented Tuesday Tea Time.  It was an instant hit with my kids and we’ve been doing it every week since.

I was eager to find out more about Brave Writer.  I have a daughter who is learning how to read and a son who is a”reluctant writer”.  My 8-year-old son has absolutely hated to write anything other than his name. This is a struggle that has been going on for nearly 3 years. I had heard from some other homeschooling parents that the Brave Writer program had effective tools for those “reluctant writers”.

So, when I wrote to Julie and asked her if I could review the entire Brave Writer program, and she said yes, I was thrilled. I was at our neighborhood pool and checked my email on my phone. When I got her answer, I did a little happy dance right there on the pool deck.  Oh, yes, I did.

Julie Bogart, creator of the Brave Writer program.

So, let me tell you how Brave Writer started. It’s the creation of Julie Bogart, a homeschooling mom of five, who began writing this curriculum 12 years ago at her kitchen table.  Since then, she has grown her company to include on-line classes and at-home curriculum for elementary through high school students, all centered around what she calls The Brave Writer Lifestyle.

In this review, I’m going to tell you about the highlights of Brave Writer,  then I’ll detail the  components of the  program.  Finally, I will show you how we are using it in action with my 6 and 8 year olds thus far.  I’ll come back from time to time to show you how things are progressing as we delve into using Brave Writer this coming school year. And, you’ll have a chance  to enter to win a free Brave Writer product in this post.

I just finished reading The Writer’s Jungle, which is the cornerstone of the Brave Writer program. It’s a lot to absorb, and I mean that in a good way.   I felt the same way after hearing Julie Bogart speak.  There are so many useful tools and nuggets of information.  Let me give you some examples:

  • Creating a language-rich home with good read-aloud books, discussion after viewing movies, regular reading of poetry, keeping of nature journals, making of lists, descriptions of art, and so on is more important than grammar lessons in the development of good writers. (Italics mine; not that grammar is not needed, more on that later.)
  • Giving your children the language rich experiences mentioned above will give them the words to “populate their writing”.
  • Create an environment with writing routines, not schedules, but if your child gets a better idea, go with that. It’s okay if they write something and don’t finish it. All writers do that.
  • Model the writing process for your child. If they are keeping a nature journal, you keep one too.  If they are freewriting for 10 minutes, you do it as well.
  • Approach your child’s process of learning to write with comfort and compassion.  Believe that your child will be a self-reliant writer by adulthood. Good writing doesn’t take off until around age 16 to 18.
  • Put your relationship with your child first. Your child, is after all, more important than any product they produce.

Good stuff, isn’t it?

What does the Brave Writer program consist of?

The Writer’s Jungle is the main resource to the Brave Writer program, the manual of this curriculum. It is full of ideas on how to make your home language-rich, how to partner with your child to develop their writing voice, how to minimize power struggles, how to work with a child who is a “reluctant writer”, and so much more.
It also details the six stages of writing.  Briefly, those stages include Jot It Down, Partnership Writing, Faltering Ownership, Transition to Ownership, Eavesdropping on “The Great Conversation”, and Fluency and Ownership.  There are ages associated with each of these stages and ideas for writing assignments and projects.

Jot It Down is a year-long Language Arts plan for students ages 5 to 8.  It includes ten monthly writing projects.  There are many great ideas detailed here, including ideas for recitation, word play, narration, poetry teatimes, weekly movies, art and music appreciation and more.

The Wand, The Arrow, The Boomerang, and more.  These are the Brave Writer Language Arts Programs.  Each one of these programs has 3 different levels and are in a magazine format with several issues per level.   The Wand is geared towards 5-8 year olds, The Arrow for ages 8-11 and so on.  All the way up to high school.

Here’s an example of what you will find in The Wand, which is the program I am using with my 6 and 8 year olds. Each issue is based on a popular childrens’ book.  So for Level 1 in Issue 1, the lessons are based around the book Hop On Pop by Dr. Seuss.  There are specific instructions for teaching reading (which I am using with my 6 year old daughter), doing copywork (both kids) and spelling (both kids).

Brave Writer projects from top left: Story my daughter dictated about a day at the park with friends; letter tiles for spelling (you can use post-its instead), copywork; a story my son dictated to me about Italy; Making lists: awesome verbs to be used for Mad Libs; my daughter’s Hop on Pop drawing from a Wand assignment.

So what about grammar?  The Brave Writer program’s primary focus is on inspiring a love of writing and helping kids to find their writing voice and develop it as they grow.  Grammar is recommended three times: once in elementary, once in junior high and once in high school. More grammar instruction is received via any foreign language study.

This is certainly not the way I was taught grammar in public school, so it’s a different way of thinking.  In fact, the Writer’s Jungle acknowledges this by saying, “Most of us were not taught to write for pleasure, self-experession and discovery.  Instead we were handed inane topics that neither inspired us nor related to topics we knew or cared about and then were told, write.”  Brave Writer asserts that it strives to be different.  This appeals to me, so we are giving it a go. And enjoying it immensely thus far.

How’s it going for my “reluctant writer”? Well, we are keeping the copywork short and sweet. Our focus is on getting his creative ideas down on paper. I’m “jotting it down” for him and he’s reading his work back to me. We’re putting together spelling words and making up nonsense words for fun. We’re stopping to notice colorful descriptions that we really like in our read-aloud books. We are doing all of this together, the power struggles are few and far between and we are both enjoying this relaxed approach. Relaxed, but actually getting more accomplished. It is feeling like a good fit so far.

