Archive for blog

Stop this English Course Now

snapshot of horsehaven

Having a real reason to write can make all the difference for some young people. One of the best places to write with a purpose is on a blog.

We had an educational failure recently. It was not a big failure, but it reminded us to stay alert as parents. We had to stop an English writing course designed for middle-schoolers from causing any more consternation in our family. It was a great course as far as the content went, but it was putting our middle-school daughter way behind in the goals we wanted for her.

Here is the background on how we originally came to choose that course. My wife chose a company whose English curriculum had produced results for us in the past. Their high-school curriculum set aside the traditional approach of the five paragraph essay or the research paper and focused on a method that produced young people who were able to write original novels. As a matter of fact, we are still using their high-school course for young writers for one of our teenage boys. Then entered a particular need for one of my middle children.

My 13-year-old daughter has had great difficulty over the years in learning at the same pace as her brothers in the realm of reading and writing, no matter which method we tried (although we had found one approach that did allow her to make some progress). Around the age of eleven she suddenly seemed to finally discover some ease from her difficulties. Hurray! We rejoiced with her. Her old limitations were starting to disappear. Whatever the root cause, we then decided that maybe we could get a middle-school course for writing in order to catch her up to what most peers her age were able to do with writing. So when that company recently put out a systematic writing curriculum for middle-schoolers, we decided that it might be worth a try for just that particular child.

Within a month of use, we realized that experiment of using a traditional course was a complete failure for our daughter. Suddenly, we were back to the tears, confusion, frustration and constant parental hand-holding. The check list of things to know and things to do that you would expect in a traditional textbook were all in this course. Sure, it was wrapped in a better-than-average presentation format, but in the end, it fell far short of the ground breaking innovation that the high school English writing course had put out. Not wanting to admit at first that we made a mistake, we delayed a bit before making the decision that needed to be made. We swallowed our pride and cold-stopped the course, without any transition. We went back to the tried and true that has worked in our family.

With her brothers, we had, and still do, use blogs, writing e-books, and other public writing mediums to practice communicating clearly with regards to a talent focus or a specific interest. So that is the same method to which we decided to set her. Within days of switching to writing through a talent focus, my daughter was a happy learner again. Suddenly, my daughter was smiling again and writing like a maniac. It was as if someone had flipped on a switch. Now she has something she wants to say in her writing. She wants to know how to say it even better and is open to all sorts of writing corrections – and then understands the principle behind the corrections she is given!

Moral of the story: writing with a purpose has the power to overcome many weaknesses and psychological hangups. That purpose can be found in having your young person share his or her talent interest with the world.

Please go check my daughter’s blog at this address and leave her a comment:

If you want to jump-start your own child’s writing with a purpose in my mind, you may want to consider my e-course “Blog to Your Talent: Learn How to Showcase Your Talent in 42 Lessons


Fandom Helps the Artist in Your Family

Do you know that “fandom” can be used by your artistically bent daughter to start showcasing her abilities?

Google+ is one of the hottest places today to find a fandom community around which your child can find a pre-disposed and hungry group of enthusiasts who cannot get enough of new artistic material. This is a far cry from trying to get immediate friends and relatives to share your daughter’s same excitement for both her art and her subject material. By interpreting something the fans will love to talk about and admire, your young talented person will have an opportunity to get much needed feedback as to how the current market is wanting to consume art. Your teenager will start developing a good sensitivity to the needs of others. At the same time it is a great way to gradually document an online portfolio that is exciting and interesting for future employers, art schools, and future clients. Imagine if your child could gradually build her portfolio in a manner similar to Karen Kavett , who started college at 16 and finished at 20 with a track record of excellence and focus around delivering on her art?

In her FAQ section about herself, Karen says that her interests started in her young teen years and that she is now in her early twenties. She describes herself as having multiple skills that make it hard for her to have a traditional label as just a “graphic designer.” It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a focus, it means that she is getting so good in her service area that she is transcending the standard artist descriptions. Her website and her blog IS her living resume that screams availability and competence. Your son or daughter also needs a blog so that he can blog to his talent right from the beginning.

