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63% of High School Seniors Aren’t College-Ready

college

Only 37 percent of students are prepared for college-level math and reading, according to newly released data.

If you know me, then you know that one of my convictions is that "Simplicity Solves." I could go further and say that Complexity Clogs / Simplicity Solves...which is the best and easiest explanation for what is up with high school students.

The article is from US News and says (among other things) that...

Only about a third of U.S. high school seniors are prepared for college-level coursework in math and reading. And while the performance of the country’s highest achievers is increasing in reading, the lowest-achieving students are performing worse than ever.

Why?

Hmm... we know that virtually everyone can learn to ready AND that almost everyone can learn plenty of math. Honestly, there really aren't many 'moving parts' here. We have students and the school and the teaching process.

  • Students
  • School
  • Process (teaching approach)

Options:

1. Something is wrong with the students (home-life, culture, disease, diet, etc.)

2. Something is wrong with the school (poor lighting, supplies, distractions, etc.)

3. Something is wrong with the process of teaching

While all of them can be related, what we are looking for is the simplest explanation (this is known as Ockham's Razor...and yes, I have been called "Sir Fredrick of Ockham"). Actually, beyond a simple explanation, we are looking for the one dial we can turn that will change it all (how simple is that?)!

1. The students can be a mess, but it needs to be enough to override the other two elements. Now, since we know many students who live in this culture and come from equally bad homes and eat poorly still do well, we can rule this out as the point of leverage.

2. The school can be a mess and poorly disciplined and underfunded, but for the most part that's not what we see. We also see students who prevail in EVERY school, so this isn't a good candidate either.

3. Process, how we teach, now there IS something! If you teach kids wrong, then they'll all learn wrong. Hey, I know, I'm from Alabama!

Face it, the current process is about ‘knowledge’ (if not trivia). The preparation is for a competency test and it is not skills focused.

It’s another reason Jody and I were attracted to homeschooling. We wanted to focus on developing our kids’ ability to learn how to learn. Specifically, we wanted to give them the following:

  1. The SKILLS of Reading, Writing, and Math
  2. The CHARACTER that is morally sane and impactful in a crazy world
  3. The COMMUNITY of family and relationships (our choice was a good Christian Church in addition to our home.

If they aren’t focused on skills, how will they teach them? No wonder they aren’t ready.

If you homeschool (or other), then PLEASE get your kids effective at Reading, Writing, and Math…that’s the crux of College Readiness!

Blessings,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Check Out the Writing Course (Click)

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Homeschooling Advice to a Mom with Young Children

homeschooling study
I recently received a note from a mom asking about
  • reading comprehension
  • writing
  • vocabulary
  • our daily schedule
As you know, we homeschooled our 5 children from birth-to-college with a focus on teaching them to LEARN HOW TO LEARN. I assure you what we did worked, and it will likely work for you as well. Here are a few basic thoughts—

The Subtle Danger of Television and the Media (A Guest Blog)

Television and media

The following is a book review by Holmes Lybrand (At the time – 18 year old High School Senior).  “The book should be required reading.” -Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

The title of this book does a very good job of explaining the premise and prophecy Neil Postman believes about America.  This book attempts to help us see the immediate threat that Television/Show Business presents to every areas of our lives (especially the educational, religious, political).  Postman’s main point, much like Aldous Huxley’s in A Brave New World is   “…not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking,” that the influence Television has on us now is not only unproductive, but it is also very harmful.

Postman explains that even when television is used for educational purposes it is still quite harmful, and at the least is a waste of the student and teacher’s time, saying that they are not asking, “What is education good for?” but  instead pondering what TV is can be used for.   Television is good for drama & amusement, and America has figure out how to draw the public to this business so very well.   Postman dives deeply into how and why TV sets the course for our culture, and makes very clear why this is a terrible, terrible thing.

