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The TJEd Online Convention is now available by monthly subscription! No deadline stress – just enroll and unsub at your own convenience. Stay for a few months at a time, or just enroll a month now, jump off, and a return some months later for a periodic shot-in-the-arm experience.

You decide your level of engagement and pay as you go!

Click here for more information >>

Others like you are talking about their experience!

Check out what some of our participants have said about this Convention:

“I just finished the entire convention. Whew! I am feeling so inspired and I love how it clarified a lot of things I had questions about and some that I didn’t know to have questions for. Thank you for all of the hard work you put into this. I loved it!” ~Elesha Herrst

“Can I just gush over the TJEd Online Convention? I’ve been watching videos all month and finished today!  ‘Inspired’ doesn’t seem to catch all that’s happening in my heart and mind and life! I’ve had a shift in my mentality toward teaching and learning and living and it’s permeating every part of my life. I feel like I have a whole new understanding about life, learning, my mission, and much more. The timing is perfect and the content is extraordinary. It might seem silly, but…I love you guys! <3” ~N.B.

“Last night I was talking to a friend about the TJEd online convention. My 16 year old piped up and said, “HEY! Please don’t watch anymore of those without me!” Ummmm…guys, this is HUGE! I saw it in her face on Saturday when we watched Eliza’s story about being a late-bloomer and again when we watched Emma talking about making it through a slump (S— even referenced the video with Emma and Ian where they told the “Splat” story <3 ). I don’t know what you guys put in those videos to make my daughter get inspired, but THANK YOU! I went into it just trying to inspire myself, but I got way more than that and I am thrilled! I know my daughter feels a connection with Emma and Eliza, and I’m so grateful for them. Thank you to everyone who had a part in the conference. You are truly making a difference (even in the lives of kids who were never homeschooled!).” ~D.J.

I  have to say that my scholar has gotten a lot from the teen videos that we have watched. He says that they have inspired him to want to work hard on defining and working towards his mission. My 17 year old has autism and other delays and it just warms my heart to see him.inspired again.” ~L.S.

“I have been listening to the conference and can I just say, Rachel, where have you been all of my life? 😉 I know that you don’t know me, but I feel this connection to you through your comments, your speaking, as if it is right to me. Have you ever listened to someone and thought, that is it, That is what I have looking for? Well, TJEd is it for me. Thank you! Also, when you were talking about how the core phases can be healing for you as a parent, maybe pertaining to things that you went through or did not get to go through. Yes! 1,000 x yes, being blessed to be home with my children 90% of the time and be there for them as my parents were not has taught me that I can heal through them. We are the change we want to and can be. The things we do now help us to build a better generation than we had. I am in tears writing this because you helped me to realize and remember that I am healing while my children are in these core and love of learning phases. Thank you!” G.B.

“Listening to Eliza’s journey. So helpful to hear about real life in the DeMille family. Thank you, thank you for not editing out Grandma’s entrance. I cried. Reminded me of my dear grandmother who I cared for at the end of her life when I was 17. Also enjoyed Rachel’s talk about inspiring the mind and her honesty about how things were in their family. Both these presentations have been so helpful. Yes, cherish your grandparents while you have them even when it’s hard. My parents now live with us. It’s really hard but it makes memories. Thanks again!” ~M.L.

“Tonight I am extremely grateful for the Online Convention. It has answered SO many of my questions, has given me a pep in my step, and has answered questions I hadn’t found words to yet. The countless hours of mentoring found in these files is priceless. Thank you for all the hard work and hours of preparation for this! Can we do this every year for the “Back to School” season? 😊❤️ It is just what this Momma heart has needed.” ~E.E.

“I just wanted to give a shout out to the TJEd convention! I don’t know the DeMilles personally but I feel like they are becoming my close friends haha! I have listened to the opening video by Oliver and also the one from Emma and Ian and I have to say I already feel like I have learned soooo much! So thank you to the DeMilles for this and for keeping the cost so low!” ~B.W.

“Oh my gosh! I’m loving the convention videos! Someone won’t be sleeping tonight…👋” ~C.D.

