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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.




1. Two TJEd Products Recognized as Top Educational Resources!

We’re pleased to announce that our This Week in History and Mentoring in the Classics subscriptions have been analyzed by a corps of independent reviewers, and as a result, TJEd.org was named one of the Top 100 Educational Websites of 2017 by Homeschool.com and one of the 2017 Top 101 Websites by Educents!

And! This is the fourth year in a row we’ve received such honors!

To celebrate, we’re offering:

No coupon is necessary – just use the subscription button on the product pages I’ve linked to!

2. Our TJEd Discussion Group on Facebook recently surpassed 11,000 members. (*Coupon Alert!!)

Yes – that’s eleven with a comma and three zeroes! There’s a reason why it’s grown so fast. We hear over and over and over again that it’s the best group on Facebook – it’s the friendliest, most positive, most inspiring, with the least drama, least trolling, etc.

Lots of our users bookmark directly to the page and don’t even use Facebook for anything else.

Check out these testimonials:

“This group is my source. I know if I have a life-building question I can come here and will get great and helpful response. The people in this group share things I would have never thought of before. It’s made me a better parent and teacher/guide to my children. This group is always calm and considerate of others in a way that builds each other up and encourages the very best. I am so grateful to have found such a wise, insightful and generous community. I recently cut my Facebook down to friends only except for this and two other groups. I wanted to make Facebook more personal to me and this group is one that feels like family!” ~Jessica Hanneman

“This group keeps me grounded and centered throughout my homeschool journey. It feels like a true community of loving and accepting parents who know that mentoring each other is just as needed as mentoring our children.” ~Dannika Valenzuela

*To celebrate this growth in our online community, we’re giving 11% off  all downloadable products through the end of January 2017! Just enter coupon code FCBK-11K and your discount will be calculated on the final checkout page on Store.TJEd.org.

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This is more of an “Inspiration Minute” — a quick snippet I’m sharing that started as a conversation on our Facebook group.

Don’t Try This At Home

I just googled “freak accident conveyor belt.” I don’t recommend it, but I’m sure you can imagine the kinds of things I found.

conveyor-belt-bottles-iStock_000017136073XSmall Conveyor belts are mindless, emotionless, reason-less. Their job is to interact with uniform manufactured products, and to keep up the momentum, no matter what else gets destroyed.

Think about that for a moment.

It’s my strong belief that the conveyor-belt model neither defines nor supports the success of my family’s educational goals.

And yet, because of what we call the “conveyor belt hangover” [definition: our allegiance to and comfort/security with the system that we are acclimated to in our early years], we still, almost beyond reason, give special credence to that system that just keeps on pushing, pushing, pushing on, without any regard for genius moments that need more attention, struggles that need more time or a different focus, dealing with triumphs, grief, changes, opportunities, etc.

We try to re-create that kind of mindless, unresponsive momentum at home to our peril. The rhythm of home is very, very different from the conveyor belt, and we probably shouldn’t try to compete with it. We definitely shouldn’t panic or guilt ourselves when our vision and efforts don’t conveniently match up with the model and system we’ve decided against.

So how do you judge your success, if not by uniform and consistent, conveyor-belt-like forward momentum?

BEWARE INSTITUTIONALISM-keep your focus For me, there has to be a hierarchy of success. Like, you can’t compare success in peacetime to success in wartime, you know? And as a family, we cycle through seasons that have different priorities. [I’ll write more on this in an upcoming post.]

Here’s a post I wrote some time ago that sort of captures the essence of working with learning more organically: A TJEd Fairy Tale >>

Browse the blog for other gems that help set the tone for life-long learning and educational excellence. And enjoy the links below for practical helps to ease your stress and inspire your own vision of what you want your family education culture to look like.


Related FAQ:

Here’s How YOU to Lead Out:

Practical Resources for How to Homeschool Your Kids:

How to get off the conveyor belt:


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whc-flyer-2017 Come join me and hear me speak live!

I’m so excited to be joining an amazing lineup of speakers at the Winter Homeschool Conference on January 21, 2017 at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah.

People will be flying, driving and coming by mule train from all over. 🙂

I can honestly say I don’t know of a conference that is better conceived of and carried out than this one, and I delight to meet up with old friends (and new ones) every time I go!