So, in addition to the samples the program offers on their website, Brave Writer is offering one of their products for free to my readers: Brave Writer Goes To The Movies, for ages 8 to 18.  Where do movies fit into a language arts curriculum? Brave Writer asserts that we should treat high quality films as an essential part of our childrens’ education. The advantages listed include the ability to tell a full plot in approximately two hours and the ability to travel to other places in the world and in history. Watch movies with your kids and discuss them during and afterwards. Write down what your kids say about them or have them write their thoughts.

Brave Writer Goes to the Movies is an e-document that provides several pages of writing prompts and ideas to analyze the setting, characters, message,  plot development and more, of films.

THIS GIVE-AWAY HAS ENDED.

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I received a copy of The Writer’s Jungle, Jot It Down, and The Wand from Brave Writer for the purpose of review. I did not receive any other compensation. The opinions expressed in this review are purely my own. 

Comments

  1. Thanks for the review!

  2. Thanks for the review – I have two girls the same ages as your kiddos – and have been wondering whether Brave Writer makes sense for us – you answered my questions!!! Thanks for a great blog too….

  3. This sounds like a great product. My oldest daughter loves movies, so getting her to write about what she sees would be a great idea for her!

  4. Thanks for your review! I have a reluctant writer too and am always looking for better ways to help him succeed.

  5. What a great review! I have a very stubborn and reluctant writer in our household. For years I have been on the hunt for any product that can breathe some new life into the world of writing for him.

  6. I recently purchased The Writer’s Jungle and have started reading it. I like everything I have read – both in it, and about it. My oldest is 5, and I was doing some of the “Jot It Down” things already, but I am eager to implement many others! Thanks for the review and giveaway!

  7. It’s funny, I knew about Bravewriter before I even had kids, but I had forgotten about her program until recently. I love her tea time Tuesday idea.

  8. Mary A. says:

    Thank you so much for this review! I am always searching for a way to encourage a love of writing and language in my children. Would love to use this curriculum!

  9. I just heard about this writing program (and your blog!) and I was looking forward to your review. It sounds like it might be a good fit for my family.

  10. Kristina says:

    Great review– I’ve not heard of this curriculum before, but sense it would be good for my son! Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. Great post! I love Bravewriter, but am not actively using yet, as my DD is 4. I bought it on sale at HSBC, and I really am excited to use it. Thanks for this review, I hadn’t seen the movie curriculum piece yet!

  12. Christal says:

    I have just started working through the writer’s jungle. I am really hoping this works for my two boys, who are extremely resistant to any writing.

  13. I was wondering about this program. Thanks for the review.

  14. I’ve been giving some serious thought to getting Brave Writer, and your review sealed the deal! Thanks!

  15. thanks for this giveaway!

  16. I recently purchased “The Wand” through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. If you are interested in hearing about the co-op here is the website to join from my homeschool blog: http://totplay.blogspot.com/search/label/Homeschool%20Buyers%20Coop.
    I bought “Jot it Down” when it was first published and available on sale through the company. I hope to implement the methods in the fall my 4 1/2 year old daughter (working at an advanced level). We started using a sample and then stopped due to other family circumstances. I only wish I owned the Writer’s Jungle – it is on my wish list and it choked full of information. I haven’t heard of “Brave Writer Goes to the Movies” but it looks and sounds GREAT. I would love to try it! We also loved Tea Time Tuesday. I can’t wait to hear more about your experiences.
    God bless,
    Tracey M.
    tlmswt2000(at)msn(dot)com

  17. I have seen so many great reviews of this program I guess I will have to buy it for myself. I can’t believe it’s just the new factor any longer.

  18. Would love to try this with my girls. We are still getting to the word construction part but this would be great I have a feeling they are going to take off this year!

  19. Thanks for the review and the opportunity to win! Looks like a great program for my reluctant 1st grade writer!!

  20. Thanks so much for this giveaway.

    My Name: Heather Abbe
    My Email: abbegirl1977 at gmail dot com

  21. Diana Hatch says:

    Thanks for the giveaway

  22. Ani G W says:

    Thanks for the great review and giveaway! This looks like something my son could really benefit from!

  23. Chelsea Wipf says:

    Sounds like a cool program…something my son might like to try.

  24. Michelle says:

    I am strongly considering Brave Writer for my 10 year old reluctant writer. Thanks for the review, it really helps.

  25. Thanks for posting this. What a great opportunity.

  26. Liberty Boblett says:

    I think this would be wonderful for my son! He is very hesitant to write, and I am sometimes at a lose on how to coax him into it! I am seriously going to check out this curriculum! Thanks for the giveaway!
    mindomatter76@gmail.com

  27. Would love this for my daughter who is homeschooling her three daughters. This would be fantastic as their ages are 6,7,and 8!

  28. Renee Easter says:

    I have a question on how to use it. Do you have to buy The Writer’s Jungle? Is it written for Mom’s to motivate them to work with their kids on writing, or is it a curriculum guide I’ll need for the subscriptions like The Wand or The Arrow?

    Or in other words, if I subscribe to The Arrow, is it pretty self explanatory? Are there things I’d miss because I didn’t buy The Writer’s Jungle?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Julie @ Creekside Learning says:

      Hi Renee,
      I would say that The Writer’s Jungle is essential. At least it has been for us, because I needed to change my way of thinking of HOW to teach writing to my kids. The idea of partnership writing, the many ways to incorporate opportunities for my children to develop as writers that are very different from how I was taught in a public school setting have been invaluable to me. And those were things I found in The Writer’s Jungle.
      Technically, no, you do not have to purchase TWJ with The Wand or The Arrow but it will make so much more sense.
      Another place to get more information on how families are using this is the secularhomeschool.com forums. There are a number of threads there that go in depth into the Brave Writer program. Perhaps you may find that helpful.
      Julie

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