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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.

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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

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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.

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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)

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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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canstockphotojapanesemother Sometimes reading a certain article, book, blog, tweet or other idea just … sticks. It resonates. It’s memorable. It makes you think. Or laugh.

Maybe it causes you to frown. Or shake your head in surprise.

For example, I recently read an article published in a national magazine that keeps coming back to me in my daily thoughts. More specifically, a few of the quotes really stood out. Here they are (along with my thoughts—pro and con—about each):

“28 minutes: The average time first-graders spend
on homework—nearly three times
what education experts recommend.”

(See Erin Zammett Ruddy, “How to Help Kids With Homework,” Parents, September 2016)

Right on! This taps into a major problem we often struggle with in modern education—we frequently give too much homework to Core Phase kids (age 8 and under), while the average high school student studies far less than she should and could.

The fact is, many parents don’t realize that for very young children less homework is often better for their learning.

The second quote, however, is puzzling:

“Despite studies suggesting that homework doesn’t even
benefit grade-schoolers, it’s here to stay.”

My response was: Really? Why? Homework doesn’t benefit them, but let’s make them do it anyway…

Why would we do that?



No answer.

Or: “That’s just the way things are.”


Which brings us to the next quote:

“The purpose of homework is to
help kids become independent learners.”

Now my mind is really churning. On the one hand, as studies show, lots of homework doesn’t really help gradeschool-aged kids, and on the other hand, there are things they could do with their time that would help them—a lot. But we give them homework anyway because we want them to learn to be independent learners?

At first blush this sounds reasonable, but here’s the thing: Most kids were already independent learners before they went to school. They were constantly questioning, exploring, considering, and asking “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” A lot of kids asked “Why?” so frequently that parents got tired of trying to answer and told them to quit asking so many questions.

But once they’ve been inserted into schools, they need some kind of enforced daily activity called homework to make them independent learners once again? “Well, yes…” we’re told.

Clearly something is very wrong with the system itself.

But the best part of the article, at least for me, was this sentence:

“Put your kid in charge.
Homework is as much about learning responsibility
as it is about grasping fractions.”

walter-scott-meme-self-education I agree. The mother who wrote the article gets it. And I think this quote gets to the heart of many modern educational assignments. On the surface, we give such assignments in order to teach fractions, historical dates, punctuation rules, scientific facts, etc., but in reality the bigger goal is often to help young people gain real learning skills—the kind of skills that will help them in real life, and throughout their lives.

This is true of rote learning like “fractions, punctuation rules, etc.” and also of vital skills like learning how to think, working well in teams, communicating effectively and persuasively, taking initiative, taking responsibility, pushing through when things get hard, and so on.

It’s very important to realize that such skills are just as essential as learning the historical dates, mathematical functions, scientific formulas, etc.—or in many cases, even more crucial. In all this, the advice to “Put your kid in charge” is the crux of any great education. Everyone who ever obtained a truly great, high-quality education, at some point took charge of his/her own learning—and really sought after excellence. People who have never done this haven’t yet gained a superb education.

More and Better

Finally, the following quote is one of the most important I’ve ever read. It is true of so many mothers, and though it wasn’t written directly to homeschoolers, I believe it perfectly describes so many of them:

“American mothers blame themselves for
what falls through the cracks—
when they should be basking in their awesomeness.”

(Cara Birnbaum, “Is Work-Life Balance BS?,” Parents, September 2016)

I recommend that you re-read that quote three times! Right now…

It’s true.

And it’s about you.

The things most mothers (and fathers) do right are so much more important than any so-called weaknesses. In fact, one of the most effective and immediate ways to significantly improve your homeschool and overall family/home environment is to simply do even more of what you’re already doing well!


Hopefully this thought will stick in your mind for a long time to come.

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My youngest (of 8) has been “almost reading” for 5 years. At just-turned-eleven, it’s finally clicking for her. Shouldn’t shock me (although I kept thinking/hoping/chanting “this time will be different”), because several of her siblings, and her father, were all on that same timeline. (Divergent learning style/timeline runs in his family.) Hasn’t held them back at all, but still – it’s just so much more … *comfortable* … for me when sooner happens, rather than later. But then, it’s not about me, is it?

Just last night my 89yo mom, who is with us for six weeks, asked me in sotto voce if I had spent more time on her education than the other kids at her age. Nope, not really. Feels like less to me, to be honest, all things considered. Mom asked, it turns out, because Miss Eleven seems to her to be SOOO smart and aware and knowing so many things that are beyond her years. I have to wonder if something’s wrong with me, because, while I love Abi to pieces, I hadn’t seen in her what my mom is seeing. Or, rather – more accurately, I hadn’t imagined that what I see in her was so readily seeable on the surface, to others.

