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Where Do I Begin (in Homeschooling)?

There are a lot of places to start. You can ask the advice of your friends who homeschool, you can research, you can google, you can buy books, you can compare curricula, you can poll your kids.

My suggestion is this: get a pad and pen, sit down, and start working on what you want to see after your kids have finished their home education. In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this process is described as beginning with the end in mind.

You want to ask yourself, “What kind of students do I want to produce for this world?” If you value character, that might shape your approach a certain way. If you want your children to be able to work hands-on with tools, that might take you in a particular direction concerning shops and mechanics. If your end goal is to have academic children, especially reading and writing abstract thoughts or mathematics or science—you want to determine what you really want to produce!

Beginning with the end in mind is important because it sets the frame for your schooling. I can tell you what we settled on. We wanted to raise happy adults, not necessarily happy kids. That was a bonus, but our goal was to produce happy adults who could teach themselves. In order to do that, we tried to balance education between art and science and literature. That was our conviction, because we were trying to grow self-taught self-learners.

So where do you begin? I say you begin with a blank sheet of paper, just like an artist with a blank canvas, and start trying to think through what you want your endgame to look like. That’s going to help you pick curriculum, clubs, support, and additional tools for your kids more than anything. Spend time with that and keep revisiting it regularly, because you’ll refine that vision, that picture, of how you want these kids to turn out.

-Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

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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 Educational Philosophy is Best for My Family?

There are three simple things to keep in mind.

Number 1: Whatever approach or philosophy you take, does it make sense? Can you articulate it? Does your schooling philosophy make sense for your family, for your child’s uniqueness, especially if you have special issues involved. Does our philosophy make sense?

Number 2: Does it work? Sometimes you just need to be honest and realize some things don’t work. For example, I’ll get political here—from many experiments, we know that socialism does not work. It doesn’t work now, and it didn’t work 50, 60, 80 years ago. It’s not going to work in the future because it doesn’t match human nature. It just does not work. At some point we have to be pragmatic enough to abandon things. If your educational philosophy sounds good, like “I’m just going to let my child do whatever they want,” maybe that works for some kids. Your kid, maybe not. If it does not work, you don’t want to take that approach.

The third and final thing is: Is it proven? Do you have an educational philosophy that is genuinely proven. I would suggest you want to adopt something like our strategy. Ours is proven at least in the context of our experiment with our five kids and their educational experience. Our overall philosophy was this: we want to raise happy adults who know how to teach themselves. Now there are things like tabula rasa, the Socratic method, and other stuff that informed our philosophy, and I discuss that elsewhere. But really our goal was, “We want to raise happy adults.” Maybe they’re happy as kids. I’m a fan of children being happy, but the goal is that when they’re adults, are they going to be happy? To live independently and to pursue their own ambitions, they’re going to have to know how to teach themselves. Can they take any subject and know how to break it and find the right information and put it in their brain, so they can understand and use it? That philosophy worked for us.

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

If you’re interested in our other resources, visit our website https://independenthomeschool.com

As found on YouTube

Should I Homeschool All Year Long?

Should you homeschool all year long?

Let’s see…do you home all year long? You do. You home all year long. There aren’t any breaks from being in your family, from raising your kids, from your marriage, etc. But maybe you don’t homeschool all year long. Well, you’re probably not thinking about school and education properly if you don’t realize it’s going to be a year-round system anyway—the question is the curriculum.

Historically, Americans take off periods of time in the summer, which began due to the agrarian nature of our society. People had to take off from school to go home and help the family farm. That in particular was one of the drivers behind summer breaks. Maybe there are a few other reasons, so that we could hire teachers at a cheaper rate and give them a break. I don’t know all the reasons, but I’m sure someone’s done their doctorate on it and we could all read it if we’d like to. But there’s not really a good reason, in my opinion, to keep you from homeschooling on an ongoing basis.

That doesn’t mean we can’t take breaks from schooling while, for instance, going on vacation. Our family would usually spend a couple of weeks vacationing at the beach. Yet, while at the beach, we would still have the kids do math every other day, and go through a few books to keep them fresh. Math especially is one of those subjects where it’s hugely important to stay active in learning and practicing. With math, if you don’t use it—you lose it. In public schools, when students go back to school in the fall they have to study last year’s lessons for the first fourth or third of the year just to catch themselves up on what they forgot over the summer. I don’t think that’s a good strategy.

Instead, I think it’s important to simply school year-round. You can certainly take breaks, like for Christmas, or maybe some of your kids go off to summer camp, etc. But your overall orientation should be toward educating your children in an ongoing fashion. You want to help them grow in their ability to read, think, communicate, and solve problems. Developing those skills year-round is always a part of schooling, no matter what you’re doing. If you need to take an extended break, take an extended break, but do it consciously with an idea of “What exactly are we doing with this time?”

Childhood is not vacation. Childhood is preparation for adulthood. I believe you’ll find that if your mindset is, “Homeschool is ongoing. We home year-round, so we homeschool year-round,” your efforts in educating your children will be more effective and steady. It’ll really grow your kids at a much easier pace than trying to cram through schoolwork, then take a bunch of months off.

-Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

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

If you’re interested in our other resources, visit our website https://independenthomeschool.com

As found on YouTube

How Do I Balance Homeschool, Parenting, & Marriage?

