Tag Archives: homeschool

Spring Cleaning and Notes on Homeschooling

What began as a repository of thinking tips, this blog of mine is now becoming a catch-all for many more thoughts and ideas that I personally want to capture.

So today, I’m doing some spring cleaning, and as I find notes that have inspired or influenced me, I’m copying them here to not feel so guilty about throwing them away.

About seven years ago, I decided to take the plunge and try a homeschooling experiment for just one year with just one child.  At the time, I picked the child I knew I couldn’t ruin, because she was already demonstrating a sense of self-motivation beyond her years, and an innate desire for excellence. (Besides that, she was about the only one of the bunch who was game.)

I had been thinking about homeschooling for ten years already, but because I had been a product of the public school system, and because I had excelled, and loved the challenge it had been for me, I really had a hard time believing that anything less (or different) than that could possibly be remotely adequate.  I was such a fan of the system, in fact, that I went on to get my degree in secondary education, and taught mathematics in public and private schools for a number of years.

Because of my fear of doing “my own thing”, I took that first step by signing up for the public school district’s distance learning program. That way, I could be giving my daughter the same curriculum at home, accomplish it in a fraction of the time (like I had been told is common for homeschoolers), and have her tested at the end of the year with all the other public school students to see how we did.

That was a safe segue, in my mind.

My daughter and I loved our time together. We dabbled in some of the materials they had sent home with me, but pretty much just did whatever it was that caught her interest at the time.  She was in 2nd grade and did a lot of cooking, and child care for her younger siblings. She loved being my little helper, and reveled in how important it made her feel.

In January, I realized we were on the down stretch of the school year, and that I should probably open up those lesson plans to see what it was they had been expecting us to do. I told her, “It’s time to get caught up with the rest of the kids at school, so let’s take a look…”

I opened the packet and began to look over the daily lesson plans.  Sure, we had been doing the fun pieces, such as the online math games, and language development activities; but looking at what else we were expected to have been doing all those months put me in an instant panic.

The daily lesson plans were so detailed, so spelled out, that it would have literally taken us 6 hours a day, one-on-one, to do everything they expected us to do.

I called the head of the distance learning program at the district level in a panic. “I don’t know what to do! I think I’ve made a big mistake! We’ll never get caught up!”

She calmed me down and finally responded, “Oh, don’t worry. Just pick up right where you are; she’ll get it ALL again next year.”

R-e-a-l-l-y.

I was flabbergasted. I thought to myself, “You mean, we can blow off an entire 6 months of school, and even the DISTRICT isn’t worried about it?? When you’re enrolled in the public school, you can’t miss more than 9 days without getting a nastigram and a visit from a police officer.”

That’s when I learned that in grade school, they introduce a concept one year, and then repeat it all over again the next.  Then they introduce some new concepts again, and repeat them all again the next.  What I learned from this experiment is that when a child is ready and wants to learn a topic, you can share it with them just once, and they own it.  It’s when they’re not interested, or partially tuned out, that you have to keep repeating it for more than 600 days… it’s really the only way the school CAN do it – in hopes that during those 600 days, each one of the 30-34 students will tune in long enough to get it.

Related: A Vision for What’s Possible

Over the next few years, one-by-one each of my children were given the choice to come home or stay in school, and last year we had all but one home with us.  I believe in the principle that there is genius potential inside of each child, and sometimes it can only be discovered when he or she is permitted to get bored long enough that they dig down and find that creative genius.  For the first two months of the detoxification period, there was a lot of complaining, a lot of boredom… they were worried because mom wasn’t standing in front of a grid of desks at home, teaching them something important.  I knew we had turned a corner when the complaining stopped, and the laughter and creative chatter began, as they collaborated together on how they were going to build a fort out of the discarded refrigerator boxes in the back yard. They had finally discovered their freedom to think for themselves and create their own learning environment.

For several years after beginning my experiment, I continued to have my children take the standardized tests at the end of the year. I wanted to see if our new approach – letting them live in a culture where they were expected to think and choose for themselves what they wanted to be learning – was ruining them, or what.  In every case, I was shocked but grateful that their test scores came back as though they had sat in the classroom all year long.

