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Monday, September 12, 2011

(Article/Giveaway) Mothers of Bad Writers Unite! by Julie Bogart, founder of Brave Writer

Mothers of Bad Writers Unite! Article by Julie Bogart of Brave Writer - on A Slice of Homeschool #bravewriter #writing

It was a hectic day at our homeschool co-op. I didn't even have time to eat my lunch. I taught a theater arts class at 10:00, had a teacher's meeting at 11:00, fished a half-eaten sandwich out of a garbage can for a 7 year old at 12:00, and cleaned up the lunchroom in time to make it to my afternoon assistant teaching assignment.
By the time I got to the fourth hour of our co-op, I had about as much energy as a limp leaf of lettuce. Staring me in the eyeballs were my eager-to-learn mothers. Twenty-five moms assembled for the purpose of transforming their beleaguered homeschool writing programs into machines of writing efficiency.
I launched into our lesson by writing feverishly on the white board all of the symptoms of pain associated with the writing process in us and in our kids. Perfectionism, going blank, fear of committing one's thoughts to paper, conflicting emotions, jumbled ideas, confusion about the parameters of the assignment, boredom and anger—the list was long.
Suddenly I was swamped with questions and anxieties of moms as teachers: worries that their kids would never learn to spell, punctuate, use the right verb tenses, write essays and write more than two sentences at one sitting. Their problem? They believe a lie. They assume that their kids should be able to write.
I was so tired that I forgot to be diplomatic. I blurted out, "Well, that's because your kids are all bad writers." Silence. Blank stares. I had broken the first rule of talking to mothers: criticizing their children. So I added hastily, "And they will be until they have ten years of writing under their belts." Exhales everywhere.
Some of you are fortunate. You have kids who like to write and even do it well for their ages. But let me say here, even good writers at age ten are not "good writers." They all have a long way to go to get good at it in the adult sense. That said, let's get into what it takes for mothers with no confidence and kids with limited abilities to conquer this Mt. Everest called writing.

Grit:  I admire any mother who attempts to teach writing. The longer I teach it, the more tangled and confusing it becomes. I find that just when I think I've stumbled onto a solution, the next writing assignment defies it, resists it, will not be bent to suit it. Promise yourself that you will keep at it, that writing won't beat you. Grit your teeth and tell yourself, "I won't let ink and paper beat me up."

Café au Lait:  The best remedy for a languishing writing program is café au lait with another homeschooling friend. I'm serious! Talk to your friends. Tell the truth. You can admit that your kids' writing embarrasses you and that you aren't good at writing yourself. Share your fears about teaching writing. Bring samples of your kids' writing with you. Compare. Take notes. Swap assignment ideas.
When you see that other kids make the same kinds of mistakes your kids make, you get perspective. Isolation wreaks havoc on the mother who attempts to teach her kids to write.
By the way, this is not the time to discuss the ‘curriculum cure.’ Don't analyze curriculum. Analyze your feelings and your kids' writing. That's where the progress will be made.

Chutzpah:  Chutzpah is a word from my childhood. My Jewish neighbors used it to compliment me for my guts and moxie (another great word). People with chutzpah don't shrink from saying what they mean and doing what they say. Moms who teach their kids to write must have the chutzpah to judge writing programs.
They need to trust their intuition about what makes sense and what is nonsense. If the topic or assignment doesn't inspire you, throw it in the trash. If you think your kids are sick to death of the project they've slaved over, and it isn't finished, put an end to the agony and quit the project.
Try out the assignments you require your kids to do. Remember what it feels like to be told what to write. Slow down and do fewer assignments over a longer period of time. Do what it takes to preserve your kids’ interest in writing.
Get help if you need it. Find classes or a friend who loves to write and learn about the writing process. Go to the library and check out books about writing (the kind professionals write for would-be authors—not the kind for teachers).
Have the chutzpah to teach your kids to write the way you wish you had learned. You might even conquer your own fears of writing in the process.
Repeat after me: "I can teach my kids to write. Heck, I can learn to write myself!"


Julie Bogart is the creator of the innovative Brave Writer Writing and Language Arts Curriculum. For 12 years, Brave Writer instructional manuals and online classes have enriched the homeschooling lives of thousands of families. Brave Writer exists to foster a nurturing relationship between homeschooling parent and child while creating a safe environment for writing growth. Brave Writer brings a fresh point of view to the writing process. Rather than emphasizing format writing as the key to success, Brave Writer's materials and instructors facilitate the emergence of authentic writing voice in your children. Once children have access to the language, insights and ideas locked within, they easily learn a variety of writing genres, including the rigorous academic formats of high school and college. Julie's professional background includes freelance writing, magazine and book editing and ghost-writing. She's authored and supervised the development of all original Brave Writer materials, as well as having homeschooled her five children for 17 years. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

(Contest below has ended)
Julie is providing one of my readers with a free issue of The Arrow (in a .pdf format). The Arrow is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel, in this case it is for My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.

As explained on Brave Writer's website, "The Arrow is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context, using copywork and dictation. It is a language arts resource that equips you, the homeschooling parent, to fulfill your best intentions related to:

  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Grammar
  • Literary elements
  • Quality living literature"
To learn more about The Arrow and to download a free copy pertaining to the read aloud novel Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes, please visit their website.

To enter the giveaway for one free .pdf file of The Arrow for My Side of the Mountain, you may use Rafflecopter below or for one entry, just leave me a comment letting me know you'd like to win.

©2011-2013 A Slice of Homeschool Pie. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.


  1. I'd like to win this :)

  2. I would like to win this. Any chance of finding something to make writing enjoyable for the kids...


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