Archive for the ‘Homeschool Advice’ Category


When faced with a problem

  • a child wants ice cream for dinner
  • two kids are fighting over a toy
  • a teen can’t understand why he can’t sleep in until noon each day

…why are adults obsessed with framing the issue as one of character development rather than as a problem to solve?

I’ll tell you why.

If we focus on our children’s character, we can coax them into solutions that benefit us.

Solutions that take a child’s needs into account feel inconvenient or expensive or annoying.

Ice cream for dinner goes against our sense of morality around meals. But what if for one night, we did eat ice cream for dinner? What if we started dinner with dessert and ended with baked chicken? Would that be so horrible—to test that experience and see what happens?

If two kids fight over one toy, we want to frame the conflict as selfishness. If possible, why not buy a second identical toy? Buying the second toy solves the problem. Calling children selfish trains them to pretend they are okay with sharing when they are not!

A teen who wants to sleep in and stay up late is a mere inconvenience (parents worry that the teen will bang around and wake people up). Wanting to stay up late and sleep in is not a moral failing. We don’t have to say that the teen will never know how to show up to a job on time or that the teen is inconsiderate of other people. Buy the light sleeper some ear plugs or turn on a white noise machine. Remind the night owl to stay in a soundproof part of the house.

Problem-solve. Don’t lecture.

Figure out a way to help each person in the family have what they want. You know how. You do it with adults all the time!

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

The Brave Learner

Disrupt the Schedule

Brave Writer

When asked what kids remember most fondly about their childhoods, not once in human history has a child recalled the careful and successful adherence to a schedule.

I know some of you are literally in love with your planners and gel pens. And you may look back at your 30s recalling the joy of planning everyone’s days within an inch of their lives.

But your kids… not so much! They’re going to remember the one day you blew up the schedule…and let them build Minecraft worlds with their sibling for an entire day.

How do I know?

Because when I asked Noah what his favorite childhood memory was, he told me playing Bolo, a tank computer game, with his brother Jacob for an entire day when he was 10.

So yeah.

What’s that one thing they want to do with unfettered access? Without interruption or limits?

Go forth and disrupt the schedule once in a while and create some truly memorable memories.

It’s okay. You can go back to the schedule after the chaos (read: fun) is over.

It’s not going anywhere.

Brave Learner Home

It’s Okay to Stop

Brave Writer

It’s okay not to finish the program that doesn’t work.

When you adopt a curriculum or start tutoring with a paid professional service or person, or join a sports team or take up ballet or participate in a co-op, the rule of thumb to discover if it’s a good fit goes like this:

  • Read the directions, understand the requirements, get to know the plan and objectives. Thoroughly. Give all your attention to understanding how it should work.
  • Implement for six weeks.
  • Listen to your child—their reactions, notice their energy, pay attention to what they retain or what they forget.
  • Adapt the method to suit your child. Make adjustments in pace, time devoted to execution, add enchantment, provide help. See if you can fix what isn’t working before you quit.
  • If everyone is miserable after 6 weeks…STOP the madness! QUIT.

It doesn’t matter what it cost you, it doesn’t matter that you don’t have a replacement, it doesn’t matter that you are disappointing other people (btw: sports for kids aren’t “real”—they are play, you can quit).

ALL that matters is that you not persist in a program that deadens the life and learning capacity of your child. If either of you aren’t happy and energized…it’s over.

To Review

Give a good college try to a new program of any kind.

QUIT, if in six weeks, you’re miserable.

It doesn’t matter how much everyone else loves the program or tells you it’s the best one.

The only metric you need is how you and your child discover more life, more joy, more learning.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

Brave Learner Home

Requirements for Critical Thinkers

Brave Writer

Critical thinking grows in an emotionally stable, supportive environment, where real problems are explored by teacher and student together.

When I hear “critical thinking,” I think of criticism—getting judged, graded, or challenged.

It took some time, but one day I heard the term “critical” differently:

  • Critical, as in “crucial”
  • Critical, as in “essential”
  • Critical, as in the “fulcrum” of the issue

Critical thinking is about exploring all the essential elements of a topic—identifying what’s at stake, what’s crucial to take into account. Critical thinking means that the issue merits discussion and exploration.

What research demonstrates is that we lose our powers to think critically when we are under duress. If we feel pressure, if our community threatens us with rejection, if we’re being graded, or someone is yelling, we can’t think critically.

We pick a side that ushers us into safety. Have you ever been in a fight with someone you love only to capitulate to stop the verbal assault? That’s not critical thinking. That’s self-protection.

It’s also not critical thinking if we spend energy agreeing with ourselves—excluding information that doesn’t align with our well-settled ideas and beliefs. The concept is not up for review or investigation. Rather, information, facts, and data are rounded up to reinforce the belief.

I’m not here to criticize the role of apologetics (you conduct an apologetic every time you explain to a child why they need to eat vegetables and take baths against their will).

Rather, to be a critical thinker requires a couple of things:

  1. A supportive, emotionally safe environment
  2. A partner who is an ally, not an antagonist

That’s it!

And this is why I loved writing Raising Critical Thinkers. I think it will help all of us.

Raising Critical Thinkers

Make Writing Less Painful

Brave Writer

Writer’s block means the child doesn’t have access to the words inside. When words are hidden behind anxiety, fear of failure, or a vague sense of the topic, give oodles of empathy and hugs, offer a snack, and talk about how to make writing less painful. Remind yourself of the goal – a free, brave writer who is at ease when writing.

Don’t do it!

Don’t yell at your child to write or to just get three sentences on the page.

We’ve all done it (even me). Sometimes it’s exasperating to watch your child simply not put the pencil to the page. You think to yourself: If this kid would just scrawl a few words onto the page so you could MOVE ON with the day…! Grrrr. And so, you lose your cool on your child. Sigh. It happens.

When the Writing Won’t Come

When a child experiences “writer’s block,” it means there’s something in the way. At that point, the lesson shifts. Your task now is to understand what’s in the way, to provide support and a context that might ease the pressure to allow the words to bubble up.

Remember: even writing “I’m stuck, I’m stuck, I’m stuck” counts! That’s the transcription of the ticker tape in the mind. Start there: notice it and write it.

Sharing a story of your own experience of writing blocks helps too. When I was seventeen, I was in a competition for an award that required writing an essay under timed pressure. I froze for 50 whole minutes. Nothing came! The more I panicked, the fewer words I had available to write. Finally the bell rang and I was released from my misery.  I lost the competition and learned a big lesson: pressure to write makes writing more challenging.

I’ve shared that story with my kids. Dig up the time when writing was hard for you. Talk about it over cookies. Give permission to not write today, or to write poorly—to in fact welcome their truth.


Today may not be a good writing day. Another day may present differently once you make room for the hard days too.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

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