opposite of deficits-based learning

SEASON 4 EPISODE 138 | Strength-based learning. What is it? How does it work? Why should I care about it for my child? Join Janna on this episode of Homeschool Your Way with guest Sam Young as they discuss strength-based learning. Why Sam created the Young Scholars Academy as an avenue for students a and parents for a connection, chance at community and to fulfill the need they have to be able to create an education that elevates their student because of their strengths rather than focusing on deficits. Hear realistic ways that this could apply to your student and how you can get creative with balancing what they like with what they need.

ABOUT OUR GUEST | Sam Young, MEd, is a growth-minded, two-time Fulbright Scholar and Director of Young Scholars Academy, a strength-based, talent-focused virtual enrichment center that supports twice-exceptional, neurodivergent, and gifted students and their families. Mr. Sam is a neurodivergent educator who has ADHD. As an ADHD learner, he has a tremendous understanding of, experience in, and respect for all things related to neurodiverse education. Find out more about Young Scholars Academy @young_scholars_academy

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Podcast Transcript

Janna  00:00 Welcome to Homeschool Your Way. I'm your host Janna Koch and BookSharks’ Community Manager. On today's episode, I'm going to be focusing on some tips for strength-based homeschooling. My guest is Sam Young. He is the director of Young Scholars Academy. And he has a plethora of information to share with us today. So let's jump in. Sam, thanks so much for being here.

Sam  00:19 Janna, thanks for having me. I'm thrilled to be back on the podcast.

Janna  00:23 Well, I love that you're back. And I love that you have a niche of maybe a term that not a lot of new homeschool parents, or parents in general have heard. So let's jump right in and talk about 2e students.

Sam  00:40 Yeah, so this is a population that I think gives a lot of people some grace, once they understand it, and a lot of the times people hear this and they think, Oh, I know someone like that.

Maybe I have someone like that. Or maybe I am someone like that. But the idea behind twice exceptionality is that essentially we have these dual exceptional existences, right we can have someone who has an exceptional strength area, which could be like two standard deviations over on that bell curve that we think of a lot of the time. So it could be someone who has like a high IQ, or as an exceptional athlete or leader doesn't always have to be like schoolhouse gifted. And then we at the same time, they have an exceptional struggle area, which could be a learning difference like ADHD or autism, that brings about other challenges. So it's the dual existence of these two differences, a strength and a struggle that we call the twice exceptional as twice exceptionalities or the 2e as it's often shortened to.

 Janna  01:42 I think many homeschool parents, like myself, would be surprised that A) we didn't know this was a thing. But B) we are familiar with it either in our own homes with ourselves or with someone that we are closely in a relationship with. It kind of is a light bulb like, oh, okay, so yes, they're really good at that. And then you just expect them to be really good at everything else. And then you see these deficits, and you're thinking, is it rebellion? Is it laziness? Is it non-compliance, and a lot of times when we're speaking specifically to this area, it's none of those things.

Sam  02:19 Right. And I think that as a society, we often want to put things in boxes, right? Like we think of gifted or learning differences, right? That someone is either one or the other. And there's a reason that that happens. First of all, again, we largely like to think of like this or that right, cats or dogs, Pepsi or Coke, right? We don't think of the and, but more complexly, when we look psychologically there's, there's a concept called masking which actually helps us better understand which is the principle that we can actually have one of these pronounced exceptionalities covered the other so you can have the gift, cover the learning different struggle area, you can have the struggle cover the gift or exceptional ability area, and we can actually have a dual masking where they cover one another. And it can be really difficult to detect it. And one of my favorite psychologists, Dr. Joseph Renzulli says that, you know, gifted behaviors, and he says behaviors, not giftedness, appear at certain times, in certain people under certain circumstances. And it's kind of these three ideas of, you know, the time the person, and the space that allow us to shine or to struggle, you know, context-dependent, so to speak.

