A Peek at The Writer's Jungle and First Impressions and Thoughts about Brave Writer

Sunday, September 4, 2016





There have been many times when I've been absolutely sure that God led me to a certain book, curriculum, or resource.  (A few examples would be: All About Reading, Draw Write Now, Five in a Row, NaturExplorers, and Teaching Textbooks.)

THIS is certainly one of those times when I felt the Lord placed just the right resource in my lap. (He's so awesome!)


Let me explain:

When I got the okay to review The Writer's Jungle, I was uncertain what Brave Writer was even all about.  I had only vaguely heard of it and, quite honestly, I was skeptical.

We've been struggling our way through writing for a few years now.

My skepticism simply arose from the fact that I have really had a hard time finding writing programs that worked for our children.  Especially my eldest, who is an extremely reluctant writer. (He's 11.)

It only took me a short time of reading The Writer's Jungle and various other resources from Julie Bogart to feel confirmed that the Lord brought Brave Writer to us and our homeschool.  I am so (SO!) excited to starting using these philosophies and resources in our home.

I am nearly done reading through all of The Writer's Jungle.  I have about a billion sticky tabs all over the place to remind me of great suggestions, projects we need to do, and tips that will prove helpful more than once (I'm sure!).  It acts as a comprehensive, friendly manual for helping us understand how to better relate to our children and help them learn to write effectively.  The Writer's Jungle is not a curriculum, it is a description of a lifestyle and a compilation of chapters of insight and inspiration for moving past stumbling blocks and getting to the heart of what it really means to 'write well'.  It is fabulously inspiring.

Chapters include topics like: Narration, Copywork, Dictation, The Role of Communication in the Art of Writing, Rescuing Reluctant Writers, Revising, The Topic Funnel, Editing, Dumb Assignments, and so much more.

There are also loads of assignments to work on with your kids that correspond with the chapter topics.  A couple examples are:  The Communication Game, The Keen Observation Exercise, Topic Funnel Exercise, Journal Writing, etc.

I also decided to invest in A Quiver of Arrows and The Arrow for our language arts this year and so far, I'm loving everything I am seeing!  (More about that below.)


My first impression is that Brave Writer is a gentle, natural, intentional approach to not only writing, but also relationship with our children.



Julie Bogart (the creator of Brave Writer) describes that the Brave Writer philosophy/lifestyle often "...feels foreign, almost like entering a different culture."   

Honestly, I don't feel like we will have to change our educational philosophies at all - Brave Writer's philosophies fit so well with what we're already doing!  It's quite remarkable, actually.

If you lean towards gentle teaching and/or a Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool, Brave Writer is very likely to appeal to you and your children.


Julie also says:

"Brave Writer is focused on PEOPLE.  That's why it is called Brave Writer not Brave Writing... One of the reasons our program feels different is because I'm inviting you to get to know your kids.  To value what comes out of their mouths.  To be interested in their thoughts.  To have eye contact and big, juicy conversations.  To celebrate language with them not to do school to them. That's the difference....  We are about a lifestyle more than a program."


When I hear those words, I am overwhelmed with a sense of rest, peace, and great relief.

They affirm what I already know to be true in my heart, friends - that writing is a natural process that can and will develop if nurtured in the right ways specific to every individual child.  Especially when relationship is the core focus, children will thrive in their ability to communicate well with us and others.




Figuring out How it Works


So, it took me a bit, but I think I've pretty much figured out how Brave Writer works.  Or at least, what to purchase if you want to get started with it and get going on a great year of writing and language arts.  I mean, we still haven't put any of these resources into practice in our homeschool, so right now, everything is still only in my mind.  (We start next week!)

Basically, there are home-based study programs (like homeschool curriculum for writing and language arts) and then there are actually online classes you can take through Brave Writer's website.

The Writer's Jungle is the foundational book of the entire program because it goes into a lot of detail about the Brave Writer philosophy and how to implement this 'lifestyle' for not only writing, but learning and living in general.  I highly recommend starting with The Writer's Jungle if you are new.

Julie says you can literally stop there if you want to.  If you are motivated and understand the foundational principles, you can continue and implement the philosophies on your own.  However, if you want a little help (as so many of us do!), you can purchase more of the Brace Writer programs and/or resources to help you on your way to successful language skills and writing success.  This is what we've chosen to do, as I discuss below.


A Focus on Family Relationships and Reading Great Books

YES!!!  A writing 'program' that puts a complete emphasis on building great relationships with our kids and reading great books together!  Imagine that!?  The majority of everything Brave Writer offers in centred around relationships, an atmosphere of rest, and sharing age-appropriate living books together as a source of knowledge, inspiration, conversation, and enrichment.

Need I say more?  I was pretty much sold from 'hello' on this one, friends.



