Category Archives for "Homeschooling"

What Are the Drawbacks to Homeschooling?

What are the drawbacks to homeschooling? Well, there are three that come to mind. The first is isolation. Now when I say isolation is a drawback, I don’t mean homeschoolers will isolate, rather I mean there’s a temptation in the structure of the game; it is easy for a family to get enmeshed and isolated with a “compound mentality.” Isolation is not healthy, but it is a common drawback that you want to consider and avoid.

The second drawback is related to the first; friendships. In time, it’s also unhelath if there’s not an opportunity outside of the family to connect with others, especially kids of similar ages and interests. Over and over again, we encouraged friendships through scouting, extracurricular classes, and sports. There are a lot of ways to do it, like group situations and even church. You want to be careful to understand that your kids need the opportunity to engage with other people to develop friendships, so be wise and look around for good families.

The third drawback to homeschooling is conflict. Not so much conflict but learning how to handle conflicts and resolve them. Families often are too similar to provide this kind of learning. It’s not about battles with other people, but more differences around an idea or a thought that comes with debate and interaction. So if your kids get to interact with other ideas and other people, that allows them to refine their understanding, their logic, their worldview clearer and cleaner. In this way they grow ready to better encounter people in life.

So there are three essential drawbacks in homeschooling; isolation, friendships, and handling conflicts well. In my opinion, I don’t think academics is a drawback. I don’t think socialization is one either. I don’t think any of the things that are commonly thrown out there are all that much of an issue; even with college, homeschoolers do really pretty phenomenally well.

-Fred Ray Lybrand

A video of these thoughts is available here on YouTube

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Do you worry about your homeschooling? Are your homeschool students really going to be read for life?

Real Confidence comes about in two basic ways:

  1. You can be confident because you have been there and done it (or are well equipped by those who have succeeded).
  2. You can dump the future and live in the moment using solid principles. The smart path is to quit trying to generate a confident feeling OR worrying about an uncertain future. Instead, live today based on solid principles. Ask yourself if you are building the right skills into your student TODAY?

You can only be confident about the moment, which is all you have to work with anyway. True?


Dr. Fred Ray LybrandP.S. Start listing and using the principles you believe will guide you well. We started with, “Teach the children to teach themselves.”

How To Teach Kids To Teach Themselves

The crux of the video is that 4 essentials (Trivium + 1) are necessary for self-teaching:

  1. Gathering Information (Data)
  2. Organizing Information (Logic)
  3. Information (Rhetoric)
  4. Experimenting

FRLHere’s the transcript:

Fred:– To start with, was the idea of being self-taught. So our focus, with, is what we did with our kids and that is to grow them to become independent learners. Where they are going to teach themselves, they are the actual teachers. Now, Jody’s here, say hi.

Jody: Hey everybody.

Fred: When I asked Jody about this, a little bit ago– Making a note here. I said, what should I tell them about being self-taught? Or raising kids or those that can teach themselves? And specifically I would say this, they are the teacher, so you want to teach them to teach themselves. So, you’re the teacher but you’re teaching them to teach. So it’s teaching them to teach their selves, and I asked Jody, so what is it that I should mention? And Jody said.

Jody: That this is a possibility, that this is doable, this is obtainable.

Fred: Yeah, it can be done.

So, what we get into are the extremes on the continuum, and so in between two extremes is where self-teaching happens. And it looks kinda like this, on one extreme your child or your student can be overly-dependent on you for everything. For every answer, for every instruction, for repeating instruction. I’ve seen this– We were talking about this a few days ago, friends of ours who wound up having their– In these two cases, their moms write their college papers or if they didn’t write their college papers, they heavily edited them, one of the two. And so, lo and behold, that didn’t turn out– Well, it turned out fine I guess, except that these kids didn’t really learn. So, they’re over there on that hyper-dependent level, where you can be doing everything for your kid.

The other extreme you’d draw on this continuum would be to abandon the child. So that you don’t help them at all, in fact, it works from– Basically, just look at, are you doing it all? If you’re doing it all, you’re probably getting close to that, they’re just dependent and they’re not being taught how to teach themselves. The other extreme is, are you doing nothing? And if you’re literally doing nothing then you’re not engaged in teaching, you have abandoned the child. And so the child is left to her or his own devices. In between is that range of self-taught, in varying degrees of what we’re fiddle with, but I would say in my mind you’re trying to aim for probably 75% towards abandon. So, in other words, you don’t want to abandon them but you’re largely over the halfway point, where you’re moving that direction. Because eventually what’s gonna happen is your kids are gonna grow up, and if they get trained well they’re going to abandon you. And I don’t mean emotionally, or not be a child or whatever, but they’re going to abandon being reliant on you for their learning, for their instruction. They may go unto college, they may go unto other endeavors or may just continue to teach themselves. So, if you’re doing it all, you ask yourself the question “Am I doing it all?”, you might want to wake up and pay attention to that and start moving away from that.

If you’re doing nothing at all, then you might want to engage a little more and see what’s up with that. Because there’s this balanced range in here. If anything is, when you’re in the middle, the way I found the people who are hyper-depended, they sound like I’ve abandoned my kids. Honestly if I talked to people who probably really have abandoned their kids, listen what I did, they’d probably say “No, you did too much”. So, when you’re in the middle of a polarity, you’re always in trouble. And if you don’t understand this just look at politics, you know? If you’re in the middle anywhere, mostly Conservative, mostly Liberal, there will be more Liberal people that look at you as hyper-Conservative and the problem. Or Conservative people might look at you– If you’re a little more towards the middle, and think of you as radically Liberal. Because that’s what polarities do. And I don’t have a real solution for it except, maybe to point it out and to get over it. That’s the game, self-taught, you want to teach them to teach themselves.

So really quickly I just want to share with you exactly how to do this. And it involves two basic components. One is the trivium and the other is experimentation. So, how you grow kids who are self-learners, is that you want to be engaged in teaching them to do three things, the trivium. One is to take in information, the second is to organize information and the third is to communicate information. So, roughly those are the data, logic and rhetoric stages of a kind of a classical education, classical conversations, classical orientation around the trivium. There are different versions of this, so this would be my basic understanding of how I think about it. So,what you’re doing is, you’re trying to organize your school in a way that the kids are taking in information, so they’re constantly able to read, do math, exposed to literature, it could be art, it could be conversations, could be debates, discussions or all kinds of ways in which information can come at us. And the problem is not that the information comes at us, the problem is that we don’t know how to organize it. If we genuinely don’t know how to organize it, then it is a serious challenge. And that’s what we’re finding in this day and age, with the internet and everything else, people are bombarded with information and if they don’t know how to organize it very well they can’t hold on to reuse it. Until you’re going to wind up being confused and then when the FBI interviews you, you’re going to be able to be perjured because you’re going to miss some data point, at some point in time, if you don’t know how to organize it. So that second stage is like drawing the lines in the parking lot, so you can park all the cars where they need to go, so you’re making optimum use of the space. So, organizing information is really that logic stage, so how you’re making it make sense and putting it together in your head. And your brain, your student’s brain can hold a limitless amount of information, as far as we know. I know you feel like you’re gonna pop sometimes, but that’s not really what’s going on. The more you can learn to organize it, sometimes it’s with mnemonics, tricks, and understanding, that’s why we teach that organic mnemonics thing. Sometimes it has more to do with maybe a mind map or certain categories or certain vocabulary you’ve developed. But learning to organize that information is part of what being a self-taught person is.

And then third is the rhetoric stage, or what’s called communication and that’s where you’re using this organized information with other human beings. So there’s something greater accomplished in terms of community, team-work, etcetera. That gain in itself is how they’re going to learn to be self-taught because you’re going to be encouraging them you’re going to cause them to learn. And you’re causing them to take in information, organize that information and communicate that information. So there’s that Socratic learning that could play into it as well in communication, but that’s the frame.

But there’s another piece, and that is experimentation. And experimentation gets down to a simple process of “Try, Learn, and Try.” Now, technically you probably have a hypothesis or a theory in play, but frankly what is going on is, you’re trying something and you’re learning a little bit and you’re trying some more. And this is why back in the day when computers were coming along, and I knew a lot of parents who were getting their kids to take coding classes, sort of, not coding like we talk about it today, but it had to do with a computer, so I always kinda chided them because, it’s seemed like a complete waste of time, because, computers were changing so rapidly. You know, the code back then is not particularly what we use now at all and it’s not how it works. They’re more user-friendly etcetera, but what I was noticing with kids is they all figure it out faster than the parents do anyway. Most of you, if you have a phone and your older kids have access to it they probably understand more about it, faster than you do, because they’re experimenting they’re not fighting off some old learning or old idea. And so, as a result they are nicely and wonderfully engaged in that process of experimenting. Which is, they’re trying something, they’re learning a little something, they’re trying something more and they keep repeating that cycle so that they can improve and grow. And that’s what being self-taught is about.

Now in our simple understanding, it involved reading, writing, and arithmetic as we talk about a fair amount and the nature of comprehension and what reading and taking in information and exposing yourself to the best minds in the world and in history can mean to you, to be able to find that information. The writing, the math part is, you know, the language of science, just as a reminder and it is a learning of logic and absolutes tied into it too. So that you’re learning a really important skill set there as well. And then writing is actually engagement, obviously, we’re using language in communicating, but writing in particular forces you to really think and so it’s really organizing the information and figuring out how to communicate it and by default reviewing it too. So as a result of those three essential skills, that’s what they need to be able to teach themselves, so you’re teaching them to teach themselves. A simple way of thinking about it is, you’re teaching them to read and to do math and to write and in doing that you’re focused not only on the knowledge but the skill set involved in those things. That sets them up with what they need as the tools for learning. So they go through life taking in information, organizing it, and communicating it, using it with others and in the process constantly being comfortable with “Try, Learn, Try.”

When Your Child Misses His Old Friends

I received an email today from a mom who had moved recently. Her son hasmade new friends, but really didn’t think the new one’s where as good as the old ones he was missing.

Here’s my note back to her.So, the easiest thing to do is for him to get a few things clear in his mind:1. His heart does not have one or two spots for friends (competition and comparison)…it has hundreds and hundreds of spots. Once a friend has a spot, just let them have it forever 🙂 New friends get new spots in your heart!2. Help him process that you are not moving back. He may ‘know’ this, but it probably isn’t articulated and owned. He probably needs to say “We are not moving back” about 70 times. Once he knows that fact deep down, he will start making good use of where he is.3. Answer him with, “So what?” Then when he answers, ask “So what?” again. Honestly, so what if his old friends were better? Why does that matter? 4. Help him understand a better story about friendship. Friendship grows over time. He’s comparing long-term friends to recent friends (not fair). Set a date in the future when he will have known his new friends as long as the old friends…then on that date, sit down and ask him to compare the friendships. Between now and then we can drop the discussion because it isn’t fair.

Hope that helps,Fred Ray Lybrand

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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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:



How to Balance Homeschool, Parenting, and Marriage


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.

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The Myth of Socialization and Homeschooling

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.



Teachers Are Unnecessary for Independent Homeschool Learning


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.