Schooling kids, be it in conventional schools or at home, is a huge responsibility and one that can leave parents constantly questioning whether they are investing in it adequately or not. Particularly for homeschooling parents, the day-to-day grind makes it challenging to gather enough energy to make learning exciting and engaging for children. And, this is where this book The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life by Julie Bogart, comes in handy!
Published in 2019, the book has won many hearts and helped settle many nerves. Julie herself has home-educated her five children, and in this book, she condenses her years of experience for homeschooling families to benefit from. Bogart is also the founder of an online coaching community called The Homeschool Alliance and runs her own podcast and YouTube channel.
The dilemma behind scheduling a routine or going with the flow is a big concern for parents who are considering homeschooling or even those who are already in it. In this book, Bogart tries to answer common questions which are tied to liberation from school and similar ideology and helps educate parents on embracing limits for managing reasonable expectations.
The Super Powers of Learning
With over 17 years of experience in the field, Julie has proven to well tackle the enigma behind successful teaching and learning. Her proclamation on understanding the learner’s perspective serves as an evidence to her successful homeschooling journey. Bogart firmly believes that parents need to understand the necessity of harnessing children's natural curiosity in order to secure learning as an essential part of everyday life.
The highlight of this book, and the mindset that perhaps all parents need to adopt are “The 12 Super Powers of Learning.”
The Four Forces of Enchantment.
There is a lot of talk about creating a magical spark around the concept of learning, in the introductory chapters of the book. Whether your children are in elementary or high school, Bogart shows parents how they can create an environment that naturally aids learning through her own practical approach. By suggesting ways of “creating the context for magic in our homes,” she gently invites parents to explore different subject areas that tend to be typically beyond the parental comfort zone (simply because they might send the children on a tailspin toward curiosity!).
When we look at learning as a task, it adds an element of stress to it. Instead, if we were to change its association into something that is unpredictable, fun and exciting, children will definitely be more inspired to take it up. For instance, instead of sitting at a desk with a pile of worksheets (which can be boring!), the child can take the learning outside of the house in a space where you can find relevant context, such as a garden, trail, or even a hike!
The author repeatedly reminds parents that they are in charge of setting the mood for their children's learning. She talks about how parents can make room for surprise, risk, mystery and adventure in their family routine and nurture the love for learning. And, there’s plenty of room for this because according to the author, this could be as simple as having a big juicy conversation about a book vs. its movie version!
The Four Capacities for Learning.
Aside from setting the right tone and mood for our children to enjoy learning, Bogart urges parents to focus on the learning process rather than the product. This is essential when it comes to celebrating our children’s achievements and helping them value how far they’ve come along every step of the journey.
When parents work together as a team, children naturally gain more confidence. Through her own examples, Bogart assists parents in terms of maneuvering around vital scaffolding. To help understand this concept better, for a learner, the scaffolding serves to provide intentional support that helps them achieve a greater level of mastery than they would, without that support being in place. This could mean assisting them through their thought experiments and allowing them to build on their existing knowledge by asking questions and gaining further interest out of eagerness. When parents work (demonstrate) alongside children, they tend to guide them better in comparison to when they only “instruct.” Lets say, you are to do a writing lesson - you can work together and enjoy a game of scrabble to source the right vocabulary. Your input (in terms of new words) will serve as an addition to the existing knowledge base for your child and help them contemplate on choosing the right words, in connotation.
The Four Ports of Entry.
They say, learning happens best when the heart, mind, and soul are in sync. But more importantly, every child is different and so is their learning style. Some could be visual learners, others auditory, and some may even be kinesthetic. So, naturally when the teaching methodology corresponds to the learning style, the learning outcomes are far greater. For instance, for a kinesthetic learner, jumping along a number line to solve a mathematical problem will aid learning better because the body is moving and actively engaged in the learning process; hence, the chances of retaining that knowledge increase manifold. This is why Bogart stresses observing children and centering learning around the child’s interests.
Make the Investment
All in all, The Brave Learner is a great asset worth investing in for parents who are passionate about their children's education and, moreover, their holistic learning and development. Bogart's down-to-earth writing approach draws on child-centered learning based on keen observations of their personal interests, adaptation and set-up of a conducive learning environment, and tips on how to stay motivated.
Her online community and forums for discussion and mentorship are a great supplement to her book and worth visiting and reviewing!
Umm Ahmed is an early childhood educator and mother of three boys. Always on the quest to learn, she is passionate about seeking knowledge and passing it on to others. A writer in the making, she draws inspiration through deep conversations, laws of nature, and her own children. She and her family are currently living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.