Brave Writer: My Experiences as a Struggling Writer
What is Brave Writer? If you’re new to this homeschooling world you might not know what Brave Writer is, I know I didn’t when I first started. At its core, it’s a Language Arts curriculum but really it’s SO MUCH MORE. It’s really a lifestyle. WHAT? Did she really just say a Language Arts Curriculum was a lifestyle? Yes, yes I did. The Brave Writer lifestyle is about creating a language rich environment for kids to thrive in.
How Did My Experiences Struggling Writing Lead Me To Brave Writer?
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As many of you know, I’m dyslexic and always struggled in school. I was first introduced to Brave Writer during one of Julie Bogart’s periscopes last year (Julie Bogart is the creator of Brave Writer and my superhero). I honestly don’t even remember exactly what the topic of her periscope was, I just remember quite literally getting teary eyed because Julie has this way of speaking right to your soul. Ok, perhaps that’s just me. It’s like she could see all the struggles I had growing up and at the same time made me feel completely normal for honestly still struggling in the LA department.
Then, awhile after watching that periscope I found a podcast where Julie was talking about the stages of writing. WOW. What a lightbulb moment for me. So the stages as Julie defines it are:
–Jot it Down
–The Great Conversation
I encourage you to look through each of those, but what really struck me was, while everything she was saying made TOTAL sense, I actually might still be in partnership writing. “Child needs help with spelling, punctuation, and getting rich vocabulary to the page.” My husband, being my editor of this blog, can say that’s 100% true. That’s the reason starting this blog was such a HUGE deal for me personally. I’ve never been confident in my writing ability. I often have to “dumb down” my thoughts because I can’t spell a word #truthtalk. I think honestly I’m somewhere between partnership writing and faltering ownership.
Writing Curriculum for the Struggling Writer
At first this made me feel horrible. Am I really at the same level as a 10 year old? Then I thought, I don’t want my kids to feel this poorly about their writing. I want them to freely express themselves the way I get to with my art. Being a poor writer doesn’t mean I don’t have stories to tell. I found a way to express myself with more visual art like photography and filmmaking. As a filmmaker I can say, there are TONS of ways to tell a story without writing.
Close your eyes and imagine this. A dark room with just a spot light on a child curled up in the corner of the room, you hear dripping as the camera moves lower to be eye level with the child. Would it surprise you if the child jumped up and started laughing and dancing? Probably, because all those details were chosen to make you FEEL a certain way. Every decision when laying out a scene affects your story. That’s why I created my Filmmaking Course for Kids to explain how everything from the camera angle and camera movement, to lighting and audio can effect the story.
I had no idea (and still don’t) if any of my kids are dyslexic or if they will struggle like I did, but I did know that I wanted to learn more about Brave Writer.
How We Started the Brave Writer Lifestyle
One of the easiest ways I found to get Brave Writer into our home was Poetry Tea Time. If you’ve never heard of it, basically it’s tea (or any special drink), a snack, and poetry. Check out this Poetry Tea Time Companion. If you’ve had a Poetry Tea Time you know what an amazing magical time it is. For us, it’s a way to really connect. My oldest LOVES reading and I’ve always hated reading (although I’ve never told him that). Poetry Tea Time is a special time once a week where I let him take the lead. He loves setting up our “fancy dishes” (we got them at a thrift store, it’s a great place to find old tea sets!) and he picks the books. We don’t always do poetry. I let him bring whatever he’s interested in and we give our full attention to whoever is reading out-loud (we take turns) and discuss what we’ve read. All while eating snacks and sipping tea.
Now that our oldest is “officially” starting school as a kindergartener I ordered Jot It Down and am SO EXCITED to get started! And just because I know someone is going to ask, we didn’t get The Wand because he’s already reading at a 3rd grade level. But as Julie has said many times, reading level and writing level are not the same thing. I am super excited for Jot it Down.