Julie Bogart is the well-known creator of the Brave Writer curriculum and founder of the Homeschool Alliance. In her new book, The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life, Bogart shares how to take a “kind, gentle approach to parenting and homeschooling.”
In the Foreword, Susan Wise Bauer, author of The Well-Trained Mind, reminds us that despite our best efforts, “we can’t create a love of education” in our children. Rather, “our task is to provide the oxygen-rich surroundings that will allow sparking new interests to blaze into full life.” Bogart acknowledges that it takes bravery “to learn a new way to see education and to execute it.” So many of us, even as homeschoolers, remain set in the “school” mindset. It takes courage to break free of that and see education as something more than a checklist of lessons to be completed.
The Brave Learner is less about what curriculum to choose or how to approach a given subject (although she does offer some practical suggestions in those areas) and more about how to create an environment that encourages learning. Bogart emphasizes the importance of cultivating our family relationships first. The last section of this book on “Invisible Education” invites us to take a hard, but compassionate, look at ourselves and our families. Everyone has their bad parenting moments and difficult times in their marriages, but it is important to constantly work to have a family dynamic in which children feel safe and loved. “How children feel at home has everything to do with how well they’re educated.”
While not an unschooler, Bogart’s educational philosophy will appeal most to relaxed homeschoolers and unschoolers. She asks homeschooling parents to involve their children in lesson planning, to nurture the natural interests that a child has, and to do whatever you can to help your children achieve their dreams. She encourages homeschoolers to look for examples of their child’s mind at work even if it doesn’t look like what most people would consider school. “If we believe that education is unique for each child, we can relax into whatever time it takes to learn rather than flipping out when our kids don’t line up with what Becky’s children are doing down the street.”
The Brave Learner offers much food for thought for homeschoolers. There may be some ideas in this book that you as a homeschooler vehemently disagree with, but that is the beauty of homeschooling – we each get to choose our own path. Whether you are a new or veteran homeschooler, you will find something to inspire and challenge you in these pages.
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