My son Harry, and his business, have been selected by ITEN, the Innovation Technology and Entrepreneurial Network in St. Louis to participate in the Eureka Experience, a 12-month virtual business accelerator alongside Lindenwood University. While it might seem awkward that a six-year-old in first grade would be participating in a college-level program, you need to know this is not your everyday lemonade stand.
In order to start a sustainable business, you need to be passionate about what you do and have a support system to help you navigate the perils of entrepreneurship. Otherwise, one swift blow from out of nowhere can easily take you out of the game. If you ask Harry about his passion. It’s Minecraft. YouTube. Teaching others. That’s when he is smiling the most. That’s all he thinks about. This is a recipe for a successful entrepreneur.
Schools do their best. I applaud the teachers who sacrifice hours behind the scenes and have to deal with unreasonable parents too. My Mom was a retired school teacher from Riverview Gardens and witnessed her stress first-hand. However, schools are unequipped today despite their best intentions. Each is using outdated systems, reinforcing outdated policies, and teaching outdated methods that are not meeting the students’ each own’s preferred learning style. Instead of focusing on the problem, I have chosen to provide Harry with a homeschooling opportunity of a lifetime by being his teacher, mentor, coach, and connector. This is where it continues and I’m excited to share the benefits of taking a homeschool approach regardless if your kids go to a public, private, or charter school.
10 Benefits of Homeschooling
You don’t own your homework until it’s part of your business.
Each drawing. Each writing journal. Each math assignment you have ever done in school might have reinforced a learning objective. However, your assignment has either been thrown away or buried a box somewhere you only see again until you move.
When you start a business as part of your homeschooling plan, you make each assignment a contribution to your business as simple as it may be. If Harry is six now, he will have complied 12 years of assignments together into one business by the time he graduates high school.
Instead of going to camp, he will be teaching camp.
Instead of obtaining certifications, he will be teaching his own.
There is a lesson to be learned every second at every level.
The state of Missouri has listed several core standards for education where students must meet each year to ensure they are on track so that they increase the likelihood each student graduates on time. While each teacher has their own discretion as to how those lessons are taught, they are limited to what happens inside the school, not the real world.
In the real world, you can learn from people watching. You learn from transactions. You learn when you or your parents make mistakes. The best lessons happen through life experiences, not books or simulated exercises.
You don’t complete uninteresting homework.
Harry wouldn’t pick up a math book until it was a Minecraft math book. He crushed the assignments. Harry would much rather read a Minecraft book to extend his vocabulary and comprehension more than a reference on trucks or dogs. When his homework is interesting to him, he will surpass my expectations and improve faster. It’s really that simple.
Routines are adaptable.
After the pandemic, I don’t think anyone carries a normal schedule. I know many large companies are still trying to figure out work from home even though they’ve been in business for 100 years. While it is important to keep a consistent schedule, I believe routines must be adaptable in order to fit in the core activities kids need to become socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually fit. There is always something you can do or learn when there are reliable options you can turn to at any moment.
The library is the center of learning, not the teacher.
Teachers come and go. The library will always be there. We visit the library at least once a week to explore new selections, search for favorites, and check out books. I don’t check out books. I taught Harry how to check out books using the computer terminal and his library card number. In the St. Louis County Library, there are 216 Minecraft books, and the most we checked out was 45 at one time. Now we check out fewer books, return them more often, and avoid paying fines by being more responsible (another lesson). And he is always ready to teach someone else if they need help at the library too.
Social groups are global.
Last night Harry played Minecraft with kids in three time zones. Not only is he learning how to play with new friends, but he is also learning geography at an incredible rate. Since most everyone is familiar with Zoom and 100 million Minecraft players are available to play, there’s a tremendous opportunity to create your own social network that could lead to strategic partnerships, facilitators, and teachers of content in his community.
Skill acquisition happens at your own pace.
When you homeschool, you don’t have to suspend your kid’s learning at the pace offered by class. You have 100% control over how you blend in learning activities that meet your child’s needs, their interest level, and how they stack on top of one another.
In Harry’s case, he can now start his Minecraft server from my AWS console using the command line by typing in the command that loads the script to initiate the server. Before that, he was learning how to edit Python scripts to build structures from his Raspberry Pi. I’m pretty sure they don’t teach that in elementary school but I’ve been wrong before.
Schools cannot embrace technology options at scale.
You can’t please everyone if you are the school administrator. Each family operates a Mac or a PC. Android or Apple. Safari or Chrome. Alexa or Google Assistant. Privacy, security, and interoperability represent a significant challenge. The more students in the school, the more of an issue this represents.
At home, we use a computer, a tablet, a mobile phone, and Alexa with a purpose. If we are not sure of an answer to a question, we ask Google, YouTube, or Alexa. On top of that, he has his own professionally produced YouTube channel with 74 subscribers and we are building an Alexa skill to make his resources available on FireTV.
No one knows your child better than you.
Harry has been diagnosed with ADHD by his doctor and has a hard time sitting still (much like me). When he was enrolled in virtual kindergarten, he was so bored he would either fall out of his chair or be watching YouTube videos with the Zoom class going on. Additionally, I would feel irresponsible as a parent if I forced him to be patient to relearn things he did two years previously. If you want to unlock the key to learning potential, the key has to be custom fit. This takes special attention, care, and discipline. You have to make the time. There is no one way to do this.
You can make money from your homework.
We published his 101 Homeschooling Activities in St. Louis on Amazon Kindle. Places in St. Louis that offered experiential learning opportunities, exercise options, entertainment, places to eat, or about his business were colored categorized. You can see pictures, recommendations, and QR codes on each one. The book can be downloaded for $9.99 USD. After the design was finished, we printed out each image at Walgreens to sort by number and give away when we revisit each place, bringing the community together under his brand.
After you download the 101 Homeschooling Activities in St. Louis to your Kindle, take a screenshot of these activities, save them as an activity to put on your list, and share it on social media with your friends. When we build together, we learn together.
Follow Harry on Twitter for his updates, experiences, and progress as he helps rebuild the St. Louis Community with one block, one kid, and one parent at a time.
Subscribe to Harry’s YouTube channel to experience his builds in Minecraft and lessons.
Download the Java Edition of Minecraft and help set your kid up to play. Then join us!