I really have nothing bad to say about this book (except that people won’t read it ;-).   It was short and direct, I didn’t ever feel preached to, more of just encouraged to see the uncompromising truth of things.  I started out thinking, “Perhaps his views are a tad too extreme?” but by the end of this book, that thought now doesn’t even cross my mind.  I think we as humans do need to see things for how they are, television is amusement (or drama, you might say), that is all.  To ask, “Yeah, but can drama be used to help…like with the news?” is only to miss the point.  Amusing news is still essentially amusement.  Amusement, from a-muse simply means ‘not to think’…and so with the news as well.

I really enjoyed this book, although I still have things to think through concerning it.  Neil Postman is surely right, and the last 30+ years (since Amusing Ourselves to Death was published) has only proved his point with emphasis.  Hopefully people might begin to realize it , especially in the area of the news.  Television is amusement, and only when we fully understand that can we be masters over it, and not the other way around.

Holmes Lybrand

Amazon: Amusing Ourselves to Death

Only One Skill Should be the True Goal of Education

 

 

EDUCATION IS THE ACQUISITION OF THE ART OF THE UTILISATION OF KNOWLEDGE
-Alfred North Whitehead

While I wouldn’t say I commend Whitehead’s views on education without discernment, I do believe his basic definition endorses the most strategic aim of education: SKILL
We live in a day that seems to value ‘knowing stuff’ rather than acquiring the skills to learn anything. Jody and I used a curriculum called the Robinson Curriculum to focus our kids on 3 primary skills:

Reading (Comprehension)
Math (Logical Problem-Solving)
Writing (Clarity and Effectiveness)

In our case, all of our 5 children have grown to excel in school and any area they have chosen to pursue. We didn’t pay for their college, but they are all grads (or will be before long). We never stressed career, but only ‘learning how to learn…and loving what you do’.
PLEASE: Focus on developing the SKILLS your student needs to learn. The ability to teach oneself is worth everything because it is the essential of wisdom. It is the ability to use knowledge. The goal of education is not knowledge. The goal of education is to gain the power to get and use any knowledge you need whenever you need it…talk about job security (you can learn a new career anytime)!

Blessings,
Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

 

EDUCATION IS THE ACQUISITION OF THE ART OF THE UTILISATION OF KNOWLEDGE
-Alfred North Whitehead

 

While I wouldn’t say I commend Whitehead’s views on education without discernment, I do believe his basic definition endorses the most strategic aim of education: SKILL

We live in a day that seems to value ‘knowing stuff’ rather than acquiring the skills to learn anything. Jody and I used a curriculum called the Robinson Curriculum to focus our kids on 3 primary skills:

Reading (Comprehension)
Math (Logical Problem-Solving)
Writing (Clarity and Effectiveness)

In our case, all of our 5 children have grown to excel in school and any area they have chosen to pursue. We didn’t pay for their college, but they are all grads (or will be before long). We never stressed career, but only ‘learning how to learn…and loving what you do’.

PLEASE: Focus on developing the SKILLS your student needs to learn. The ability to teach oneself is worth everything because it is the essential of wisdom. It is the ability to use knowledge. The goal of education is not knowledge. The goal of education is to gain the power to get and use any knowledge you need whenever you need it…talk about job security (you can learn a new career anytime)!

Blessings,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Homeschooling Webinar with the Lybrands

 

Hi All,

This event is over, BUT you can sign up to get it as a Replay. It’s 2 hours of lots of helpful info on homeschooling (and education in general)!

Jody and I are offering a free webinar/teleseminar about Homeschooling. We are going to be able to answer questions as well via chat and phone/skype. You may not know about us, but God has been kind to allow us to successfully see 5 children get educated from start to college in our home. We will share a few things we haven’t mentioned…so it should be good for anyone. Please tell your friends if they are interested in homeschooling.

