Sarah’s Mom Tips: Two Questions to Jump Start Your Fun-Schooling

Do you have kids who don’t want anything to do with “FUN-school”?

MOM TIP: Some kids blank out, show resistance and roll their eyes when you say “What do you want to learn about?”

I have found that you will get a lot farther with a difficult child when you ask these 2 questions instead:

1. What do you want to DO?

2. What do you want to KNOW?

Learning is just the journey to reach the end goals of “knowing and doing.” Kids WANT to DO and KNOW.

To learn is HOW we find out the way to DO & to KNOW.

The idea of learning makes kids miserable because so much of traditional learning is irrelevant to their goals of DOING and KNOWING.

Every child wants to KNOW STUFF.

Every Child wants to DO STUFF.

Even my five new kids who spent 4 years in an orphanage want to KNOW and DO… but ask them what they want to “Learn for School” and they meltdown or shutdown or reject the whole idea of learning. They were so excited to talk about what they want to KNOW and DO.

Once I knew what they were interested in actually accomplishing, I started giving them tools to reach their goals, and they don’t even think it is “education” because this looks nothing like the “school” they had in mind.

How to Fail Well

Do you remember The Magic School Bus? Miss Frizzell, the teacher, would always say, “Take chances, get messy, make mistakes!” She had it right!

Above is a little message I posted in 2020 on our YouTube channel, about why we should be willing to fail, mess up and get messy in life. Two moms left me a comment that I thought many of us could relate to… you can read them at the YouTube link.

One mom is so afraid that she will make mistakes and her kids could have a hard life because of her failures…

My thoughts on this: Guess what? It’s actually okay if our kids fail, it’s okay if life is hard for them, it’s okay for them to learn tough lessons. What they need is a mom who is an example of trying again. We actually need to teach our kids to fail gracefully, rather than not fail.

Learning how to fail well is an important life skill!

Failure is good for our kids. Let them experience the natural consequences of their actions. We often protect our kids from very good learning experiences – because we want to look like good parents. We often try too hard to cushion the fall or step in just before they mess something up. We wear ourselves out trying to puff them up. Mistakes are necessary, they help us mature. Don’t be shocked when they mess up, love them through it – but don’t feel like mom always needs to bail them out.

Show grace or compassion – be intentional about it. Encourage them to deal with the messes that they make. Don’t try to fix everything for them. Let them figure out how to handle their wrongs and try to make things right. What I mean is that they need to learn to take responsibility so they can grow up and be responsible.

I’m not saying to let them do serious damage, of course – but when they do cause damage (and they will do some awful stinky things) expect it and let them make things right. You don’t need to do everything for them.

Life will be hard for everyone at some point or other. But what can help people overcome in hard times?

Faith. Creativity. Innovation. And a willingness to get back up, try again, learn and grow, and invest in their relationships during hard times. Instead of trying to do your best to help your kids avoid failing and hard times, show them how to handle it well.

Go and have a messy life!

Become a Facilitator!

Taken from a 2018 Facebook post…almost exactly 4 years ago…still so much here to encourage parents!

I have found that with Fun-Schooling, or Delight Directed Learning, and intentional unschooling, many children rise to a much higher level of focused learning and accomplishment… sooner than kids in school, and seem to be ready to start their careers at much younger ages. I notice that by about age 14, once they get through the “brain dead stage” the young adult is ready to start trying out their careers in the real world from the safety and support of home. It’s no longer about LEARNING, but DOING!

Let me explain:

When my oldest son was 16 he scared me. He said, “Mom I want to study music, film and create documentaries, be a sound engineer, do voice acting and a little bit of publishing. I don’t want to do any math that is not related to my goals…”

He was sort of asking permission, and sort of letting me know he was ready to take charge of his life, mind, learning and goals.