I’ll be speaking on the topic of my upcoming book, “The 7 Questions of the Inspired Mind: How to Teach or Learn Anything – From Play in Childhood through Mastery and Innovation in Adulthood”.
[click here for a sample >>]

Awesome Lineup

Other speakers on the roster include many people I count as friends and look up to as mentors:

  • Chris and Melanie Ballard
  • Ali Eisenach
  • Adam Hailstone
  • Daniela Larsen
  • Nicholeen Peck
  • Tammy Ward
  • James Ure
  • …and many more!

The price for the event is $45/adult, $25/youth (age 10-17)

Now through Friday, 12/9/16: $17/adult, $7/youth!

Register now to secure these crazy low prices, and come get your shot in the arm for the coming year!

Click here to register now >>

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K.B. says: I’m so nervous to homeschool my daughter. She tested in GATE [Gifted and Talented Education] at school and I’m afraid I won’t be able to give her what she needs at home. Any words of wisdom, advice, etc.?


Giftedness is one of the very best reasons to homeschool! Not only can you personalize to meet your kids’ needs and interests, you don’t have to sacrifice their childhood to feed their mind or gifts.

Permit me to speak from my own experience. I will readily own that this is anecdotal, and your mileage may vary.

I was labeled “gifted” as a very young child. I started playing the piano by ear, on my own, at 3. I started reading (with my big sister’s help) at 3. I started kindergarten at age 4.

Everything academic came very easily to me, and I got awards at school and recognition at home. I enjoyed the attention and being labeled “special.” But as I got older I felt sort of lost in it, too. In some ways I felt like people defined me by the “gifted” label that was officially assigned to me when I was tested at age 11.

People would come over to our home to visit and I would be introduced to them with great pride using descriptions of my academic achievements or by showing off my musical prowess or mental feats.

It left me feeling unsettled; I was proud of myself, and I knew that the attention was meant kindly, as praise – but it also felt a little dehumanizing, and I was confused about who I was and what I was for.

As I grew, I found it difficult to “fit in” to the system that had goals for me that I didn’t understand or share, and increasingly I found that my best educational experiences were outside of the classroom–either through personal study, or with the guidance of caring and challenging mentors who modeled excellence in both character and achievement.

In some ways my high school and college career appeared anti-climactic by comparison with my early show of potential. I did not thrive in school beyond elementary and middle school years. My grades were inconsistent, as I focused on the areas of my interest and passion, and neglected things I considered busy-work. I tested in the highest percentile in every class, but did not earn the grade because I didn’t turn in the work. I was remorseful and disappointed in myself, and promised myself I would do better – only to continue in my pattern of putting my best efforts into my non-school learning, or the random assigned class project that captured my fascination. I was left with a stigma I had painted on myself as an “underachiever,” “lazy,” “flaky,” etc.  – simply because I didn’t do the expected thing. At that time, I didn’t consider the ways in which I was excelling; those things weren’t graded. They weren’t “approved.” It never, ever occurred to me that choosing one thing over another was not a moral question, and that my preferences were not only reasonable, but worthy. I persistently chose to get an education over being schooled, and I felt a great weight of guilt for it.

Luckily, I have a loving and supportive family, and I later came to see that my educational choices had actually been very much in line with the phases of learning, and that I had shown initiative in owning my role as a self-educator, in studying foreign languages, history, biographies, ancient texts, sciences, the arts, etc. My work with mentors and my study outside of the classroom was actually quite rigorous. And yet, it took me until I was over thirty years old to let go of the emotional baggage that I had chosen to carry with me, and more fully embrace the great lessons that had come with my challenges.

I hope that this foray into self-disclosure doesn’t seem self-aggrandizing; it is not intended to elevate myself, but rather to demonstrate that I speak from a very personal understanding of the complexities of the situation, and I feel I have some unique insight on the potential pitfalls and the opportunities that are entailed. The conveyor-belt is often faulted for allowing at-risk students to fall through the cracks. What is not seen is that even gifted children can be underserved and even (as my son-in-law said) “broken” by the system.

The Homeschool Choice

With homeschool, you can have a child be both precocious and immature, cuddly and brilliant. It’s lovely. The Phases still apply! In Core Phase they have needs that are best attended to then – even if they read at a high school level, or do mathematical calculations or compose music.

Don’t worry, mama! Set your sights on raising a great soul, keep the environment friendly to her emotional and spiritual well-being, and she’ll do a lot of the leading out in the academic stuff.

