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Do My Homeschoolers Have to Be Tested?

This question is personal to us because our first child has cerebral palsy. We didn’t plan to home-educate all the way to college (even though we ended up doing so), but we wanted to get our son far enough along so that he wasn’t labeled by his disability. The risk with testing is that it can function as a labeling game. If you test kids early enough, they can start getting labeled in their mind about where they think they are, if they’re smart, or not smart, gifted, or not. That kind of fixed mindset orientation does not serve anyone well in life.

So when we think about this whole question about needing to be tested, I would say: yes: your student does need to be tested. Chances are, your state may require it. You need to check on those regulations. But how soon do they need to be tested? What we began to make sense of concerning homeschooling was that our testing needed to be really engaged, probably by the time they’re around 12 or 11. When our children were young, we weren’t dramatically concerned about testing them. But when they were older, each day had some form of testing. They would do a certain number of math problems each day, and the goal was for them to score a 90 % or better, and then work on their corrections. Or, they had to read a certain number of pages and then give feedback to show they comprehended what they read. Small tests like that to make sure they understood what they were studying.

But that kind of testing is not the same as a timed test where your student learns the skills that they’ll need for the ACT or the SAT. That kind of testing becomes valuable because it’s a measurement of your student’s abilities. As we know from the management world, you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and you tend to get more of what you measure. So this measurement process by testing turns out to be pretty helpful. It prepares your child with the discipline, the knowledge, and the confidence to know that they can survive being tested. It gives you feedback, marks progress, and maybe uncovers some areas where they need improvement. Your student will need testing for sure, but be wary of testing too young and labelling your child as smart or not smart. You don’t want to limit their ability to grow because of a one-time score. Whether or not you have a bright child, they need to develop the skill of working hard. But, eventually testing is useful, especially when determining how well your child is doing in a given subject. It is your prerogative as Mom and Dad to figure out when testing is right for your student, and how to engage in a feedback loop on a regular basis, all within the boundary of what your state and local municipalities require.

-Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

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Learning Disabilities & Homeschooling

To clarify, learning disabilities are a little bit different than special needs. Learning disabilities are things that are in the way of our learning. My wife, Jody, has dyslexia. As a young girl, she struggled with it and had to go through special training, and still managed to finish school with really great grades and a Master’s degree.

 

I almost want to rename “learning disabilities” to something like “learning hindrances.” These are just obstacles in the way. Sometimes these “disabilities” are not genuine disabilities. Oftentimes what matters is the environment that you put your student in. Let’s consider someone who is highly distractible. They’re the kind of person that you actually want to put into a context like working in an emergency room, if they have the skills for it, because they can be interrupted. There are other people who don’t like interruptions; they’re not good in emergency rooms. They need to be in a more manufacturing or more consistent office kind of context where they’re working through their data sheets and getting things done.

 

Sometimes our culture labels biases and personalities as disabilities, so I think that’s something you should consider and appreciate regarding your student.

 

From there, all you’re trying to do is figure out three things for your child.

 

1: Where do they want to be? Or where do you want them to be? What are you trying to get them to?

 

2: Assess where they really are. What exactly is their challenge in this disability?

 

3: Think up a plan.

 

We’re trying to move from: where your student is—to where you’d like them to be—using a plan. Very simple process. In other contexts, we like to call that Here, There, and Path. There is where you’re headed, Here is where you are now, and the Path is your plan to help your child with these challenges, these hindrances, to get to a new place.

 

 

-Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

 

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos about home schooling: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheWritingCourse

As found on YouTube

What if I’m Only Planning to Homeschool for a Little While?

Some people homeschool for a temporary period of time to get their kids through a certain transition, maybe to a certain age. I think the more important question isn’t if it’s okay to homeschool temporarily, but how to effectively use your time homsechooling to prepare your students. Ask yourself, “Does it matter how I approach education?”

On one hand, homeschooling briefly is fine however you do it. Education is education. All you want to do is the right things, especially around the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic.

But I’d suggest figuring out specifically how to homeschool your children. Don’t view it as a filler until they get into school. Be intentional. Your strategy, firstly, depends on where you’re going to put them. What are you getting them ready for? So if you begin with the end in mind, and look at the school where you want to enroll them, figure out what they’ll need to know to enter it (especially with private schools). You’ll want to view homeschool as the method of getting them up to speed for the level that they’re entering. Figure out what they need by the time they enter that grade and then work backwards to craft your game plan.

Regardless of whether you change your strategy or not, your focus should be on constant improvement. You’re dealing with education as a system in your home. You’ll want to measure, “Are we doing better this week than we did last week? Are we doing better this month than we did last month? Is my student doing better in these subjects compared to past struggles?” Education is an ongoing game.

Hope that helps,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos about home schooling: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheWritingCourse

As found on YouTube

How Do I Know if My Homeschooling is Successful?