Would you like your talented teenager to be able to jump-start to that type of focused blogging? Check out my e-course “Blog to Your Talent: Learn How to Showcase Your Talent in 42 lessons

The Answer to Your Question is: Blog

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Should your older child blog? Absolutely, unreservedly, yes!

Do you want your child’s talent to be discoverable even while still living under your roof?

Then the answer is: blog!

Do you want your child to be able to connect with experts from around the world in his field of interest?

Then the answer is: blog!

Do you believe that your child’s ability to communicate about his talent is as important as the talent itself?

Then the answer is: blog!

Do you want your child to learn to write with passion and focus about something that he cares about?

Then the answer is: blog!

Do you want your child to build a portfolio of hundreds, and eventually thousands, of documented evidences of his talent?

Then the answer is: blog!

Do you want your child to build his own unique voice within the context of a larger field of talent?

Then the answer is: blog!

If you want to get your child up and going on a blog focused around his or her talent within 42 days, then I recommend you buy and print out my “Blog to Your Talent” guide. Hand it off directly to your young adult to do it on their own. Also check out the full e-course to get even more personal hand-holding from me. All the techniques in the guide, I have applied to my own teenage sons.

Order the e-Course:
Blog to Your Talent: Learn How to Showcase Your Talent in 42 Lessons

How to Find Your Own Generous Heroes of Your Talent

bearded story


In the past few weeks, my fourteen year old son Caleb was able to reap still more rewards as a result of having originally taken to documenting his talent journey publicly. By doing this, I mean that he has blogged about his talent and he has been an active participant in an online forum dedicated to supporting a community of bladesmiths. In this community, professionals and serious amateurs encourage each other and share news of the the latest development in the craft and trade.

Caleb’s blogging started a couple years ago when he started to write about his interest in bladesmithing and about the progress in his learning. That consistency allowed him to convince the gatekeeper of the professional bladesmith forum that he should be accepted as a member. Since it is a serious forum dedicated to a serious craft, they understandably do not want people to join who are not going to contribute to the spirit and community of bladesmithers. That is where Caleb’s public blog acted as a calling card to open the doors. His blog was absolutely necessary to have as a young person, to demonstrate his commitment to wanting to learn. He was a novice in a field populated by adult veterans of the craft and without the asset of his blog, it was doubtful he would have been allowed in.

Once inside the forum, Caleb started learning as fast as he could the etiquette of engagement within that professional world. He also learned to ask the right kind of questions in order to make progress in his quest to becoming a better bladesmith. He dutifully read up on previously explained material when told to do so. Because of Caleb’s friendly, but respectful interaction (a couple of social mistakes along the way, from which he quickly recovered), he was able to find out many time-saving and money-saving ideas he could implement in his novice workshop without breaking his small budget. A couple of adults even generously shipped him some tools and resources to encourage him along, while others wrote him personal messages in order to encourage him in his pursuit. As a result, he started making significant progress on his knives. His interaction on this forum has been nothing short of amazing. Had he tried to acquire this level of interaction through the traditional means of networking, he would have broke his parents’ bank in trying to attend expensive summer workshops, flying to distant states, and going to specialized schools. That is even assuming that I would have allowed him to do so at such a young age, which of course I would not have.

Continuing the story of how Caleb recently reaped still more benefits from his online interaction with his talent, he was able to take advantage of an opportunity to accompany his grandparents on a European trip as a means to further consolidate his participation in a small, but vibrant world-wide community of bladesmithers. He boldly contacted four different bladesmiths from the forum that he knew lived in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. I braced him for the fact that of the four requests that he might only get one true invitation. But clearly I was wrong. I had underestimated how strong of a bond there was in this online community. Not one, but all four professionals generously invited him to visit them in their private workshops on their home properties!

