Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Brainy Bunch book review

I didn't post yesterday because I was busy reading Kip and Mona Lisa Harding's The Brainy Bunch, a book about how they homeschooled 6 of their 10 children into college by the age of 12.

It's an easy read - 195 pages.

The Hardings' story is intriguing. Their oldest daughter earned her BS in math at 17. Their second daughter finished her 5-year architecture program at 18 and became the American Institute of Architects' youngest member. Their third daughter graduated with a degree in biology at 17 and is now a Navy doctor. Their fourth child, a son, started college at 11, graduated with his BA in English at 15, and graduated with his MS in computer science at 17. Their fifth child, another son, is 15 and a senior in college, majoring in music.

How did they do it?

Basically, they found ways to enroll their children in college by 12:

*Some colleges offer high school concurrent enrollment. For example, at Santa Monica College, a child who has "completed 8th grade" can enroll in up to 6 units or 2 classes per semester, and receive credit in both high school and college simultaneously.

*In California, children in 10th grade (or - what the Hardings would call the back-door in - taking 10th grade level classes) can take the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) and receive a high school diploma. The test only assesses language arts (reading and writing) and math. A child with a diploma can then enroll in college.

*Children of any age can take the SAT and the ACT - which also only test reading, writing, and math - and children can take it as many times as parents want to pay for it. A high enough score can qualify a student for college enrollment. This is how the Hardings do it now, because they now live in Alabama where there isn't an exam like the CHSPE.

I agree with letting your child move ahead when they're ready. At the beginning of my 12th grade year, I was bored with high school. I wanted out. I wasn't interested in prom, Grad Night (an all-nighter field trip to Disneyland), or high school graduation - which were the only carrots my high school counselor could dangle when he tried to talk me out of graduating a semester early.

Every year, I had participated in Mock Trial, earning a semester's credit each year. I had also taken chemistry in summer school so I could tutor two periods a day at the elementary school and take a third year of drama. I talked my Mock Trial coach (who also taught English) into letting me tack an independent study English class onto my schedule, and viola! I had enough credits to graduate in January instead of June.

I enrolled at the community college, and - because the college semester started before my high school semester ended - for the last two weeks of high school, I went to high school Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and college Tuesday and Thursday.

But back to the Hardings...

They do the following:
*Teach their children to read at age 4 or 5.
*Talk about what their children like to read and have them read more of it.
*Do math daily, getting to prealgebra and algebra by 8 or 9, even if their child doesn't have math facts memorized.
*Have their children write daily. Mom edits. Child corrects. They teach the 5-paragraph essay by age 11.
*They have their children read high-school level books (history, science, etc.) by 8 or 9.
*Have them start studying the SAT/ACT study guides by 8 or 9, have them take the SAT or ACT at age 10 as a practice run, and then work on whatever area that needs work.

I like a lot of this book. But I also disagree with some things. Maybe I'll post about this topic another day, but for now, I'll mention this:

The Hardings recommend having your child read anatomy books if they "want to go premed or Shakespeare if they want to major in English." But why shouldn't an English major have some understanding of anatomy? And why shouldn't a premed student read Shakespeare?

I think they should.


  1. Interesting read...tell us more!

  2. :)
    Here you go: