Coauthors, The Brainy Bunch, Gallery Books (2014)
Kip: Retired Air Force, currently government worker
Mona Lisa: former nurse
Parenting the Brainy Bunch
The 700 Club
Kip, 45, and Mona Lisa, 46, met in high school. In 1997, they had 3 children and decided to homeschool them. Kip was active duty Air Force and Mona Lisa was working a nursing job on the weekends. They started homeschooling year round so that they could take time off when traveling or moving and still be ahead. Hannah, their oldest, had just finished 3rd grade. At the time, Mona Lisa was scared. "My convictions [about homeschooling] were not as strong as they are now," she says. Resources were not as available as they are today and in the beginning, Kip and Mona Lisa felt like they had to supply all the answers. Today there are tools and techniques for homeschooling that can help parents.
The Hardings say their success is based on the Christian worldview they teach their children and because they allow each child to pursue their passion. "By studying at home, we teach the kids how to apply the Bible in their lives," says Mona Lisa. They have encountered naysayers over the years...people who gave reasons as to why they could never homeschool their children or have them take college classes early."We have been questioned by homeschoolers about our kids going to secular campuses," says Mona Lisa. Somehow by the time they are 11 or 12, they are able to handle some of the abstract thinking provided by college level classes and professors. The children integrate well with the college students. "It's unschooling ourselves that people have to be age-segregated," says Mona. They believe teaching kids in an age-segregated environment is not the most effective way to develop real-life social skills and exposes them to peer pressure. "It's a slow process," says Kip. "We don't just drop them off. When they're ready, they're ready."
THE BRAINY BUNCH
Each child is different and the Hardings claim none of their children are genuises. "Homeschooling gives freedom, not a cookie cutter education," says Mona Lisa. "We choose what works best for each child depending on their learning style." The Hardings say they are free to tailor their curriculum to match the interests of each child and that the results they are getting cannot be achieved even at a private school. They maximize their day and say there is little waste of time during the day like most public school children who wait for the bus, wait for others to finish lunch, etc.
The children: Hannah, 26, engineer, earned BS in math by 17; Rosannah, 24, architect, completed 5-year architecture program at 17; Serennah, 23, one of the youngest doctors in the Navy, graduated from Huntingdon College with BA in biology at 17; Heath, 18, completed MS in computer science; Keith, 15, just graduated from Faulkner University; Seth, 13, attending Huntingdon College; Katrinnah, 11, took the ACT in 2013, taking some college classes at Faulkner ; Mariannah, 9, talks of becoming a doctor; Lorennah, 6, practices writing her letters; Thunder, 4, shows early signs of athleticism.
A sample day looks like this: Get dressed. Eat breakfast. Do chores. Read Bible. ACT review. Writing. Lunch. Reading (history and science). Math. Spanish. Violin or piano. 2:30 is play time. No homework is required in the evening. Reading is just for fun.
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