The Teen Years: To Quote Dickens, “The Best Of Times…The Worst Of Times.”


“It is our goal that you have more freedom than any other teenager you know.” Statement to kid

Obey a 9PM curfew for 6 months and it will automatically extended by 30 minutes.

Continuing along it gets to 12:00 midnight by age 16.

Sustain for 6 months and he can set his own curfew.

No excuses, even the truth, are accepted if he’s late.

There is no gray. You are either home on time or not.

You may be 16 and setting your own curfew, or your curfew may be 9:00PM.

Everything is established in advance.

He missed once. Told and explanation and asked for a variance. Wasn’t granted. That’s how he learned the idea of “margin of error.”

Curfew doesn’t mean that you can come home when you please. You have to commit to a time in advance be held to it.

Secondary: after 5PM you have to call us every 30 minutes and say where you area and who you’re with. Parent reserves the right to spot check.

Never had any issues with this at all.


Same approach works with money. Gave his song a $100 month allowance (in 1982), deposited into bank monthly without overdraft protection. Experience using a checkbook & registry.

1. With this money you will now buy all discretionary clothing. (It’s the parent’s responsibility to make sure you have descent shoes. Example $12 Payless sneakers because he’s own growing anyway. If they want a more expensive one, they can take that $12 and pay for the delta from their own funds. Same thing: blue jeans (Dollar General). Winter Jacket, etc.)
2. You will now will pay for all of your own recreation unless it includes one other family member. Movie with your fiends: you pay for it. Take your sister along: parents pay for it.
3. No after draft protection. You will pay the banks fine and fees. You will pay a fine to your parents. Comes off future allowances.
4. We will never give you an advance under any circumstances.


Let them have the last word. What does it matter than they have the last word. Let them.

They’re never going to say “I love you mom” at the end of an argument.

There is no problem with giving reasons. Don’t try go get them to say they agree with you

Six Reasons for saying no:

You’re not old enough
You might get hurt
Not enough time
Not enough money
We don’t believe it that
We don’t like those kids

Not everything has to be so serious. You can have fun with this.

There are things that you simply can’t explain. Example, long story about his Son’s request for a motorcycle.

“My 15 year old daughter hasn’t talked to me in a week, what do I do? Take a vacation.”


Amy was a delightfully child until she hit 13 then she needed an exorcism or something. We started calling her Princess Bucket of Sass.

Him: Asked to help out.

Amy: “I’m not gonna. I’m taking a day off.”

Him: Did you hear what I told you I wanted you to do?

Amy: “Did you hear me say I wasn’t going to?”

Don’t wait for a problem to occur before you to decide what to do about it. [Stoic.]

If you respond impulsively, you will responding a way you regret which means you won’t enforce it because you feel guilt.

Him: So what this means is we heard each other really clearly. In most family’s I work with, they’re terrible communicators and operate on the basis of misunderstandings. Because we heard each other clearly, that means we don’t have the sort of problems other families have which makes me feel good.

He left.

She didn’t help out, so they did it afterward at some cost in extra-effort.

She ends out going out with her friends.

The punishment should never fit the crime. The size of the punishment is in the head of the beholder. She has done something “big” and invited my response. It’s not over.

Good things come to those who wait.

A couple of days later when she wanted to go out with her friends…

Him: “You can’t go out tonight.”

It’s not negotiable. In this case, this discussion happened to in front of her friends.

Life Lesson: when you defy someone who has authority over some aspect of your life, there will be consequences. Even if the parent is wrong. Parent, Boss, Government etc. Only learnable by experience.

This wasn’t funny when it was happening. It’s funny now.

If Amy had left, I would have let her. Instead, I would have gone out to her car and pull the distributor cap on the weekend and not tell her. It’s going to cost you about $150 to get a new one. If you don’t want to spend that, you’ll need to wait a month for me to give it back.

If there’s an incident of insolence, disrespect, or any bad behavior the month starts over.

Didn’t have to go there, courtesy of her friend Angie, not to cross the line again. Sometimes peer pressure can be a good thing.

Shift the conversation away from the power struggle. That’s because it’s central to your teenager’s attitude which you can’t control. Instead execute against what you can. Example: Bedtime.


The Dos and Don’ts of Teaching Mathematics

The Quest for the Royal Road to Learning
by Dr. David and Karen Shormann

Math & Science teacher. President of Digital Interactive Education. DIVE courses.

B.S. Aerospace Engineering from UT. Worked on F-16 engines.

Master’s in Marine Chemistry from UT Marine Science Institute. Researched “brown tide” algae. “Dead zone” off of Mississipi River Delta. Conducted research in AK.

Ph.D in Aquatic Science from Texas A&M. Effects of different fish species on water quality.

Some research included homeschool students. Students presented at Houston Science Fair & did well.

Just released, Journey to Novarupta audio adventure.
Teaches online live math classes.

[Life history way too long and not obviously connected to topic of talk.]

PDF copy of presentation. Email.

About Mathematics – What We Believe

  • Mathematics is a God-given tool for measuring and classifying pattern and shape.
  • Mathematics is the language of science, and a tool for studying God’s creation.
  • One of God’s first commands to Adam was to do science (Genesis 1:26-28)
    ** Science is about measuring in a repeating way
  • The Lord abhors dishonest weights and dishonest measurements (Proverbs 20:23).
    ** We are responsible for using mathematics properly.

