Ten Days of Growing Leaders: Day 9 Key 6: Simplicity, Not Complexity

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Wow, I can’t believe we are already reaching the end…of the series and perhaps the beginning of a transformation in the homes of those who have read this series.  How wonderful would it be, if we walk this journey in Raising Leaders together and helped remind our neighbors and friends that change begins in each individual home? That we, the families of our amazing country do still have the rights and freedoms to vote…and more than that, to grow the leaders of tomorrow…perhaps one of our children has the purpose of being that next great leader, surrounded by other leaders for the purpose of serving the greater good of all…not the greater good of a pay check!

With that, if you have not read Days 1-8, please, select here and you will have direct link to all of the posts I have written for this series with the help of Dr. Shanon Brooks , Teri Helms of Tommy Mom and A Thomas Jefferson Education. Their support and Mentoring…made this series possible!

Key Six:  Simplicity, Not Complexity

I like to call this:  KISS: Keep It Simple Silly!

What does that look like?

  • Read
  • Write
  • Do projects
  • Discuss

Look around.  Our current national curriculum has become so complex; we now have tutoring facilities on many corners of the cities and suburbs that surround our country.  Our children are spending more and more time being tutored to stay caught up…because of the complexity and necessity to pass tests.  We are teaching to tests.  Most teachers I know are not happy with what they are doing.  They are frustrated, yet dedicated (most I know) to reaching out to their students in the best way they can, as they are forced to teach each and every student the exact same way.

As the complexity has grown, our society has become less educated.  This happened in other areas as well:  ancient Rome, Greece, Chinese and Japanese history and now in many modern nations.

Consider this:  Thomas Jefferson did not have access to modern ‘advanced’ textbooks or standardized tests.  However, he did have access to the classics…and he discussed what he learned with his mentors. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of technical training (much of it on his own) as well, but it was after he fell in love with learning and developed a sense of mission.

His mentor; George Wythe structured Jefferson’s curriculum around:  classics, discussion, projects and writing.

Jefferson was not the only founder who was educated that way.  Nearly the whole Founding generation was educated in the same way. Where did one of the most prolific American inventors (Benjamin Franklin) get all of his classical education and technical training? At home in his library and workshop!

You do not need the best or more curriculum to give your children a better education.

Two things are required for a great education for younger children:  read them the classics:  Black Beauty, Little House on the Prairie series, poetry, fables, Charlotte’s Web, etc.  Do not JUST read to them, though.  Discuss the books with them; teach them lessons based on those books.

Remember, though…you must be prepared.  You need to pre-read these books, stories, poems, etc. prior to reading them with your children (or be at least one chapter ahead).

Add in biographies of great scientists, mathematicians, doctors, artists….and your own family history and your religious text.

You want your discussions to be EFFECTIVE….but simple can and is almost always more effective.

Identify various moral lessons you want to discuss.  Be prepared with ideas you want to discuss….and as you go through the discussion, the more familiar you are with the subject you are reading, spontaneous discussions will help your children grow as thinkers, thus leaders an…that will begin an amazing transformation.

Yes, you also want your children to write what they are learning.

OK…I know, many of us are worried, concerned about writing, grammar, language arts, etc.  We ask questions daily…pull out the grammar books and then, the hair pulling, crying and screaming begins. It isn’t usually the children doing this…but the Moms…seriously….be honest about this.  Unless you are born to be an English Major, these words might make your heart palpitate….so, calm down…and put your fears at ease.

Encourage your children to write, evaluate their writing and give them gentle feedback.  As they grow, their writing will grow.

As they read, their writing will improve.

Regarding evaluation of work.

  • Core phase – show great excitement, no criticism (unless life threatening), anything and everything that they create, draw, even write should be accepted at face value, understanding that this is a honest and very vulnerable expression of themselves. (Example:  Per Dr. Brooks:  jon wrote a story when he was 9 – he could not read or write then – I could not decipher the language.  I would have him read it to me, showing excitement all the while.  When he would read it the next day it was a significantly different story, I continued to beam.) At 15 he was reading at grade level.


