Sunday, July 8, 2018

Review for Homeschooling Families: The Writer's Jungle: A Survivor's Guide to Writing With Kids

As I wind up my 21st and final year of home education, I have to write a recommendation of the one textbook that influenced our family the most. I don't know where our homeschool--or my life--would be without this book and its incredible author and her outstanding business, Brave Writer.

The kudos we owe Julie Bogart are beyond expression. She not only changed the way I viewed writing--and I have taught writing at a couple of universities as well as to students from 4th-12th grades through our homeschool group, Heritage Christian School of San Diego--but the way I see education, family life, literature, and even self-care (the last of which most homeschooling mothers fail abysmally).

If you purchase one writing book for your entire K-12 homeschool, buy this one. Read it from cover to cover. Then go back and do it with your kids, one chapter at a time. And if you find this book too daunting, Brave Writer offers an online course just for mothers of young writers: The Writers' Jungle Online.

The Writer's Jungle: A Survivor's Guide to Writing With KidsThe Writer's Jungle: A Survivor's Guide to Writing With Kids by Julie Bogart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read the very first edition of this book, right after Julie first published it back in 2001 as her language arts business, Brave Writer, was just getting off the ground.

I have to confess to being extremely biased as I've worked for Brave Writer since 2002 and have known Julie since the mid-'90s. She's a dear friend as well as an amazing teacher and a great boss, too

Putting all that aside as much as possible, this book revolutionized the way I looked at writing. I started my academic career by teaching Freshman Comp and other writing classes at a local private liberal arts college, so when I quit to home educate our four kids, I started to teach them how to write in a very rigid, academic manner...until I read The Writer's Jungle. This approach totally turned my writing world upside-down and topsy-turvy--in the best ways possible.

It was exactly what my kids needed. And more than that, it was exactly what *I* needed.

You see, The Writer's Jungle is not a writing manual. It's not really even a writing guide...or a writing curriculum...or a reference book...or a handbook...or a set of writing exercises.

It's a guide to teach us parents how to guide our kids into expressing themselves via the written word. It's a way to build the parent-child relationship almost more than it is a guide about how to write. It--and all Brave Writer products and classes--seek to address the heart and mind of children, showing them how to express their thoughts on paper in a practical way that helps young writers--and especially reluctant writers--to learn how to transfer the ideas in their heads into words on the page/screen.

Julie is often asked the question, "So how do I teach my kids to write using The Writer's Jungle? There's an online class that families can take--parent and child(ren) together--at called "The Writer's Jungle Online." Or, as Julie says to parents, "Read the first chapter. Do it. Then read the next chapter, and do it. And so on until you reach the end of the book."

I recommend reading the whole book first so that we understand the whole concept, then going back to the first chapter and proceeding as Julie says.

That's what I did for our own four kids...and then I applied the philosophy and some of the exercises from The Writer's Jungle to the co-op classes in writing that I was teaching at our private school program's Class Days, whether I was teaching junior high or high school students.

And celebrate every milestone: copywork, freewriting, dictation--all of it! Copywork became a mainstay of our homeschooling: every morning I joined the kids at the big table, and we all pulled out our journals and copied something meaningful to us in our best handwriting. As well as practicing neatness in our penmanship, the kids learned spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar...and the power of the written word. That words were worth keeping. That writing can be powerful.

I can't recommend this writing book highly enough. It changed my entire outlook on teaching writing, even to college students. Even if your kids are not educated at home, this book teaches so much more than just how to write. It was exactly what our family needed.

Writing with you,

Sunday, July 1, 2018

And Death Knells...

After wedding bells nearly two weeks ago, we held the memorial service for Keith's dad, Ken Barrett, Saturday afternoon at Faith Bible Fellowship in Santee, a church that Keith's dad was instrumental in starting. Pastor Gene Beezer, who has been Mom and Dad Barrett's longtime pastor, officiated the service, and he's also the pastor whom Dad Barrett helped to install at Faith Bible Fellowship.

It was a small service, about 80% family, and Kevin, Karla, and then Keith all stood up to speak before Pastor Beezer spoke, and then we concluded with singing "How Great Thou Art." Dad Barrett left a legacy of four kids, 15 grandkids, and at least eight great-grandkids as well as a legacy of supporting missionaries, some for more than thirty years...including one of his granddaughters returning in September from three years of missionary work in Ireland.

Dad's generosity, his quiet love for family and church family, and his love for our Lord all marked a life well-lived.

Soli Deo Gloria,


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