The Brave Writer Lifestyle {One Family’s Approach}

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The Brave Writer Lifestyle

{One Family’s Approach}

Written by Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley of My Little Poppies

Ever since our Fall Haul episode aired, Kara and I have been getting heaps of questions about Brave Writer. The most common question is about the Brave Writer Lifestyle itself. How do we implement it? What does it mean to us? What does it look like?

Well, you’re in luck! Today I am sharing what the Brave Writer Lifestyle looks like in our little world… but that’s not all. 

If you have always wondered about Brave Writer, or if you are die-hard Brave Writer fans like we are, you will be happy to know:

  • Julie Bogart, creator and owner of Brave Writer, will be on our next episode which will air on 10/11/16!
  • On Wednesday, October 12th, The Homeschool Sisters will be taking over Brave Writer’s Instagram account to show you what Brave Writer looks like in our world
  • We have partnered with Play4LifeMoms and will be giving away 3 free months of the Play4LifeMoms texting service. (If you just can’t wait, you can use the code SISTERS at checkout to get two months of the service for just $1 a month. This offer is good until 10/31/26.)

How I discovered Brave Writer

You’ve probably heard the story by now, but I didn’t set out to homeschool. My husband and I are both products of the public education system. Before having children, I worked as a school psychologist in and around Boston and I loved it. I had every intention of returning to urban education once my children were in school…

… but things don’t always go as planned and, long story short, the public school system failed my child.

We are unexpected homeschoolers. We landed here swiftly, without warning, and without a plan.

And that was super stressful for a planner like me.

So I did what any 21st-century parent would do in this situation: I took to the interwebs.

It wasn’t long before I found Brave Writer. And it was love at first sight.

Why I fell in love with Brave Writer

There are so many things I love about the Brave Writer program, lifestyle, and philosophy. I’ve gotten down to the Brave Writer nitty-gritty before, but today I’d like to focus on why Brave Writer works for our family.

When I was first looking for a writing curriculum, I wanted something that was:

  • Fun
  • Easy to implement
  • And something that included memorable read alouds

Above all, I wanted something that would grow a love of the written word.

When I was working as a school psychologist, I cannot tell you how many children I worked with – boys especially- who hated writing. They hated the act of writing. It was physically strenuous for them, painful. Each day, they were tasked with worksheet upon worksheet and then they went home to piles of homework. The writing was anything but fun, and – surprise!– they did not want to do it.

And that’s a shame because children are so creative. They are naturally curious and imaginative and fantastic. They tell stories morning, noon, and night! And yet, once they enter elementary school, so many of them loathe writing. Why?

Consider this:

  • It takes approximately 5 years for oral language to develop.
  • It takes approximately 10 years for written language to develop.

We allow our children’s oral language to grow and develop naturally. We ooh and ahh over first words. We delight in our children’s made up language and mispronunciations. We cheer on every attempt at oral language.

And yet, with written language, we drill and kill and correct and critique. In the public schools, we push our children when it would be better to slow down. We need to leave space for the natural development of written language.

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And this brings me to why I chose Brave Writer: In addition to meeting my criteria above, the Brave Writer Lifestyle honors the natural development of written language.

The Brave Writer Lifestyle

The Brave Writer Lifestyle meshes so perfectly with our family and homeschool philosophy that I almost feel like it was designed for us.

How often can you say that about curriculum?

So it’s no wonder I gush about Brave Writer all the time. The Brave Writer Lifestyle has helped shape our homeschool. We are better for it.

And yet, when you ask me to describe what the Brave Writer Lifestyle looks like for our family, it’s challenging.

If you are a product of the public education system, you are used to schedules and routines and checklists. On Monday you have forty minutes of gym class and on Tuesday you have forty minutes of music. Everything progresses in order, from A-Z. You keep going until you finish. And then you move on.

Brave Writer is not like that. If you are a person who needs a lesson plan, this is not a program for you. Brave Writer is fluid and ever-present and it grows with your family. It’s not a program, it’s a lifestyle. 