I remember one defining moment when my daughter was the age of a 6th grader, and we hadn’t formally talked about math all year long.  We had solved incidental problems together that had come up in natural life, but there had been no real ‘math lessons’ to speak of.

To get her ready for the standardized test that year, I bought her a math workbook for her grade level, and said, “Just see how much of this you can do. Let me know if you get stuck.”  A few times she brought it to me to get some clarification on what they wanted her to do, but she had the entire workbook completed in a couple days.  Because she wasn’t drilled on it every day of the year, she actually found it interesting, challenging, and fun to do.

I believe we’re all born with an innate desire to learn all the things we’ll need to know to complete our ‘life’s mission’.  We’ll naturally be drawn to the interests that will play a part in our life’s work, and we’ll naturally get frustrated when we don’t know what we need to know. Suddenly, in a situation like that, the knowledge MATTERS, and we are hungry to learn it because it already has application for what we want to be doing. That’s how I learned to build websites. That’s how I learned to publish books.

My two oldest were in junior high when I made the switch, and were simply not interested. I didn’t push it, I knew they were in a groove and enjoying their experience in school.  But last year my oldest was a senior. About 3 months into the school year, he listened to a lecture on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, and something shifted.

He was so completely engrossed with what he was learning – outside of school – that before long, his new addiction to studying American History was all he wanted to do. A math teacher challenged him on some of his facts, and the game was on. He’d stay up late into the night researching, finding sources, pulling together a persuasive essay that he couldn’t wait to share first with his math teacher, and then with the world.  He did all this, not for an American History assignment, but because he loved the subject and wanted to teach others what he had been learning.

We recognized the spark to be what other homeschooling families had described when the child enters a scholar phase – naturally.  We encouraged it, and provided opportunities and resources to keep the flame alive.  School began to be an inconvenience to him. His regular homework began to seem so trivial, and he became frustrated at the irrelevance of so much of it in contrast to the importance of the topic that had captured his heart.

In January – just 4 months before his graduation – he asked me if he could come home. He wanted to be homeschooled.  He was given an opportunity to go abroad and participate in a historical dig during that final semester of high school, but it would mean he couldn’t “graduate”.

I almost couldn’t do it – he was so close to finishing the path he had chosen all along – but if I were to stand by the principles I had been teaching my family – to let them follow what interests them and find and fulfill their life’s mission – then I had to support it.

Before pulling him out, I contacted the different universities that he was interested in attending, and was amazed to discover that they didn’t need him to graduate before they’d accept him. All they cared about was whether or not he had taken the ACT (which he had done the year before), and they even found him to be a very attractive candidate for demonstrating so much drive to do something this unusual.

You should have seen it – when I pulled him out so close to graduation. The administration couldn’t understand it, and had a hard time believing that the colleges did not CARE if he had a diploma or not.  Instead of getting his diploma, he found himself in a new position of responsibility as the Regional Director for the Thomas Jefferson Center for Constitutional Studies (Restoration Generation).

The travel abroad experience was canceled due to unrest in the middle east, but we have not regretted the decision to let him leave high school early.  He does not regret it either.  He didn’t “walk” with his friends but loved his choice more.  And just to check it off the list, he went ahead and aced the GED last fall.  Not because the universities needed it, but just to officially close that chapter of his life.

What about the other kids? Each year I discover something new about them and their inborn talents. They stay active and involved in a number of extra curricular activities and have friends all over the valley who share their unique life’s experiences and interests.

Related: What the district head truancy officer told me

My 12 year-old son is being mentored by a computer programmer – a teacher at a nearby college – who was also homeschooled and loves Jared’s passion for programming. They are presently working together on building an application that will help our business clients.  He also plays trombone in the school band and is involved in an after school club for smarty pants.

My 13 year-old daughter is volunteering her services for handling some of the secretarial responsibilities of a national organization with which my husband works.  She is also involved (with most of her siblings) in EVMCO, a choral organization which just released an album last fall that hit #1 on the Billboard charts in the traditional classical category.  Watch the video about EVMCO.  She just hosted an “Oh Stuff and Nonsense” party for other 13-15 year old homeschooled girls in the area, and is an avid reader.