Poetry Tea Time and Friday Free Write

I'm sure some of you have heard the term, Poetry Tea Time.  Poetry Tea Time is encouraged for all families, once a week (at least)!  This is a time of rest, poetry, wonderful language enrichment, nurturing a love of reading and language, and of course, enjoying bonding time over yummy treats and soothing tea.

I LOVE this idea.  We have always read while eating... it's kind of something we just do.  Maybe because we're always eating?

But I've never intentionally had a tea/poetry time on a weekly basis.  We are starting this habit this year.  I'm pretty pumped about it.

Friday Free Write has also become a well-known phrase. This is an element of the Brave Writer Lifestyle that we plan to implement this year as well.  Every friday, we will attempt to free write for a short period of time.  For at least two of my children I am certain this will start with oral narration of their free write... and that's okay with me *smile*





Writing Programs

For Home Study programs there are both straight-out Writing Programs and also Language Arts programs available.  They all look so good, I'm tempted to buy them all, to be honest.


For Writing specifically -

If your child still isn't writing yet and is between the ages of 5-8, there is Jot It Down available.  This looks so Charlotte Mason friendly and I love the idea of allowing children to narrate aloud and Mom (or Dad) acting as the scribe for them.  We have done this a TON in our homeschool and it works wonders for getting more and better narrations out of them.


We are taking this year to focus on the main manual, The Writer's Jungle, which is applicable to kids age 8-18.  So, all three of our children will be doing the activities in it, some together, some separate.

We may choose to move on to other courses after that, but I'm not sure yet.






Language Arts Programs


Okay, so these programs are for if you are looking for more support in the area of Language Arts (not specifically writing, though many of these units include writing ideas and suggestions).

I am REALLY excited about my purchases of  A Quiver of Arrows (for Alex) and The Arrow (for Audrey and Simon).  

So, these are literary based language arts UNITS.  Each unit uses one book that is used to expand the world of language arts for our children.  So, there is suggested copywork, commentary about grammar and writing styles, questions to stimulate conversation, a monthly literary element focus, and suggested activities for writing practice and experimentation.  You are getting quite a bit with each unit.

A Quiver of Arrows is a bridge year between the younger program The Wand and the grade 3-6 program, The Arrow.  The booklists for The Wand, A Quiver of Arrows, and A Pouch of Boomerangs stay the same within the programs.  I see these as 'bridge' years.

The booklists for The Arrow and The Boomerang, however, change yearly.  They are digital downloads with a new title or unit every month.

One option for purchasing any of these is to use Homeschool Buyer's Co-op.  I got amazing deals on my purchases.  I paid only $47 for A Quiver of Arrows (instead of $79)!  

I particularly loved the way I was able to purchase units of The Arrow.  I actually bought a bundle of 10 back issues (instead of getting this year's titles month by month).  This was awesome because I paid a fraction of the price and was able to hand pick the titles we would do to suit our children's interests and what books we already had on the shelf.  Love it!  I also specifically picked 5 titles to suit Audrey and 5 titles for Simon.  It was $59 for all the issues instead of the regular price of $100.  

I love good homeschool deals... and since they are all digital downloads, there is no shipping or waiting to worry about.  Everything was smooth and easy!

Of course, you can also purchase directly from Brave Writer as well.





There are also countless online classes available through the Brave Writer website.  If this is something that interests you, you can learn more by browsing their website's Online Classes section.

If you are longing for a relationship-based, restful approach to language arts and writing?

Then Brave Writer might just be what you and your kids need.




I hope this preview is at least a little helpful if Brave Writer is completely new to you.





I am working on a full review of The Writer's Jungle along with my thoughts on A Quiver of Arrows and The Arrow, coming up in the couple of months.  We need to actually use the program for me to properly review and discuss it with all of you!

I just had to share this preview and my excitement in finding Brave Writer so you can start browsing their stuff if this sparks your interest!!!



More to come...







For those of you who are wanting more information about the foundations of Brave Writer and how all the pieces fit together - check out this video:









6 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your initial thoughts on this program. We are just embarking on it for the first time this year as well. I love how it's literature-based - how the writing skills and activities are pulled directly from a context. Poetry Tea Time and Friday Free Writing will also be making an appearance in our home this year :) I'm super excited to explore all of it with my kids.

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    1. Oh! That's exciting. :) Yes, the whole program just looks wonderful and I'm pretty pumped. Now, to get my sons as excited as I am.... ;)

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  2. Thank you for this. I had looked over the site many times but have never fully understood what I should be using and how and when, so I hung back from ordering. Your explanation makes it much more clear! I appreciate your taking the time to explain.

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  3. I adore Brave Writer. I took it back off the shelf to take on my road trip. Reading The Writer's Jungle is like sitting with a warm cup of coffee and having a conversation with Julie. Thank you for sharing your love for it all too :)

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    1. I agree, it is so lovely to read through - not at all like so many 'curriculums' out there.

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