“Hey everyone! I am so excited! I [listened to] Oliver give his “Beginning with the End in Mind” talk this morning from the Convention. As I have said before, I am really new to TJEd and I haven’t introduced much to my children yet. After hearing his talk, I asked my children to listen to it. I could see transformations taking place. Epiphanies were happening. The language I had been using for the past two months was making sense. At the end we discussed it. Then my 17 yo, who has been fairly negative about learning, jumped up and sought out books about a subject he is interested in! He even went out of his way to share some of what he learned with a friend! I am overwhelmed with gratitude and awestruck at the changes I am already seeing. I can’t wait to get to the next talk in the conference… if only I had a cook and a maid….” ~S.W.

Rachel Pinegar DeMille and Emma DeMille Cox, i just watched your core/LoL video from the convention and it was so so SO fantastic. Also, Rachel Pinegar DeMille, you must be so proud. what an amazing woman you have raised. ” ~A.H.

“I am watching the “top questions people ask about Core and LoL Phases” and I just want to say thank you to Emma Cox for specifying “depending on the age and personality of your child at that time” 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 and then “jump… jump jump jump jump”! I have 6 from 11 down to 2 and two of my boys are very much like that!!! It was a very good watch/listen! Along with the “large family logistics” video. I needed these soooo much!!!! Thank you to you and your mom for doing this. I wanted to transcribe so much of it! 💕💜💕💜💕” ~B.H


Need more convincing?

In addition to the above unsolicited testimonials, we asked on our Facebook Discussion group which were our participants’ favorite presentations, and why, and these are some of the responses we received:

  • KLW said: “I’m only about maybe 1/2 way through the talks so far, but I have loved the “5 Habits of Highly Successful Homeschoolers” and “what phase am I in” the most, though it’s hard to pick! I feel like those have given me a clear picture of the phases, transitions and what TJEd will look like when I’m implementing the strategies and thinking in our household.”
  • TM said: I think it is the 5 Habits of Highly Effective Homeschoolers in which Rachel addresses the misconception that homeschooling works for “other” people because their kids are nice, or their health is good, or they don’t have this or that struggle. She makes it clear that no one avoids what she calls sanctifying experiences; if it appears that way, there is something we aren’t seeing, or their story is still unfolding. It is so helpful to understand this for homeschooling purposes and for personal, spiritual struggles. Then, of course, the 5 Habits themselves are great advice, too! This presentation could be sold as separate download! I also loved the “3 things you must get right” presentation.
  • BK said: I loved the AHA of “which phase are you in”. I really need the “3 things frustrated homeschooler (your title may vary)”. I kinda think Beginning with the End in mind had the most impact for me.* I’ve already shared it with my family in a focused family school way. *(so far…I’m not even 1/4 the way through.)
  • AH said: I LOVED the Dad’s panel! It is so refreshing to hear from a Dad’s perspective. Second was the veteran Moms panel. It made me get a better grasp on how TJED “looks” and was a wonderful confirmation to me that I’m on the right path and that I just need to keep going, keep trusting, and course correct as I go.
  • MB said: “I think I’d have to say that so far Ian’s video on getting a scholar phase as an adult is my favorite. Seriously had me in tears. I’m so excited to get the education I’ve always wanted!!”
  • LD said: “Ian’s video How to Catch Up as an Adult answered so many of my questions that I had been asking. But I also really loved Rachel’s Your One Room Schoolhouse.
  • KL said: “So far… Beginning with the end in mind: just a strong reminder to keep going back to our family’s “why” in home educating. And I want to go back and listen again to remember what else stuck out 😉 And then Oliver’s talk on “What phase are you in”. I listened last night while processing too many apples! I loved the encouragement to teach and talk to my kids about the phases and to allow THEM to let me know what phase they are in! And for me…. to pick a phase and rock it!! Inspiring! Again, I am SO thankful for your blessing of access to the conventions
  • HM said: “ I am about half way through and have found them all to be incredibly inspiring. However, yesterday, with the realization that my 15 year old son absolutely needs to renegotiate Core Phase, I felt impressed to watch Eliza’s presentation and I joyfully found much needed inspiration on how to help him with that while keeping the whole family moving forward. Thank you so much to everybody involved in this project. You have, undoubtedly, been guiding me through my 6 month inventory!
  • JM said: “ ELIZA!! Not only was all they shared inspiring, my kids wanted to watch Granny walk in over and over again…
  • SY said: “The Top Questions for Core and Love of Learning was just what I needed! My youngest is 3 weeks old, and it was a relief to hear that my desire to study will come back. I was studying a couple hours a day before he was born, but now it’s at a halt.
  • LB said: “ So far, Eliza’s Late Bloomer chat was great because it gives me hope that this can be done in spite of starting late. Also loved Rachel Pinegar DeMille‘s Teaching Moment and Inquiring Mind – loved the part about going back to core phase in order to heal.
  • SR said: “I am not very far into it yet but I absolutely loved Rachel’s The Teaching Moment. It is so beautiful. I wish we could buy them individually or something. But I’m so thankful I get to watch them! ❤️
  • AB said: “Eliza was incredible and inspiring. It was the first one I watched and it set the tone for the whole conference, which has been fabulous. You all really out did yourselves on this one. I just dont want it to end! The daily dose of TJEd is so important, and this has allowed that to happen easily and conveniently. Thank you for putting this together!
  • LS said: “I haven’t seen/heard them all, but I loved, “What Phase Am I In.” It was so freeing that I cried!
  • LH said: “It is a toss up between Mission Power with Ian and Late Bloomer with Eliza. I have a late bloomer, so her honesty and openness was so inspiring. And the ideas given in Mission Power were really helpful in regards to giving me solid ideas to move forward with helping my son on his path as well as myself.
  • AB added: “Ok. I need to add Emma’s session on getting your teen to actually do scholar phase. This clicked SO many things into place for me!
  • SS said: “ I still have a lot to watch, but so far it has been:
    – TJED Moms Panel
    – TJED Dads Panel
    – Intro to TJED High for Parents
    – Inspiring the Inquiring Mind
  • KE said: “ I had some really important aha moments when I listened to “which phase are you in” then discussed it with my husband. We both had some great aha moments after listening to and discussing “the 3 things you must get right”. I’ve considered myself a tjed mom for years, I’ve read the books, attended a seminar, etc etc, knew all about reading and missions and everything, and yet I think I was still missing something. Those particular talks were more simple and logically outlined than anything else I’ve read our listened to. I felt like they were very accessible. Thank you so much!
  • NJ said: “I really felt encouraged by Oliver’s opening audio to challenge everyone to get a scholar phase. And I loved how Rachel’s talk at the Inspiring the Inquiring Mind dove-tailed that on the importance of a scholar phase for freedom.
  • SB said: “[Re: The TJEd Veteran Moms Panel] The discussion of this panel on inspiring was brilliant. I really liked how Heidi Ifland Nash explained what it means to be a leader to our children and what that looks like in her home.

