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
Can there really be a problem with telling your child, “Do your best? Maybe, maybe not. I know that it was a terrible thing done to me by my dad, probably innocently. Dad was big on ‘do your best’, and he added that this should be applied to whatever you pursue. He used to say if I wanted to be a ditch-digger, then great; just do my best at it. Of course, this is where it get’s a little confusing. When I did my best dad would also challenge me with, “Why didn’t you do better?”
I remember after graduating with honors from a difficult master’s program (I had a 3.62 GPA out of 4.0) dad asked me, “Why didn’t you make a 4.0?” Inadvertently he had set up a standard for perfection that could never be reached. I’ve always felt it would have been much more helpful if he had simply said, “Just be better than everyone else in whatever you do.” That kind of challenge is at least possible. Do your best + you can always do better is a recipe for misery.
What about you and your parenting advice for your kids? Hopefully you are teaching them to be independent, but are you making the standard too high? On the other hand, are you a parent that offers no real standard, allowing your child to drift? Kid’s definitely need standards modeled to them, and they need challenges to grow themselves. Giving them no standards or giving them impossible ones are both off the target and into the dirt. By the way, can we really ever know if we’ve really done our best (maybe dad’s point).
Here’s an alternate way to think about it when you challenge your kids--- Do what it takes. Of course, they need to figure out what they want (or have it given to them during the growing years), but then the question of doing what it takes makes sense. Need to learn math? Do what it takes. Want to compete in a sport? Do what it takes. Want to go to youth camp with your church and need to raise some money? Do what it takes.
May I close with a question or two? Are you doing your best at parenting and homeschooling? Could you do better? Now, dump those questions. Instead, ask yourself how you want your kids to turn out as individuals and students? Do you want them to be in a position to choose their life; whether it includes college or not? Do you want them to read well, write well, do math well? Then, it seem simple:
So, how do you balance homeschool, parenting, and marriage? What a great question. It's part of our 100+ questions on homeschooling. I'll tell you, this is not as difficult as it sounds. The problem is when we don't understand two simple things. One is balance and the other is hierarchy. Okay, so balance. Balance is the right amount of the right thing.
My name is Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand and my wife, Jody and I mentor families in how to raise independent thinkers, independent homeschoolers. Well, there's nothing more valuable in all of this than a mom and dad getting their mind and trying to produce an outcome how this stuff balances, homeschool, parenting, and marriage.
So first, balance. What is balance? A lot of times we tend to think balance is 50/50. We do this for a certain amount of time. We should balance it with something else. You've read this long, you should go outside and play this long, you might say. That's not exactly the nature of balance. Balance is the right amount of the right thing. So, soup, you don't want it to be 50% salt, but some salt or flavor in the soup really helps dramatically rather than if you have unsalted V-8 Juice or something like that. So, it's the right amount. So, the right amount of attention to homeschool, the right amount of attention to parenting, the right amount of attention to marriage, that would be the nature of the game.
Now, circumstances can affect us. When people are deployed, for example, overseas, it's hard to spend that much time on the marriage, as it were. But that notwithstanding, in the normal day to day nature of things, what we want to understand is first, it's balance, the right amount of the right thing. You get to sort of figure that out, how much attention to homeschool, how much attention to parenting, how much attention to marriage, how those things overlap. But the second is hierarchy, and that is what you value first, second, third, and how you put that together is going to affect everything. If you have a family system where the homeschool is ahead of the marriage, it's going to take a certain look. If you have a homeschool in which a parenting, whatever you understand that to be, is the dominant thing over the marriage and homeschool, it's going to have a certain look.
I'm going to argue with you that from a leveraging viewpoint, the small-but-powerful thing is that the marriage is the priority. I know this comes as difficult information, because I know marriages have struggles. Jody and I coach couples and have done that for decades: and we have worked through our own challenges in marriage as well. No one's saying it's easy. And I know in particular the readers I'm talking to right now, are predominantly women. You moms are the ones who predominantly homeschool. That's just a fact. You may not know this, but in the divorce world 70% of the divorces statistically are initiated by the women. So, that kind of tells me something is amiss or strugglesome (and the women are often the more stressed) This may or may not be the case your marriage. The question is how do you get your marriage to be as good as it can be? When the marriage works, the parenting starts to work too; and that gives you room for the homeschooling to work. That would be the sequence.
You have a (1) good marriage and (2) good parenting, so you're a (3) great fit for homeschooling. If you're using homeschooling to make up for the parenting and the marriage, you're going to have struggles.
So, the reason it works this way, as you can imagine when you were a kid, if your mom and dad actually were secure in their love and creating an environment which you didn't ever think, “Are they going to get divorced?”--- that world gave you a context for growth as a child. I know both Jody and I had those struggles growing up, worries when our parents were conflicting. My parents did finally divorce though Jody's didn't. But those kinds of insecurities on the child will drive some acting out, some struggles, or some distractions and stress of various kinds. So that kind of marriage, just from a safety viewpoint, creates a context of something awesome in the family.