What we will cover

  • Discuss dos and don’t of teaching mathematics in a home school.
    ** Share our 20+ years of experience teaching science and math (15+ teaching homeschoolers.)
  • Q & A

This is not about a dogmatic presentation. These are experienced based guidelines.

[Brief prayer at this point.]


  • Incomplete list…

1. Start with the end in mind

  • Set a high standard.
    ** Failure is an option! [In fact desirable]
  • A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
  • Make a K-12 plan, then re-evaluate yearly.
  • Up to 80% of community college freshmen need remedial math or English.

One of the great things about home school is we can cater to our children. Tune it over time. Teach to the skill level of the child. Make a plan, but treat it as a possibility.

Defined a “liberal education” as freeing your child so they can consider as many options as possible.

Focus on math facts in early years

  • +, -, *, /
  • Exposure to other areas
    ** Other areas: measuring, volume, reading from a table, graphing, statistics, etc.
  • Memorize and understand
    ** Mathematics is primarily about deductive reasoning

Mathematics is deductive reasoning which is about applying rules. If you don’t know the rules you won’t be able to advance. You have to know where to find the rules if you don’t know them. Example you teach your child the alphabet first so they can learn to read.

Teach them what it means: 6*6 is adding 6 groups of 6. They should know that, but they shouldn’t have to think about it.

Be careful about a curriculum which says that memorization is not important. Both memorization and understanding are important. There are historical precedents for this organization structure and priority.

Realize the best preparation for algebra is…

  • Fluency with fractions, which is really just /
    ** 1/4x + 1/3 = 7
  • Fraction/decimal/percent important, too…

If you don’t know how to add two fractions together, the sample problem become quite difficult, because you don’t know what least common multiple is.

Life applications for things like percent are critical.

Using Math to build godly character

  • Integrity (Proverbs 20:23)
  • Patience (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • Perseverance with joy (James 1:2-3)
  • Responsibility (Luke 12:48)

Of all courses that you teach, math may be that you have to preserve more, both the teacher and the student.

If they have this knowledge, they can think about what else they can do with it. How can they share it with other people.

The more math you can get them to learn, the more different they’re going to be eduction-wise that anyone else in the world.

Incorporate Mathematics History

  • Did you know
    ** The Greeks almost discovered calculus, but their cyclical view of time directed them away from a study of infinity?
    ** The greatest mathematician ever was a Christian? Euler. (His method of teaching Algebra is used today.) Book: “Letters to a German Princess.” (Christian worldview incorporated into the study of nature)

Greeks shied away from infinity because of their cyclical perspective on time. Calculus is about the study of infinity.

Teach math as a language

  • Fluency comes through practice and repetition [Interesting conceptually.]
    ** Long-term retention takes 21 days, on average.
    ** Saxon curriculum repeats the same concept in multiple homework assignments over time.
  • Fluency comes through immersion
    ** In science course & projects, small business, life.
  • Fluency comes through passion
    ** SAT/ACT college prep, AP and CLEP exam prep.

Expect the same process to work for foreign languages as math facts.

“Hope and pray for your child that they develop a love of learning.”

Do take at least one CLEP or AP Exam

  • CLEP for College Algera, PreCalculus, Calculus I
  • AP for Calculus I & II
  • Consider taking at least one of these.
    ** Proof of fluency

This looks good on your homeschool transcript. Adds accountability to what you’ve done. [Blah blah. Third time we’ve heard this. Reasonable point, but no new information added.]

Learn by doing

  • Mathematics fluency comes primarily through an active, pencil and paper pursuit.
  • Make the majority of math time active, not passive.

Have the student put pencil to paper. Helps keep the kid’s mind engaged. Reading math is dry.

Be encouraging

  • Blessings for proper attitude, effort, and obedience.
    ** Material blessing, activity, etc.
  • Penalties for not, while remembering that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Moral aspect of it is important. Be careful how you give those penalties. Be mindful of you relationship with your children.

Encourage Independence

  • At some point, make your role accountability, not instruction.
    ** A student should be able to complete and grade their own work with integrity.

[Heard a variant of the independence point in the Self Propelled lecture.] Good moral aspects to doing this. There’s a lot of learning that goes on with the correction of homework mistakes.

Expect your children to have different learning styles

  • One of the greatest things about homeschooling is building strong relationships.
    ** In so doing, you will learn each child’s strengths and weaknesses, and when/where to push them harder or show mercy.

These are hard things to know and do without a good relationship with your children. “Good” defined as close and in-depth.

Show Work

  • Show enough work so that you can tell where a mistake was made.

This is part of the active vs. the passive aspect. You’re not shooting for a 50 page essay, but especially as they get to Algebra it’s hard for them to do in their head.

Geometry proofs. All of math is deductive reasoning, so it’s all like that. You’re proving yourself. In classical education, people overemphasize geometry, but it’s not just geometry which is deductive reasoning. Most of the world runs off of Calculus now.

Use a calculator sparingly

  • Try to use memory as much as possible.
  • Use a calculator for
    ** very large (>1000) or ver small (<0.01) numbers.
    ** Perimeter, area and volume calculations.
    ** Other rather tedious problems where the goal is not to practice arithmetic skills.
    ** Graphing functions, trigonometry and logarithms (mainly Algebra 2 and up.)

Typically you can do math faster than a calculator if you have the math facts memorized. 4th grade math you're not using a calculator at all.

Let them fail and learn from mistakes

  • A little "death and resurrection" during 12+ years of home education should be expected.
    ** Dying to self and obeying parents.
    ** Dying to bad attitudes and taking on trials with joy.
    ** Dying to bad habits and building good ones.
    *** Laziness, cheating.

Remind students to have a good attitude about math.

Remind them each lecture time to help them turn it around.

Cheating is a big problem that he's had. When the homework looks like a xerox of the answer key… They fail the quiz. That is a human condition which affects everybody, including homeschoolers. Don't just trust your child 100%.


Incomplete list of don'ts for teaching mathematics.

Don't list math pile up to do in large chunks

  • Ideally, math should be complete 3-5 days per week
    ** Also consider a slower pace, homeschooling through the summer
    ** Slow down, speed up, as needed.
    ** Sometimes you may need to stop and rewind – that's OK

…expect every child to be equally skilled in math

  • The won't be
    ** Effort, attitude and integrity are important.

This is character building as much as it is learning.

…be Impatient

  • Which can lead to anger
    ** You may have to review some facts or concepts a lot, depending on the student.

Realize that you've been doing this for a very long time. Give them some time to learn it because it's the first time they've done it.

…neglect mathematics, because it's difficult for you

  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
    ** Make sure your children know to fear God, not math!
  • You most certainly can teach them math facts, while developing their love for learning
  • When they get to higher maths, your role is accountability, not instruction.

If you say that you're afraid of math to your child – they're likely to fear it as well. Don't share that with your child, even if you are/did. Especially Calculus. [LMAO]

…overempahisize the high school transcript

  • A good SAT/ACT score
  • A letter of recommendations
  • Prepare for those test by taking practice examples

…make everything a test.

  • Most curricula have daily homework sets and weekly/monthly tests.
    ** Treat homework as practice like a sport.
    ** Treat tests like "game day" where errors are emphasized.
    ** Practice hard, just not too hard. (Ephesians 6:4)

…unnecessarily repeative

Don't bore your children. Many curriculum have lots of repetition, more than might be necessary for your child.

…be surprised if your child struggles in college because they receive a poor math education

  • The #1 indicator of student success in college is the level of mathematics they complete in high school.
    ** Break point is pre-calculus.
  • Right now 40-50% of 4 year college graduates are working in jobs that did not require a college degree.

Poor education isn't the goal. But it does happen.

…surprised by the limited number of degree options if your child cannot pass calculus

  • Example: 80% of degrees at Texas A&M require at least 1 semester of calculus.
  • Calculus is simply the study of unknown rates of change…

…expect to find the royal road to learning!

  • But it doesn't hurt to try.

"There is no royal road to learning." – Euclid.

Blog: http://drshormann.dom

Teaching American Exceptionalism Through The Patriot’s History Series

Three books:
A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror
A Patriot’s History of the Modern World: From America’s Exceptional Ascent to the Atomic Bomb: 1898-1945
A Patriot’s History of the Modern World Vol. II: From the Cold War to the Age of Entitlement, 1945-2012

Author: Larry Schweikart

Schoolhouse Publishing. Lots free material. Some lesson plans. Full lesson plan for the Patriot’s History book. Film documentary.

At one point, he was a rock musician. We shared everything. Had nothing and starved. First introduction to communism. A single history professor, in a single course put him on the road to history. one person changed his life.

Moved out of academic publishing into American History textbooks because he felt they were so bad in the 1990s. Thought originally that they were going to have to self-publish. Got picked up by Penguin Publishing. Adam Baldwin. Michael W. Smith. Kersey Smith. Clint Black. Tom Brady. (All pictured holding the book.)

Glenn Beck featured book in interview segment. Ended up pushing it up to top of NYT Bestseller book. Special 10th anniversary edition coming (In November). Used in 30 colleges and university as class textbooks.

“It’s important to know what someone thinks.” Rational for including source documents.

American Exceptionalism Definition

Niels Furgeson’s definition is overly broad. Other’s focus on freedom but that’s not uniquely American.

Many, on the left, argue that there’s nothing exceptional about American. Not one Brit thinks his nation should be the template for all other countries. Even England. That was the underlying foundation of the concept of the Colonial system.

What is American Exceptionalism?

It’s not culture. That’s a result of the exceptionalism.
It’s not our inventiveness and innovation. Largely the result of American Exceptionalism, not the cause

4 Pillars of American Exceptionalism

Missing everywhere in the world, with the possible weak exception of England. Let’s set aside the argument that America is the last best hope on Earth.

  1. Religious Freedom -> Protestant Christian.
    America is primarily a Protestant Christian nation. Except for Jamestown which was purely a business venture, most American colonies were intended to be religious colonies cloaked in the language of business. Many had specific references to Christ in their founding documents. Most referenced God in their founding documents. 5 states required officeholders to be Christians. Both at Jamestown and Plymouth, the pilgrims arrived with the concept of socialism. The first Thanksgiving marked the transition as a result of a transition to a more free-market model.

A Christian foundation is not sufficient because it could have been prevent into a Theocracy.