You may have wrestled with how to know if your homeschooling is actually successful.

To figure this out, I’d say there are three simple things you want to consider.

The first is measurement. You want to make sure that you’re measuring what’s going on with your kids. How many pages they’re reading, what kind of books they’re reading, where they are in math, what their grades are in math, etc. That constant measurement helps reinforce what you’re trying to do. It shows your child’s work to you and others, because you have a record of exactly what you did. Our kids wrote a lot and we saved their writing in binders, so that we could see how they were doing when they were 10, how they were doing when they were 12, and 14, and so on. You can’t appreciate the power of measurement enough.

Number 2 is comparison. Now comparison is a little tricky because it can potentially be depressing and frustrating. But if your kid is at grade level or ahead, you’re going to realize, “We’re doing fine.” If your child is several years behind, you’re probably not yet succeeding. You may have reasons for it. Maybe disabilities or special needs or something else is going on. That’s fine, that’s a different measurement, but realize that you don’t want to isolate yourself in such a way that you suddenly have your child show up in high school or college, and you realize they’re way behind. You just want to make sure you’re on target (or as is common with homeschoolers, ahead of target).

The final way to evaluate success is to ask yourself, “What’s my satisfaction? Am I satisfied?” Do you feel good about what’s going on with your kids in terms of field trips, academics, their ability to communicate, their ability to write, their ability to do math, etc, etc? If you’re satisfied, that’s a sign of success. It’s not the only way to measure, but it is an important piece. There needs to be a certain level where you feel good about what you’re trying to accomplish. If you don’t, you have to figure out what you need to do to feel satisfied.

-Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos about home schooling: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheWritingCourse

As found on YouTube

How to Begin Homeschooling

We often miss the first step when we consider homeschooling. Face it, curriculum issues and “Is it legal?” questions rise to the top most often. However, there is an essential question that will have more to do with your choices than anything else. You must start by asking, “What do we want?” While this question could be applied to a number of homeschooling issues and concerns, the key is to think about your own student(s).

How do you want you student(s) to turn out? How are they going to be prepared academically, morally, or practically? Getting a clear picture of what you want will help in all your choices. Warning: Answering this question by describing what you don’t want is a misstep! Watch the video by clicking above 🙂

Fred Ray Lybrand

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SAT Grammar Secret

grammar

Here’s a posted conversation that may help:

Great question about the SAT.

The SAT is timed, so no one is going to operate effectively by recalling and applying a matrix of rules. The SAT prep  courses pretty much tell you to go with what sounds better anyway.

Here are some thoughts I’ll share (especially from working with my own kids on the SAT)…

*  The SAT grammar questions are about a couple of primary things—

  • Directness
  • Clarity

If one choice is more direct…that is likely the best version.  If one choice can be taken a couple of different ways…or…it isn’t clear who is doing what in the sentence–it is likely wrong.

Try a practice section and see if the most direct and the most clear aren’t basically the two things they are  after in the test.

Finally, in most of the ‘grammar choice’ questions you will be wise to cover up the answers and make a ‘guess’ before you look at choices A-E.  If you will go ahead and have a guess of what it ‘should be’ the way it sounds to you…then you will be able to quickly see what answer matches closest (and that’s the one that will usually be right).

Bless you,

Fred

P.S.  I’m often blunt because I am direct and clear 😉

www.advancedwitingresources.com –  sheri hollinger wrote

Fred, Your blunt-ness cracks me up. =)

I completely agree that grammar diffuses the ability to write, and to comprehend reading at times too.  Try to dissect scripture; many times this just baffles me, lol.

My question is….How can we get our kids to score well in state testing if we don’t plug away at grammar?

Blessings~Sheri

http://thesimplelifeof8.blogspot.com/

From: [email protected]…January 14, 2011 12:43:06 PM> Subject: [LybrandWriting] Re: A NewQuestion (Grammar – Jacee)Jacee,

I’m a rebel on this one!  We have NEVER taught our kids much formal grammar at  all…mostly because it is a stupid and foolish waste of time that takes kids away from learning how to write well (and creatively).

Now…let me reverse course…I’ve studied English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Spanish. Here’s is where grammar is useful…in the ANALYSIS of WRITTEN words. If you are analyzing a Bible verse it comes in handy (maybe).  In writing, on the SAT, and in college…using good grammar is important, but knowing grammar rules and principles is not. Mostly grammar slows the brain down.

Good use of grammar comes from good reading and good feedback (on papers and while talking).  Mostly the SAT is just concerned about clarity and directness.

Unfortunately, since we are all scared to death, we supplement our kids with grammar ‘just in case’  All I can say is, “Go for it.  More power to you!”I’m cheering for everyone and each of us must find our way.

For me and my house…we write and get feedback…and learn to make what we write sound even better.

