(This is the final (fifth) part of this article, based on my last webinar. This one deals largely with the need or lack thereof for college. You can read some of the parts here at this site, and others at
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As a homeschool parent, you’re looking for the best ways to prepare your student to do what he wants with his life, while staying within your means. You want to teach the student what he needs to know to survive in a complex civilization. That means he’ll need to learn about things basic to that civilization, such as politics, religion, finance, history and culture. But you also want to do whatever it takes to give your child an edge. We all know that a person will work harder and with far greater success at a job that he loves, rather than one he despises or is compelled to do. We want to see our children become able, productive, to be masterful and enthusiastic in their work and life. The most important modern idea I can share with you today is that the student, his needs and interests, should be at the center of the decision making process about his own education.
First – you should locate what your student is interested in. Do this through genuine concern and observation. Listen to your student. Watch your student. When the light in their eyes turns on, be aware and ready to feed their interests.
Next, do anything and everything possible to provide your student experience in the area he’s interested in. And keep it up. Indefinitely, or until the student has either lost interest, or has gained mastery to the point where you cannot help him anymore. This “new” idea placed at the core of your educational efforts will help guide you as a teacher. It may lead you to devalue or even jettison certain normally “core” subjects in study. It may lead you to emphasize some subjects at the expense of others. So be it. We’re preparing the student to live HIS life, not the life of some imagined average person. If this approach leads to college, so be it. There are MANY ways a student can get into a college, and many ways to prepare for the inevitable tests a homeschool student (or any student) will need to take and score well to get in. There are Junior Colleges that almost can’t refuse a student entry, and once a student has done his two years of Jr. College, it can be much easier to get entry to a college. But a part of this approach requires that you be open to the idea that college may not be the best place for the student and his interests.
There are many professionals out there, working in whatever field the student is interested in. Some of them may be willing to use an ancient educational tool, one that Mr. Lincoln availed himself of – internships. The economy is pretty shaky right now, as you all know. Even professionals need help staff. And young people need experience and exposure to professionals in their chosen field. This sadly underused tool helped make some of the greatest men and women in history. It should be considered, if practical.
And nothing replaces hands-on experience. A student who wants to write should be writing – a lot. A student who wants to repair cars should be doing so, and often. If a field of interest has no practical application of any kind, it’s probably not much of a field of interest. Experience doing the thing that one wishes to do is the very best way to master the requisite skills. Nothing replaces the student’s own fire, his entrepreneurship.
So, the new-fangled 21st century ideas to prep your student for success? Allow the student to focus his time and energy toward what he is interested in. Apply common sense to the problem of education, and so throw out any old idea or tool that clearly isn’t working. Use college if it’s going to help the student get where he wants to go, and skip college if it will not. Consider Internships. Support and create opportunities for hands on experience. Support the student’s own entrepreneurship.
You’re right. These aren’t very new ideas. And yet, what we laughingly call “modern education” almost entirely ignores them, and it has for decades. Parents, your own education most likely suffered from a lack of the employment of these ideas, or from this particular focus. You may have even been discouraged by an educator or two from following your dream or expressing your own entrepreneurship, as I was in Jr. High by a vice principal at the public school I attended. I asked for the school’s cooperation in producing a musical show to raise money for homeless children, which I was assembling (at age 15). I was told by this behemoth of blather that “students cannot manage their own events”, and I was asked to stop. I left her tickets for our opening night, and have been producing, directing and writing shows my entire life since then. She was wrong. Anytime someone tells a student that they can’t do the thing that they’re interested in, they are very likely to be wrong. Let’s get real “21st century” about education. Let’s believe in each student’s unique potential and back it up.
This may be a bit of a tough road. The world has never much supported the dream of the individual – until that person made his dream a tangible reality. And then the world went “wow”, and became brilliant in hind sight. Lincoln was seen by his own party (the Republican party, which was new born in his time) as a country bumpkin, and though a consummate politician, his road to the Presidency through his own party was difficult at best. Then, his dream came true. And he changed the world. And now his party proudly claims Lincoln as its founding father. Geniuses in hind sight.
As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.
But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.
In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Steps (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works.
CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)
Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.
Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.
Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.
Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.
Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.
For parents who wish to teach at home, but are intimidated at the thought, and for parents who just wish to improve the homeschool experience, we offer a ten course homeschool program for homeschool teachers, as well as several books about education and homeschooling today.
We want you and your children to win with homeschooling!