My younger children have taught themselves to read, tell time, solve math problems, and just recently we all became fascinated with the strange characteristics of prime numbers – including my 5 year-old, right there along side her older siblings.  Give her a pile of beans representing a certain number, and in a few minutes, she’ll tell you if it’s prime or not.

Each morning we study scriptures, read selections from American History, have breakfast and do chores.  The rest of the day is wide open for exploration, or just enjoying each others’ company.  No more 7:30 am chaos, no more 4:00 pm competition for Mom’s attention… no more homework sessions that interfere with family dinner, and best of all, plenty of time to think and receive inspired sparks of curiosity that lead each one to ask the right questions at the right time, to help them prepare for the life’s work they will be most uniquely prepared to fulfill.  It’s a lofty ideal, but I’ve seen it in action.  (I’ve illustrated how this phenomenon also happens for adults in Portal to Genius.)

In spite of all I’ve said so far, I will add that I DO love the education I received through the public school system. But I love more what I’ve learned since… and I hope to keep learning new and amazing things from now until the day I die… and I expect, beyond.

9/17/13 update:

Had an interesting conversation with Jared the other day… he called down from loft where he was working on a computer program he was creating and said, “Mom, I’m trying to make this ball speed up as it gets closer to the hole. Any idea how I would program it to behave that way?” I said, “Hmm… sounds like an inverse relation… you’d use a fraction…” and as I was trying to remember how the formula would go, he hollered down again, “Never mind! I think I got it – I tried something and it’s slowing down as it gets closer, so now I’ll just try it the other way.”

Once he had it nailed, I said, “Did you know you just did Algebra?” He said, “Really? Then I think I’m going to love Algebra.”

A few weeks later, I wanted to talk to him about finally getting through his fractions and decimals books so he could move on to Algebra (because he was looking forward to it), but he’s bored to tears just at the thought of drudging through fractions and decimals.

So, because we’ve been having a hard time getting him to do his basics (ie. fractions and decimals), I thought maybe we’d just go ahead and jump to Algebra and then go back and fill in the gaps as they come up, because he’ll be more interested in those more basic concepts when they’re actually relevant to what he needs at the time.

But then he asked what Calculus was, and I said it had to do with rates of change and … I didn’t remember what all, so I said, “Do you want to see what it’s like?” He said sure, so we pulled up a Calculus lesson and watched the first 11 minute video together. It was on limits, and it used functions, and algebra, and decimals and ALL of those things.

But instead of being overwhelmed by his lack of knowledge and formal experience with the ‘per-requisites’, he lit up like a light bulb and got super excited, because it looked so much like some of the things he has done, or tried to do, in his computer programming, and it all actually made sense to him.

He paused the video several times to just digest what had been said, and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! So that’s why graphs are useful!” and he threw his head back and sang “Ahhhhhhh!” like a chorus of angels. “You know how some things just make you happy? This makes me SOOO happy-happy!!!!” His eyes literally started watering and he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.

He’s 14, completely ‘behind’ on the basics, but totally in love with calculus.

Crazy, huh? Then without being asked, he got on the computer and spent a few hours honing skills and learning new things. I love it. They always told me that this would happen when you approach education in the unconventional way that we do… it’s just nice when we see it actually happen.

_______

Here’s the ‘note’ I stumbled onto in my spring cleaning that spawned this whole post in the first place.  I’ll post it here, and then get back to work.

No Creative Family Christmas Letter this Year, just a blog entry

2007 offered our family our own share of challenges, and through it all we can attest that it is still true that adversity is opportunity.

In spite of the challenges, as we continued to study and abide the principles of prosperity, the hardships ultimately bore good fruits, and at Christmastime especially, brought me to a place of deep reflection, and leading me to simplify, simplify, simplify. (Hence, no creative family Christmas letter this time.)

The reward for being ultra selective about the commitments I chose has been astounding, mostly manifesting itself through a dramatic increase of quality time spent with my children, especially through the holidays.

The year began with our two month-old baby taking up most of my attention and energy. Knowing she would be our last, I soaked up the joy of every moment that I could. All unnecessary commitments would be avoided.