So, I did all I could to equip him to reach HIS goals and I let go of mine. He spent two years (at home) focused on the things he needed to become great in HIS field, not some random set of educational goals drawn out in 1955 (or whatever) by people who wanted more obedient citizens and good employees in the workforce.

Once a young man or woman has their heart and mind set on what he or she wants to become, get everything out of the way that could be a distraction. Empower him or her with every tool they need to become the best at what they want to do. If what they want to do requires college, they will be motivated to study for that track and build a portfolio. If they want to start a business or trade, they can just do it.

What if he had the option of dropping everything else and focusing entirely on being an expert in Social Media Marketing and Travel Vlogging? Just think of all the debt he can avoid if he builds a business now, rather than paying for a degree.

I set my son free and told him that if he decided later that he needed college he would be entirely responsible for all the entrance requirements, and I washed my hands of it. He is no longer one bit my responsibility. I put his education into his hands at 16. He was able to start doing everything he wanted to do with his life. And he did it well. He did it without distraction. He did it without me forcing him to take calculus and biology. He had two full years of living at home and starting his career before needing to have an income to support himself… and future family.

He’s enjoyed his life on his own, and now with his wife, and is just fine at generating income, he has no debt. He is a traveler and volunteer, does music, film making, and makes stupid Jazz Memes. He and his wife are happy, and when they needed more income they did what they needed to do, and fell back on the skills that make money.

Parented, directed education ends when the child knows that they want to become and is willing to start doing it. At that point we become facilitators.

I have older children now that are no longer “schooling” and have already embraced their own futures and are living them out. They are not just preparing to “someday” become something. They have all started their careers and are actively working at becoming great, while still at home. I know that my teens need time to perfect their skills, and now they may be only earning a few hundred dollars a week at their trades, but it is something, and they can learn to reinvest it. At this time they don’t need to put that money into rent and food, so a little becomes a lot. Imagine having $300 a week, no expenses and no debt! How would you use or invest that money? Mine put it back into their trades and invested in their own businesses. At times some of my kids have made hundreds of dollars per day. They are not bogged down by education, they are DOING their dreams now, and doing it from home.

I respond to their needs so that nothing will hold them back. My daughter seemed to have one or two big clients coming to the island every week to do photography with her because she was so good. She made her work affordable and was attracting many new clients, and she’s nice and showed up on time, even without a car.

My other two spent time in many different parts of the world doing music professionally, and were overseeing a recording project that about 30 – 40 music artists were working on. It was so good that some very well known musicians got involved and contributed to the work. My daughter Rachel taught harmony parts to people who have graduated from theater and music school. My kids are confident and don’t feel limited.

I really believe that when a child is ready to become who they want to be, they are willing to pour their hearts, minds, energy and effort into that passion. I am becoming more and more fearless as I trust the way my children were designed, as all children, to thrive. Every one of them works hard to learn everything they need to do their meaningful work very very well, and I am not going to fight it, I’m going to encourage it, and get all the nonsense out of the way.

If any one my kids decided that they do want to go to college and need high school credits, I’ll work with them to get it done, I’ll buy the books and sign them up for online courses, send them to a tutor… but the motivation, responsibility, results, and work is THEIRS.

A Day Full of “Yes!”

You have heard of homeschooling, and maybe you have heard of Un-Schooling… Well this family enjoys FUN-Schooling (find out how to Flip to Fun-Schooling here)! Watch what happens when a mom practices saying “yes” to whatever the kids want to do…

“Can I build a fort?”

Yes.

“Can I make the dinner?”

Yes.

“Can I sew buttons?”

Yes.

“Can all my friends come over?”

Yes.

“Can I play with your coin collection?”

Yes.

“Can I sew a purse?”

Yes.

“Can I spend the whole day reading?”

Yes. Yes. Yes. (Note: This doesn’t happen everyday.)

This little video below is full of wistful memories and children who were much smaller…a decade ago! It shows what a day full of “Yes!” looks like!

And, while you’re at it…tell yourself “Yes!” about something you really want to do today!

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Don’t Fear a “Learning Gap”

Don’t be afraid of learning gaps.

Kids don’t need to learn everything.

Kids need to know HOW to learn what they need when they need it.

Sometimes we fear learning gaps, but if a child knows HOW to research there will be no permanent holes because the child will be capable of learning on the go.

There is no way to prepare a child for what life and the economy will look like when they are adults.

Today’s standardized education is already behind.

It is research skills, creativity, character and resourcefulness that will insure potential for successful adult life.

Thinking Tree focuses on life skills, thinking skills, planning skills, being innovative, being creative, being resourceful, great character development, having excellent research skills, reading and writing skills and a strong work ethic. These things are NOT usually part of a standardized curriculum plan. You may worry that your kids will not be on grade level; but the skills that matter most are often overlooked and undervalued.

Raising Employees?

Joe does passion-based homeschooling. He is in charge of his education and uses Fun-Schooling Journals, Tuttle Twins Books and a lot of Usborne books.

Real life has no instructions. All children grow into adults who encounter situations and opportunities where no one explains what to do. We want our children to think and be innovative. Almost all normal schoolwork is based on following instructions and memorizing information. At our house we don’t do that.

When I created all of my homeschooling books I created them for my kids. I am specifically designing a method of learning to inspire thinking, problem solving and innovation. Because my kids have dyslexia and Asperger’s (like me), we are not going to follow a normal path. My kids would never make good employees so I don’t expect any of my children to be employees. I expect them all to have an awesome work ethic and to be business owners and managers of their own families and homes. The public system is training millions of children to be employees – who have a very watered down work ethic. I would never choose to hire common core kids. That’s not our goal, so we are traveling a unique path. Each child is unique and so we focus on their gifts and interests.

Now, they will learn to be good workers because I am giving them all opportunities to learn by working in the home and the family business, and they serve with missionaries and in church. When they volunteer, they really shine.

I never actually expected so many other people jump in and use my books, but I think that your children will really be blessed and your families will enjoy homeschooling with these methods.

I wasn’t creating school books that will help the children to fit into a mold that prepares them for “higher education”. SORRY! My goal is for my children to be innovative business owners with steady incomes by age 20, who do not need “higher education or an extended adolescence” to prepare for real life. If your child needs that, go for it! No shame! It’s all good! We need all kinds of people in the world. Just don’t plan your child’s education based on an antiquated view of what education should be.

Knowing our goals, I try not to waste my children’s time, brain space, and energy on schoolwork that doesn’t prepare them for real life. I am a bit of a rebel, and sometimes I worry that my kids might miss something… but they are proving me wrong. Whenever my teens need to learn something simple or complex, they get it done! They rarely ask for help anymore (unless they are trying to open a bank account, need a new computer, need an investor, or are filling out forms to become Amazon Associates).

Our kids are all excelling in their own way, developing their own talents and starting their own businesses – often before I even have a chance to show them how. They all have strong faith and family values.

One thing I have them do is read popular adult level books on marketing, business, and leadership. I also have them building websites and creating real books at a young age – check out our “Notebooks for Creative People” on Amazon. We don’t use textbooks, we always use well-written and interesting REAL books by passionate experts on every subject we want to study. We don’t just unschool, (though it works on many levels) because I really want to pass on my favorite books, family values, faith and traditions.

Sometimes I wonder what will become of all these creative thinkers and innovative children who adore my books. I would like to know what your children are passionate about, and how you are helping them to learn!

Math Craft: Not Just for Dyscalculia!

Not Only for Dyscalculia! 

Math Craft has proven to be a fun way to introduce math to young children, not only those with Dyscalculia. Children who struggle with math in school also enjoy the games. They are an entirely different way to learn than what is taught in classrooms. It has also been a good way to ease children into homeschooling after leaving a school setting or for kids who had a negative experience with math. Older siblings love to do these games with their younger siblings too! 