  • Love of Learning Phase – Only offer positive accolades about work done unless the child has set a standard or asked you to.  Even then honest but gentle.


  • Scholar – this phase (developing sense of mission, sense of greatness or need to accomplish) means that they are asking to be critiqued, they want it and they demand it.  If this is not happening, they are not in scholar phase.


Write with them.

Take your own notes

Walk the Walk….they will follow where they see you leading.

You should write for your younger children.  Explain why/when you capitalize words; add commas for lists and other grammatical necessities.

Be very careful with this.  Most parents who start with this too early (ie. Before child asks for it) end up turning off the child.  On the other hand, if they see you writing papers and you want to ask them for “help”, that is felt very differently by the child.  Example: “Sara, I need your help.  I need to know how many capital letters are in this essay (explain capital letters) Can you “help” me?”  (Dr. Shanon Brooks)

And…I am going to let you in on a little secret (you probably know this already)…Jimmie at Jimmie’s Collage has been writing a BEAUTIFUL 10 day series on Language Arts.

These writings can also be drawings for your children.

If you really want to light the fire…tell them this is their opportunity to show Daddy what they learned.

Trust me, it works.

My 8 yo has always been a reluctant writer.  She is extremely creative, but sees the world quite differently from her brothers.  Now, when I ask her if she wants to draw or write something to show Daddy what she learned…she starts by drawing a picture, then…adds writing and generally comes to me to ask my assistance in writing out her thoughts.  Together, we look up words, I guide her through the grammar…and at the end of the day, she is so proud to walk up to her Daddy and show him what she learned.

My husband enjoys coming home…after working a 15 hour day to find a home (generally) filled with peace….children clamoring to show what they learned….and a wife, finding a way to find joy in each moment, as we grow leaders…because we’re focusing on content, not necessarily technique.  The technique will come.

Remember, don’t push


And KISS your children

Keep It Simple Silly

And come back tomorrow…for my last post in this series.  I may cry….seriously.  This series has pushed me into an understanding of teaching Leadership in a way I did not imagine…as I picked up the phone to talk with Teri and Dr. Brooks.  It has pushed me into waking in the earliest of early hours…to write, re-write, email and receive edits.  If this series impacts just one person, I will be thankful.  For me…it has been life-changing!


Tomorrow….we will discuss:  You, Not Them!




Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

10 days of Character Studies | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of Christmas Countdown Ideas | Milk & Cookies
10 days of Creative Writing | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of Crockpot Meals | The Happy Housewife
10 Days to a Godly Marriage | Women Living Well
10 Days of Growing Leaders | Mom’s Mustard Seeds
10 Days of Homeschooling High School | Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
10 days of I Wish I Had Known | Fruit in Season
10 days of Keeping Your Marbles | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of Kid-friendly Food | Planner Perfect
10 Days of Language Arts Lesson Planning | Jimmie’s Collage
10 Days of Learning Apps | Daze of Adventure
10 Days of a Mason Jar Christmas | Cajun Joie de Vivre
10 Days of More JESUS in Christmas | Preschoolers and Peace
10 Days to a Peaceful Home | Raising Arrows
10 Days of Raising a Life-Long-Learner | Bright Ideas Press
10 days of Science with Math | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of Teaching Values | Our Journey Westward
10 days of Winning your Child’s Heart | I Take Joy

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  1. Another excellent post, Rebecca! You have been so inspiring to me. There are many of these techniques I’m incorporating into our learning. And, at the moment, I’m praying for guidance in deciding whether or not to bring LittleGirl home from the public school next year. Pray for me, please? Thanks for the wonderful series! I’ve truly enjoyed it. Happy Thursday! :)

  2. kelli-AdventurezInChildRearing says:

    your home sounds like mine in the evening – I try to have something good cooking (love a #homecooked smell in the house) for “daddy” – we rush around and pick up to make it nice for him & then the kids usually RUSH HIM at the door “daddy, look what I did” “I made this” . . . . he beams – his own fan club – he works so hard for us (I even try to put on lipstick sometimes – I’m a pro business woman turned housewife/ mama) And I love it! such a blessing-
    your series is brilliant – thank you for sharing!