“I Don’t Know Enough to Teach My Own Children”

Recently, while visiting Israel, I read a report on Israel’s public schools.

Turns out, they are pretty bad.

Israel’s public schools rank 40th among the world’s nations on international standardized tests. Teacher’s colleges accept students who cannot get accepted in most other college disciplines, yet these become Israel’s future teachers.

Then, there are the students. Teachers have difficulty maintaining classroom order as Israel’s youth are raised to be defiant toward established norms and authorities. Therefore, it is difficult for teachers to require that students learn anything the students, themselves, don’t want to learn.

As I read this report, I thought, “Wait a minute! How could this be when tiny Israel turns out the highest number of entrepreneurs and business start-ups in the world next only to the U.S.? There must be a problem with the research here!”

The report went on to describe that one, obvious way to “fix” the teacher-student problem was to provide kids with better teachers.

Result: Students did better on standardized tests because better teachers are apparently able to train students to do better on tests. However, when looked at more closely, the better-testing-students had actually learned less. In other words, after taking the tests, they forgot what they were supposed to have learned!

By now, I was thoroughly confused. That is, until I read the conclusions of the researchers.

It seems that when teachers don’t know their material—and are willing to admit this—the students are left with figuring out things for themselves. And, instead of students being required to sit and listen to some “expert”, the teacher becomes a “collaborative learner” along with the student.

Sound a little like homeschooling?

This is why, when a parent says to me, “I don’t know enough to homeschool my own children; I was a terrible student, myself.” I want to reply, “That’s more of a benefit than you could possibly know!”

The routine, lock-step, cloned (may I add “boring”) education that goes on in public schools today has been going on since the invention of public schooling in Prussia over 200 years ago. Albert Einstein ran away from home to Italy, even renouncing his German citizenship, stating that public school kept him from being able to think. He was 16.

As parents, let’s stop pretending we need to know everything to allow our children to be educated at home. It is to their benefit that we don’t. At best, we will be collaborative learners along with our kids.

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 16 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook) and see the amazing trips we have planned for 2017!

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Request for Recommendation

Question for all my homeschooling friends: We want your recommendation for your two favorite homeschool speakers for next year’s “Jerusalem International Homeschool Conference & Israel Tour.” Also, if you want to receive more information on this Conference as it becomes available, send me an email with your email address. The dates are July 6 – 26, 2018.

Contact@ChrisDavis.email

Homeschooling Is Not About Homeschooling

Homeschooling is not about homeschooling.

I just had a flash-back to a time when I spoke at a conference years ago. As I was closing my prepared message I suddenly heard myself say something I had not prepared to say…

“The homeschooling movement has never been about homeschooling at all. If you don’t know how the homeschooling movement began, I can only tell you that God swept us up in a kind of “river” and we were powerless to do anything other than keep our kids at home rather than sending them to school. I have intuitively known homeschooling was not mainly about providing our children with a better education or about protecting them from world influences. But, it has taken me a long time to realize what homeschooling is really about.

“You see, a day is coming…(I don’t even know what that means). I only know that God sees a day coming when a certain kind of person will be needed to be leaders when “that day” arrives. In that day, the majority of people—yes, even world leaders—will be faced with situations too complicated for them to comprehend. I believe God has reached back in time, our time, and is using the homeschooling movement to begin to prepare these young people, your young people, for “that day”.

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 16 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook) and see the amazing trips we have planned for 2017!

Seth reading on pony fixed2 resized Book cover resized for Kindle

The Day Homeschooling Dies

My sons never went to school.

One day, as my oldest son and I were discussing his upbringing, I had a revelation about this movement we all call “homeschooling.”

I said to Seth, “When you have kids, they won’t go to public school. They won’t go to private school. They won’t go to a Christian school.”

“And,” I concluded, “your kids won’t be home schooled, either.”

The realization I had while talking with Seth is that God had begun something many years ago and, although it eventually came to be called “homeschooling,” it really wasn’t about schooling at all. Here is what I mean.

THE COLLAPSE OF THE FAMILY

For thousands of years children have grown up in what today would be considered an unnatural place: their own homes. In this setting, parents never thought of themselves as “home schoolers.” There was no alternative to children spending their days at home, having knowledge, experiences and character passed to them by their parents and extended family. What children needed to know, they learned as part of their daily lives: sowing and reaping, weather, how a business works, how to treat customers (and everyone else, for that matter).

