A Thorough Review of the Brave Writer Curriculum for Literature

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Before I found the Brave Writer Curriculum, I felt like Tarzan.  Or Jane.  Swinging all day from various trees in the language arts forest, never knowing if it was going to be enough.

I was leaping from workbook to workbook to cover these skills, but what was I achieving? Spelling.  Vocabulary.  Comprehension questions.  Grammar.  Writing.  Would my kids ever connect all of these branches?

All of the Language arts skills felt so jumpy and disconnected in our homeschool.   And I was tired.  I didn’t want to swing like Tarzan from topic to topic anymore, but I wasn’t sure what else to do.

So I did what any homeschool mom does.  I googled.  And I googled.  And I googled.  I knew I could find a program that would help me teach Language Arts as a cohesive set of skills for communication.  I knew I could find a guide to take us into the world of language and communication.

And I stumbled upon the Brave Writer Curriculum for homeschooling families and I decided to give it a try.

A review of how the Brave Writer Arrow Guides and how they transformed our approach to Language Arts.

{This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.}

Understanding Language Arts and the Brave Writer Curriculum

Language Arts is a broad term used to describe the variety of skills included in the subject areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing. Language Arts includes many of the following skills:

reading/phonics
literature comprehension/analysis
grammar
punctuation
handwriting
formal and informal writing
spelling
vocabulary
speaking
listening
…and more

As a homeschooling parent, teaching all of these skills to several different children each day felt quite overwhelming. I was desperate to find an easier way, and the Brave Writer curriculum became the solution.

But first, let’s take a look at the problem I was experiencing.

My Homeschool Experience Teaching Language Arts

Picture the subject of language arts skills as a lush forest of trees.  Using various workbooks with my kids made me feel like I was leaping around the Language Arts forest all day, swinging from tree to tree to tree.

To make teaching language arts even more complicated, I have four children. That means that all four of my children were working in different workbooks so they could work on material at their grade level. That was a lot of jumping around without much family cohesiveness. There was no joy in a day that felt so jumpy and checklist-y.

Things needed to change, so in a moment of inspiration and a little bit of desperation, I decided to purchase the literature guides from the Brave Writer curriculum. The guides promised to walk us through the forest of language arts together, using ONE literature title for the whole family.

Using the Brave Writer Arrow Guides to find your way through the Language Arts Forest.

Using the Brave Writer Curriculum

Once our family decided to take the plunge and begin using the Brave Writer curriculum, we started with the literature guides. These guides made it easy to teach a variety of language arts skills to all of my kids.

The Arrow and Boomerang guides include spelling, grammar, and vocabulary instruction through copywork in addition to discussion questions to help develop comprehension and analysis skills.

Getting Started as a Family

When we began our first Arrow guide as a family, a path through the language arts forest began to appear. Suddenly, I was walking through our daily language arts instruction with all four of my children. Together. Hand in hand. I was no longer swinging from tree to tree with each individual child.

The Crossover was one of our favorite read aloud books.

–> Grab Your Crossover Book Club Guide <–

Everyone was working, learning, and discussing literature together and I suddenly felt sane.

Each month, we read one title together as a family and that title became our path through the language arts forest. The Brave Writer Curriculum became our trail guide, directing us to the various “trees of Language Arts” along the way.

Brave Writer Curriculum Guide Overview

Our family began our literature studies using the Brave Writer Arrow Guides. We used one guide a month and followed the four-week plan for each book. The Brave Writer Arrow and Boomerang Guides are each divided into four weeks of instruction. Each week contains:

1.  Weekly Copywork

The copywork passages serve as the basis for grammar, vocabulary, and spelling instruction. Sometimes there is more information provided to talk about literary elements being used in the passage as well, such as similies, hyperbole, and more.

Each passage is accompanied by teacher notes to guide your instruction. These notes contain tips and details for parents so they can effectively use the passage as a teaching tool for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and literary style.

2.  A Literary Element

Each literature guide in the Brave Writer curriculum focuses on a single literary element based on the content of the book. An explanation of the element as well as suggestions for discussion, writing, and teaching activities are included in the guide. Occasionally other literary elements and writing techniques are mentioned as part of the copywork instruction.

3.  A Writing Activity

The writing activities each month are included as a way to expand your child’s understanding of the literary element. Some are short and simple while others are a bit more involved. The best part is that you can elaborate and dive deeper into any of the projects if your kids are really enjoying them.

4. Big, Juicy Questions

Nine Big, Juicy, Questions are included to help facilitate a discussion with your children about the book. These questions are excellent for a family discussion or as part of a kid’s book club, which is how I used them for many years.