  1. Common Law
    God places the law in the heart of the people. The people elect leaders who will follow that law. Common law is a critical factor. The rest of the world is based on French Civil Law or Islamic Sharia law (excepting some of the Asian law based con tries.) [I’ve actually read the Code Napoleon.] It’s not just about writing things down.

Civil Law (Divine Right of Kings) comes from the top down. Common Law goes from the bottom up. The combination of Common Law & Christianity present a tremendous challenge to tyranny. Germany didn’t fall to the Nazi’s until after it had abandoned Common Law in favor of a Civil Law system.

Often a suppressed people, without a Common Law foundation, lack the belief in the their own ability to govern themselves.

America, Canada, and Austrilia were treated with benign neglect by the UK. This gave us practice to self-govern.

  1. Free Market
    Not present at the founding. Mercantalism was practiced. Making a profit was not the primary purpose. The American Revolution began with a resistant against this system (specifically taxes on food. Tea. Sugar. Etc.) We did just not jump from Mercantalism to Capitalism. (Contrary current Libitarialism view.) All founders embraced essential elements: contracts, private property, etc.

Go through the Contstituion and find every clause that links back to business or commerce.

There were early bits and pieces early on. “He who won’t work, won’t eat.” – Adam Smith @ Jamestown. Communal approach lead to starving.

  1. Private Property with Written Titles and Deeds
    Many countries have some version of a free market. In rough times, titles & deeds ensure

Book: Mystery of Capital – Hernando de Soto
Why isn’t the world getting richer faster because capitalism spread? People clearly have stuff and more of it. People in 3rd world have stuff. Cars. House. Etc. Difference between 3rd world and the US is they can’t prove it. The process to obtain a written title for land (desert land) took between 6-14 years, 114 regulator steps in Egypt. Compare this to the US property transfer process. Takes an hour to do this in the US when buying a house.

Thomas Jefferson instituted land rights in the US. Started in OH with Land Ordinance. Most State-dominated countries would have forced people onto approved lands. We didn’t want land barons in America to keep it out of the hands of others. We have a priority to those who would develop land over those who would hold it pristine.

Checks & Balances are critical to ensure that Common Law & Private Properties actually are maintained. Otherwise titles just become people of papers.

There is a strong current of Western Dominance these books.

Three great architects;
1. Frank Lloyd Write – body
2. Antoni Gaudie – spirit
3. Gropious – mind

To understand America’s destiny and our future, we have to understand our foundations of success so they can shared with whoever wants them.

Have a film about Rocking the Wall – about the fall of the Berlin Wall. [Sounds like something interesting to listen to.]


[Substantial religious overtones through-out. Reasoned historical analysis though. Will want to preview.]

“All books are biases. You can not escape it. The mere fact that I choose this fact over that is a bias.” I would encourage you to look at the primary sources and look at them yourself. Everything in their books is as sources as possible.

“World History is important.” May not be as entertaining, but you kids need to know it.

This semester he taught a class on WWI with a Marxist. In the past that they’ve taught a course on JFK course.

“I think most universities these days are sick cows.” (Note he’s a college professor.)

Build An Amazing Homeschool Transcript

Dual Credit

CLEP (College Level Examination Program)

  • Earn college credit by taking qualified tests
    ** Corresponds to one-semester class
    ** 90 min long
    ** Take at any age
  • Advantages:
    ** Take fewer classes
    ** Spend less money
  • Disadvantage of Too Many College Credits:
    ** Child might be considered a transfer student because they’re no longer an incoming freshman. Disqualifies for many scholarships. Dependent on college. Could be as little as 12 credits.
  • You can CLEP-out of stuff after you get into college.

Well-Rounded vs. Angular

  • Angular means really good at one thing.
  • “We are looking for well-rounded students.” – Harvard

Take Harvard’s criteria and consider applying them to any other college. Asset to people around you. Community service. Well-rounded. Extracurricular activities. Awards. Achievements. Honors. Ultimately will look at test scores.

You have to be well-rounded in all of those areas.

Only about 1/3 of students ever graduate from college. Stated another way, only 16% of today’s teenagers will have a college degree.

Two main reasons why they don’t graduate: First, the workload. 4-5 hours of studying per class per day. They can’t make the transition to the higher workload. Second, the finances.

Kids are going into this with an entitlement attitude and failing.

Community Service

  • Create a spreadsheet: location, hours worked, supervisor, letters of recommendation (driving time can be counted.)
  • “Commitment-Passionate-Dedication”

Really recommend this. If your child does not volunteer, your child is going to pale in comparison. You want at least 70 hours logged in.

We need to teach our kids that there are great needs everywhere. We live in such a society which is so “me” oriented.

There are many scholarships tied to community service.

Show constancy. Otherwise it’ll just look like padding.

Community Service

  • Volunteer Vactions
    ** “Global Works”
  • Volunteer as a Family Programs
    ** “Clean up the world”
    ** UN Environment Program
    ** Homeless Shelter Directory
  • Volunteering throughout college can yield scholarships for students who continue on.

This sets your kid up for a lifetime of thinking. This changes their life. Their mentality. “It’s not all about me.” [Filling holes that can never filled…]

Community Service

  • Congressional Award
  1. Personal Development
  2. Physical Fitness
  3. Exploration
  4. Volunteer/Community Service

Only 2% of Boy Scouts ever become an Eagle scout. This is similar. Most students don’t know about it. You can start as early as age 14-23

Sign them up for this as soon as possible. You can’t oversee your own child. “It’s really cool y’all.” [She’s from Texas.]