Life was their education. To say this another way: children did not learn what they needed to know only from books; rather they learned what they needed to know because what they were doing required that they learn it.

Throughout history, small, homogeneous groups have attempted to provide a common education for their youth, yet it wasn’t until around the mid 1800’s that entire nations decided to take children out of the home and “school” them. I will briefly mention the two main causes for this dramatic change in the way we began raising our children. (Interestingly, both occurred at approximately the same time).

First, in the mid-1800’s the Industrial Revolution began. Newly built factories needed laborers and the siren call went forth for men to leave their homes and be paid a salary (something new for most men). The possibility of being able to increase one’s family’s standard of living was the draw that caused men to cease being patriarchs of a family enterprise and become employees.

Around this same time, another movement was taking shape: The Common (Public) School Movement. The leaders of the Public School Movement were, for the most part, humanists who were concerned about two things they believed endangered America’s future: The continuation of what they called “religious superstitious beliefs” and the influx of illiterate immigrants seeking jobs and a better life in America. These leaders believed that realizing their two-fold goal of ridding our society of religion and providing an education for immigrant children mandated compulsory education for every child. Soon, various states were passing Compulsory Attendance Laws and children were being required to leave home to be public schooled.

So, as dads were leaving home with a promise of employment, children were also leaving home with a promise of being made employable. Within a very short period of time, the family unit—which had been tightly held together as its members worked together for the common good of the whole—became a group of individuals going their separate ways with separate agendas. To the factories went the dads. To the schools went the kids. Where Mom went is the subject of another (and very important) article.

It wasn’t long before people forgot what it was like to be a family with Dad as the head of a “family enterprise” and each member being co-producers. In one generation, the cultural memory of children growing up at home was forgotten. Children belonged “in school” during the most productive hours of their day, learning whatever would make them employable, becoming independent, establishing strong relationships with peers that replaced the bonds of family. And, what had been a lifestyle of learning became “book learning” as education became separated from a real life that was no longer being lived.

Of course, there was always a small group of families whose children never attended public school. Typically, these were American’s wealthiest whose children received exclusive private educations in areas intended to prepare them for leadership in government and business. Most Americans don’t realize that public school was never intended to prepare either leaders or entrepreneurs. It has always been intended to prepare employees. [For a fuller understanding of this subject, read John Gatto’s books, The Underground History of American Education, A Different Kind of Teacher, and Dumbing us Down].

HOW SHOULD WE THEN SCHOOL?

In the 1950’s—one hundred years after the Public School Movement began—some middle class parents began to desire an educational experience for their children whose curricula was more individualized. It was at this time that the Private School Movement began. I attended one of these schools in what should have been my fourth grade. It was little more than an experimental school run by one man who was also the only teacher. He didn’t like having one fourth grader, so I was skipped to fifth grade where there was one other student. I don’t remember learning much, but it was more fun than my earlier years in public school!

During the Civil Rights years, the Christian School Movement began along with its own particular brand of curricula which was mainly “Christianized” public schooling. The concept remained that children were to be brought out of their homes and taught by educators, (presumably Christian), who, because they were “professionals”, would do a better job of training children than could the children’s parents. It seemed that parents would now get the best of both worlds: a public-style education that was also Christian.

Then, in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, a movement arose that many consider nothing less than God’s intervention to undo what had taken place in the last century. All over the country, parents began keeping their children home instead of sending them to one of the other schooling options. Some parents made this decision out of concern for their children’s safety while others didn’t like the education their children were receiving. However, the majority decided to keep their children home simply because they wanted a relationship with them and parents didn’t think this would happen if their children were gone all day long. It was quite a novel (and controversial) idea that children should be kept home during the schooling hours of the day.

So, today, parents have several choices as to how their children might be educated. They can be:

Public Schooled
Private Schooled
Christian Schooled
Home Schooled

Note that the above choices relate mainly to where the child is schooled. In the past 150 years, what has changed is the first word, not the second. Each choice still emphasizes the fact that children are to be schooled.

A MISUNDERSTOOD MOVEMENT?

I don’t know how keeping our children home during the day came to be known as “Home Schooling,” but I do have a theory: Ask parents, “What should children, age six to eighteen, be doing during the day, Monday through Friday?” and most will say, “These are the years when a child is being schooled, of course.” (This is why we have such phrases in our vocabulary as a child being of schooling age).