Helping Adults to Stop Counting on Their Fingers

Moms who played the games with their children also saw benefits for themselves. Many had always counted on their fingers and struggled with basic math. It is likely some have Dyscalculia and were never diagnosed. Schools also tend to pass children along with levels in math before they’re ready, especially with girls, so bad habits develop. We’ve been thrilled to hear from adults who have seen progress and gained confidence in math after playing the games with their kids. Plus the kids love to see their parents being good examples and learning too! 

After Math Craft

Parents often wonder what the best path to take is after a student has completed Math Craft. We suggest one of our Math journals. They are written in a similar style and will be a good way for students to practice their new skills. Math Mysteries, Comic Book Math, and Math for Minecrafters are especially good options. Multiplication Games is a good journal for students who need help with memorizing their Multiplication tables. 

Families can use our journals exclusively for a few years or combine them with a math curriculum of their choice. Life of Fred is a popular option among many Fun-Schoolers and seems to be Dyscalculia-Friendly because Math is presented as a story. There are many other options out there too! What’s your favorite?

Teen Boys: What’s a Homeschool Mom to Do?

(In this post, we’ll go back in time to a Facebook post from 2015 and look at the model we followed (and still do) for homeschooling our teens. Sometimes it helps to see what it “looks like”!)

People often ask me what I do with my teens for school.  Here is a question that must be answered to start going in the right direction:

If you knew what your child was going to be when he (or she) grows up what kind of education would you provide?

Public educators expect kids to choose a “minor and major” when they go to college.  I expect my kids to study specific “minors and a major” starting in elementary school, and getting very serious at age 13.  For their 13th birthday we have a themed party based on their “career dreams” at the time.  Isaac wanted to be a chef at age 13, Anna wanted to be a baker, Estera wanted to be a photographer.  So you can imagine their parties!

Isaac, age 14

This is what my 16 year old son is studying this year–everything is relevant to his life and goals:

#1 Creative Online Marketing

#2 Publishing

#3 Personal Money Management

#4 Project Management (He is building a Minecraft server for homeschoolers with a history and inventions theme. He has a couple nerds working for him.)

#5 Music & Video Production (click here to see a documentary video he created!)

#6 Cats – He wants to breed and sell show cats, and make coloring books, an online community and a website for cat lovers.

#7 Bible, Missions, Evangelism and Teaching Students

#8 History (This is his passion, he loves Uncle Eric Books)

#9 Family, Relationships – Preparation for being a dad and husband.  He jokes about how taking care of his cats is prep for parenting, and he does want to get married and have a family of his own, and he knows that he will need to provide for that family.

#10 Cooking – in the past he wanted to be a chef, so we spent a couple years to help him train, he had two jobs as a personal chef at age 14 and 15.  Now he isn’t as interested, but could easily get a job as a chef at any point, and has great references. We invested a lot of time and resources in his previous passion for cooking – now he doesn’t want to be a cook.  Was that a waste of investment?  NO!  His family will be thankful, and he has something to fall back on… and he’s only 16.  The boy has skills. 

#11 Voice Acting.. Why not? Someone has to do it!

As you can see he has no time for a typical learning plan. We don’t do any formal math just practical math.  I am not worried about higher education, credits, testing, college.  He isn’t going to need a diploma to get a job.  He will be an entrepreneur; he will be the one hiring.  I have talked to him about higher education and the things he would need to do to take that path in the future. He knows that if he wants to go to college later he can prepare for the testing on his own and do it. He has plenty of time for hobbies and is very good at sports.

I started allowing my children to choose majors and minor when Anna (my 1st dyslexic child) was seven. She couldn’t read and write, so art, gardening and cooking were everything for two years until I invented Dyslexia Games

When people ask me about homeschooling and what the kids are doing I might talk might sound like I am talking about a college student, not a 7 year old.