Not an easy award for them to achieve. Matures them.

Important Test Score Info

  • Start preparing in 9th Grade
  • Keep Record of Improvement
  • Take until desired score

Most colleges zero in on the SAT school, because their rankings go up. Only way a college can compare one student to another is to use these score. This is especially

“College Prep Genius” is her program. Has a Seminar for “Chart your success.” – Setup a profile on this site. [Hear about this on Thursday as well.]

You can pick and choose which scores you submit, even submit mix & match scores from different test taking days.


  • 100% of ALL colleges take either one
  • Similar: Both used for entrance exam and scholarships
  • Different: SAT-logic based, ACT-content-based
  • Keep a test prep record

SAT is more subject to “learning” to take the test.

Curriculum Information by Grade

  • Record per grade per class:
    ** Books
    ** Hours
    ** Reports
    ** Etc.

Important Transcript Information

  • Type it
  • Two Pages (extra stuff in portfolio)
    ** Will be rejected if too long.
  • Complete in full
    ** Always put an N/A otherwise it will be rejected as incomplete.
  • Specify Course Title
    ** Use 16th Century Medieval History
  • Include Test Scores
  • Note if “State Course Equivalent”
  • Add Graduation Date
    ** You may not know this, so guesstimate this.
  • Sign and Notarize it.

Little-Known Secret

  • Talent Searches (Identifying Gifted 7th Graders)
    ** Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY)
    ** Duke Talent ID Program (TIP)
    ** Northwestern’s Center for Talent Development (CTD)
    ** University of Denver’s Rocky Mountain Talent Search
    ** Stanford’s Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY)

Take the SAT in 7th grade. To qualify for the they need a particular score on other tests like Iowa. There are other programs for different age groups. Qualify at the end of 6th grade. [One student from MAC did this. Sounds like the boat has already sailed on this, but we’ll see. Annoyed that we didn’t know this sooner.]

This is really noticeable by college admissions people.

4-Year Summer Plan

  • Attend multiple campus programs
  • Goal-related jobs/internships
  • Enriching activities (valuable/exciting)
    ** Independent Studies
    ** Unaccredited Classes

  • Downtime is important

  • Set Limits

This is your child’s chance to gain an edge. Admissions councillors are not impressed by fancy camps. They’re impressed by things that look and sound like colleges. Alternative find an internship.

Make sure that you take a break. Kids need this downtime.

Common Application

Do this early so you can practice. Also look for any gaps.


  • Letters of Recommendations
  • 4 year summer plan
  • Transcript
  • Extra-curricular activités
  • Community Service Records

This is used as part of the child interview process when applying. This shows the admissions counselor that the child can handle the workload in college.

Great keepsake for them. [Yes.]

17 Ideas to Enhance Transcript/Portfolio

  1. Join local class
  2. Related association memberships
  3. Take computer-lessons
  4. Watch films (record this)
  5. Practice with software
  6. Residential workshops
  7. Summer programs
  8. Make informational video (DVD or Youtube)
  9. Get media coverage
  10. Take AP classes
  11. Get nominated for award/scholarships
  12. Honor societies
  13. Create blog
  14. Enter competitions
  15. Create prototypes
  16. Auditions
  17. Do fund-raiser

More is better than less. Most kids these days just lay around and play video games all summer.

Self Propelled Advantage, Part 2

Self-Mastery: Recap from Part 1

When we train our children’s hearts first and foremost, the educational pieces fall into places. Book of Proverbs has significant wisdom for parents. It’s full of “my son, listen to my teaching.” We should be teaching our kids these heart-training things.

Proverbs 6:20

We need to make known to them the commandments. Our values. Self-Mastery is most critical, so teach that. We’re called to teach, so model.

Link between self-mastery between high achievement. There was a correlation between high emotional intelligence and high SAT scores, not high IQ.

Emotional Intelligence is being to motivate oneself. Regulate moods. Delay gratification. Keep distress from swamping the ability to think. Emphasize and to hope. There’s a complete difference between high IQ. “High IQ kids who lack motivation have to be stratified with mediocrity.” – Andrew Carnegie.

Develop deep relationship with your kids. Respect-on-Respect.


Have trust that your kids are going have a reasonable and correct relationship with their books. Don’t have a classroom mindset with the books. “The less the parents express their ration of knowledge to the children…[the better able to learn from the books themselves.” – Charlotte Mason.

Read-Test cycle extinguishes the love of learning.


A curriculum is a tool. There’s a huge number of programs. If your children can read, and read well, you’ll be fine.

[This woman can form and stay on a constant though. There’s echoing threads through, but GEEZE. Seriously! Stay on point.]


…it is not go have fun. Her approach has never been unschooling. Not to the extend where there’s no curriculum.

[We’re getting preached to. Big time.]

Self-taught kids test well, because they have experience doing critical thinking. It’s not our responsibility to get our kids through high school. It’s not. Don’t care how they do it. Care that it’s mastered. Give them as much choice and freedom as you can do their work. Don’t micromanage them. You don’t want your kids to feel like they have to jump through hoops for them to be a good student.

Let them have a 10th grade relationship with their books.

Micromanagement kills motivation.

When to start on the self-teaching road?

When the child can read well. At that point you transition from the parent-directed approach to the student-directed one.