Expose her to people who achieve great things for the love of the subject so that she knows that 1) her gifts are not just carnival tricks, but have real-world application to make a difference for good; and 2) being exceptional doesn’t mean that your mind is more important than your heart. It should all be harmonious.

The Big Picture

Just have to say: Giftedness, like disability, is actually very helpful in the big picture, because it demands that you step off the conveyor belt and really mentor the child.

For example, our oldest is both highly intelligent, and has dyslexia. It was this amazing bag of wonderfulness that, in large part, helped me to see with greater clarity how the phases work, and how to aim for *individual* best results, which sometimes far exceed conventional timelines, and sometimes throw them out altogether.

This has served us well as our other children came along – some who had divergent learning styles, others who were natural “students” in the classroom-learning sense of the word, one with profound disabilities from brain injury. The truth is: Every child is exceptional. Our tendency to compare them and to try to make sure that they conform to arbitrary standards usually serves neither them nor us well.

Far less stressful, far more joyful, is to take each child as she comes, and, in a loving and inspiring environment, empower her to own her education in the end. That’s what TJEd is all about!

I actually wrote a longer treatment of how our life with TJEd unfolded, how the phases apply, and how to deal with several kids of vastly different abilities and styles. “A Thomas Jefferson Education in our Home” is available in our Dollar Menu! Enjoy. >>


I was about to get really deep about providing ideas and resources for homeschooling the gifted child, but I honestly don’t think I can improve on what Connie at LifelongLearners.com has done. I’ll link to her AMAZING post below.

For now, let me just offer a few final thoughts and ideas:

  1. Think Asynchronous.
    Since “giftedness” is often defined as asynchronous development, be sure that your approach is also asynchronous. In other words: Your child (and your relationship with her) will probably struggle if you emphasize the gift over meeting the needs of the phase – or vice versa. There is no need (and considerable reason not to) for pushing for the fastest possible development in the gifted area. And, your child likely needs special stimulus/opportunity/resources in certain areas. Our book The Phases of Learning does a really great job of describing how to work with the asynchronous child, including the important elements of moral and emotional development, in Chapters 1-6.
  2. Think Alternative.
    The public school model is perhaps ideal for a select few in our population, but the form is actually designed for the convenience of group learning – not for optimal individual outcomes. So don’t feel bound by what you experienced, what is commonly done, or what others expect of you. It’s one way to do things, and lots of wonderful people are happy with it – but it’s not necessarily (and probably not) the ideal for your gifted child to be in a traditional PS program full-time. Neither is it likely that “public school at home” is the optimal experience for your gifted learner.
  3. Think Hybrid.
    That being said, you may find that there are things in your community that really can contribute to your child’s optimal experience (part time PS in a class, club or offering with a world-class mentor; service opportunities; performing arts; special arrangements with working professionals like engineers, mechanics, artists, or others to get your child hands-on experience with the “real thing,” etc.)
  4. Think Mentors.
    Learning – no matter if a child has disabilities, is typical, has a divergent learning style, or is “gifted,” is best achieved when the child is intrinsically motivated and extrinsically inspired. Translation: The child learns when the child wants to; and the child wants to when there is a relationship of trust that invites and inspires him to engage the effort to learn. When considering options for your child’s learning, think in terms of the relationship with the mentor over the relationship with the information/skill/subject area. No kidding: I’ll take a mentor who excels in a completely different area than my child’s area of strength, and who has a passion for mentoring and constant personal growth – long before I’ll put her with someone who is strong in the subject area, but isn’t a great mentor. Hopefully you can find both. But don’t settle for a mentor who’s not progressing himself. The things such a static mentor teaches, by example, aren’t helpful – to say the least.
  5. Think You.
    It’s easy to be intimidated by a child who is precocious, and feel like you haven’t got what it takes to parent/lead/mentor her. And while this is especially understandable in the case of a gifted child, please – do a reality check. Rare indeed is the child who is easy in every way. Rare indeed is the parent who feels completely competent and confident, come what may. That’s just part of the parenting gig. Resist the temptation to let the “giftedness” factor be the scapegoat for your overwhelm. There are lots of ways to achieve parenting overwhelm, and this one just happens to be yours. (Sorry – a little bit of tough love, there.) So what is my point? YOU GOT THIS. Really. It’s okay to be in over your head; we pretty much all are, in one way or another. And let’s be honest: There’s nobody, not in your local public school, not anywhere, who is an expert on your child’s situation. Not when you consider everything. So this means that you are pretty much the very-best-qualified person to oversee this crazy ride! Just do what is yours to do. By leading out as a person who makes deliberate choices for your life, a person who lives with compassion and self-discipline, with curiosity and a will to learn, who makes consistent efforts to develop in ways of your own strengths while overcoming the deficits you choose to take on here and there – you will parent your child. There are lots of people who can teach her to play the piano at a world-class level, or do advanced mathematics, or [you fill in the blank]; very few (maybe none?) of them would be candidates to parent your child with wisdom and love that helps her find the harmony between her genius and her soul. That’s something you can do.