I am not at all worried about higher education, I start giving them a higher education at age 13.

What would each of your children like to major in this year if they had the choice?

If your child wants to be an artist and mommy – take her seriously! Help her to become the best artist and mommy ever! That’s what I wanted to be my whole life… and that is what I have become.

Today, our son is 23, married, finishing Bible College this May, and is a composer. He’s running a recording studio as well. He has been supporting himself for five years.

Our son Isaac and his beautiful wife, Margarita

Let Them Be Bored

(excerpted from advice offered via a Facebook post in 2016)

let your child be bored

Mom Tip: Boredom is not a bad thing.  When a child is bored don’t look for a way to entertain them. They need a little time everyday when they don’t feel like doing all the normal things they usually do. They need time to think, ponder, reflect, tinker, wander, and think some more.   Modern parents don’t realize that boredom is essential to childhood development and parents are quick to feed the child’s first desire: To be ENTERTAINED. 

What is your child’s DEFAULT MODE when they have a moment of boredom?  Some kids turn to a device, a game, TV, a book, a coloring book, go climb trees, start drawing, or of course they start whining, picking fights and complaining.

I will take a little time now to think of every person in my family and see if I can answer that question: What is the first thing they want to do when they have a moment of boredom or free-time?

Me:  I default to cleaning… or nit-picking everyone else for leaving messes.

My Husband: He defaults to… me… He wants to have time with me, if I am busy he thinks of some errand to run.

Isaac (16): Music.  He wants to go do something related to music.

Anna (15): Hmmmmm… 1st she wants to talk or play with her sisters. If they are busy she goes to her room and dumps out her creative stuff, or bakes or asks for the password for the computer, or bickers with her sister. She always finds something to do, and there is a lot of variety in her choices.  She is the child who is NEVER bored.

Esther (14): Guitar practice and reading.

Rachel (13): Piano and Journaling.

Naomi (11): She wants to play Minecraft, but usually she takes the dog for a walk. If the weather is bad she rearranges all her stuff in her room.

Susie (9): She asks to use the computer, but usually ends up getting out an animal encyclopedia and makes tiny animals out of paper, then she cuts them out and gives them as gifts.  She made a zillion little paper birds recently, I showed her how to create a book with them.

Laura (7): Wants to watch Dogs 101, over and over and over. If I say no, she finds someone to play with or fight with.

Joseph(6): Just started playing Minecraft a month ago.  So first he asks to do that. When I say no he plays with Legos or draws Minecraft pictures.

Ember(3): Dumps her clothing drawer and puts on something that is her “favorite color” of the day. Once she changes her clothes she joins in on whatever Laura or Joe are doing. (click here to continue reading)

Transitioning Toward Adult Life

Here are some books that are very important for my 12 to 15 year-olds.  At this age, we are transitioning them from mainly studying what they love, to requiring some things that we believe they really need to master, to do well in adult life.

They will study their preferred majors and minors most of the time, but at least once a week, they need to spend a couple hours with some of these books.

At ages 12 to 15 I want my children to study leadership, economics and grammar while I expose them to many options for a future calling or career.  If they already have chosen an occupation, we get specific. For example, you can’t just major in horses. You need to choose one or two horse-related career options to train in.  You can’t just focus on general photography. You need a specific market. You can’t just major in the Arts. You need to focus your skill building in one main area, maybe two…like producing a musical. You can’t just keep playing around with lots of different artistic mediums, you need to master the one you love the most.

By age 14, they need to make a serious choice about what calling or career they want to pursue so we can focus on training, gaining experience, skills, providing equipment, volunteering or internships in the area they choose.

From age 14 to 18 we will help them turn their dream into an income source, or help them get involved with others who are living out the calling they want to pursue. They will gain 4 years of practical experience in the field. I will also ONLY require them to learn the math specialized to their future occupation.  If they change careers, they will have something to fall back on. And, they might just have a source of passive income to help them take the next step.

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