My *Not Just For Kids* Book Review: The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart

The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life by Julie Bogart, published by TarcherPerigree

                Reading The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart is like sitting with a friend.  You unload all of your worries, hopes and fears.  Julie answers with: I hear you, I’ve been there, and Let’s see what we can brainstorm together.  And as with friends, you may not agree with some of the specifics of the book, maybe a suggested activity is something that wouldn’t work for you.  Well, that’s okay, but it has you thinking.  Maybe after deciding that activity is not for you, you’ll come up with something else that excites you and would work for your family.  That’s a key point of this book.

                My kids came up to me while I was writing on the pages of The Brave Learner and asked “What are you doing?!!?”   (We do NOT write in books.)  I explained, this particular book is more of a workbook.  I continued highlighting, underlining passages, and making notes in the margins.  I was interacting with the book so that the wonderful concepts written about could be used in our home. 

“… Sample and taste, explore and experiment, apply and discard suggestions in this book.  Allow yourself the joy of discovery….”  Right there we’re told, this book is a guide, not an all or nothing philosophy.

                Julie provides ideas, relates anecdotes from her own family, and shares what she has learned from her experiences.   As you read, you get a glimpse of her family’s homeschool journey.  It’s an honest account which includes mistakes as well as successes.  You get to see successes that happen despite not following what “should” be done.  And she allows us to learn from what she has experienced.

We are reminded that in choosing to homeschool, do not leave out the home. 

                “The key to a kinder and gentler homeschool is attending to the details we overlook – the coziness of our homes, the principles of natural learning, and the tenderness of our intimate relationships.” 

                The reader is drawn in with The Four Forces of Enchantment.  She writes of the Four Capacities of Learning: curiosity, collaboration, contemplation, and celebration.  She explains how to use these concepts to bring joy to learning and allow for the natural processing of information.  There’s further discussion of the Four Ports of Entry where your children gain ownership of their learning, when it truly becomes theirs.

                “The forces of Enchantment spark the learning adventure.  The Capacities for Learning deepen the learning experience.  The Ports of Entry allow children to bring the meaning of their education all the way inside themselves.  Beautiful to behold!”

 Steps and examples are given for bringing these guiding principles to work in your home. These principles are not specific to any one curriculum or educational philosophy, they’re not even exclusive to homeschooling.  They can be used with whatever style of learning is happening in your home. 

Julie provides practical ways to apply the concepts she discusses, such as having poetry teatime, mathematical discussions, and creating a wall of questions, to name but a sparse few.

                Julie offers us ways to engage in:

  • “Big, juicy conversations”
  • Collaborating with your children
  • Seeing things differently
  • Making connections
  • Developing reasonable expectations
  • Celebrating successes

It’s a great book to read when you’re feeling overwhelmed or “behind”.  It has already become one of my favorite books.  I know as we continue through the schooling years that I will return to this book to refresh these ideas, and find new ways to apply the concepts. 

The Brave Learner gives that gift of hindsight that we all wish we had.  How could this homeschool journey end?  Well, here’s one example.

Have you read The Brave Learner? Did you find an idea that inspired you?

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