1. Take them out of school – explained in detail below
2. Let your child explore on the internet – Gone are the days of the door to door encyclopedia salesman. Who needs em? We’ve got Google and Wikipedia and Khan Academy and Kindle books and blogs written by experts who are sharing their lives through their own writing, live events and YouTube Videos. Schools are run by government. Government controls curriculum through Education Boards. Why limit your kiddo to the “standard”ized chemistry, biology, calculus, English and foreign language classes? Some of those subjects may pique a child’s interest but more often then not, may lead to boredom. Maybe they are obsessed with dolphin training or gaming or programming or farming or stand up comedy, or that specific hobby your kid does after school that is not offered in a traditional grade school.
3. Let them spend hours on one thing uninterrupted – School focuses on well-roundedness. Which is the antithesis of an expert. Six, seven or even eight subjects in one day broken down into 45 minute to one hour increments. Have you ever heard of “flow”? Flow is a positive psychology concept coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. It’s that “where did the time go” moment. The one where your focus was so intense that the hours just slipped by effortlessly. Hard to do in a classroom full of distractions like other unruly kids, fellow students asking questions and school bells. Hard to get into, let alone stay in a state of flow in a mere 45 minute time span.
4. Let them use social media – Wikipedia defines experts as those that have a prolonged or intense experience through practice and education in a particular field. In specific fields, the definition of expert is well established by consensus and therefore it is not necessary for an individual to have a professional or academic qualification for them to be accepted as an expert. How does this correlate with the use of social media. Well…if one does not have to attain expert status through formal education then can they not establish their expertise through the use of social media? Bloggers write. They don’t write to get a passing grade from the English teacher. Bloggers write to impress an audience. This will produce better writing. Many times bloggers will write in their own natural voice, which may not be “proper” English, but can convey a point more easily. And often times, bloggers are not writers first, but experts in another field using their blogs to establish credibility and build rapport. Kids are more careful what they put on twitter, facebook, instagram, snapchat and the like because they are creating for an audience of their peers and not a teacher. This makes them better at their social media craft and while they are entrenched in this new digital economy, can help propel them towards becoming an expert in whatever interests them. Social media is digital clout. It’s the new resume.
5. Let them make their own decisions – Kids are people too. Often times I don’t think they are given enough credit. Childhood isn’t some disease that needs to be treated with a prescription of “school”. Kids need play too. Let them be kids. Self directed learning is about discovering yourself. It’s about making your own decisions. If you do decide to take your child out of traditional school, you may think your kid is going to just veg out on the couch watching the boob tube eating cheesy poofs in one hand and playing video games with the other hand. That might happen in the beginning… for a few days… you have given the child a “get out of jail free” card for goodness sake. But their natural curiosity will kick in once the newness of their “no school” freedom wears off and you will find them honing in on their own interests, practicing them intently and discovering the expert inside of them.