It follows that, if a child is to be “schooled” during these formative years, the only real question is, “Where?” Today, the answer is, “He will either be public schooled, private schooled, Christian schooled, or home schooled.”

Assuming, then, that every child is to “be schooled” during the day—if he is home during the day—he will be “home schooled” during the day. Hence the origin of the label “homeschooling.”

Now, I want to ask, “Is schooling really supposed to be a child’s primary daily activity?” It wasn’t until the advent of the modern Public School Movement. Schooling a child was never meant to be the “constant” with the variable being only where the child is schooled. Historically, it has always been the other way around.

What is so problematic with the term “Home Schooling” is what it has done to parents whose children are spending their days at home.

Labeling something gives it meaning—identifies it.

If we are comfortable with certain words in the label and not so comfortable with other words in the label, those words with which we feel least secure will take on greater significance.

Take the word “homeschooling”. If we are secure in our home and in how we are raising our children, we raise them from a place of God’s rest. If we are insecure in our schooling, we become afraid and do not school from a place of God’s rest. Instead, we become driven to overcome our insecurity (a nice word for fear) and focus on whatever we feel is needed to make sure we do school right. Whatever we fear becomes a driver in our lives as we attempt to overcome our fear and find security.

When parents send their children to public school, parents are supposed to feel secure that trained professionals will be educating their children. Parents don’t pretend they could do a job others have spent years being trained to do. A parent might think she could raise her children in many other areas; but, definitely, not provide for their education.

Then, one day, we became homeschoolers. Insecure homeschoolers, perhaps; but homeschoolers, nonetheless. However, since what we were doing was labeled “homeschooling,” we, in our insecurity, actually became home-SCHOOLERS rather than HOME-schoolers. The importance of our children becoming educated (isn’t that what children do during the day?) took on greater prominence than the importance of them being home. It hasn’t helped that there is no cultural memory of what having our children home really means to the family or to society.

What did I mean when I told my son, “And, your kids won’t be homeschooled”? During Seth’s years at home, his academic education was never the main priority. In our home, we did have a rigid priority structure, but those priorities were first relationships; second, practical skills; and, finally, academics. Seth grew up with a strong academic upbringing, but academics were never our priority. Seth is a skilled, very competent individual of the highest character. He is also one of the happiest young men I have ever known.

As I look back on Seth’s time at home, I have come to realize that he was never “homeschooled.” He simply grew up in a most remarkable place: his own home.

When our children were young we would take them with us to the store. Other kids were in school. The check-out lady would invariably ask, “You boys aren’t in school today?”

Since the boys knew we were homeschoolers, they would respond, “No, ma’am, we’re homeschooled.”

STARTING OVER

If I could do it all over again, I would not call ourselves “homeschoolers.” I have actually come to dislike the term because I think it creates significant internal problems. If I were starting over again, when the lady at the store asked, “You boys aren’t in school today?” I would teach the boys to say, simply, “No ma’am,” and let it go at that.

In just the past year I have noticed a growing distinction between children who are home, being HOMEschooled and those who are home, being homeSCHOOLED. Are the “not-being-homeschooled” children receiving a quality upbringing, including a quality education? Today enough research exists that I can honestly say an unequivocal “yes”. I would even go so far as to say that the not-being-homeschooled child is receiving an education which is superior, and far richer, than the child being homeschooled. [For a fuller discussion on this, check out my book, “Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally”].

The availability of what has come to be known as “prepackaged curricula” is helping manifest a separation of the two types of families who were once grouped together under the one term: “homeschoolers.”

Many parents purchase prepackaged curricula because they don’t understand what God originally intended when He began this movement many years ago.

What do you think your children should be doing all day now that they are home? Probably the most obvious way to determine what you really believe is to ask yourself, “Is my child the constant or is my child’s education the constant?” Look at the materials you use to bring learning into your child’s life. Do you use graded, prepackaged, curricula? Is your child in a grade as he would be if he were in an institutional setting? Do you follow the institutionalized Scope & Sequence educational model?

Or, have you stepped completely out of the lock-step, institutional way of raising your child?

This article is not intended to discourage, but to give hope. In most parents’ hearts is the desire to reprioritize their lives around what is truly important to them: having a relationship with their children. To bring your children home can be an immense lifestyle change. For some, making this change has to be done in stages. If you have brought your children home it may have been necessary (for a season) to place before them the ever popular “curriculum-in-a-box.” Hopefully, that season will be short-lived.

