Nurturing Brave Writer Families DVD Series Review

In the summer of 2014, Brave Writer, the writing curriculum company, organized a retreat in Ohio for homeschool parents. It must have been an amazing and inspiring weekend, which I didn't have the chance to attend, but the great news is that it was filmed and over 6 hours of sessions are now available on DVDs or digital download!

Each session is presented by Julie Bogart, owner and creator of Brave Writer. Each is filled with practical information and teaching about writing and homeschooling. Watching and listening to Julie is inspiring and so encouraging! 

There are five sessions in the Nurturing Brave Writer Families DVD set:
  1. Nurturing Brave Writers 
  2. Ally, Coach, Partner 
  3. Creating a Language Rich Environment 
  4. Help for High School
  5. Your Fantasy Homeschool 

I have watched and listened to all the sessions. Each is so full of rich content that it will take me several replays to catch it all! I have take notes on ideas and practical things I can try with Celeste, in our own homeschooling. Some sessions included exercises given to the retreat attendees that I tried along with them. 

All the sessions are filled with helpful advice from Julie, who also homeschooled her five children over a span of 17 years. 

Here is my own review from each session: 

In Nurturing Brave Writers, Julie tells us to think outside of the box when it comes to the freewriting exercise. Instead of giving a regular blank crisp piece of white paper, crumple it up first, then smooth it out and give that to your child to write on! Freewriting could also be done outside, on the driveway with chalk! Julie encourages us to be free and to break out of our routines. 

Another great tip for freewriting is to try it for 8 weeks. Each Friday, do a freewrite. Explain to your children that they don't have to share it, and can put it an envelope each week. At the end of the 8 weeks, your child can pull out all eight freewrites and decide if she wants to revise any of them. 

There are many personal stories shared by Julie which I really enjoyed listening to and these often sparked "light bulb" moments. Here is a great one, also from Nurturing Brave Writers: "The Sad Tale of Caitrin's Hair". Julie tells the story of her daughter's hair, which was long and beautiful but tells us that "underneath the gorgeous exterior, there was a family of rats that lived in the nest that I hadn't combed in three year...". It is a really funny story, she continues by explaining that after some time of feeling negligent, she would decide that it was the day to wash and comb out her daughter's hair. There were tears and they both would be exhausted after it. They wouldn't do this again for six more months! Julie then asks the audience "how many of you teach writing that way?" Everyone laughs but in some ways it's so true!

In the Ally, Coach, Partner session, Julie teaches how to be a true partner to your child, to be your child's most trusted ally with learning. Sometimes that means healing your children or empathizing with their struggles. The explanation of the five natural stages of growth in writing, which can apply to learning in general, were key to understanding how to be the best ally to your child. The five stages are: 
  1. Jot it down
  2. Partnership writing
  3. Faltering ownership
  4. Transition to ownership
  5. Eavesdropping on the great conversation
  6. Fluency
This session is also filled with practical tips. The compass points is a great tool Julie teaches about, one we can use when a child might be struggling to write about a topic. 

Practical tips are found all through these sessions, like writing the answers to these compass points on post it notes (not as overwhelming to a young writer as a regular size piece of paper) or writing about one point a day only. Experiencing multiple types of experiences of the same story, for example watching all the different movie versions of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice after reading the original story. 

The Creating a Language Rich Environment session teaches how to apply the Brave Writer Lifestyle, specifically "how to create an environment that fosters a love of language and the space to take speaking and writing risks". It is about finding ways to create joy in our homeschool and that will spill over to our lifestyle too! 

Julie extensively explains how to create this atmosphere in our own homes, with lots of ideas! Ideas like Poetry Tea Time, Afternoon Movies, Art and Nature, but also one on one time, doing things that you want them to do yourself, like picking up the paints and doing a picture when they might be bored, and many more! It is truly inspiring as a homeschooler and as a parent too! 

Julie goes through each of these practices, explains how and why they work! This session is one that I will need to watch several times to absorb everything. 

Help for High School is an excellent guide to high school writing, which will guide through three format of writing needed during the high school years, as well as which language arts practices to continue doing to develop good writing and thinking skills. Just like the other sessions, Julie has a wealth of information and insight on this particular topic. I particularly liked listening to her talking about the importance of letting your teen have adventures, letting them take risks and respect them. Her candid personal stories with her own children really illustrate her points. 

I truly wish I had listened to this session a few years ago, before entering the high school years with my two oldest, it would have benefited our experience. 

Your Fantasy Homeschool 

We all have an idea of what we dream our homeschool to be! In this session, Julie explains how to actually get the fantasy to become real. Leaving the familiar and making a shift to a much more enjoyable homeschool experience. Filled with practical tips again, this is another session that I will need to replay! Julie asked questions to the group and worked through those, excellent points to think about. 

This was all about how to work with what we feel needs to be done along with what feels like childhood freedom and exploration. We need to decide: "what feels good to me and what feels like I am being successful?" Julie tells us that the goal should be a "B+" life of love and learning. There are so many good, inspiring, but very do-able actions mentioned. 

Julie explains in length what four conditions will help you create a fantasy homeschool: 

  1. Provide meaningful materials 
  2. Follow inspiration
  3. Create a routine
  4. Expose your children to the world. 

She then continues to give the 10 characteristics of 21st century learning, from curiosity to ideas from many sources, personalized learning, and more. Again, this session is jam-packed with useful practical advice! 

As a homeschool mother and also just from a parent point of view, this series of DVDs is like a treasure chest filled with important information about writing, child development, homeschooling and parenting! 

This DVD series is an amazing inspiring resource for homeschool parents. I also think, with the holiday season coming, the Nurturing Brave Writer Families DVD set would make a truly wonderful gift for a homeschool parent! Check out the Brave Writer store for more information. 

Disclosure: As a Brave Writer Ambassador, I received a download version of these sessions for review from Brave Writer. I did not receive monetary compensation. As an ambassador, I will receive a small percentage of your purchases of the DVDs. My affliate store is linked throughout this post. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Thank you! 


  1. sounds like a good program. I'll have to give it a look see. :)


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