Janna  03:37 One, I would say, personally, I tend to lean towards activities and challenges that I know I'm going to be able to accomplish or do well at so that I don't have to look at those deficits in my own life and go, Well, I know I'm not good at this. So instead of struggling in that, and accomplishing what I can accomplish, I will gravitate toward the things I know I can accomplish well, so it always looks like I'm accomplishing well. Well, it's because I'm not doing the things I don't have that I struggle with, right in public. And how many times if we're doing that, as adults who have fully formed brains and have great coping mechanisms, how much more are children doing that? And it just looks like, you know, like I said, to me, as a parent, it comes off a lot as non-compliance. And so my first response is, discipline I need to discipline and that is actually has made it a lot worse, in some cases, when I'm trying to do that with my children, as opposed to understanding okay, this is something that is being masked, or this is something that you're overcompensating in. And so it's like, being a parent and especially a homeschool parent. I've just learned more and more about my deficits and the things that I don't know. But I think one of the biggest strengths for parents in this situation is to learn so the more you know, the better you can behave even in your own parenting, and then in their homeschool. So I think that brings us to this, you have some great tips for our listeners about strength-based homeschooling in learning. And again, that might be something that parents aren't super familiar with. So let's start with a definition of that.

Sam  05:19 Yeah. So when we think of strength base is exactly what you just said, with your own personal example, right? A lot of education is often deficit-based, which is this idea that, like, we're helping students’ kind of bring the bottom up, you're not doing this, this is your lowest grade, this is your weak point. And it's counterintuitive, as you said, as adults, we have the autonomy, the freedom to move toward the things that we're good at, and the things that we love. And, that's where we find, humans you know we are pleasure seekers, right, we pursue dopamine. So when we do something that feels good, it looks good, people compliment us, it meets our needs. You know, there's the neuro element, there's the social element, I mean, we're firing on all cylinders. And a lot of the time education is taking our students outside of that, right, it's taking a creative, quirky outside the box artist and having them do like a spreadsheet, right ad nauseam, it's just like, it's their hell, it's not where they're thriving. And the goal is ending for us as adults, parents, mentors, educators, to model that and then also to develop our student’s strengths and abilities, and talents. And so a strength-based perspective is just helping our students focus in developing the things that they're interested in. They're good at, they feel good about, and having them do more of that rather than trying to kind of bring the bottom up or pushing the top up.

Janna  06:39 So let me play devil's advocate for just a moment as a parent, I said, Sam, that sounds great. And my daughter could read 20 hours a day and be completely satisfied. Yet, I need her to understand basic math so that when she starts adulting, she is able to be a producing member of society. How would that look? If I'm focusing on her strengths, to try to get her to do the things that she has deficits. And because I know you're not saying, just let your kids do whatever they're good at and ignore the things? The other thing is that needs strengthening.

Sam  07:14 Yeah, you know, this is one that comes up, as you might imagine a lot, right? And I like to challenge it with just, you know, who are we as a society? Right? Like, do you care about Michael Phelps ability to do a spreadsheet? You know, are you thinking about, you know, Ariana Grande's ability to do complex mathematics? When we think of Albert Einstein, are we concerned with his ability to paint? No. So I think as a society, we accept people who are exceptionally good at one thing with a micro focus. I don't care about how Steve Jobs is as a writer. But he invented a pretty darn cool computer. Right? And so I think we can kind of check ourselves. But yeah, sure. Are there other kinds of non-negotiable? Should people be able to at least do basic arithmetic or utilize devices that do? Of course, they should. Can we make it more authentic and more fun? If you want me to do statistics and learn, you know, the importance of stats, because you believe that it's going to change the way that I perceive and see numbers? Cool, maybe you can have me analyze, like, how many people get hurt cliff jumping every year, rather than, you know, doing something that's kind of a snooze fest, or you bake it around my interest and my strength? Okay. You know, I'm a reader, like your daughter, I love to read, maybe I want to be an author one day, okay, well, can we kind of map this, how many pages do I have to write each week to get a book by a certain date, and what would be a good price point. So we can do it around the interest, we can separate it from the interest if we want and just make it more authentic and more fun. But my whole point is, let's try to let go as much about what our kids are not doing and focus more on what they are doing because that's how they're going to feel good. And that's how they're going to offer authentic value, you know, in this world.

Janna  08:56 And it definitely sounds like a holistic approach. When you're talking about children and students. It's like, I'm not just looking at what they can produce, because third grade says they should know their multiplication facts. It's my child as a whole who has these talents and is really good at that. And while maybe they according to the system, and you know, we say they would nobody knows who they are, but the ethereal they, it, you know, and it's pressure from our neighbors from our family members, especially as homeschool parents, like, Well, do they know this? Do they know this? And then I often want to stop and say, and start rattling stuff off that we'll do you know this, do you know this? Like, why? Why does it matter if my kid knows that or not, especially in the day and age when Google is at everyone's fingertips if you need information? And so looking at your child and focusing on what they're good at it really we need to give permission to parents and say, this is okay. This is not a bad or detrimental philosophy. So, so kind of helped me unpack why it isn't what are those tips that can kind of show parents why this really does work?

Sam  10:06 Yeah, I think there's sort of three domains that I usually explore which is. So typically, when we talk about supporting homeschoolers and developing the strength-based approach, there's really these three main buckets, I like to say are these three areas, there's the mindset, which we've largely already talked about, which is the strength-based positive psychology approach. There's the productivity and production area, which we're going to get into. And then there's the, what I call the proverbial village, which is the fact that, you know, a lot of homeschoolers are really largely kind of isolated, and can be benefited tremendously for being a part of something that is bigger than themselves, which I call the village. So again, we've talked about the positive psychology and the strength-based part. But I'd like to move ahead to the idea of how we can help our students to the last comment here on the mindset is how we can let go a bit. Right. And that's been the subtext of what we've been talking about. How can we let our students have a bit more space to explore something rather than do what we think they quote unquote, should or ought to do? Right. And again, I know that's, that's I'm gonna upset some people, but we don't know how to see into the future and predict what our kids are going to do. Right. And I, I hark back a lot to, you know, at some point, I'm sure that, you know, Jim Carrey was doing impressions in the back of a classroom, and some teacher was like, stop messing around and read, you know, and it's like, what got him further. So, we don't always know the things that we don't have the crystal ball to say, like, what's going to allow our students to really show up in this world. And I think that just giving them space to like, lean into their, their own experience and pursue things that excite them.

 I like the idea of like, the hero's journey. So one of my kind of like, my number three tip is, you know, think of who you are, and the hero's journey, you know, you're the mentor, not the hero, right, we're Yoda, not Luke Skywalker. So it's important for us to remember that our job is just to help them go on their journey and encourage them to cross the threshold when they struggle, right? And we have to let go a bit of how they go when they go where they go. And that can be really scary. And that's especially true when we're talking about like, you know, picking certain things that they're going to study or, or not doing that, which can be really scary too.  

Janna  12:27 I think parents have a real unfortunate, fatalistic view, I'll speak personally, as a parent, I sometimes get a very fatalistic view of the choices that my children are making, I do somehow perceive that I have a crystal ball because of my experiences. And if they choose this, well, that's it, you're in a ditch, or you're down in a van by the river, right? Like you, you're a non-producing member of society, and, and maybe as homeschool parents, we have this extra external pressure that we're putting on ourselves to prove that we are doing the right thing for our kids. So I think we do, some of us do have this drive, not only to prove that our children are doing well but that we made the right choice. And so I like this idea of, you're talking about mindset, like, we're really talking about us, as parents as educators, it's like so many times, I think I'm gonna get on here, and someone's gonna give me this tip that's gonna change my child. And it always ends up being about changing me and Sam, I'm gonna be honest, it gets really frustrating sometimes.