Our children never went to school, were never in a grade, and we never used a prepackaged curriculum. Nevertheless, it took us a while to learn all that I am sharing with you here. Be encouraged. You are allowed to do what your heart tells you is right.

IF WE AREN’T HOMESCHOOLING, WHAT ARE WE DOING?

Right now, nearly two million children are spending their days at home rather than “at school,” thus putting an end to a 150 year “detour” which began in the 1850’s and which seriously harmed family life and Kingdom community as God initially intended them to be lived. As families leave this detour and turn onto the road whose name is “Life As It Was Meant To Be Lived,” we will see vistas we didn’t know existed. Let me offer some suggestions.

1 | Don’t send your children to school. Any school. Bring them home. Raise them to be the individuals God has created them to become.

2 | Don’t bring the school, any school (along with its “efficient”, but arbitrary, grade levels, scope & sequence, boxed curriculum) into your home. Allow your children to learn through life and the relationships around them.

3 | Learn how to awaken curiosity in your children. (This is the subject of another article.)

4 | The only thing that should be prepackaged is your child. By this I mean your child was born with all the talents, giftings, and callings put into him or her since the foundation of the world. Find out what these are and let your child become truly good at what you discover.

5 | Dad’s heart must turn toward his children and the hearts of the children must turn toward Dad. Ultimately, this may bring Dad out of the corporate workforce to come home. This final step may take another generation to be fulfilled. But, for it to be fulfilled, Dad must at least begin moving in that direction (ie. giving his children the option of becoming entrepreneurs, themselves).

6 | In your own home, let “homeschooling” die. In other words, don’t homeschool your children.

God has asked us to raise a generation prepared for the future by allowing each individual to become exactly what the Creator intended each one to become. “Schooling” assumes generic human beings. None of your children are generic, so none of them should be “schooled”. Each child’s education will be as different as is each child’s giftings, talents and callings. This is what will bring glory to their Creator as well as joy to their own lives.

 

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

 

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

 

For 15 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook) and see the amazing trips we have planned for 2017!

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The 2 Levels of an Education

When you homeschool your children, make sure you cover both levels of education.

Base Level Knowledge: This is the knowledge every child needs in order to adequately function in a 21st Century world. Here is a partial list of the ones I consider most important (my book Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally goes into detail about each of the following):

  • Holding a biblical worldview. Regarding every issue of life, the question should be asked, “Does God have an opinion about this and, if so, has that opinion been expressed clearly enough so there is no debate as to what God thinks?”
  • Having a genuine interest in others. This cannot be taught, but is learned by parental example.
  • Learning financial wisdom & being exposed to the option of personal entrepreneurship.
  • Learning to think critically. Having at least a rudimentary understanding of why people draw the conclusions they do.
  • Valuing hard work.
  • Learning to write well including the use of proper grammar.
  • Being comfortable speaking before a group.
  • Understanding the proper use of digital media and being exposed to alternate venues for doing research.
  • Reading for pleasure.
  • Developing habits that make one’s life more efficient, including habits of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Learning the concepts of basic math.
  • Learning the basic concepts of scientific discovery.
  • Learning gender-specific skills.
  • Practicing test-taking skills.
  • Having a “touch of class”, including being exposed to classical art and music.
  • Being exposed to other cultures (i.e. travel).

What you should have noticed in the above list is that many (if not most) are not included in the curriculum taught in government schools. Most of the above can become part of a child’s internal life by the time the child reaches his/her teen years.

Beyond Basic Level Knowledge: These are the years during which you allow the child’s individual giftings/callings to express themselves and mature. Again, my book, Gifting: Raising Children Intentionally was written to demonstrate that we can, and we must, provide the resources and the time for each child to excel in those very specific spheres God has placed within the child for him/her to enter the world and influence it in excellence for His purposes.

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 15 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook) and see the amazing trips we have planned for 2017!

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Gears! Leaves! Twigs!

What is lovely about children is that they can make such a production, such a big deal, out of anything—or nothing. From my office window I see many families walking down the street with their children. The adults plod along. The children twirl, leap, skip, run. Now to this side, now to that. They look for things to step over or jump over or walk along or around. They climb on anything that can be climbed. I never want to be where I cannot see it.

All that energy and foolishness, all that curiosity, questions, talk, all the fierce passions and inconsolable sorrows, immoderate joys, seem to many to be a nuisance to be endured if not a disease to be cured. To me, they are a national asset: a treasure beyond price, more necessary to our health and our very survival than any oil or uranium or name-what-you-will.

