The Brainy Bunch: The Harding Family's Method to College Ready by Age Twelve Hardcover – 6 May 2014
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"Through home schooling, the Hardings were able to attain [their] goals and much more, as evidenced by the success of their children...the methods defined here could work for others willing to buck convention."--Kirkus
"Motivated by their Christian faith and dissatisfaction with the lack of personal attention children receive in the classroom...the Hardings chose to homeschool their children -- all 10 of them. [T]he work ethic and family bonding are impressive, as are the children's career successes."--Publishers Weekly
"Never judgmental and not without humor, the [Hardings] intersperse their story with strategies and advice...this fascinating read transcends the Christian homeschool market. Written in an engaging and relaxed style, the book tells how all 12 Hardings have accomplished much, and their account is inspirational and uplifting."--Library Journal
"[T]he Hardings' story is very much one of putting love and family first. They are not pushing their children to overachieve -- they are helping them to find their own unique potential."--BookPage
About the Author
Kitchener (Kip) Harding and Mona Lisa Montoya were high school sweethearts in San Jose, California. Kip asked Mona Lisa to the prom and proposed a few weeks later. After four kids, they decided to turn to homeschooling, and their success paved the way for their children to start college by the age of twelve and go on to great careers in medicine, engineering, architecture, and more. They have been interviewed on CNN, the Today show, and Fox and Friends; featured in The Daily Mail; and covered in several prominent magazines. They live in Montgomery, Alabama, with their ten children.
Top Customer Reviews
I bought the book primarily for the homeschooling angle but I didn't find it particularly insightful or anything unusual. It isn't a resource that I will be dipping in and out of, more of a coffee time read if that makes sense. It is a very quick read. I was more interested in the second half but found it too broad with general parenting advice such take your children outside, everywhere is a learning opportunity etc.
Although the book is based in the US with US schooling, college and exam systems, the approach to get your children into college at 12 is possible in the UK with Flexi schooling and you can have your children sit exams when you want to.
The premise of the book is to support your children choosing their vocation in life as soon as possible and supporting them to college and into the working world. Reading the book it seems that all of their ten (I know amazing - I am a full time parent to four under 7's and that is hard work) children have goals and ambitions pretty much settled by the age of 8 or 9. It's great that all of their children are super successful and their system has worked for them. In our family life though getting through education as soon as possible isn't something to aim for.
For our family the homeschooling is the important bit not necessarily the results.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
There is no rule book or standards for homeschooling. People looking for such a thing are on a fools errand, and perhaps missing the point of homeschooling completely. The best homeschooling path involves the parents seeking out the best quality instructional materials and resources, and using them. If something doesn’t work, try something else, just as they explained in the book. One example: the Brainy Bunch used Editor in Chief, which for intellectual homeschoolers is one of those “gems”. Every homeschooler knows that for math, Saxon and Singapore are the best. There are other gems in every category, and have been reviewed in full on Cathy Duffy’s website. This book does not go there, and doesn’t need to because these resources are documented elsewhere.
Instead, the Hardings provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the method they iterated over the years to work for their own family. It’s enormously useful in that sense. Young homeschooling families can learn the pitfalls of trying to replicate “school”, what the challenges of homeschooling are, that working parents can homeschool too, and how to hack education so that real learning happens.
I can understand the reviewers who were digging for concrete, specific details about their routine and were disappointed. These details are there, but they exist sporadically, rather than a bulleted list or some other digestible format. Therefore, it’s important to read this book thoroughly. Take your time. Have the internet ready to look up resources.
For all of those who are outraged over their references to religion and becoming a stay-at-home mom, read the book as if you are studying someone else’s culture. Yes, it’s different from yours. Intelligent people don’t get offended. It’s not fair to judge the Hardings for their religious slant or views on feminism. They aren’t stealing; they aren’t hurting anyone. They are raising honest, smart kids who are adding value to our society. Think about it; these people aren’t the enemy.
- The book was written from a Christian perspective.