Parenting the gifted child is a challenge; homeschooling, in my opinion, makes it far more manageable. I mentioned above a fantastic, more comprehensive, treatment of homeschooling the gifted child. Check out Colleen’s blog post here >>

For help on how to lead out in your own learning, please consider the following:


What have you found to be helpful in
parenting and/or homeschooling your gifted child?
Please share in the comments below!!


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We had several reports of problems with our coupons. The combining issue has now been resolved, and to thank you for your patience with us, we’ve extended our Cyber Monday deals! Now is a great time to stock up for gifting, sharing or hoarding – don’t miss out!

Check out our November Deals….



  • All purchasers will be given free access* to our TJEd Implementation Course mentoring sequence [7 Keys Certification].
  • Up to 1/3 of our purchasers (chosen at random) will receive a bonus book of our choosing – excellent for lending or gifting!

* Delivered via email to the address you provide when purchasing on our store website. You can change your delivery preference, or unsubscribe from the service, at any time. We respect your privacy; your information is never shared.

Through November 30, 2016, we have the following additional promotions. Don’t miss out!! These deals won’t last!

You asked, we delivered. Here is a brief, simplified guide to some of our best-loved and highly acclaimed offerings. And, at the bottom of the page you’ll find a list of our free resources!

Each entry has clickable emblems to let you know who these offerings are recommended for (see detailed explanations for these in the Key at the foot of the post)

Directory nest-back-to-homeschool-meme


Homeschool Starter Pack >>

learning-garden-meme When your garden isn’t doing well, you don’t immediately think that the plants are doing it all wrong and need fixing. You assume that they’ll thrive when you have the environment right! Leadership Education can help you get the environment right so that a natural love for learning and educational excellence are blooming brilliantly in your home and family.

What is it?

A powerful 5-Pack of downloadable content, this product kit contains e-books that are graphically rich and beautifully illustrated, and inspiring audios that speak to both the mother heart and the common concerns that dads have. The Homeschool Starter Pack contains practical and inspiring tips from master mentors to help you create your ideal homeschool!

Who’s it for?

newbie-meme late-start-coffee-meme dad-friendly-meme parent-mentor-scholar-oak-meme large-family-meme

What does it cost? Our already deeply discounted price of $15.75 has been reduced to just $9 through November 2016!

Use Coupon Code “NOV-STPK-9” at checkout.

Take me there >>


7 Keys Certification >>

7KeysCert_03_0 The 7 Keys Certification has been developed to meet the needs of newbies, veterans, professional educators, grandparents and more. The 7 Keys Certification assists the parent/teacher to:

  • Develop a personalized vision of how Leadership Education applies in their situation
  • Become conversant in the language and riches of the classics
  • Achieve mastery in the skills and techniques of effective mentoring
  • Overcome stress and overwhelm
  • Gain insight into those you teach and how to best meet their needs
  • Create a powerful culture of learning and excellence in your home or classroom
  • Engage a life-long process of learning and application of timeless principle of happiness, success and leadership

Who’s it for?

newbie-meme late-start-coffee-meme parent-mentor-scholar-oak-meme large-family-meme community-builder-meme dad-friendly-meme scholar-sapling-meme