5. Book Club Ideas

The final section of the guide contains food, game, and activity ideas for a themed book club. If you read this blog, you know that I love a themed book club. You can find several of my themed book club ideas on this blog as examples of how you can implement these ideas.

This delightful table setting for the Green Ember book club encompasses the hopeful beauty of the Mended Wood. It's full of rabbit food and delicious treat.

These guides assist homeschooling parents each month so you can use one book title to teach language arts skills to all of your children. Over time, you will continue to build a wonderful foundation of knowledge for future literary analysis while developing the mechanics of writing.

Implementing the Brave Writer Curriculum

It takes little trial and error but every family will find their own groove with the Brave Writer literature guides. For many parents, they can be very confusing at first because they don’t have a daily schedule included. Instead, there is information included for each week and it is up to a parent to determine the best way to use the copywork and content.

I have previously shared our weekly schedule but will provide a general overview here. If you need more detail then you can check out how we implement the guide day to day:

–> How We Implement the Brave Writer Arrow Guides <–

Our family uses one literature guide each month. We read the book together as a family and implement the copywork and language arts during the week.

I introduce the copywork on Monday and we discuss the passage. My kids begin copying the passage on Monday, but if the passage is long, my kids might take another day or two to finish the lesson. Sometimes they practice writing a particular word or two a few times if it was difficult.

We continue the lessons and conversations during the week though the bulk of my instruction is completed on Wednesday. If I want to use the passage for dictation, then I will typically dictate all or part of the passage on Thursday or Friday.

A Detailed Look at Week One with the Brave Writer Arrow

I also shared a very detailed walk-thru of the Brave Writer curriculum guide to “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” on my YouTube channel. Here is a look at week one:

Does the Brave Writer Curriculum work to Teach Language Arts?

Short answer…yes.

Longer answer…I have seen enormous growth in my kids’ understanding of literature and their ability to discuss it in a thoughtful manner.  They continue to make progress in spelling and grammar. This is all happening through a planned exposure to a variety of literary genres.

Best of all, our family has created bonds through reading about memorable characters, hysterical situations, and heart-breaking stories because we were all walking on the same path and using the same trail guide!

Comprehension and Literary Analysis

After several years of using the Arrow and Boomerang Guides, I can affirm that this curriculum has done an excellent job of laying the foundation for high school literary analysis. My children gained skills and knowledge in a “brick by brick” fashion each year and are able to recognize literary elements and concepts.

Brave Writer literature guides offered a wonderful variety of titles over the years so my children were exposed to a variety of voices and genres in their literature. This was very important to me and I was happy with the variety of titles to choose from.

Reading aloud to my kids has made homeschooling much easier.

Spelling, vocabulary, and grammar

Honestly, the curriculum laid a wonderful foundation for these areas of language arts, but I found that I felt more comfortable doing a little bit more for both spelling and grammar. That means that sometimes, I returned to a few workbooks to support what we were doing with our Brave Writer curriculum.

Grammar workbooks were one of the tools I turned to occasionally, but I used them differently. If we are studying adjectives in the Arrow Guide, then I might pull a few adjective worksheets from a workbook or website to support our discussion. This allowed everyone to review the same grammar concept so I could continue to focus my energy and lessons. In addition, my kids spent at least one year in middle school learning with a full grammar program to drive home all of the skills in a more systematic fashion.

I also used a spelling curriculum with two of my kids who struggled more with spelling. The other two kids were natural spellers so copywork was enough for them.

We didn’t use any additional workbooks for vocabulary, but many families use Wordly Wise 3000 to help their children develop higher-level vocabulary words. Instead, we used Marie’s Words for vocabulary development. We have such a good time with these vocabulary words that using them and reviewing them doesn’t feel like school work. Best of all, we are all learning and using the same plethora of SAT words.

If you love the Brave Writer curriculum then you will also love:

Live, Online Book Clubs for Kids
Book Club Discussion Questions for Any Book
Celebrate a Book: Themed Book Club Guides
How to Plan a Fun Book Club for Kids

Connect

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4 thoughts on “A Thorough Review of the Brave Writer Curriculum for Literature”

  1. Hi, I have enjoyed reading your review. I have been eyeballing Brave Writer for over a year now and am getting ready to just make a purchase. I have a 9 year old and 7 year old and am wondering if you could recommend an Arrow guide that would be a good one to begin with. Do you also use the Partnership Writing as well?

    Thanks!

    1. I have really loved all of the Arrow Guides. The new site now includes more information about literary content, so you might peek around. I own all of the writing programs and we dabble in and out of them. We have also taken some online classes.

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