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Who Needs the Prom?

By Benjamin Swann
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #25, 1998.

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If you are reading this article because you are hoping for some words of wisdom from Joyce Swann, you may be in for a surprise. Joyce is in Utah right now, watching her two youngest sons graduate from Brigham Young University.

I should mention that we are Baptists, not Mormons, as many erroneously assume when I mention we all went to BYU! BYU's excellent distance learning program, which requires only a few weeks on-campus each year, has enabled us Swann children to be homeschooled right through college. More on this subject another time, perhaps!

In Joyce's absence I, her 20-year-old son Ben, will have the privilege of sharing my thoughts with you.

What is Accelerated Education?

For those of you who may not know, my mother pioneered a type of homeschooling which many refer to as "Accelerated Education." It has been given this title because as a result of this method our family moved through school at an unusual rate. As students, we were in school 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, 12 months a year. We took no vacations and the only holidays we had off were when my dad was off from work. The result of this schedule for all ten kids was as follows: High school diploma by age 11, college degrees from BYU by age 15, and masters degrees from California State University by age 16. All of these achievements came about as a result of a structured work environment, a disciplined lifestyle, and a dedicated mother who kept it all together.

How Is It Possible?

Many homeschool mothers have wondered if it would be possible for them to teach their children at an accelerated rate. I assure you that it is very possible. I believe that my mother is an incredible person who sacrificed twenty-some years of her life for the sake of her children's education; however, I also commend any parent who cares enough about their child's education to take it upon themselves to teach them.

Mary Pride has asked that I include in this article a list of the Top Ten Tips for a Parent Attempting Accelerated Education. Some are humorous and some are serious. I hope you enjoy them.

Top 10 Tips For Accelerated Education

10. Do school first each day; kids would just as soon skip school when it involves serious mental labor and not just fun projects. (If you use some other method and doubt this, when is the last time your kids begged you to let them write an essay or do long division?) Benefit: The kids will actually look forward to finishing so they can do their chores!

9. Never allow your teens to choose their own electives; nobody needs to take a course in babysitting. Little brothers, like butterflies, are free.

8. Tell your kids that "Spring Break" is the two weeks following spring cleaning, and that if they don't feel up to spring cleaning, you don't feel up to spring break. They will be so happy that they don't have to do all that extra housework, they will be delighted to keep studying without a break.

7. Remember that accelerated education is more effective than "time outs." Actually, accelerated education is very similar to four-hour-long "time outs." It's not easy to fuss and fight with your nose in a book!

6. Read Dickens' Christmas Carol and explain that unlike poor Bob Cratchit they will be getting the whole day off for school.

5. During the winter months, take the children to the window and show them the shivering children waiting for the school bus. Remind them that these poor children have to spend 8 hours a day in school, not counting travel time and homework - twice as much time to accomplish half as much as an accelerated program.

4. Announce that, by state law, summer vacation cannot begin until 12 noon each day. They will have their lessons done each morning for sure!

3. Tell your kids that going to their college graduation at age 16 is more fun than the prom. And they'll still be young enough to attend the prom if someone invites them. Except that you don't believe in dating, so the invitation will have to come from their husband or wife.

2. Tell them that when they accelerate everyone will think they are smart, whether it's true or not. It worked for me!

1. Pray. Pray. When you're finished, pray some more. Ask God for help. You're trying to do twice as much, so you need twice the help. Tell everyone you couldn't have done it without Him!


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