You need this shot in the arm. A daily dose of TJEd to help you be your best, and have joy, peace and confidence in your homeschool journey!

Get the 2017 Online Convention today! >>

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Get up to 41% Off Pre-print Orders

Our newest book, Hero Education: A Scholar Phase Guidebook for Teens, Parents and Mentors is now at the printer!

We are so delighted with the reviews we’ve gotten on this work, and the way it really shows, tells, illuminates and mentors an effective Scholar Phase – both for youth, and the adults that mentor them.

For example:

Reading Hero Education has helped me transform my understanding of Scholar Phase from a rough sketch to a detailed blueprint for action. It’s the clearest, most compelling work yet on getting an excellent scholar phase, and the critical skills our youth need for achieving world-changing results. This book is jam-packed with gold nugget answers to the practical “why” and “how” questions you have. Read it now! And inspire your youth to read it so they can catch the vision and take on what is theirs to do.

~Cherie Powell
Homeschooling mother of two

Hero Education will give you both a very defensible “why,” but a very doable “how” – to encourage discussion, dig for symbolism, understand principles, and write about all that you and your students are learning. Finally, the nuts and bolts of Scholar Phase! This book is an indispensable addition to the complete TJEd library.

~ Stephanie Harris
Homeschooling mother of eight


Hero Education clearly and effectively explains the simple-yet-rigorous aspects of Scholar Phase, serving as a road map for both youth and their parents/mentors. This book will be a go-to resource in the endeavor to achieve truly great education. I love how this book clearly spells out all of the details, answering so many of my own questions about Scholar Phase and how to capably implement it in our homeschool.

~ Sarah R. Smith
Author and homeschooling mother of two


Beyond the powerful content we’re anxious to unleash, we are absolutely delighted with Daniel Ruesch’s design (see below) and the quality production of Hero Education, so we’re offering a win-win to friends of TJEd…

  • You Win: More than 35% off retail – just $10.35 + $3.99 S/H –  for those who purchase before the books have arrived to our distribution location in just a few weeks!
  • More savings: If you buy more than one copy, your savings increase, up to 41% off! (That’s better than wholesale vendors get!)
  • STOCK UP FOR HOLIDAY GIFTING!!! Talk about the gift that keeps on giving….
  • We win: You help us defray the front-end costs of producing a new book!

The pricing below is for U.S. shipping only. Please contact us for details on international shipping.

Please note: you don’t need a paypal account to purchase. See image —>>>

Select Quantity

Remember: This is a pre-print purchase,
and the books will not ship
until late October or early November.
Just in time for Holiday gifting!!!

Buy Now

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All students who register for TJEd High! by 9/3/17 will receive a free e-pub copy of our new book, Hero Education: A Scholar Phase Guidebook for Teens, Parents and Mentors

Click here for a free sample >>

For more information/to enroll, click here >>

*This course begins on 9/11/17.

**Any who have already enrolled are included in this offer.

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All students who register for TJEd High! by 9/3/17 will receive a free e-pub copy of our new book, Hero Education: A Scholar Phase Guidebook for Teens, Parents and Mentors!

Click here for a free sample >>

For more information/to enroll, click here >>

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Who’s it for?

  1. Youth, aged 13-18 who are prepared to do weekly readings and discussion at a basic level.
  2. A “Super-charged” honors level with additional readings and mentoring content is available at no additional cost for students who want to challenge themselves to even more depth and rigor.

What Does it Cost?

For Fall of 2017 only, we are offering the following low introductory rates, secured for the duration of your continuous enrollment:

  • $45 per month >>
  • $55 per month in the MIC-High Bundle >> (more than 20% off for those who lock in this pricing during the first semester of TJEd High!) This Bundle includes our award-winning parent training/family learning series, “Mentoring in the Classics”. We highly recommend this option for the family’s best success in Leadership Education, so that everyone is benefiting from a great learning trajectory!

[For families who have multiple students or who have financial concerns, please contact us here to inquire about special arrangements >>]

How does it work?

Participants in TJEd High! receive:

  • A study plan with weekly readings and assignments designed by Oliver DeMille, I an Cox and Emma DeMille Cox
  • Weekly video mentoring content (approximately 1-2 hours, pre-recorded so that students can view on-demand in any timezone)
  • Midweek Bonus video mentoring (a brief, up-to-the-minute check-in, with one of your mentors giving feedback on the online discussions, sharing an epiphany, relating the week’s studies to current events or personal experiences, sharing a “Transformational Model,”, and otherwise amping you up to help you stay focused, inspired, and effective in your studies)
  • Moderated online discussion throughout the week, in an exclusive environment accessible only to mentors and students enrolled in the course [THIS ONE IS HUGELY IMPORTANT! Watch for our videos on this topic in the TJEd Online Convention >>]


There will be weekly reading assignments for students, with additional, optional readings for those who want more rigor. Each Monday morning the week’s Video Mentoring Content [VMC] will go live in our private online learning environment. This VMC will present special insights into the week’s readings, and will include exposition of a “Transformational Model”. Then, later in the week, participants will receive a short Mid-Week Mentoring with additional content to feed their excitement, keep them engaged and add depth to their studies. Examples of topics for Transformational Models and Mid-Week Mentoring planned for Fall 2017 include:

  • Education for Career
  • Economic Symbols in Literature
  • How to Read Like a Leader
  • The Wall, and The Dip
  • When 1+1≠2
  • Great Learning Secrets 1-7

Click here to review the current Fall 2017 syllabus >>

What if I’m already enrolled in another program?

Students who are enrolled in public school, online high school, private or charter schools, Commonwealth schools, homeschooling co-ops, or other structured programs can use TJEd High! to be more inspired, study more passionately and effectively, and add increased depth and skills to their other studies.

Who are the mentors?

  • Ian Cox, Lead Mentor
  • Emma (DeMille) Cox, Lead Mentor
  • Oliver DeMille, Lead Mentor
  • Eliza (DeMille) Robinson, Mentor
  • Oliver James DeMille, Mentor
  • Missy (Nelson) DeMille, Mentor
  • Freeborn DeMille, Mentor

Ian and Emma Cox [aged 28 and 25] are young, energetic, and very much in tune with the experience of gaining a great education in youth. They are a husband and wife team who are both personally mentored by Oliver DeMille in their now post-graduate level of studies.

Ian and Emma are passionate about helping youth step up to the Love of Study, so that they spend their hours learning and refining their skills, broadening their exposure and deepening their understanding.

Subscribers to our Mentoring in the Classics series have raved at how their depth and insights not only speak to the parents, but motivate and inspire their children and youth! The TJEd High! online discussions will be moderated primarily by the Lead Mentors, with others from our TJEd team chiming in. The TJEd High! Video Mentoring content will be presented by our Mentoring Team.

Join us for TJEd High!

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TJEd.org is pleased to announce our biggest online convention yet!


Coming to you August 9 – September 15, 2017, you will have full, on-demand access to more than 25 hours of video and audio content* to help you on the path of Leadership Education!


  • Keynotes, Workshops, Q&A Panels
  • Adult and Youth Conference Tracks
  • Core & Love of Learning Track
  • Scholar Phase Track

Think about it: homeschool conventions usually cost a LOT more; and you only hear maybe seven presentations. This convention costs far less than most, and:

  • you can access it from the comfort and convenience of your own home
  • you don’t have the added expenses of childcare, travel, etc.
  • you can watch favorites over and over
  • you can share the experience with your family
  • you get more than twenty presentations

PLUS! Nowhere can you get this much content specific to Leadership Education, with its focus on developmentally-empowered, mission-focused, classics-based learning!

Click to see the list of speakers & presentations >>

To register, complete this online transaction using credit, debit or PayPal (from the button below) and then watch for an email to come to you with details on the convention. If you don’t see it, please check your spam filter, or “Promotions” tab (gmail). [Please contact us HERE if you don’t find the Welcome Email.]

Click here to register now,
and check to be sure that you
receive our Welcome email! >>

Contact us here if you don’t get our Welcome email >>

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What are you doing right now to both make it a better summer and a more successful homeschool in the fall?

[MIC is 1/2 off right now!]

Here in the Northern Hemisphere**, the traditional school year has just ended and families are gearing up for a new summer routine. For homeschoolers, the summer schedule varies widely. Some “do school” right through the summer. Some continue to have learning priorities, but the way they go about it shifts to take advantage of seasonal opportunities. Some follow a more mainstream approach and take a total break for summer months.

Whatever your plan, however you describe yourself, now is a perfect time to look ahead and make some preparations that will leverage your success for next year.

I’m not talking about ruining your summer by skipping it altogether, trying to get a jump on the next thing. I’m talking about using this time to its best advantage in a way that’s natural and works with the rhythms of family, nature and life.

What if…?

What if, just three short months from now, you had more clarity, more focus, more confidence, more depth to draw from, more inspiration to share….

Well, you can. You really, really can. Our Mentoring in the Classics subscription is 1/2 off right now (just $10/mo!) to help you have an amazing, soul-nourishing, heart-inspiring, mind-elevating summer, so that when Fall comes around again you’re in a great place to lead out in your family education culture and have the tools and resources to do it well.

Join Mentoring in the Classics right now and spend a few relaxing, delightful hours each month getting your heart/head/home primed for amazing progress right around the corner.

Here are some comments from our subscribers you might find interesting >>

Click here for more information on MIC >>

Click here to subscribe right now for 1/2 price >>

Here are some other comments (within the past week!) from some of our subscribers….

I loved the lively discussion between the group. I just want to climb into the speakers and pop out in the room where the discussions are recorded and be part of that! But, kidding aside, it so inspiring to hear the playfulness happening as the discussions take place, as well as the way new ideas are dug out and held up for everyone else to see and think about. I am so excited to keep reading, listening, and discussing!!


I have loved Mentoring in the Classics! I currently teach high school English online, and it’s changed the way that I teach. I find that I gain so much from listening to the MIC discussions, and I’m learning to be a better teacher as well.


I am sure I can not even begin to express the full emotions I feel on a daily basis toward TJEd and all it has done for me. I love all your words of inspiration. I just discussed (for the second time, with a different group) Gift from the Sea… Gearing up and helping inspire and prepare me, I listened again to the Debriefing of this book… It was just a few months prior I discussed this in our MIC group. But, wow, I think I *need* to read this book every month and listen to the debriefing… Such insight and such wisdom. As I walked into my home, following the discussion, a flood of emotions came to me of how truly grateful I am to have come across TJEd, and MIC. They have forever changed my life and continue to do so on a day to day basis. I can only imagine the whirlwind we would have been in had I kept going down the conveyer-belt homeschool style… oh man… don’t even want to think about that! THANKS AGAIN.

Ready to Inspire? Be Mentored?
Feast delightedly on the Classics?
Check out MIC  – 1/2 off right now!

**If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, the need for inspiration and “teacher prep” is no less significant right now. Hit the ground running with MIC!

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It’s reprinting season at TJEd, and we’re offering huge savings to our TJEd friends on paperback editions of our three most popular titles:

It’s worth noting that our flagship title, A Thomas Jefferson Education, has been in continuous print since its release in pre-publication manuscript in 1999. It was first printed in paperback in the year 2000, and we stopped counting after we topped 100,000 sold several years ago!

Likewise, these other titles have sold in the tens of thousands with multiple printings, and there is no sign that they’ll slow down.

Now through the month of March, get any of these titles at 25% off retail price. Use Coupon Code MARCH17PRINT to claim your discount. The discount will be applied in the final step at checkout.

  • Stock up to lend or resell!
  • Gift to friends, family members, music teachers, sports coaches, community leaders, etc.!
  • Create a resource center for your homeschool support group!
  • Donate to your library!

 Click here to shop now >>


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Rabbit Trails


This last week the Super Bowl was in the news quite a bit, and due to our particular interest in it, my kids and I got sucked into a YouTube vortex exploring various renditions of the national anthem of the United States.

Which, of course, led to us breaking into singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at random times and places all week.

Which, of course, led to a discussion of the lyrics and their meaning.

Which, of course, led to questions about the historicity of the story, the way things look when lit at night, and lots more.

Which led to me saying, “Hey – this would be a great thing to study in Kidschool!”

Kidschool: That’s what we call it when I actual do some sort of specific sharing or instruction by me, with my kids as my students. That’s not the way we spend the majority of our time, as we do a lot of independent learning, project learning, group learning, spontaneous rabbit trails, or reading aloud together–as opposed to me doing a more traditional instructional lesson/lecture.

But I digress.

Good Intentions

I said: We should study “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Kidschool.

In fact, it came up several times. But we still haven’t done it. No particular reason why; just – it doesn’t come up except when we’re out and about and I can’t really get into with the links and the videos and the props that I have in mind, so we sort of dance around the topic from what I know without help, and move on.

Which led to us lamenting that we lose track of lots of great ideas like this one because we don’t have a strategy for capturing them.

Which led to….

Abi’s Idea Box!

I’m looking forward to doing a better job of follow-through on our great ideas, thanks to Abi’s Idea Box!

xoxo rd

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Welcome to the Journey

Kiwi-egg-OTCB-meme Homeschooling is a big change for most people! It’s different from what we were raised in, and different from most of the people we know and are surrounded with.

Like with any lifestyle commitment – from weight loss, overcoming addiction, religious conversion, getting physically fit, etc. – homeschoolers do well to find support from others who are sharing the same transformational journey. They might find it helpful (especially at first) to minimize influence from those who might constantly challenge their values or compete with their choices.

We build tribes to help us stay focused on the things we’re trying to do to break old patterns and form new habits. It’s a good thing! That being said, not all things in our life are or need to be defined as “homeschool vs. not-homeschool”.


community-builder-meme I mean, think about it: You have other important values, projects, etc., that include you in tribes that also support you. People who are conscientious about parenting. People who are devout about their faith. People who love horses/crafting/running/cooking with whole foods/etc.

When speaking with someone new, consider first what tribal values you share, and resist the temptation to automatically define the potential relationship in terms of a tribe that they are not currently a part of.

