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I want to share my thoughts on a curriculum that was enjoyable for us. In this post I’ll review Jot It Down, a guide for early writers from Brave Writer. We used Jot It Down as one component of our language arts program for my oldest son in first grade and second grade. I am not affiliated with this program and this is not a sponsored post.
Jot It Down Review: What’s included?
When you check out Jot It Down, you’ll notice it’s not your average daily/weekly writing curriculum. This is a guide with projects and ideas for you to use with your children. You won’t find a structured schedule or daily teacher’s guide or a scripted program. However, you will find:
The Parent-Teacher’s Guide to Brave Writer
Firstly, you’ll find a guide to beginning the Brave Writer lifestyle including an introduction to Jot It Down and tips on encouraging a love of poetry, nature, art, music, and movies.
Language Arts Best Practices
Next, you’ll find a guide for best practices in your language arts program including the Brave Writer pillars of big, juicy conversations, narration, word-play, and more. You’ll also see how to gently incorporate these into your homeschool routine.
The Writing Program
Finally, you will find a guide to ten monthly projects – though, monthly could be used loosely as you will decide the pacing. We have shortened some and extended others.
Is Jot It Down Enough?
When I first purchased Jot It Down, I purchased it as just one component for our first grade language arts curriculum. Let me be frank – Jot It Down is not a complete language arts program. It is a guide to help you encourage a love of reading, writing, poetry, and art in the younger grades.
This curriculum will not teach your child to read. It will not teach your child handwriting, grammar, or dig into the writing process. However, it is a good fit for us. We are eclectic homeschoolers. I use a variety of programs to teach. Jot It Down is simply one piece of our homeschool.
So will Jot it Down be enough for your family?
Part of the Brave Writer philosophy is focusing on creativity and enjoyment in the early years with the understanding that structure and grammar will partly be learned implicitly and will partly come later. So the other side of this coin is that some children require explicit or direct instruction. Kids who struggle with comprehension, retelling stories, or are dealing with a learning disability or processing disorder may not be able to glean the same kind of foundational comprehension and writing skills that other programs introduce more directly.
Additionally, if you or your child requires a structured schedule, or if you are looking for a program that is going to cover all of your bases – if you’re planning to re-enter the school system, for example. You might consider a program that introduces the writing process and grammar early on.
Finally, some parents will absolutely love the kind of loose, unstructured guide to teaching. Jot it Down really provides a lot of flexibility for you, the parent, to make decisions about how long to teach what and when. Other parents might desire a bit more guidance. If you are looking for a program with a fuller Teacher’s Edition and focus on struggling or reluctant writers, you may want to consider looking into a program like WriteShop, which we used after Jot it Down.
Jot it Down may be enough for your family if you enjoy taking the reigns on teaching, prefer a flexible program that can fit into the rhythm of your life, and are using it in tandem with other language arts instruction such as a learn-to-read curriculum. And it will be enough if you are generally looking to encourage a love of writing and creativity at this young age in a gentle way.
Jot It Down Review: Flexible Scheduling
Jot it Down does not provide a traditional daily or weekly schedule with topics that build, review of previous content, etc. This is intentional as the program is meant to fit into the rhythm of homeschooling and your life. The flexibility of this guide means you will be able to explore topics for as long as you like. If one project is especially engaging, you can stay with it for a longer time. For example, exploring a variety of different fairy tales over several months instead of one. The reverse is also true. If a particular project is less engaging, you can move on without disrupting the flow of the program.
This flexibility takes the pressure off. You have full control over how long you spend on any particular unit. You can also decide what order to work through the curriculum. Each project can be its own stand-alone unit that you can explore in any order, at your own pace.
Writing vs. Handwriting
Brave Writer approaches writing as a subject that is more than just putting words on the page. Because of this approach, children are able to participate and explore writing, even if they lack the fine motor skills. Additionally, if your child struggles with handwriting and letter formation, this program encourages you to do the writing for them. Taking handwriting of the writing process allowed my son to focus on expression and exploration. He can write without the barrier of physically writing.
Jot It Down is More just Writing
Jot It Down incorporates art, music, movies, and poetry as part of the process. You will be purposefully immersing your kids in the arts. The idea behind this immersive focus is that writing is so much more than a simple subject to teach. Jot It Down is based on the premise that writing is a tool. We use writing to express ourselves, ask questions, review information and ultimately, learn how to use language itself effectively.
Has this review of Jot It Down helped you decide?
If you’re researching Jot It Down, I would encourage you to download a sample. The sample will give you a good idea of the teaching style and what a project will look like.
This Jot It Down review was originally written in 2018 and updated in 2021.
More language arts resources from The Homeschool Resource Room:
Best Homeschool Writing Curriculum for Your Struggling Writer
Teaching Writing at Home with WriteShop Primary: Engaging & EASY
20 Poetry Activities: Reading & Writing Poetry for Kids of All Ages
My Child HATES Writing: 2 Tips for Turning it Around
Ashley helps parents who want to homeschool find the resources they need to successfully teach their children. Ashley is a former teacher, current homeschooler, published author, and designer behind Circle Time with Miss Fox printables as well as the creator of this website, The Homeschool Resource Room.