Archive for the ‘Husbands (homeschooling partners)’ Category

Homeschooling & Marriage Podcast

Podcast with Leslie Gustafson

I’m excited to introduce you to my good friend (and sorority sister, ha!)

Leslie Gustafson!

Leslie’s worked as a marriage and family therapist for over 25 years and is also a homeschooling mother.

Because so many have asked me for help with how to keep your marriage thriving while dedicated to homeschooling your kids, I thought I’d bring in an expert! Leslie is a wonderful communicator, has fantastic advice, and has eagerly participated in our Brave Writer Community as a member of our Facebook pages.

Have you wondered about any of these?

  • How do you share a homeschool vision without conflict?
  • What should you do when you and your spouse don’t see eye-to-eye?
  • What about romance? Is it even possible while homeschooling?
  • How can the non-homeschool parent get involved?
  • What does it mean to be partners (rather than adversaries)?
  • When is school-worry legit and when is it unhelpful control?

In the following podcast, you’ll learn strategies for how to address these kinds of issues and more. And yes: I share about my experiences as well. As you’ve come to expect, I tell you the truth—the good, the bad, and the dysfunctional!

Thanks for listening to our podcast despite the poor audio. We had to scramble the day of the event due to some technological fails. This is the best we could do, but consider the conversation a gold mine of amazing insight and advice. Hope you’ll hang in there, listen, and enjoy!

Follow Leslie

Brave Writer Podcast

What to do when your philosophy of education is challenged

Husbands and Homeschool (creating shared values with anyone who challenges your education philosophy)

Whether it’s a spouse or mother-in-law, we all have people in our lives who want to direct our homeschools for us. One way to create space for a meaningful conversation about home education is to provide the meddling (I mean, curious) person with an article to read. Ask the loved one to read the article and then to get back to you with a time to go out for coffee to talk about it!

The goal is to create a shared vocabulary around the topic of homeschool so that the family member doesn’t use “school” ideas as a yard stick for your homeschool efforts.

Examples of homeschool articles to share:

A Call For Homeschool 2.0 by Terry Heick

A Conversation with John Holt by Marlene Bumgarner

Infusing Child-Led Opportunities into a Traditional Approach by Angie Kauffman

Project-Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert

Tidal Homeschooling by Melissa Wiley

Please don’t call my child a reluctant learner by Julie Kirkwood

And Brave Writer’s How Writing is Like Sewing

You’re a coach!

Hey Julie!

I know you are so very busy with your wonderful Brave Writer stuff, but I have a general homeschool question for you. My husband has been off work this week, and he has seen how we “do school” each day. He is very bothered because it is what we homeschoolers call “teacher intensive.” My daughter is in 4th grade, and almost everything we do is teacher intensive. I sit with her and guide her through all of it. Even with math, we do it as a team effort. My husband feels as if she should be doing most of her work independently at this point. I would like feedback on the benefits of Independent work vs. teacher intensive. Thank you Julie.

–Sweet Mom

Hi Sweet Mom!

Your husband’s concerns can be understood as coming from a “school” memory. He likely wasn’t homeschooled and is remembering the classroom (though not specifically for that age, even, but a general memory of doing his own work). He is thinking that he didn’t have so much help in learning (though, he actually did, too, but it was shared with 25-30 other kids).

What most adults forget is just how much help kids need and get throughout their educational careers. An analogy that helps dads especially is to remind him of how a sports coach works with a team of players. Coaches will literally stand next to the practice field shouting instructions, running onto the field to manipulate a body to stand a certain way, to hold the bat or kick the ball with a specific form. They will give endless feedback and practice to a player who needs it.

The coach doesn’t simply get to a point where he says, “Okay, you all know what should be practiced—go do it on Wednesday night. I’ll see you at the game on Saturday.” Far from it! Coaches are at every practice, they supervise every warm up, they model how the practices or forms for play should look, they run drills, they tell kids what they are doing wrong and right—hands on, totally involved, right next to the players. They do not expect kids to become skilled players by telling them to be independent players and practicers. They consider their input of utmost value! The games are even played with the coach present!

You are coaching your daughter in education. This is the KEY model that schools would adopt if it were financially possible. Even without the tutorial model, in a classroom, instructors still offer students a lot of support and help. They are monitoring learning by diagramming on a blackboard, handing out worksheets, asking questions of students, by giving lectures, by physically being present with the students as the students learn new skills. Students are not alone, on their own, self-educating. They are being guided by instructors, they are providing instructors with material to grade or evaluate, and they are being taught in the form of comments (oral and written) to revise and improve. School is not about independent learning. It is about teacher-guided learning.

Unfortunately for school students, they do not get the personal attention that would improve their work to the degree that homeschooled kids can get at home. It has been shown that students who must learn math and writing through large group instruction do not make the kinds of progress that kids in the tutorial model make. These tutored students do become more and more independent as they acquire the skills they need, but initially it looks like they are getting “help.” 4th grade is the very very beginning of acquiring skills that lead to independence. Independence in learning (the kind your husband is envisioning) will become the norm in high school.

