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Walking-Iris

The Bravewriter Retreat breakdown!

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This past weekend I attended the Bravewriter retreat in Ohio. I've not been to any gathering of homeschoolers like it before, so it was definitely an experience. I imagine it had a very unique and different feel than a typical convention. There were only, maybe, 70 odd people there. It was set in a very beautiful location, hosted by the St Mary's convent, Bethany k-8 school. It was a cozy, home like environment for sure.

 

Julie made it even better with the homemade brownies. When she talks about treats and tea, she means it....brownies, tea and teapots abound!!!

 

The weekend was set up with numerous sessions/talks given by Julie. She addresses so much more than the nuts and bolts of a writing program---parenting, marriage, doubts, frustration and so on. I went thinking I was going to get a specific idea of teaching language arts, but I left with a complete perspective shift on life. Really!

 

And I just have to say, it's one thing to enjoy the writing of a particular person, or to enjoy a particular curricla, but to meet the author and find out that they are so kind is amazing. She was so nice, kind, and witty. She's a pretty awesome lady! I got to talk to her one on one a couple times. She was available all weekend. And I really got the impression that she gave her undivided attention to the person in front of her. She did not have an air of distraction or busyness, even though I'm sure she had plenty on her plate.

 

 There were cameras, so I expect there will be something in future to see her talks from the retreat.  I got wrangled into giving a filmed testimonial. Out of my comfort zone for sure! 

 

I don't know what exactly to say about the language arts specific parts of Bravewriter. I mainly went away with the idea that I can relax. It doesn't have to be overly rigorous or hard to count. She had us Freewrite and work on copywork in a different language. I really realized for the first time how difficult it is to get words on a page, and had a feeling of how my children felt.

 

Another thing that jumped out at me is that children have a recovery period. So we may see them writing and reading a big thing one moment and then for maybe months they give us very little output. She compared it to running. After training and finishing a marathon, you don't want to do another for some time, you want to accomplish small, easy recovery tasks. So when our kids manage a big activity or project, don't worry and wring our hands when they can't sustain that and do another right away. It's okay to complete a few really well done activities in the year and just copywork/dictation and freewrite and play with language the rest of the year.

 

I'll try to answer anyone's specific questions, if I can recall something she may have said that addresses it.

 

I was a huge Bravewriter fan to start out with, but hearing her actually talk about the things I've read was gold. There were quite a few things I felt I understood about BW that I realize I was not implementing quite right. It was extremely helpful!

 

I'm still processing all of it. Maybe writing about it here will help!

 

 

 

 

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Awesome!  If she does it again, I may try to go.  It sounds like it was lovely.  I've seen her speak twice now, but I feel like it would do me good to see her speak every year and reinvigorate my writing teaching and my general attitude toward schooling.

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It is really nice that she didn't just academically lecture about homeschooling. I didn't come away with a list of things I must do, or how to evaluate progress. I came away with a reassurance that I am doing an awesome job, even when there are years that feel horrible. She gave the example from her own life of the year they lost the math book. LOL 

 

She doesn't stand up there as some all knowing homeschool expert and here's how you do it....xyz. She talks as if she's your friend, and she gets it. That there are days when you're "just surviving another day of life." 

 

She's unique, I feel, in the world of the homeschool speakers.

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Awesome!  If she does it again, I may try to go.  It sounds like it was lovely.  I've seen her speak twice now, but I feel like it would do me good to see her speak every year and reinvigorate my writing teaching and my general attitude toward schooling.

 

So then you know what I'm talking about!!! I've read so many books on homeschooling, watched some youtube or listened to some podcasts, and so on, from various other homeschool speakers. But nothing has jumped out at me as being so unique and special as this.

 

My goal for the next couple weeks is to re-read TWJ and the other home study courses in light of the things she talked about.

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I do know what you're talking about.  I want her to not be totally unique though!  I feel like in general there should be more opportunities for the kind of...  you know, she's doing it for a crowd, but it's really mentorship that she's doing, IMO.  She's saying, here's what worked for us and what I've learned from my life of experience, here's a path, here's some possibilities and resources.  And if you ask her, how can I do ____, then she'll be like, well, is that what you want?  Her whole focus seems to be trying to get you to own what you're doing and not just follow some other vision.

 

There should be more retreats like that for homeschool moms.  It sounds way better than a conference, honestly.

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I do know what you're talking about.  I want her to not be totally unique though!  I feel like in general there should be more opportunities for the kind of...  you know, she's doing it for a crowd, but it's really mentorship that she's doing, IMO.  She's saying, here's what worked for us and what I've learned from my life of experience, here's a path, here's some possibilities and resources.  And if you ask her, how can I do ____, then she'll be like, well, is that what you want?  Her whole focus seems to be trying to get you to own what you're doing and not just follow some other vision.

 

There should be more retreats like that for homeschool moms.  It sounds way better than a conference, honestly.

 

Absolutely. Every time I heard bits of her conversation, she turned the question around and did it in such a way that the person realized that what they were asking wasn't necessarily the thing they were asking. 

 

She talks about a family culture. We're a home, a family, not a school. One of my favorite statements she made again and again was about this subversive life we have chosen to live. She talked about our common worries about grades, tests, college, and so on. And she kept asking "If we've chosen to live this unconventional life, why are we wanting conventional results?" Put another way she said that homeschooling was really a subjective experience, and yet we're trying to measure our children against objective standards. 

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Wow that sounds amazing!  Where in Ohio was this?  I'm in Ohio too, so sad I missed it!

 

Outside of Cincinnati.....Sharonville? It was at the Transfiguration Spirituality Center. 

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I totally agree! She is so inspiring and encouraging. I didn't get to go to the retreat (new baby), but I did see her at the VA Homeschoolers conference in March. I initially signed up for one or two of her sessions, but then I ended up abandoning everything else I had registered for and I basically stalked her. ;) All my friends who came to the first session with her also went to all the rest. (And that's saying something, because SWB was also at the conference.)

 

I had the privilege of visiting with Julie in the vendor hall for about 30 minutes and you're right, she was just so attentive and so...she just relates to you, you know? She makes me feel like I can do this homeschooling thing and I can do it happily. I really look up to her so much. And bonus: she's a blast!

 

Thanks for the overview of the retreat. I was thinking about it this weekend. Someday...:)

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How wonderful! I adore every word I've ever read from Julie, so I'm not at all surprised to hear that she was wonderful in person. I hope that some day I'll get to hear her speak! Thanks for sharing your experience. <3

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Thanks for doing the break down. It was really amazing.  It was truly the best thing I've done for myself as a homeschooling mother or parent in general.   I'll definitely find a way to go if she does another one.

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Thank you for this post! Given that I live on the other side of the planet, I will probably never get to a retreat, so posts like this are golden.

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Is she planning to do it again next year? Is there a date yet?

 

I think it's safe to assume from her posts on the Facebook page that she will do another one. I'd just follow Bravewriter on Facebook to get information when it occurs. I doubt she has a set date or time already.

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