One day in the public garden I see on a small patch of grass under some trees a father and a two-year-old girl. The father is lying down. The little girl runs everywhere. What joy to run! Suddenly she stops and looks intently at the ground, bends down, picks something up. A twig? A pebble? She stands up; runs again. She sees a pigeon and chases it! She stops again and looks up into the sunlit trees. What does she see? Perhaps a squirrel; perhaps a bird; perhaps the shapes and colors of the leaves in the sun. Then she bends down, finds something else, picks it up; examines it. Another miracle!

Gears! Leaves! Twigs! Little children love the world. That is why they are so good at learning about it. For it is love, not tricks and techniques of thought, that lies at the heart of all true learning. Can we bring ourselves to let children learn and grow through that love? – From How Children Learn by John Holt, Educator & Author

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 15 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook) and see the amazing trips we have planned for 2017!

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That Incomplete Project

A long time ago, when I was much younger, I decided to build a mortise and tenon, 4-poster bed out of Redwood. All the work would be hand-tooled and I envisioned a beautiful masterpiece when done.

Working with the amazing properties of Redwood was a real joy—at least for many months. But then, one day, I sort of ran out of gas, as they say, and the enjoyment dissipated.

Every now and then I would pick up a piece of wood and try to get the motivation back, but there was none to be had. Of course, I felt guilty for having spent so much money on the precious wood and not finishing a project I had so eagerly begun.

“What a waste!” I thought. “How lazy can one person be?” I admonished myself.

Then, one day, I overheard someone say, “Whenever you begin a project, set a date for its completion. If it’s truly important, it will be finished by (or, even before) that date. If it isn’t finished by the date, it’s probably not all that important. Either extend the date or walk away  from the project. The main thing is to not beat yourself up for not completing it.”

So, I set a date and, as you might guess, the bed was never completed. When the date arrived, I took all the wood and threw it into the Dempsey Dumpster.

And, I never beat myself up for a project not completed.

Whatever you’re beating yourself up for, give yourself some grace this next season of your life!
I always welcome comments to anything I write so please use the space, below, to let me know your opinions. Have a great rest of 2016!

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 15 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook) and see the amazing trips we have planned for 2017!

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See You Next Fall

This is a quick note to let everyone know I leave for Israel tomorrow for the entire summer. I will return in September. If you want to contact me, I will have my computer with me in Israel and will be able to respond between taking groups around the Land.

For general communication: Contact@ChrisDavis.email

For Israel trips: Chris@ExperiencingIsrael.com

For homeschool related inquiries: ChrisDavis@PioneerHomeschooler.com

See you in the fall!

Chris

Kindergarten

Kindergarten: (noun). From the German meaning “a child’s garden”.

God plants two seeds into the garden of every child’s life. They are His gifts both to the child and to the world.

The flowers these seeds are intended to bear are curiosity and the capacity to be amazed.

Curiosity and amazement are beautiful flowers; but, they are wildflowers. Being delicate, their survival depends on a certain level of chaos. Not just chaos allowed, but chaos promoted. Unfortunately for the child (and for the world), most gardeners see them as weeds extending themselves beyond the straight rows and over the trimmed hedges.

However, when a child escapes the gardener’s spade–and when the seeds God has planted are allowed to fully mature–that child grows up discovering answers to questions no one else is even asking and doing what no one else dare attempt.

I always welcome comments to anything I write so please use the space, below, to let me know your opinions. Have a great 2016!

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 14 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook)

Seth reading on pony fixed2 resized Book cover resized for Kindle

 

Homeschooling or Lifeschooling?

I rarely use this venue to promote a conference, but this one is different.

Many of us who helped pioneer the Homeschooling Movement now use the phrase “Lifeschooling” to distinguish what we did from what many contemporary homeschoolers are doing today.

The Conference is called “WINGS: LIFESCHOOLING CONFERENCE AND ACTIVITIES FAIR. Merging LIFE with Homeschooling” and it takes place in Matthews, NC on July 7-9.

Speakers include: Israel Wayne, Wendy Rhondina, Chalanda Frazier, Dr. Frank Turek, Mark & Lisa Metzger, and Danielle Papageorgiou.

My book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally will be your free gift when you sign up for the Conference.

GO HERE for all the Conference details!

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