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How About Waiting for Essay Writing Until Around 14 Years Old?

I get this question a lot about our Essay Course: When should they start?

Well, it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you want to rush ahead and demonstrate how great you are doing in schooling your child…or…you want to rush ahead and show how naturally gifted your child is, then I’d start in about 3rd grade!

However, there is another way to think about it. Why not grow a child who has two attributes in life (?):

1. Skill

2. Confidence

It is really tough to get a child to be confident at something before he/she is ready. Just imagine insisting that a child should be able to dunk a basketball before puberty. No matter the effort, the ability ‘ain’t there’ to really compete at that level.

essay image

Well, essay writing is much the same. THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS, but basically most kids don’t have a fully developed cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is kind of necessary for more abstract thought. Frankly, Einstein figured out his basic theories at around age 16. Could he have pulled it off at 14? I’m guessing, “NO.” It’s just necessary to have the brain to do certain kinds of brain-work.

So, what about essay writing? Well, most kids aren’t ready to write formal 5-paragraph essays when they are 11, 12, and even, 13 years old. So, if you try to ‘make’ them write formal essays when their brain isn’t ready, what chance do they have of BUILDING CONFIDENCE? I say, “None, zero, zippo.”

Why not wait for The Essay Course (with The Writing Course ) until they are more ‘ready’ for it?

Instead, try this—

Start writing informal opinion papers. Have them write a paper on WHAT and WHY?

What – Do you believe about _________?
Why – Do you believe it?

Don’t worry about the exact 5-paragraph form, topic sentences, perfect review of the points…blah, blah, blah.

Just get them growing in their confidence! Your young child is probably not going to be a great essayist just yet (defending their opinion on profound matters). Why not just get them ready until the brain kicks in? If you’ll wait a bit, then they will be ready to write essays and excel in the process. Start too soon, take your chances.

You’ll be happier, they’ll be happier, and in some indirect cosmic sense, I’ll be happier too! 🙂

Off to learn,


Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Your Copy of the Writing Course is waiting!


The 6 Rules of Writing Practice (+ The Ugly Truth)

One of the big challenges I face in teaching kids to write is getting mom and dad to chill out about writing well. Most of us lock up when too much is on the line! The Ugly Truth is that no one can learn much of anything without practice (especially writing)…AND…when there is too much of an emphasis on writing well during practice, then almost no learning can ever helpfully happen.

Writing needs practice in order for a student to tap into her own language instinct talent. My suggestion for homeschoolers (and others) is to allow your child a day of writing WITHOUT ANY CORRECTIONS by following Natalie Goldberg’s Rules—


The Six Basic Rules of Writing Practice


1. Keep your hand moving

Don’t take your fingers from your keyboard or put down your pen because you want to check email, attend to a chore or get something.

Instead, much like during meditation, you must stay present with whatever you are writing.

2. Don’t cross out

If you cross out while you write, you are editing your work. There’s a time for self-censorship and for removing what you didn’t mean; it’s after your writing practice is done.

3. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar

Natalie adds that writers who use pen and paper should write between the lines and on the margins of their notepads.

Again, there’s a time for proof-reading and it’s not during first drafts.

4. Lose control

The purpose of writing practice is to free yourself, write on “waves of emotion”, and say things you hadn’t thought possible.

This loss of control is difficult to achieve, and I’ve found it only comes deep into a writing practice session.

5. Don’t think. Don’t get logical

Natalie practices Zen (a topic she relates to writing practice in her book), and she cautions against over-thinking the words that appear on the blank page.

6. Go for the jugular

Natalie says writers in the middle of writing practice shouldn’t back down from an idea that’s scary or an idea that makes us feel naked.

We should “dive in” because these ideas have “lots of energy”. In other words, if you feel uncomfortable writing about a topic, you need to write about it.



What a powerful gift if your child begins to practice outside of ‘class time’ because he learned to see the power of learning. Practice is like running everyday, rather than making every run like a race. Daily writing doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be done.

Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run

Hope this helps.

