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.

“How can I get my kids to help around the house?”

(post originally dated 11/19/14–migrated from Sarah’s old blog)

A homeschooling mom of four just wrote to me to ask how to get kids to do chores with a cheerful attitude. (I am a homeschooling mom of ten, ages 2 to 15, and one due in Feb.) I have had a lot of success in raising my kids to be happy helpers with a strong work ethic. So here is my advice.

The best way to get children to do chores with a happy and willing heart is to model for them the behavior you want to see. Sing and smile and dance and be cheerful when doing the housework, turn on the happy music, make it look fun. They will copy you. The most important thing is being a model of the smiles and work ethic you want them to have.

See your own work as a privilege and invite them to be part of doing things that you do. With my young ones I will say “I’m not sure if you are big enough to wash dishes.” And the reply will be “I’m big enough!” And they will set out to prove it, with pride. 

I also reward the kids for excellent work, even a smile from mom, or a handful of berries can be a reward. I want to teach them that quality work is rewarded. I don’t have extra money to pay them every time they do an extra job, so instead of buying them everything they need and want, I give them a chance to earn these things. Maybe you plan to buy new bikes for the kids in the future – don’t just buy them the bikes, let them help earn the money you are going to spend on the bikes so they will see the results of their labor. Maybe you are going to yard sales this weekend and expect to spend 3 or 4 dollars on toys, let them earn their garage sale money, even 25 cents can go pretty far at a yard sale! (click here to continue reading)

“Ruined” Kids or Thriving Kids?

When you have kids who have symptoms of Dyslexia, ADHD, Autism, all kinds of Dyscalculia or neuro-divergent kids, they are not going to thrive in the box. We can’t put them in the box. You are all Fun-Schooling either because you didn’t want to put your kid in the box, or maybe your kid was in the box, and you were the awesome mom who pulled them out of it and took responsibility for their education.

Now, it’s really scary to be in charge of the education of another human being. We can think, “What if I ruin my kids?”  My well-meaning relatives were right there, encouraging me to think those thoughts. They had me thinking, “I am probably destroying my kids”. Let me tell you where my 4 homeschool graduates are right now.

Isaac is currently going to school in Pennsylvania, while continuing to work in music, film and publishing with his wife, Rita. Together they published several bestselling Thinking Tree books with us. They are enjoying a passive income from their work. The titles include: All About Money, which is one of our most popular books, American History, Camera Quest, Gardening and almost all of the Minecraft books.He and his wife are living the life that they want to live, and have been traveling a lot and doing adventures and look forward to raising children someday.

I have a daughter who is going to New York City because she wrote a musical which is being produced by a Broadway team. They are workshopping her musical on Time Square this spring. It’s pretty exciting stuff! She and our daughter Rachel are a team and they’ve been working together with the director who produced Newsies, Grease, High School Musical, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on Broadway. Pretty cool stuff my girls are doing.  Also Rachel works at a macaron shop in Texas and paints paintings that are pretty amazing.

Our daughter Esther lives in Honolulu, supporting herself, and she has a booming photography business. She’ll work 4-5 months, save up money, and then go traveling. And then repeat!

Our daughter Naomi has a dog accessories business and she keeps buying horses. She’s living the dream. The cool thing about our kids and how we Fun-School is they are already living the dream right now. Life isn’t something that happens when they graduate. Life is going on right now and they are planning their days, what they want to do, what they are going to be, what they want to pursue. Our kids have businesses and incomes and are making all the money they need to do all the stuff kids want to do. I’ve had 5 kids turn 18 or 19 and move out, and I don’t support them anymore. They support themselves.

I’d say they are thriving.

Are You Raising Clever Kids?

The whole point of Fun-Schooling is learning how to raise clever children. So, let’s talk about the meaning of the word “clever”. When we hear people talk about education, and what parents are supposed to do to raise kids that are going to be successful and get good educations, we don’t usually hear the word “clever”.

This is the essential meaning of “clever”:

“Intelligent, able to learn things quickly, intelligent thinking, funny in a way that shows intelligence, skillful, mentally quick, resourceful, marked by wit and ingenuity”. 

Webster’s Dictionary

How do we do raise clever kids? By encouraging curiosity, exploration, and wonder–and throwing out all that curriculum that puts your kid in a box where he or she does not belong.

Raising clever kids, especially clever kids with character and curiosity, doesn’t happen in the same way that you raise kids who make good grades. It’s different. I’m not talking about raising kids that are good at taking tests.  I’m talking about raising kids that know how to be creative in life, how to find solutions, and how to love learning.

Let’s talk about what Fun-Schooling is. If you already read my previous backstory on Fun-Schooling, then you know a little about my story and how I started homeschooling when I was 14 by pulling myself out of public school (and all its drama) with the help of my mom and dad. We went a totally different way with our homeschooling. Nobody was telling anybody how to homeschool back 21 years ago. We went to the library and got a whole bunch of books about everything I was curious about.

Do you know that true learning is fueled by curiosity? I want you to think for a minute about all the materials and things you are using with your kids. Do they inspire curiosity? Do they answer the questions that your child has about life? Kids naturally want to figure out how to grow up and do things. Some people a long time ago got an idea that there’s a whole bunch of content that you have to put in a child’s brain and make them memorize so that they can be successful. You aren’t raising kids to be clever that way. You are raising kids who try really hard to memorize things, and then forget it.  I want to raise kids who have skills. I want to raise kids who never lose the wonder and curiosity they had when they were five.

Think about your kids when they were five. They were like, “Why is the sky blue? Why does a cat have fur?” Kids don’t have to lose that curiosity and wonder. Traditional schooling methods take that away, and destroy it. Typical schooling methods tell the child what to learn and to stop asking questions. Memorize the facts If a child is good at memorizing things, then he or she is considered to be a good student by the system.

So many kids cannot memorize…and most of the they are being made to memorize doesn’t matter. Kids will ask, “When am I going to use these things in real life, Mom? Why do I have to learn this? It means nothing to me.”

Guess what? They’re right. Most of it they are never going to use, and a lot of it isn’t really even a building block for their future learning. It’s just a way to move on to the next grade.

Let’s fuel curiosity and raise a generation of clever kids.

Raising Kids Who Are Thinkers

I’m the girl who could not handle structured schooling, it’s because I’m too much of a leader. In the 1980s, when I was in school, it was common for girls to be more easily manipulated by an authoritative system. It was expected of girls to give in, and learn in silence.

Traditional school works so hard to create submissive students. It crushes leaders.

Many boys are also natural leaders and don’t submit quickly to a authoritative system. It’s actually a good quality! Many kids, like me, resist submission, more and more these days. But schools tend to squelch individuality.

Schools don’t raise up leaders. We often are trying to push our kids into submissive learning, and that’s the main idea of socialized public schools. Get all kids to conform, make them good employees and obedient citizens. What are they trying to REALLY do? Create a population that doesn’t ask hard questions.

THINKING moms want to nurture THINKERS and LEADERS. May your homeschooling style reflect the truest of your values and the most precious of your goals.

What does it mean to raise a THINKER?

  • You may raise a child who will question the religion they grew up with.
  • You may raise a child who will question what they hear on the news.
  • They may question the information in their college textbooks.
  • They may question your morality.
  • They may question their future boss.
  • They may question pop culture.
  • They may question family stereotypes.
  • They may question popular political policies.
  • They may question the motives of loved ones.
  • They may question traditional values.
  • They may question law enforcement.
  • They may question the traditional historic narrative.
  • The may question their identity.
  • They may question their heritage.
  • They may question the main stream thought cycle.
  • They may question the wisdom of debt.

Can we all agree we want to raise THINKING children who are brave enough to question everything? Even traditional values and popular reasoning.
If you say you want to raise a THINKER but will shun your child if they ask uncomfortable questions, you are not really raising a thinker.

My teens all went through a stage of deeply questioning my faith, values and political perspective. For example some of them came through this period of intense questioning with a decision to be part of a church that is not like the one they grew up in.

Are you okay with raising thinkers? It’s risky! You may try to say “Be a thinker… but never question…”
And don’t forget kindness, compassion, understanding and personal liberty in the process!

Discover Your Child’s Secret Learning Language with Legos!

Your child doesn’t learn like other kids. He has to be on the go. She is always creating something new. He just wants to play… ALL THE TIME. She’s not interested in textbooks, but she likes computers. He is in his own world. She loves field trips and hates sitting still. She can’t stop talking. He daydreams. She doodles. She is perfect. He is perfect. They just have a different way of learning.

You may feel like your child is failing in school, when in reality he or she can’t learn well in the traditional educational environment! Some kids have to learn through creating, exploring, asking questions and by investigating. They can’t just sit still and learn quietly in a desk, in a classroom, or with a teacher! You may not know how to discover your child’s optimal learning environment. You may not understand your child’s learning style, but figuring out how your child learns is easier than you think! Just watch him or her PLAY! By watching your child plays with Legos you can discover a lot about your child’s learning style and learning language!

I’ve found that most kids have a dominant learning language. There are five types of learners. You can understand what your child’s learning language is by the way he or she plays with, cares for, and uses his or her Legos.

The FIVE Learning Languages (or Personalities) include: Followers, Friends, Explorers, Detectives and Creators

You can’t really learn about your child’s learning language by the way they approach school work, because most schoolwork is geared toward one type of learner, the Follower. I have found that Legos give kids freedom to be who they were meant to be, so you should be able to really see their true colors shine when they play with them, sort them, collect them and build with them.

Typical education methods usually push kids into a mold that wants to make them into a Follower. Many kids fight with these learning methods because they can’t understand or enjoy such a style of learning. Once you understand how your child naturally relates to learning, you can give them the right tools, the right education, and the most efficient help.

I will explain each of the learning languages that I have observed in homeschooled children, because I have ten children of my own, and have worked with thousands of homeschoolers who are gifted or have learning challenges over the past 10 years. If your child is in school, or your homeschooling methods have been used to make the child into a Follower, you may need to remember what they were like when they were 3 to 5 years old. It’s not a bad thing to be a Follower, if you are a Follower in your heart. Followers actually enjoy school, but if your child resists normal schoolwork, he might speak one of the other 4 learning languages.

I call it a learning language, because we often only understand our own language, or the one we grew up with. We are all parenting unique children with unique needs, and we need to seek to understand how each child learns best. Once we learn their language we can change the way we teach them and we will be able to see and appreciate their amazing abilities. (Click Page 2 below to continue reading)

Sarah’s Mom Tips – Choosing a Major & Why 13 Is the Magic Number

I have noticed that between age 11 and 14 every child begins to develop a deep interest in one or two specific areas. If we don’t discourage them they can become experts. If they don’t embrace that passion for a specific career at that point they often drift into a season of fog where they don’t feel like they have purpose. At that point many teens drift into rebellion, confusion or a feeling of being aimless and like their lives have no value.
The kids who are encouraged to dig deep into their passion as a young teen develop a healthy and confident perspective. Even if they change “majors” they will never forget the skills they learned.

One of the most important ways we can invest in our children’s talents is by NOT distracting them or diverting their attention when they are focused on a project. I give my kids vast amounts of time to pour into their passions. Even if it means setting aside my preconceived ideas about what a kid should do and learn at their grade level. This is my daughter Susannah, she’s 14, and is focused on art.


Kids forget most of the information that they do not use, but once they learn a skill it is theirs for a lifetime.
What is your child passionate about? What careers relate to it? Is it a topic that other people are interested in? If your child spends a few years becoming an expert in that area they will be able to build a portfolio, and have real life experience in that field.
As an older teen they can volunteer to assist someone who is a professional in that field and get their foot in the door. Once they show their value, they can begin to be an important part of that business, so valuable that they will get a position working in that field.
At this point, as a young teen, they need to focus on people skills, leadership skills, teamwork, and character building.
I have seen many people take this path into the business world, where they end up doing what they love, and getting paid well for it.

Sarah’s Mom Tips – Homeschooling High School Outside the Box

(Note: This information is gleaned from a post in our Facebook Fun-Schooling Mom Support Group, dated 2017)

I don’t force my kids to learn anything that is obviously irrelevant.

I don’t teach toward college.

Naomi (then 11) volunteering as a barista, she is learning to clean the coffee bar right now.

I lead them toward a specific career starting at age 13. All of my kids look forward to turning 13, because they know that it is the big birthday where we buy them professional equipment based on their current passion, hobby or interest. Most kids feel like they don’t need to think about a career until they are choosing a college. It’s a different mindset. At 13 Isaac wanted to be a chef, Anna wanted to be a baker, Esther wanted to be a photographer, Rachel wanted to be a musician. Naomi wants to be a horse trainer. I expect to invest about $750 at that point.

We have more freedom to specialize and build real skills. The biggest obstacle to developing real skills as a teen is an addiction to media. I have limited my teens to about two hours a week on games or entertainment at times. Pull the plug. It’s great that your daughter knows what she wants to do, that is what my oldest son is doing.

Anna, helping with craft clean up, after hosting over 100 kids at an outreach. Great skills! Cleaning!

I am having them build portfolios and major now (this is from a post dated 2017) in the things they would learn in college later. Film, missions, caregiving, music, art, publishing, horsemanship, dog training, cooking, childcare, leadership, teaching, graphic design, editing, administration, baking, volunteering, drama, team building, event planning, entertaining children, photography. At this point (2017) the five oldest are already working professionally or as volunteers in these areas.

Our kids have very rich lives and lack no opportunity to use their skills to be a blessing wherever we go. Just thinking about today they are working as baristas, planning and organizing activities for 100 kids, editing their own film, taking care of their siblings while my husband and I cared for my mom who is in the hospital. They are illustrating books, they are managing their money, they planned a birthday party for their little sister, did all the shopping and baking, they are hosting new missionaries in our home, they are learning Russian. That was just today.

The goal is for each one to be an expert in their field by age 18, and to have an income source to support themselves.

If they need college to further their goals, they can show a great portfolio, and pay for it themselves.

I don’t really want them to go deep in debt over a degree though. Most kids don’t have a chance to develop their skills and become specialized in anything at a young age, because so much time is taken up on irrelevant things. 🙂

Ask God for wisdom for each child, and He will guide you, that could mean teaching toward tests, college, careers, missions, homemaking or anything.

How and Why to Choose a Major for Your Child at a Young Age

When helping your child choose a major, remember, each topic is important and if your child is passionate about a topic set them free to go deep and research all aspects of the topic. The goal is for the child to begin learning in a deep and joyful way, where they will indulge their curiosity through passionate research that leads to creativity and excellence. 

Parents and Educators often allow children to only scratch the surface of the things that interest them, because we want them to be “well rounded and normal”. Perhaps we pull them away from art to force them to focus on memorizing math facts or learn about the Civil War. I challenge you to just choose two themes for your child to “Major” in and go very deep, opening all the doors and windows that lead to deeper discovery and expertise. Don’t raise a well rounded child. Raise a child that is very skilled and an expert in their chosen fields, that is the foundation of a life of learning.  

Twelve Ways to Help Your Child Master their Major:

1. Help your child choose books on the topic they love.  
2. Take your child to the bookstore or Library, and don’t limit them by only visiting the children’s section.  
3. Build a fun-Schooling Basket with items that represent your child’s interest.  
4. Learn about jobs that involve your child’s favorite topic.  
5. Use these topics as a theme when choosing books for the Main Curriculum Journal.  
6. Encourage the student to meet people who are experts in the field your child loves, go on a field trip to a relevant location.
7. Choose films and documentaries about the topic. 
8. Allow your child to take lessons or watch tutorials about the skills involved in the topic. 
9. Find ways to use the skills and knowledge your child is developing in practical ways at home.
10. Allow your child to volunteer in a related field. 
11. Help your child to study the history related to the subject of interest. 
12. Allow your child to study the life and biographies of people who are also passionate about the topic. 

Once the child becomes an expert in one area they will be able to build a future in that area, or use the skills they developed in researching that topic, and apply those skills to ANY topic they want to unlock and master for the rest of their lives. 
When we homeschool we are FREE to spend five years majoring in film-making, fashion, the arts or horsemanship.
Can you think of a topic your child might choose that does not involve history, science, mathematics, politics, social aspects, literature, geography, economics, and art?  You don’t have to study each subject independent of the child’s passion.

To fully engage the child and make the most of their time – let all things spring from the passion of their heart and mind. 

Embrace the Natural Process of Learning:

When a child explores their passion first they will be curious, next they will play, next they will explore, next they will research, Next they will question, next they will copy, next they will communicate, next they will seek mastery, and in mastering they will apply the learning and create. Allow your child the joy of EVERY phase of true learning. when we try to control the learning process we do it out of order, and seek results. Allow the child to spend as much time as they need in each area, and bounce back and forth between the stages. Play (not practice) is actually the most powerful form of learning, creativity is the expression of learning and looks a lot like play. 

Let go of false expectations… and hold on tight to what you know is true. Children are born to learn, just look at how they learned to speak! They are able, we only hold them back with our limiting forms of teaching that seek to mold them into the shape of society, and give them a watered down education that is irrelevant and brings no joy. 

Learning is playful, creative and joyful, and if you have a hard time believing it, you need to listen to a bunch of TED Talks on this topic. If people close to you are being critical, send them the TED Talks. 

Teach your child from a place of rest, through your example, not through guilt. When you fun-school there are no gaps, your child will be equipped to learn everything they need to know when they need it. You don’t need to strive for standardization, there are millions of standardize students, the world needs more creative people. Do not education through fear, have faith in the natural learning process and trust in the way your child is designed. There is need to restrict or limit your child with educational fluff and educational walls.

You are free to equip and empower your child though the careful facilitation, and nurture, that comes only through the love of a mother who truly knows her child.