I think learning diplomacy – the ability to build bridges of rapport and cooperation among good people of differing viewpoints – is invaluable. And my guess is, you’re more diplomatic and edifying about sharing your certain things you love and value than you realize – like maybe something as deep as your faith, or as simple as your love for a certain a cappela group. You’ve had longer to consider it, more practice at doing it, and more models on how to do it. You can get good at the homeschool conversation, too!

Peace, Strength, Friendship

Winnie-The-Pooh-Friendship So when you’re asked about your homeschooling – whether it’s a question of why you chose it, how it’s going for you, or how your children are progressing, the first recommendation I have is: speak from a position of peace, strength and friendship.

Don’t assume your asker is trying to talk you out of homeschool. And, even if you have reason to believe that they are judging you harshly, there is usually nothing to gain from responding to that aspect of the question. You can emphasize how personal the choice is: “I love the challenge, and I feel that this is the best way for us.” You might find that other words entirely suit your need.

Keep in mind that, often, the reason for the confrontational posture on the part of the questioner isn’t because they are judging you for your choice, but because they are wondering if you are judging them for theirs. Really!

It’s important to realize that – even if you have spiritual reasons for making your choice to homeschool – homeschool isn’t a religion, of course. I’m sure that there are circumstances under which most of us would feel totally right about some version of “not-homeschool,” so it’s not a strict, absolute, moral question. I’m sure you don’t assume that all parents who avail themselves of non-homeschool options are either corrupt, ignorant or lazy. It’s just not that cut-and-dried. This really is about what you feel is best for your kids this year, or for now, or whatever. And by softening your approach to be more explicitly inclusive and respectful of others’ choices – even if you don’t understand them –  you open the door to understanding and mutual support. After all; isn’t that what you’re asking for from others?



Say you’re at a park day with a group of moms, and they all start talking about their kids in public school. Rather than being contrary and comparing the differences between their kids’ experience and yours’, look for ways to build rapport.

  • If they talk about a certain teacher being hard on the kids, simply empathize, and maybe nod in agreement – thinking on how a certain experience in your own history was similarly challenging.
  • If they talk about the struggle a certain child is having in a particular subject, ask for them to share any ideas they have about supporting the child through the struggle.
  • If they talk about social issues (bullying, friendlessness, peer pressure), be a true friend and put yourself in their position. If you had to deal with those circumstances, how would you feel? What kind of support at home would you hope to give a child with these struggles?
  • If they ask about what you do in homeschool, focus on the things that you love, and don’t try to explain things that take a long, drawn-out treatment (they’re not really asking for that).
  • If they are concerned for your child’s academic achievement, explain briefly, in terms they understand (processing delay, divergent learning style, etc.) that your child’s progress is on your radar and you are working with them to address the situation. **(see below for a list of articles that can help you get your bearings on optimal timelines and approaches, in language that is sound and credible)
  • If they ask what your child is doing for Subject X, speak of the things they excel at and enjoy. Relate a recent experience (like a field trip or a project). Tell what you’re doing for a family readaloud, or what routines you follow for morning devotional, or exciting rabbit trails or accomplishments. Tell about the resources that you find most helpful, and maybe even the things you’ve decided don’t work for you.
  • Don’t worry about answering a question precisely as asked if it doesn’t suit you to do so. You’re not on trial; you have no need to outline your child’s deficits or struggles (remember: EVERY child has them!), or to brag about how far ahead they are (only grandparents actually appreciate this), and you get to discuss your children in the terms you prefer. Period.
  • …and so forth.

You’ll know you’re on the right track when you can ask for ideas from your non-homeschooling friends on how to be a better parent or mentor, and they’re interested in your thoughts as well. Then you’ll have a parents-who-teach tribe, rather than simply a homeschooling tribe!

Rest assured, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to build community and share your love of homeschooling as people come to you with specific interest. And, if you can successfully position yourself as a true friend to all who are trying to do their best with what they’re dealing with, you’ll be a better person, a better friend, a better parent, and a more credible advocate for the socialization and success of the homeschooling choice.

Again: Even if you have reason to suspect that there is some sort of judgment in the asker’s mind, it’s smart not to respond to that in the slightest – and even to act as if you assume they respect your choice. You can actually reframe the conversation more positively if you present yourself as confident and unthreatened.