Off to learn,


Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

10 Minutes a Day – We Can Teach Your Kid to Write



A Million Reasons It’s Hard to Teach Kids to Write

It’s always nice to find out you are not alone 🙂 I ran across this article recently and felt like I wasn’t alone for a moment. Of course, you are not alone either!

Writing requires a million different skills all at once

We underestimate or are unaware of the mental demands that writing places on young learners. In my first grade class I had six-year-olds for whom writing required them to think about a million different things all at once. Imagine your teacher tells you to write a story about your trip to the park. That’s a piece of cake, right? Wrong! We Teach Children to Hate Writing | Barbershop Books

It is exactly this very problem that hurts all kids in writing…but especially those with learning disabilities (LD). If we can get the million things out of a child’s head by encouraging her to write

[Next Get Help] [Next Make it Great]

she tends to change dramatically.

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand
Check Out the Writing Course





How to Grow a Good Reader in 7 Steps

How Do You Grow A Good Reader?

As one who spends lots of my time promoting writing (see The Writing Course), you might wonder about the connection. Well, there isn’t much of a mystery; the more we read, the more possibilities flow toward our writing! I realize that there are plenty of readers who never write, but it is rare to find a writer who never reads.

Really, it’s all about learning to love words and ideas, and how these two transform thoughts, touch emotions, and tutor actions. Reading is awesome, true?

So, if your kids are reluctant readers, here’s what I’d suggest:

  1. Make sure they can read

*Review or Retake a good phonics course. No time to explain it here, but this is often the issue. For a variety of reasons some kids just don’t quickly crack the code on reading. Phonics is the code.

*At least for a few weeks, have your child read out loud for 10 minutes a day and then explain or recount what they just read. This exercise alone will show you what’s up with your reader, AND LIKELY it will connect the reading brain to your child’s soul.

*Read interesting books to your children and stop every 10 to 15 minutes to have them explain what you read (see above). Getting fascinated with good books often starts here.

*Get them tested. I’m not really that big on testing, but there are times you might need a baseline to measure improvement and target weaknesses.

  1. Make sure (for a while) that every other book they read is fun enough to read

This will not be your ‘always’ pattern, but early on in independent reading it is vital that children enjoy WHAT they are reading in order to enjoy THE ACT of reading. Usually books don’t start out interesting or ‘fun’ because it takes a bit to ‘get into’ the book. Once a child is a reader, almost every book will be interesting enough to read.

Though there are different interests, there is a bit of wisdom in public/historical opinion. The books that have been tried-and-true are the ones we often call classics. Have your child read those especially.

Every now and again I’d go to the bookstore and let every child pick out a book for themselves to own for their own library (there was a price limit!). They loved this and learned to look for books they REALLY WANTED to read. If that’s too costly just now, go to the library and borrow a book they pick out because it sounds fun or interesting.

  1. Read yourself

‘Do as I say and not as I do’ just simply won’t work. Find something you’d enjoy and read it alongside the kids (or some other way which is noticeable).

  1. Set both a time and page number limit for ‘school’ reading

Most of you won’t do this, but I honestly don’t know of anything that improves skill and confidence in reading like this approach.

Here’s Why: A large part of the problem children have in reading is that they simply aren’t reading fast enough with the focus real reading requires. They read a word or two and look around…then they read another word or two and look at the clock…all the while thinking the book is boring. The cure is FOCUS…and…the major cause of focus is LIMITS.

Here’s What: Create the number of pages AND a time limit for what the child will read for school. Obviously this is easier for homeschoolers, but everyone can set up a 30 minute reading session. Our kids had two 1 hour reading sessions a day for school, but that was us.

So, it sounds like this, “Laura Anne, you need to read to page 75 in the next 30 minutes. If you finish early, then you can do what you want with that time. If you aren’t finished, then you’ll have to keep reading until you are finished.”

Having a reading goal of the number of pages AND the time limit generates motivation and focus. It also gets the child ‘into’ the book. Haven’t you looked at your watch and also noticed that you could end a chapter in a few more pages? Did you then focus and read to get to that stopping place?

Here’s How: You simply need to calculate the reading speed of your child for that book. Often you’ll adjust as you see what they can do, but close enough is close enough.

