Bringing your family on the road has its fair share of challenges. One of them is the education of the children. If a family is always on the road, it is likely that the children cannot set their roots in any school.

One of the best routes is to homeschool the children in the roaming home. This way, they wouldn’t have any gaps in their schooling. They get a constant stream of attention and focus for their education. 

There are many ways to go about home schooling. There are materials and curriculum online to download and use. However, education is more than just about the materials. It is about the approach to education; how educating children is carried out.

One of the best principles for education is called “The Seven Keys of Great Teaching”. These are a set of principles created by Thomas Jefferson. Despite it being created many years ago, it remains relevant up to this day. In fact, it allows for an effective and quality learning experience.

A Firsthand Account

A Firsthand Account

Before we get into discussing the Seven Keys, it may be worthwhile to read about a firsthand account of a parent learning and using these principles. 

One mother heard about the Seven Keys from here sisters in Utah. She admits that she was intrigued by the ideas that were presented. However, she was still on the fence about it. As she said, “it was too good to be true.” 

Several years passed, and the mother saw her kids’ experiences in public school. It forced her to re-evaluate their stand on education. She then reached out to her sisters again and sought out more information. 

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She was directed to read A Thomas Jefferson Education. She listened to every audio seminar and read more books on them. Eventually, she found Oliver Demille and Shannon Brooks. She knew that she was on the right track. 

The mother affirmed what was already on her mind, “that this was not just a system to educate our children but rather a way of life that would lead to our children’s education.”

She found that it didn’t matter that her children had different learning styles, strengths, and personalities. The principles applied regardless. The fact that one set of principles could assure a great education that is unique and original to each child was priceless.

The Seven Keys

The Seven Keys

We hope that the firsthand account was a good enough catalyst to at least check out Thomas Jefferson’s principles. Now, it’s time to check them out. 

Classics, not Textbooks

A lot of educators and parents these days are caught up with learning material found in textbooks. They think that investing in better textbooks will lead to a better education.

We aren’t saying that textbooks are useless though. All this principle is saying is that there are great benefits to reading the classics.

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The biggest thing that classics can teach is how to communicate great ideas. When innovative, well-thought out ideas are communicated through books, it only serves to improve those who read them.

We turn to the classics because they have been written by great people. Great people often have great ideas. Great ideas lead to inspiration. Reading about the accomplishments of great people only serves to elevate readers.

All of this leads to a critical mind and the understanding that things are possible. A quality education is lined at the seams of these outcomes.

Mentors, not Professors

What is the difference between a professor and a mentor? 

A professor wants students to reach for a certain grade. In order to do that, they have to make them conform to a certain set of standards. 

A mentor on the other hand understands the goals, strengths, weaknesses, and purposes of the students. 

This means that a mentor can custom-fit a learner’s education to their goals. It is not realistic that one mentor is followed throughout a student’s life. Various mentors are appropriate for various stages of life.

When parents use this principle early on though, it prepares them to accept mentors in the future.

Inspire, not Require

This principle is probably one of the most important of the keys. However, it is also one of the keys that is executed poorly. 

Teachers usually require students to do work. The alternative though is to inspire the students to go out and do what they need to do to learn. 

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Don’t ask why the students aren’t performing. Instead, ask what you should be doing to inspire the students to get out there and learn what they need to learn. 

Structure Time, not Content

Schools these days allot content across periods of time. Jefferson says that it is better to structure periods of time where students can exercise what they are passionate about.

The real key here is not to micromanage the content that the students need to study.

There are several phases where this key comes in. These phases come in at various phases of the student’s development. 

These phases include:

    1. Core Phase, ages 0-8
    2. Love of Learning Phase, ages 8-12
    3. Scholar Phase, ages 12-16
    4. Depth Phase, ages 16-22

Quality, not Conformity

This specific principle has to do with the feedback given. Schools follow a grading system these days. 

However, the principle states that the feedback is more personal and appropriate. It should focus on the strength of the work done, clear thoughts on how it can be improved, how effective the arguments are, and more.

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Early on in the student’s life, the feedback should be focused on positivity. As they mature and hit puberty, more technical assessments of their work will be more valuable. 

When they reach the last couple of phases, high quality work should be the only thing that is acceptable. Mentors should coach the students on how to improve it so it becomes quality work. 

Simplicity, not Complexity

Curriculums can tend to get complex. The complexity may tend to leave students caught up in all the requirements.

A simple curriculum will allow teachers to cultivate the most important thing in learning: critical thinking. Consider going simple. This also leads to less frustration and burnout in the students. 

One of the ways this can be done is by teaching the students about great thinkers and leaders. Have them understand why they did what they did, and then have them apply it to their own lives in various settings. 

You, not Them

The final principle we have is that these principles are not for the learners alone. The example has to start with the parents and the teachers.

Study the Seven Principles and apply them in life. Make sure that there is an environment of curiosity. Read the classics. Inspire them to learn more and become great citizens and leaders.

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It is important to understand that parents and mentors don’t need to be experts with the classics. It is just important to be the example of the principles, so that the learners can follow suit. 

A good starting point is to read the classics in various fields. These include mathematics, science, and literature. Here is a good source for the classics.