Sam  13:31 Yeah, it's exactly that Jana, and I start with these, these, these tips are in order. Because the work starts with you, you know, and the work starts with us. Right? And so that's a big idea. You know, Sir Ken Robinson said this in his famous TED Talk, like our schools are killing creativity. He said, everyone's had an education, and therefore we all have an opinion, right, we all have this idea of how things ought to be because of the way in which it was done. And, this is a homeschooling audience, right? But we still have this idea, even though, unless you as a parent, were homeschooled. We have this idea that there are certain things that are kind of non-negotiables. Right. And again, I'm not calling for like a total radical overhaul of homeschooling or any kind of schooling. I'm simply saying, can we let go a little bit and realize that whatever we're doing might be out of date, out of touch, or not relevant with who our kiddo is. And that's a hard pill to swallow. And it's why we start there, because it does start with us, and then we can help our kids.

Janna  14:34 So if we've gotten past this, if we've gotten past ourselves, which sounds like the biggest roadblock a lot of the times in this journey, what and now we're open to see okay, I'm willing to look at a different way. I'm willing to put aside maybe some social parameters that are outdated, antiquated, or maybe my own ideals. Now what?

Sam  14:55 Yeah, that's so the next one that really comes up for us is understanding what Learning, right? Understanding the way in which we do the things that we do a lot of the times, we can get frustrated, as you said, we can come down on our kids and say you're not doing this or you're not doing that. And it feels like an affront. And when we understand the way in which, you know, what are we often asking to do, right? There are really kind of three things; intake information, process the information, and then do something with it. And so when we, when we break learning down, and we say, Okay, well, it's not just that like they're not reading, so they're not learning. It's just that they're not doing the intake well. And the question comes up, as I say, you know, my next tip is that we have to become like a differentiation, Yogi, you know, can we discover the really four elements of differentiation, which would be the content, the process, the product, and the environment? So what they're learning the way in which they're learning? So YouTube, podcasts, etc, the medium, the product? What are we asking them to do? Is it just fill out a worksheet? Or is it something that's really meaningful to them? Like recording their own podcasts, for example? And then what's the environment in which they're doing it? I cannot work at a cafe, no matter how excited I am about what I'm doing, because I have ADHD, I need to face a white wall, and just be alone. So you know, we have to really look at all four of those.

Again, it's the content process, product, and environment. And we might realize that, well, the strengths, the interests, or there might be the way in which one of those four is breaking down. Right? And that then goes to another bigger point and stop me if you want to get in here. I'm just going, and I need I need to be reined in, sometimes. But the fourth point that I make is, is that authentic, right? And that that dovetails really nicely, like, is it something that they genuinely care about? You can say this the same as as a strength base, and so forth? But is it real? Are they doing something that's meaningful? When you homeschool you have the opportunity to say yes to that question. We don't need to just do worksheets. We can have real conversations, affect real change, design real websites, talk to real government officials, we can do big things. And so another that can sometimes take more work, but you'll find that when your students do something that's authentic, even if it's just sharing authentic ideas, with like-minded people is going to feel more important, right? If you say, Sam, have you done XYZ? I'll say, Yeah, you said, Greg, can you show me on your website right now? Well, I wasn't ready for that. Right? There's, there's an extra level of work. So if you kind of prime me from the get go, and I know that I'm going to be doing something that's gonna be on a real websites, I was really going to see it. That's huge. You know, I'm going to rise to the occasion, and I'm probably gonna learn a lot along the way.

Strength-based Learning: How it WorksStrength-based Learning: How it Works

Janna  17:52 And it's gonna be a type of learning that is really I hate to use the word authentic again, because you that you use that word already. But it really is a type of learning that sticks, right? I mean, I could survey 100 45-year-olds and say, do you recall the shot that was heard worldwide? And they're like, yeah. Llike I think about, they used to do this segment on Jay Leno, which is really dating myself, but it would be called jaywalking, and he would ask certain questions, and they would just, you know, they'd be like ‘I don’t know’. I would always be amazed. I'm like, I don't know what that is. But typically, I can connect to a novel that I read a historical novel, or a piece that I was connected to emotionally. And of course, I'm going to remember that, and they could see the scene in my mind, and the parade and what was happening. But it was, it's real to me, but not to my husband. If you asked him that question. He'd be like, Why do I care? And why are you asking me this question? Right? So sometimes I look at my kids, and I'm almost asking the wrong question. I'm asking a question from where I'm emotionally connected to it, whether instead of something that they're excited about, or emotionally connected to so well, I think about like BookShark, how we have a prescribed curriculum. And a lot of parents will be like, Oh, my kid didn't like that book. And then you have the traditionalists who are like, power through, it's got a great ending. There's a reason they have that book in the curriculum. And I don't disagree with that. But I'm also like, if you could throw it out, replace it with the book that maybe they're interested in, and then tie it, loop it back in somehow, right? Like, we can be creative. And I have to remind myself as a homeschool parent, like, I'm doing this so I can be creative. And yet I'm probably one of the least creative homeschool parents. I know. And I keep reminding myself like you don't have to do it the way everyone's doing it. That's the reason you're doing this like, but it's hard because in theory, that sounds great. But in practicality, we go back to what we're comfortable with, back to what we know. And so if you're telling me like instead of having my daughter write a four-page report on World War Two, I could have her do these other things that she would much rather do, it's going to actually sink in and become real to her versus a drudge through this factual paper. And great, I did it, but I'm going to never think about it again, because I have all these negative emotions, that you made me do something that I wasn't connected to.

Sam  20:21 And again, it's the four elements of the content, the product, the process, and the environment, like what is something that she would care about that would feel important, or in this case, feel authentic? And, have some staying power? Because if you ask me, you know, if you ask parents are 20, 30, 40 years after they've been in a certain grade in school, you know, what do you remember? Was it the worksheet? Or was it the, you know, the novel you fell in love with that you chose? Or was it the diorama that you made about the salamander? Or what you know, whatever it was, it was probably that right? That's the thing that stays and said, the more choice and the more connection that we can foster, the more likely we are to have these kids hold on to things. And then we get even bigger questions, which is, what are we trying to do in the first place? Yeah, and that leads to my number five tip to homeschool parents, which is it's fostered divergent thinking, right a lot of the time we're doing these things that there are finite answers. You know, I go to the brick example, right? Like we could have a student memorize the year a brick was invented, or who invented it. And that is interesting. And by the way, I'm a history teacher, I actually like that stuff a lot. But what might serve better is to understand the context in which the brick was built, right? Or understand the culture in which the brick was built? Or if we want to really go divergent ask, how many uses Can you come up with for a brick? How many problems were they trying to solve? When the brick was created? How many things can you do right now with a brick? Right? And I say that because if we think about the things that we're asking schools to do, and I just had this conversation yesterday, with actually my former boss, Mike, the headmaster of a school that I worked at, for about 10 years, we had a conversation yesterday about how the worst employees are the the best students. And if you take someone that's been to a really great school, and maybe an Ivy League school, they've worked really hard, and they are schoolhouse gifted. And that's, that's incredibly impressive. And I don't take that away from them. But how have they gotten there? By being probably really smart and really safe? Right, memorizing the things staying in the lane doing things that are right. If you ask me, my ideal employee, when I'm hiring someone, I want someone who can think freely. I want someone who can problem solve and understand the values of a business and then make decisions on their own and think differently, can we use the things that we already have and repurpose them? Can we identify gaps and gaping holes in markets and solve them? Right? And so I think another thing that we need to make a shift to is what kind not just what kind of work we're doing and is it authentic? And, you know, is that what's the product and process, but is that aligned with more divergent thinking, rather than pushing to the center pushing out to the fringes? Because we're in a new era, right? Where this is like the era of AI and asking big questions. And we're probably not going to need to memorize a bunch of facts and figures anyway. So we might as well lean into the most human thing we can do, which is creative, divergent problem-solving.

Janna  23:25 I mean, even that statement is very disruptive, to all of the systems that you and I know so very well, right? Like, if you're saying, Oh, my gosh, let people thrive in the spaces that they are excited and passionate about. I mean that it sounds amazing, but also very scary. Right? And as parents, we're like, oh my gosh, sure. She's going to be able to paint a beautiful mural, and maybe she'll be remembered 100 years from now, but she couldn't keep her checking account above zero. To save her life, right? And then as soon as I say that even go, Yeah, but there are apps that have like, ding you when you're getting close, and there are things that are like, hey, you know, you can't there's just certain ways that we now are able to compensate those very things that I think as parents we worry about that our kids aren't going to be able to do. And so what a great time to be homeschool parents, and give ourselves permission to start looking at things in a different way. I love the word divergent thinking it's so amazing that we're not worried about our daily like food and shelter. Like we've got that at least most of us are in a place where, you know, because we're homeschooling we have that covered, right? So now instead of just thinking about what we need to survive, let's start thinking about what we can do to help our children like you say Thrive.

 Sam  24:59 Mmhmm. Yeah, absolutely, yeah, there's a real kind of ascension that comes with that. And it can be really difficult. And you're right, like, if you have a kid who's an incredible reader, but they don't look both ways before they cross the street, like we need to, you know, keep them safe, right? And we do need to stop and bake in some of those skills, or bring around awareness or leverage some kind of technology. There are very real concerns. But I think as a focus as a headspace, I'd like to have enter, and I'm not advocating that we, you know, single task forever and never do anything else. Sure, you're right, like, you can be an incredible painter. But if you can't pay your bills, then you know, where will you paint, because you won't be you know, in your home, because while it might be hard to keep it, so it's, it's important that we do these, these things, and these kind of adulting skills, and so forth. But I also think as a headspace that we want to enter into a place where we're, we're helping our students develop, develop their strengths, do it authentically, do it divergently, and do it in a differentiated manner.

Janna  25:56 And I think that's a perfect example. Because, as you were saying that I'm like, well, I could turn math around and say, How many tubes of paint are you going to be able to buy how much you're gonna have to sell your painting for to make sure, I mean, there's ways like, this is what you're talking about strength-based, right? Like, okay, I'm not gonna get my child's pie, head out of the sky, they just want to do this, and that's fine. But now I get to be creative as the parent and find ways to loop in why it's going to be meaningful to my student, like, that's great. But if you don't have a, you don't pay rent, you don't have a place to paint. So I mean, that is just a perfect example of how this really can work full circle, so that we are covering all our bases, but still focusing on what our students love.

Sam  26:40 And the beautiful thing about strengths is that everyone has them. Right? And, they're different. So like, don't ever have me do anything, you know, like finance, budget, spreadsheet related, like you would be better off trying to write with your feet with crayons, you know, I am not good at that. But I hire people who do that, right? And that's a privileged thing to say, you can't do that right away. And you have to learn the basics because you don't start out doing that. But eventually, like someone's strength is my weakness and vice versa. Right. And so as a society, we help one another out. That's the point of talent, one of the points of talent development. And so I think that that served us really well as a broader society, too. But also I recognize there's a level of privilege that comes with that too, because we do have to be able to maintain our, you know, our basic things by ourselves. Good, there are so many tips I want to, I could keep going forever. I don't know, am I doing ok?

Janna  27:36 I think yeah, but I think that leads into your last point of village level, why we need to be connected with people because I am not great at everything. Say, I know this is gonna be shocking, but like my family would say, I don't think she's ever said that at the dinner table. There are things I'm not good at. And there are things that I don't like to do. Like I had to clean my family's bathrooms as a kid every Saturday and you want to see a procrastinator. I procrastinated every single weekend unless there was like, you can't go out until you do it. Boy, I'd do it so fast that it wouldn't even matter, right? But if I didn't have plans, I'm like, I could put it off forever, I don't even care. So it's like we have things that we're good at and our kids are good at. And there are things that we don't like to do, we can surround ourselves with people whose strengths are our weaknesses, right? And so that's why we need community. So talk a little bit about that.