A. Have your child read for one minute and mark how far he made it.

B. Count the words in the first three lines of a page in the book and divide by three (this gives you the average number of words per line).

C. Multiply the number of lines your child reads in 1 minute by the average number of words in a line (#2 above). This is how many words your child can read in a minute in that book.

D. Finally, count the number of lines on an average page and multiply by the number of words in a line (#2 above). Now you know the Words Per Page and how many words your child can read in a minute…which should give you a good idea of how far she can read in 30 minutes.

Here’s an Easier Way: Guess

See how far your student reads in a minute and guess how far 30x would take them in the book, then use that stopping point (page number).

  1. Keep a chart.

Have your child keep a simple chart of # of pages and how much time it took. Frankly, if you do nothing but this chart you’ll see reading improve, especially if you put the chart on the refrigerator.

  1. Have them tell you about what they read sometime later in the day (supper works well)

The feedback loop of conversationally sharing crystallizes one’s understanding of what is read. It’s kind of like the old adage, “To really learn a subject, teach it.”

7. Get them writing!

There is a strange power that takes over when we write. Suddenly we start looking at books differently. We see why somethings work and why others things do not. We even begin to say, “I would have written the story this way instead.” Writing has a way of calling us to be good readers. Honestly, just a little writing every day can change your student’s life forever.


Now, if you find a better path, then go for it. Honestly, we know this worked with our 5 children, who are all continuous readers as adults.

I’d love your thoughts (below),



Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
We Cure Reluctant Writers



The 5 Steps to Great Book Reports

After being challenged on it, I sat down and made up this process for a book report. I wish I had put this together for my kids, but basically we did something similar as we homeschooled.

1. Keep the goal in mind: You want the child intelligently interacting with the book. It really isn’t a synopsis, as most seem to be. Instead, it is a summary with analysis / evaluation.

girl thinking with pencil

2. Try this simple process:

FIRST: Have your student make a written list of “6 Things I Liked About the Book” & “6 Things I Did Not Like About the Book.” [This is THE MOST IMPORTANT step]

SECOND: Use this ‘form’ to sketch out an outline (just use bullet points)

a. Open with “___________ (book title and author) is a ___________(summary adjective: good, bad, well-written, fantastic, engaging, awful, etc.) __________ (category like adventure, science fiction, historical novel, etc.) that is about ______________________ (summary basics).

Example: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is a delightful children’s fantasy novel that is about a girl who makes her way through the strange world of Oz to finally arrive back home in the loving world of her Kansas family and friends.

b. Give a short (few sentences) summary of the story. This can be done many ways, but the idea is to give someone who hasn’t read the book the basics

c. What I liked about the book and why (2 or 3 is fine).

d. What I didn’t like about the book and why (2 or 3 is fine).

e. Conclusion- Usually this will be a recommendation or warning about reading the book.

THIRD: Write it!

FOURTH: Get Help (somebody reads it and offers corrections / ideas)

FIFTH: Make it GREAT by re-writing the whole thing with the improvements from the 4th Step included.

ADDENDUM: Younger children could go through the steps above as a list to write, or as an oral exercise with mom or dad.


I know there are other approaches…use what works as long as it is helping your child really learn to

1) Think


2) Write 🙂

Hope this helps,

© 2015 Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Does Learning Have to be Fun to be Successful?

Does Learning Have to be Fun to be Successful?
So, clearly fun in-and-of-itself is not the aim of education in most of our minds. And yet, if we can make it fun, good. The problem (in my own way of thinking) is that FUN as too high of a priority works like salt water…it seems to make sense to quench your thirst when lost at sea, but it will eventually kill you.
AMUSEMENT originated with A + MUSE, or NOT + THINK. Good students eventually learn that hard work and study and enduring frustration is worthwhile (though it often isn’t fun).
I think the question of fun likely needs to be re-framed to a discussion about FEELING GOOD. The points people make about kids ‘hating’ math are right. If you learn to hate a subject you just won’t learn it.
Our homeschooling goal in this area was to get the kids to FEEL GOOD about learning in the LONG TERM. The way feeling good comes about is by mastery and benefit. Frankly, I don’t find reading to be a good feeling, but I do find reading a good book to feel good. There are so many different reasons why someone might feel good about something; fun is only one of them.
Even The Blues has this aspect… It’s about feeling good about feeling bad  
“When the only tool you have is a hammer, then you’ll tend to treat every problem as a nail”
If fun is your only (or primary) tool or aim in education, there won’t be much of a way to overcome the ‘It’s not fun’ issue when the kids are older. For me in my own trek through academia, I’d say lots of it wasn’t fun, but it certainly was worth it.
Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

How to Make Writing Easy for Your Homeschooler

Why is writing so hard? Is it even fixable?

Honestly, the greatest hindrance to growing as a writer (or growing our children as writers) is the simple theory out there that writing really is something you can’t learn— you either can or you can’t write, that’s it! Of course, this is about as big a bunch of baloney as you find at any sandwich shop in any major northern city.

Writing is about language. One of the main ways we use language is by talking. No one seems to think that talking is un-learnable. We learn to talk by talking. We learn to write by writing.

Now, I’m not saying it isn’t hard to learn to write better. Writing is easily the most difficult subject out there. In a simple paragraph you can have hundreds of decisions to make in word choice, punctuation, grammar, etc. Writing also needs to happen at a dizzying speed. Yet, our design as humans means we have been made for it; we have an ‘Instinct for Writing’ (see Pinker).

The challenge is to recognize that learning anything isn’t easy (at first). In fact, the way I like to say it is


In our approach we teach folks to start with writing how they speak. This isn’t the end of the process, but it does tap into your child’s innate ability to work with language. We don’t want to write like we speak, BUT it is a great way to start. Once those words are down on paper it’s just a matter of going back through them and making a few improvements.

Almost anyone can do this, but they simply must keep in mind that learning almost always involves frustration. Get over it. The frustration doesn’t last as the skill develops. Your student’s frustration is a sign she needs to learn, not a sign that she can’t.

I have a free gift that might help a lot. Get it by clicking Endless Writing Prompts. You are on a good course…the more they actually write and then tweak, the faster they will learn and succeed.

Does it really go without saying that we need some better writers in this world?

Off to learn,


Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand



Share Your Successes



My son and I are very happy with your writing and essay courses. As a homeschool mom who dreaded his resistance to do his “writing” for school each day, it is a relief to see him want to write and actually enjoy it. I am learning so much too…makes me wonder if I couldn’t write a book one day….I have forever admired authors for their talents.

Thanks again for what you have given us.

We are looking forward to the videos. Thanks a bunch!

-Lana Bosco




A Private Tutoring Student Testimonial


My girls (13 & 11) are taking away so much from The Writing Course . . . . in fact, they have listened to more lessons than I have — I need to catch up!!My husband has listened to some lessons also — and he asked one of them today — “What is the difference between a good speller and a bad speller?” She gave the answer from The Writing Course.

Thanks so much for making Writing so simple — for me and for my girls. They really can write fairly well — I do believe your Writing Course is giving them the confidence to write even better!! Really excited to see the results in the next few months!


Denise Smith

Thinking that Produces Confidence

I have not really taught my children how to THINK about writing, but rather tried to teach them how to DO writing. But scripture teaches us the opposite. It is the heart and mind that come first and then the actions follow. So, that is what I have loved so far about your course! You have changed my thinking and that of my children as well.

-Kimberly Hazlett


Mom of a 9-year-old (He’s now on full scholarship at The University of Texas)

I discovered shortly after starting to homeschool that I couldn’t do 5th grade A Beka grammar. Yet, somehow I’ve managed to get a post-graduate degree and communicate effectively. We scaled down from that level, but still get bogged down in all those mechanics. I have found your seminar both enjoyable and refreshing. I look forward to going through the rest of it myself, and using it with my kids. Thank you.

Laura W.


Your suggestions are awe-inspiring to a novice (me!) writer. Cooper (my son) has been writing a novel ever since. He just finished it today – love how he’s taken off with his creative side!

