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I’m happy to share the folowing Jot It Down review with you. We have been working our way through this program at a slower pace. Giving us time to really dig into the projects and the entire Brave Writer lifestyle.
My son is entering his second-ish grade of homeschooling. We’ve been through quite a bit of curriculum over these past three years. Working through, rearranging, keeping what works… and sometimes tossing what doesn’t.
Have you been there? Setting aside a curriculum package that you thought would be perfect and turns out to be a flop? This is part of the ups and downs of homeschooling- part of what homeschooling costs.
I want to share my thoughts on a curriculum that really works for us. Jot It Down, a guide for early writers from Brave Writer.
We used Jot It Down as the main component of our language arts program in first grade, and we are continuing to use it for second grade. I can’t begin to tell you how good it feels to be returning to Brave Writer. My children are looking forward to digging back into reading and writing almost as much as I am.
Jot It Down by Brave Writer
What is included in the guide?
When you check out Jot It Down, you’ll notice it’s not your average daily/weekly writing curriculum.
The Parent-Teacher’s Guide to Brave Writer
First, 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 a homeschool routine (rather than a strict schedule).
The Writing Program
Here you will find a guide to ten monthly projects – though, monthly could be used loosely. We have shortened some and extended others.
Is Jot It Down Enough?
When I first purchased Jot It Down, I purchased it as a writing component for our first grade language arts curriculum. I planned on using it along with Build Your Library 1.
After several weeks of using Build Your Library, we found that it wasn’t a good fit. We loved the Build Your Library kindergarten curriculum, but the first grade guide was a big jump. I found myself scheduling a little time each day for a snippet of history, a bit of science, a chapter of a book… It was a lot to juggle. It all felt disconnected. Plus we were working through Jot It Down (and enjoying it a lot more).
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. If you’re learning grammar, you’ll have to add that separately, too.
We do so much reading – books for pleasure, read alouds for history, math literature, a book-based science program… For us, for first and second grade, Jot It Down is enough.
See what other programs we use here: 2nd Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices
Jot It Down Has Truly Flexible Scheduling
Jot it Down does not require, nor does it provide a daily or weekly schedule. I think this is an intentional benefit of the program and one that works very well for my family.
I find that we can easily explore topics for as long as we like. If something is really interesting to my kiddos, Jot It Down is designed to allow us to stay with it for weeks or even months!
The reverse is also true. If something is not really engaging my children, we can easily move on to the next, without the feeling like we are disrupting the flow of the program.
This flexibility takes the stress out of learning to write (both for the children and the mom!) and makes Jot It Down a wonderful addition to our Language Arts curriculum.
Writing vs. Handwriting
One of the best parts of using Jot It Down is that it works well for a variety of ages and abilities. The entire Brave Writer approach, specifically Jot It Down, see writing as a subject that is so much more than just picking up a pencil and putting words on the page.
Because of this big picture approach, children are able to participate and explore writing, even if they lack the fine motor skills, or have sensory sensitivities that make the actual physicality of writing difficult.
Taking the actual motor activity of writing out of the writing process allows my child to focus on what matters to me most – expression, creativity and exploring language. Even better, as he becomes more and more comfortable he in expressing himself, the more likely it is that he will be able to easily pick up that pencil when he is ready, and put all the mechanics together.
Jot It Down is More than a Writing Program
This is, by far, one of the greatest benefits of using Jot It Down. Far from the dreary worksheets and paragraph diagrams we used when I was in school, Jot It Down incorporates art, music, movies, and poetry as part of the writing process.
Not only do I love having a built-in opportunity to expose my children to these rich and robust aspects of writing, I also find that this immersive, language rich approach is much more effective. 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 that we use to express ourselves, ask questions, review information and ultimately, learn how to use language itself effectively.
Adding music, poetry, movies, and art taps into a child’s natural inclination and curiosity to learn more about our language. And, honestly, it’s just a lot more fun!
Will Jot It Down Work for You?
I absolutely love the Brave Writer lifestyle. I started listening to the podcasts and implementing some of Julie’s strategies before we started Jot It Down.
This style of teaching makes sense to me. It makes sense in our homeschool. But will it work for you?
If you’re researching Jot It Down, I would encourage you to download a sample. Try it out. See if you like it. And if you’re totally new to Brave Writer, start with Julie’s podcasts. Pop in your headphones while you’re making dinner or walking the dog. See what it’s all about.
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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.