The first thing you want to do is get a new definition of balance. Our typical idea of “balance” has to do with dividing our life in terms of equal time and equal priority. But what I like to stress to people is that balance is not a matter of giving coequal time to each area of your life. Rather, balance is about giving the right amount of time to each area. For example, if you have soup and you don’t put salt in it, it’s not as tasty or flavorful. But you wouldn’t want to eat a bowl of soup that was 50% salt and 50% soup either—that’s not balanced. Balance is the right amount of the right ingredient. So when you look at your homeschool, your parenting, and your marriage, it’s not just about that right amount of time and attention; it’s really about the right hierarchy, sequence, or priorities. The leverage point to all these aspects of life is your marriage. If your marriage goes poorly, your parenting will surely go poorly, because you won’t be aligned. Your homeschooling will go poorly, because it will be a “me against them” problem. What you really want to do is have a hierarchy, and the most important thing in your life needs to be your marriage (if you’re married, of course).

After marriage, your parenting approach is the most important priority, because it sets a framework for how your family functions. The third most important priority is homeschool. Homeschooling is not going to make up for problems in your marriage; it’s not going to make up for issues in your parenting. So you can see how it’s important to get your priorities down, and then you can start figuring out how to improve each area. It’s strategic to think about constant improvement. How’s our marriage getting better than it was last month? How about our parenting approach? How’s our homeschooling improving?

What is at issue more than anything in all three of these areas is something as simple as resolving conflicts or problems. You cannot avoid conflicts in a relationship because if you’re both the same, then one of you isn’t necessary. As humans, we’re all different and we find ourselves at odds with one another at some point. We’re always going to have that issue, but we can resolve our disagreements.

So how do we take an area in our marriage and solve it so that it never comes up again? How do we solve an issue in our parenting to where we’re so united in what we’re doing that it never comes up again? Even an issue as simple as bedtime. How do we decide our approach to homeschooling so that it’s settled, so it’s not anything we conflict about? So that we really know what we’re doing? Jody and I had to battle through every one of these areas, and we still work on them, so be encouraged. But realize that the key is to have the right hierarchy and the right proportions to each area of life.

-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

DON’T TELL YOUR CHILD TO DO HIS BEST?

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:

DO WHAT IT TAKES

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How to Balance Homeschool, Parenting, and Marriage

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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.

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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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Jordan Peterson Rule #5

I want to a comment a little bit on Jordan Peterson’s principle from his book about the 12 Rules for Life concerning children. His thought on rule Number 5 is “You don’t want to allow your kids to do anything that will cause you to dislike them (I think ‘hate’ for emphasis from my experience as a counselor)”. 

He could soften it or stretch it or whatever he’d like to do, but he said it the way he did perhaps for a really good reason. I’m not only inclined to agree with him, but I’ve kind of been saying that for about 22 years or more. Here’s the point; he understands, as I understand, that you’re not a saint and when you allow your children to do things which you don’t like, you’re going to come around to being frustrated with them. I think he would say you ‘take revenge’. He also observed, and he’s right, that other people are not going to like what your child does either. But we live in a world where we think we can’t do anything as parents. We’re kind of into fads and trends and we think these little crazy creatures that have been given to us are just ‘how they are’ and there’s nothing you can do. Well back 22 years ago I wrote a little book called The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change” and in there I basically say, “Hey! You can help your child change. It’s based on principles that we can find in the universe and amazingly and wonderfully you actually have a creature that is desiring this guidance!” What we tend to do is not understand that these babies want us, whether they realize it or not, to guide them. They’re not qualified, they’re not adults yet, they don’t know anything. That’s what we’re doing here; we’re wanting to guide and shape and develop their behavior. We don’t take away freedom that way, we actually empower them.

In my 2014 release I put four questions together that let you look at behavior in a fresh way:

  1. What do I see?
  2. What do I want to see?
  3. How am I encouraging what I see?
  4. How can I encourage what I want to see and discourage everything else?

I’ll walk others through these questions and Peterson does the same kind of thing because it’s profoundly ‘common-sensical’ –based on one fundamental thing he and I share in common; we think this universe is designed, that there’s design for maleness, there’s design for femaleness, and there’s a design for things like personality and the way things function. Because of those designs we can actually anticipate and work with principles. That is where the secret is if you are inclined to awaken and continue to add momentum to life. In parenting, you’re going to see the opportunity to structure things around your child so they really learn.

You already use this principle innocently and perfectly with language. If you’re from Alabama like I am (I now live in Texas and I don’t think it sounds much different) or if you’re Jordan Peterson and you’re from Canada, you can see they say cool things up there or down under or in the UK or who cares, true? What you need to know is language has been a subtle reward-and-discourage training that you do with your children. When they say something in a proper way you give them what they want. When they say it in an improper way you correct them or you don’t know what they’re talking about. In this way they learn to pronounce and communicate properly in that context, in that dialect, and so they can master language in the region they’re in… so that they actually can circumnavigate life well. That’s what training is and it works with language, so why not do it with [other] behaviors? You have a great future out there, but please equip your child with some self-discipline. It comes from the outside first and then they internalize it. Look at Peterson’s book. Look at my book. Think for yourself. Grow a kid who can do the same. Bless you.

Episode 105: Valuing Logic

Logic is important for your kids as they grow. Frankly, if they don’t learn to make sense of things, they are going to have a tough time in this world. The makeup of humans helps, as they start arguing around 12 years old (known as the Logic/Dialectic Stage in Classical Education). Really, there isn’t that much to logic…but there is enough to demand we think clear about it! Today’s podcast will get you started 🙂

TODAY’S PODCAST CONTENT:

  1. Value of logic
  2. Importance of logic to parents and kids
  3. Bad premise, bad conclusion

Additional Resources:

  1. The Only 2 Reasons a Teenager Rebels
  2. Why Having a Best Friend is a Bad Idea!
  3. Free Mini Writing Course

 

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