Brave Writer emphasizes routines over schedules. It is made up of moments and relationships and big juicy conversations.

And, once you relax into it, it’s absolutely wonderful. I’m now going to attempt to show you what that looks like in our home.

I’m now going to attempt to show you what that looks like in our home.

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A language-rich environment

First, the basics: our home is a language-rich environment. I know you’ve heard all of this before, so I won’t go into great detail, but here are some examples:

  • Books are everywhere- You can find books and magazines in every room of our home.
  • Read aloud early and often- Our homeschool routine starts and ends with fantastic read alouds, with many sprinkled in between.
  • Access to writing materials- Similar to our books, you can find writing materials in almost every room of our house. We also have dry-erase boards on the kids’ bedroom doors (they can’t resist writing on them!) and a chalkboard in the playroom.
  • Visit the library- We visit the library at least once a week.
  • Words – From labels on toy bins to calendars to closed captioning on the TV, words are everywhere.
  • Conversations- We talk all the time! We love the big, juicy conversations that Julie Bogart always talks about.
  • Games– A fantastic way to engage your children in conversation is through games.

Now, let’s move on to what our day looks like…

Our version of the spiral notebook

Have you read Sarah McKenzie’s post about spiral notebooks? That post revolutionized my homeschool planning! Now, each of my kiddos has a composition notebook. Every evening, I sit down and write the next day’s “must-dos”… these are things like reading and math and sometimes chores that I’m tired of nagging them about. Then, I ask each child a question or provide a writing prompt. This whole process takes less than ten minutes.

Believe me, it’s not fancy. You can see two examples below. On the left, is a page from my 8-year-old’s notebook. My 6-year-old’s is on the right.

These notebooks serve three main purposes:

  1. Organization
  2. Documentation of our homeschool year- I include these notebooks in our year-end homeschool portfolio as they show not only what we did, but also demonstrate student growth.
  3. They provide a space for my children to write a little bit, every single day.

Coffee and Books

Coffee and Books is our family’s version of morning time. It is a tradition that developed during a rough patch in our homeschool. You can read more about how it happened here, and you can also follow our daily Coffee and Books on Instagram.

Here is why I love Coffee and Books:

  1. We start our day with what we love, setting a tone for the day
  2. It allows us to add in extra read alouds, and we all know how important reading aloud is!
  3. Coffee and Books allows me to sneak in any subject. If we’ve been slacking on geography or science, I can cover the subject first thing in the day.
  4. The Brave Writer Lifestyle has “focus” days: art appreciation, music discovery, poetry teatime, weekly movies, nature study, etc., and I will often choose books that correspond to the theme that day.
  5. If I’m having a bad day, for whatever reason, I can just grab any ol‘ book and my coffee and read aloud. (That counts as homeschooling, mamas!)
  6. Books always lead to big, juicy conversations!

Want to see some examples? Here you go:

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Here is an example of Coffee and Books on a Monday morning. In our homeschool, Music Discovery happens on Mondays. On this morning we read: Jazz Fly, Jazz Fly 2, Can You Hear It?, The Story of the Orchestra, and (a chapter from) The Barefoot Book of Stories from the Opera.

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Here is an example from a nature study day. We read: The Beeman and Owl Moon.

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I’ve been working hard to add more art books to our Coffee and Books routine and this has become an instant favorite!

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I *love* to read math storybooks to my kids (don’t we all worry a little bit about math?). On this day, we read: Quadrilateral, Fraction Funand The Greedy Triangle.

New this year: Math Play

And, speaking of math books, we’ve added to our Coffee and Books routine this year. After reading an inspiring book about play-based math, I have started ending our Coffee and Books time with math play. This is an easy way to sneak in more math and have those important Brave Writer big juicy conversations!

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On this day, we read The Button Box and then the kids played with my Grammy’s buttons. It might not sound like math, but it is!

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On this day, we read Grandfather Tang’s Story and then played with tangrams. We used this tangram book for more challenge!

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On this day, we read Frida and Bear Play the Shape Game! and then we took turns playing our own shape game on graph paper.

