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Last year we began the year with a focus on literature, copywork and dictation for the basis of our language arts. We used many titles from Brave Writer’s Quiver of Arrows product designed for first and second graders. My children loved the copywork and the french style dictation that was used in the Arrow Guides. I loved that we were learning language arts together and through a literature rich environment.
Despite all of this at some point in our year I became insecure and wondered if we were truly doing enough. As this feeling crept up on me and I saw what other homeschool families were doing I decided to make a switch. We moved away from our rhythm of weekly copywork and dictation passages into a curriculum that provided more worksheet based grammar lessons and sentence diagramming. This method wasn’t horrible for my daughter, but I was slowly seeing it killing my son’s joy for writing. He began to moan about language arts like he never had before when our focus was on literature, copywork, and dictation. I don’t necessarily think sentence diagramming is all bad, but I definitely saw it frustrating my son and leading him to dread language arts.
The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar
As I was researching teaching grammar I, of course, posed the question to Google about the benefits of sentence diagramming and bumped into this fantastic article: The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar. In this article the author refers to a study done on three different groups of high school students; one group was given traditional rule bound grammar lessons, the other an alternative approach was taught, and in the final group no grammar lessons were given, but more exposure to literature and creative writing instead. The article presents the conclusion of the study in this way; “The result: No significant differences among the three groups—except that both grammar groups emerged with a strong antipathy to English.” I can definitely say I was seeing this result beginning to take over in my son.
Back to Brave Writer
Here are my top reasons for going back to Brave Writer this year with full confidence that this is what is right for us.
- Big Juicy Conversations Brave Writer gives us ample opportunity to connect with each other over great literature and conversation. Julie Bogart focuses on having Big Juicy conversations with your children that will encourage them to think big thoughts that will eventually lead to a confident writer. All of these conversations are rooted in rich literature that leads to deep discussions.
- Literature Rich Context Grammar and mechanics are taught out of a connection to beloved stories that you share with you children. Every copywork passage is deliberately chosen to teach certain aspects of writing and grammar. The passages come directly from what you have read with your children; seeing grammar and mechanics taught through real writing has definitely helped my children identify certain elements we’ve learned in other writing.
- Family Style Learning Rather than having to split myself into a million pieces to teach each of my children individually Brave Writer truly fosters family learning that can be done together. If you have a big spread between your ages you can easily adapt certain passages, or allow younger children to copy passages at a slower pace taking a few days to complete one copywork passage.
- Short and Simple Lessons I love that this program fits easily into Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of keeping lessons, especially in the younger years, under twenty minutes at a time. These short lessons keep things enjoyable and avoids fatigue.
- Fun and Engaging Writing Projects Julie Bogart often warns about “open and go” writing programs. Although as harried homeschool parents we often long for this type of easy one-size-fits-all writing program there truly isn’t one. Brave Writer encourages individual thoughts and gives room for your child to develop his or her own unique writing style and voice without trying to force them into an one-size-fits-all box.
What We’re Using from Brave Writer This Year
This year I will have a seven and a nine year old, as well as a four and one year old tagging along to keep things interesting, so I decided to purchase Partnership Writing. I can easily adapt this program to fit both of my children’s needs and ages. Included in this guide are ten monthly projects; my goal is to complete about one every six weeks.
We will pair Partnership Writing with different Arrow Guides for the grammar and mechanics side of writing. I opt to choose my own Arrow Guides instead of subscribing to the current offerings because I like to pick and choose what books we will read over the year based on my children’s interests or what our other current studies are, but you can save a bit of money by purchasing the bundle option. The first Arrow Guide and book we’ll be going through is The Green Ember. We homeschool in six week increments, so we’re aiming to complete one book and arrow guide every six weeks.
Still Not Sure?
If you are wondering how you want to approach writing and are interested in learning alongside your children through fabulous literature, I encourage you to look into Brave Writer. If you’re curious about how the Arrow Guides are set up Julie graciously offers free samples of two different complete Arrow Guides: James and the Giant Peach and Charlotte’s Web. Go ahead and give it a try! See if this is something that could change the way you and your children look at writing and grammar. I know it has for us and we won’t be looking back!