Sam  28:31 Yeah, so again, and I feel like we've created a safe space here because you can say things that your kids don't know, we've arrived at the goal of the virtual village. But the idea that I refer to when I say the village or the virtual village, really is just that it's that that we are a part of something because as parents, you know, all too well that you can say something until you're blue in the face. But when someone else says at once that your child admires them, they listen, and it stays with them, right? And so, you know, if we look at ancient civilizations, we see that there's always been a communal element, there's always been a tribal element of raising children. And we can't go it alone. And when you homeschool, to some effect, you're choosing to go it alone, right that the system is not working for whatever reason. And we'd like to go our own direction. But that's a decision that can simply just pivot you into another village. Right, but it should not be going to a place of zero or one. And so what I say is that we really need these village elders to come in, and who have our strengths. Sure, but mainly have the things that we maybe aren't strong at that are more aligned with our children's strengths, because that's most relevant. And your job as a parent is not to be good at everything. It's to find people who are good at the things that are relevant for that period of your child's life. And I think as parents building the village, what I call a village, your job is to curate, it's to find mentors to surround your children by people who can show them both laterally, I say, look side to side and say these kids are like me, they have similar interests and similar curiosities. And I'm okay. And then they can look up vertically at mentors and say that person is like me but grown-up, and I'm going to be okay. And I think when they can do both, we've arrived, right? The not the job's not over. But we're making strides. Right. And it's so important that you know, I talked about this a lot, but like, you know, humans are social creatures who happen to think. And as parents, we often worry most about the thinking, right? The school has to be set up, and the learning structure and so forth. But if we don't handle that social element, if they're not surrounded by like-minded friends, they're not studying under, you know, mentors who really get them and see them and can answer their burning questions and ask them even bigger questions that keep them up at night, then we're not meeting those social needs first, and then the learning can happen anyway. So I say, curate a village, find people who get your kid who see your kid who can help your kid shine, can delve into all the quirky unique ways you might even think bizarre interest that your child has, and just develop them and hold them to a high, high level but in a safe way that makes them intrinsically motivated to want to do better be better to grow to take risks, and, and feel really good in that space. And that's why I founded Young Scholars Academy to create a virtual village. So we have these, you know, we have about 13 mentors and 13 different mentors. And we have about 180 families right now, to come together each week to do just that, you know, and I had a mom like a couple of weeks ago say that she's called it the YSL glow. After my son gets out of improv, he's on a 24-hour high. And he loves the teacher, there's like trivia about the teacher, you know, Miss Jackson's hair is all purple, it's only purple in the front and behind it, it's actually black. And so like, they just the little things that they care about, about the improv teacher. They love her and they want to, you know, they feel safe, and they feel seen, and they and they can really shine. And she's just like them all grown up. And then they're hanging out and friends together. And so, you know, again, I say don't go it alone. You know, if you're having difficulty if you're, if you're struggling to do certain things, find a community to belong to, you will help other parents and other parents can help you and your kids will come together in the way in which they're meant to and support one another and see one another. And it's the most beautiful thing on earth when our kids are seeing and seen and can support one another and when you can get support too because you're not doing it alone either. And you certainly don't need to. And that's so important to hear that just because you've left one system doesn't mean you have to go it alone.

Janna  32:57 I would say that community is one of the things that some homeschooling families find organically. And then there are other homeschooling families that really struggle to find where they belong in this environment of homeschooling because maybe they're not the traditional homeschool family, maybe they don't have what it looks like, you know, just what it always has looked like it looks very different. The landscape is very different than what it used to be when I homeschooled 40 years ago. So I love that you've created a space in Young Scholars Academy, that there are other online Communities that people can't find it in their own backyard, they certainly can then make it and we have access to the internet, which is amazing and scary in all of itself. But there, there are things out there that maybe they just didn't know about. So hopefully this episode, not only all the information, because it's going to take me a while to process through all of that, Sam but also just knowing that they can reach out and find that there are other people who are there to come alongside them and support them in their journey. And I think that's what this podcast has hopefully really come across as being like, you can do it a ton of different ways. And it's gonna look different for everybody. But you can find like-minded people, or at least encouragement when you turn it on. I want to thank you once again for being here. It's always a pleasure. And we will be putting in the show notes, links to Young Scholars Academy, so you can find out more about what Sam and his staff are doing in the virtual world.

Sam  34:32 Thank you. So fun.

Janna  34:34 Thank you. Until next time, bye bye

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