Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Review of Brave Writer's The Writer's Jungle

This afternoon Julie e-mailed me, asking me if I would submit a review of Brave Writer's The Writer's Jungle for a Homeschool Review Contest at Successful Homeschooling. So here's the actual page of the review which I have copied below for your convenience:

Writer's Jungle Guides Us To Successful Writers!

by Susanne (Pine Valley, CA)

Product: The Writer's Jungle

Subject: Writing

Levels Used: One volume; used for children ages 8-14 (Grades 3-8)

Dates Used: 2001-present -- I think my copy is from the first printing.

Likes: Julie Bogart is unique among writing instructors in that she is not primarily an educator; she is a professional writer who happens to homeschool her five children. She recognizes aspects of teaching writing that other programs simply don't with their too-neat "Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 - Bingo! You child has written a paragraph!" approach.

Julie Bogart recognizes that writing is a messy, difficult process that can easily swamp our kids, leaving them frustrated and us moms discouraged. In _The Writer's Jungle_, Julie provides us moms with the tools we need to teach our kids not just "how to write" but how to "Become Brave Writers."

Writing is a set of skills, yes, but writing allows our children to express their true inside selves -- their hearts -- and how to encourage our kids to do so requires more than worksheets and checklists. Julie's unique approach educates US MOMS, so that we are equipped to deal with our reluctant writers who frown (or worse) upon hearing the word "write."

Although _The Writer's Jungle_ works well in helping us guide our happy writers through the jungle of writing, its main strength is in providing us with tools to help our reluctant writers through Partnership Writing, freewriting, and with games and activities that involve the whole family, all designed to shift our children from "doing an assignment" to truly "owning" their writing.

Writing is a process, a lifestyle even, one that allows mother and child to work side-by-side, each encouraging the other. And Julie Bogart brings these aspects of writing to life to help us nurture our "Brave Writers."

Dislikes: I would love to have more family-style activities to do with our kids. The ones in _The Writer's Jungle_ are truly wonderful, and more are suggested and practiced in the many online classes available at Brave Writer, but I'd love to have more of them listed and explained in _The Writer's Jungle_ itself.

Although The Writer's Jungle is expensive, just the first chapter alone is worth the financial investment. And what is truly priceless is the comaraderie produced by doing the fun games and activities together as a family. Julie relies heavily on the homeschooling philsophy of Charlotte Mason, a 19th century British educator who championed relationships with children, allowing them to pursue delight-directed studies such an Nature Journaling, Art and Music Study, short assignments, copywork and dictation, narration as a measure of a child's knowledge rather than testing, lots of free time to explore their world and to play, etc., all of which was quite revolutionary in the late Victorian era. Julie offers many online courses in Nature Journaling, Art Appreciation, Copywork and Dictation, Grammar Games, Poetry, Shakespeare, and many other family-focused classes.

By focusing not on the writing but on the writer, Brave Writer becomes much more than a language arts curriculum choice; it becomes a lifestyle. In fact, Julie has a free Yahoo group called The Brave Writer Lifestyle that gives us language arts reminders a la The Flylady. Yes, it's a rich, supportive, and nurturing environment we desire for our children, and Brave Writer is definitely one method of attaining it.

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