Throughout the Day: life skills and big, juicy conversations

Sprinkled throughout the day, we have big juicy conversations and we also work on life skills. In this way, even the most mundane tasks (hello, LAUNDRY!) become educational.

Whenever possible, I sneak in some reading or writing. For example, last year I started a cooking routine with the kids. Every Sunday, the kids go through my recipe books and pick one recipe. They write it down and then, later, we go over the ingredients together.

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My daughter is a HUGE fan of cooking with me. And look at all that writing!

The wonderful thing about this routine is that I get guaranteed help at least three nights a week. Often, the kids will gather in the kitchen to converse and help out…

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Because ONIONS.

… but three nights each week I have at least one “assistant chef” and that’s priceless when you are a busy mama who doesn’t love to cook. And cooking involves reading, math, conversation, and cooperation!

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My 6-year-old chef.

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My 5-year-old chef.

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My 8-year-old chef.

Monday- Music Appreciation

As I mentioned, the Brave Writer Lifestyle has areas of focus for each day. In our homeschool, Mondays are for Music Discovery. This year, we are taking 10-weeks of ukulele lessons together. My oldest two also take piano lessons. In addition, we enjoy the following:

Tuesday – Poetry Teatime

Poetry Teatimes are perhaps the most well-known part of the Brave Writer Lifestyle and we love them.

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We love the Poetry for Young People series!

There’s something special about gathering at the table together, with china and treats, and reading poetry. Poetry Teatimes make poetry less intimidating, and they build relationships and create memories in the process.

teatime

When the stars are aligned, I can sometimes rally to create an activity based on our poetry, but that is not typical.

Wednesday- Nature Exploration

Our family loves to be outdoors and so nature exploration happens, on some level, almost every day… but on Wednesdays, we clear space to lose ourselves in the world around us.

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nature-river

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On the days we can’t get outside, we rely on our nature collection, nature books, and nature-themed games. We love the Exploring Nature with Children Curriculum, too!

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We love Wildcraft!

Thursday- Art Appreciation

Thursdays have an art focus. Once we finish our homeschool must-dos, we immerse ourselves in art. This week, we’ve been Alicia Hutchinson’s Studying Under the Masters Course for Kids:

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Alicia Hutchinson’s Studying Under the Masters for Kids: Paul Klee

Other days might include the following:

My oldest two kiddos also enjoy an afternoon art class:

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Friday- Freewrite and Games Galore

On Fridays, we write together. It is so important for children to see you writing too! My kids and I sit down with our journals and write. Sometimes it is for ten minutes, sometimes it is for thirty. We don’t put pressure on ourselves, we just enjoy the moment.

And, because I am game-obsessed, I’ve added games to our Fridays.

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My youngest, playing Pentago.

Saturday- Movie Night

Last year, we had trouble squeezing movie night into our weekly routine so we decided to add it to our weekends this year. Whenever possible, we love to watch movies based on books we’ve read aloud, but we watch other things too! The most important part is to have those big juicy conversations!

And that’s a glimpse into our Brave Writer Lifestyle

I hope that this post has answered some of your questions about putting a Brave Writer Lifestyle into place. We cover all the core subjects, but we have a focus for each day.  No two days are the same. There is no schedule, no rules, just a rhythm and routine filled with wonderful conversations, connections, and written language.

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Are you interested in Brave Writer? Here’s how to get started.

The wonderful thing about Brave Writer is that it is flexible. You can make it work for your unique family.

But Brave Writer is filled with so much goodness that it can be tough to choose. One can get overwhelmed… in a good way! I always recommend that folks start by following Julie Bogart and Brave Writer. Read the Brave Writer blog, watch Julie’s Facebook Live readings, follow her on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Then, when you are ready, start with The Writer’s Jungle. At that point, you’ll have a better idea of what will work for your family.

Stay tuned because…

As I mentioned, Julie Bogart will be on our next episode (10/12/16), and the following day we’ll be taking over the Brave Writer Instagram feed! Plus, we have a Play4LifeMoms giveaway happening now through the end of October!