What does it cost? $185 Free with purchase of a Homeschool Bundle

Take me there >>


Homeschooling for Dads Bundle >>


  • Seminar Session I
  • Seminar Session II
  • Seminar Session III
  • What’s So Great About the Classics: TJEd for Dads e-book, high-graphics version
  • What’s So Great About the Classics: TJEd for Dads e-book, printer-friendly version
  • What’s So Great About the Classics: TJEd for Dads audio book
  • BONUS AUDIO: “Goal-Getters and the Path of Success” by Oliver DeMille
  • The Family Reading e-book
  • E-book: “The Future of American Education: 8 Trends Every Parent Should Know” by Oliver DeMille
  • Free sample of The Student Whisperer (the Bonus Audio has content that is complemented by this book)
  • And, because I asked our TJEd moms what they wanted me to include for bonus content, here’s something I think you’ll love!
    • Mentoring in the Classics, Intro to Gatto’s Dumbing Us Down
    • Mentoring in the Classics, Study Guide for Gatto’s Dumbing Us Down
    • Mentoring in the Classics, The Gatto Debriefing

Who’s it for?


What does it cost? Our already deeply discounted price of  $45 has been reduced to just $18 through November 2016!

Use coupon code DADSROCK-15 at checkout.

Take me there >>


Mentoring in the Classics >>

MIC-badge This award-winning offering is ideal for adults, youth, parents, book groups, Commonwealths, teacher training – anyone who’s ready to experience the classics with master mentor Oliver DeMille as your guide!

Click here to read our participant’s glowing, unsolicited praise for MIC >>

Our goal with this product is to help as many people as possible to get into the classics in a way that is truly transformational for their family education culture.

Who’s it for?

parent-mentor-scholar-oak-meme large-family-meme community-builder-meme scholar-sapling-meme late-start-coffee-meme dad-friendly-meme

What does it cost? $20/month $1 first month then $10/month for the duration when you subscribe before end of November 2016!

Take me there >>


Young Statesmen/Stateswomen Society (YSS) >>

YSS-badge Inspired by our young daughters who LOOOOONGED to have the goals and awards that they saw happening in their brother’s scouting activities, YSS is now a complete program for girls and boys to assist them in broad knowledge, skills acquisition, refinement of talents and character development. YSS can be run: 1) As a full-fledged club in an emerging or established community of families; 2) In a single home, with parent mentors. A unique feature of YSS is that it it is built on an agile and interactive process whereby the child and his or her parent/mentor or club advisor collaborate to set the specific goals to earn each recognition. It is not a pre-set “checklist.” This makes the process customizable for age, phase, interest, aptitude and resources.

Who’s it for?

lol-seedling-meme large-family-meme community-builder-meme late-start-coffee-meme dad-friendly-meme newbie-meme

What does it cost? $11 (total!) for a single family. Group pricing also available.

Take me there >>


This Week in History >>

TWIH-badge_250 Multi-award winning program authored by mother-daughter team Rachel and Sara DeMille. Each day’s resources are an adventure in math, science, language skills, geography, current events, the arts and so on – all tied to events in history. Easily tailored to single-child, large-family and classroom use. Boasting rave reviews and high user loyalty, this inexpensive program beats others that cost hundreds more!

What is it ?

This Week in History is provided as a weekly online bundle of resources that you can access in either of two ways: 1) Via an email sent directly to your inbox using our secure email service; 2) On the dedicated TWIH blog feed at TJEd.org. The content is searchable by date, topic and key word, and the whole year’s archive can be accessed by subscribers at any time.

Who’s it for?

acorn-core-meme lol-seedling-meme scholar-sapling-meme   large-family-meme late-start-coffee-meme dad-friendly-meme newbie-meme

What does it cost? $9.99/month. Just $1 for first month, $9.99/month thereafter.

(Promotional introductory rate expires end of November 2016)

Take me there >>


How to Mentor Course >>

HTM-Badge This class is a practical, hands-on course on how to be a great mentor. Veteran mentors as well as new mentors–and everyone in between–will see their mentoring significantly improve by completing this exciting class taught by Oliver DeMille.

Course Outline:

Session 1: How to Teach How to Think!
Session 2: How to Teach How to Think II, How to Run Transformational Colloquia
Session 3: How to Run, Teach and Debrief Fantastic Simulations
Session 4: How to Teach and Mentor Writing, Part I
Session 5: How to Teach and Mentor Writing, Part II
Session 6: How to Teach and Mentor How to Think, Part III!
Session 7: How to Teach and Mentor Math Excellence the Leadership Education Way

Who’s it for:

parent-mentor-scholar-oak-meme large-family-meme community-builder-meme late-start-coffee-meme dad-friendly-meme

What does it cost? 3 options:

  • Regularly $259
  • also available in 6-week installment plan
  • For those with budgetary constraints: CHOOSE-YOUR-PRICE donation option – REALLY! We want you to take us up on it. We want you to pay what you can, and have nobody that needs this course pass on it for financial reasons.