Thing 1 and Thing 2

thing1_and_thing2 It’s a funny truth that [Thing 1] some people look at non-conformity and wonder if they’re supposed to “fix” it. And, it’s another funny truth that [Thing 2], given any reasonable “out”, most people will content themselves with staying out of it.

In other words [Thing 1], if they have concerns that your children might be under-served by homeschool, they feel some obligation to investigate. That’s not being evil; that’s just being an advocate for children – a neighbor. Even if they’re ill-informed about the prospects of homeschool, their hearts are ultimately in the right place, and you do well to give them credit for that. It’s not personal. They’re just feeling unsure about what they should do as a good citizen. 🙂

But [Thing 2]: once they are given half a reason to believe that you’re not off your rocker, they’ll be more than happy to give you the space to do your thing. They just want to know that they’re not on the hook for not stepping in if you were, you know, delusional or incompetent.

If you assure your questioner that you feel strongly about what you’re doing, and you’re happy with how it’s going, most will be content to respect your choice and let things be.

When asked specific questions about your homeschooling, or your children – don’t assume that the asker thinks you’re doing a bad job. Don’t assume they think your kids are failing, or going to fail. Treat it as if it were genuine curiosity about something that they haven’t ever had a chance to ask about from someone they trust.

Most answers require very little in terms of detail, as the questions are not a deep scrutiny of your life and home. They’re superficial in nature, and then the asker moves on. Don’t obsess about the conversations after the fact, and wonder what more they are thinking about you. They’re almost certainly not. 🙂

Time to be Proactive

There is a time when it might be a good idea to initiate the homeschool conversation yourself. When you have a child in a group learning situation (such as clubs, scouting, Sunday school, etc.), you might want to consider taking the first step and sitting down with the leadership who have direct oversight on and contact with your child, and over the teacher/advisor.

You might also meet separately with the teacher or advisor as well. Explain your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and the way you’d like these adults to be a part of her “team.” If, for example, your child doesn’t read (or write) with the same facility as some of the other kids in the group, open the discussion yourself. That way you can discuss your options and let the teacher know if you want her to:

  • treat her the same as the other kids
  • allow her to work through it with extra time
  • make different plans so that the group activities don’t highlight the differences between the kids
  • contact you in advance if there is something your child can prepare (like, to read aloud in front of the group, or complete a written exercise)
  • …. whatever.

This needs some forethought, and perhaps a discussion with your child. Some kids aren’t bothered in the least by the ways in which their homeschool experience differentiates them from other kids. Some feel worried about it, and need help to navigate the program successfully without feeling singled out in a negative way.

It’s been my experience that the very act of making this kind of advance and opening the conversation promotes a level of respect and trust that makes for a good relationship and a positive experience for all.

The 5%

cat in the hat

Bottom line: Being a nice person who treats others with respect and kindness, and responds to questions with brief and positive responses, will get you 95% there. And the other 5% who really do want you to feel cruddy about your choice don’t get a vote – so you can politely avoid that conversation with either ignoring it or setting explicit boundaries: “This is our decision as parents, and we would appreciate either your support or your respect.”

In very rare cases you might need to limit personal contact with an individual that will remain in your life, and build the relationship from a distance – with cards and letters, phone calls, emails, gifts – whatever love language is most meaningful. Seek solidarity with your spouse, and shore up the children against any subversive efforts such persons may make to undermine you. You can coach your kids on how you’d like them to respond. Be careful not to put your children in a position where they are left feeling judged/defensive, and are required to either think badly of that person, or of themselves. If that means limiting certain kinds of contact, seriously consider doing just that.

But again: this is a small (albeit emotionally-charged) portion of the questions we answer about homeschool.

dr_seuss2 Conclusion

Focus on the positive, and starve the negative. It’s amazing how, when you act with kindness and confidence, most people don’t feel inclined to challenge you. Be a friend, support your friends in their educational and parenting choices, and assume that they do the same for you.

xoxo rd



Here is a list of articles that can help you ponder deeper questions on alternative timelines/methodologies/practices that are actual shown to be helpful for kids who don’t thrive in the early-learning-desk-pencil-teacher-and-blackboard model. Use these sparingly in sharing with others; they can seem argumentative and cause friction when applied in a situation where the asker is not really asking for this. 🙂

This list will also be shared in an upcoming blog post.




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