The following was my response to an enquiry 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
From my book…The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change I have a problem with being consistent, and sometimes it’s just because I am too tired. How can I overcome this problem?
Inconsistency and tiredness are usually a sign that your child or children are somewhat “out of control.” I don’t mean that we as parents don’t get tired, but if the state is constant exhaustion, then something surely is wrong. Consistency usually comes when both parents participate in the child training process. With both parents, you are able to keep one another encouraged and accountable. Usually, the problem of staying consistent comes from a parent who is too consumed with meeting the child’s needs and making sure the child “likes” him or her. One of my professors at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks, has often said,“When you do something for someone when he can do it for himself, then you make an emotional cripple of him: Chances are, unfortunately, that if you are inconsistent, you are somehow being encouraged to be inconsistent and the real learning you (and they) need isn’t happening.
Remember, if you see it, it is encouraged. The best idea I have for consistency is for you to take the Four Magic Questions and apply them to your inconsistency. You may find a very simple solution such as telling your children that every time they get you to do something for them that they can do themselves, you will give them a dollar bill. I suspect, unless you think so little of money, that you will change your consistency problem rapidly.
So…what are your thoughts on Consistency?
Thanks for this question…I’m quite sure you are not alone. Writing isn’t connected to talking a lot (in fact, most of the studies give the advantage to the introverts…it seems the extraverts don’t won’t to write it down if they’ve gone ahead and told it to someone!), though there are exceptions everywhere. The problem when people are quiet is ALMOST ALWAYS that they are attempting to figure out how to say the right thing before they speak. This is really an impossibility since the mind can only plan about 7 words ahead (this is all in one of the lessons in The Writing Course ). Here’s my thought for your son (who does need to get talking more)…he needs to use both hands. Talking and quiet are both parts of our personality. Talkers need to learn how to hush, and quiet folks need to learn how to speak up. This is what I mean by using both hands. We are all basically either left or right handed…but we can learn to use the non-favored one. Emerson observed that the greater part of courage is having done it before…so, I’d just get him talking. If you know a book he likes, have him read it aloud to you some everyday. Have everyone at dinner tell something that was fun (or funny) from the day. Anything that gets him talking and learning that he doesn’t have to have the perfect words will help. He likely just needs to realize that the world doesn’t end when he talks. Of course, he will never be the talker you daughter is (I’m guessing here). With talking…some is good, more is better (in his case). As to writing…he needs to be doing copy work if he isn’t writing his own stuff (10 is still usually a little young for much writing). On the other hand, he can write single sentences that are OK (that he makes up). He must be pointedly discouraged from writing GREAT sentences. He must first learn to write OK…and get great later on. Is this a help? God bless, Fred Lybrand P.S. If you don’t make it a practice, please hug your children together at the same time (not separately as much)…this makes a big difference, but I’ll have to explain it some other time. www.advanced-writing-resources.com Grading Help:
You may not own our revolutionary course yet, but that’s totally cool. I just want to share a few thoughts that might be helpful.
I suppose in our hurried world we zip through information and zip through groups…on the way to feed our kids, love our spouses, read the Word, help at church, get some exercise….whew!
The Writing Course is going to get better…AND…what I’m recognizing is that there is a more strategic role I can play with helping families succeed (and excel). As with your children, what we want to stress is:
1. We can’t start with perfect, but we can start
2. The best place to start is with something that’s “OK” (Great comes later)
3. Learning means improving; that’s the mindset we all need to cultivate
You can actually have two families follow the EXACT SAME CURRICULUM, but each one will have different results. The reason is that the ENVIRONMENT you establish has and effect on everything.
That is the greatest secret of The Writing Course …it is a system (with really important information too) that cultivates effectiveness and confidence in writing.
Yet, the same kind of strategy goes with our homes, and marriages, and parenting, and crisis management.
When you learn how to build a system that works (and that you don’t have to waist energy thinking about), you can see an even greater result!
My focus is shifting to broaden in service to those who want the help.
Yesterday I coached a lady with some amazing challenges with kids who have both health and LD issues. As we talked, it became obvious that if she could start school on time every single day, her life would become much (much) more tolerable. It is easy to say to someone, “Well just do it.” Instead, I showed her an exact strategy (designed for her situation) that will produce starting on time every day as she follows it.
Now, maybe it won’t work, but I’ve been doing this stuff for 30 years…and, honestly, I know how to make it happen :-). Even better, I know how to make adjustments too! This is the stuff I coaching with… “the system is your solution.”
This is the kind of thing I want to broaden and help with—because, even if you buy the write curriculum, the wrong set up around the kids will neutralize (largely) the impact. In fact, any curriculum you buy can suffer the same fate.
Imagine having a group meet in your home. The aim is to have everyone get to know one another by laughing and sharing fun stories from growing up. The food is great and there’s a talented facilitator you hired (who is also a great storyteller). THE PROBLEM is that all the chairs must face outside of the circle toward the walls. It wouldn’t matter how hard you tried, the ‘set up’ simply wouldn’t support what you wanted for the gathering. THAT’S WHAT SYSTEMS & STRUCTURES ARE ALL ABOUT.
On The Writing Course (it’s discounted just now)—you all have my word…if you buy it (or already own it)…I’m going to take care of you! Those of you who have been with us for the past decade already know it and often send the coolest letters about the change in your child as a writer. You also know it’s the 3rd / 4th time through that starts to really launch a lifetime writer.
P.S. Just to stress the point…there is a misspelled word in here somewhere. That means this little blog is just OK (not great). And yet, you still can read the sentence and understand what I’m getting at. I’ve found wanting kids to write EXACTLY RIGHT is the most common way to throw water on a young writer’s fire.
Here’s a post I responded to about learning word meanings:
Need a suggestion… my 9 yr old learns differently. I pulled her from PS after finding out that her work was being done for her…gotta kept the schools test scores looking good! I’m trying to pick about 4/5 words for her to learn the meaning of each week. They come from the McGuffey readers. She reads very well but just can’t understand the meaning of words. Take the word “smut”. She can spell it fine. Trying to teach her to search in the dictionary and write down a brief meaning. I choose the meaning—dirty, soiled spot– and used my finger to trace an imaginary dirty spot on my shirt. Her mind doesn’t seem to retain what I say. Next word was –bind- looked it up and read meaning, to tie up with a rope. Then I talked about actually doing it such as in a cowboy movie or playing cops/robbers. Just doesn’t click with her. Help!!
As I’ve pondered this for the past couple of days (bit of a puzzle), I now have a couple of thoughts I hope will help:
*What do we have to eat tonight?
*What do we have to eat tonight?
What is the meaning of ‘have’ here? If it means ‘available’ then the sentence goes one way…if ‘have to’ means ‘obligation’ then the sentence goes another way.
My thought is to spend more time having her read aloud and work on word meanings in context. Build on successes and easier words so her confidence grows. A word like ‘smut’ is pretty abstract (not really a common 9 year old word). If she can make sense of, “The goat jumped over the fence and ate the daisies,” — I think she’ll be on course! If she can’t tell you what a goat is…what jumping is…and that a daisy is a flow– then go get help. If she can do these, just keep adding from where she is currently.
My guess is she needs to grow her confidence based on little successes. Once she ‘knows’ she can do it, then the sky’s the limit.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This video is an example of how we think about things in our Home and School Success Club. Sibling rivalry, conflict, and fighting between children is something both parents and kids don’t have to suffer through. There is a commonsense approach…and here it is!
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.
Get Safe Eyes Parental Control Software – One price for three computers!
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.”
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
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?
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