Quick Bios

Fred Ray Lybrand – Educator, Creator of The Writing Course, Pastor for 24 years, business systems coaching /consulting (TrimTab Solutions), author of 8 books / creator of The Writing Course, educated at The University of Alabama (English Literature/Communications), Dallas Theological Seminary (Masters), and Phoenix Seminary (Doctorate)

Jody Lybrand – Wife (33 years) and Mother (26 years) – Works with Be Broken Ministries – Educated at The University of Alabama (B.S. and Masters in Early Childhood Education)

Tripp (married to Dani) – Eagle Scout – University of Texas (Austin) Graduate (magna cum laude in Studio Art) – works in Business Systems simulation and modeling with Business Laboratory

Laura – (Married to Todd Hanger) Graduate a semester early from Abilene Christian University – works as the Program Coordinator of Community Relations for the St. Louis Cardinals

Forrest (Married to Alyssa) – Eagle Scout – Graduate of University of Texas (Austin) (English/Communications) – Has won a number of awards for creative writing, author of the We Kill Death Trilogy 

Holmes – (Married to Jocelyn) Eagle Scout – Soon-to-Graduate from University of Texas, Austin in Corporate Communications. 

Brooks – Eagle Scout – Freshman at the University of Texas, Austin- scored a perfect 800 on his SAT math section.

All the kids are doing well and are actively involved in their churches and additional ministry opportunities. Brooks, Laura, and I are going to Uganda this summer for a couple of weeks to add in a church planting work we helped begin in 2000 (see About Life and Uganda).

We aren’t perfect and we don’t have all the answers…but we have waded through lots of things and have a few insights we’d like to share along the way.

Come join us:

THURSDAY, MAY 8
2:00PM (Central Standard Time)

REPLAY NOW AVAILABLE

SIGN UP HERE for the Replay
(2 hour presentation you can download)

Hope you can join us,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand (and Jody)

Lighten Up – Don’t Teach Math Too Soon

teacher math helpAgain, learning math early is NOT the key. Besides proof with our own 5 kids (Brooks just made an 800 on the math section in his SAT and didn’t start math AT ALL until 8 years old), just look at what the Finnish schools do (sounds a lot like homeschooling as you read the whole list…except a few twists). Finland ranks #1 and USA ranks #23 (lots of reasons for this). The following article suggests a few things. MY APPEAL is to LIGHTEN UP about MATH until they are 7 or 8 (or 9). At 4-6 years old, just use math around them, teach them to read, and rote-learn math facts (actually I question whether or not this is really worthwhile that young).

Finland:

The Finnish school system uses the same curriculum for all students (which may be one reason why Finnish scores varied so little from school to school).

Here are a few points-

Students have light homework loads.
Finnish schools do not have classes for gifted students.
Finland uses very little standardized testing.
Children do not start school until age 7…
Grades are not given until high school, and even then, class rankings are not compiled.
…more at…http://www.greatschools.org/students/academic-skills/1075-u-s-students-compare.gs

All I’m pointing out is that the Finnish world thinks:

1. All children need to learn math
2. You get help for kids who need it
3. Focus on learning and to be more well rounded…don’t obsess on grades.

I’m not saying we should be like Finland. I’m saying that homeschoolers (and the schools) have terrific opportunity. Finland shows that even if you do some odd things (socialization)…ALL kids can still learn

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

7 Ways to Guarantee Homeschool Success

The 7 Ways to Guarantee Homeschool Success

Have you been thinking about homeschooling? Want to avoid the homeschooling mistakes most people make? Below you’ll find what we’ve discovered from homeschooling our 5 children from birth to college.

In 1987 homeschooling was just as newborn as our first child. We looked at homeschooling for a number of reasons which were mostly related to our academic goals. And yet, our first child’s Cerebral Palsy tipped the scales. The simple nature of having a young and impressionable soul around active and undiscerning ‘friends’ made it clear that we should homeschool.. We really didn’t want our son settling into confusion about what he was capable of doing. So, we decided to give it a try until he was old enough to physically function well around others who were his age, but weren’t his friends. We thought it would be through third grade—it lasted until he went to the University of Texas in Austin.

Now, these 25+ years later, we know seven things that we make sure all of our homeschool coaching students start to understand–inside and out. If you want a successful homeschool embrace these seven (or violate any of these at your own risk)!