Patty Knaak

Mr. Lybrand,

Thank you for your writing curriculum. My 12 year old daughter has begun to write without fear for the first time in her life. We are only on lesson 4 and she is applying what she has learned in all areas. Letters,
drawing illustrations, email…
Thank you,

Thanks so much! My almost 10 yr old daughter started yesterday and it went great. My 11 yr old son is in an IEW writing class right now. He has one more class meeting and then I’m going to start him on this, as well. I actually used that with him this morning as we were working on his final draft. I said, “Does this sound better? (what he wrote) or does this sound better? (my suggestion)?”

He said my suggestion did so we changed it. I’m excited about this!

– Mindy M.

From a homeschooling forum:

This is just what I needed to hear to prompt me to
purchase TWC. I say this because like you, I felt a
bit overwhelmed by IEW, though I couldn’t put my
finger on why. I also have a 13 year old son who is a
reluctant writer and needs careful prompting
(though when he does write, he’s good at it!).
Probably why I’ve waited so long, seeing as he seems
to dread it and I didn’t want to make matters worse
by choosing a bulky, mom-intensive program.

You have resolved this confusion for me… and I
can confidently purchase this program which I have
been looking at on and off for quite some time.
How good to hear someone confidently and with such
clarity explain their reason for purchasing this

I was also thinking of Bravewriter, but it also appears
to be mom-intensive! Daily emails for reminders,
and on and on… When you said this TWC program is
much like the RC philosophy of being a self-learning
approach, that was all I needed to hear.


This course is as much for me as for our daughters. I believe the Lord wants me to write a book, I have felt stuck like it took so much effort. Now I know why…(you can know why as well through the secrets of The Writing Course) Just to see our daughters have a freedom with writing that I KNOW they didn’t have before we started The Writing Course, is one of those moments of gratitude that qualifies as the abundant life Jesus speaks of.

Much Grace to you for helping me and many others release our God-given potential.

Penny D.

From a homeschooling forum:

I totally relate to your frustrations of buying and chucking curriculum every year as well as your schedule challenges…We also added The Writing Course by Fred Lybrand (an RC father), recommended on the RC site. The Writing Course is simple but profoundly helpful in removing the obstacles that clog our writing abilities. So simple, I love it and more importantly our kids ask to do the lessons!

Hope this helps. I do not miss the exhaustive, mind numbing, internet searches and the disappointment that follows having blown our hard-earned money on curric. that didn’t deliver, yet again.


From a post in a yahoo Robinson Curriculum group:

The Writing Course

I said a couple of weeks ago that I would write back with an update re: choosing The Writing Course by Fred Lybrand, a RC father/family… Like many of you I researched various programs and read many comments from the RC forum. Using all of this wonderful info, mixed with much prayer and taking into consideration our family’s needs, we chose TWC.

We are so thankful for this course. Although I won’t go into the
specifics, in just a short couple of weeks, some major mental roadblocks have been removed by our daughter’s (myself included). It has such a natural flow. Our kids are saying things like, “Now I can
write sentences so much easier than before…like the pressure has been removed”. I second that.

Just wanted to update you all, hoping this encourages anyone else in your journey to find what works best for you and your family.

Much Grace,
Penny D.

Click on the following link to hear more about my thoughts on teaching grammar and homeschool writing.


Mr. Lybrand,What a surprise to see you had read my comments! I am telling you truthfully that my boys would not write and your course “tricked” them and before they knew what was happening, they were doing it.

I am looking forward to doing The Essay Course with them too.


Taken from a homeschooling forum:

The Writing Course – Basic consists of 5 CDs; four contain the 21 lessons and the 5th contains the worksheets for printing,a transcript of the lessons,and charts. Lybrand is a Robinson Curriculum Dad so his process is developed to fit with the Robinson method and much of that philosophy is obvious in his presentations. Each lesson consists of listening to the CD, filling in the worksheet which serves as a bare-bones outline of the talk, and doing an assignment. He talks about secrets to writing which he states really are not secrets at
all. These ideas are simple but freeing for students who struggle with writing. He covers grammar and punctuation very briefly—just enough to eliminate the fear and get the student writing.