Now, it’s your turn: What does the Brave Writer Lifestyle look like in your world? Share here!

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MAKE SURE YOU DON’T MISS AN EPISODE

Here are several ways that you can tune in to see what Cait and Kara are up to:

We would love if you could leave us a review on iTunes.

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION OR TOPIC YOU’D LOVE TO HEAR CAIT AND KARA TALK ABOUT?

If so, send us a message or leave a comment. We love to hear from you!

BE SURE TO FOLLOW THE HOMESCHOOL SISTERS

You can hang out with Cait and Kara on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

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16 thoughts on “The Brave Writer Lifestyle {One Family’s Approach}

  1. Kathleen Leubner says:

    What a wonderfully rich learning environment you’ve created for your family. So great to see how you’ve translated the Bravewriter lifestyle to a rhythm that works for your family. Thanks for sharing! Do you do dictation or copywork? I’m just learning about this lifestyle and am curious if those components work for your crew?

    Like

    • My Little Poppies says:

      Thank you so much, Kathleen. We do a little bit of dictation and copywork, but it’s not part of our regular rotation. At some point, I imagine we will do more. We also do many of Brave Writer’s monthly projects, but not every single month. In this post, I tried to capture our typical routine without the extra stuff, if that makes sense. Brave Writer includes so much that you have to pick and choose. I think it is hard to visualize what it will look like when you are first starting out. Be sure to check out Julie Bogart’s Instagram account because she’s doing weekly takeovers. Families are sharing what the BWLifestyle looks like for them. Her account is @JulieBraveWriter. Enjoy!

      Like

  2. Wendy says:

    Is this your main curriculum, or is this a supplement? We use Build Your Library and I was thinking of adding Brave Writer but I’m worried it would be too much ( we also use Life of Fred math).

    Like

    • My Little Poppies says:

      Hi, Wendy!

      This is in addition to other resources. We dabble in LOTS of different curriculum but within the Brave Writer Lifestyle. Does that make sense? I shared some of what we love in our Fall Haul episode and I’ve also listed some on my site, My Little Poppies. Hope this helps!

      Like

  3. bikurgurl says:

    I love your rhythm! We have a similar homeschool lifestyle – I had no idea how closely it follows the BraveWriter life 😉 Your posts are always so wonderfully uplifting – I love the detail {and am seriously looking at that Wildcraft game!!} 😉 Thank you for sharing!!

    Like

  4. marnijlo says:

    I love this post, your days look so fun and enchanting. I’m a big fan of Brave writer too. I just discovered Julie last year and so wish I had found her sooner. Last year was our best year ever! This year I’m struggling a bit more because my oldest son is 12 and is more serious about getting his work done and less interested in hanging out with us and being part of what we’re doing. He has his own interests and things which is hard for the rest of us. My middle son is 9 and my youngest son is 6 so the age difference feels bigger this year than in years past. I feel very stretched with everyone’s different needs this year. This is a new struggle for us. I’d love for you gals to do a podcast on how to do the Brave writer lifestyle when there is a big age difference. I miss our days of all being together like we used to. It feels more compartmentalized this year which is making me nostalgic for when my crew was little. Enjoy your days together, they go too fast! Thanks for the posts and podcasts! You ladies are inspiring and I enjoy listening in each week!

    Like

  5. Mother of 3 says:

    Sounds like a wonderful program and I love how your homeschooling week is organized! I also added that wildcraft game to our wishlist. Such a great post filled with so much information and so many ideas.

    Like

  6. Jennifer Ragaruma says:

    Your home schooling like looks wonderful. I am considering Brave Writer for my family. I hate scheduled programs… because I always adapt them anyway… but Brave Writer daunts me because there are so many ideas and no schedule that I feel like I’ll be overwhelmed. I already feel like I spend too much time planning. So much of what you do seems to be ‘a little bit here and a little bit there’, co-ordinating loads of different things to create your days… how long does all that planning and preparing take? When do you find time to do it?

    Like

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