Oh, sure – she casually, confidently and correctly uses words that aren’t “normal” for her age. She is my day planner, keeping me on top of where I’m supposed to be, what I was supposed to drop off where, when the next appointment for this or that is. She has magic hands for art and healing, and sings like somebody on the radio. She wears thick nerd glasses that actually favor her because her small-side eyes then take center stage on her face. Sometimes I can’t decide if she’s fearful or brave, because she has so many worries, but she is so good at pushing through them in the crunch.

Not for the first time I was grateful that my kids know that if they’re waiting for me to hand them an education, they’ll be waiting forever. They know that I am their cheerleader, exemplar, facilitator and pocketbook for learning, and that I am anxiously engaged in projects that stretch me and give me a chance to offer up my gifts and efforts to try to make the world a better place.

They look to their older siblings as competitors, critics, friends and mentors – each at different times, and sometimes all at once in a complicated relationship, as the younger ones seek their place among the adults, the adult children seek to grow up for real and nurture the youngers not as littles, but as bigs-in-training.

They all perceive our family culture as one where each one has something unique to share, and the expectation that we support and love one another, and do what’s ours to do in the world.

With our family and professional life being so involved and intertwined, I rarely get such an intimate, objective eye on our life as Mom offered yesterday, and it was a welcome invitation to step back and see, not from the trenches, but from more of a bird’s-eye view, how things are going in my home.

Not gonna lie – I have a peaceful smile on my face right now. It’s not all perfect. There are things I need to do less of/more of/better; the kids – same. But somehow those little insufficiencies and excesses aren’t of the sort that divert us from the path we mean to be on, and this journey is SO rewarding.

Good morning, TJEd! Just wanted to share my morning exhale. <3 <3

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genius Question:

TJEd sounds good to me… But how to you actually do it????


Mentoring in the Classics 
Oliver DeMille!

If you want to lead out, establish a family culture of excellence and learning, experience the mentoring of youth through family discussions, find the treasures and transformation by coming face-to-face with greatness – then Mentoring in the Classics is the answer for you.

This multi-award-winning subscription series 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.

Just yesterday, on our TJEd Facebook group, we received these unsolicited remarks from our subscribers:

K.P. said:

“Can I rave about Mentoring in the Classics again? I’m from New Zealand, and although American culture has certainly found its way over here, I didn’t see any reason for little ol’ me to bother with your politics, let alone read The Declaration of Independence* . I even thought about skipping it, or at the very least quickly reading through it and moving on. HOW WRONG WAS I!!!!! Apart from being fascinated by the document itself, I’m LOVING the study guide, the audios about it, and the much broader picture that it’s showing me, and the people rabbit-trails, and the dots it’s connecting of the times and places I’ve read about in other books/novels. And that’s just one month, all the others are amazing too! Thank you again Rachel and Oliver DeMille – you are broadening my horizons and enriching my life, I thank God for you so often!!!”

*[this is the title for Month 7 of the subscription. Click here for a list of all the titles.]

In response, C.R. said:

“I, too, love the Mentoring in the Classics. It’s been one of the best investments to our family’s education.”

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

Expand your mind • Learn “in the flow” • Increase your epiphanal rate!

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get MIC at 1/2 price, at only $10 per month – with no risk to try it out: your first month’s cost is only one dollar!

Click here for more information and to subscribe >>

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See. Learn.

pick1_math One of the keys to great education is to raise children in a “print-rich environment” (see Maya Thiagarajan, “are asian kids really better at math?” Parents, September 2016), by surrounding them with access to books and examples of parents, siblings and others reading a lot.

Without such immersion to the world of words, it’s more difficult for many children to get excited about learning. Indeed, Montessori taught that such a learning-rich environment is among the very most important facets of promoting quality education.

In Leadership Education/Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd) we recommend reading to young people from the time they are very small all the way into adulthood. Reading aloud is even more important than having lots of books on hand, since it gets the child actively involved. And both are crucial.

We even recommend that every home set up at least one TJEd Bookshelf, which consists of children’s books and materials on the bottom shelf, teen books on the middle shelves, and more advanced classics on the higher shelves. Children raised near such bookshelves naturally read what they can reach, always looking upward to the next phase—knowing it will someday come, and enthusiastically looking forward to it.

Knowing vs. Doing

Sadly, while many Westerners use books and other printed materials “in all of their decorating,” to quote the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, a lot of people are less prone to also raise their children in a math-rich environment. That’s too bad, because just like a home where prints of fine art are present on the walls, or where quality music is part of the day-to-day experience, what we focus on tends to grow. Homes where the topics of math and science are introduced only when children formally study them are less helpful in encouraging and supporting math learning.

Consider the following excerpts from an article on math education by best-selling author Maya Thiagarajan:

  • When “we moved to Singapore …. I was struck by how focused parents … were on giving their kids a strong math foundation. It quickly dawned on me that parents in Singapore seemed to be doing for math what American parents do for reading.” (ibid.)
  • They “integrated math into their daily life by talking to their kids about numbers, shapes, and patterns right from the get-go.” (ibid.)
  • “They played math games in the car and at the dinner table.” (ibid.)
  • “They taught their [children] chess and they spent money and time on Lego sets, blocks, tangrams, jigsaw puzzles, origami, and [math-based] board games.” (ibid.)
  • “One mother described how she used the elevator in her apartment building to teach math. ‘Riding an elevator is like riding up and down a number line,’ she said. ‘It’s a great way to get your kids thinking about math.’” (ibid.)
  • “Another mom described how she engaged her pre-school age son in conversations about the math all around him. She introduced him to shapes on the playground. ‘There’s an isosceles triangle!’” (ibid.)
  • “Kids [in Singapore] consider math-related activities to be a normal part of childhood …. Just as good readers are kids who read a lot, good mathematicians are kids who do a lot of math.” (ibid.)

And their parents do a lot of math—which makes all the difference. It’s the key educational principle of “You, Not Them.” Of setting an example. When parents who read a lot tell and show their kids how great reading is, the kids flat out believe them. They’ve already witnessed the proof of it for years. The same is true with parents who make math an open and valued part of daily life.

In fact, math-based games, puzzles, stories, youth-oriented biographies of great mathematicians , manipulatives, and a parent with a pen and paper and even the barest love of some new math idea, can make math extremely fun. For example, the magazine Family Fun dedicated an entire article in its August/September 2016 issue to the benefits of the Rubik’s Cube in teaching mathematical thinking to the rising generation. (Patty Onderko, “Puzzling it Out,” Family Fun, August/September 2016)

Cubes and Sheets

If this seems like a blast from the past, a lot of math does. It’s classic, after all. But it’s still fun. As Patty Onderko put it: The Rubik’s Cube “is an awesome way to practice the logic and problem-solving skills that are crucial to [math and science] education.” (ibid.) It also strengthens the skills of pattern recognition and “if/then” reasoning, both of which are vital to math success. (ibid.)

Put this old-fashioned toy (the Rubik’s Cube) in the hands of today’s young learner, and add in a new-fangled educational revolution called YouTube, and you’ve got something sensational on your hands. (ibid.) “Turns out there are rules for solving the Rubik’s Cube”, Onderko said, “and plenty of online tutorials.” (ibid.)

She continued: One of the “biggest benefits of” the Cube is that “gratification isn’t immediate—kids have to pull from their reserves of persistence, determination, and resilience to be successful.” (ibid.) It’s a natural gateway to working math problems, building spreadsheets, and completing math worksheets and story problems. It even has direct application to learning how to create and understand algorithms, which are key in computer coding. (ibid.) For example, the nation of Estonia has now made learning algorithms and computer coding required subjects in elementary and high school. Other countries are considering the same.

One of the most important things a parent can do to teach mathematical thinking is help young people learn to build and use spreadsheets. This is not only great for problem-solving, reasoning skills, and pattern recognition, it also teaches the learner to use mathematical innovations and ingenuity. Again, any parent (or youth) wanting to master spreadsheets can find numerous online tutorials.

Experiencing Math

Three great books about math to read aloud to children (ages 8-13) include the following, in this recommended order: Archimedes and the Door to Science, The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Rithmatist. Of course, the key is to read these books aloud with the kids, go slowly, and stop to discuss ideas and principles that come up. Parental involvement in this process will drastically increase how much children learn. [click here for math classics for kids! >>]

This one choice (to read these books together aloud and discuss them) will drastically improve the math-richness of your family, home, or classroom environment. For students who are already prolific readers, you can read these same books more quickly and engage in 1-2 hour discussions about what everyone (students and parents) has learned.

In addition, to get some really exciting math quotes, fun stories, and inspiring ideas to share with your kids, read the following book on your own: A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe. (Two TJEd audios are available that discuss this book in even more detail, and they are really fun and will take your reading to an even higher level). Take good notes as you’re reading, and this book will provide lots of material for creating a math-rich environment in your home.

(If you already have a strong math background, read A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe and Roger Penrose’s The Road to Reality—both will help you map your advanced knowledge to more fun and effective math activities with your kids. Then read Capra’s Tao of Physics.)

The truth is that parents who help children and teens experience math principles, words, phrases, ideas, shapes and stories as part of everyday life are creating a math-rich environment for their kids. This will make a huge difference for them when it comes time to engage math textbooks, problems, proofs, etc. And it is a fun process for both kids and parents along the way. Really fun!

Do try this at home.

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