Caleb is still in Europe as of this writing, but he has confirmed to me that, with the help of his grandfather as chaperone, he has indeed been able to visit all four bladesmiths and was warmly welcomed. When he comes back next week, I and the rest of the family, can’t wait to hear a full account of his in-real-life encounters with some of the heroes of his talent world. Some heroes were tough with their advice, others more gentle, but all were generous to him in his quest to become better at his talent focus. This is the power of deciding to interact in the community of one’s chosen talent.

If any of you would like to know how to jump-start your own child on his blog, please let me know and I will be glad to share with you what works and doesn’t work. Contact me through the feedback button on this website and I will personally reply back to you. If you are already convinced that blogging is the way-to-go for your son or daughter, I would like you to sign up for the “Blog to Your Talent” e-course. This e-course is designed to walk your young person through a simple 42 lesson plan for starting a new blog related to his or her interest or talent-focus.


A Blog Can Work Miracles

Blogging about your talent and the projects related to trying to build your talent, opens doors for your child to be able to talk directly to the “big dogs” in his chosen field of focus. This is why I encourage every child to blog so he can create a living and growing portfolio that can be used starting today, not for when he turns eighteen or twenty one. In what other way could a young person still living at home use a resume to open doors for him to the experts in his field? A static resume on a white sheet of paper will do absolutely nothing for your child. But a dynamic blog can work miracles.

As a result, my son Nicholas, who is 12 years old, is featured at a Raspberry Pi conference in the UK. See him brought up starting up at the 11 minute mark in this clip. Your homework assignment: can you hear what this expert is saying that made it possible for Nicholas to be able to get through the noise to someone like him?:

Sneak Peek for Videos to Blog to Your Talent

Peeping Afgan girls

Free videos for you from the e-course “Blog to Your Talent” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click on this sneak peek link to see the videos that accompany the e-course “Blog to Your Talent.” Check it out now before it is removed.

No need to buy the whole e-course if all your child needs is some inspiration to get him going. This is how you can get the talented child in your house to build his portfolio for viewing on the World Wide Web. Enjoy!



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Excerpt from Blog to Your Talent e-course (lesson 10)

Excerpt from the up-coming e-course “BLOG TO YOUR TALENT” with e-guide and videos.

Lesson 10: Provides Immediate Access to Sources

Blogging has a direct source advantage over normal essay writing. Through a blog you can provide web links to online resources that you recommend. These would be resources that the reader could use to get more details to inform himself further or possibly act on. You are doing your reader a great favor because you are taking the effort to filter for him the best links available. If you take care to provide useful links, your reader will gradually come to respect
you as a well-connected and careful person in your field of talent.

Take Action

Write a post entitled “Resources I like for [name of talent]” and list the current Internet links where you like to visit for your talent. Write a one line description of what each resource is about. Expect to update this post over time with more links as you discover more useful resources.

See this idea in action

Resources I like:


What Blogging to Your Talent Can Do for Your Child

Example of what blogging to your talent can do for your child: interview of my son 11 year old son Nicholas by his mother. Enjoy!


Blog with Emotion to Open Doors


How do you get the expert to open his door to your child? Hint: the answer is in blogging (Photo credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis)

At some level of his growth, your child will want to interact more with experts in his field of talent. The problem he can run into is that experts don’t have time to open the door to gawkers and will only tolerate those who are just as seriously committed as they are. How does your child show is he part of the committed ones? He shows it by documenting his performance, over time, through a blog that others can easily check. He also does it by writing in that blog with emotion and inquisitive engagement, and not just facts – that is how he will open up those doors.

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A 2,000 fold Advantage

A powder snow avalanche

Starting a talent at a young age is like the power of a snow avalanche – your child will accumulate so much knowledge and practice before age 20 that he will sweep away all competitors in his wake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Part of the power of putting in 10,000 hours of deliberate focus on a talent is that it makes it very hard for those who adopt a talent late in life (such as right after college) to come anywhere close to out-performing those who develop their talent early in their childhood. Consider for example that if a child writes about some aspect of his talent, say WWII history, three times a week from age 10 to age 20, that he would have put in over 2,000 writings well before the average college student has even started on a major that has a similar historical focus. If your child majors in history with a WWII focus, he has already out-thought all the others on that same subject by a 2,000 fold factor! Where others don’t even know they could eventually have a unique voice, your child would come across as amazingly confident, dripping with conceptual and tactical details, and supremely at ease in his already well-developed voice. At that point in time, of all the student portfolios, who do you think a college professor or a prospective employer would rather have a second interview with?

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What to Do with Already Bought Curriculum

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What to do with already bought curriculum? Make it serve the talent your child is building in his life (or better yet, start a blog). Here’s an example of what this means in the context of a popular homeschooling resource published by Excellence in Writing. When you look at the table of contents, it lists the essays and articles it uses in order to demonstrate the course’s writing techniques and asks your student to use the same content for practice – it does not care what the content is about, only that you have something to demonstrate its method. If your child has a music focused talent, only one in all that entire list of articles pertains to music, with a largely useless one from the perspective of a talented musician, about Thomas Jefferson playing the violin to relax. This course represents about 300 hours of solid work with only 20 hours related to music. Instead of losing 300 hours, your child can gain an extra 300 hours of talent building by substituting each article in that curriculum with a serious one related to music.

Learn How to Write by Writing About What You Care

Students of St. Francis School in Richmond lin...

Is your child writing essays that sound anonymous? Have him write about his talent instead (Photo credit: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives)

Are you worried that your child does not care about what he is writing? You should be, because not caring means he is not learning how to develop a specific voice that others will want to listen to and it means he is not learning to write something useful even in the face of incomplete knowledge. Typical ‘non-caring’ writing will produce high-school research papers that no one but the teacher will read: papers that are lifeless, mechanical, and based on topics that were chosen because they were easy to find in the school library for citation proof. Though there is a place for the mechanics of writing, you should not allow it to be more important than writing for a purpose. As parent of a child developing his talent, you do have a  ready solution to the caring problem: insist that your child always connects his essays to an aspect of his talent.

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Talent Progress Creates Family Buzz at the Dinner Table

Dinner Table Buzz

At the dinner table I will sometimes recap to my wife out loud what I am excited about in my child’s talent development. I will then ask my child to speak up and add some clarifying details as to how this milestone came about. I remember one particular week where my 11 year old got several personal notes from professional programmers who commended him on his progress as they could see through his blog and online forum participation. This feedback created a real buzz of excitement as the very next day there was a renewed sense of purpose among the rest of the older children to wake up early to research and blog for their next post on their respective talent development.

How to Write a Blog When Beginning Talent


Tips for blogging about his talent when child is still a beginner in his field of interest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How to write when your child is just beginning to blog about his talent development and is not yet an expert:

  • Summarize what he read, saw, or heard
  • Focus on just ONE main point per blog post
  • Insert a personal observation about the main point that has triggered an intellectual curiosity in him or triggered an emotional response
  • Keep it short
  • Aim for a particular weekly post frequency
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Why Your Child Should Blog About His Skill or Talent

English: Staircase in Kutaisi

Your child blogging about his talent or skill is like building a staircase up to the top of his field of interest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why your child should blog about his skill or talent:

  • Others more advanced in the same skill can find him
  • Documents he is able to learn that skill
  • To learn to write about something that matters to him
  • To develop a unique voice in a particular field of expertise
  • To connect with other peers with same commitments
  • To create a portfolio to open doors to next level of expertise
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Child Should Blog to Document His Learning Process


Document the talent learning process with a blog

Your child should document his talent learning process with a blog for three very good reasons.

Encourage your child to blog to document his learning process on the subject of his talent. Do not have him limit himself to just the final results and success stories of his talent development. Why should you encourage him to journal his learning in a public way?

There are three reasons to blog:

  1. Blogging will train him to speak in his own unique voice.
  2. Blogging will help him be self-aware and take ownership of his own learning path.
  3. Blogging will show potential mentors in his field of talent that he has the kind of motivation and seriousness that is deserving of their expert attention.

Quick 21 Blog Post Ideas for Child’s Talent


Do you want to help your child find blog post ideas related to his talent interest? Grab a pen, sit him down, and ask him for seven questions about his talent that he wish he knew the answer to. Then take each of those questions and turn those into three smaller questions. If he researches and summarizes his finding on each of those questions, he will have content for 21 blog posts. Rinse and repeat for more ideas.

Is Your Child Blogging Correctly?

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Imagine you are a river guide on the California Sacramento River. You are considering choosing between one of two teenagers, George and Nathan, to come along as paid part-time help in exchange for being able to study the river up-close.

Who of the two would you choose?

You don’t owe any favors to their parents, so to make up your mind, you take a quick look at their blog using your Smart Phone. So far, so good. They are both building their portfolio online via a blog so that others like you can get a much better feel for their true accomplishments and their drive to succeed.  That’s when you notice that each has a VERY different style of writing about their interest.

One has obviously read up on the river and reported back the many scientific facts as discovered by experts. The other instead writes about specific interactions he has had on the river and what he is doing.

You browse their blogs and find the following two sample posts:

George writes: I read up on river on Wikipedia and here is what I found in my research: “The Sacramento River is an important river of Northern and Central California in the United States. The state’s largest river by discharge, it rises in the Klamath Mountains and flows south for over 400 miles (640 km) before reaching Suisun Bay, an arm of San Francisco Bay, and thence thePacific Ocean. The Sacramento drains an area of about 27,500 square miles (71,000 km2) in the northern half of the state, mostly within a region bounded by the Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada known as the Sacramento Valley. Its extensive watershed also reaches to the volcanic plateaus of Northeastern California. Historically, its watershed has reached farther, as far north as south-central Oregon where the now, primarily, endorheic(closed) Goose Lake rarely experiences southerly outflow into the Pit River, the most northerly tributary of the Sacramento.”

Nathan writes: This is the third morning I went down to the landing at 4AM to watch the river guides take off for the day and to help a few of them load up. I asked permission to take pictures and put them on my public Flickr account. I got the email address of one of the river guides and will email him my best picture because he would like to put it on his business website. I was surprised at how early the guides have to get going in the morning and they told me it’s because they have to get to the best fishing holes before the sun gets up too high and the fish at this time of the year are much further upstream. I took some temperature readings of the river and logged it in my field journal and took a sample of the water so I can study the microbes on the microscope at home. I have a picnic cooler to carry it back home so that the microbes don’t die before I can match them up with this special study guide my dad bought for me on the Internet. I have been able to identify about 10 bugs so far and will post my sketches up with their scientific names.

Which one are you likely to want with you and the customers? Which one do you think is the most interesting boy to have along?

Clearly you want your own child blogging from a first-person point of view like Nathan. And at all costs, you want to avoid him sounding like George, who is stating true expert facts, but revealing nothing of his personal engagement with the river.



Two Reasons Why a Talent Blog is Important for Your Child

Typing BlogYour child should start at least one blog related to a skill he is developing for his talent.

There are two reasons why a talent blog is important:

  1. So your child can learn how to talk in his own voice and personality about his talent.
  2. So your child can demonstrate to others that he is personally engaged and not just mechanically reciting back a list of facts.

By the way if your child has started a talent blog, please feel free to post the link below so I can leave him his first few encouraging comments.


So That All His Relatives Can Read It and Comment

Pont du Gard

Start your child blogging today about his talent using your history curriculum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Example of how a 12 year old boy could write his first blog post:

  1. Uses his on-going personal interest: his interest is anything related to engineering
  2. Uses his current curriculum topic: Roman History
  3. Reads a Wikipedia summary article on a specific Roman bridge: the Pont-du-Gard Aqueduct
  4. Starts a free blog hosting service:
  5. Writes a 5-sentence summary in his own words about a specific aspect of that Wikipedia article.
  6. Makes a one sentence comment in his post, a hook, that is a personal observation on how it is similar to something he knows about today in modern life.
  7. Creates a blog post title that is copied from one interesting phrase in the blog post.
  8. Presses “publish” on the blog post he just wrote so that all his relatives can read it and comment to encourage him.





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