The challenge here, I think, is that when we come around to parenting and homeschooling, we tend to think 50/50. So, dads should be 50% involved. Moms should be 50% involved or something like that. It's never going to work that way. Somebody is going to be better at certain things than the other. Somebody is going to be available for more of the full-time context. It's not uncommon for the dads to work and the moms to have that great gift of nurture. So, I would say that's probably very traditional in homeschools, but not unique. In our context, I did a lot with homeschool but Jody certainly did that greater portion, especially in the early years. She was home with them and focused on growing the kids; that was OUR game plan.
So, how about you and your marriage and your homeschool and your parenting? I'd argue it needs to work as follows. Work on the marriage. You do that largely by what you model and focus upon. Is the marriage the priority? How do you show that to the kids? Do you two ever go out without the kids or spend any time alone without the kids? Is it a family room and a family bed and a family everything? If you do that, you're making no distinction to marriage. And in my experience, you're not modeling to the kids to go out and to be independent, to find themselves a spouse, to build their family. That's really what you want to do. Of course, I realize you might be a single parent homeschooling, but doesn’t the principle hold? If your ex is in the kid’s lives, then the better that relationship, the better for the kids. Aim for peace and cooperation always, even if you can’t have it.
Jody and I would model it this way: Our bedroom is not for the kids. That was our place. Our focus was to let that be our place, and they can wonder what went on or not; and hopefully, we came out happy from being in there. It was a refuge. It was our place. At the kitchen table, we didn't sit across from each other because that's oppositional. We sat beside each other. In church, we would sit by each other and put the kids around us on either side, not corralling the kids between us. It was just our understanding. But in doing that, we were saying to the kids, our marriage is central to this thing. And so, figuring out how to make sure we spend time together, to learn how to resolve things together, to learn how to be like-minded about homeschooling and parenting together. That's the key. It's the centerpiece of the marriage. And if you don't have kids aren’t you still have a family? Marriage is family and kids are added for a time. That's the game.
So, what I would challenge you to understand is that whatever you need to do, you began by making the marriage the priority. And then inside of that, you're like-minded about how you approach parenting, what are you modeling to the kids, what are your standards of what you're trying to do. And then, inside of that, the homeschool game can begin to make sense. I hope that helps.
Fred Ray Lybrand
P.S. This topic of parenting and marriage is fully covered in our book, The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change.
So, how about you and your marriage and your homeschool and your parenting? I'd argue it needs to work as follows. Work on the marriage.
The common critique is that homeschoolers are poorly socialized, but nothing could be further from the truth. And yet, the critique is valid for all parents. Maybe there is a greater temptation for those who homeschool, but there are some simple things you can do to make this a non-issue.
Do we need teachers? Well, yes and no. We need to learn to be a teacher of ourself, but no, teachers are not a necessary ingredient for learning. They can help if they are good, but most learning is self-learning. In this video I lay out the quick case for reconsidering the importance of a teacher in the learning process.
It’s been said that education is freedom; true enough. However, doesn’t education go even further? Isn’t it the key to our independence in life; in thought, in choice, in opportunity? There is nothing like ignorance and lack of skill to make a person dependent on others for decisions, information, and even livelihood. Homeschoolers are especially positioned for true independence if they really educate their kids.
Fred Ray Lybrand
College is not right for everyone, but it is for some. I know the current climate tempts us to fear the indoctrination of our kids with the growing avoidance of free speech. However, college or high school or work or play--- all of these contexts are places we can learn to be winsome. We have five college grads who made it through and are impacting their worlds through good minds and hearts.
The key is growing independent thinkers. Students who can teach themselves, who have learned how to learn, who are independent learners. Frankly, the homeschool environment is ideal for this approach (though any home can reinforce clear and independent thought).
I've been re-thinking our approach, and so we've changed to www.independenthomeschool.com
Here are the reasons why!
Hope it helps,
Fred Ray Lybrand
If you want to get started in learning more, begin with growing and independent writer by grabbing the Free Training:
There are many skills that are important for learning and becoming educated. Obviously there is communication, and of course, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic (the Three R's). One of all of these stands out as the most strategic or leveraged. Please don't miss making this skill the first-and-last focus of all your homeschooling.
Fred Ray Lybrand
Besides a medical condition, there are two reasons people get tired. This is especially true for homeschool moms (and dads), given all they are trying to accomplish through the home.
Here are the two basic things that explain what's up...and that can give us the insight we need to make a positive change.
Fred Ray Lybrand
Your teaching or education mindset kind of runs things 24-7, so don't you think it might be important? Our conviction is that homeschool families really need to think through what they are doing and why (mindset), so they can stay on course. There is one way to think that is for superior than most of the notions about education out there these days... I dare you to re-think it!
Fred Ray Lybrand