5 Steps to self-teaching success

  1. Provide a planner or journal that belongs to the student. It’s their education.

Application changes based on age. Steps don’t. Take the burden off your shoulders and put it on your kids shoulder. Don’t snuff out their ambition “to do it themselves.” It’s monumental in their self confidence.

Self-learners stand out, because it’s so unusual. They know how to find out what they don’t know. Very entrepreneurial. They find out what their passion is and then you let them go. It starts with education and then it spills over to other aspects of life.

Plan out the year with them. It’s very motivation to see where their headed and that there’s an end.

  1. Gather your curriculum up.

Curriculum is a tool.

  1. Set some goals, one per subject.

“The greatest service we could do for education is to each fewer subjects” – C.S. Lewis [Get full quote.]

Mastery learning gives a foundation of success on top of success. You don’t move on if you don’t get it in the homeschool world.

She uses a quarterly system.

  1. Monitoring.

Only thing she “does” in homeschool. How much can you trust them? Catching them cheating in the home is an opportunity to teach grace.

Spot check with your older kids. They don’t know when it’s going to come. [Psychology 101…] Did cause one of her students to stumble, because she gave him too much rope. He got behind, and then further behind. Punishment is you loose the freedom to self-teach.

  1. Let go.

She didn’t have little ones to be mom to any more. That’s an awesome thing. When they go off to college they may struggle. That’s OK. They have self-mastery, so they get through it.

How to – set short term goals with young ones

(Kindergarten) Just take each day as it comes. Don’t let it stress you out. Look at your curriculum, and divide it into quarters. On goals page write get to page # where # is a quarter of the way through. Be ready for your plans to be set aside because they may not be ready for it.

Loosely woven plans.

Write down a goal for each subject. On the weekly plan, write out which pages you want them to do. At the end of the day, do you cross it off? No, let your child do it. Give them that feeling of accomplishment.

1st grade and on goal definition

Do the same thing. Rely on them to figure out what they need to do today. Let them go work on it. Each progressive grade they will get better at doing these tasks more and more on their own. By fifth grade, they can just do it. (You need to look it over to make sure they can do it.)

We they know that they’re free to fail – they’re afraid to try.

Care if it’s done really sloppily – that’s a heart issue.

Girls – Lillian 6th Grader, Age 12. Second one older.

On the start of her first day of school. She would break the lessons into quarterly sessions. She might split it so she could have time off from math or finish early. She would then break break history and other subjects down into pages.

On a weekly basis. Usually she writes out the whole week. Sometimes she does it day-by-day because she might not have enough time that day. It works both ways.

Older one tends to do the weekly planner day-by-day. By the end of the week, it feels like a lot to do “5 pages of history” for example.

Older one wanted to take French, so they added that on.

Question: what if your child blows through the week’s worth of work in a single day?

If you’re not adjusting for the appropriate level… Have at it. Why not? If it’s mastered, it’s OK. Give them the choice to either continue something, or do nothing. If you require them to immediately do the next one, they’ll do the first one a lot slower. (Last comment from older child.)

Question: how long do you wait to ask for help?

Not very long. Take the learning slowing until you’ve mastered it. Sometimes things spill over into the summer. It’s better to know it than not.

Question: How do you transition into this?

Start with the parent directed approach and transition gradually. Some curriculum lends it’s self to self-learning better than others. Look to see how parent intensive it is. To avoid this, she’s had success with workbooks.

How to Write Powerful Fiction

Time Shoemaker writes fiction and non-fiction. Many short stories for magazines. Important to know: there was a time in his life when he thought that writing was a gift. Now: there’s a certain element which is true, but that’s mostly just the desire. You can learn the technique.

With your writing… Writing started to change for him when he was writing for his kids. If you want to write, it helps if you know the audience you’re trying to write to. Improved for his writing.

Scene vs. Setting: This room is a setting. What’s actually happening here is the scene – the interaction between characters. Old fashion TV reused the same setting again and again. But what was going on was different every time.

Real life isn’t packaged in scenes

It’s the time when the curtain is up, to use a play analogy, is when the scene is in motion.

A story is a series of scenes.

We want to have a lot scenes which people love.

How do you know which scenes to write?
1. Know what your story is about. What does your lead character really want. Every scene you choose for your story needs to move the story forward. Scenes shouldn’t just entertaining. Not just because the author likes it.
2. Plan out your story. Don’t have to know it in detail, but have a sense for what’s going to happen in your story. He has some basic ideas. As he develops the characters and he gets to know them, they help carry the story. This approach takes the story, sometimes, to places which he would have never thought of.

It’s ok if you’re not a “mapper.” It’s a style thing.

You can over prepare, so you want to be careful about that.

You can write an infinite number of scenes. Pick scenes that you can handle. Don’t write a scene about inside the operating room if you don’t know about it. Instead write a scene about being in the waiting room.

Three things you need in a scene:
1. Beginning: you need a clear goal.
2. Middle: Strong conflict or maybe disaster.
3. End:

Goal must be something that you’re character wants. Something they’re willing to fight for. It has to be obtainable within a specific period of time. Something shorter term. Possible to build toward the big goal of the book.

Example, writing a story about Martin, a high school senior who’s secretly in love with Rochelle. Brian, his best friend, also likes her. Other girls chase after Brian, so Martin is hopping Brian is hoping that one of those will be able to distract Brian.