Trevan was busy working on Real Estate deals, business deals, and was also developing a keen interest in the financial services industry. By springtime, I was finally ready (and physically able) to move forward on projects that had been put on the back burner during my pregnancy in ’06. I even braved the commitment to be taxi-mom for tennis, karate, soccer, and swim lessons (thanks to the help of a few “assistants” Caitlin L, Erica B, and later Sarah A… who really became more like “adopted big sisters”).

By March, I became motivated to spend every spare minute creating a self-directed home study course to make the life-changing material available round-the-clock to all people, even when I am not conducting seminars, which also gives me more time for our busy household of seven children under the age of 15. We, ourselves, are committed to claiming more time with our children before they all start leaving the nest in just a few more years.

One focus in 2007 was to be more financially portable. One primary task was to establish health insurance independent of employment since our eighteen-month COBRA plan was scheduled to expire in May. This was a task that I thought might take 30 days or so, which turned into 150 days so we could settle certain un-insurability issues, but WAS finally accomplished, just in time. We began the process in January, but didn’t find out until May why it was GOOD that the transition was such an unexpectedly and painfully long process. (Law of Polarity in action! Keep reading and I’ll tell you why it was good…)

Trevan and I finished creating the audio version of our books, accepted a deal for the Turkish translation of Jackrabbit Factor, and begun the process for a Spanish translation which we hope to make available soon.

Along the way there were setbacks which were humbling, and through them all we testify that God continues to be aware of us, and we feel his hand in our affairs.

We know that He is keenly aware of ALL his children and supports them in their trials, even when it is not readily apparent. We have been teaching for years that every adversity contains the seed of equal or greater benefit (Napoleon Hill), so we’re very fortunate indeed.

One “opportunity” that I can recall in good humor was the opportunity to stay optimistic through the summer months when our A/C unit quit. I finally had to jump in the pool with my clothes so I could go back inside dripping wet to comfortably continue my work on the home study course. Never mind water damage to anything, as the water readily evaporated before any damage could be done. (Even with our home warranty plan, we had to wait a week for each appointment. Sometimes it would get repaired only to break again later that day, and then we’d have to wait another week for another appointment. We calculate that we were without proper A/C for a combined total of about 6-8 weeks out of the scorching Arizona summer.)

We certainly recognize the tender mercies of the Lord in our near-tragic incident with 3 year-old Bethany which occurred in May during the brief three-week period of time when our COBRA plan overlapped with our new major medical plan. She had been found (by 7 year-old Jared) floating face-down in the deep end of our pool. She was revived after I performed my unskilled version of CPR, took an ambulance ride to the hospital, and spent the night in intensive care.

Gratefully she completely recovered, the co-pay was minimal, and there was no threat of uninsurability because the new plan was barely, but already in place. Had we obtained the new plan four months earlier as I had originally hoped, our out-of-pocket responsibility would have been likely ten times as much.

We’re grateful for our good health, and that Nathan’s cardiologist recently announced at his doctor’s visit that he would not have to return for three more years because he’s doing so well. In all his life they’ve never let him go three years without a checkup. We’re grateful for a policy which accepted him in spite of his open heart surgery and subsequent follow-ups beginning 12 years ago.

To help offset a few Real Estate setbacks, Trevan took a 3-month contract doing the kind of work he quit two years ago. It reminded us of the Jackrabbit Factor when Richard returns to the path for another sack with a mindset that it is only to help him catch the next rabbit. We of course declined the health insurance option because we were still in the application process for an independent policy and bent on keeping him free to leave anytime. After the contract ended, and one day before shipping our very first run of home study program orders, we determined that our best course of action going forward was to join forces (synergy!) and focus 100% on helping others overcome financial challenges, too. Trevan has moved into the chief leadership role of ThoughtsAlive LLC, affording me time to homeschool the youngest five, and finally learn some new things, like what you can do with a whole chicken.

He and his brother have taken the business to the next level by creating the prosperity forums, and making plans for ThoughtsAlive Memberships so our readers can store their downloadable purchases in their own online digital product bank. He also set the books up for Amazon’s new Kindle reader… something I think I’m just going to have to own one day because it looks so cool and because I love to read.

