Review from member: farrarwilliams
Member Ranking - Extremely Positive
Bravewriter is a program that consists of many pieces, with new products still being added. It is sometimes referred to as the "Bravewriter lifestyle" to cover the idea that the curriculum is meant to be a whole approach to language arts instead of an isolated program.
The heart of the program is the book The Writer's Jungle by Julie Bogart. This book covers the philosophy behind the program, activities to try at all levels, and ways to implement the program. It is not a day by day curriculum, but rather a guide for creating a writing and language arts program. Julie Bogart's approach is like an update of Charlotte Mason's approach to writing. She talks about the importance of narration, copywork and dictation, especially in the early years. However, she also pushes for flexibility, creativity, and openness in the writing process. She talks a lot about being on the side of your child in the writing process. Overall, the book advocates a less is more approach, where there is a weekly routine for language arts and occasional writing projects, though not more than one or two a month.
Overall, The Writer's Jungle is a book that has ideas for anyone for teaching writing and is a real source of comfort. Julie Bogart's writing will make most parents feel like they are capable writing teachers and give ideas. The book is just a pleasurable read as Bogart is such a capable writer herself.
Bravewriter also has products that help implement the philosophy in a more nuts and bolts way. I haven't used all of these, so I can't fully evaluate, but I can outline what each is. The Wand is a short monthly supplement that focuses on easier books and copywork for grades K-2. The Arrow is a short monthly supplement that focuses on dictation and literary elements through read aloud chapter books for grades 3 and up. The Boomerang is a short supplement on individual books, mostly classics, for middle school. There is a book written to the student for high school called Help for High School. Finally, there is a new product called Jot It Down that outlines a weekly schedule and specific writing projects for younger writers. There are also online classes but I have no experience with those.
We have used The Arrow and found it to be useful. It's extremely short, but it outlines the basis for a solid way to better integrate read alouds with other language arts elements. I found the dictation passages especially useful to have pre-chosen. I haven't continued to use it, though I may go back to it in the future. I found The Writer's Jungle to be the Bravewriter product that was by far the most worthwhile.
I'm not sure if this review can really express how much enthusiasm I have for Bravewriter. It's expensive, but it is the only thing about writing that I've read that I actually really loved. It has inspired me and really transformed language arts in our homeschool.
- inspiring, supportive, well-written central book (The Writer's Jungle)
- flexible program that uses Bogart's "stages of writing" instead of grade levels
- incorporates both old-fashioned elements like copywork with more modern ideas like freewriting
- other than early reading mechanics, can be a complete language arts program
- available as a pdf or in print
- not a fully scheduled program with specific assignments unless you use the supplements
- while it can be a complete program, many parents may feel the need to add specific resources for spelling, grammar or other topics
Review from member: MrsLOLcat
Member Ranking - Extremely Positive
Brave Writer is excellent, hands-down. It is more than just a curriculum, though - it's a method. It doesn't tell you what to do each day (unless you purchase the Jot It Down book), but it does tell you how to achieve true writing with your kids. There are as many ways to utilize the Brave Writer method as there are families who want to use it. One family may read "The Writer's Jungle" (the only MUST-HAVE purchase of this curriculum, IMO) and think that's enough. That's what we've done. Other families like to expand and use The Wand, The Arrow, or other subscription plans. Still others might use Jot It Down and then go on from there on their own. And then there are online classes available if you get stuck!
I use Brave Writer in only the most elementary of ways. My children love to read poetry on their own, so I don't worry about poetry teas. We do dictation and copywork through other sources, so I don't fuss about that. For me, The Writer's Jungle was enough to get me back on track after I felt like I'd lost my way with teaching my son writing. We used some of the games, did some free writing, and got back on track. The method itself reminds me of exactly what I wanted to teach my kids; it just gives me a way to achieve it with minimal fuss.
I would highly recommend Brave Writer to ANY family looking for a good, solid writing program.
Review from member: mamarabyMember Ranking - Extremely Negative
This was a disaster.
I have a reluctant writer so by all accounts BE should have been a good fit. I started with PW and followed the suggested schedule. He wasn't really thrilled with the copywork so I tried Doctor Who quotes which was ok, but mostly felt like busywork. We did the french dictation for the passages from the Arrow, but it wasn't really magical. It was dictation. We did poetry teas combined with art. That the kids liked, but only if I read the poems and never asked my son to read one.
We tried the freewriting and my son balked. He'd sit there for 5 minutes (the BW recommended starting time) and stare at the page. Her suggested writing prompts (like the ones she publishes every Friday on her blog) weren't any better. He'd either end up in tears, start whining, or just freeze. No amount of coaching, coaxing, or support on my part helped. I had ended up printing out TWL/PW in order to make it more manageable for me and no matter how I read and re-read it, there was nothing that would get him unstuck.
I think there are some people for whom this curriculum would be a good fit, but we did not find that it lived up to the hype. I bought TWJ first and found it difficult to use so I thought maybe another one of her books might help. PW was better, but it was still light on just how to implement the program. The newer formatted Arrows are better than the old format, but they aren't really spectacular. I expected more for what you spend.
My suggestion is to start with PW or JID and definitely buy it at Homeschool Buyer's Co-op, there's no way Partnership Writing is worth $50. Try it out. If the program works for you and if your child is older than 9, then you might consider TWJ, but again, get the ebook and mitigate your losses should it not work out for you.
I found that the program was sold as a one-size fits all sort of program and it most definitely is not. I regret buying BW.
- Expensive. You get very little for what you pay for it.
- Overwhelming and unwieldy.
- Very teacher intensive.
- No resale value, so if it doesn't work, there's no way to recoup your money