Story goal: have Rochelle become Martin’s girlfriend by Christmas.

That’s too big for a scene. So a scene goal might be that she simply notices him. Maybe he’s going to talk to her after class. Maybe he’s going to ask her to homecoming which is two weeks away. Any of those could be accomplished in a single scene. Those are steps toward the big book goal.

Make the scene goal clear and evident right up front in the scene. This will keep your reader engaged. Answer the question: what does the reader want to know? This helps keep your scene on track with the rest of the story. In addition, this help you know when to start the scene, and when to end it.

Once you start a scene you have to keep it going until the curtain drops. Maybe do some transition and then the curtain goes up on the next scene.

Start the scene as close to the action as close to the goal as possible.

Have a clear go for what you want to accomplish in the scene.

Conflict: man vs. man, man vs. time, man vs. nature, man vs. self, etc. Two dogs, one bone.

Make sure your conflict is strong. Strength comes from the rationale for why the characters want it.

Your story will get boring if it stays with “so far, so good.”

Try to build some sort of conflict or building tension on every page.

Disaster: what makes that goal harder than ever to obtain?

Try to make these directly related to his goal. Make them more personal.

End the scene when the goal is obtained or lost. Once our reader get’s the idea that the protagonist failed, end it. Cliffhanger.

Step on it after you start your scene. End that scene once the result is clear (i.e. made it or lost it.)

Stronger scenes:
1. Know who’s point of view you want to be in.
Get in that character’s head and stay there. Your character’s priorities will change based on what they care about.

Do’t just tell your reader what you want them to know. Show it.

If the main character doesn’t care enough, why should the reader. Reader won’t like it if the the character gives up. Oftentimes, it’s a choice between the lesser of two options.

The decision results in a new scene goal.

In a scene you want one continuos flow of time. In between, you can cover all sorts of time while you get read for the next big scene.

Once you know these elements… don’t go formulaic on this. Start playing with it a little bit. Get those things in there, you’re going to have stronger writing.

Read the type of things you like to write.

The Well-Prepared Student: How to Get Ready for the High School Years

Looking ahead…

  • Students must fulfill a minimum credits in order to graduate to high school. One credit of high school equals 120 hours.
  • Get your student used to tracking how much time they spend studying. Keep a journal.
    ** Language Arts: 4 (units are years)
    ** Math: 3-4
    ** Foreign Language 2-4
    ** World History
    ** American History
    ** American Government
    ** Science: 3-4
    ** Physical Education: 2

Track these values over time and make sure you’re on track. More than likely, students are spending more than 120 hours per credit, but if you don’t record it – they just disappear. It really matters, so get them accustomed to doing this.

Language Arts

  1. Assign regular “real book” reading. Moving up to early high school level of difficulty by 8th grade.

* High School difficulty: Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
* Check Norton Anthology of Literature. Look @ table of contents. If you see it listed there, it’s high school.
It can be a real jolt. The references are potentially different. Syntax is more difficult. Start with listening to unabridged audiobook versions. Do this early so it’s less stressful.

The Norton Anthology will guide you to the editions which are considered “standard.”

  1. Do grammar every year so that it can take a back seat in high school.

Get all the way through grammar by the 8th grade if possible. Writing will make them a more successful college applicant. 9th grade refresher, OK. Don’t let it flow into 10th grade.

  1. Teach outlining and diagramming so that they can become tools during the high school year.

Being able to outline means you can make a plan for an essay. A lot of middle school books don’t teach this. Expose them to this early so they can effectively use it later. Practice outlining other people’s work. Some grammar courses teach this. Some really good web sites which will walk you through this as well.

Diagramming is so an older student can figure out what’s wrong with a sentence that a student has written. So they can self-correct their work.

Example of sentence diagramming and how that indicates how “balanced” a sentence. Also helps identify where clarity is lost.

[Speaker has a grammar course. Should check it out.]

  1. Begin to talk about books with the student

* Who is this book about?
* What do the central characters want?
* What leads up to this event?
* etc…

Kids don’t think this way. They don’t naturally write critical essays about literature. Get them accustomed to talking to you about books, so they can write about them later in High School.

Describe the classic narrative arc. Answers should be in complete sentences. Don’t have to write them down. If they know that, you’re going to get really short sentence. Instead you want their deepest theory about the book without constraint.

You don’t need a literature analysis program in middle school.


  1. Schedule pre-algebra NO LATER than ninth grade.

* 9th Pre-algebra
* 10th Algebra
* 11th Geometry
* 12th Algebra II
Algebra is acceptable as high school credit, even if they take it in middle school. Only course for which this do. Be careful of doing this for other courses. In general don’t do it without AP sore backup proof.

  1. Make sure the student beings to do some “real life” math problems.

* Family’s grocery budget
* Include kids in home projects
* Figure out actual cost of driving to/from event
* Figure out how much a restaurant meal would cost at home.
* Help them stay connected with my math is an important thing to d.
[This is the Life of Fred stuff. Man need to buy that book series.]

Help students understand why they’re learning this stuff and how it’s used to solve actual problems. The pushback you’re going to get is the beginning of more mature thinking, so it’s a good thing. Be prepared for it and sort it out.

Book: Family Math. Family Math: The Middle School Years. (Second book particularly good.)


