The well-documented abysmal failure of government schools has prompted a homeschooling boom, as many parents have chosen to retain or regain control of their children’s education instead of leaving it in the hands of the state.
One inspiring example comes by way of the Harding family. The parents, Kip and Mona Lisa, have ten children, and they have applied an education program that dramatically accelerates their children’s learning. Education in the Harding household begins with mastery of the “three Rs” (reading, writing, and arithmetic) and then moves on to independent study. And all of it proceeds in the context of a supportive family culture. The results? The six oldest Harding children reached college by age twelve, and the four youngest are on track to follow suit.
By the time a Harding child is four years old, Kip and Mona Lisa have taught him to identify and trace letters, to sound out English phonemes (distinct units of sound in the language), and to read what they call “easy books.” By age six, the child has learned to subtract, to multiply, to write simple sentences, and to read more-advanced books.
The Hardings look to the child’s personal interests to provide motivation for studying each subject. For example, if the child loves music, as one of the Harding children does, his parents give him reading materials, writing assignments, and mathematical problems that relate to this interest. Mona Lisa explains, “We find out what [our children’s] passions are, what they really like to study, and we accelerate them gradually.” The goal is to make learning enjoyable and fruitful. Kip explains, “The expectation is that you’re going to have a fun day.”
Although the Hardings incorporate Christian doctrine in their children’s education (a substantial flaw in their approach), for the most part they aim to help their children achieve mastery of the three Rs and other subjects, and to love learning.
It is debatable whether sending a child to college at age twelve is in his best interest. But the Hardings’ program demonstrates that children have potential to learn much more and much faster than educators typically realize. Other parents and educators would do well to take note.
- The New Abolitionism: Why Education Emancipation is the Moral Imperative of our Time
- Interviews with Innovators in Private Education