Some ideas covered:
Clears out the objections to writing and replaces them with simple truth. Takes the perfectionism out of the writing process. Frees the poor speller to note words he isn’t sure of rather than stopping the flow of thought because of spelling difficulty. Opens the door to the mind that just can’t think of anything to write. Gives tips on style– personal style and how to make your writing interesting. Provides the key to eliminating the “taking it personally” mentality about
feedback and correction.

Mr. Lybrand’s voice is pleasant and his presentations are interesting. We found the lessons to be simple and helpful. The topic ideas were fun and usually relatable for the children (ages 11, 14, 16). The program is not consumable. You print as many worksheets as you need and repeat the lessons as often as necessary. Suitable for ages 9 or 10 and older.

The Essay Course consists of 4 CDs, 17 lessons. This course is best suited for ages 12+ (my opinion). No print-outs except a template, just talks to listen to and assignments (essay ideas) to provide practice. He discusses various templates for essays and how to use them and mentions methods to use on, and practice for, the SAT writing section.

My opinion of these courses:
I found the ideas presented very helpful. I like his presentation style, very conversational. This course did help 2 of my children adjust their thinking about writing. It does closely follow the Robinson philosophy while still providing help and clarifying the writing thought process…

I hope this has been helpful.
Grow in Grace,

Two of my boys, 14 and 12, are very reluctant writers. They really prefer copy work because it is “safe”…

Mr. Lybrand’s way of talking them through the lessons is very reassuring and he makes it sound so easy. My boy’s listened to what he said and then did it. They started writing! I was impressed.

-Susan Seaton

The Writing Course and its companion, The Essay Course, present a simple, natural, common-sense approach to teaching writing unlike anything that I have seen before. Designed for upper elementary through high school, their purpose is to take the fear out of writing…Melissa Worcester
Practical Homeschooling Magazine

Since enrolling in Mr. Lybrand’s class, she has submitted stories to nationally-distributed magazines with the hopes of being published (for fun!). She is also involved with other children from Mr. Lybrand’s class in writing a weekly newspaper and distributing it around the neighborhood (for fun!) Most recently, while driving all day in the car, I asked my daughter what she was doing, and she replied “I’m writing another story” (for fun!)

– Gary Gould, Petroleum Engineer

The Writing Course covers everything that I have learned about writing, on my own, and more – and will teach it to my children in an organized and exciting fashion – which I couldn’t seem to do.

-S.G., Colorado

“This approach eliminates writer’s block”

– Carrie Minor
English Major, Texas A&M

One principle (from The Writing Course) I used with my 4th graders this past school year helped them tremendously in their writing, and made it easier for them to figure out how to punctuate their sentences.

– Jennifer Thompson * Public School Teacher, San Antonio, Texas

“One would think that from a 5 CDS audio set about how to improve your writing, you would be looking at the writing as the final result. However, [and] moreover, it is [especially] in his inflection and tonality throughout the audio that Fred R. Lybrand [alludes] to a parallel BETWEEN revising how we do things in our everyday life AND revising the approaches we take to life [issues] until we get it right: Just as how involving others to read your writing [can make the difference], [Lybrand’s] process [helps make] your life better [through] the involvement of others.Four thumbs up for Fred R. Lybrand’s THE WRITING COURSE. As I only have two thumbs, God as my witness, I am certain His are way up too; as I am sure God had a hand or two in this one!”

Salvador SeBasco,
Literary Director and host of THE INSIDE VIEW  broadcast,
book critic,
on staff with a CNN affiliate.

“My son did so well with the first course that I got carried away with getting the essay one with out reading your announcement. Thank you for the reimbursement.”

