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Podcast: Marriage, Divorce, and Homeschooling

Podcast Marriage, Divorce, and Homeschooling

I have been asked the same question repeatedly over the past 10 years: How do I know if I should get a divorce? And this question has a friend: I am getting a divorce, so what do I do about my children?

These two questions presuppose a third question, a bigger question: What’s a healthy home life for children? 

That’s what we’re going to address, including your marriage, reasons to divorce, reasons not to, and how to salvage or support homeschooling in the midst of all of those dynamics. Even if you’re in a happy relationship and you see no likelihood of divorce, this topic can give some insight into times where you are in conflict and how to be better friends to others in the community going through this.

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Show Notes

The best relationships are sustained by mutual goodwill

Imagine a relationship with a friend where they continually ask for favors but never give you any support. Eventually, the asymmetry in that relationship will wear you down and you won’t want to spend as much time with them.

Imagine your children. We spend so much time trying to teach them what we know is best for them, even if they don’t like it. Coming to an approach that meets their need for being happy with your need to complete the subject is what goodwill means in that relationship.

Goodwill is the exchange of mutuality. When you create a dynamic of mutual exchange, there is a level of trust there. Even when compromises have to be made, you are aware that the other person has your best interest in mind. Which dynamic exists in your marriage?

When marriage is not founded on goodwill

You may have a spouse who’s proud of you for homeschooling or thinks that it’s a great idea. You thought you were on the same page, but when your partner starts asking you questions about your children’s education, it makes you feel criticized and untrusted. The reason you feel that way is because you have experienced a lack of trust in other areas of your marriage.

When you feel challenged by a decision you’ve made in homeschooling, you have to ask yourself: Is this a real question or is it just exertion of control?

In an unhealthy relationship where goodwill is not presumed on a regular basis, the argument of homeschooling just becomes one of many. When there is not trust, you cannot be confident that the questions being asked are with your best interest in mind. In a relationship where the dynamic is persistently dysfunctional, homeschooling is not a unique argument. When you embark on the discussion about homeschool, the same control dynamics you experience in other aspects of your marriage will be present—and it will not go well.

When do I consider divorce?

When you are in a marriage where goodwill is persistently denied—either in one direction or both—it’s incredibly difficult to stay married.

I am a huge fan of individual therapy for both married partners. Sometimes, certain types of abuse can cause couples therapy to lead to more problems at home. Find a therapist and build your personality and strength of self that doesn’t have anything to do with the marriage. Some marriages begin to survive and thrive as the “victim” becomes a stronger version of self.

If you are in a relationship without violence or abuse, having both parents in the home together with the children is the best possible outcome for them. If a non violent marriage can survive and the partners can grow in goodwill towards each other, staying in the home together is better for kids. If you cannot meet those criteria, there may be no other option than divorce.

How to make divorce better for kids

One obstacle to a good divorce outcome is if the socioeconomics of your family plummet. If your children can experience a similar socioeconomic lifestyle as when the parents were married, that is incredibly helpful to their wellbeing and stability. This economic transition can be difficult with divorce, so the next step is to make a place that feels like home for your kids—a place that feels like home to them. Make sure children have whatever they need at both locations so they don’t feel like they are living out of a suitcase.

You also have to consider how you want to continue educating your children. It is possible that homeschooling may not be the best option. You are now juggling several new factors, including where your income is coming from. If you aren’t already working, you will not be available in the ways you once were. Homeschooling is only the right decision if it allows everyone to flourish. If you’re in this situation, you likely think homeschooling is the best option for your kids, but don’t be afraid of school as an option too.

Human beings deserve lives of goodwill, of peace, and of wellbeing—every human, not just your kids, but you. It’s okay to want your life to feel good. Children don’t need martyrs for mothers. They need clarity, consistency, kindness, and a vision for their future. You can give them all those things, married or divorced. These are not easy decisions to make, but if the decision you make turns out not to be the one you wanted, you can make another one. There is no shortage of time to continue improving the quality of your own life.