God bless,

Fred

www.advancedwritingresources.com –  Bibliomomiac [email protected] wrote:

Topic of Grammar – I was intending on waiting til high school to begin a serious study of grammar. My thought is that lots ofgrammar will be learnt from the writing programs and read great literature. But I do catch myself wondering if I should do more.It seems most my homeschool friends have a yearly grammar curriculum.  Right? Wrong?Oh, we will be covering grammar with Latin First Form, although notenglish grammar, it should be a good if not better base then english grammar.

– Jacee

How to Help Your Child Think Up What to Write

The following was my response to an inquiry about a child who doesn’t know what to write during the writing part of the homeschool day.

Even though we don’t yet know the exact details (always best to find them out because each situation is different), I will throw out some additional thoughts to the excellent stuff several of you have posted.

In The Writing Course we explain how we can always write because everything reminds us of something. When kids don’t write it is almost always an issue of fear or control…not an issue of writing. If a child knows that he is just trying to write OK, and he knows that he can’t really think up what he is going to write before he writes it (this is in the course too), then all that is left is to learn how to make use of his own mind’s ability to associate. I show them how to use their own name.

I’ll use my middle name RAY (yes, I am Fred Ray…hey…born in Alabama) and come up with three words:

R – rollercoaster

A – airplane

Y – yarn

So, all I’ll do is start writing something OK involving those things.

Petula was always scared of rollercoasters. Even when she flew over the County Fair in her uncle Ceadric’s airplane and the rollercoaster looked very small and safe, she just couldn’t remember that feeling when she got near the ticket booth. Today was different. She was going to conquer the rollercoaster! Maybe it was the way the kitten played with the yarn, she couldn’t really say. But, she did notice that the kitten fell off the counter three times. After each fall it just climbed up again to win the prize. “If Tinker can keep trying for a ball of yarn,” Petula said in a squinted whisper, “Then I can ride a silly rollercoaster.” With that she grabbed her uncle’s hand and walked toward the booth holding a paper dollar she had gotten from her Hannah Montana wallet.

Well, you get the point. At the very least (if a child doesn’t know what to write) have him:

1. Do copy work (that will eventually motivate him to make up something more fun)

2. Write a description of something outside the window or of a couple of items in the refrigerator.

3. Use some of the other ideas mentioned in this group

God bless,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

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The Danger and Goodness of the Internet for Your Children

Well, what do you think?  Is Rosemond overstating it?

“To me letting a child use the Internet unsupervised is akin to letting a child walk thru the red light district in Amsterdam without a guardian,” explained Rosemond.  “It’s a very, very dangerous thing.” -John Rosemond http://www.live5news.com/story/14685559/parenting-expert-talks-about-facebook

Well yes, it is dangerous.  There are lurking charlatans and obsessive addictions just waiting to happen.  And yet, a wealth of knowledge is also at our fingertips.  We can connect with old friends…or wind up rekindling an old romance into a destructive affair.  We can save money or lose a fortune.

In my years of pastoral counseling, I have seen it all (I really think so…from the psychotic to the sublime); consistently, there are people who have not found the simple fact that if you make no provision for the “flesh.”  They don’t know the power of avoiding a situation…the power of admitting you are not strong enough to resist.  For example, I’m not strong enough to resist chips in the home.  Yes, we have them, but Jody does not keep a constant supply on hand.  If they were here all the time, I’d eat them all the time.  Sorry, it’s just a fact (you know…the salt, the crunch, the dipping!!!).

Well, join the reality of the dangers of the internet.  The fact is that you just need to stay away from the stuff that isn’t good for you.  Get over the silliness of thinking you should be stronger.  You are not.

Now, doesn’t that turn out to be twice as true for the kids?  Yes, they need discernment and wisdom, but that will grow over time.  Our simple solution was to trust the least-tempted-by-the-internet soul in our home; Jody!  In researching it though, we concluded that an internet filter was the way to go.  We decided on SafeEyes and have found nothing but good things (speed is unaffected and the customer support has been exceptional).  Frankly, I don’t care which you use…but I do say, “Use something.”  Basically, with 5 men in the household, our answer became easy.  Jody is the only one who knows the “password.”  Yes, if I get a site blocked that I need, then I ask her to log me in to use it.  What an easy way for me to show some humility (and honesty) about the dangers.  What an easy way for me to not have to think about looking at something tantalizing.  Life is too short and the consequences are too lasting.

If you have gotten into trouble or need help, please check out my friend Jonathan Daugherty’s website @ www.bebroken.com

In the meantime, don’t run; use the internet for good.  Redeem it, but respect it.

 

Peace,

Fred Lybrand

Get Safe Eyes Parental Control Software – One price for three computers!

The God of Genetics: Can You Teach Right vs. Wrong?