– Best regards, David S

[Said after purchasing the Writing Course early on, one of our customers purchased The Essay Course without reading the fact that it was a special bonus with his first course]

The course is great. I’m using it for myself as a prep for college.Thanks for all that you have done putting this together -Robert DeMint

I recommend Fred Lybrand’s course at If you have students who refuse to (or at least begrudgingly) participate in a writer workshops, Lybrand’s course will be a help. It focuses on getting rid of reluctance and fear in writers, and frees them up to share their work and to grow. It’s about learning by writing, and is a great resource regarding not only how to teach kids to write, but how to relax them about the whole thing, to break down insecurities and other reservations and let them naturally write and share. Good luck!

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

25624 Lewis Ranch Rd.
New Braunfels, TX 78132

P.S. It is surprising to me how many scams about writing courses are out there, but not about homeschooling writing. I believe all the writing courses for homeschooling reluctant writers really can offer you something useful. However, I still think we alone offer your money back if you are unhappy. This is the best way, once we reviewed our Writing Course and goals, to not scam you at all. You really have nothing to lose and a great future of appreciative kids to gain.


Or…Write us at


Hard to think straight and walk crooked

Think Crooked Walk Straight

In a way this is pretty simple. Your thinking (including your beliefs) really influences your actions and reactions in life. As a result, you can then see that your current situation in life has A LOT to do with how you think. Taking time to straighten out your own thinking (using books, media, and wise friends or mentors) is one of the best uses of your time.


Fred Ray Lybrand


10 Reasons Homeschoolers Are Better Writers



Let’s just say it: As it stands, homeschooling will turn out better writers. The reason isn’t as spiritual as it is mechanical. It isn’t necessarily about a writing curriculum, but a writing curriculum that mimics the failed public schooling study-grammar-and-diagramming approach is doomed to fail. The process homeschoolers experience is going to produce a different kind of intellect. They may not be as tech-savvy in the short-term, but homeschool graduates are going to be more powerfully balanced in the long-term. The better balance makes for a better writer, since every fine writer is thinking about living a life rather than tweaking a code. Here are the 10 Reasons I believe you will see a better writer in a homeschool graduate. These are generalizations and represent the larger group, not the disappointing exceptions 🙂


1.  Homeschoolers don’t do busy work

2.  Homeschoolers learn according to interests

3.  Homeschoolers don’t test too soon or too much

4.  Homeschoolers don’t get easily promoted

5.  Homeschoolers don’t see learning as a compartment of life

6.  Homeschoolers are focused on getting ready for life

7.  Homeschoolers are being tutored not taught

8.  Homeschoolers easily get caught cheating

9.  Homeschoolers are learning how to learn

10. Homeschoolers learn to write by writing


1. Homeschoolers don’t do busy work

Busy work is a behavioral strategy that looks like something productive is being done. But, as in the military where you always need to look busy, busy work encourages both manipulation of authorities and a lack of discernment about what’s important. Learning to look busy means that you are learning to focus on giving ‘eye-service’ rather than real service. If busy work is elevated to a level of value, then it takes on its own importance. In the real world, the 80/20 rule is always in play; 80% of what is really valuable comes from 20% of the material. 20% of your skills produce 80% of your results, etc. Face it, “If everything is important, nothing is important.” Moreover, busy work makes most people HATE education/learning, because it seems so pointless.

2. Homeschoolers learn according to interests

George Washington Carver observed that “Anything will reveal its secrets if you love it enough.” There is something powerful about being able to use reading, writing, and math as a bridge to discovering something you are seeking. Everyone does better when they are interested.

3. Homeschoolers don’t test too soon or too much

We shouldn’t have to have proof for the obvious, but it’s available. Labeling a child based on early testing would be fine if the testing was flawless…but really, how dare anyone tell others what they can or can’t do? Besides giving a child false beliefs about herself, testing also forces mass education systems to make learning and education primarily about the test results. Do we want our students to learn or just to learn how to test?

4. Homeschoolers don’t get easily promoted

Any of us who have been in school systems have seen this unfortunate phenomenon. I personally was moved along from 5th to 6th grade without understanding anything about long-division. Really! In homeschooling you have to actually learn the subject to advance, and that’s based on what you KNOW the student can do. Not getting ‘moved along’ in the system means that homeschoolers are going to tend to actually know what they’ve learned. Also, any delays can easily be covered at home over the summer.

