We had a great conference call with Tiffany Earl yesterday about homeschooling your teenager. I followed the instructions to record it but for some reason it did not record. I am really sorry about that. I am still figuring out this technology. So here is a textual summary.
We started off talking about scholar phase. If you don’t want your teenager to have a scholar phase then don’t bother reading the rest of this. If you do then keep reading. Scholar phase is something that most influential leaders have had. Usually it is in their youth. For example, John Adams had such a great one that he went to Harvard when he was 15. Most of the Founding Fathers had a scholar phase. This is where a student studies 8-10 hours a day. They are consumed with studying. Tiffany explained that core phase and the love of learning phase are still common in our society today but scholar phase is not common. I asked her why that is and she didn’t have an answer.
Later, I thought, of course, I know why. It’s because of the dominance of conveyor belt education. I could go into depth on that but it will take me off topic. Tiffany said that a scholar phase involves 4 levels: practice, apprentice, self-directed and mentored. She also explained that all people who go through scholar phase share these 4 aspects, then later she added a fifth aspect:
To do a great scholar phase you have to have those 4 things. Vision and mission are what keep you going. Skills, abilities, and knowledge are what allow you to do scholar phase. She explained that skills are more about competence and abilities are about character. So a scholar skill would being able to touch type and an ability would be honesty.
Then we talked about how to nurture a mission in your teenager. Tiffany stated that a mission comes from a teen’s environment and what is modeled for them. This is why it is so important that a mom do a scholar phase. If you have a lot of distractions, especially electronic distractions, then it will be hard for a teen and you to have a scholar phase. So then we talked about how to minimize electronic distractions in the home.
I asked Tiffany to tell us what she personally does. She acknowledged that there is a healthy place for some of the activities offered by the Internet and other electronic distractions. To keep her family in the healthy place she minimizes access so it doesn’t become addicting. She said she doesn’t give her teenagers a cell phone, no matter how much they beg because their friends have one. She said that she doesn’t let them have their own email address without a lot of thought and prayer on her part to know if it’s right for her child. She said one of her children has an email address but another one doesn’t because he is not ready to use it responsibly. She said she limits Facebook time for her teens. Right now, only her daughter is allowed to use it, and she doesn’t know what the password is, only Tiffany does, and she only lets them on it for 15 minutes twice a week maximum. The computer is in the middle of the family room so everyone can see it.
Tiffany said that if your teenager’s emotional highlight of the week comes from the virtual world, and not the real world, then that is a red flag that they are spending too much time with electronic distractions. I suggested that that could be a great question to ask your teenager during your weekly mentor meetings. So we also talked about mentor meetings. Tiffany declared that the most important thing you can do to help your homeschooling teenager is to have weekly mentor meetings. This is when you sit down with your child and help them plan their week and when they will do their homeschooling assignments and talk to them about their goals, their dreams, and review the past week. It’s also very important that the teenager’s parents have weekly Family Executive Council meetings as a couple, and that the family have a family planning meeting where all the older kids come together with mom and dad to make the calendar for the whole week.
Just having these weekly mentor meetings, or talks with your homeschooling teenager is very powerful, according to Tiffany. It’s no natural or urgent, but it is so crucial to the success of your homeschooling. I suggested to her that it is an incredible gift that only the mom and dad can give. Tiffany explained that to have a great scholar phase you have to be having these weekly meetings in your home. It’s not natural to have such a meeting, but it is extremely important to the success of your teenager’s homeschooling.
Tiffany also went into the obstacles parents have to mentoring their teenagers/youth. One of them is that parents don’t know that they can. They feel like they have to ask permission. Our society has become so based on “experts” that even parents start to feel like their own children are someone else’s.
Tiffany shared that it’s so important that parents learn to see with spiritual eyes. You learn to see what your child needs according to your gut instinct. She shared a story of a woman who had contacted her about the woman’s own scholar phase. Tiffany read the email from the lady and immediately with her spiritual eyes in focus Tiffany could see that the problem with this woman was that she needed to focus on increasing her speed reading skills. This goes back to the concept Tiffany laid out at the first that scholar phase involves the five things of vision, mission, skills, abilities, and knowledge. Whenever there is a challenge in scholar phase you can go back to those five things and find the problem. Tiffany said that being able to read quickly and get to the heart of the matter is a scholar phase skill. She recommended a speed reading web site called http://spreeder.com. You can pick the chunk size of what you want to read it and even use it as an app for your smartphone. She recommended the site to the woman and it has helped her.
We also talked about doing math. Tiffany said that if a student want to get their GED then some math books are on Amazon to help students prepare for the math section of the GED. She couldn’t remember the name but said she was hoping to be able to sell these books soon from her web site, http://lemimentortraining.com. If your student wants to go to college she suggested you talk to your child about what college they want to go to and prepare for the ACT. (We didn’t go much into preparing for the ACT, as an aside, I highly recommend getting homeschooling mom Ann Meeks to come to your community to do an ACE the ACT boot camp. See http://acetheact.com)
Tiffany announced that coming soon she will be doing monthly conference calls for all youth and all parents. It will involve a small fee but will allow youth and parents to catch the vision of what they are capable of and to feel a sense of community. She said to watch her web site (http://lemimentortraining.com) for the details.
We talked about the importance of building a community for youth in scholar phase. The method Tiffany has is a model called the New Commonwealth School. This is a once a week school where homeschooling youth get together to do scholar projects. These scholar projects take the youth up the levels of being a scholar. I expressed my complete satisfaction with this school model and the scholar projects. I have seen the magic they have done in my own children’s lives. I’ve had three youth attend our commonwealth school. They have loved it. My third child seemed “behind” in handwriting. I was worried that he couldn’t do the writing assignments in the scholar project class he took this past school year. But being around other kids and feeling the excitement they all have for Shakespeare, reading Shakespeare, and discussing it, motivated him to do these handwriting assignments motivated him to do the work. He produced page after handwritten page of his thoughts.
LEMI has perfected how to go about creating what they call a “Liber Community.” This is a community of families who are highly committed to freedom and the liberal arts. They offer training in different classes so that you can turn around and create a liber community in your town.
If you would like info on how to create a community in your homeschooling community that nurtures scholar phase, I highly recommend that you get the training from Tiffany’s company, LEMI (Leadership Education Mentoring Institute). Go here to learn about the training in your area http://lemimentortraining.com/register_for_training.html. They are having trainings this summer in Utah, Oregon, Colorado, California, and for those of you who are too far for any of those, you can do it online. You could get the training and start the basic project which is called The Gathering for the parents, then build on that the next year with a Key of Liberty class and or a Shakespeare Conquest Class for the youth and a 5 Pillar Class for the adults.
The early days of our country were based on the commonwealth idea, which is that each person does a little bit to contribute to the wealth and good of the society. No one person has to carry the whole load. That is what the Commonwealth School does. I have been so blessed by this school, actually two schools in my area and I am spreading the word so others can be blessed as well. My homeschooling son is going off to college in the fall on a scholarship, in part because of what he learned from his Commonwealth School in the past six years.