So, the logic goes like this—

You can’t really influence your kids, it’s all genetics…so have more and enjoy them!

A new book by Bryan Caplan is well-intentioned; he wants parents to lighten up, have more kids and enjoy the ride (because you aren’t in control).

Here are a few excerpts from Caplan’s book:

All of those “life lessons” we teach our kids? Don’t really matter, says Bryan Caplan.

All those talks about morality, and right versus wrong? Again, Caplan says, doesn’t really swing the pendulum either way.

“The idea that it’s the way that we are raising our kids that causes them to resemble their parents is mostly an illusion. Again, if no child was adopted, it would be hard to tell this.”

Caplan believes we as parents spend too much time worrying, fretting, and picking apart our parenting styles. He advises us to relax, be selfish, have more kids, enjoy them, and enjoy the ride.

“I cannot responsibly offer any guarantees, but still, the odds are good that your child is going to turn out to be just like you when he grows up.”

http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/parenting&id=8146447

Of course, it is a silly proposition that is simply fatalistic.  Genetics is an influence, but it isn’t a god.  Environment is an influence, but it isn’t a god either.  Caplan say that no one challenges him with data (he has flawed twin studies in his back pocket as proof.

I’ll say I’m proof.  I come from generations of alcoholics on both sides of my family…but I am not an alcoholic.  Oh…it could be a recessive non-alcoholic gene!  We had 5 children who slept through the night from 6 weeks old and onward…5 in a row (what are the genetic odds?).  You see, this is called unfalsifiable position, which means there is no way to prove it wrong.  Of course, if you can’t prove it wrong, you can’t prove it right.  It is easy to find credible sources challenging the validity in the twin studies: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=A0BDE8276F7814C3B660A475D5CACCCA.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=31667 .

In a way it is like Skinnerism– You have no control, no real will, no influence, and no learning.  The Scriptures wouldn’t support it, nor does philosophy, or common sense.  It seems the nature of humankind is to seek out and find excuses.  If you are a victim then you must be a victim….but before you laugh at Caplan, how about what we do say about IQ and alcoholism, and ADHD.  Are we really without choice?

Caplan wants to let parents “off the hook” by realizing they have far less influence than they think (and can take less credit).  Of course, he is stripping credit from the individual for life choices.  Moreover, following his premise…not much you can do about people at work either (or your cell-mate in prison).  You get the point.

What a destructive idea in parenting…in one moment of deifying the human gene, we disempower both parents and children.  Not me.

The Bible puts it this way:
…a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.  (Proverbs 29:15b)

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (Proverbs 29:17)

 

I’d love to here your thoughts…and share this…let’s have a conversation,

Dr. Fred Lybrand

 

Do You Have the Right Goal in Mind for Your Children?

What is your goal for schooling? For parenting? For your children?

Whether public, private, or home— everyone has some goal or goals in mind. Maybe you call them ‘hopes’, but it’s still the same idea. Frankly, getting clarity on your goal helps dramatically in your decision-making. Here are the options:

1. You want to help your child (children) be competitive and prepared for the world he/she/they will enter.

2. You want to help your child excel in the world he/she/they will enter.

Frankly, I think both of these are noble. The reason you might pick #1 over #2 is that you are on the cutting edge of generations of folks who were not ‘academic’. In my own family, my Dad and his brother were the first college graduates ever (I think…at least in the America part of the story). They were cutting a path for us in a new territory. Another reason you might choose #1 is that your child may have special challenges that simply make being at the ‘top of the class / business / organization’ very unlikely, so you are realistic.

And yet, we need a new generation of morally straight leaders who are in pursuit of excellence. The solution comes with one’s talents. No matter who or what…almost no one doesn’t do at least one thing better than 10,000 others. Find that thing as you watch and love your children. Their talent is their ticket (and it is, in part, the reason God put them on the planet).

So, academically, at least become sufficiently educated in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic (yes, that is what it takes)so they will know how to learn. But, personally, aspire to stretch them toward their strengths.

My friend Bob Tebow has a son (Timmy…Denver Broncos), who has embodied this in his pursuit of excellence. He is at practice earlier and stays later than anyone else. He isn’t trying to prove something, he is trying to accomplish something.

Get after it with your own children! Stretch and challenge those guys and girls…they will love you for it (maybe a long time from now). Here’s the easiest goal of all to have:

“I want my children to out-do me in every way”

Now, that is a goal of vision and humility! Of course, there is a final word of caution— it is their life to live, not your’s to be lived through them!

So…what are your thoughts about goals for your children?

God bless,

 

Fred Lybrand

www.advanced-writing-resources.com

P.S.  Nice video explaining what I mean about Tim Tebow: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/hannity/index.html?test=faces#/v/969875443001/tim-tebow-on-hannity/?playlist_id=86924