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Podcast: Brave Schooling

Brave Schooling Podcast

Is it possible to work from home while doing homeschooling?

This school year is different from any other. We are not going into it with the same sense of confidence or the same tools, resources, and experiences that we rely on to be good homeschoolers. Instead, we’re coming in with a lot of uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This has caused parents to think about the fall in a new way, and in addition to the garden variety homeschooler who chose this lifestyle long ago, there’s a new crop of homeschooling parents joining the community. Welcome.

In this podcast episode, we will cover what learning is NOT, how homeschooling differs from traditional school, and the essential steps to facilitate learning at home.

Learning is not an activity that is confined to just school, and I want to teach you how to make learning a natural part of your life.

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Show Notes

There’s a question that a lot of people, especially new homeschoolers, have right now: Is it possible to work from home while doing homeschooling?

For many of you, there was delight when our schedules all came to a grinding halt. For the first time, you were considering that you could do your work at home even though your children were in the same space. This is something homeschoolers have known for a while — many homeschooling parents have side gigs or full-time jobs that they perform from home while they homeschool. It seems like something nobody would choose to do, but suddenly many of us are forced to do this… and it isn’t so bad!

Another thing that many new homeschoolers discover is that much of the work our children do in schools can be done in a fraction of the amount of time they normally spend in a school building: somewhere between 1-3 hours compared to the 6-8 hours they would spend at school.

How to begin homeschooling today

It’s an interesting question: How do we embark on the theory of education that combines personal tutorial with a program, online school, or curriculum while weaving it into a family life that may or may not include working for money?

The three key admissions of learning

From the moment you bring your kids home for learning, you are making three admissions about learning:

  • Learning does not happen in a building
  • Learning does not live inside a textbook
  • Learning is not sourced in a teacher

Kids are learning every minute of every day. Learning is not confined to a single location.

It does not lie in the pages of a textbook. A textbook is a tool, a resource, an answer key, or a set of problems or suggested activities so you do not have to start from scratch. It can be incredibly helpful, but it is not where learning comes from.

A teacher does not decide what a person is and isn’t going to learn. Kids do not need us in the way that our worldview leads us to believe. Learning is always taking place, so we need to rethink the ways we look at teaching.

How do we know that learning has taken place?

As an adult, what proves to you that you’ve mastered something new? Mastery is elusive. There’s never a point where you think, “I’ve played guitar for 20 years and now I’m a master.” No matter how much energy you put into any topic, there is always more to know.

Let’s say I realize I want some indoor plants. I see an African Violet at the supermarket and bring it home. Then I realize I don’t really know how to take care of it, so I decide to learn about caring for African Violets. We have the entire world in our hands with our cell phones. And the proof of learning is in seeing those violets bloom.

How useful is it to know the information about multiplication tables and yet never see it bloom in lived experience? Even if I had studied and aced a test on African Violets, I still wouldn’t know if I could get one to bloom.

When we are thinking about subject area, there are three essential ingredients in learning:

  • Triggered interest
  • Find a meaningful use
  • Immerse (deep dive) into the topic

When we think of learning as consuming information, we miss the first essential ingredient: a triggering interest. 

It can’t be leveraged for a future goal. It has to be a meaningful use for today, which is the second major ingredient. Trying to make something fun does not work if there is no underlying interest. 

Lastly, you want to immerse yourself fully in that topic, or what homeschoolers sometimes call a “deep dive.” Traditional school doesn’t really permit this, but at home, there’s no rule that you have to cover several topics in one particular day.

This is the secret of homeschooling: Apply the same learning style you use for your hobbies to the school subjects with your children. You will be shocked and amazed at how much more meaningful their educations become, both to them and to you.

If you’re stepping into homeschooling for the first time this fall, ask yourself: What could instigate or trigger curiosity? What would be a meaningful use for this subject area for my child? And what kind of immersive environment could I create that would allow my child to risk exploration?

