If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. ~ Adlai Stevenson

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Writing... Can I Do This?

I have owned The Writer's Jungle, and eagerly read through the Brave Writer Lifestyle pages, for years now. I am working on my MA in English Education & Rhetoric, with the goal of helping remedial college students learn to write cohesively and fluently.


I find myself looking at this writing curriculum, or that one, or yet another one. And I do this despite the fact that every writing curriculum I've bought for The Boy ends up on a shelf, coated in dust. I find myself thinking "Well, we use a text book for math, why not writing?" And today I was bright enough (ha ha) to post about this on a classical homeschooling message board. Apparently, my writing demands are nowhere near high enough. But then, Julie Bogart - Brave Writer creator and guru - says:

"A mother asked us at Brave Writer if she was doing enough writing with her child. She told us that her son wrote in his journal on Monday, wrote a poem on Tuesday, crafted a short three paragraph essay on Wednesday, sent a thank you note to his grandmother on Thursday and polished a written narration on Friday. Was that enough writing for her 11 year old? she sincerely wondered. We responded, “That’s more writing than anyone should do in a week!...As a result, we suggest that students only be asked to complete (start to finish) one writing project per month. Just one." 

And I did some reading over at Ambleside Online about a Charlotte Mason approach:

"Written Narration begun around age 10-11. (Handwritten or typed narrations are fine. You should accept most written narrations without attempting to correct all the mistakes. Becoming proficient with written narration will take a couple of years. Begin with one written narration per week, and increase to 2, then 3, as your child is ready to do more writing. Once a month, perhaps, you may want to edit and correct one narration.)"

Now I do have to say, in defense of the person who relied to my post, she suggested I look at what the end goal is, THIS YEAR, and work backwards. I can do that!

Goals for The Girl:
Her goals are mostly reading related, but I would like her, by the end of the year, to be able to write a good, solid paragraph. She's already writing short stories, almost completely on her own, so this is mainly teaching her structure. And I would like to continue working on basic dictation.

Goals for The Boy:
I actually have two writing goals for The Boy over the next year. One, is to learn basic outlining. And the other is to write a simple essay (which means he should review paragraph structure). And I want him to get back into free writing... he was doing well with it for a while, but then lost his oomph. So yeah, that makes three goals. I'm pretty sure I could come up with more, but those are the most important.

Now, how to get there?

Well, for starters, I discovered that Julie Bogart has free podcasts on her website, talking about different developmental stages of writing. [As a side-note, I am delighted to discover that despite her late reading, The Girl fits squarely in her actual age group, developmentally, as far as writing goes!]

So I am listening to those. I am re-reading The Writer's Jungle. I am looking through my copy of Write Source 2000 for clear instructional material.

And I am taking note of what seems to work, and what doesn't. What they like, and what they don't. For example, The Girl loves copywork, so I should take advantage of that. The Boy likes writing silly dialogue, so I'll should work that in.

I can do this, right? Without a program to lead us through it all step-by-step?


  1. Yes! You can do it. Very wise that you have identified what is working already, what your children like to do ... that is an excellent foundation to build on.

    I am mostly using the Bravewriter methods (with DS9 and DD8). I bought some of the Wand and Arrow resources but we use them sporadically. When a child says, "Can I do xyz instead?" I think that's wonderful ... genuine, purposeful writing.

    You're doing a terrific job ... I've enjoyed your posts about deciding what to do for each subject, just haven't had time to comment much. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. I have no input about writing, because I'm the biggest slacker mom when it comes to that. All I focus on is Gavin writing legibly and correctly. ;) I've never used anything but HWT, so I don't know what any of the other programs do or offer.

    Anyway, since I can't be of help or give any input, I'll be even more useless:

    I DO like that idea of looking at the end-of-year-goal and working back from that. What a great way to approach everything about homeschooling in general (as well as certain other aspects of life). I'm going to stick that little piece of advice in my mind for future reference!


What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

Thanks for stopping by! I love comments :)