Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? A Fast, Clear, and Fun Explanation of the Economics You Need For Success in Your Career, Business, and Investments (An Uncle Eric Book)I highly recommend "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?" to anyone wanting to understand how money works. I was very impressed with how the topics are explained and with how pertinent this information is to our day and time. I wish I had known this information when I was a young adult, I know I would have made different decisions based on that knowledge.

For homeschool curriculum, we were able to do several exercises to help bring the knowledge into "real world" use. There are a few exercises in the back that pinpoint how investing really works that were very eye opening! I was completely shocked that as an adult I had such a poor understanding of money. I am sheepishly ashamed that my public school education so inadequately prepared me for life. Or course, I think that is the point...the government doesn't want us to understand all the shady, underhanded things they are doing. If we did, we would want to fire the whole lot!

Everyone needs to read this book!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Adult Transitions

I've written several posts about young adults (teens) transitioning to Scholar Phase. But, as I move into mentoring adults it is trickier to describe, analyze, and portray what transitioning to Scholar Phase looks like in an adult. This is largely due to the fact that we (the adults) all had a full conveyor-belt education. For those of us using Leadership Education methods, our children have been removed from that system (or are in the process of being removed) and being mentored by adults who are at least aware of what needs to change in some fashion. We did not have the luxury and we have several years of conveyor-belt thinking to "undo".

Adults transitioning to Scholar Phase are mainly blocked by fear -- fear of the unknown, fear of success, fear of worthiness, fear of being different, etc. I'm sure you can fill in your own fears quite well. I had a list of 12 fears when I made my list.

Here were my list of fears:
  1. Age of when Scholar Phase "should" happen - I'm so old! Am I too old?
  2. Impatience - I want it now!
  3. Overwhelmed - It is too hard!
  4. Time commitment involved - I'm a working homeschool mom! When do I have time to study?
  5. Application - "HOW" do I do it?
  6. Preconceived ideas - Getting off the conveyor-belt.
  7. Personal Experience - I was a good conveyor-belt student, but will I be a good Scholar?
  8. College - Will my kids get into college?
  9. Diploma - Will my kids education be accepted?
  10. Graduation - Will they need this? Will they miss it if they don't have it?
  11. Career - How will they make a living?
  12. Initiative - I don't know if I have the "right stuff" to do this.
Maybe your list is different or maybe some things are similar. It doesn't matter if your fears are the same or different. What does matter is getting all your fears listed so you can face them...that's right. Make a list of all your fears so you can see what it is you are up against.

After you have made your list of fears, spend some time thinking about why you are afraid and how you might be able to overcome that fear. Is it a "real" fear or an excuse? Is this something that a change of attitude will cure or a challenge that needs to be rectified (example: spousal support, more education on the subject, etc.)? Is this fear a "stall tactic" to keep you from moving forward?

You...the Barrier
The biggest barrier to your success is...YOU! I have read countless self-help books that all pretty much describe the same thing...self-defeating behaviors because of fear hold us back from the things we want and need.

Some food for thought:
  • Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses. — George Washington Carver
  • Success is never found. Failure is never fatal. Courage is the only thing.  — Winston Churchill
  • Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.— Thomas Alva Edison
  • Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. — Thomas Alva Edison
  • The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it - so fine that we often are on the line and do not know it. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • One of the reasons mature people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure. — John W. Gardner
  • We pay a heavy price for our fear of failure. It is a powerful obstacle to growth. It assures the progressive narrowing of the personality and prevents exploration and experimentation. There is no learning without some difficulty and fumbling. If you want to keep on learning, you must keep on risking failure—all your life. — John W. Gardner

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Father, Husband, Mentor

Every six months we re-write our Compass as part of our Six Month InventorySix Month Purge, and Six Month "No". These three six month activities help us to reorganize our time and efforts. Mike is taking a major role in our weekly Mentor Meetings (also know as FEC - Family Executive Council) and wrote his own Compass as well. I am very happy to see the entire family working together in our education efforts.

I mention this about my husband, because it has been a long time in coming. He has always been supportive of what I have wanted to implement and has always helped me to carry out our schedules and plans. That said, he has not always been super involved in a "hands-on" way. I could tell it made a difference for all of us, my son especially, to see him participate and join in doing the Compass exercise as well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shh! Scholar in Progress!

During our Mentor Meetings Sunday night, a startling discovery was made....I interrupt my Scholars too much. Nayna politely asked during the meeting to not be interrupted during her study hours. I was pretty surprised, because I thought my kids have pretty un-interrupted time, but she explained herself well and was able to make excellent observations about the issue. Mike then commented, "When did you become so grown-up?" (Overnight...almost).

Basically after discussing her needs, we realized that 6 hours of study, which is the time we had allotted for her, is not enough time to accomplish all of her studies on some of our more busy days. She often chooses to use some of her Free Time hours to complete her studies. A new plan is now in place to allow her to complete her studies on days we have to travel into town for events. She has devised her own study plan and a new format for documenting her studies. She used to use a weekly planner as discussed in this post. Last week she created her own weekly checklist with room to write in the chapters, lessons, and other details of what she did that day for that subject.

Her subjects include:
  • Home Study Seminary - Scriptures
  • Reading - Classics and personal choices
  • Math - Math-U-See Algebra I
  • Latin - Wheelocks Latin
  • Music - Choir and Piano
  • Physical Education - Wii Fit Plus, Yoga, Walks, etc.
  • History - Early Modern Times
  • Government - The 5,000 Year Leap
  • Logic
I was thoroughly convinced by this admission that Nayna is over a year into the "Self-Directed Scholar" phase:
The Self-Directed Scholar studies eight to twelve hours a day, five to six days a week, ten to twelve months a year for three to four years.  This 5,00 to 8,000 hours of intense study builds a huge base of knowledge and skill which can be applied to whatever mission the later adult embarks upon.
It is exciting to see that she is really taking charge of her education in every way. I do not do much more than try to stay out of her way now!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How Did It Happen?

Alas, BabylonI've been re-reading "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank. The second time through is definitely an eye-opener. I am understanding things I did not get before. I wanted to share a couple of insights from the book that I feel are relevant in today's society.

From Alas, Babylon:
Note: In this scene, Randy is talking to his brother, a colonel in the military, about the real threat of war in America. It is written in 1959, so the examples are older, but the meaning is relevant to today.

Quote #1:
"How did it happen?" Randy had asked. "Where did we slip?"

"It wasn't lack of money," Mark had replied. "It was state of mind. Chevrolet mentalities shying away from a space-ship world. Nations are like people. When they grow old and rich and fat they get conservative (not politics, conservative in innovation). They exhaust their energy trying to keep things the way they are - and that's against nature. Oh, the services were to blame to. Maybe even SAC. We designed the most beautiful bombers in the world, and built them by the thousands. We improved and modified them each year, like new model cars. We couldn't bear the thought that jet bombers themselves might be out of style. Right now we're in the position of the Federal Navy, with it's wooden steam frigates, up against the Confederate iron-clad. It is a state of mind that money alone won't cure."

"What will?" Randy asked.

"Men. Men like John Ericsson invent a Monitor to face the Merrimac. Bold men, audacious men, tenacious men. Impatient, odd-ball men like Rickover pounding desks for atomic subs. Ruthless men who will fire the dead heads and butt-kissers. Rude men who will tell the unimaginative, business-as-usual, seven-carbon *** to go take a jump at a galloping goose. Young men because we've got to be a young country again. If we get that kind of men we may hack it - if the other side gives us time."

Quote #2:
"Quite often the flood of history is undammed or diverted by the character and actions of one man."

Quote #3:
"When two ships are on a collision course and the men at the wheel inflexibly hold to that course, there is going to be a collision. You don't have to be farsighted to see that."

Why does this book matter?
In my conversations with many adults that I mentor, one of the most often asked question is "How can I be mentored by a book?" We are mentored by books when we make connections with how the characters behave and react to their environment and relate those characters and situations to our every day lives. In the above scene, I am reminded that the United States of America has been in crisis before. The United States struggle to remain a republic has been tried and tested many times.

I ask myself questions like:
  • How did the characters behave? Where they right or wrong?
  • How did our government survive other times of crisis? Can we use those tactics today or do we need new tactics?
  • What made the difference between freedom and servitude? 
  • How are these situations like today?
As I answers these question through my studies, I gain a better understanding of human nature and what I need to do, change, or support. 

This is how classics change us. 

This is how we are mentored by books.

What kinds of books are your mentors?

Cross posted from Freedom Educators.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mentoring Adult Children

Thanks for your post Sandra. I think I actually put this topic on the schedule and then got so busy with my scholar age kids I totally forgot to write about my older ones! It's a new subject I am very passionate about. It's been an interesting journey over the past 18 years to mentor through all the phases. Our fourth child just "graduated" from high school in May and started his fist week in college just this week. So now I find myself with only three children at home and four who have transitioned, or who are transitioning into capable, happy, functioning adults.

Two years ago I took a long hard look at my life and tried to anticipate my next transitions. I'm now a mother-in-law and a grandmother! I don't feel "old" but these titles somehow were a wake up call. It was a fun process over several weeks to do some vision casting with my various roles. Besides getting crazy with ideas of Grandma Camps, Couples Retreats, and having fun activities with just the boys and girls in our ever growing family, I felt very strongly the need to continue to teach and mentor them in a more structured capacity, too.

Since then we've implemented a summer colloquium. It started with just our married children and their spouses, but has grown this last summer to include everyone who wanted to participate (after the first year, the younger ones didn't want to be excluded!). It's very simple to implement and like any great colloquium, everyone benefits. After a lot of pondering, two books were chosen to read over the summer. It takes about a month or six weeks to read each book. We schedule the discussion time well in advance, so everyone can fit the reading into their schedules. For our children who live at a distance, we include them via Skype.

Sandra is right, the relationships you've fostered with your children during their growing up years pays big dividends after they leave the nest. Now we're beginning to reap new blessings as our children stretch their wings and begin families of their own. It is a wonderful experience to have a continued relationship with our children when they still look up to us as their mentors in aspects of their life such as finances, relationships, child rearing, and careers.

Mentoring Adult Children

Weeks ago, when I first saw this topic on the schedule I decided I wouldn't be posting since it wasn't something I had knowledge of. Now that has changed since my oldest is officially an adult. For some reason that development shocked me a bit.

While I no longer mentor him academically - his university studies involve subjects outside my area of expertise - I am pleased to say that my husband and I are still mentoring him in other areas. He often seeks our advice or input on issues. Whether it be the merits of accepting an invitation to join the committee of a particular club or the balancing act of course selection he still seeks our input, not because he can't make decisions by himself (in every case so far his reasoning process has been impeccable) but because he genuinely values our input.

I firmly be live that the respectful relationship we built with him over the years is the reason for his stance. The relationships you build with your children when they are younger will affect how willing they are to be mentored by you when they are older.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How do you Inspire?

One of the concepts that most attracted me to Thomas Jefferson Education was the key, "Inspire, not Require". Ironically, and perhaps not surprisingly, it was the one I found most difficult to implement. "How exactly do you inspire?" I often wondered. A couple of years into my journey I don't claim to have all the answers, but I do have a few more than I used to. And many of the most successful are to be found within the 7 keys and the 55 ingredients.

1. You, Not Them. Studying yourself and sharing enthusiastically at least some of what you've learnt sends a powerful message to children that learning is a satisfying, lifelong process. Sometimes they may be inspired to study the same subjects as you, sometimes not. But your studying is a powerful inspiration for them to do some studying of their own.

2.Classics, Not Textbooks. Whether it be for values and character concepts or the hard and fast specifics of technical subjects, classics are sure to inspire more interest and work than a committee written textbook. Biographies can be an especially powerful motivator as they clearly show the hard work and sacrifice that is necessary to achieve great things.

3. Structure Time, Not Content Having the freedom to study whatever they find interesting, instead of being forced to study whatever teachers or state education authorities thinks are interesting or important, is more likely to inspire effort in a child. Ensuring that adequate time is set aside for learning emphasises how valuable you consider their learning to be, an inspiring idea in itself.

4. Kidschool. This can provide you with a wonderful opportunity to introduce many fascinating subjects and ideas that your children may not have discovered on their own. Don't expect them to necessarily be excited by everything you introduce, but some of it is bound to spark an interest and inspire further learning.

5. Bean Counter Game. As adults we are aware that certain skills will be helpful in the longer term. Yet our children can't see the intrinsic value in them. This is where a little external motivation, such as the bean counter game, can be helpful. Keeping it fun and light hearted ensures that it doesn't become a manipulative form of requirement.

6. Six month Inventory. By regularly focusing on each of our children we're in an ideal position to offer them experiences, resources and support suited to the individual they currently are. This results in a learning environment that is definitely more inviting and inspiring than one filled with state approved resources designed to ensure that the so-called typical or average x-year old passes the test.

7. The Binder . This record of past learning accomplishments and future learning goals can become a very personalised source of inspiration for many children.

8. The Bookshelf and Closet. These are stores of carefully selected, quality resources, including, but not limited to, books, games and art-supplies. How could they fail to invite exploration and ultimately inspire learning?

9. The Central Classic Whatever yours happens to be it will be filled with uplifting stories or messages. Reading and discussing it daily helps ensure your child gets inspired by this vision and does his or her best to live accordingly.

10. Mission The idea that your child has an essential mission on earth is powerful, even if neither you nor they are sure exactly what that mission is yet. It is also far more likely to inspire them to put in the hard work necessary to get a superb education than the more common message society gives young people which is to get a qualification in order to earn lots of money and buy lots of "stuff".

11. The Assignment. Somewhat counter intuitively giving children the occasional, and well-thought out, assignment can be the kick start that they need to get re-inspired by learning.

What ways have you found to inspire your children to get the education they deserve?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Trivium Mastery

Diane Lockman is the author is the author of Trivium Mastery. She also has a website ( full of plenty of free, helpful articles. Her approach to education is that mastering three skills (language, thought and speech) preferably before the teenage years is the authentic approach to a classical education. Once these skills have been mastered the student then goes on to the post-trivium phase of their education, which seems very similar to Scholar phase. Lockman has clearly read and been influenced by A Thomas Jefferson Education. Terms such as leaders, mentors, and mission crop up frequently in her writing and she advocates individualising plans for helping children master the three key skills.

While I'm waiting for my copy of Trivium Mastery to arrive I've been working through the parent workshop 101 primer ( This series of exercises takes parents through the process of analysing who they are and what their strengths are, looking at your children's qualities, abilities and interests, determining their mastery status of language (essentially reading and writing), thinking and speech, before showing you how to customise plans for each child. This series of exercises is particularly useful when you are completing a six month inventory. The road maps to mastery seem helpful tools, allowing parents to keep track of where their children are skill-wise within the Love of Learning paradigm.

Have you found any new resources, maybe not widely known, that have helped you in your Leadership Education journey?