5. Homeschoolers don’t see learning as a compartment of life

When you ‘go to school’ and come home ‘from school’, then you can’t help but see school as the place you go to learn / study / think. They used to make up for that with ‘homework’, but even then school was treated as a compartment. It is hard to learn in the thick of life if you think you have to go to a classroom with an expert to grow your knowledge or skills. Homeschoolers get to see that home and school and life are all opportunities to learn.

6. Homeschoolers are focused on getting ready for life

The goal of most mass education systems is to get kids out into the world with some basic learning OR to filter out the elite learners for advanced education. What isn’t really in play (except for a few precious and rebellious teachers) is to see how all learning relates to being equipped to do life well. This is one of the reasons homeschoolers study government and citizenship, they are being prepared for contribution to their nation; it’s part of the mindset.

7. Homeschoolers are being tutored not taught

When a student struggles in mass education settings, the solution is to get a tutor to help him. Tutoring is the ‘fall back’ because (drum roll here please) …IT WORKS. Teaching deals with a large audience receiving the notes in a lecture. Tutoring allows for an awesome student/teacher ratio. It means that the tutor has the time, energy, and insight to work with the student from where he is in any given moment. We are talking targeted and individualized eduction! Face it, the low student-teacher-ratio just naturally gives a huge advantage to the homeschooler.

8. Homeschoolers get caught cheating

It’s just hard to cheat your tutor (and too, with your siblings around you watching all the time). We’ve had two of our homeschoolers try this approach to school. Both were caught, and both had to start the subject over (our goal was to learn math not to merely get through the book).

9. Homeschoolers are learning how to learn

Except when homeschooling mimics the public and private schools, the implicit focus of school is to encourage homeschoolers to learn to teach themselves. Almost no single parent (or both) can know more about every subject then their students. In the course of time they will pass you in a specific area or skill. Our youngest (Brooks Lybrand) is currently a senior in high school and finished calculus when he was 15 years old. He also made a perfect score of 800 in the math section of the SAT. Sorry, that’s just past us! We encouraged the kids (and designed a system for it) to teach themselves and each other. As of today, it seems to be paying off well for all 5 of them.

10. Homeschoolers learn to write by writing

To the point of the article. I hope you realize that writing is the hardest of all subjects. Do you? Honestly, just think of the number of decisions being made in writing a mere paragraph; with word choice, grammar, spelling, punctuation, strategy, sequencing, etc., it’s staggering! Additionally, writing is more self-taught than any subject. One’s own voice and style are individually discovered as we play around with words.

Homeschoolers are going to be better writers because of the previous 9 reasons…better and balanced self-learners make better students of anything. Writing is no exception.

But, there is an even greater reason homeschoolers are going to be better writers: THEY LEARN TO WRITE BY WRITING. Yep, that’s it. Writing is what grows writers, just as working math problems grows mathematicians. Learning about math isn’t learning math. Learning about writing isn’t learning to write. Mass education settings simply do not have students writing much at all. Moreover, the writing they do is grammar obsessed, which only leads to a growing hatred of writing (see Reason 2 above and The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar in The Atlantic Monthly).


If you want a child to grow as a writer:

1. Minimize obsessing on grammar and correctness (please don’t put faith in formal traditional grammar/punctuation curriculum, they mostly hurt your young writer)
2. Have them write some everyday
4. Have them learn grammar, etc., by reading their writing aloud
3. Give them a little feedback about what you liked (especially)
4. Have them share their writing with others (dad, grandma, friends, etc.)

Unless they follow mass education practices, homeschoolers will turn out better writers. Homeschoolers actually have to write, so they naturally have the best shot at improving. As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out, they’ll need to put in their 10,000 hours to become great. Now, what will they do with this skill in the head-to-head competition in life when writing matters? Well, we’ll just have to stay tuned.

Off to learn,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
Creator: The Writing Course


P.S. Would you do me a favor right now? PLEASE share this online somewhere (tweet / facebook / pinterest / etc.). OR (and) PLEASE post a comment below. Thanks so much!



(c) Fred Ray Lybrand, 2014