Here’s where you can meet your husband’s need for evidence of growing independence, though. You can, as you support your daughter, give her small tasks to complete while you do something else nearby. So, for instance, you might show her how to calculate the first few math problems on her page, then you get up to clear dishes or unload the dishwasher while she completes the page. If she has a question, you answer it from the sink first, to see if she can take your snippet of information and convert it into understanding and practice without leaning so heavily on you for support.

Initially she may only be able to do a few problems at a time this way. But over time, she will get better and better at it and you’ll be able to walk out of the room to change a load in the laundry or to take a shower. You want to let her in on this strategy too. You might say to her:

“One of the goals of home education is for you to be able to do some of your work without my sitting right next to you. I will always be available for answering questions and modeling new processes, but the practice of the work needs to increasingly become your work without my help. This is how we learn to be adults. We’ll take it slowly and you can always ask me to sit with you if a new process is too challenging.”

You want to respect your husband’s worries (otherwise you create some tension around homeschooling) but you also want to stick up for the kind of education that leads to successful homeschooling. It may help your husband to know that kids who are raised this way (with a lot of parental support in learning) often become some of the most independent learners as young adults. They are not waiting for a teacher to teach them. They are aware of what it looks like to be an invested student, having sat with a parent for all those years, absorbing the energy, skills, and habits of a highly motivated adult learner: the homeschool parent. We’ve seen it again and again.

Hope that helps!


Cross-posted on facebook.

Image © |

Homeschool is not five days a week

Sunday ExperimentImage by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Remember that homeschool is not five days a week, confined to 8 hours of the day. Home education is a lifestyle that expands past “school” hours and fills up your family’s shared daily experiences.

Pay attention this weekend to the ways in which your children continue their learning journeys without encouragement from you. Seize opportunities to augment interests through field trips or conversations or a new tool or toy.

Pat yourself on the back for what you observe and remind yourself that lots of learning is happening all the time, all around you so that on those days where nothing goes right, you can remember that there are other days (even on the weekend) that do!

Also, this is your chance to involve the FT working parent who is more likely to be home on the weekends. If you are married to a math-whiz, see if that mathematically competent adult can find practical ways to use the math processes you worked on all week in a workbook.

If your partner is great with science experiments, save those for weekends.

If you have a partner who sews or gardens or bakes, why not spend Saturday doing fall (or spring!) projects together?

Enjoy the learning journey and share in the comments the ways learning shows up in your family on the weekends.

Cross-posted on facebook.

Lighten up a bit

Lighten UpImage © Nagy-bagoly Ilona |

I talk to so many parents every day. The other day a delightful dad shared about his truly brilliant daughter who is taking the ACT and SAT tests right now. He wants her score to improve on the essay portion. (She’s already got a good score, actually.) So that’s when I know. I know there’s pressure in that family for this kid to do exceptionally well, not just really well.

We had a wonderful conversation and I gave him all kinds of advice about how to help her in her specific case. (She sounds like such a smartie!)

Right at the end, though, a thought occurred to me. Here’s what I told him:

“As you work with your daughter on these ideas, do them at Barnes and Noble or over ice cream. Get a latte, bring your laptop, sit close to your daughter and enjoy the time you have together. Begin by telling her how amazing she is, how proud of her you already are, and let her know that if her score doesn’t go up even a point, or if she draws a blank or regresses, you are perfectly okay with that—that she’s already proven herself to you and her mom and you are thrilled with who she is becoming. Make sure she knows that the pressure is off—that she’s already done enough, and that this additional test is just one more try. No one can write well when they feel pressure to perform. They need to be relaxed.”

I hadn’t expected the reply that came through the phone. This dad suddenly became animated:

“Have you been a fly on the wall of our house?” He chuckled but with a wince of pain behind it.

“Our daughter is having GI issues; has had to go to the doctor to have treatments all this year. She has had to leave the SAT test twice to throw up. I hadn’t considered that I might be part of the problem, pushing her too hard. But I think you must be right that I am putting pressure on her. And you are right, too, that she has already done a good job. I will take what you said to heart. I don’t want to make things worse for her.”

We continued to talk for a bit about the role of pressure, the colleges he hopes she’ll attend (she’ll have no trouble getting in the ones he shared with me based on the scores she’s already got!), and his dreams for her. I know that some families put a lot of weight on scores, independent of what they achieve.

It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to put this out there to all of you: a score is just a measure on that day of your child’s work in that context. It’s not a verdict on whether or not your child is smart, worthy, or even educated. It can point to a few things (it is an indicator). But it isn’t a measure of who your child is or whether or not you should be overly proud or ashamed.

So lighten up. This child of yours is an independent being from you. This is his or her life. You get to cheerlead, support, and guide, but you can’t make your child perform. That’s up to the individual.

Go get Cokes, take the pressure off, provide support and help, see what happens. You might be surprised.

Cross-posted on facebook.