  1. Define Homeschool Success for Yourself

  2. Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition

  3. Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools

  4. Find a Support Group(s) or Network

  5. Learn to Use Systems for Success

  6. Make Discipline a Nice Word

  7. Find a Coach

Here’s a quick summary to get you started:

Define Homeschool Success for Yourself

Definitions determine everything. If your definition of “learning math” is to ‘get through the book’—then things will turn out very different from the family whose definition is to “learn how to do math.” The definition for homeschooling success that we use is our basic understanding of education. Education is learning how to learn. We want our students to develop skills for learning so they are prepared for anything. How sad when people think knowing information means education…especially when information changes and your are obsolete because you didn’t keep learning.

Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition

There are as many curricula as there are people (so it seems). Every curriculum is build on some set of assumptions or educational philosophy. Some writing curricula believe (falsely) that we learn to write by studying grammar, while others show the students the power of learning to write by actively writing (for example see http:www.advanced-writing-resources.com). Whatever the curriculum for whatever subject—make sure it matches your own definition so you aren’t caught wanting one result while using a process that takes you in the opposite direction.

Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools

One of the great mistakes is to compete with schools. A homeschool does not have large buildings, massive funding, and a variety of specialized teachers. So, trying to produce the results they aim for will simply exhaust you. Homeschool can actually produce greater skill and knowledge, but trying to match all the subjects a school offers is chasing the wind. By the way, the students aren’t always leaving a school system as educated as you think!

Find a Support Group(s) or Network

It is the height of arrogance and the height of inefficiency to go it alone. Why not benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of others? Why not let others benefit from the insights you’ve gained along the way? There are groups online, groups in your part of the world, or groups just waiting to be started by you and a few like-minded families. You’ll never be like the people you don’t hang around…so get busy and connect for your own good.

Learn to Use Systems for Success

One of the great insights in life is how things operate by cause-and-effect. Good cooks can reproduce the same quality meal over-and-over because they follow some type of system (recipe). The practical results you see in life are largely the result of the systems we use. Homeschooling itself is a ‘different system’ of education which is aimed at a bit different result (included the character, sense of family, etc., it often affords). If you don’t have an overall sequence of steps you are moving toward following, then you can rest assured your results will be as shoddy as your system.

Make Discipline a Nice Word

One of my favorite mentors, Robert Fritz, offers a helpful definition of discipline: “Discipline is when you itch, but don’t scratch.” The truth is that some amount of discipline is necessary for learning. Very few children naturally gravitate to wanting to learn in all the areas important to education. It turns out then, that we must help them do what they don’t “feel” like doing, so they can ultimately benefit. External discipline tends to lead to life-long internal discipline. We all need help doing what needs to be done. Homeschool (or any school) simply won’t work without making discipline a nice word which is practiced often.

Find a Coach / Mentor

In many ways it is the ultimate hypocrisy to ‘tutor’ our own children without having a ‘tutor’ for ourselves. There is something powerful when we discuss, interact with, and learn from someone who is ahead of us in any field. Sports training knows the value of coaches because the competition and economics involved are so great. Without a coach you can’t compete. If you find a voice or two you trust, a person or two whose results you want to see in your life— find them, pay them, beg them to coach you. Nothing will save you more time and heartache than to learn from someone with wisdom.

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Children Need Quietness

Often we fail to allow time for quiet for our children. Years ago, when Brooks was a little guy, I went and laid on his bed as he was headed to sleep. I find these times good for debriefing the day. After a few minutes of chatting, this little 5 year old said, “Dad, could you please leave me alone now? I have some things I’m thinking about.” Wow!

Margaret Wise Brown, the children’s author, expressed it very well—

In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child's need for quietness is the same today as it has always been—it may even be greater—for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.

Margaret Wise Brown
Author 

Reading is quiet...writing is quiet...time before sleep is quiet. Encourage it and you'll see it. All of us need quiet to gather our thoughts, calm our fears, and boost our courage. Mostly, of course, we really are just trying make sense of life every day from childhood to twilight.

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand​