The Spark Station Experiment With Real Families

by Mary Ann on May 5, 2010

When I first heard the concept of The Spark Station I was so excited. I immediately saw the tremendous possibilities for inspiring children to explore and learn. I was all over that idea like a wet blanket. I felt a bit badly that all of my children were grown and that I had found out about it “too late”.

As I began talking with my daughter who is a homeschooling mom using the Thomas Jefferson Education model, or TJEd, she helped me see that I had actually used this concept in one form or another my whole parenting life. WOW! That was an amazing revelation because she was absolutely right. As my vision about The Spark Station began to transform I started talking to other people about it. I was amazed to find out that this incredible tool wasn’t working for a lot of families and I determined to find out why.

This is NOT special!

As I talked with them I could clearly see that these parents were lacking a vision of the real power and influence potential of The Spark Station.

First of all The Spark Station has to be a really special place for children, one that isn’t available every day, a bit like Christmas. The Spark Station is also the perfect tool for introducing your children to things that you hope they will engage with. The Spark Station increases your ability to inspire not require—meaning the inspiring nature of The Spark Station increases the likelihood that your children will engage with these things without your requirement that they do.

Who could engage with this!

I saw  the need for a book that spelled out the process of creating, managing and stocking The Spark Station so parents would have more success and children would be more inspired. I knew that I could do that.

The Palmer Family

That’s where the great experiment came in. I began to write the book, but then realized that it would be good to test out what  I knew was workable with real families. I could see that experimenting with real families would clarify what information parents really needed, what problems they had to overcome and misconceptions they had. I chose five families to work with over a period of 2 months. The results have been enlightening to say the least, and exciting too.

The Garrett Family

The families were very different from each other. One family had three children ranging in age from brand new to 3 ½, with the 3 ½ year old having severe cerebral palsy. They intend to home school all their children.

Annette Jones Family

Another family had 3 children, 6, 10, and 12. They had been homeschooling for 7 years.

One of the families had five children from 10 months to 8 years old. The 8 year old went to a co-op in the afternoon and the 5 year old attended public kindergarten and then would transfer to the co-op at age 6.

Rachel Jones Family

Another family had four children ages 5 to 16. The 16 year old had never been home schooled. The youngest had never been in public school. The rest have been home schooling for 3 years.

The last family had 5 children ranging in age from brand new to 10. Their two oldest children went to public kindergarten and the oldest attended 2 weeks of first grade. At that point, they saw that their oldest was losing his love of learning and they made the jump to home schooling.

I’m going to share the problems that I saw, the questions that arose and the solutions that helped these families begin to see major transformations in their efforts to inspire their children to love learning.

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