Be intentional to create a space where this natural learning could bloom; test it, refine it, and tweak it until learning is part of the way you live together.

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Podcast: The Risks of Homeschooling

Podcast: What are the Risks of Homeschooling

Millions of families have been forced to educate at home due to the pandemic of COVID-19. Millions of families also educate their kids this way by choice. Whether you are the former or the latter, all are welcome here.

In the midst of this pandemic, Harvard Magazine published an article titled “The Risks of Homeschooling,” and I certainly have some thoughts about this. These are my own personal views, and I may push some buttons or challenge some ideas that you have, but I mean to do that.

When we are confronted with someone who wants a presumptive ban on homeschooling, I want us to dig a little deeper and discover what this article is attempting to do.

Listen to the Podcast (S6E9)

Show Notes

Why this hurts

In a time where many parents have been forced to adapt instantaneously with the demands of a traditional school system and the challenges of balancing work, school, and childcare, Harvard Magazine decided it was a great time to drop an article into our world called “The Risks of Homeschooling.” The timing could not be worse.

Most conflicts that engender this level of passion have to do with lifestyle choices: Birthing at home or in a hospital, breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, keto or vegan. These choices cause the most conflict in our culture because they are personal — they go to the heart of our identity and match up with the stories of who we choose to be. 

Education is itself a deeply personal lifestyle choice. Private or public education are the default, status-quo choices in our culture, but there is a large body of parents challenging that status-quo. Our community identity is around the notion that a child can receive a custom, tailor-made education that will be for the better. They will be more nurtured. They will be less likely to be bullied. They will experience an educational freedom that will lead them to discovering their passions that will lead to meaningful careers in adulthood. That’s the dream.

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Homebound Interviews: Homeschooling Support during Confinement

We Can Do It

Rosie the Riveter was an American icon of female strength and our symbol in Brave Writer of what it means to use that strength for good.

I found the lunchbox in the photo above last Christmas in a shop in Columbus OH. What struck me as much as J Howard Miller’s illustration of her were the words at the top: “We can do it!”

We can! In this moment, we’re pulling together to do this remarkable thing—making the choice to social distance in order to protect one another.

To help provide support during this out-of-the-ordinary time I’ve been sharing how to homeschool during the pandemic in the following places:

For more resources (many are free!), check out our Homebound page.

Remember: We CAN do it! Together.


Brave Writer Podcast

Podcast: Suddenly-at-Home Schoolers

Tips for Suddenly-at-Home Schoolers

Let’s address this global, unique moment where homeschooling is suddenly center-stage and millions of families are experiencing a lifestyle change that is in some ways similar and in some ways different than the choice many of us made to do this homeschooling project.

The move from having kids in school to having their education thrust upon you is creating a serious amount of:

  • anxiety,
  • confusion, and
  • disruption to ordinary life.

If that weren’t enough, parents who used to send their kids to school and then drive to an office are now also at home, trying to conduct a 40-hour workweek while they educate their children using a school system that they didn’t create.

What I want to do today is look at homeschooling as a philosophy, and looking at the dynamic of what happens when you combine working from home with education from home.

It is no easy thing to:

  • be confined in your house,
  • not have access to much of the entertainment and distractions we’re accustomed to, and
  • be so uncertain about what the future holds. 

For all of us in this conundrum, I want to talk about ways we can foster learning and play and cooperation while parents are trying to get their jobs done. I’m going to break this up into tips for those of us who are suddenly-at-home schoolers and then some tips for working from home while schooling.

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Show Notes

Tips for Suddenly-at-Home Schoolers

You’re at home, not at school. Home is where you get to be yourself, relaxed, not pressured. School is where you perform for standards and follow the requirements of the institution. When you bring the school into the home, it’s a mismatch, which is why kids rebel against that feeling of imposed learning. What should we do instead when we are teaching, and learning, from home?

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