Kids grow naturally from fluent speakers to powerful writers when they have developmentally appropriate tools and an enthusiastic partner to guide and support them. You're the partner, we've got the tools. Brave Writer is organized according to Natural Stages of Growth in Writing. Identify the one that matches your child's current skill set (age guidelines are a suggestion—start where your child is).

Beginning Writers
Natural Stages of Growth in Writing

Beginning Writers ages 5-7

The Jot It Down! stage: The beginning. Your child speaks, and you act as secretary, transcribing your child's words. Your child sings songs, enjoys rhymes and being read to, is eager to tell you little narratives or factual trivia. Your Jot It Down! children may write using their own "language" or may attempt to create their own phonetic version of words.


  • Learning to read, handwrite, and spell
  • Freely shares little stories and experiences
  • Is blocked when trying to handwrite original thoughts
  • Original writing doesn't reflect sophistication of speech

For a more detailed look at this stage of growth in writing, listen to Julie talk about it on her podcast:
Jot It Down!.

Check out the Beginning Writers Bundle

Emerging Writers
Natural Stages of Growth in Writing

Emerging Writers ages 8-10

The Partnership Writing stage: The most overlooked stage of development in the continuum. Your child shows growing proficiency in handwriting, reading, and spelling, but still finds the hard work of transcription tiring if asked to write for more than a few minutes. Original writing does not reflect the child's verbal fluency. This is the stage where parent and child write together, with the parent providing the much-needed support to get those precious, quirky insights to the page.


  • Child can write a sentence or a few words at a time, but tires easily.
  • Child needs help with spelling, punctuation, and getting rich vocabulary to the page.
  • Child shows interest in using a pencil or keyboard, but not ready to "go it alone."
  • Needs modeling for how to take thoughts and help them travel down an arm to the page.

For a more detailed look at this stage of growth in writing, listen to Julie talk about it on her podcast:
Partnership Writing

Check out the Growing Writers Bundle

Middle School Writers
Natural Stages of Growth in Writing

Middle School Writers ages 11-12

The Faltering Ownership stage: The stop and start stage of writing. One day the student gets a detailed story to paper. The next week, she complains that she hates writing. Students show bursts of growth, pencil management, keyboarding skills, some spelling triumphs mixed with obvious errors, variable punctuation, moments of brilliance, and paragraphs of insipidity. Pride in successful writing experiences alternate with struggle.

The Faltering Ownership stage of development toggles between The Arrow and The Boomerang for language arts. Choose the tool based on book titles, taking into account your child's reading and comprehension level as well as interest. You only need one of the two year long programs, or you might like selecting a mixture of titles from the Already Published Issues of The Arrow and The Boomerang.


  • Student tires quickly, but can get some writing to the page without help from the parent.
  • Student takes pride in his work and wants to improve it or share it.
  • Student doesn't retain correct spellings even after "learning" them.
  • Student needs support, shows some independence, but also resists input from parent-editor.

For a more detailed look at this stage of growth in writing, listen to Julie talk about it on her podcast:
Faltering Ownership

Check out the Middle School Writers Bundle

High School Writers
Natural Stages of Growth in Writing

High School Writers ages 13-14

The Transition to Ownership stage: The emergence of a responsible writer. The student-writer is clicking along—able to draft without parental help. The parent's role has shifted to editor and dialogue partner. These kids show competence in keyboarding, handwriting, spelling, and punctuation (with occasional errors, of course, but increasing control in these areas). This stage coincides with puberty and the development of the "rhetorical imagination" (putting themselves in someone else's shoes, able to consider an issue from a variety of viewpoints).


  • Drafts papers and can do preliminary revisions independently
  • Follows through on assignments
  • Capable of basic spelling, punctuation, and grammar
  • Demonstrates the beginning of rhetorical thinking

For a more detailed look at this stage of growth in writing, listen to Julie talk about it on her podcasts:
Transition to Ownership Part One
Transition to Ownership Part Two

Check out the High School Writers Bundle

College Prep Writers
Natural Stages of Growth in Writing

College Prep Writers ages 15-18

The Eavesdropping on the Great Conversation stage: The emergence of an academic writer. The Great Conversation is the dialogue between experts in a particular field across the centuries: Plato to Rousseau to Derrida; Shakespeare to Austen to Morrison; Galileo to Newton to Einstein; Da Vinci to Rivera to O'Keefe. Students learn the vocabulary of the particular field of study, and they read the thinkers that create the enduring ideas. They begin to evaluate those ideas themselves. These high school students (and college undergraduates) produce writing that follows academic formats. They are able to evaluate sources for credibility.


  • Reads widely from within a particular field
  • Knows how to craft a thesis statement, is learning to identify credible sources
  • Expands command over the academic formats
  • College bound

For a more detailed look at this stage of growth in writing, listen to Julie talk about it on her podcast:
Eavesdropping on the Great Conversation

Check out the College Prep Writers Bundle