The "Planning Your Homeschool Year" Tea with Julie series continues.
Tea with Julie

Welcome to "Tea with Julie," a weekly missive by me, Julie Bogart. My wish is to give you food for thought over a cup of tea to enhance your life as an educator, parent, and awesome adult. Glad you're here. Pinkies up!
P.S. Was this email forwarded to you? 
Add yourself to the list and get your own!

Cincinnati, July 31, 2021

Hi Friend,

Every summer I get a few emails essentially asking the same thing…

How do you plan your school year? Do you require your kids to accomplish a certain amount of work daily or weekly?

When I homeschooled, I tried to make sure that the things we said we wanted to do, got done. Sometimes that meant sitting at the table learning math facts or phonics. Other times it meant doing the activity a child really wanted to do.

So if a child wanted to go to the zoo, I made sure it was on the calendar somewhere or we’d never go. If someone wanted to be sure not to miss a Discovery channel program or a movie, we set the DVR to record it. If a child expressed an interest in cake decorating, we found a class at the local Michael's.

I saw my primary role as that of facilitator. I made stuff happen for my kids (the experiences they couldn't find for themselves because they didn't drive, didn't have money, or didn't have the awareness of the opportunities).

Did I plan a schedule, with dates and times set aside for each subject area? Did I put the number of pages or problems I expected my kids to complete in the day planner?

The simple answer is "no."

Now for my more complicated answer.

The Brave Writer Lifestyle is a snapshot of the way we lived.

Copywork and dictation were done as we enjoyed it or as my kids saw benefit from it. Those who didn’t, didn't. Simple as that. I saw these tools the way someone might look at learning to play the piano. You can try to learn on your own, but it’s often easier if you have a book and an instructor who gives you exercises.

I see writing the same way. There are methods and techniques, habits and practices that encourage and foster writing skills. Kids (and parents!) who want to write well will do them because they want to write well.

Kids who haven’t yet discovered the power of writing or the desire to write or the value of written communication may not get the point of copying a poem or quote. If a child slogs through the practice that is meant to enliven his writing, will it still work? It may (or may not) but he won’t be a happier, more enthusiastic writer at the end of it. Likely, he’ll be grumpy and become a resistant writer.

The first step.

The first step, then, has to be that writing comes to life for the child! (And I’ve devoted a lot of space to that concept so I won’t do that again here.)

When I looked, really looked, at history, math, science, and so on, I applied a similar principle. What tools got the job done for kids who'd discovered that these are subjects they’d like to know more about?

I brought resources into the home to bring the subject areas to life:

  • Sister Wendy Art videos,
  • rock examination kits complete with cool magnifying glasses,
  • books about the Civil Rights Movement,
  • strategy games,
  • math puzzles,
  • Shakespeare films and plays,
  • painting supplies,
  • binoculars and bird feeders… 
I offered these with genuine enthusiasm because even if not a single kid in the family cared about them, I did! By bringing the subjects to life in this way, I gave my kids the best shot at finding even small pleasure in the topic. And...


I lived my joy in the presence of my children.

And then we conversed… we conversed about everything.

I shared what I knew that they didn't – for instance, how to get into college, what kinds of skills would help them succeed as adults, how we could tackle a subject they didn't like so well but that seemed important to their futures (and I waited for the child to “catch” the vision… I didn't impose) and so on.

For example, my 11 year old discovered that handwriting mattered to him… for the first time in his life. He started handwriting each day on his own to improve. I supplied tools: notebook, pencil, poetry book, stand to hold book open, a clean table.

My daughter wanted to read fluently so we read together every other day. She set the pace, and I checked out books from the library that she could read.

The idea is to work with kids intentionally, but without coercion. Offer and suggest and create as inviting an environment as possible and see what clicks. Help kids who want help and back off of kids who are engaged elsewhere.

Then trust. Trust the process and stay involved. Those two principles under gird everything.

So did I plan?

Yes. I spent time planning games, outings, outside lessons for piano or painting, tutorials for math or science that they wanted but I couldn't teach, writing ideas, movies to watch, field trips to take, nature hikes to go on, devoted time with me to examine a topic like grammar, and all the fun snacks we baked for our poetry teatimes. Those took a lot of planning.

Also, this philosophy of home education took years to evolve. Don’t worry if you are living a different reality currently. This is how we did it. It fit us. I offer it as a window of insight into our home. You will develop a lifestyle that is your own.





P.S. Catch up on all the “Tea with Julie” emails here!

Julie Bogart
© 2021 Brave Writer LLC™

Brave Writer




Share this email: