Reignite the joy in learning by harnessing your children's natural curiosity and making exploration an organic part of your family's life.
Parents who are deeply invested in their children's education can be hard on themselves and their kids. When exhausted parents are living the day-to-day grind, it can seem impossible to muster enough energy to make learning fun or interesting. How do parents nurture a love of learning amid childhood chaos, parental self-doubt, the flu, and state academic standards?
In this book, Julie Bogart distills decades of experience--homeschooling her five now-grown children, developing curricula, and training homeschooling families around the world--to show parents how to make education an exciting, even enchanting, experience for their kids, whether they're in elementary or high school.
Enchantment is about ease, not striving. Bogart shows parents how to make room for surprise, mystery, risk, and adventure in their family's routine, so they can create an environment that naturally moves learning forward. If a child wants to pick up a new hobby or explore a subject area that the parent knows little about, it's easy to simply say "no" to end the discussion and the parental discomfort, while dousing their child's curious spark. Bogart gently invites parents to model brave learning for their kids so they, too, can approach life with curiosity, joy, and the courage to take learning risks.
Julie’s the creator of the award-winning, innovative online writing program called Brave Writer and the fast-growing weekly habit called Poetry Teatime. She home educated her five children who are now globe-trotting adults.
Her newest book, The Brave Learner tackles the conundrum of parents who want their children to have academic success, and children who want to be happy.
Can’t we get these two desires together: learning that develops skill and creates joy? Creating a love of learning in your family is as easy as lighting a fire. You just need a book of matches. The Brave Learner is that book.
Today, Julie lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and can be found sipping a cup of tea, planning her next visit to one of her lifelong-learning kids.
I wanted to love this book. I have a MS in Applied Psych, focused on educational psychology. I'm a homeschooling mom. We practice delight-directed learning. The cover art is adorable. I'm clearly sold on the premise of this book!
Unfortunately, Bogart just doesn't present the information in a way that connects with me. She gives an example of a commonly accepted idea from ed psych, say, scaffolding, without identifying it as such at the time - but then goes on to include the term "scaffolding" in a list a chapter or two later without ever connecting it to the previous example.
The whole book feels similarly disjointed, and a quick glance at her "notes" section suggests a lot of surface-level research with no real depth or breadth of understanding (and perhaps a bit of cherry picking when it comes to her sources). I wasn't expecting the book to read like a thesis, but I did expect her to support her ideas more fully. I got the sense that she wrote the book based on her experience as a homeschooling parent, then backtracked to add in the "research" support at the very end. It feels disingenuous, and frankly I was annoyed by the constant slips into self-promotion present throughout the book.
I'm sure Bogart is a very nice lady, but the tone of this book was unappealing. I debated whether I should keep reading after she flippantly referred to the reader as "cupcake," and the bit about mimosas being mandatory when brunching with other moms struck me as either a) a cry for help or b) a failed attempt at humor/relevance. Can we stop with the mommy drinking culture shtick already?
I gave this one 2 stars because it could be truly useful as encouragement for the mom who has never studied motivation and learning theory on her own, and who needs a little push to relax into a more natural style of home-based education.
It isn't a terrible book. It was over-hyped. I expected more.
I have enjoyed listening to Julia Bogart's youtube/podcast. I have heard so many positive reviews about the Brave Writer curriculum that I have considered using it (but have not). I knew from listening to her before that she takes a neutral stand in her curriculum on religion/theology. Which I don't have a problem with as it is teaching writing not the Bible. So going into reading this book I knew it would not be from a Christian worldview. I believe she claims to be a Christian.
There are some great practical tips in the Brave Learner that any homeschooler could apply if they were looking for more creative ways for learning. I feel like you could find most of these tips in other sources. Julia does present them in a nice way. But...
Unless you are a child centered home,child led educator, and follow "gentle" parenting some of this will will not fly for you. Probably better fitted for unschoolers, relaxed or eclectic, and secular homeschoolers. I feel that is book is filled with a lot of propaganda that most homeschoolers try to to avoid (why they don't put their children in public school) especially if you're a Christian. While my child means the world to me, we are not a child centered home. Our home is a family home which considers all members not just the children. Where we work on our marriage- which will be longer than the amount of time my children are in my home. (Maybe if Julia and her husband had not just focused on their children they would not be divorced?) And while I do think what whatever philosophy of education you practice there will be times that you do follow your child's lead and learn about what they are interested in. But not to the point that I would just follow that and not complete core subjects or allow my child to decided how much school she feels like doing. As the teacher and parent we are to be leaders and help/guide them in their education and life.
There are a few thing that had me shaking my head. Multiple times she degrades rote memorization. And while I know public schools do none of that anymore (or even when I was in school) most homeschoolers do especially classical and CM. Its not that you have them memorize and not understand as she implies. You have them memorize so that down the road they have knowledge to draw upon with understanding. She made the point that we live in a digital age- they have calculators and the internet they don't need to have things memorized! They just need skills to analyze the information. Really she is promoting Google IQ. And really this is a problem, public schooled adults even today and the children coming out don't know a whole lot, but yeah we have google... This one reason our culture today is falling apart we don't know our history, grammar, or basic math.
She really promotes the home being set up for the kids..you know they didn't get to pick their parents or where they live or the things they have as you do being an adult so forget what you have worked for or what you have it should all be for your children. Don't get the furniture you want or have things look nice. Examples she gives- if you get a new table you should dent it yourself so you don't get upset when your child does. And get a couch that can take a beating. How about instead we teach our children to treat belongings with care and respect? She say children should just be allowed to be children. I agree they should enjoy childhood but I'm not raising my child to be a child, she will be an adult one day and the habits, morals and personality she has now will be who she is as an adult.
She promotes children to not be required do chores-as there is enough time as an adult to learn these skills when they need them. If you can afford to she says to pay for cleaning services. If you can't you can do it as a family or just do what you can and leave the rest...until it bothers you. Ask your kids if they want to help but don't demand it. Maybe this is why there are young adults today that need "Adulting" classes, because their parents didn't teach them basic life skills!
She also really promotes allowing your child to play video games. If your child want to experiment with cuss words allow them to or rock music or whatever they fancy... Just don't be a controlling parent! She promotes "gentle" parenting over "authoritative" parenting. Trying to suggest parenting in a homeschooling book is hard because you parent based on your beliefs- theology will play a big role in your parenting style kinda hard to address from a neutral standing point.
The positive take away from this book building a good relationship with your child. Helping them to have creative outlets and encouraging them in learning new things and finding interest/hobbies.
I really dislike the chapter on not cleaning or hiring cleaning staff .saying teenagers need to be in the world not the kitchen,saying housework is not rocket science .it all sounded so belittling.cooking is a skill as worthy as any other .not cleaning the kids bathroom ,but if they are filthy cleaning it every quarter .ugh not for this family .you can home school and all chip in with t h e care of the home ,children's learning should be vast enough to encompass this
The only reason I checked this book out from the library was the endorsement by Susan Wise Bauer. Now that I've read it, I'm scratching my head as to why Bauer would endorse this book when it goes counter to everything I've ever heard her espouse. So be warned if you are not an unschooler; that's what this book is.
I read an earlier review from someone who said this book made her feel more stressed, and I wholeheartedly agree. I felt like if I wasn't some sort of whimsical combination of Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp, I wasn't homeschooling right. She actually says you can't make what she calls "enchanted learning" happen, and I thought, "why in the world am I reading this book then?" She describes a woman named Dotty that we should all want to be, but the description of Dotty's house and lifestyle sounded like torture to me. I don't want cups of paint all over the house! I don't know how to face paint or make fairy houses!
As a Christian, I also completely disagree with most of her parenting philosophy. My children's happiness is NOT my top priority, but she talks about this pretty much non-stop. She also makes the claim that adults don't do things unless we want to, adults don't have to share, so why should our kids? Um . . . I do laundry and dishes every day when I don't want to, and one of the things that makes my marriage work is sharing with my husband. And don't get me started on her opinion of chores. My kids need to learn about hard work and responsibility, but this book literally describes these as bad words that destroys "enchanted learning." It also completely ignores human nature (in Christianese "original sin"). Humans are prone to laziness and selfishness, so we can't wait around for our kids to be "delighted" about their math problems or feel compelled to put on an elaborate dog and pony show to get them delighted.
As many reviewers mentioned, she talks about video and online gaming a LOT. So much that it got to be annoying. These are other things she says you can count as "school": social media posting, texting, watching the Disney Channel, and listening to heavy metal music. No, I am not making this up. My husband didn't believe it either, and I had to show him where it said it in the book. I also had to show my husband the part where she suggested parents sit down and watch Quentin Tarantino movies and foul mouthed comedians with their kids if that's what they're into. They're going to watch them anyway, she says, which sounds a lot like the argument for parents who buy their kids alcohol. My husband said, "Has this woman SEEN a Quentin Tarantino movie?!"
I also got irritated with how "trendy" she was trying to be in her writing style. She talks about her husband "throwing her shade" and "speaking your freaking truth." This book is going to be dated in two years. I hate when authors do this. It comes across as trying too hard to appeal to a certain demographic. She also writes in a way that I have complained about to my husband SO MUCH. It's when authors say things poetical so that it sounds really deep when in actuality it's nonsense. Her constant use of "whimsy" and "enchantment" and "mystery" made me feel like her philosophy was something intangible and just out of reach. How do you practically do it and still teach your kids how to mulitply and divide? I felt like she never told me.
I only gave this book a star at all because I did glean some nuggets of good ideas. My daughter is artistic, and even though I have let her illustrate her copy work, I never thought of letting her use glittery pens or different kinds of paper. I also liked her suggestion about giving kids choices or if they're frustrated asking them how many math problems they feel like they can handle. It also was a good reminder to come alongside my children and to listen to their feelings. However, I have read some of these same principles in other books and blog posts. I didn't need to read these 300 pages to get it.
If you want a great, quick read on coming alongside your kids on the homeschooling journey I suggest Teaching from Rest by Sarah McKenzie instead. If you want a good read on tailoring a unique education for each child and borrowing from multiple philosophies read Rethinking Education by Susan Wise Bauer instead. And for tips on simplifying your homeschool, I recommend the website simplycharlottemason.com where you can sign up for their weekly emails which always refresh me. Sonya Shafer's seminar at a homeschool conference I went to revolutionized by homeschool and made me and my kids enjoy ourselves so much more in the process.
An earlier review on this book made me sad. The woman said "I guess I'm not that brave." No book should make a mom feel so hopeless. Skip this one.
Full of triteness and what is to me, just common-sense, this book seems to be exactly what some people want. Which is a little depressing.
The introduction starts off, "Before we begin, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea. Adjust the reading lamp. Arrange yourself comfortably. I'll wait. Ready?" and it concludes, "Inhale. Exhale. Be brave. Keep reading. Grab a cookie. Let's get started." Good grief.
I'm a little leery of someone who thinks that the "types of math" include "geometry, long division, accounting". Who also thinks that musical terms like "adagio" and "tempo" are Latin.
There are a few "expert sources" that come back again and again. William Reinsmith, Renate and Geoffrey Caine, Howard Gardner, Arthur Costa. Little quotes get cherry-picked to support ideas. I don't know that they are that necessary.
I'm all in favor of what Bogart describes as "a lifestyle, not a program" - but I'm not on board with her lifestyle or anything close to it. Her lifestyle has at least four references to Hygge. And tea is everywhere. "One morning, he asked his mother if she'd make him a pot of tea. Nadine made two pots - a blue one for her son and a yellow one for her daughter. They lit a candle and sipped tea as they worked the problems." We get three pages on poetry teatime - which, contrary to my literal interpretation of those two words, apparently requires a five-step list (concluding with "Slurp, enjoy, laugh, marvel). In fact, Bogart claims to have "created Poetry Teatime" - I think she really means it - as if reading poems at a tea party had never happened before in the history of ever.
The numbers of times Disney is mentioned is a little disturbing. The index claims pp.11-12, 76-77, but it's actually pp.11, 18 (Pixar), 21, 25, 28 (Phineas and Ferb), 51, 76, 77, 80, 221. I'm not counting things like Peter Pan, Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast, which to someone who is into Disney probably equate to Disney rather than the original stories.
Much of the book is spent on Bogart's "Superpowers" (really?): Four Forces of Enchantment (surprise, mystery, risk, adventure), Four Capacities for Learning (curiosity, collaboration, contemplation, celebration), Four Ports of Entry (mind, body, heart, spirit). So much of these are just common sense wrapped in a label.
Two stars for the common sense, because some of these ideas are just fine - but I don't see any need to get your common sense in a book like this (or from her various other businesses that are promoted in the book). People need to be told that you can use men's button-down shirts (worn backwards) as smocks for messy arts and crafts?
I'm giving this one 5 stars only because I can't give it 4.5. And the the things I didn't like may be the things that help another mom out there so I'll leave it at 5.
Julie gives such practical no nonsense wisdom and advise. She helps you let go of the non-essentials and helps you get your vision and focus back in track. The end of the book was invaluable in that she becomes like a homeschool therapist and helps you get to the root of maybe what's going wrong in your homeschool and how you can fix it. Or in some cases be ok with it not being perfect. I've never read such brutal honestly in any other homeschool book.
The section about self-care for the homeschool mom is so important. I wish I had read this years ago.
My only problems with the book was that I was a little overwhelmed at the beginning when she talked about setting up a creative space and stocking it with all these craft and art supplies and letting the kids makes a mess. 😨 Sorry. Totally not doing that. I also wasn't sure how I felt about her leniency with online gaming for kids. I totally get her point on that one in one sense and I'm glad it worked for her son in that he became a self taught computer programmer. However there are kids out there that are totally addicted and become unmotivated to do anything else. Lastly, the part about housekeeping didn't really help me. I can't afford a housekeeper like she suggested and I'm not going to allow my kids to free load and not do chores either just so they can focus on their studies or interests. We all live in this house together. You wouldn't expect your college roommate to do all the cleaning for you.
I feel like those really were minor issues when I got so much more good out of this book. This is also not a christian book. A lot of homeschool books are, so I just wanted to put that out there in case it matters to someone.
This book is for anyone with a child. The ideas and suggestions for leading children to learn with delight are valuable and easy to implement. There is also plenty of encouragement for the times when, to a teacher’s dismay, education seems so mundane and dreary. It happens. Pick up and continue. I’m recommending this to homeschoolers, public schoolers, and private schoolers, and I’m planning on using what I’ve learned with my youngest child (and I’m in my penultimate year of homeschooling and will be done next year after thirty years and nine kids).
What an encouraging voice Julie Bogart is to the modern homeschool community! She advocates for what she calls "natural learning," which is not an idealogy or formula, but rather a lifestyle and a mindset.
Some of the book's highlights for me: *"Take children's cues of curiosity seriously. Meet those needs as readily as you would their physical hunger." p. 69 *"The holy grail of home education seems to be 'independent learning.' But the truth is, our quest for that independence is more about relieving our exhaustion than a child's mastery of material. If we want our kids to be enthusiastic, self-motivated learners, they need collaborators." p. 76 I love this idea of coming alongside our kids as fellow learners and facilitators. "Collaboration requires presence, not help." p. 82 *"To have a more effective home education, I realized I needed to abondon the trappings of school and harness the energy of home." p. 167 She encourages us establish a routine, not a schedule. When inspiration hits, feel free to veer from the routine and do something really cool. But when it doesn't (and there are PLENTY of times when it doesn't), you have a comfortable home routine to fall back on. On the other hand, if you find you are spending too much time running here and there, "you have the complete freedom and prerogative to turn down the 'better' offers. Stay home. Focus on your routine until you feel that your homeschool has stabilized.... Establishing habits brings calm rather than anxiety." p. 170 *I appreciated the chapter on awesome adulting. It is healthy for homeschool parents to have interests and hobbies of their own. Sometimes the kids might be inspired by those hobbies, too, but maybe not! *The chapter about dysfunctional family dynamics is important. The HOME is central to the homeschool. *Julie wrote a chapter about the danger of holding tightly to one idealogy when homeschooling. She herself tried several until she realized she can pull from different schools of thought in a way that suits her family's needs best. In my own years as a homeschooler, I have not felt the same judgment from those who run their homeschools in different ways than I do. Perhaps this is because homeschooling is becoming more mainstream, and we are all a little more comfortable in our own skin that when a smaller percentage of the population was homeschooling. *Last of all, my favorite quote from the book is, "Alas, happy children don't notice all the good their parents give to them. They have the glorious gift of taking everything their parents do for granted--the sign of a happy, functional house. Deprivation leads a child to gratitude for the crumbs of kindness. Abundance leads children to the right and freedom to say, 'No! I don't like that; I don't want that; that doesn't work for me." p. 231
Book review! This book has been passed around and talked about in so many Christian circles that I felt the need to read it for myself! ❤️ There was one gem in this whole book— (to paraphrase) homeschool classically in the Fall, project based in winter, and unschool/field trips in the Spring. I loved that idea and makes total sense because that’s pretty much what we do already. She just vocalized it for me! 🤓 Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with the rest of the book. The author has not stated that she’s a believer and the content reflected that. Quotes from child psychologists littered throughout the entire book, a whole chapter dedicated to “toxic” family culture, and promises of paying for her kid’s therapy thru adulthood left me feeling just plain sad for her. I appreciated that she says that no homeschooling curriculum will matter if the home life is bad. That’s very true! However, her solution for having a better home life differs greatly from what I would recommend. . The book had some random good points, but it wasn’t anything you wouldn’t find in another book. The amount of times I said to myself, “No, this is a sin issue that needs to be addressed with Gospel-centered parenting” was enough for me to not want to recommend this book. There are hundreds and hundreds of homeschooling how-to books out there. I can’t find a reason why I’d recommend it over any of the others. I think that’s what has confused me about this book- why so many Christians faun over it when there are so many other gospel-centered homeschooling books to read. . At the end of the day, there’s no point in fully reviewing something where the foundational worldview differs. . I haven’t looked into her writing program, so I can’t speak to her program. . So there’s my very not popular review of this book 😂 #sorrynotsorry
Like The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids, this is another book whose popularity is baffling to me. I've read a few "how to homeschool" type books, and this is the least organized and least compelling of them all. The tone was by turns condescending and childish, and the writing style felt very amateurish. Quite a few lines in the book made me laugh, but none of them were intended to be funny. Part of my disappointment with the book was the fact that it didn't mesh well with my own homeschooling style (the number of times the author suggests using screens felt excessive to me, for example, and don't get me started on her advice to hire a cleaning service), but the rest of it is objective frustration with poor writing and with the author's failure to connect with readers without insulting their intelligence.
This book isn't perfect; but, neither am I. Quite frankly, it's a wee bit repetitive; but, sometimes we need that when the subject matter is something new and foreign to us. It's the small amount of repetition that allows the new knowledge to seep in, stick, and be applicable for us in real life.
Do you know what this book is capable of? Setting you free! And that, my friends, is why I have given this book a 5 star rating.
For homeschooling mom's (and dad's) who want to bring enchantment into their children's lives while learning, to be the type of parents who provide the right conditions to fan the flames of their kid's passions instead of dousing their sparks of interest out with cold water, this book is for you!
There's another way of doing things. There's a way forward where you'll start to see "a surprise of happy" within your everyday and be able to help your kids to notice these moments too. Sometimes, these surprises might be conjured up by you with some forethought and, at other times, they'll occur organically; all will serve to bring the enchantment that will propel a natural learning environment within your home.
If you're ready to flick the voice of public school education off your shoulder, the one that says things must be a certain way, the one that says Common Core standards must be adheared to and "x" amount of progress made by such and such an age; if you're ready to do away with what grade your child is in, do away with most everything you thought you knew; and, if you're tired of the status quo of what you thought homeschooling was and should be than this book is for you!
It's time for changes to be made; allow Julie Bogart to show you the way! Written from a mama who has successfully reared, raised, and homeschooled 5 children, Julie's voice is brimming with wisdom, honesty, a bit of whimsy and fun, all while speaking truths most of us have been longing to hear.
As Susan Wise Bauer of "A Well Trained Mind" writes in the forward of this book: You will walk away with "the settled assurance that your kids, and you, will be well." As a homeschooling mom, that settled assurance equates to freedom!
Read this book, and as homeschooling parent, be set free.
I am a new brave writer follower and I am in love with Julie’s philosophy and ideas. We think along the same lines in regard to parenting and homeschooling. This book would have been perfect, except for the fact that I have been binge listening to all of her podcasts (which I love) and the podcasts were the exact same content as her book. If I hadn’t just heard all the same stories, I would have thoroughly enjoyed the read, but I was so excited to dive in and hear from her some more, I was disappointed that it was the same thing I’d already gotten.
I enjoyed Julie’s slew of practical suggestions. I’m not sure I, or any one person, could put them all into practice. But I think that’s the point. Rather than sticking to just one theory of education, drop the guilt, pay attention to your kids, and do what works for your family.
This was just OK. Maybe I was underwhelmed because so many of my friends raved about it. But as a Charlotte Mason homeschooling Christian mother I was less than impressed. There were some great specific ideas in the homeschooling sections! I appreciated her thoughts about infusing joy in copy work and Grammer. Yet overall I thought her parenting advice was not so great. I did not at all care for her approach to hard work or chores. I feel exhausted just thinking about making sure everything in school is magical😂. And even if I used all of her ideas, I cannot see that my children would always want to do school/learn which could make one feel like a failure but really sometimes kids just want to do what they want to do, and Yes sometimes there are those Wonderful, Magical moments of learning. But to think every moment could be like that seems unsustainable. Maybe she didn’t really think Every moment could be like that, but I was rather left with that impression.
While there were some hidden nuggets of homeschooling advice I took away from this book, the overwhelming majority of the ideas were, um, should we say Liberal and secular?!? I did a lot of brow raising and eye rolling, for instance when the author suggested to study the origins of curse words to liven up English... or when her overall suggestion for dealing with housework was to hire a maid or to just clean "quarterly" but under no circumstance force your child in participating in household chores if he doesn't want to! That you can "suggest" you need help but accept his answer if he says no! Never mind life skills! Her reasoning absolutely blew my mind and I found it hard to take her "philosophy" of what education should look like with any seriousness or merit. There is NO magic in this book!
I don’t know when or if I’ve read a nonfiction book that has resonated with me as much as this one did. I’m in the throes of an awesome book hangover now. Excuse me while I try to figure my thoughts out, possibly cry, and copy the entire book into my commonplace journal. Highly recommend.
A sweet, veteran homeschool mom friend gave me this book. This book was such an encouragement to her she wanted it to encourage all the homeschooling moms she new, so she gave it to me when I started homeschooling. Unfortunately, from the first chapter it stressed me out. The idea of having an art table in my living room? I just can't handle that kind of mess and chaos.
This book would probably be great for those that lean more toward unschooling. But that is not me, I have too much type A in me. I think the most frustrating part is that she spends about a paragraph really talking about how routines are the bread and butter and by not being too strict with your schedule you can follow "Lady Inspiration." To me, that should be the backbone of the book, talked about from the very beginning. Instead, I felt like a bad homeschooler if 95% of what my kids do is planned book reading/worksheet/curriculum driven work and add the inspiration when possible.
She also has a different worldview than I do when it comes to parenting, schooling, and life. We don't live our lives with our children at the center. Life is not all about or only about them. We can't always pursue whatever they want, whenever they want.
So while I was able to gather bits of helpful information, questions, ideas, suggestions, etc. overall I simply did not like this book.
This book. This book! This book was hard for me to get through. At first, I was excited about the new ideas. Then, as I got into it, I realized that what she was suggesting was so completely different from what I normally do. Changing to fit this model would be a lot of work, and would it be worth it? Why fix what ain't broke? But we are broken. I am broken. Changes need to be made. The book made me feel guilty. And hopeless. And discouraged. I almost didn't finish. And then, I kept reading. It's not even a model, per se, but an invitation to reevaluate. It's ways and reminders to live your truth, both personally and parentally (I just made that word up). What is my truth? I guess that's the next step.
PS I also 100% disagreed with some parts- the housework especially. Kids don't just learn how to clean by doing housework- they learn responsibility and family unity. No hiring a maid for us!
Julie Bogart's social media posts have been a regular encouragement to me throughout my years of homeschooling, and I never doubted that this book would be worth the read. Even so, it still surpassed my expectations, and I'm confident it will be one I turn to again and again. Along with Sarah Mackenzie's Teaching From Rest and Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods, it's a book I would recommend for every homeschooling family (and non-homeschoolers who are passionate about learning!).
Be sure to download the free companion guide as well to take the principles Julie shares and translate them for your own homeschool!
I think different homeschooling parents will get different ideas and advice from this book, but for me it was five stars because her ideas are already helping to breathe FRESH life into our homeschool days! Did I agree with everything? No. Being ok with kids not cleaning until they’re adults? Ummm...no. But I loved her ways of connecting to a child, learning WITH them, and collaborating to make learning fun.
The Brave Learner is an excellent book! Julie not only gives a compelling vision of how parents can support learning at home but practical advice that one can implement right away. I had a hard time putting this book down, finishing it in three days. However, I've already begun re-reading it to glean specific ideas for implementation. Thank you, Julie, for writing such a treasure!
2.5 stars really. I wanted so badly to like this book much more than I did. It reads like a collection of notes or blog posts under a theme rather than the well-constructed book that I was expecting. I will say that there are absolutely some gems to cherry pick from this, but as often as I put a little page flag for a great idea, I wrote 'disagree!' or '?' in the margin. I'd say my over-arching philosophy is quite different...I would rather be my child's parent than their best friend (not saying that I don't wish to one day see them as peers...but right now...there is just a different dynamic and that is fine!). I also heartily disagree about housework...I actually interviewed my children about this, being sure not to frame it in any particular light. They disagreed with her philosophy just as strongly as I had, which was reassuring! I would love to see the same realisation that she had about infant nutrition in the field of clean houses (which, shock horror, even without a cleaner CAN provide ample learning opportunities...yes, even when tidied up afterwards!). A friend had to give her book away as she found the entirety far too discouraging....which in the context of the average British home educator's life, a lot of it really is, which is why it took me so long to slog through it! We simply do not have the same type of community when it comes to learning, nor quite the same therapy and magic background, apparently. Definitely some worthwhile gleanings, but I would rather have read them under a hashtag or on a podcast than in a disjointed and ultimately frustrating book.
During the course of listening to this book I realized that at the end of my life I would almost certainly look back and think to myself, "I really didn't need to push myself so hard, what I thought mattered didn't actually matter so much and wish I would have just enjoyed the journey more." I'm grateful Julie's book helped me find this truth and see things differently. I know I will listen to it often as a resource to redirect my path, so hopefully at the end of my life I'll think instead, "Wow, what a wonderful life and journey I had. I'm so glad I took the time to focus on making lasting connections with my kids and creating magical memories."
Funny, I checked this book out hoping I would be able to calm my home-school-mom anxiety, but I found myself getting more and more stressed out as the pages progressed, and thinking even more seriously of just putting my kids in public school next year. (Disclosure: I’ve got a 3 month old baby). So I stopped reading. There are some great ideas here for cherry picking, and maybe sometime I’ll revisit this book. But overall, I can’t see myself adopting Bogart’s philosophies. I guess I’m just not that brave.
So, to be honest, I only read half of this book. But it really should be in the title or introduction or something that it is primarily for families with a more “unschooling” bend. I chose to read this because I had heard positive things about Julie and her writing program and wanted to stretch outside of my normal camp of homeschool resources. It is a pretty fluffy book, no matter how you homeschool.
This book is truly wonderful but also a bit overwhelming in the sense that it makes you want to overhaul a lot and introduce all her wonderful ideas - but she encourages you to try one thing a month, to take it slow. I am a longtime fan of Julie and her podcasts and "Gracious Space" books, and this book condenses a lot of her wonderful advice about incorporating surprise, risk, mystery, adventure, and curiosity in your homeschool. Julie knows that the best education takes place when parents and kids are connected, and when parents listen to their children when there are things that just aren't working.
P.S. I wonder if the picture of the child with an electronic tablet (instead of a book or something else) on the cover was a deliberate choice - Julie encourages moms to "shake hands " with technology and not be afraid to embrace it as an educational tool. I differ with Julie's philosophy on technology, specifically with young children, so I'm definitely curious about that.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. While the author and I agree very much on delight directed learning we disagree on some of the aspects of child rearing which inevitably will come up as you are home educating. The author seems to give children too much rule over the household. While I agree with the idea that children are more likely to do things if they have a vested interest in them, sometimes in life we are forced to do things that we don’t want to do. The author also mentions an example of her teenage son choosing to disobey by sneaking a prohibited audiobook as well as prohibited music. He was reprimanded for it but in the end she and her husband chose to give in and go along with what their son wanted. While I don’t think that we as parents are always 100% right in the moment, and I am quick to say that I am sorry to my own kids, this example seemed to be something entirely different. As parents they had chosen to not allow their children those things because of some of the damaging words and lyrics and it seems like that fact still remained in the end. Even if the words and lyrics had some powerful meaning to them that the teen related to and wanted to be heard on, the fact still remains that those things were still filled with words or ideas that the parents didn’t agree with. In the end, what I take from this book is just a continued desire to tap into my children and to teach them what they’re interested in in an interesting way BUT to also teach them life lessons such as remembering that we don’t always get to do what we want to do all of the time.
My second star is because of the general idea behind being flexible and having a home that breeds love, kindness, curiosity, and learning. The first star is because there were a few noteworthy lines.
Overall, I don’t agree with much here. My kids are doing chores. I’m keeping a clean house. There is a level of mess or clutter that comes with homeschooling several kids and being in your home so much, but foregoing housework is not for me (and I don’t want my kids raised believing it’s acceptable). Kids doing chores does not rob them of a childhood. I also have no intention of jumping on each child’s every whim or desire that pops up. I think it’s important to learn to evaluate pros and cons of certain decisions, and then realize we do not get to do every single thing that will make us happy. At the end of the day, life is not about doing what makes you happy. It’s also not about letting your children run the home so that they can be happy. Julie states ideas I totally do not agree with, like staying up late watching rated r movies with her kids, because they wouldn’t do it with or without her, feeding gaming obsessions, etc. Everything is fine in moderation, but I’m drawing certain lines that she obviously didn’t draw because she didn’t think her kids would be happy about it.
I am so confused by SWB’s endorsement for this book...