Archive for the ‘Homeschool Advice’ Category

Shifting Responsibility

Brave Writer

We can only drive our kids so far. At some point, they have to take the wheel. Those who have never been allowed to make meaningful decisions until later in life are likely to flounder. ~Dr. William Stixrud, The Self-Driven Child

Our job is not to nag or punish our preteens and teens into cooperation.

Your “reminders” have become nagging when you:

  • act as the notification system to keep your child on track
  • care more about the tasks than your child does
  • feel annoyed all day
  • feel disrespected
  • make the “asks” fun yet your kids still won’t follow through

Rather, the key to productive youth is motivation. When you are exhausted from pushing the rock up the hill (the activities, education, showers, chores, clean clothes, homework) on behalf of your child through shaming, blaming, and incessant reminding, pivot.

Go on a “caring fast.”

Choose to not care for a day.

  • Wake up, make your favorite hot beverage, open your phone, tune into a podcast, put your feet up.
  • Next, maybe take the dog for a walk, read a chapter of a book, throw in a load of laundry, eat a snack.
  • At some point, some child is going to wonder: “What are we supposed to do today Mom/Dad?” With a nonchalant manner, simply say, “I don’t know. Up to you. I’m busy with X.”
  • Go back to X.

To shift responsibility to a child, be honest without assigning motives.

“I’m here to help you with school work or lunch (or whatever) when you are ready. Until then, I’ve got other stuff to do.”

The key to this practice is not using it as manipulation. You are training yourself to care less, too. This is the beginning of shifting the responsibility to your child away from yourself. It’s hard! Parents like control. That preteen or teen doesn’t want the responsibility, so they keep putting it back on you. Drop the rope. No more tug of war.

Get busy, give space, and trust.

It’s a detox for you too.

Part Two next week!


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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Your Child Is Learning

Brave Writer

The quickest way to kill the atmosphere of learning is to suggest that it’s time to learn!

If you announce “Time to learn” you’re telling the child that without an adult, they aren’t learning. The truth is: learning happens whether or not you intend it. What’s being learned? That’s up for grabs!

The temptation is to say: “Let’s learn how to divide fractions.” What might get learned instead is that math is boring.

The best way to kick the door open for learning? Try this.

  • Tie what you want your child to learn to something they value, like fractions and baking.
  • Notice learning in action: “You divided the recipe in half! Did you know there’s a way to do that on paper, not just with measuring cups?”
  • Learn without words (I know, it’s hard!). Sidle up and do the activity together. Draw the fractions on a page and work them next to your child so they have time to hover and notice, rather than having to hear instructions.

Learning is already going on.

Drawing, building, reading, talking to self (that’s consolidating what they are learning), asking for help, making a snack, playing a game with a friend, completing a puzzle, wandering around the house (that counts too!)—if these are happening, your child is learning.

TUNE IN and take notes. Observe and name what’s going on.

Try these kinds of words to describe what you see:

  • Decoding
  • Writing
  • Narrating
  • Experimenting
  • Collaborating
  • Giving selfcare
  • Gaining vocabulary
  • Constructing
  • Discovering cause and effect
  • Playing independently

…and more!

Yes, your child is learning. No need to make an announcement. It’s already happening without you! Hop on board and ride that train.


Growing Brave Writers

Skill Development and Joy

Brave Writer

When I started homeschooling, I felt pulled between two extremes. I admired the “good” mothers who’d mastered the art of SKILL DEVELOPMENT without ruining their children’s lives. But my “favorite” mothers were good at giving their children HAPPINESS. On days when skill development went well, I would congratulate myself on having succeeded at being a good mother.

HOWEVER COMMA—On the days when they hated skill development (like handwriting a cursive ‘r’ or answering a word problem or sounding out a single short vowel word), I would fly into a pit of self-loathing.

Why is it so hard to just get my kids to learn and to not hate me at the same time?

That’s when I’d swing to the other end of the continuum. Maybe what was missing was joy. I’d say to myself: “I know! Children can teach themselves. All I have to do is leave them alone until LEGO assembly magically teaches them high school trigonometry.” Eventually they became wandering nomads complaining there was nothing to do.

It took some time, but I discovered that I needed both—and I could provide both! We could:

  • work on spelling and light candles.
  • eat snacks and practice math.
  • handwrite on windows with window markers.
  • read a book on a blanket in the backyard.
  • knit while listening to history.

Skill development mattered, but so did joy.

Joy is all the stuff that brings kids happiness: cute snacks, tasty drinks, cozy blankets, anything fire, hugs, nooks and crannies, smiles, playing games, short lessons, lying on the floor, jumping on a mini trampoline.

Once I brought these together, homeschool (LEARNING) clicked!

And I wrote a whole book about it. 🙂

The Brave Learner

Teach Everything with Anything

Brave Writer

The easiest way to dive into home education is through whatever attracts you and your kids right now.

For instance, if your children are obsessed with Nerf guns, follow your child into that passion. But as Maria Montessori says, “Follow as his leader.”

Like this:

  • Ponder aloud: “I wonder how the trigger launches the Nerf dart.”
  • Ask: “How far do you think the gun will shoot? Let’s shoot and compare to your guess.”
  • Notice: “This dart feels light. What would happen if we made it heavier? Would it go farther or a shorter distance?”
  • Comment: “I want to run while shooting and see if that makes the dart go farther!”
  • Read: Grab the box and read the materials. Look up unknown terms. Google the company that makes them.
  • Research: Who came up with Nerf? What does the name mean?

Have Big Juicy Conversations. Allow anything to teach everything and everything to teach anything.

Learning is all around you. As Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Be brave! You can do it.


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The Loving Thing

The Loving Thing

Perhaps a good question to ask ourselves when working with our kids is, ‘Is this the loving thing or the pushing them to do my agenda thing?

It’s one question.

There may be others. But this is a pretty danged good one to start.

Here’s what happens with me. My kid is not successful yet at something—any old thing from tying shoes to mastering math facts to peeing straight, aimed at the toilet and not the wall!

I come along and suddenly my adrenaline shoots, my mind is awash with urgency, and words start forming in my mouth that are CERTAIN to save my child from the hard reality of being who they are at this moment in time with this particular skill set.

I have the ego and audacity to believe that this one conversation, one idea, one method, one practice will SOLVE it: no more confusion, no more misfirings, no more failed attempts.

So I launch my urgent words at this child and… Oh my gosh, unforeseen BLOWBACK! Won’t listen, gets sassy, goes quiet, tears up… It’s as if this human being is not utterly grateful and impressed with my carefully constructed solution to what I see as a problem! In fact, this little person is not! They are not yet ready to apply my perfect solution. In fact, they resent it!

What I think is a problem may not even have been experienced as problematic by my child or teen! Here I am making them feel deficient somehow.

But what’s a loving thing?

  • Maybe it’s silence.
  • Maybe it’s sidling up and watching.
  • Maybe it’s sending a text message with a link.
  • Maybe it’s checking in to see how this little person is doing (if they are happily failing at tying shoes, who am I to swoop in and fix it yet?).
  • Maybe it’s leaving a bottle of Windex and a rag next to the toilet with a note.
  • Maybe it’s asking if the child wants your input before delivering it.

Bottom Line: Adults aren’t always right. Kids know this. Adults forget this.

Imagine what it might be like to trust a child to grow and develop and learn. Start there. Then, if you have anything to offer, come from spaciousness, kindness, patience, and self-control. And add brownies.

You can do this.


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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