  1. Understand the scientific method.
  2. Know how to conduct an experiment.
  3. Be familiar with the format of a lab report.
    They have to have all of these things or they’re not ready for high school science. Look for these in any science curriculum that you might use. You can find some of this stuff online, so you can supplement easily.


  1. Study history with a timeline
  2. Be sure to cover the basics of 18th century American History
  3. Teach the difference between primary and secondary sources

Timeline is particularly important so that kids connect studied events within the context of a single universe. Things get really complicated in high school history. Don’t assume that they’re picking it up, specifically help them understand those connections explicitly.

Two history courses that are mandated in high school are American History and American Government. Without a grounding in American History, this is really hard.

Explicitly teach difference between sources. In high school, they’re mixed together, so sometimes they miss the distinction. Look @ your history material to see if they’ve called out which material is sourced how.

Foreign Language

  1. If possible, study 1-2 years of Latin
  2. Study English grammar in a systematic, programmed way
  3. Investigate Rosetta Stone and other ear-training programs
    Doing this early in middle school doesn’t dodge this requirement. Instead it turns the requirement into doing years 3-4 (for example) if you did 1-2 in 7th & 8th grade.

Latin is especially useful to help learn other languages. Need a solid English grammar grounding first.

In most cases, kids are going to be doing serious foreign language unless they’ve got a bend in that direction.

Practical Preparation

  1. Experiment with new ways of learning.

* Instruction by parent.
* Correspondence course graded by parent
* Independent study
* Tutor
* Class taken online
* Community college class (not always possible, but ask.)

In high school you’re probably going to have outsource. You’re not going to be able to do all of the teaching. Vary your kids educational experience. Don’t make their first experience a high stakes one, so avoid something which going to end up on their transcript.

Online classes are particularly hard transitions. Specifically dealing with hard deadlines. Get over this hump early. Do an online course a year. Your goal is to teach them to turn something in on-time. Pick something which isn’t going to be too hard for them. One change at a time, so don’t pick a hard topic.

  1. Give the student experience in taking tests and working to a deadline
    Online courses help with this, but you need to be less flexible with this. Some things, like sick, are OK to push, but you need to start buckling down there. Occasionally send them to a friends house to take a test, ideally where they’re feeling slightly uncomfortable. (SATs, anyone?)

  2. Teach the student how to find books at the library
    They need to able to negotiate the catalog and find a book that they need. Most reference librarians will walk your kid through this.

  3. Explain the difference between “mediated” and “unmediated” content.
    Mediated content has been reviewed, commissioned, paid for, fact checked by someone different than the author. Unmediated continent sources should not be used in High School. Train the student to look for the mediator or organization which stands behind a given web site. Who’s checking the content?

This includes books, especially with the advent of self-publishing books.

High School has a convention of using mediated content only.

  1. Work on moving the student towards more independent learning.
    Start this in 6th grade. Middle grade students ought to have a watch or an alarm clock. They need to learn how to keep track of their own time. They should be able to get themselves up in the morning. They should think about how much time it’s taking to do each subject.

Now is the time they need to learn to track their time.

Checklists are good in 7th & 8th grade to track how much work needs to be done. Give them some responsibility to order work.

  • Help student being to keep a notebook planner or calendar.
  • Give student the responsibility for getting up in the morning.

Make those things habits. Personal responsibility. Don’t save it all for high school.

Ask them to do what’s possible, but don’t make it so complicated that it becomes a chore in and of itself.

Personal preparation

  1. Allow the student to question you (in an appropriate manner)
    You want them to behave more like adults in High School. They prepare to do that in Middle School. You need to allow the student question your educational choices without being threatened by the question. It’s no long appropriate to say “you have to.” You have to come up with an explication as to why they’re taking a class that they don’t like. Walk them through their high school and college years so they can look forward.

Long view can freak out 6th graders a bit because they’re not used to this worldview.

If you can’t come up with a good reason why they’re taking a course, then you need to drop it – even if it’s a course you love.

You can’t keep a kid in all of the courses that you like and then expect them to be responsible in high school. You’ll end up with a kid you have to micromanage throughout high school. Bad.

  1. Discuss “trigger points” and how to avoid/recover from them.
    Depending on their personality, you kids will meltdown. In middle grade, this is typically their body telling them something which they can interpret. They’re growing. When you have middle school meltdowns: stop everything and everyone just calms down. Eat something. Have a nap. Have a shower. These make you calm. Once you’re there, you talk with the student to about why the meltdown happen. Don’t just say “there. there” and try to immediately fix it.

Help students get more in touch with their bodies. Sleepy. Hungry.

By 7th grade, they’re working much closer to their natural level of maturity level. They’re fine until something happens to them physically.

Meltdowns are good for figuring out what to do in high school

  1. Deal with any lingering learning problems
    Sometimes we just wait for them to grow out of things. Slow reader. Doesn’t like to write. Etc. If they’re still struggling with something like that in 7th grade, go get them evaluated. This evaluation isn’t therapy, it’s typically physical focused. (Eye tracking. Hearing. Etc.)

Don’t struggle with these problems and hard academics at the same time.

  1. Encourage the student to think about course, curricula, and areas of study that the student would like to investigate
    Don’t be the only one with a vision. Let them have some voice in planning out their high school sequence. Get them to look forward to the High School years. They should be interested with the agenda.

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