I’m grateful for his interest, talent, aptitude, and AVAILABILITY to do things that were always beyond my scope of interest and patience to learn. Together (a dream come true), we’re moving forward on our goals for helping families across the globe achieve more time and money freedom, faster and more effectively than ever before.

I stay connected with my readers and course participants through the new prosperity forums and this positive thinking blog, and collaborate with Trevan daily, dreaming, planning, and growing the business, helping others, one idea at a time.

Other notes on 2007:

Jacob (15) continues with the trumpet, choir, played a season of soccer as keeper, enjoys telling his stories to the girls at school of stitches, singed eyebrows (and other various random mishaps), and had his first EFY experience at BYU this summer.

Nathan (12) continues with the clarinet, has become amazingly independent with his homework, and enjoyed a local “Best of EFY” with his older brother.

Kayli (9) is home schooled and still gets to play violin with the school orchestra. She is a wizard in the kitchen. She handles most of the family sit-down meals and loves to do it up. Often you’ll see a paper name place holder at your seat and given a handmade menu to make your selection from her list of options.

Jared (8) was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in August. He is also homeschooled but spends his Wednesdays in the ELP program at school for gifted students.

Nicholas (6 today) is homeschooled and was much too bored with the kindergarten curriculum. He passed the district’s kindergarten post test and has moved into first grade work.

Bethany (4) is having her last day with the “thumb”. She agreed to enjoy it up until Nicholas’ birthday and if you ask her about it in 2008, she’ll tell you, “I don’t do that anymore.” We’ll keep our thumbs crossed. ;)

Sarah – (1) surprised us all by starting to walk at 8 months. Yesterday I caught her walking down the stairs without using the railing. She has everyone in the family wrapped around her teeny little finger… we just can’t get enough of her adorable one-year-oldness.

Our Stake (local group of church congregations) was reorganized in November, but Trevan still gets to enjoy a voluntary assignment the Scouts, which he loves. I have a new assignment (to be made official in a week) and have MUCH to learn but look forward to serving.

Our summer vacation was spent in Utah and Idaho, squeezing in (presenting) 4 free seminars along the way (here’s a video of one of them) and meeting a lot of our readers. We played with cousins, stopped at Lagoon, played at 7 Peaks Water Park, and Bryce National Park. Another major highlight of 2007 not to be forgotten: MY side of the family (who are spread across the country) enjoyed our first family reunion in ten years at our house over Thanksgiving.

Oh yeah… Tuesday mornings in the spring were spent teaching an Abundance class hosted at the home of my friend Jacqueline, who asked me to present my seven week series on the Laws of Success (which has been made available as an 8 CD set called “Working with the 7 Laws of Success“. It was an honor, helped me get back into the material after my extended maternity leave, helped us keep our heads in an optimistic place through our challenges (opportunities), and gave us the chance to meet other guest presenters she had invited including John Gray (Mars/Venus) and Loral Langemeier (both featured on “The Secret” movie.)

Since then, I’ve had the honor of speaking for a number of different audiences, including Loral’s Alumni Organization and soon Bob Proctor’s Wealth Lab participants. I accepted an invitation to be on the Executive Idea Council at IdeaOrbit.com, and we were astonished but grateful to discover that our Hidden Treasures book became an Amazon best seller in the Money and Values category, appearing on the list consistently since September. We’re gaining more exposure as IdeaMarketers.com’s Official Proseprity Experts and SelfGrowth.com’s Official Guides to Prosperity. (Selfgrowth is the #1 self-improvement site on the web.) The labor pains we experienced while creating the home study course have been followed by the joy of fulfillment in seeing what it is doing for others.

We send our love and express gratitude for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the wonder of his birth, that through him all things may be overcome which separate us from the Love of God. We’re grateful for the challenges, for his tender mercies, and continual outpouring of blessings whether they show up in the form of relief and abundance, or opportunity for growth and increased humility. May we all feel the peace our family enjoyed at Christmastime, throughout the upcoming year.

Sincerely, Leslie Householder and family