- They do not "guilt-trip" non-homeschoolers. (I have read a LOT of homeschooling books and unfortunately find myself cringing sometimes at the superior tone that many of them take) She also talks about many times when she had to work outside the home to help make ends meet.
- I liked that she included a short mention of how they teach their children about racial tolerance and inter-racial marriage, as well as sensitivity to the handicapped or mentally disabled- topics that I believe are hugely important to teach to the next generation.
- This book advocates exposing your children to the ACT/SAT early. I absolutely agree with this. However I do disagree with only taking it in order to make the bare minimum to get into college.
- There is not really a nice way to put it, but the book was quite poorly written. The chapters were disorganized and rambling, and many paragraphs were repeated multiple times with only slight changes in wording. The little essays written by the kids seemed to be just space-fillers and added nothing to the book itself. The writing lacked warmth, and you really can't get a feel for what this family is truly like.
- One of the topics that got repeated a LOT was the fact that the mother was accepted to college, but chose to get married and have a family instead. She then repeats many times, that homeschool moms who only have a GED do a better job than teachers, that parents don't need a degree in order to homeschool, that she COULD have gone to college if she wanted to, but she chose not to, etc. etc. The reader is left with the distinct impression that it is a great source of insecurity to her that she does not have a college degree herself. Which obviously leads one to wonder if she has developed an unhealthy view of college in general.
- I felt it was a bit of a contradiction for the authors to talk about homeschooling giving families such advantages as family togetherness, not having your children taught by strangers, making the most of the time that you have with them, etc. But then the book continues on to talk about one daughter still in her early teens moving an hour away to attend college, and other children parceled off to live with relatives or living with friends in order to attend college several states away from the family. Maybe they only believe in family togetherness up until age 10?? As a mom, this just gave me a bad feeling. I can't imagine sending a young teenager away and lose out on the years that we could have had together. And for what? So that they could start working a few years earlier than everyone else? Aside from their 10- minutes of fame, the kids in this family are not actually going to have any long-term benefits from completing college so early. In fact, if they had waited, they could probably have done much better on the ACT/SAT tests and possibly won scholarships.
While I am mostly disappointed in this book, I am glad that I read it because it definitely convinced me that this is NOT what I want our family to do. There are a lot of other options out there for homeschooling families who want to get a jump-start on college without splitting the family up and sending our children away when they are still young. There are endless opportunities nowadays such as online classes (which this book only briefly mentions) as well as CLEP exams, duel-enrollment, and the CollegePlus program (which were not mentioned at all).
It's poorly written. The style is rambling and redundant. It's as though some stream-of-consciousness web blogs have been pieced together in chapters to make a book. I found myself eager to finish it just because it was painful to read. I can't keep all the kids straight and it reads sort of like a laundry list of who did what and how their family's days looked at different times.
A lot of the recommendations that the author makes just come along with being a decent parent: Talking with your children about world events at dinner; teaching them to critically think; having them find answers on their own; teaching social graces. Now, if you feel like you're falling short in one of those areas, there are other books better-equipped to give you some practical tools. This one just tells you how awesome the Harding Family is at doing those things. Oh, and embracing other cultures and ignoring race... there's a whole chapter about that.
Finally, you can sum up the salient points of their academic philosophy in a few sentences (all the teaching of morals, values, and Christianity aside, which again, sorta comes with just being a decent parent and/or Christian). 1) Focus on reading writing and math, only. No science labs. 2) Make sure your child is a proficient reader as early as possible (especially if you have a big family, I suppose), and let them read whatever interests them - especially in science or history since you're not focused on teaching those. 3) Begin to prepare your child for the ACT and SAT as soon as they're ready - 8 years old, even. 4) Enroll in local college as soon as your child can get the minimum required ACT/SAT score - as early as 10 years old, but whenever they're ready. One or two classes a semester, to start. Put those classes on their High School Transcript to finish up their high school requirements while they're earning college credits that will (hopefully) transfer to a 4-year degree ("dual-enrollment"). 5) Let them write anything. Journal every day, and edit their self-chosen writing. Don't formally teach grammar or spelling. 6) Be willing to make it happen.
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