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.

Why Do We Homeschool?

homeschool learning requires no desk

We love homeschooling because it gives us the freedom to customize each child’s education according to their strengths, weaknesses, interests, talents, needs, aspirations, hobbies, individual life callings, disabilities & careers plans. Not only that, it gives the family freedom to travel, see the world and put our family first. We can spend our days learning and living as a family.

Education is not the highest priority in the life of our family–love is. We don’t want school to be the main focus of the child’s life during these precious years of childhood. We want each child to have time to experience all the joys of growing up with freedom to play, explore, and learn through real life.

Because we homeschool, learning happens naturally in real life. In normal school kids learn how to live on paper, or on a computer, before applying that knowledge to real life.

Much of what kids learn in school is now irrelevant to real life. With homeschooling we allow learning to happen first in real life, and if needed we apply that learning to paper so the child can master the knowledge and research it further. When a child discovers their dreams, their callings or their desires to start a career, the training can begin…NOW.

Our children learn through Thinking Tree Books, YouTube, books they choose on Amazon, the library, and so much more. They spend lots of time traveling, volunteering, playing, creating, and engaging in music projects, art projects, animal care and research.

Thinking Tree Journals allow us to create beautiful portfolios of each child’s work and research to document their eclectic learning journeys.

Giving Your Children the Gift of Time

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These paintings are by my daughter Rachel, age 16. How did she get so good? How can you help your children develop their talents at a young age?

Give your children the gift of TIME, and invest in their passions.

One beautiful thing about being home with our families is the chance we have to let our children totally immerse in their passions. Embrace the unique opportunity of TODAY. Because of Covid-19 we are all living more home-centered lives. Let this extra time at home be a time in your family when talents bloom and grow.

1. Chill. Stop pushing them in the direction you want them to go in.  Let go of anything, including irrelevant schoolwork, that stresses your children, or brings contention between you and your children. Stop focusing on the child’s weaknesses and total invest in their gifts instead. Let your child focus on becoming who they want to become. Take your child’s hobbies and interests seriously.

2. Allow Boredom. We don’t need to entertain our children. We need to empower them. What an incredible opportunity we have to set aside all the clutter, business, non-essentials and immerse in our talents. Let your children become bored without immediately feeding their boredom with a screen, an activity, a plan, a game, or worksheets. Let them learn to muse, have ideas, become thinkers, inventors, artists, dreamers and creators.

3. Give. When your child shows interest in something, give them the time they need to explore that interest. If possible provide books, tutorials and supplies to help them learn more. Let them go beyond learning about it to actually DOING it themselves.

4. Leave them alone. When you see that your child is truly immerses in their passion, don’t interrupt them. To become great at anything a person needs to get into the FLOW. They need to lose themselves in their passion while they work on their project. It’s like they are in another world. They can focus deeply and pour their mind and imagination into learning and creating. When your child is in the FLOW and totally losing track of time, really focused, that’s when talent is taking over. Respect your child’s focus.

5. Celebrate their work. Don’t expect perfection to develop quickly. Praise progress, creativity, and focus. Display their work in the home and on social media. Show others how proud you are of your child’s efforts and talents.

In our normal rushed and busy life children are burdened with so many things they must do. Let it all fall away, and let them become who the were meant to be.

Fun-Schooling for High School Credit

Parents often feel overwhelmed homeschooling high school and assigning credits. Remember, homeschoolers have a lot of flexibility. You don’t have to “school at home.” Your teen is preparing to launch into the world and doesn’t need to sit in a classroom with boring textbooks to thrive! Below is guidance on credits and some options for planning the high school years.

Remember-

Each country and state has different legal requirements. These suggestions should meet the requirements of most places. Please verify requirements where you live.

The HSLDA or your local homeschool support organization are good resources. Check to see if your area requires detailed record-keeping, transcripts, portfolios, testing, evaluation by a certified teacher, or any other records. Some states require in-depth and detailed transcripts while others are very laid back.

HIGH SCHOOL CREDITS

Most states require 15-25 credits for High School Graduation. For example:

Language Arts/English: 4 credits
Math: 3 credits
Science: 3 credits
Social Studies (U..S History): 1 credit
Social Studies (Any other Social Studies): 1 credit
Electives (physical education, home economics, foreign language, music, etc): 9 credits

Total: 21 credits

College-bound students will need a more specific record of courses based on their desired University requirements. The University admissions department will provide those details.

For example, specific science credits needed might be: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, & a Science Elective.
Social Studies might be: U.S. History, World History, American Government .5/Economics .5, Social Studies elective.

College-bound students will also need grades assigned to each completed credit.
Some areas require a more detailed description of courses taken. This can be anything from a short sentence to an entire portfolio of completed work. This is why it’s important to understand your regional laws.

How much work equals one credit?

In most places is 120 hours = 1 credit.
This is time working on journals as well as projects, field trips, interviews, etc. An easy way to track time is for your teen to write the start and end times when they work in a journal. This will also give you an idea of how much time is spent on that subject.

If you don’t have to track time, Fun-Schoolers usually give shorter single-subject journals ½ credit, longer single-subject journals 1 credit, and completed core journals 3-5 credits depending on their size. (click Page 2 to learn about selecting journals and assigning credits with Fun-Schooling)

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Strategies for Different Learning Styles

Recently a mom asked this question:

How should I handle a child who doesn’t put forth much effort on the Fun-Schooling pages?

The truth is, he was just hacking his homeschooling and doing the minimum, which is what kids do when they want to move on to doing something they feel is more important. The problem is that kids all have a different learning style. We make Fun-Schooling journals for all the different styles. Let’s start off by talking about these, and what I call the Five Learning Languages.

There are some kids who are Creators. The kids who are Creators learn everything for one purpose: to create something. All their education has to revolve around creativity. That’s what they are motivated by. These kids will not do normal workbooks. They need things that are open-ended, that revolve around their passions and interests.

Then you have the kids who are Detectives, who get really deep into the one thing they are passionate about. They love research and are not interested in anything that you want to teach them. They are only interested in what they want to learn. They are very difficult to give a standard education to because they aren’t going to remember anything or make any effort to retain anything that doesn’t revolve around their interests.

Then we have the kids who are Explorers. These kids will not sit still. They can’t. They want to be going from place to place. They can give maybe 5-15 minutes of focused attention to some sort of lesson, or activity and then they need to switch. They won’t sit at a desk, doing workbooks, textbooks, or even online school that makes them sit for very long. I developed a lot of materials for this kind of kid. We call them the “active kids”.

Then, the next kind of learner is the Friend Learner. These are kids who are motivated to learn through social experiences. They do not want to sit by themselves and do anything. They want to be with somebody collaborating, bonding, talking, or doing a project or reading with someone. If you ask this kind of kid to do something alone, they are going to get bored and distracted and wander off to find somebody to play with. Sometimes pets help.

Finally, we have the classic students, the little scholars, and we call them the Followers because these kids just want to please the teacher, the boss, the authority, the leader, the parent. They will do everything you ask them to do really well, step by step. They don’t put their heart into it for the sake of learning, but more for the sake of making somebody proud. They really like grades and scores and tests and multiple choice and ways to just prove that they are good at something and worthy. They are really good at “in the box” type of schooling, but a lot of times they don’t tap into their own creativity and curiosity. (click Page 2 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.

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.