Take me there >>


Black Belt in Freedom >>

BBF-Square-Badge A One-of-A-Kind Freedom Learning Program Participants prepare to become founding fathers and mothers of freedom in the 21st Century!

What is it?

There is no other program like this in modern America. It is a 20-month, detailed, intensive, founding fathers-style learning program. If you resonate with freedom—NOW is the time to prepare!


The course content will be delivered via our email service. Each month you will receive several audios (usually two, sometimes as many as four or more – at the mentor’s discretion) specific to the course readings for that month. Course content is progressive, meaning that each month builds on the previous ones. You may join at any time. Each month follows this pattern:

  1. Complete the readings listed here on your own
  2. Listen to mentoring audios (which you receive via email) specific to each title listed
  3. Discuss with your book group and/or with the online forum

Who’s it for?

parent-mentor-scholar-oak-meme community-builder-meme dad-friendly-meme scholar-sapling-meme

What does it cost? As low as $10/month. See product page for details.

Take me there >>



“Who’s it for?” Key


acorn-core-meme Resources with this emblem might be a good fit for families with young children up to around 8 or 9 years old. Core Phase is special, and has its own unique agenda: Good/Bad; Right/Wrong; True/False; Work/Play; Read/Sing/Love/Live. To learn more about Core Phase, click here >>


Love of Learning:
lol-seedling-meme The Love of Learning emblem signifies that this resource might be a good fit for children between the ages of 8 and 12 (give or take). Love of Learning is a special time for exploring and gaining confidence, skill and experience in learning new things. For more on Love of Learning Phase, click here >>


scholar-sapling-meme Youth in Scholar Phase (somewhere between 12 and 18-ish) may benefit from these offerings, which inspire deeper commitment to study, character and personal development, with an emphasis on skills and knowledge that empower achievement and service in one’s life-purpose. Learn more about Scholar Phases here >>


Parents/Mentors, Mature Scholars:
parent-mentor-scholar-oak-meme This category of offerings is especially designed to facilitate continuing education for parents, mentors, older youth and young adults. As we come face to face with greatness through mentors and classics, and join the Great Conversation, we model for our children the value and joy of self-education.


newbie-meme Whether you’re new to homeschool, new to TJEd, or a seasoned veteran looking for a fresh approach, resources with this emblem will give you guidance to become a self-guided learner, design your ideal family education culture, become conversant in the language of the classics, and really *own* the principles of Leadership Education so you can be your own expert.


Large Families:
large-family-meme As parents of 8 children of our own, plus a household that seems to be a magnet for other children and youth to join in our learning, we have a particular interest in providing resources that address the special challenges and gifts that large families enjoy. Resources with this emblem are large-family approved!


Late Start:
late-start-coffee-meme Nothing compares to the overwhelm of the newbie or fresh-starter whose kids are older. “Is it too late? How do I ‘fix’ this and still make up for lost time?” Never fear! We promise: We have seen many, many, MANY families with a “late start” find their way to a path of confidence, success and renewed relationships. These resources are recommended to help you do just that.


dad-friendly-meme After long years of experience, we have come to find that there are some common questions, concerns and issues that fathers often have, and that Dad’s special contribution to family learning is a GREAT benefit! These Dad-Friendly resources help remove the obstacles that Dad sometime has with the homeschool process, and empower him to a Great Homeschool Dad!


Community Builder:
community-builder-meme Certain of our offerings are especially well-suited for helping create connections with others who will support and inspire your success. They lend themselves well to shared experiences that elevate the thinking and communication of friends and family, and help attract others to your fellowship who will add to and benefit from the learning experience. These offerings are marked as “Community Builders.”

Free Resources:

Browse our blog for even more stuff, and check out the Dollar Menu at our store!


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Weekly Online Youth Discussion Group with Freeborn DeMille

Purpose: To empower and inspire the youth of our day to get an education to match their mission.

This class starts November 15th! Please enroll today, and check the calendar below to get going on next week’s reading!

Freeborn Ammon DeMille, age 17
Son of Oliver & Rachel DeMille

Who is it for?

Youth in Scholar Phase who are able to read one selection per week (in addition to their other studies) and come prepared to discuss it.

How does it work? download-button

We meet weekly for approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours to have a discussion on the book from the previous week’s reading. The discussions will be held online through Zoom.us. Specific time to be determined once class cohort is enrolled and we can agree on what works best for the group. To apply for the class, complete the downloadable form and email it to me at the address listed on the form.

What will we study?

Every week we will read a “classic” book or article. The titles are listed below on the calendar. We will explore ideas and principles from these works, and talk about challenges, dreams and goals within our own lives. Tangents, personal connections, and new ideas are strongly encouraged!

What does it cost?

To ensure the best experience for all of us, participants need to be committed and come prepared. To promote this level of “buy-in” and to cover our costs, we ask for a $20 month tuition. Ideally, the youth themselves are responsible to pay for the class. For anybody that finds this amount a hardship, some other proposal will be happily considered. (Use the contact form above to submit a proposal.)

Is it any good?

Never underestimate the power
of a small group of committed individuals
to change the world.


In these discussions you can expect to experience something powerful.

  • You will come face-to-face with greatness as we delve into the thoughts and works of some of the greatest authors, thinkers and world-movers in history.
  • You will be inspired by the unique genius of your peers.
  • You will be amazed to find that you have unique gifts and strengths yourself.
  • You will find yourself challenged to push your limits to measure up to the awesome youth you rub shoulders with.
  • You will be humbled to learn that they look up to you and respect your ideas and potential.

There is nothing quite so empowering in Scholar Phase as the opportunity to connect with and learn with other youth who share your goals and vision of working hard to prepare yourself to make a difference for good.

While society often seeks to tell us WHAT to think, in these discussions we will put into practice the key principles of HOW to think. Those who participate in these discussions will be inspired to develop themselves as leaders: individuals who hold themselves accountable to live with integrity and compassion, and who pay the price to gain an education to match their mission. We will make a freedom shift happen.



eliza-bio-pic There’s something special about youth coming together sharing ideas and beliefs and being lead by a powerful mentor. Taking part in the discussions Freeborn DeMille leads will be life changing for anyone, just as it was for me.

I highly recommend it for any youth who is looking for a push in their education, or who is seeking fellowship on the path to greatness. You will find it here!

~Eliza DeMille, age 19


ashlyn-bio-pic Discussing the classics has been crucial in my education. Sharing thoughts in a mentored environment is the best way to really understand and come to know classics on a deep and personal level.

I have been in many colloquiums with Freeborn and he consistently brings depth and intensity to the discussion. I absolutely recommend participating in this course, it will change the way you see the world, and most importantly, it will put you on the path to changing the world!

~Ashlyn Craven, age 18


My name is Jayden Holcomb, I have known Freeborn for a long time and I have had many opportunities to study with, and learn from him.

jayden-bio-pic In the summer of 2015 I had moved away from our class/study group, and was really missing the great discussions we would have; so I called up Freeborn and we started an online discussion group. Getting back in the groove was a very nice breakaway from the normal stuff-and-fluff conversations that seemed to surround me daily. Having these group conversations helped me to keep my goals straight. It helped me to remember that good grades don’t always mean a good education, but that great thinking is what really matters.

Freeborn was very good at leading the group. He would listen to what others had to say and had a talent to see others perspectives. He is a smart young man, but even better, he knows where to go when faced with something he is less knowledgeable in. I would highly recommend Freeborn for any TJEd experience you’re looking for.

~Jayden Holcomb, age 19


emily-bio-pic Freeborn is an amazing and incredible leader and mentor. He is the type of person who will always put others before himself. He is always looking for ways to help out those around him; whether that is encouraging them when they feel inadequate, or personally helping them step by step along the way.

Not only that, but he has an immense understanding of TJED. He understands the importance of thinking for yourself, being educated, forming your own opinions and beliefs, and the overall importance of leadership and being a good leader. He applies this knowledge in everyday life. He’s an amazing and incredible leader, and I look up to him in so many ways. He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever seen.

~Emily Osborne, age 17


chrystal-bio-pic Freeborn DeMille is one of the most amazing, intelligent and inspirational people I have ever had the privilege to learn from.

He is wise beyond his years, strong in his beliefs, and full of integrity.

I have learned so much from him, and I can honestly say that he has change my life through his guidance.

~Chrystal Logan, age 18


carolyne-closeup I have known Freeborn DeMille for many years and have been in many classes with him. I love discussing with him books, articles and thoughts in general at any opportunity I can. He truly knows how to think and communicate. He has the ability to make connections where I never dreamed there was one.

Every time we get together there is powerful talk and ideas. If you have the opportunity to pick his brain don’t hesitate to do so. He is well educated, articulate and passionate about what he does.

~Carolyne Simmerman, age 18



Fall 2016 Schedule

Week Title
15 Nov TJEd for Teens
22 Nov Turn the Page
29 Nov Power of Four
6 Dec The Lonesome Gods
13 Dec The Inner Ring
20 Dec Alas, Babylon
27 Dec Animal Farm

Winter 2017 Schedule

3 Jan Declaration of Independence
10 Jan Bendigo Shafter
17 Jan The Chosen
24 Jan We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident
31 Jan Abolition of Man
7 Feb Romeo and Juliet
14 Feb Paradigm Shift
21 Feb Anatomy of Peace

Spring 2017 Schedule

28 Feb Mistborn I
7 Mar Mistborn II
14 Mar Well of Ascension I
21 Mar Well of Ascension II
28 Mar Hero of Ages I
4 Apr Hero of Ages II
11 Apr LeaderShift

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C. R. says: I’m working through The Phases of Learning and am wondering how to structure/assist the learning if they’re young Love of Learners. I have a 7yo girl and a 2yo girl. Say, if the 7yo wants to learn about “George Washington”, where do you go from there? I find myself not being able to think past taking her to the library to get books!

Also, what are your go-to, every-child-should-have educational environment items to provide the “rich environment” the books talk about?

Rachel responds:

Cocoon-Core-meme Well, for starters, I would definitely say they’re both in Core Phase. I think the ideal “structure” for a 7yo would be having a routine that has her taking care of her personal grooming and belongings, helping you with household things, entertaining her little sister, etc. A daily devotional time is great. You can learn songs together, read stories, maybe visit the library once a week. Perhaps an afternoon time when they can get into messier or more elaborate projects that require some supervision and cleanup.

C.R.: I think this is what I needed to hear! I stress myself out with feeling like I’m not doing “enough”!

Rachel responds:

To answer the specifics of your question:

This is a great age to learn nursery rhymes and cute little poems. They are super helpful for phonemic awareness, and teach a lot of cultural literacy. Folk tales and fables start you in the habit enjoying stories as a spring board for discussion, and thinking about relevance, application, meaning–and how to draw lessons out from the experiences in our own lives.

Playing with simple, open-ended toys like Lincoln Logs and Legos, or dolls without tons of elaborate features or accessories, help to fortify their creativity and their independent thinking. Core Phase parents

Games like Candyland, Old Maid, Go Fish, checkers and the like can be fun at this age, and reinforce lots of social and intellectual skills – but be advised that 7yos often don’t have the maturity to lose with grace, and this is a developmental thing. Don’t give it a lot of energy. If yours is super sensitive to this, avoid a win/lose situation and celebrate the fun in the journey. If it’s handled well, this hypersensitivity will pass as she matures!

Helping in the kitchen can be a great introduction to math and science, and there are TONS of storybooks and projects that support mathematical and/or scientific thinking and exploration.

Start to observe her to get clues on her gifts, aptitudes, learning style and love language. These insights should not confine your approach to what you expose her to at this age, but will inform your mentoring in the long run.

In other words: relax, and enjoy it! She’s young, she’s little, and she will likely not be in a rush to move on to Love of Learning since her younger sibling is so much younger. This is not a bad thing at all. Treasure the time in Core Phase. It will be a great strength to your family to have her so grounded and peaceful in the long run.

F-YouNotThem-day Meanwhile, this is a FANTASTIC time for you to sort of set the course for your family education culture by investing in your own education! The more you model self-education, the easier it will be for them to own it, too. It’s amazing how fun and easy homeschool is when everyone loves learning and puts in the effort to make it happen. So much more fun and less stressful than the “Sergeant Mom” plan, or trying to do “school at home.”

An investment in yourself will pay huge dividends in your kids’ learning, long-term.

xoxo rd

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